Field Review: Canon 1D Mk IV (Day 8)

So remember how previously I stated that the autofocus points on the Canon 1D Mk IV do not track the subject in your frame? I was wrong. After shooting a soccer game on the Lower East Side the other day, I’ve come to the conclusion that the Canon 1D Mk IV will only track subjects with a USM lens of some sort. Obviously, the camera needs to be switched into AI Servo mode and the focusing points need to be selected. More on the performance after the jump.

Equipment Used

Canon 1D Mk IV

Canon 24-105mm F4 L IS

Autofocus Performance

When the Canon EOS 1D Mark IV was coupled with the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM Lens (ultrasonic motor), it excelled at focusing and tracking fast moving subjects. To be fair, I wasn’t exactly at the range most of the time to be tracking some of the subjects, so this worked best when they were closer in. Further, I didn’t have any other of the other USM lenses that sports photographers would use on me.

In practice, the 1D Mk IV tracked the subjects down very accurately and precisely. It almost ever had problems. Granted it was a tad bit slow even with the AI Servo tracking priority at the fastest speed, but I actually blame it on the lens. After using this as my bread-and-butter lens for a long time, I can tell you that it isn’t really for sports. This is a lens designed for events, portraits, weddings and photojournalism.

All subjects were kept sharply in focus.

Coupled with the unlocked/customized settings of using the back main controller joystick to move the focusing points around, it worked flawlessly. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t perfect though. Ergonomically speaking as I’ve mentioned before, I wish that there was another joystick for use when the camera is flipped into the portrait perspective.

This is also something that the Nikon D3S was able to do very well. They suffer from the same problems in terms of ergonomics. When it comes to performance though, the Canon system felt a bit faster, but the Nikon system remains smarter in tracking the subject. It seems like it almost can predict where the subject will move to—this is important as many sports photographers try to do this themselves. It may also account for the very slightly slower performance.

In terms of video performance, the autofocus was much slower and at times it hunted for the subject. Despite this, the video still looked very good.


All images were edited for contrast, color balance and resizing for the web.

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Chris Gampat

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