Making the Canon 5D Mark IV Soup

The following is a satirical look on how Canon designed the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV – followed by a little more serious discussion.

Sitting on the old, weathered coffee table in my office, the camera is waiting for the validation tests for Kuuvik Capture 2.5

Sitting on the old, weathered coffee table in my office, the camera is waiting for the validation tests for Kuuvik Capture 2.5. It makes a killer combo with the EF 35mm f/2 IS lens, just like the 5D Mark III did.

Ok, so let’s begin with the ingredients:

The recipe is pretty straightforward, anybody having access to these quality ingredients can cook it after a few years of making soups like this.

Take the EOS 5DS R, and replace the sensor with a new one based on the current generation design with on-chip ADC (like the ones in the 80D and 1D X Mark II). Since the sensor is a bit smaller resolution than the one it replaces, frame rate can be increased a bit. Peel the 7D Mark II and add its weather sealing and a slightly modified version of the AF point selector switch to the bowl.

Crush the 1D X Mark II, but be careful that both the GPS unit and the AF sensor remain unharmed, we’ll need them. Unfortunately crushing the body will destroy the red AF point illumination and the CFast card slot, so there’s no chance to improve our soup with those extremely fine parts. Yes, use the GPS unit from the 1D X II, since the 7D II’s unit has a digital compass, and that might cause disorientation and dizziness even in small doses.

Cut the 80D in half, pull out the touchscreen and the Wi-Fi. But be extremely careful to clean the Wi-Fi thoroughly, otherwise the soup will taste like crap. Add these to the bowl. Season to taste with Dual Pixel RAW.

— ooo —

Tech companies (and Canon is no exception, just like us) love to reuse existing components in new products. This greatly improves return on investment (good for the company) and reliability (good for the customer).

The 5D Mark IV is a premier example of smart cooking from these components. It’s a serious upgrade for anyone using the 5D Mark III and doesn’t need high resolution or high frame rate. That is, a highly versatile generalist camera.

But since I own and love a 5DS R and a 1D X Mark II, this soup is not for me. I have been using a high res + high speed combination for years, and I prefer it to a single generalist camera, or even a pair of those cameras (I had a 5D Mark III for years, but life is much better now).

Stringent Look - Canon EOS 5D Mark III with EF 500mm f/4L IS USM + 1.4x III

Stringent Look – Canon EOS 5D Mark III with EF 500mm f/4L IS USM + 1.4x III

Photos in this post were made with the 5D Mark III years ago – despite having a rental body for adding it to Kuuvik Capture, I had no time to go out and shoot (not to mention that the weather was dull). But since the Mark IV is s direct replacement of the Mark III, they illustrate the kind of images I usually make with a body like this.

There are things that I really miss, however:

  • CFast 2.0. The 1D X Mark II showed that they are in a completely different league in speed and user experience compared to CF. With CFast the Mark IV’s smallish buffer (21 shots) would not be an issue at all.
  • UHS-II for the SD card slot. UHS-II would be a lower cost alternative to CFast 2.0 (but still faster than CompactFlash: speed ratings are 633x for UHS-I, 1066x for CF, 2000x for UHS-II, 3500x for CFast).
  • USB Type-C socket. The USB3 Micro-B socket the Mark IV (and all USB3 Canons) uses is the worst connector plug I ever saw (only Apple’s 30-pin dock connector comes close). Fragile, hard to insert properly with cold fingers, etc, etc. Canon (and everyone) should use the reversible USB3 Type-C plug these days. With A-to-C cables for legacy computers only having an A socket.
  • Red AF point illumination. See my former opinion about the crappy solution used in every contemporary Canon except the 1D X Mark II.
  • Usable Wi-Fi. The 5D Mark IV shares the snail-like Wi-Fi implementation of the 6D/70D/80D. Come on Canon, 9MB/s peak transfer speed over 802.11n for a 30mp camera? In 2016? To make things worse, you can’t use a much faster WFT-E7 external transmitter to speed up wireless tethering.
Window Remnants - Canon EOS 5D Mark III with EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

Window Remnants – Canon EOS 5D Mark III with EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

Would I recommend it to a friend?

It boils down to a pair of points: if you need ultra high resolution and are willing to spend a small fortune on lenses that actually can deliver the resolution, then no. In this case get a 5DS R, which is prominently usable even for birding. Or if you need a high-fps camera, then don’t fret about the Mark IV’s frame rate, go get a 1D X or 7D II for yourself.

But in all other cases I can recommend the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV – it’s a really nice camera and a joy to use. Well, it’s not a surprise as all professional Canons I happened to use since (and including) the 5D Mark III were exceptional tools. And I totally agree with Canon’s philosophy to please actual photographers and not tech journalists and bloggers (you know, the kind harshly complaining about “lack of innovation”).

Shameless plug

If you are upgrading from an older camera, such as the 5D Mark II, 5D Mark III or either 7D, you’ll probably need my ShutterCount app to let the buyer know how many shutter actuations your old camera has.

Aurora Over the Lake

We had been chasing the northern lights for a couple of days now. After two nights with no results at all, yesterday the gods of Valhalla smiled at us. Well, it takes quite a bit of planning (location-wise) as well as weather and aurora forecast monitoring in addition to some help from Asgard.

Arrived to the location just around sunset, so we had a little time to find the best place. We were eagerly awaiting the dark since hemispheric power already crossed the 30GW line, meaning that a gorgeous display was going to happen. And it did.

Aurora Over the Lake

Aurora Over the Lake

During the night we photographed three locations, and the above image is one of my several favorites. How the Zeiss Otus 1.4/28 on the Canon 5DS R performed is simply breathtaking. It resolves fine filaments, colors are stunning, stars are mostly points (there’s a little bit of coma wide open).

It was the best aurora photography session of my life to date. And not just that, but an unforgettable experience.

No Trespassing, Please

There are two ways up to this waterfall. One of them is picturesque 4km uphill hike along the river. The other is a private dirt road, ending half a kilometer shy of the place. There’s also a huge “No Trespassing” sign on the private road.

Turquoise Waters

Turquoise Waters

Of course we did the hike, and it was an absolutely great experience. Both visually and physically. What bothers me is how many people chose to trespass someone else’s land for the convenience’s sake.

Just think about it. You have something interesting in you backyard: how would you feel when hordes of tourists start to invade your property?

Shooting a Waterfall in the Rain

One of the things I had learned during the last decade is that image making is a pursuit that involves a healthy amount of plastic bags and gaffer tape to solve various problems.

Let’s take the following image for example.

Smooth and Rough

Smooth and Rough

There was a light rain when we arrived, not to mention the water droplets from the waterfall that the wind slammed in our face. It was a blessing to walk the scene with the Mark II Artist’s Viewfinder with no need to open the backpack and soak several lenses just to find a composition.

In my favorite composition (of the several I tried in just a few minutes) I wanted to emphasize the clash of dark rough rocks and light smooth water. So I needed a long exposure to smooth out the water flow. Unlike the 5DS R, none of my Zeiss lenses are weather sealed. And water accumulating on the LEE Big Stopper is also problematic. Since I don’t carry an umbrella (which would be the trivial solution), I used the largest water-resistant thing in my bag: the Shadepirate flag in the plastic bag I used to carry it in.

Shadepirate flag functioning as an umbrella

Shadepirate flag functioning as an umbrella

Some extra light also came from the direction of rain/water so the flag actually served double-duty. The setup worked quite well, and had to wipe just a small amount of water from the filter between exposures.