The Canon 5D Mark IV promises to be everything you could hope for in an SLR. As per previous 5D models, it has a full-frame sensor, a big 0.71x viewfinder, a weather-sealed magnesium-alloy body, and plentiful controls and sockets.
The new features read like a personal wishlist: an upgraded 61-point autofocus sensor for improved subject tracking when using the viewfinder; a new 30-megapixel sensor with Canon’s dual-pixel technology for fast, accurate autofocus in live view and video modes; 4K video capture; a touchscreen for video autofocus control; improved weather sealing; GPS; Wi-Fi; and 7fps continuous shooting, up from 6fps on the EOS 5D Mark III and 5fps on the 50-megapixel EOS 5Ds.
The screen isn’t articulated, though. I guess I could live without an articulated screen for video work, just about, if I really had to.
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV review: Design and layout
Externally, barely anything has changed since the 5D Mark III, and with good reason. There’s a button for virtually every photographic function, with most settings adjusted by pressing a button and spinning the command dial or rear wheel. The touchscreen is the biggest addition, not only helping with autofocus for live view and video modes, but also speeding up menu navigation.
The view through the viewfinder is relatively uncluttered by default, with illuminated exposure settings at the bottom, but there are options to show an electronic level, battery capacity, exposure, drive and metering modes, white-balance preset and various other settings overlaid across the optical viewfinder image.
This means you can adjust virtually any setting without taking your eye off the viewfinder. The exception is calibrating the custom white balance, which in usual Canon fashion involves capturing a photo and navigating to a menu page to calibrate using that photo. Other cameras do the whole thing with a single click.
There’s a new, unlabelled button just below the mini joystick. It doesn’t do anything by default but I found it worked well for toggling through the various autofocus area modes. There are ten other customisable buttons. There’s also the option to disable autofocus on the shutter release button and move it onto the AF-ON button at the back, thereby letting you decide when to focus and when to capture a frame without refocusing unnecessarily.
GPS is nicely implemented, with an option to keep the GPS radio on even when power is off in order to maintain an accurate position. With this option selected, a GPS icon flashes on the passive LCD screen to remind you it’s enabled. A hardware button or switch to turn it on and off would have been even better, but that’s not among the options for the customisable buttons. Most photos were accurately geotagged, with just a few occasions when the GPS radio temporarily stopped updating.
I had less success with Wi-Fi. It took me a while to find the menu page — labelled “Communication Settings” rather than more descriptive “Wi-Fi” — and when I did, the Easy Connection option proved to be anything but. I was able to establish a direct connection between the camera and either my Nexus 5X phone or iPad but the camera and Canon CameraConnect app usually failed to see each other. It worked on the fifth attempt. After each failed attempt the camera generated a new Wi-Fi SSID and password for me to enter.
The good news is that Wi-Fi and video capture can be used at the same time, unlike on previous Canon SLRs. That means a tablet can be used as a remote video monitor during capture, making up for the lack of an articulated screen. Touchscreen autofocus is available via the app but exposure compensation was too lethargic in the app to adjust while shooting.