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The Complete Canon 1D Mk IV Review

by Chris Gampat on 07/20/2010

Now that the Canon 1D Mk IV review is over, we can do a full round-up on all the days of testings and all the features of the camera.

Testing

Day 1: Got a feel for the camera again since trying it at Photo Plus and other events.

Night 2: Shot three events in one night with the camera.

Pentax 645D: All images in this posting were shot with the Canon EOS 1D Mark IV.

Day 3: Street shooting.

Day 4: At the portrait photographer’s meetup. All present agreed that it is a great camera.

Day 5: The test for wedding photographers: high ISO shooting in St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Day 6: Photographing some cute ducklings in Central Park and trying to ensure that the autofocus keeps up.

Day 7: Shooting a baseball game with the camera and an old lens.

Day 8: Shooting a soccer game with the camera and a new lens with USM (Canon EOS 1D Mark IV). Here I discovered that the focus tracking is much like Nikon’s.

Autofocus

At first, I thought and concluded that Nikon’s D3s has a more advanced and better autofocus system. After attaching a 24-105mm F4 L IS USM lens to it, that changed. Originally, I had been using my 80-200mm F2.8 L and before that my 85mm F1.8 USM and my 50mm F1.8. The 85mm was used on One Shot focusing vs AI Servo.

As it stands though, Canon did a major overhaul with the focusing system and it can now keep up with the photographers that need it so much in shooting sports, weddings, events, photojournalism, etc.

Be warned though, in low-light it is still hard to focus with this camera even with a great USM lens. In this aspect, Nikon D3S is still king. Focusing improves with a flash like the 430 EX II though.

For best results, set your camera up using the custom functions menu to allow the back joystick to control which autofocus point is selected. The reason for this is that it will allow you to quickly and easily get to the features that you need most when shooting in high stress situations where speed is of the essence.

Metering

When you get this high up in the line of cameras, this is almost a negligible feature as you expect it to be perfect. It is. This will be of great joy to wedding and event photographers who appreciate and use features like Highlight Tone Priority on the camera. It will save you quite a bit of time in post-production.

Image Quality

This is a tough one. At this high up in the line of camera, one always expects the very best in image quality. In truth, you get it because of the APS-H sensor which combines great detail and great High ISO ability. However, only the best lenses make it so. For this, try sticking with L lenses or other high grade and well recommended options.

Also, try dialing your own custom settings for contrast, saturation, sharpness, etc. In the end (meaning after post-production) photographers should not be dissatisfied with the images they get.

High ISO ability

It’s the greatest Canon has at the moment. ISO 3200 looks better than on my Canon 5D Mk II. Once you hit ISO 6400 it starts to get noisier but it is still well controlled. The same goes for ISO 12,800. Against the Nikon D3s, the Nikon has a slight lead in noise control because of the 12MP Full Frame sensor. However, the 1D Mk IV retains more detail in its RAW files—especially when shooting at full resolution.

HD Video output

Of all the video capable Canon DSLRs, the 1D Mk IV shoots the best video at higher ISOs. A reason to still purchase the Canon EOS 5D Mark II is that it is full manual audio control which no other Canon DSLR has at the moment of writing this piece.

Ergonomics

The ergonomics on this camera are wonderful and really all a photographer could ask for. The only vexation I had with it was the fact that there is only one back joystick and it is best used in landscape mode.

Dear Canon, we need another one for portrait mode.

Other than that, the button layout will still take a bit of getting used to and I didn’t totally get to the point where I was able to shoot without removing my eye from the viewfinder but I did get close to it.

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