This camera was released a whopping seven years ago. Being the last-of-the-line DSLR for Canon, it is still the best 5D camera they will ever make. While there are photographers switching from DSLR to mirrorless, the 5D Mark IV is still being sold to photographers worldwide. Let’s review this camera and see how good it is in 2023.
I won’t lie, I did not buy this camera upon its release in 2016. Back in those days, I was nothing more than a kid shooting on my dad's film camera. I bought my 5D Mark IV in 2020, right after a series of good jobs, and right before covid. This might be one of the worst business decisions I made, frankly. Nonetheless, having used the camera for three years almost every day, I have developed a liking for it, and I am now happy that I bought it. In fact, I shot so much on it that I had to bring it in for a shutter replacement and a few other repairs already. In this review, we will see what the 5D Mark IV is capable of seven years down the road, very much in the mirrorless era.
Because the 5D Mark IV has been reviewed so many times by so many users, I will focus less on the specs and more on the user experience with it. However, here is a quick spec sheet in case that’s what you’re after.
- 30.4-megapixel full frame CMOS sensor
- DIGIC 6+ image processor
- 3.2" 1.62-million-dot touchscreen LCD monitor
- DCI 4K video at 30 fps with 8.8-megapixel still grabs
- 61-point high-density reticular AF
- Native ISO 32,000, expanded to ISO 102.400
- Dual pixel raw
- Dual pixel CMOS AF and movie servo AF
- 7 fps bursts
- CF and SD card slots
- Built-in GPS and Wi-Fi with NFC
Now, let's talk about some of the biggest benefits of using a Canon 5D Mark IV in 2023.
The 5D Mark IV has an awesome 30.4-megapixel full frame CMOS sensor. It is a departure from the 5D Mark III, which many users appreciated back then as well as now. However, what good is a high-resolution sensor without bit depth and dynamic range to match it? Fortunately, the Canon 5D Mark IV is good at those as well: 24.8-bit color depth and 13.6 EVF dynamic range. I have no problem bringing out shadow detail or shooting underexposed or overexposed. As long as the camera is set to raw, you can almost forget that something is over- or underexposed. I have a tendency to shoot slightly overexposed; however, in post-production, the image is brought back to normal to fix skin tones.
Another big pro of the Canon 5D Mark IV is the ISO range. It goes from ISO 100-32,000. The highest usable setting for me will be ISO 12,800. If you’re going higher than that, you’re either doing something very wrong, shooting in the dark, or perhaps doing astrophotography. I’ve shot my late event work on it and never once had a client comment that the images are too grainy. If anything, I like adding grain in post-production to make them more textured and provide that extra film-like appearance. Image-wise, the Canon 5D Mark IV sensor is awesome, and you will not have any problems producing 99% of your work on it. The requirements to produce high-level campaigns have not changed for the past 10 years. You could probably even make do with a 21-megapixel Canon 5D Mark II, but without significant cropping.
While not as good as Canon’s flagship models, focusing on the 5D Mark IV isn’t bad either. The live view focus is decent; however, I rarely use it due to my shooting style. The autofocus system will be not nearly as good as the ones in modern cameras; however, it is not unusable. The 5D Mark IV’s focusing system takes its roots in the older Canon 1D X model, with improved facial recognition and tracking. Focusing depends on your lens as well as your camera. I tend to find the Canon 5D Mark IV to be adequately suited for portrait, fashion, and beauty work. It is nowhere nearly as bad as the one on Canon 5Ds. When I know that the subject I will shoot will be fast-moving, I always switch to the 5D Mark IV.
This is a big one for me as well as other photographers who don’t like upgrading cameras all that often. Investing in a piece of gear as expensive as a camera should be a long-term plan, not a short-term endeavor. Therefore, I would like to talk about the long-term reliability of the Canon 5D Mark IV.
I had this camera break on set, and it was somewhat below the 150k shutter threshold. This initially led me to somewhat question the reliability of the camera. Then again, I bought it used, which is always a gamble. Perhaps the previous owner wasn’t as cautious with it, or perhaps I was too reckless — the latter being more probable. In any case, having repaired this camera, it’s back on set and working more than ever. I’ve dropped it plenty of times, slammed the bottom against the tripod base, and had water splash all over it. I really can confirm that this is a workhorse or a camera, and it will serve you for years without fail. Then again, if it does fail, just replace the shutter and you’ve got yourself a new camera. Another thing I will add is battery reliability. My battery manufacture date says 2016, and I still am able to squeeze 800 shots from the camera. Rarely, if ever, do I worry about not having enough battery power to last me a day of continuous shooting.
The camera has its drawbacks, though. One of the most obvious ones is that it is a DSLR, which is deemed by today's marketing standards to be outdated technology. The video, while usable, is far from the best available. The 4K on it is frankly very disappointing, and I rarely use it for video work. So, if you are a videographer, this camera is not for you. The LCD on the back does not articulate, which can be a problem for those of us who prefer live view shooting.
If you are on the fence between getting a 5D Mark IV and a mirrorless camera, I say go for the 5D Mark IV. Don’t worry about it being old technology; instead, worry about the skill you have. The EOS series will be around for the next few decades, if not more. Just like you can still find all the FD lenses from the 70s, you will be able to find all the EF lenses well past 2050. As for me, I am not sure when I will upgrade, but definitely not for a while. I have more problems with the images I am making than with the tools I do it with.
Agree pretty much across the board. Reading in the various facebook groups, on the other hand, it seems to me that the R5 is not that robust at all. Not at all.
Having owned both, I disagree with your statement about the R5. But I suppose it's more about the need from the camera, and the subject matter you're capturing.
I find the dynamic range of a single exposure from the R5 has way more wiggle room before it teeters over the edge. This is important to me as for my video work I shoot a lot of timelapse. I feel if I have to push a stop in the highlights on the .cr2 file it turns to a mushy grey. And if I have to push a stop up on the shadows it turns magenta green. The R5, while eventually having its pit falls (my a7iii holds up much better in this regard) with pushing single raw, is way more forgiving.
*Edited to separate paragraphs
Is the R52 rumoured to have extremely high dynamic range? I’m not sure if it will be the 25 stops I last heard but again that was a couple of weeks ago. I will say the R6 and R62 with their lowlight capabilities and raw files are very forgiving in post.
Agree. I have both a 5D Mark II and a Mark IV and still use them both almost daily. I typically focus on headshots and both are absolutely fine for that genre of photography. Like my old Jeep, I'm gonna use both of 5Ds until the wheels fall off. Really no reason to upgrade until they fail.
I love my 5D Mark II and have owned 3 over the years. The 5D2 when it came out in 2008 was a game changer just as the R5 is today, as it was the first pro body to have 1080p video. The one thing that shows how good it was and is was it was used to film a movie that won an Oscar 2 or 3 years ago. So keep using it I use it every so often as I do my 7D2. But I have to be honest I also have an R6 and the R62 which are my main wildlife shooters but when needed for extra length I will not hesitate to pull out the 7D2 for the extra length when needed
Love that approach! Glad to see you using the 5D series cameras. Thanks for reading and commenting, Les.
This was the last camera I marketed when I worked at Canon before I left and it was a beast. I remember telling myself that I would never shoot another camera - this was the APEX. The best that things could get. And it was. For DSLRs. In 2016.
I shoot an R5 and an R6 now ...
That said, like I always tell my students - a camera never shoots pictures any worse than the day you bought it, so if you loved the way it worked at that time, the same will still hold true years later.
It's funny the people who are always desperate to upgrade their cameras claiming their current camera is somehow too old and not good enough anymore.
Indeed, you can give a Phase One to a monkey, and..it will break the Phase One.
I bought the r6 and an eos r to replace my 2 5d4's which had taken a battering. I'm gutted I did that now as my 5d4 was better than my r6 by miles and has the advantage over the eos-r as a dual card slot camera
Never thought of it to be that way, in what ways is it better besides the card slots?
Less digital noise than the R6 and quieter than the eos-r in silent mode are the first things that come to mind.
The 2016 EOS 5D Mark IV was not the "last-of-the-line" DSLR from Canon. The 1D X Mark III released in 2020, four years after the 5D Mark IV (and the 1D X Mark II) in 2016.
Yes, it certainly was the last of the 5D line of Canon DSLRs. I think when you read it you didn't realize that Illya was referring specifically to the 5D line, and you incorrectly assumed that he meant DSLRs overall.
No I read exactly what was written: "Being the last-of-the-line DSLR for Canon..."
He said DSLR, not: "Being the last-of-the-line 5D for Canon..."
Yes, last of THE line, the line referred to being the 5 series line. A bright person doesn't just go by the words in one sentence, but rather understands that the context in which that sentence occurs give additional meaning.
If you ignore context or don't even realize that there is pertinent context, then you will misunderstand all manner of things throughout your life.
One reason there are still plenty of FD lenses around is that none of them have flex cables that can become brittle and break. This is the Achilles heel of all modern lenses, not only from Canon but also from everyone else, which makes it much less likely that there will still be plenty of working EF lenses around 40 years from now.
"I did not buy this camera upon its release in 2016. I bought my 5D Mark IV in 2020, right after a series of good jobs, and right before covid. This might be one of the worst business decisions I made, frankly."
2020 is when I also bought my 5D Mark 4! But for me, it was a great financial decision. I'd wanted one for years, but could never afford one, not even used, as the prices stayed sky high for so long. Then my friend told me he was switching to Sony, and that he would sell me his little-used near-perfect 5D4 for $1500 ... and that he could give me the camera right away and then I can just pay it off little by little and take as long as I need to. So he gave me the camera in March and I paid it off a few hundred bucks at a time until it was all paid off by that fall.
Covid had zero effect on any of the things I do for income so money wasn't tighter than normal or anything at that time.
My only regret is that I couldn't afford to buy the 5D4 sooner, because it produces such better files than the 1D4 I had been shooting with before. Buying a new 5D4 would have been foolish and wasteful, but buying a used one for $1500 was actually a sensible, wise decision, as they were still selling for $2400 new at that time, and most used ones were going for $2,000. My buddy gave me a bit of a bargain and I am still grateful to this day.
The 5D Mark 4 is still my main body that I use for 90%+ of my photography, and I will continue to use it until someone offers me a similar bargain on a used R5 or R3.
I bought my first 5DIV in 2017. Got a new one in 2021. A used 5DII is my backup. These are great cameras, and hope to use them for a long time. I've read extensively about mirrorless, but still don't see the appeal. Adding an adapter to use my half dozen EF lenses negates the benefit of a lighter camera. Selling my EF lenses for maybe 25 cents on the dollar to buy one or two mirrorless lenses ... nope.
I bought my two 5DIV's in 2017 as the R was announced, I was invested in L lenses and the camera fit my needs. Nearly six years later, my clients are happy with the images and that makes me happy.
Exactly, I don't see the advantage of the R over 5D4
As a Canon shooter for 15 years I think the title makes a bold claim considering the existence of the D850...
The D870 also exists, isn't it better?
No, there's no such thing as a D870 DSLR
Objectively the D850 is still the Best DSLR for photographers across all disciplines with the 5DIV coming in second. In terms of focusing system, focal points, dynamics range, ISO sensitivity, storage media, and resolution. This is coming from someone who has no brand loyalty. Just which tool is best for the job.
Now if your more video focused the Canon hands down has the edge.
I loved my 5D Mark IV. Some of the best colors I've seen from a Canon sensor.
Can't agree more! It's an awesome bit of kit.
I bought my 5D III in December 2013; still works great. The specs match up, fps frame-wise, with my A-1 and F-1N with their respective motor drives.
The 5D III is also a great camera, never got around to using it, but I've heard a lot of positive feedback on it.
I used a 5D Mark III as my primary body from 2014 until 2019, when I bought a 5D Mark IV. Now the III is my backup FF body.
The IV, to me, is the camera I was hoping the III would be. It's just more consistent from shot to shot in terms of AF, and at low ISO the extra DR is noticeable enough to be useful. The IV is less noisy at higher ISO than the III, too. But it's not as big a quantum leap as the jump was from the 5D Mark II, with its entry level AF system, to the 5D Mark III, with a pro level AF system.
The biggest difference seems to be better metering with the RGB+IR meter and, since I shoot a lot of sports under flickering stadium and gym lighting, the flicker reduction feature - which is revolutionary for that use case.
This is actually a very good camera from the review. I look forward to having a camera. I want to go into content creation but don't have money to buy camera, I will appreciate a gift of camera, not really mind the type. I seriously need help in this regard.
It is a fantastic choice, but I encourage you to try using your phone for content creation at first.
A very solid tool which will be relevant for many years to come. Me and my wife are using it for macro shooting. No need for anything else. We also do a lot of traveling and it doesn't affect the camera at all. Sturdy thing.
Great to hear that! Happy shooting!
I’m still using a pair of 5DIIIs now going on 10 years!!, and was looking forward to a 5DV announcement to start planning my upgrade when it came down that the line was being discontinued in favor of mirrorless.
Not against mirrorless technology (my wife is a professional as well and shoots Canon mirrorless), but I never felt a strong desire to switch. I mainly shoot boudoir, portraits fashion and some other commercial work but I haven’t come upon any situation where I thought the camera wasn’t up to the task.
A number of times I have considered looking for a decent pair of IVs to step into - the wifi, higher resolution and expanded dynamic range would be welcome and give me a few more years to delay deciding whether to go full frame mirrorless or medium format.
Maybe I will still do it.
Someone in an article comments told me about 6 months ago that I should discount the 5Dmk4 as they make only small rare batches and its about to be phased out. That was weird because Canon had just announced that they would keep producing the camera as long as there is demand. Tonight I see an official Canon add on my phone advertising the 5Dmk4 with a 24-105mm f4. Offer expires 02/26/2023. That's not demand, that's an actual offer from the manufacturer. The internet has too many experts who seem to know more about Canon's business than Canon does itself. It's actually comical.
First off, great photos, I love the way you use light and colour. Secondly, and as far as it relates to gear, I bought by 5D2 in 2010 and havent stopped using it. For the most part, I remain unconvinced that more pixels and greater dynamic range add anything to a great photo. Even the current obsession with low F# on lenses is starting to look and sound like marketing overhype. After 12 years of using my 5D2 i have finally taken the leap and bought the R5. Fantastic camera, but has it made me a better photographer? No, I am still seeing with the same eye, and my photos reflect that. They always have and always will.
Being an IT guy and a techie, my brain is focused on future tech even if my wallet is still fixated on the last great camera purchase (Sony a7R IV for me). But for all of these flagship cameras I have the greatest respect for their engineering and their outsized set of capabilities that lets them remain relevant for a good long time. I could never afford this wonderful beast of a DSLR camera at the time that it was released, but if I could have, I would have. It is fun to see reviews of older equipment from time to time and put the devices in the context of today.
I have just upgraded from the Canon 5dmk3 to the 5dmk4, love it,I did look at number of options from the 5drs to the R5, my main interests is landscape
I love that you just now upgraded to a camera model that is 7 years old! I also upgrade to older models, usually after they are discontinued. We get much more bang for our buck than the gearhead types do.