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Has Canon Answered Our Prayers With The Canon EOS 1D Mark IV?

Canon has finally pulled the covers on the long awaited Canon EOS 1D Mark IV, but the question is on all our minds: will it deliver and deliver exceptionally good?

The Canon EOS 1D/1Ds Mark III dSLRs have been what the Vista operating system has been to Microsoft: plagued by problems and bad press. So rather than releasing a 1D Mark IIIn (essentially a mid-year update), Canon has released, what many of us Canon photographers hope, is our saving bliss: a brand new model.

So what does the new Canon EOS 1D Mark IV have in terms of features? Of course none of us can help but compare, so let’s see how things stack up against Nikon’s latest professional dSLR release, the Nikon D3s:

SLR Cameras Canon EOS 1D Mark IV Nikon D3s Winner
Year Introduced October 20, 2009 October 14, 2009
Cost $4,999.00 MSRP $5,199.95 MSRP 1D Mark IV
Sensor Size 27.9 x 18.6 mm (APS-H) 36 x 24 mm (FX) D3s (if you’re a full-frame person)
Viewfinder 100%, 0.76x magnification 100%, 0.70x magnification 1D Mark IV
Max Resolution 4896 x 3264 4256 x 2832 (FX), 3552 x 2368 (1.2x), 2784 x 1848 (DX) 1D Mark IV
Megapixels 16.1 12.1 Depends on who you ask.
ISO rating 100-12800 in 1, 1/2 or 1/3 EV steps, with 50, 25600, 51200, and 102400 as options 200-12800 in 1, 1/2, 1/3 EV steps, with 100, 25600, 51200, and 102400 as options TIE
Auto Focus type 45-point (39 cross-types) Auto-Focus sensor 51-point (15 cross-types) Auto-Focus sensor More AF points or more cross-types…
Metering Evaluative, Partial, Spot, 3D Color Matrix Metering II, Center Weighted, Spot
Crop Factor 1.3 (native) 1.0 (native), 1.2, 1.5 (DX) D3s
Continuous Drive 10 fps for 121 JPEG or 26 RAW 9 fps for 130 JPEG or 48 RAW D3s
Storage Types Compact Flash (Type I or II) with UDMA support and SD/SDHC Dual Compact Flash (Type I or II) with UDMA support
LCD 3.0 inches 3.0 inches same
LCD Pixels 922,000 922,000 same
Battery Lithium-Ion LP-E4 Lithium-Ion EN-EL4a/EL4
Weight 1180 g (2.6 lb) 1240 g (2.72 lb) 1D Mark IV
Dimensions 156 x 156.6 x 79.9 mm (6.1 x 6.2 x 3.1 in) 160 x 157 x 88 mm (6.3 x 6.2 x 3.4 in)
Video HD Movie 1080p HD Movie 720p 1D Mark IV

So some of the most exciting new features are: the insane high ISO capabilities, the ability to select any one of the 45-point AF points (the Mark III only let you select a cluster of 19-AF points)  and HD movie. There was a bit of internet speculation as to what Canon was going to do with the APS-H (27.9 x 18.6 mm) sensor; some thought that because Nikon had decidedly went full-frame with both their photojournalist/sports camera as their high resolution studio camera, that Canon would follow suite and ax the APS-H, but looks like Canon is not ready to give up on that sensor size just yet. It would have been nice if they had done full-frame and given us a crop option of 1.3x like the D3s does with 1.2x and 1.5x (DX). Having shot full-frame for a long time now, I’m actually starting to like the semi-cropped sensor size again. My biggest complaint with full-frame is that all the auto-focus sensors are clustered in the center of the frame making it extremely difficult to use fast glass (f/2.0 and faster), frame a subject or object in the far outer frames and lock focus on the eyes, etc. With the crop sensor, the auto-focus sensor cluster is still in the same area, but the surface area has gotten smaller meaning that there is much better AF coverage.

I’m glad that Canon pulled out all the stops with this release. With the Canon EOS 1D Mark III, Canon thought that Nikon would not touch it’s high ISO capabilities and only released the ability to shoot up to ISO 6400, so they were in for an obvious shock when the Nikon D3 was released with a high ISO capability of 25,600. Then Canon released the 1Ds Mark III with ISO up to 3200 (same as the 1Ds Mark II) and then Nikon released the D3x capable of ISO 6400. If Canon had released the Mark IV with ISO up to 25,600 or even 51,200, I think that would have been the nail in the coffin, but fortunately this time, they have pulled out all the stops. As a wedding photographer, high ISO is a must, especially given how precarious lighting is for receptions.

The addition of a video feature is also great. With the latest craze of “fusion”, photography and videography combined, this feature will be an added benefit for wedding photographers like us.

Now finally, the auto-focus points and focusing. I’m disappointed that Canon hasn’t upped the 45-focus points to something like 51 or more, but given all the focusing issues with the Mark III series, I’m hoping they redesigned or readjusted the auto-focus system. Having used the 1D/1Ds Mark III auto-focus system, I can say the auto-focus acquisition is certainly noticeably faster than my 1D/1Ds Mark II even in lower light conditions. One of the biggest mistakes Canon made with the Mark III was that limiting of auto-focus selection points. Whereas previous 1D series allowed us to manually select any of the 45-points, the new Mark III series only allowed us to select 19 of the 45-points which was extremely annoying for me when it came to framing. It would always be right in between what I needed and I would have to recompose the frame in a way that I didn’t want and had to crop the image in post. That’s a bad design when you force the photographer to have to change their framing just to make the tool work for you. Also having 39 cross-types is very nice compared to the 19 on the Mark III and 7 on the Mark II.

Looking purely at the specs, it’s as if the sleeping giant has awaken. But we won’t know for sure until we see some production image samples and if Canon can finally rid itself of the embarrassing focusing issues. But for the moment, I applaud Canon for releasing a potent new tool, at least on paper. I’ll be ordering mine if and when positive reviews start appearing…

Check out Rob Galbraith’s site for more in-depth information and also DPReview has some stuff on their website too. Also check out the AMAZING video by Vincent LaForet here. Read the official press release here and enjoy the pictures below:


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3 Responses to “Has Canon Answered Our Prayers With The Canon EOS 1D Mark IV?”

  1. sefa celiksap says:

    I have been workink since 1987 with canon, but my cauntry seller want twice theprice of this injustice. (dollar 8000)

  2. Richard Bui says:

    Damn! That is some major INJUSTICE!!! A 1Ds must be the price of a car where you live!

  3. Richard Bui says:

    Damn! That is some major INJUSTICE!!! A 1Ds must be the price of a car where you live!

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