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Canon EOS 1D MkIV Digital SLR Review

Canon EOS 1D MkIV Digital SLR Review - Preview of the Canon EOS 1D Mk IV digital DSLR camera by Will Cheung.

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Category : Digital SLRs
Product : Canon EOS-1D Mark IV
Price : £920
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Features
Handling
Performance
Summary
Specification

Will Cheung gets the chance for a hands-on experience with the Canon EOS 1D Mk IV. Here are this early impressions.

Nikon with their D3S raised the ISO bar late last year. With a top true ISO of 12,800 and the option of shooting at H+3 giving an equivalent ISO of 102,400, you can almost shoot without any light at all. Almost! Admittedly, image quality at this rarefied speed is nothing to write home about, but film got nowhere remotely close.

It has not taken long for Canon to respond in the form of the EOS 1D Mk IV. In fact, the Canon was announced a week after the Nikon D3S – it is just that the Canon has taken rather longer to come to market. Rumours of the full-frame EOS 1Ds Mk IV arriving later this year have already been around for a while.
 
Canon EOS 1D MkIV: Features
Like the Nikon D3S, the 1D Mk IV promises an amazing ISO performance, but in this case the camera uses a 1.3x cropped sensor rather than the Nikon FX, near full-frame format of the D3S.
 
Canon's 16Mp pro level DSLR has a slightly different emphasis and shooting speed is a big selling factor, so press and sports shooters are target users. It is claimed that it can shoot 121 Large JPEGs at its top continuous shooting speed of 10 frames-per-second.
 
There is also a new AF system with 45 user-selectable sensors, 39 of which are cross-type points with equal sensitivity in horizontal and vertical axes – with a few exceptions, you need f/2.8 or faster lenses to make the most of the system. These 39 cross-type sensors are only available for manual AF point selection. The AF options are truly plentiful (to put it mildly) and the system has its own instruction manual outlining set-up so we will go into greater depth when Canon finally get us a test sample. For this preview, I kept it simple and used default settings.
From afar and the logo aside, the Mk IV looks like just like previous 1D cameras.
The back is bustling with controls but the layout is clear so no problem with handling. The interface stuff is located on the left end of the camera body.
 
Canon EOS 1D MkIV: Handling
In the hand, the Mk IV has a very similar overall lookand feel to older versions of the 1D. Owners of the older cameras will be immediately at home with this model, even though there are more features packed into the body.
 
For non-Canon EOS 1D users, pick it up and you will enjoy the solidity and robustness of the Mk IV's body. It simply feels like a 'professional' camera. You can imagine it withstanding a drenching on the touchline of a football match, or working in the extreme cold of a winter sports event, or the heat of a safari shoot, and it just continue to whirr away without missing a beat.
 
The only thing about handling I did find was that a little while with the instructions is strongly advised. Just take custom functions as an example: there are 62 of them with 177 settings.

Canon EOS 1D MkIV: Performance
The exposure system was consistent so no issues here. I had the camera set to its 63-zone Evaluative metering system, mostly in aperture-priority or manual when I was using studio flash.
 
Shooting into the light in a dark night club still produced acceptable exposures without any help from me. The highlights burned out but that was better than losing shadow details in this instance.
 
I did find that while the AF is excellent the system set-up does need more thought than just using default if you are going to get the most from it. I managed a few out of focus images when the subject was off-centre, but this was probably more user-error than the camera. Thankfully, there are no signs of any focusing gremlins, ie an inability to produce sharp images, which afflicted early samples of the 1D Mk III.
 
Automatic white-balance performance was generally okay too, but my outdoor images were slightly on the cool-looking side. Again, this is not an issue and easily sorted with proper set-up. AWB performance in artificial lighting was not great, but the colour temperature of the lights in the club I did some shots was probably beyond the 3000-7000K AWB operating range of the Mk IV.
 
I did explore the camera's ISO range in a little more detail. As you can see from the sample images, digital noise performance is generally impressive. Sadly, I did not have a Nikon D3S to hand to do a comparison test, but looking at the images in low light I would be happy to shoot with the Mk IV at ISO 12,800 without any qualms. Yes, there is noise in the form of green blotchiness but it is not horrible. At the equivalent of ISO25,600 the colour blotchiness is more evident and, as you would expect, it gets less impressive at the higher settings.
 
In sum, the proper ISO settings (ie those up to ISO12,800) are perfectly usable but tread a little more warily and manage your expectations beyond that setting. Generally, though, great stuff.
 
Canon EOS 1D Mk IV noise test: view high resolution images by clicking on the individual thumbnails below.
ISO100 ISO200 ISO400 ISO 800
       
ISO1600 ISO3200 ISO6400 ISO12,800
      Digital noise performance is impressive up to ISO 12,800.
H+1 (ISO 25,600 H+2 (ISO 51,200) H+3 (ISO 102,400) Thanks to Kirstyn Moppett for modelling.
 
View high resolution images by clicking on the individual thumbnails below
Tricky lighting, well handled. Contrasty light was not a problem.
Good AWB performance in the shade. The sky appears cooler than in reality.


DxOMark provides objective, independent, RAW-based image quality performance data for lenses and digital cameras to help you select the best equipment to meet your photographic needs.

Visit the DxOMark website for tests performed on the Canon EOS 1D MkIV.

Canon EOS 1D MkIV: Summary
So far, so good. I enjoyed my brief spell with the Mk IV. It worked well and felt inspiring to use. I really would have liked the time to tinker with the AF and Custom Function settings to really fine-tune the camera to my preferences (handling and performance) but that is something I look forward to doing when we get a review sample.
 
For £3734.99 from Warehouse Express, making the decision to buy a Mk IV is no trifling matter and you need to be more than a little certain that you are going to get the most from it. However, even from this preview I can say with some degree of certainty that the Mk IV certainly has more features, ability and performance than most enthusiast photographers will ever, ever need. So if you are in the market and still sitting on the fence, perhaps it is time to get off it.

Canon EOS 1D MkIV: Specification
Price £3734.99
Contact www.canon.co.uk
Resolution 16.1Mp
Sensor size 27.9mmx18.6mm APS-H
Sensor type CMOS
Max image size 4896x3264
Aspect ratio 3:2
Focusing system TTL-AREA-SIR with dedicated CMOS sensor
Focus points 45 point sensors of which 39 are cross-type
Focus types One shot, AI servo
Crop factor 1.3x
Lens mount EF
File types sRaw (14bit), Raw, JPEG
ISO sensitivity ISO100-12,800, expandable to equivalent ISO50, ISO25,600, ISO51,200 & ISO102,400
Metering system TTL full aperture with 63 zone SPC
Metering types Evaluative, Partial, spot (centre-spot, AF linked spot)
Exposure compensation +/- 3EV in 1/3 or 1/2 step increments
Shutter speed range 30sec - 1/8000sec & bulb
Frames per second 10fps for 121 images JPEG, 28 images Raw with UDMA card
Flash sync speed 1/300sec
Image stabilisation Lens based
Live view Yes, 100% coverage
Viewfinder Pentaprism, 100% coverage, 0.76x magnification
Monitor 3in  Clear View I I TFT, 920,000 dots (307,000 pixels)
Media type Compactflash I/II, Microdrive, UDMA enabled, SD, SDHC, external (with wireless file transmitter WFT-E2 and WFT-E2 II only)
Interface USB 2.0
Power Li-Ion battery LP-E4
Size 156x156.6x79.9mm
Weight  1180g

The Canon EOS 1D MkIV costs £3734.99 and is available from Warehouse Express here:

Canon EOS 1D MkIV



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Photographs taken using the Canon EOS-1D Mark IV

GodwitKingfishercraggwildlifeCommon TernIndian Roller.........craggwildlifecraggwildlifePine marten with Water voleTornadoGreat Crested GrebesBuzzardcraggwildlifeHouse SparrowWhooper swan coming into landWhooper swan taking off
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Comments


thanks for the info!!

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Julian 9 76 3 United Kingdom
30 Apr 2010 11:15PM

Quote: Canon's 16Mp pro level DSLR has a slightly different emphasis and shooting speed is a big selling factor, so press and sports shooters are target users. It is claimed that it can shoot 121 Large JPEGs at its top continuous shooting speed of 10 frames-per-second.

Is this really much better or worse than the Nikon D3s ( 9fps or 11 fps crop mode) and D3?

Did you ever review the Canon EOS 1d Mk3? If so how does it compare?

Julian
drayl002 4 34 4 United Kingdom
13 Aug 2010 8:52AM
omg How much does it cost. My full set cost just over 400!

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