Field Review: Canon 1D Mk IV (Day 4)

So what would a portrait photographer think of the 1D Mk IV? That’s what I wanted to find out at the NYC Portrait Photographer’s Meetup. Katie Jane Parker and Alethea Cheng Fitzpatrick Photography were in attendance, the former being the hostess. I passed the camera and accessories back and forth amongst them as we talked about it, clients and the business.

Equipment Used

Canon 1D Mk IV

430 EX II

85mm F1.8

50mm F1.8

Autofocus in Dark Lighting

Like the Canon EOS 5D Mark II and 7D, this camera is best used with autofocus point selection in low-light situations. In fact, my 50mm F1.8 had an extremely difficult time focusing—but this is to be expected from this lens. The 85mm had some better luck. The camera was set to one shot focus vs ai servo.

Afterwards, I attached the 430 EX II and focusing for both lenses was tack sharp and very accurate. This is proof that some of Canon’s flashes can greatly improve the autofocus of their cameras.

For reference, the autofocus points were chosen using the back joystick selection method. All points are very strong and usually in good lighting and for still portraits, the focusing is spot on. If a portrait photographer is doing this, they’ll have no reason to really worry about focusing problems.

This problem didn’t only occur for me. It also happened to Katie and Alethea when I passed the camera back and forth. In all cases, the flash helped tremendously.

All of this was done in the back of Bar Nine in NYC’s Hell’s Kitchen. It was extremely dark in the back. In fact, Katie was sitting right across from me and it was hard to see some of the details in her face with my own eyes.

What can be reasoned from this experience is that the 1D Mk IV may have some problems focusing in low-light events like concerts. Too bad, as the D3s performed flawlessly.

So far, I’m still preferring the focusing of the Canon EOS 7D more. In fact, I think it should’ve been on the 1D Mk IV.

High ISO Test

All photos shot were at ISO 12,800.

Yes, it was that dark despite the large amounts of light outside towards the front of the bar. Even with the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 on the camera, it needed to be cranked up that high.

For what it’s worth, the Canon EOS 1D Mark IV‘s images can hold their own with the Nikon D3s in terms of High ISOs. Users of either system will be pleased with the results. In post-production though, know that the 1D Mk IV’s files retain much more detail at the higher ISOs. This will be important when getting rid of image noise. Also keep in mind that one should always be shooting with a sharp lens. Reasons for this could be the slightly smaller APS-H sensor and the 16MP vs the D3s’ 12MP.

Also, keep in mind that the ISO can go higher than the 5D MK II.

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Chris Gampat

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