Everything We Think We Know About the Canon 5D Mark IV

Everything We Think We Know About the Canon 5D Mark IV

There may be no camera more eagerly anticipated than the Canon 5D Mark IV. The 5D Mark III is one of the workhorses of the industry, but it's definitely showing its age as of late, and many are clamoring for Canon to catch up. The 1D-X Mark II is certainly promising, but for many wedding and portrait photographers, the 5D series is their bread and butter. Here's everything we think we know about the forthcoming camera. 

1. New Kit Lens

According to Canon Rumors, in all likelihood, the 5D Mark IV will have a new kit lens with it, likely a replacement for the well-liked 24-105mm f/4L IS. It's a great all-around lens, but in my opinion, a bump in sharpness and perhaps the addition of Canon's Blue Spectrum Refractive optical element are in order. Furthermore, Canon's image stabilization capabilities have come quite a long way since this lens' introduction in 2005, so expect a decent improvement in IS performance. Updating this lens in tandem with the 5D series makes perfect sense. It may also support the PZ-E1.

2. 4K Video

The 5D series became a big tool for filmmakers, and it's highly improbable that Canon won't respond by including internal 4K capabilities. Canon Rumors has confirmed this several times, along with 120 fps at 1080p capabilities. Expect DPAF (dual pixel autofocus) as well.

3. In Testing and Announcement

According to the same Canon Rumors post, the 5D Mark IV is currently in the wild and being tested by photographers. This means an announcement is likely in the coming months, with signs pointing to August. This makes sense, as Canon will not want to cannibalize sales of the 1D-X Mark II while it's still fresh on the market, but at the same time, photographers are starting to grow impatient. 

4. My Take

Here's my take on what I expect the other specs of the 5D Mark IV to be.

  1. Resolution: At 22.3 MP, the 5D Mark III was a balance between ISO performance and resolution, as compared to the 18 MP of the original 1D-X. I expect the 5D Mark IV to be between 24 and 28 MP. While some have been speculating values above 30 MP, I just don't see this happening. The 5D series is supposed to be the versatile do-all camera in Canon's lineup, and people like wedding photographers need ISO performance. Those who want resolution can always jump to the 5DS series. My guess is 24 MP, with the 6D Mark II coming in at 28 MP. 
  2. Autofocus: Much like the 5D Mark III and 1D-X, I expect the 5D Mark IV to inherit most of the 1D-X Mark II's system, meaning 61 AF points (41 cross-type). While it sounds similar to the 5D Mark III, expect an improvement in tracking abilities, as well as improved sensitivity, with at least the center point going down to -3 EV (the same as the 1D-X Mark II and 6D). There's a good chance most, if not all of the points will focus at f/8. I also would be extremely surprised if Canon didn't bring back red AF points in the viewfinder, much as the 1D-X Mark II did. Anyone who has shot a 5D Mark III in dark conditions knows how infuriating it is when you can't see the focus points in AF Servo because they're black.

    Shooting dance concerts like this are very difficult for me. Give me AF points I can see! (RED Dance Company)

  3. Dynamic Range and ISO Performance: Here's where things get interesting. I think the 5D Mark IV is going to break with tradition a bit here. The 5D Mark III has 11.7 stops of dynamic range at base ISO, and most people (myself included) find this rather limiting. This mediocre dynamic range also means poor file latitude; in particular, the 5D Mark III is known for a nasty banding issue when one raises the shadows by any significant amount. On the other hand, its ISO performance was excellent upon its release and is still very good. With the 1D-X Mark II, Canon flipped the tables a bit: they traded gains in high ISO performance for gains in low ISO dynamic range, bringing the new sensor more in line with the likes of Nikon and Sony (Ironically, it seems Nikon did the exact opposite with the D5, trading DR for ISO performance). The result was a camera with very similar high ISO performance to the 1D-X (already excellent), but with much improved dynamic range and file versatility, which has been lauded thus far. With the 5D series being a more all-around camera (and more likely to be in the hands of landscape photographers), dynamic range is all the more important. Nonetheless, expect a one-stop bump in native ISO range to 51,200. 
  4. Anti-Flicker: This technology first appeared in the 7D Mark II, followed by the 1D-X Mark II. It very slightly adjusts the timing of the shutter to avoid poor exposures caused by the flickering of certain types of overhead lights. I fully expect to see it in the 5D Mark IV. 
  5. Single DIGIC 7: Currently, only the PowerShot G7 X II sports this processor, but Canon has historically put the latest sensor and processor in their cameras, regardless of the level, so expect to see this or a DIGIC 7+ in the 5D Mark IV. The 1D-X Mark II is distinguished by having dual DIGIC 6+ processors.
  6. Touchscreen: The 1D-X Mark II has a limited touchscreen, and with the 5D series filling a filmmaking role, at the very least, it should have touch-to-focus capabilities.
  7. GPS and Wi-Fi: The 6D's GPS and Wi-Fi capabilities were very well-received. I still use the Wi-Fi to remotely control mine, as its nearly silent shutter means I can put it on a tripod very near the action and control it using my phone. I expect to see at least GPS capabilities in the 5D Mark IV.
  8. Continuous Rate: Things get tricky here. The 1D-X Mark II tops out at 14 fps. The 7D Mark II can attain 10 fps, but I don't think Canon is worried about cannibalizing the 7D series with the 5D series, as they're made for vastly different audiences. A bump of 2 fps would be relatively big considering Canon's historically slowly evolving approach, so I expect to see 7 fps. 
  9. CFast: I think we'll see the introduction of CFast, as in the 1D-X Mark II, with the second slot likely being a traditional CF slot.

As I've said before, the 5D Mark IV will be a pivotal camera for Canon. Those expecting a Sony-esque line of revolutionary features will likely be disappointed, but on the other hand, if Canon can provide a solid evolutionary upgrade, the many pros who rely on the 5D series to be the camera they can carry into almost any situation and trust to get the shot will likely be lining up to pick up its successor.

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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I've dreamed of this moment for a long time. I'v been asked if I'm going to sell my Mark III and though logic says 'Yes', my heart says 'No'. I baby my equipment and my 5DIII, being nearly 5 years old, is still in out-of-box condition and would make a stellar backup. The biggest reason, though, is that the 5DIII is where my entire career evolved. It got me freelance work and now a Monday-Friday, 9-5 photography gig with the world's largest online fitness company. It's polarized people for a long time but to me, the 5DIII is a camera that was relatively attainable and, in the right hands, more than held its own (and still does) against the best cameras out there. I will more than likely snag that 5DIV when it hits, but until it bites the dust, you'll always find my trusty 5DIII in my gear bag.

The 5D III will definitely remain as my backup when the 5D IV arrives. And I totally agree; it's capable of making excellent images in almost any situation.

Well if something works magic there is no need to ditch it after new things arrives :) I still have my D3s running next to D4s and D810 on assignments, and there are times when the D3s is the best of the three for a particular situation :)

You're keeping your 5D III partly for nostalgia, it still works, and also for backup to the IV? I understand on all counts. Two weeks ago, B&H on their Explora section posted "What to Do with Your Old Camera? Here are Six Ideas"
I'm not going to part with my 36 year old film camera, Canon A-1, because it's my first SLR; it still works; and film is still available. Likewise, I'm not going to get rid of my Canon New F-1 that I bought used in 2013 because it was Canon's flagship camera for the 80's. I'm still on the lookout for FD lenses; I bought a MacroPhoto 20mm f3.5, which is rare to find. Besides the A-1 and F-1 being functional, both have simple controls and in my opinion, both have a classic look and feel.
I agree about the 5D III being attainable since that is my first DSLR (bought in 2013). I enjoy using it and the 24-105 f4L. I don't see myself buying the 5D IV in a short time period even if the IV is revolutionary.

What do you think? ISO invariance?

I highly doubt it.

I don't think they'll go cfast and cf, more likely cfast and sd, and hopefully UHS-II to keep the speed up.

My thought as well while reading the article.

Why for the love of god, have they STILL not incorporated the Eye Control technology they had in their Elan series 15 YEARS AGO!?!? Imagine just being able to look at a focus point and voila...it focuses on that one... They've had that in their back pocket for an eternity...imagine what that technology would be like now in the vast array of focus points the 5DMKIII already provides...

While I welcome these possible improvements (and I know we will see some of them) my 5D mkII and mkIIIs are still producing money making files.
I have looked at the 5DSR and like the res and the mirror mechanism but balk at taking a bath on my current gear to get advantages my clients will never see.

I do a lot of different work but primarily architecture and portraiture so I'm not too demanding for any of these improvements but rather they fall into the nice to have.

I wonder what features we could have had if they didn't have to put in 4k video? I'm really hoping this thing is 36MP, but I'm not holding my breath. Don't get me wrong, I really like my 5DIII, but sometimes it feels like Canon is competing with themselves and not Nikon and the rest.

I really don't see the 5D IV having that kind of resolution.

I think the 5dIV will be a winner. Although I switched over to SONY last year, I am still a Canon fan and still use many of their great lenses. I know many smirk at all the DR talk. However, as a professional Architectural Photographer, the extra DR with the SONY sensor has helped us greatly speed up our work flow. When doing natural light exteriors, I now can highlight dark areas (for example wooded areas far behind a building) and bring up the shadows without major noise or the dreaded canon banding) instead of "masking in" from a higher bracket. Even when using lights, areas under a dark cabinet, etc, etc are so much easier now vs masking or setting up specific targeted lighting lighting. When I got the 5Ds, I was hoping for DR improvement but was disappointed (the 5ds is a great camera). I hired a second shooter for some work in 2014 and she used the Nikon D800 (Sony sensor). When I edited the files from her camera, I was amazed at the DR. I did not want to switch to Nikon since I had so much invested in lenses. I rented an A7r (version 1) as a second body for a magazine shoot when my Canon was getting a shutter replacement. The rented Sny became my main camera that week. That is when I decided to buy the A7rii when it was announced.

I'm dreaming with day when I'll finally put my hands on a 4K 5D!!! :D

I cannot justify buying a 5DIV and would be rather interested in a new 6DII. Any news on it?

No real news on the 6DII. It won't be announced until after the 5DIV.

Many waiting on the 5dIV would just get a new 6dii if it came out before. In reality, the 5diii is still a great camera and can be picked up pretty reasonable on the black market. I say at least a year on the 6D.

Other than weight and cost, the 5d4 will be worse in every aspect when compared to the 1dx2. If you bought a 1dx2 now and sold it used when the 5d4 comes out, I'm certain you would only lose 600-800$. And that's with months of usage.

Silent shutter? It's actually one of the primary reasons I wouldn't pull the trigger on a 1DX. (Assuming I had the money that is)

Those are 2 completely different cameras. The 1DX II is built for speed, action, sports. The 5D seris is more for weddings, landscapes, general stuff.

The point is to compare the newest features the 5d4 would have. And that point is that the 1dxii already will have them all and more. So who cares when the 5d4 comes out, just buy a 1dxii and sell it when you can and get a 5d4 then, problem solved.

Great article, but the one bullet point that's blatantly not covered is where you think Canon will price the kit and the body. I'm expecting less than $4k for the body and about $4200 for the kit.

Thanks! Likely $3,400-3,600 for the body.

An RGB+IR light meter like the 7D Mark II and 1D X Mark II that enables iTR AF is something I think most of us would expect as well. Even if it doesn't get the processing power needed to run iTR AF, I would still expect the RGB+IR meter and the advantages that offers in terms of not blowing out a single color channel under certain lighting conditions and giving Evaluative metering more data to work with to find a better match in the firmware's library of scenarios. I'm surprised this wasn't mentioned in the article.