Stanley Kubrick has reshot 2001 A Space Odyssey in stunning 1.74x crop format to celebrate the launch of the Canon 5D Mark IV but he’s not happy about the result!!!

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Yet another 4 year wait is over. Here’s a list of great things about the 5D Mark IV…

  1. Dual Pixel AF.

Finally photographers can touch the screen to focus. Woohoo. Let’s not forget however, most photographers use the optical viewfinder, otherwise Canon would have jumped into the mirrorless market a long time ago. So OK in live view mode, photographers can touch the screen to focus. Woohoo. However the 5D Mark IV lacks an articulated screen making most live view shooting quite literally a pain in the neck. The 5D Mark IV is also a pain in the pocket. £3600 in the UK!

So it begs the question – why would anyone interested in stills buy the 30MP 5D Mark IV and not the 50MP 5DS R? They are even priced the same! OK, so the MK IV has Dual Pixel AF, but 30MP is no-man’s land… significantly down on the 42MP of the Sony A7R II and the 50MP of the 5DS…. yet not low enough to deliver tip-top low light performance either!

Anyway, that’s enough about photographers, what about video shooters…

Here’s a list of great things about the 5D Mark IV for video shooters…

  1. Nothing

Yes that’s right.

You guessed it.

The 5D Mark IV is a f*** up as enormous as the size of its crop in 4K mode.

To be precise, 1.74x.

£3600 for a Micro Four Thirds camera?

No it’s worse than that. It’s a Micro Four Thirds camera with an MJPEG codec that you can’t use a Metabones Speed Booster or PL cinema lenses on… or most cinema lenses for that matter.

My satire wasn’t meant to be taken as a documentary by Canon.

And it would have been at least ETHICAL for them to mention the crop in the official specifications.

They haven’t

MJPEG returns! Oh no!

Don’t be fooled by the headline grabbing bitrate of MJPEG. If MJPEG used the same 100Mbit/s bitrate as H.264 / XAVC for manageable file sizes, the image would simply fall apart. The only reason it needs such a high bitrate is to maintain an acceptable level of image quality. This means that for anything longer than a few minutes of shooting per week, you’re going to be spending thousands on hard drives to archive the original files. Thousands of dollars in wasted storage space due to an inefficient codec.

With the Canon 1D C which came out in 2012 the MJPEG codec wasn’t quite acceptable, but hey it was 2012!

As a 1D C owner (and believe me this is the better camera compared to the 5D IV) I’ve had no choice but to do lengthy transcoding runs on my footage to convert it to ProRes, not just to reduce the amount of storage I waste but to get it to playback without issues in my edit. MJPEG isn’t a very well supported or accelerated video format. In fact it dates back to the 1990s.

On the subject of the Canon 1D C, it can now be bought used for the same price or even less than a new 5D Mark IV.

It doesn’t have the slow-mo 120fps mode of the 5D Mark IV but this aspect is also a major disappointment. Only 720p and heavily line-skipped. There are far better alternatives for slow mo out there such as the Sony A7S II and RX100 IV.

Maybe Canon should have listened to what filmmakers said about the 1D C and taken this criticism on board, so they did not repeat the same mistakes on the 5D Mark IV.

Canon had to lower the price of the 1D C from $12,000 to $5000. This gives you an impression of how the mistakes they made with that camera hurt sales. No ergonomic concessions for video usage. No articulated screen. No 4K HDMI output and no suitable modern codec. This price drop was unprecedented for any Canon camera of it’s kind. Now Canon have repeated every single mistake with the 5D Mark IV, and in fact made a worse camera than 4 years ago. The 5D Mark IV is their most important non-Cinema EOS camera for video on the market.

How could this happen? The 30MP sensor looks to me like a silly marketing move – the megapixel race back with a vengeance but well short of a useful number like 50MP. Back in 2007 the 1D S Mark III was announced and then the similar 21MP sensor ended up in the 5D Mark II. This should have happened this time with the sensor from the 1D X Mark II going into the 5D Mark IV. Instead the 30MP reducing low light performance, the lack of Canon LOG and the enormous crop in 4K completely kill it versus the Canon 1D C, even though it is 4 years old body. It has a much nicer 1.3x crop of the full frame sensor, near enough to real full frame that makes no difference. It’s very easy to substitute a 28mm wide angle lens with a 24mm or a 24 with a 20. Much harder to see your lovely 24-70mm II become a 42mm at the wide end on the 5D Mark IV and having to substitute your fast 24mm F1.4 wide angle lens with a 14mm F2.8 just to get the same field of view… and as for ultra-wide angle shooting in 4K, forget that altogether.

The 1D C has Canon LOG which allows your footage to be graded extensively and colour corrected with professional software like Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve, using LUTs. The 5D Mark IV has no Canon LOG to speak of, even though all their BIGGEST rivals have it – Sony, Panasonic, even Fuji!! Nikon even have a close-to-LOG flat picture profile which yields very good results in the grade. Canon LOG would also have extended the dynamic range of video on the 5D Mark IV by at least 2 stops!

Canon 5D Mark IV 4K Video Crop

Utterly misleading

The 5D Mark IV is a full frame camera. It is priced as one. Therefore it should shoot like one. On Micro Four Thirds a 2x crop wasn’t an issue. Number 1 – it was stated as such on the box and in the specs. In use – there’s plenty of lenses designed for the 2x crop on this format and of course various Speed Boosters eliminate the 2x crop altogether giving you a Super 35mm camera with Canon EF mount.

As a stills / video hybrid, you need EF-S lens coverage in 4K mode and EF lens coverage in stills mode. Fancy changing the lens between stills and video mode? No, I don’t. Especially since most of the EF-S stuff won’t even mount on the 5D Mark IV due to the large mirror in the way.

Canon and their paid up corporate stooges have of course been very careful not to mention anything about the 1.74x crop in their advertorials, which is plain misleading. The 5D Mark IV is marketed fundamentally as a full frame camera that shoots cutting edge 4K video.

It is time for Canon to admit the truth – they have no interest in following through with their hype. DSLR video is dead. They are not going to give us a real hybrid stills / video camera. They keeping banging on about how they believe stills and motion are merging and converging, yet when it comes to the crunch and their users pony up the cash, they don’t deliver.

The only way out of this mess is for Canon to take Sony’s and Panasonic’s approach to maximising video functionality on stills cameras and give us a proper, separate model which has a balanced spec between video and stills priced under $3k. People NEED a viable stills-capable alternative to the pro video lines they offer. The 5D Mark IV was a 4 and a half year wait and I have no doubt that it will be an equally long time before the next one arrives. That’s a long time to suffer the indignity of a full frame camera with 1.74x crop 4K and no lenses designed to fit that format.

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British filmmaker and editor of EOSHD. On this blog I share my creative and technical knowledge as I shoot.