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Thread: Canon 1D Mark IV - A hands on Review

  1. #1
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    Default Canon 1D Mark IV - A hands on Review

    Canon EOS 1D Mark IV Ė A hands on
    Introduction:
    I am a Canon user and have been using its 1 series cameras since the film days. I buy these cameras based on its usefulness for my needs, which is primarily wildlife photography.
    I had skipped the Canon 1D Mark III and continued with my trusty EOS 1D Mark II. The 1D Mark III, had neither a major jump in resolution to make a difference in large prints, nor did it have an enviable autofocus system. The files of Mark III were however very good. So I was waiting for the EOS 1D Mark IV and had placed an order the moment it was announced. I would honestly share my impressions and the first images from India using the Mark IV. This is especially important, since the first autofocus problems in the 1D Mark III were reported when the weather was hotter. Remember, this is on the basis of my tests over the last few weeks. I will continue to update this over a period of time.


    Key features:
    • 16.1 MP camera with Raw, M-Raw and S-Raw modes along with jpeg. The resolution has increased by 60% over the 1D Mark III.
    • 1.3x crop factor. Canon calls it their APS-H format.
    • 10 frames per second with 121 jpeg or 28 Raw shots before the buffer fills up.
    • Dual Digic 4 Processor. The 1 D Mark III had two Digic III processors.
    • ISO 100-12800 (expandable to L: 50, H1:25600, H2:51200, H3:102400) for shooting from bright to dim light with low noise levels.
    • AF Sensor: 45 AF points with 39 of those being cross type sensors with f2.8 support plus new AI Servo II AF with improved algorithm.
    • Movie: Full HD quality (1920x1080 p) and manual exposure control, multiple frame rates (1080: 30p (29.97)/24p (23.976)/ 25p, 720: 60p (59.94)/ 50p, 480: 60p (59.94)/50p). (This is the first time movie mode has appeared in a 1 Series camera).
    • Custom Functions: A whooping 62.
    • 3.0 inch ClearView II LCD moniotor, 160 į viewing angle, 920,000 dot VGA, reflection resistance with multi coating and high-transparency materials for bright and clear viewing.
    • Magnesium alloy body with shutter durability up to 300,00 cycles and exclusive dust and weather resistance.
    Built:
    The 1 series is the top of the line from Canon. And like any 1 series, the build quality is top notch. Canon says there are more environmental sealings in the Mark IV as compared to the Mark III. I have used my 1D Mark II in pouring rain with water running over the front of the lens. I have not had any problems. I havenít had problems with the Canon EOS 40D in the rain. So it should be sufficient to say that the Mark IV would work in similar conditions, even though I havenít used it in rains yet.
    The 1D Mark IV looks very similar to the 1D Mark III except for the 3 inch 920,000 dots lcd screen at the back. However, in the inside there are massive changes starting from the new redesigned sensor, AF mechanism, Digic IV processor etc.
    Movie:
    The 1D Mark IV is the first Canon 1 series camera to have the facility to record movies. I am pretty excited about this feature. The Mark IV has a full High Definition (Full HD) capturing ability that is at 1920x1080p. This is found in expensive video cameras. When you compare the size of the chip in the top end video cameras, you will realise that the sensor size in those video cameras are much smaller in comparision (8.08mm by 6.6mm ) vis a vis 27.9mm by 18.6 mm sensor of the 1D Mark IV. So the Mark IV chip is about 9.8 times larger. Smaller chip results in greater depth of field. The benefit of the bigger chip of the Mark IV is the shallow depth of field and that cine look. I have been trying movie clips, however the movie review will have to wait for another day.
    Battery:
    The first thing I noticed is the battery. It is smaller and wider. The battery charger is redesigned and is flatter and wider as compared to my 1D II.
    In the Mark II, Canon had included a household power outlet. I kept on searching for it and couldnít find it. On reading the manual, I found that it is sold separately. On second thoughts, I realized that as a wildlife photographer I donít need it. The studio guys would have preferred it. Anyone who is likely to use the video feature at home or in studio doing a full day video shoot will definitely need it.
    Manual:
    The other changes that hit you is the thick manual. I often find people ignoring their manuals and asking me in the middle of the safari about features in their camera. With the Mark IV this is going to be acute, especially since the manual is thick and there are 62 custom functions. You may think the Mark IV is a professional camera and only professionals will buy it. I would say, wait for some more time before the Mark IV is freely available. You will find lot of hobbyists using this camera. Having said that, if you have used a Canon camera before, then the Mark IV wonít be like Greek and Latin to you; however you would need a generous helping hand.
    White Balance:
    The White balance of the 1D Mark IV is very accurate. I have been shooting in the auto white balance mode (AWB) and havenít found the need to tweak it. Ofcourse, I have not checked it in artificial lighting. As you may be aware, the lighting in the stage shows can be really a challenge. I leave others to test that. However, in dappled lighting conditions, in light and shadows and in low light, the Mark IV did very well.
    Dust reduction:
    The Mark IV has got the sensor shake mechanism like the Mark IIIs and the 50D etc. In the Mark IV, the top surface of the infrared-absorption glass has been given a fluorine coating to prevent dust sticking to it.
    I changed my lens while shooting and didnít switch off the camera as is my normal practice. I got two big dust spots. However, when I switched off the camera and switched it on, the sensor shake gets activated and the dust spots vanished. At narrow apertures like f16, f22 etc the dust becomes highly visible. However, I clicked at f29 to test and still could not find the trace of dust. So Canon seems to have got it right.
    Most of the people would be interested in the high ISO images and the Auto focus system. In the first part of this review, I would concentrate on the ISOs.

  2. #2
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    Default High ISO Ability

    High ISO ability:
    One of the features often talked about is the high ISO ability of the Mark IV. This camera has ISO 100 to ISO 12800 as standard ISOs. And then there are three further expandable high ISOs namely ISO 25600, ISO 51200 and ISO 102400. I had decided that I would be happy if I am able to shoot with ISO 3200 for critical moments, ISO 1600 very often and ISO 800 regularly. Letís examine these three ISOs first. All the images have been processed in Lightroom 2.6 with default noise reduction. There are reports that DPP does a better job in processing the noise. However, Lightroom is my default software and I have evaluated it as I would use it. This image was created with a Canon EF 400mm f2.8 L IS USM lens plus EF 2xII converter, ISO 800, full frame image.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  3. #3
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    Default Iso 1600

    Canon EOS 1D Mark IV ISO 1600:
    Sharing an image captured at ISO 1600. For the record, I can count the number of times I have tried to photograph at ISO 1600 with my 1D Mark II.

    Exif: Canon EF 400mm f2.8 L IS USM + EF 2xII, ISO 1600, full frame image. Processed in lightroom with default noise reduction (Luminance at 0 and Colour at 25)

    Attached Images Attached Images  

  4. #4
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    Default Iso 3200

    ISO 3200:
    This cormorant flew and landed near me. Settings used ISO 3200.
    Processing: Image processed in Lightroom with the default noise reduction ie. (Luminance at 0 and Colour at 25), default sharpening, brightened by 1/3rd stop and full frame image. Remember, that brightening or opening up the blacks results in more noise.

    Verdict: There is noise visible in the blacks. However, this appears like the ISO 800 of my 1D Mark II. I will do some further testing on this. Also, it may be noted that if you miss the exposure and pull up the shadows a lot, then it may be a different story. If your exposure is right, then you would be smiling.
    Overall, the files are great. They require very less processing. The noise is well controlled. I won’t mind using the ISO 3200 if required.
    (I haven’t tested the high ISO noise reduction functions. That has to wait for a later date).
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  5. #5
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    Default Iso 400

    A number of people have asked me to upload images created at Low ISOs. I am uploading one created at ISO 400:
    This pelican was clicked at ISO 400, f10, 1/1250.
    Processing: Image processed in Lightroom with the default noise reduction ie. (Luminance at 0 and Colour at 25), default sharpening.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  6. #6
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    Default Iso 100

    ISO 100:
    This pelican was clicked at ISO 100, f11, 1/320, EF 400mm f2.8 L IS USM, EF 2xII ie. at 800mm.
    Processing: Image processed in Lightroom with the default noise reduction ie. (Luminance at 0 and Colour at 25), default sharpening in lightroom.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  7. #7
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    Default

    Autofocus:
    As I have mentioned before, there are 62 custom functions meant for various situations. Canon has made a Canon has said that they have comprehensively redesigned the AF system of the 1D Mark IV. The EOS-1D Mark IV's AF system has been comprehensively reconsidered from its design components (sensor, firmware and mechanism) to its manufacturing execution. The design objectives were improved stability, reliability, precision and function. These objectives have been achieved with a totally new AF system, featuring totally new AF hardware and incamera software. The result is a highly intelligent, fast, customizable and solid professional
    autofocus system that is both stable and responsive”.
    The Mark IV has the 45 AF points as the 1D Mark III and the 1D Mark II. However, the Mark IV has 39 cross type autofocus points that are sensitive to f2.8 and faster EF lenses. In comparision, the 1D Mark III had 19 cross type sensors and my beloved 1D Mark II had 7. If you want details about it, then you may please download the canon discussion paper. You can find it here:
    I had the camera in my hand but could not immediately rush to a forest due to my office schedule. I rushed to a bird sanctuary 100 kms away from my home to test whatever I could find.
    The Mark IV has various options to customize. Till date, I have been happy with the autofocus. Initially, I was a bit worried when the camera picked up the water instead of the bird. However, after reducing the sensitivity settings from default to slow, the issue got sorted out.

    What is not so good:
    There are enough people out there to prove that Canon has got it wrong. A David vs Goliath is always a good news story. Frankly speaking till date, there is nothing which can be mentioned as bad. So mentioning a few challengest that needs to be overcome.
    Ergonomics for Video:
    The Digital SLRs were not designed for movies. So adapting the movie mode ensures that there are some compromises to be done. The chief among those is in ergonomics.
    When you use the movie mode, the viewfinder is off and all the viewing has to be done through the lcd at the back. Imagine yourself to be handholding an intermediate lens or a medium telephoto lens like a 70-200 and trying to shoot a movie clip of an elephant herd. You have to now hold the camera and lens combo at arms length so that you can look at the lcd and do the focussing. The autofocus during movie shooting is too slow and bad. You have to use manual focusing and it is not easy to look at the lcd and focus. Well, which professional movie maker users auto focusing while movie making? However, the ergonomics of movie cameras/ camcorders is different. So it is better to use on a tripod or a lcd viewfinder or both. This is not an issue specific to canon. It is a legacy of our Digital SLRs. More about this later.
    Auto Gain Control in Video: I checked the movie mode by shooting a few clips. The internal microphone picks up lot of Image stabilization noise. Of course, Canon has mentioned that the internal microphone would pick up these sounds. Canon has provided a port for external microphone. Unfortunately, there is no option to control auto gain control ie. the camera will automatically amplify the sounds. For advanced film making, this is an issue. Remember, that this camera is going to be used not only for wildlife photography, but also for making corporate films, music videos, wildlife film making etc. More about videos later.
    AF-on button in vertical: If you use the AF-on button at the back to do the autofocussing instead of pressing the shutter speed, then there is a surprise for you. I realized that couple of times I accidentally pressed the AF-on button on the vertical grip. Frankly speaking, this is by no means a major issue. I just shut off the vertical grip and for scenes where I need to quickly change to vertical orientation, I moved the camera clockwise and clicked with the horizontal shutter button. After reading this you can realise how hard I am trying to find a "problem".
    Shifting from still shooting to movie clips is easier. I have customized the FEL lock for videos. Press it and it immediately starts recording. However, the problem is videos require much slower shutter speeds. You can pause the movie shooting to take stills by completely depressing the shutter button. Or you can stop the movie shooting and shift to stills. However, you have to immediately change the shutter speed. That is an immediate challenge that needs to overcome.

    This camera is the best in Canon's line up till now. If you can't get your shots with this camera, then you are not likely to get it with any other camera. Highly Recommended for anyone who takes their photography seriously, for professionals and for people who want to make video clips as well.

  8. #8
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    Default

    Good hands-on review. Thanks for the heads-up on the video ergonomics. This makes the camera all but unusable for video unless tripod mounted.

    Apana

  9. #9
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    The first requirement for shooting movies with this camera is to get a viewfinder like video. There are couple of companies offering these. The best and the costliest is Zacuto Z-finder. It attaches to the back of your LCD and helps in shielding it from sunlight as well. There is a 40 mm dia lens and 3x magnification. Unfortunately, these things are costly and I can't find it being sold in India. Yet to find someone who can supply it to me.

    The second requirement is follow focus. While shooting movies the focussing is done manually and the movement of focus from one part of the scene to the other has to be smooth. When you rotate the focusing ring of the lens, you will realise that you can't completely rotate the focusing ring at one go. So there is something called follow focus attached to your focusing ring for smoother operations.

    There are various rigs with rods and shoulder mount available in the market to mount your DLSR. That helps in stabilising it. They are costly and range from 600 to 2000 USD like RedRockmicro, Cinevate, Ikan etc . I am sure there would be cheaper options available in India.

    Cheers,
    Sabyasachi

  10. #10
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    Thanks Sabyasachi for this excellent review. Users of this camera may find this useful.

  11. #11
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    Very helpful and practical review. Thank you for sharing your experience. I am a Nikon person but your review is tempting me to own CANON 1D Mark IV

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