Field Review: Canon 1D Mk IV (Day 1)

Though I’m familiar with the Canon 1D Mk IV, I’ve never had the time to do a full review of it. Recently, Canon sent me one for review. So far the camera is impressive and is begging to go shooting in the current NYC weather—balmy and raining. The field review will begin with some first impressions.

Tech Specs

The Canon 1D Mk IV has a 16MP CMOS APS-H sensor that delivers images that are the equivalent of a 1.3x crop. This is useful for photojournalists, sports photographers, wildlife photographers and some wedding photographers. It also includes full weather-sealing, Dual card slots (one CF and one SD), Full HD video mode with both 1080p 30p and 24p video and 720p 60p video.

More specs will be stated later on.


The 1D Mk IV feels very solid in the hands. The grip doesn’t feel as pronounced as the 5D Mk II’s or the 7D’s, but it does mold well in the hands of an experienced Canon user. This applies to both the vertical and horizontal grips. When shooting, the user will be able to easily handle the camera and make it do whatever is needed quickly and easily—which is very important in higher stress shooting situations. An area that could have been developed a bit more is the way the buttons are placed on the top right and top left. More on that in a bit.

Though the camera has great ergonomics in hand, this isn’t quite the case for when it goes into your camera bag. For one, the eyepiece juts out quite a bit and does the vertical grip. This isn’t always a problem, but when you just want to shove the camera in a messenger bag with a lens attached it very well could become one. We’ll see as the review progresses.

Button Layout

The button layout is for the most part still standard with the other 1D series camera. If you’re a 7D or 5D Mk II user moving up it may be a bit of a change for you. One of my complaints with those cameras was that the mode selection dial turned too easily and could essentially mess up perfectly good shot while shooting. The 1D Mk IV requires that you press a button first and then rotate the shutter dial. This isn’t problematic either as there are only really four shooting modes—P ,S, A,and M.

Professionals will still appreciate the button layout, photo professionals that is. The movie mode is switched to by pressing in the set button, which is similar to the 5D Mk II. The approach taken on the 7D is a bit better. The latter being a single switch that switches it from video to photo mode.

There are some other buttons down at the bottom of the camera that most photographers would place less emphasis on. These are the play buttons, fn buttons, voice recording button and the delete button. In this way, the button layout is very logical and they are all placed where it counts the most. This is also a huge help when shooting as your eye doesn’t need to leave the viewfinder when shooting.


The 1D Mk IV focusing is very accurate, but not as complex as the 7D’s. The 7D’s autofocus has different types of zone and cross focusing methods. It also allows you to control those. The 1D Mk IV’s from my use doesn’t allow this. It has full auto where it chooses them and also allows for manual selection of focusing points.

This will be explored more during the review.


When I got the camera in, I did a lot of customization to tailor it to my needs:

– Copyright information added into the images via the menu

– Set the thumbdial to choose the autofocusing points when moved around. I discussed this here.

– Custom color, saturation, contrast and sharpness details

– Highlight Tone Priority Enabled

– Autofocus expansion with selected point works with the surrounding AF points

– AF-On/AE lock button switch enabled

These are all personal preferences that will vary from photographer to photographer. But they will be tested during the review.

Outstanding Features

The camera can shoot up to ISO 12,800. If this isn’t enough there are also 63 metering zones. Unlike the 5D Mk II, there is no manual sound control. This shocks me as the 1D Mk IV is a higher grade, professional imaging device. It’s a bit odd that a higher end model doesn’t have this feature as it isn’t consumerish in any way or form.

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Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.