If you’re a photographer interested in the video functions the EOS 5D Mark IV offers, take 15 minutes of your time to watch the video Canon prepared about the new camera. Take a few minutes more to read the extra information available. Then draw your conclusions.
Let me state this again, using Canon’s own words. This is a still camera following in the footsteps of a family of cameras, the EOS 5D, that have incorporated video for the last 8 years, but have first and foremost been still cameras. The video is there not as an afterthought, as many like to write, but as a complementary function that many photographers will want to use. That’s explained in the white-paper published eight years ago, and that I mentioned recently, which is available online but that is always forgotten when people start to write nonsense.
Before we continue, let me share some information about the video, which I watched as soon as it was available. The video shows Canon U.S.A.’s Technical Advisor Brent Ramsey as he goes into a deep dive of the video functions of the EOS 5D Mark IV camera. Brent goes into features such as the frame rates on the camera, Slo-mo, touchscreen with Dual Pixel CMOS AF, 4K still frame grab functionality, built in time lapse movies, HDR movie shooting, and much more.
If you want to know more about the different aspects of video on the EOS 5D Mark IV, you can also read the whole article published by Brent Ramsey, which expands on the different aspects and covers everything you may want to know about the camera in terms of video. While I wait for one to arrive for some field-testing, I am glad to see that Canon has introduced Dual Pixel CMOS AF here, continuing to expand its use, and in doing so confirming that the technology, which many said would never work, is now one of the essential features for those who want to use AF for video. The touch-screen on the EOS 5D Mark IV makes it even more usable. The only regret is that Canon did not make it a swivel LCD, something that would be logic for video. But hey, this is mostly a stills camera for professionals and anyone able to afford it.
It’s strange that this being a stills camera, people start comparing it with the cinema models from ARRI, Blackmagic and other brands, and even go to the extent of suggesting that some of those other models are more viable choices… if this is a stills camera with video and the others are cinema cameras from which you can get stills. Two worlds apart, really, so I will never understand what people is trying to achieve with those comparisons.
A lot of people is also complaining about multiple other things this camera offers – or lacks – in terms of video. From the MotionJPEG used for 4K, which apparently is great for some people, but others hate… to the fact that this camera does 4K using a 1.74x crop, so the DCI 4K resolution comes from a section in the center area of the sensor, instead of the whole area. Oh yes, and it does DCI 4K, but not 4K UHD!
I am a regular user of APS-C cameras and I also appreciate the fact that I can use, for example, crop sensor lenses EF-S with Cinema cameras as the EOS C100, as it offers me more choices when it comes to lenses, so I don’t really understand why people have created so many problems about the crop factor in 4K on the new EOS 5D. Yes, you do have to be aware that your wide-angle will not be so wide, but again, Canon does have a new EF 11-24mm f/4L USM which will give you a 19mm coverage at the shorter end. If that’s not wide enough for you, please take two steps back and remember that with prime lenses you would always zoom with your legs.
This discussion about how bad the sensor crop in Canon EOS 5D Mark IV is – is it? – led me to look at RED cameras and their crop, and that’s something that people may want to check before they keep discussing how bad a sensor crop is. RED have a page dedicated to calculate the crop factor for different lenses with their different cameras, and I just tried it with a few models. I discovered that the RED Dragon at 4K transforms a 15mm lens (that’s how low the calculator goes) into a 28mm lens, meaning it has a crop factor of 1.87X. I guess that this means the RED camera is bad, right?
If you want to try your own calculations, you can. RED also states on the information available on their calculator page that “the crop factor of a RED MYSTERIUM-X sensor is similar to the familiar Super 35 mm film format (with motion) and APS-H digital sensor (with stills). Then, as the resolution is decreased from the maximum setting, the crop factor increases. At 2K resolution, the MYSTERIUM-X crop factor approaches Super 16 mm film. If you want some more numbers, let me give them to you: the RED MYSTERIUM-X sensor at 4K, with a 15mm lens, gives you output similar to a 26mm lens, a crop factor of 1.73X, when using a full frame 35mm sensor for comparison. Equally bad, I presume…
It’s interesting to remember that a few years ago people were complaining about Blackmagic’s crop sensor, Alexas’ crop sensor and, why not, RED’s crop sensor, not to mention that they could never get used to the Micro Four Thirds sensor of the GH4 (that’s a 2X crop!), and some others hate(d) the APS-C sensor size, although it is very close to Super 35mm film, a cinema standard. The introduction of the EOS 5D Mark II created, apparently, the wrong idea that the right format for movies was the full frame 35mm from the photographic world. And don’t mention the problems with depth of field. These crop sensors still offer a DOF shallower that before.
Canon’s EOS 5D Mark IV is a still camera, and while the video options will satisfy many people, they are not meant for cinematographers or those that are mostly involved with video. Neither was the EOS 5D Mark II, which started the DSLR video revolution. The reasons why people picked it up so quickly and adapted it to something that even Canon had not foreseen in their white-paper (please go and read it…) were various: the low price, the shallow depth of field and the quality it offered. How that “love” turned into “hate” these last years is something difficult to explain. People seem to expect Canon to give them in a DSLR – that anyway many say is a dinosaur and a dead system – all the bells and whistles of Canon’s own Cinema EOS line. It’s like asking a car maker to also incorporate all the features they use in their top of the line sports car in the family car you drive around… It is not going to happen, I believe.
The EOS 5D Mark IV will sell to those professionals that have invested into Canon glass, know the system well and want to keep using DSLRs. A lot, apparently, if we look at the numbers. As an example, a survey by Canon during the recent Olympic Games indicates that nearly 70 percent of the professional photographers on assignment in Brazil were Canon shooters.
One last note. Canon’s choice of memory card formats for the EOS 5D Mark IV made them keep the CF and also have SD. Canon say it wanted to keep the compatibility with memory cards already in use, those many EOS 5D users have used for a long time. Obviously, some people point the choice as a mistake, because there are faster and newer cards in the market. They forget, though, that by using CF+SD Canon is keeping a lot of customers happy. And as far as specifications go, these cards work perfectly with the camera, so there was no reason to change. As the saying goes… never change a winning team.