October 28, 2016 / Review
Canon 5D Mark IV Review | New York Destination Wedding Photographer
Canon 5D Mark IV Wedding Photography Review
It’s that time, time for another camera review! Your regularly scheduled Indian Wedding blog posts will resume shortly but this quick break will allow me to clear my head a bit from editing and get thoughts out on this camera while it’s still fresh in my mind.
I preordered the Canon 5D Mark IV on its announcement from Amazon and got it on release day. Since that time I’ve had the chance to do more than just a simple unboxing review but to actually use the camera in a live shooting environment at 2 full Indian Weddings, 1 Civil Ceremony, and 3 engagement sessions. And if you are familiar with Indian Weddings, those 2 weddings were 4 days long each so that’s 8 full day events and 4 other engagement/portraits/prewedding type sessions under my belt with the Canon 5D Mark IV.
As with my previous Sony A7II camera reviews, this will be coming from the perspective of a working professional wedding photographer. Sure the DXO marks may say this or that from the technical side, but how does the Canon 5D Mark IV perform in the real world? How does it perform during 4-day Indian weddings or out and about in New York City?
The Canon 5D Mark IV was an upgrade for me from the previous Mark III and before that the Mark II, so I’m fairly familiar with the 5D series of cameras. Why we’ve stuck with the Canon 5D series as opposed to Nikon is that we are shooting videos at these Indian weddings as well, so we need the flexibility to go back and forth from video to stills. That’s how the Sony A7II fits in our lineup as mentioned above, I grab it for photos here and there but it is usually living on the DJI Ronin-M stabilizer with it’s built in stabilization system and the 16-35mm lens which also has OSS in the lens itself, for fluid dynamic moving video.
Comparison to the 5D Mark III
The 5D Mark III has been my workhorse camera shooting everything from my son to travel photos to time-lapse to video to weddings. I know that camera like the back of my hand and the 5D Mark IV keeps everything in the same places for those of us with muscle memory.
Auto focus does seem to be slightly improved over the Mark III. It may be all in my head, but I feel like shots are focusing ever so slightly faster with things on the Mark IV with still using the same lenses as before.
5D Mark IV File Handling in Lightroom with Example Photos
So far the editing as been the largest hurdle to incorporating the Mark IV into my workflow. The files themselves are slightly larger coming out of the camera, and maybe it’s a Lightroom thing, but my poor older Macbook Pro really chokes when handling the original files. Editing them solely as smart previews provide the same speed as before but their is a noticeable lag if I have the originals connected for jumping into Photoshop or something.
The dynamic range does feel improved over the Mark III when editing. Whereas before I had to push the shadow slider in lightroom further with the Mark III RAW files, using my same default import preset with high shadow values gives me a washed out image, meaning I don’t have to push the recovery nearly as far to get wedding photos how I want to look.
This photo below with harsh morning sun during the baraat, pulled down with -100 Highlights in Lightroom to still show plenty of detail in the sky.
More backlit wedding photos that were over exposed in camera to show details in the people. Still looking great coming out of the Mark IV:
Engagement session in NYC with -100 highlight recover to bring out the Manhattan skyline during a rainy shoot in Central Park. No flash on the couple, all natural light.
Harsh sun during this Civil Ceremony in Central Park, still able to recover a bit of the groom’s face and the bride’s face as he goes in for the “I now pronounce you husband and wife” at 3pm in a cloudless New York sky.
I am still playing around with the photos and I feel like every wedding when I look at the photos I tweak my import presets yet again as I have more time with the files inside of Lightroom.
High ISO on the 5D Mark IV
Yaaaaaaas! Not that the 5D mark III was any slouch, but you can really crank up the ISO in the Mark IV with very little worry for noise. This next photograph from an engagement session at Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York City was shot at ISO 10,000. 10,000! The lightroom noise reduction setting is a paltry 20! And it still looks great with details and not going to mush like previous Canon files.
Another night time engagement session photo shot in Brooklyn with that Manhattan skyline, this time I only had to go to ISO 6400 and it’s probably as clean as an ISO 1600 photo from the 5D Mark III.
I don’t shy away from high ISO at weddings, regularly pushing 5000 to 6400 with my Mark III’s during the reception because 99% of Indian Weddings have indoor dimly lit dance floors. Now I know I can really crank that ISO up to another level when the lights go off and the dance floor heats up.
Memory Cards for the 5D Mark IV
The current Compact Flash card that I am using with my 5D Mark IV is the https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NUB2TWI/ref=psdc_1197392_t2_B00ECEVGN0SanDisk Extreme 128 GB CF Card. I didn’t see a whole lot of incentive to go with the more expensive Extreme PRO version of the SanDisk card versus the normal “extreme” line of CF cards. Both are UDMA 7 CF Cards and 120 MB/s versus 160 MB/s is about the same. For SD cards I am using the Pro line with the SanDisk Extreme Pro 256 GB SD Card. The SD cards are all Class 10 for 4K video support on the Mark IV and their isn’t a whole lot of price difference between the lines at the higher end. The Extreme Pro SD card is only 95 MB/s which is why I feel the speed increase in the CF line (120 vs 160) is negligible when you’re shooting dual cards to both the CF and SD slot, and the SD slot will always be slower.
Final Real World Impressions
Do I upgrade from the Mark III? That is the biggest question of course for professionals. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” We’ve seen that the Canon 5D Mark III is a proven workhorse for wedding professionals, so are marginal increases in the Mark IV worth the upgrade? For one, my Mark III’s were getting a bit long in the tooth and with heavy wedding usage I’m a little worried that they were headed for the repair shop soon, so a new body was probably in order since I’ve had the Mark III’s since their launch as well. I could have gone 1DX but eh I think that’s overkill for weddings, plus my back may protest even more than it already does with the single body (I’ve stopped using battery grips for the weight savings and my back thanks me after 3 12-hour days in a row).
Dual Pixel Autofocus? I honestly haven’t tried playing with those files even though I did shoot an entire engagement session with it turned on. The RAW files when that is turned on are 60 MB each, twice as large as with it off, so I was filling up a 32 GB card in around 100 shots, ouch! Also, Lightroom does not seem to support the Dual Pixel technology yet so it’s not really in my workflow to send things over to the Canon software to fix focus and then back to Lightroom or however that will work. I maaaay turn it on during portrait session but honestly in the full weddings I’ve shot I have so much else going on that I didn’t even think to do that.
4K Video? Yes I’ve shot a few clips with it but with the massive Motion JPG format, it’s not a huge priority for me. 4K is here sure, but 1080 is still around for at least a few more years before mass adoption. Also integrating it into my workflow, my other video cameras are still Mark III’s and 6D’s which are “only” 1080p HD.
Do I love my Mark IV though? Yes, yes I do. The Canon 5D Mark IV does just feel snappier than the Mark III. Improved autofocus I will take whenever I can get it, and more flexibility in file editing are two of the biggest improvements, and as a wedding photographer about all I can ask for anyway.
Here’s some final random photos from my past couple of Indian weddings and engagement sessions, all shot with the Canon 5D Mark IV of course. I will try to update this review after the new year as I do have a couple of end of year destination Indian weddings to shoot through December. More to come soon!
And some final portraits taken earlier this week of my son enjoying the Fall leaves that are hitting us here in New York.