I’ve never shot with a full frame camera before a week ago, but the Canon 5D Mark IV is the first full frame DSLR I’ve seen that has the full range of specs I want from a camera – touch screen, WiFi, etc. I rented it for a week from Borrow Lenses, and here are my impressions.
This model’s operation is extraordinary. Everything is easy to understand (important since the rental didn’t come with a manual or the time to read one). Connecting it to my phone was a matter of only seconds to do, and the connection was very stable. The dedicated buttons for picture review, rating, etc. on the back were very easy to operate, the joystick button was, true to its name, a joy – much nicer to use than the D-Pad on my 70D. Combined with the abilities of the touch screen, it made rating photos during two sporting events (football and volleyball) a breeze, allowing me to cull my photos in the field without missing a play.
Ouch. I went through nearly two batteries at full power during 1.5 football games (varsity and freshman games). That’s nearly twice as fast as my 70D. I wouldn’t think of taking this camera out without at least four batteries to back me up, and I only have three (including the one from the rental). Battery drain was unacceptably high.
I was most excited to see the tremendous quality difference a full frame sensor would make over my crop sensor. I mean really excited. Perhaps my expectations were too high. When zoomed in, I could see minute distinctions between the 5D and 70D in noise reduction – and it is true that more of my shots with the 5D were in sharp focus than the 70D. It’s not clear to me whether this was from some magical technology in the camera, or just better shooting on my part. I carried both the 5D and 70D with me to both sporting events, interchanged lenses between them – and I honestly can’t see a hugely significant difference.
Well, there is one difference. There is enormous lens vignetting on the 5D that is not present with the same lens on the 70D. It was correctable with Lightroom so not a killer (easy enough to create an import default preset to manage it) but the level of vignetting using professional quality lenses was striking.
The other difference I was particularly looking for was stop improvement. I’d always been led to believe that a full frame sensor will gain between 1-2 stops over a crop sensor. Such was not the case between these two bodies. Using identical ISO, shutter speed and aperture, there was virtually no visible difference in the image exposure of the same general scene.
I have better uses for the price of a 5D. Studio equipment, new lenses – almost anything would produce higher quality images for me than this camera body. While the operation of it was intuitive and fast, image quality offered little improvement and in some ways suffered against the image quality of the 70D. The battery drain was really not insignificant in reaching a conclusion either. It was shockingly bad. I really wanted to have to struggle with my conscience about spending the money on this camera, but there is no debate in my mind. I’m better off with what I have.