Gear

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV vs Canon EOS 5D Mark III: What’s New?

Canon’s EOS 5D Mark IV arrived with a whole heap of changes over the previous EOS 5D Mark III model, making it a fitter fighter for both stills and video shooting. Here, we take a look at the main ways in which they vary from one another.

Design and ergonomics

Externally, there’s little that splits the two models, with the EOS 5D Mark IV very much a natural continuation of what’s come before it.

Around the front, the grip has been slightly restyled and the remote port from the side is now found in the bottom-right-hand corner, right where the model number is on the EOS 5D Mark III.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

The top plate is pretty much the same, although Canon has switched the positions of the dual-function controls on the right-hand side, and also slightly rejigged the information within the top-plate LCD.

On the rear, the only significant difference between the two is the addition of a new AF area selection button. However, a few changes that can’t be appreciated from the images alone have also been made.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

The EOS 5D Mark IV’s body is, for example, a touch smaller and lighter than its predecessor’s, and is also said to be better protected against the elements. This is thanks to revised sealing around points of potential dust and water incursion, such as the lens mount.

Furthermore, the LCD screen on the EOS 5D Mark IV is sensitive to touch, whereas the EOS 5D Mark III’s display is not. It maintains its 3.2in dimensions from the EOS 5D Mark III, but boosts resolution from 1.04million dots to 1.62million dots. A smaller change is that you can also adjust the tone of the LCD in the same way as on the EOS-1D X Mark II.

Image Quality

From installing a new sensor and an upgraded processing engine to a number of smaller changes, Canon has done much to make the newer EOS 5D Mark IV more appealing.

The most obvious change is that effective resolution jumps from 22.3MP on the EOS 5D Mark III to 30.4MP on the EOS 5D Mark IV. The ISO range of the EOS 5D Mark IV’s sensor tops out at ISO 32,000 in its native span, as opposed to ISO 25,600 as on the 5D Mark III, although expansion settings on each provide the same ISO 50- and 102,400-equivalent limits.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

The EOS 5D Mark III’s DIGIC 5+ processing engine has been updated by a DIGIC 6+ alternative for the newer model, one that boasts a superior noise reduction algorithm among other advantages. This has been accompanied by a newer 150k-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor, which uses 252 zones for analysis and even has its own DIGIC 6 engine. Canon says this provides better subject detection and tracking performance, next to the 63-zone iFCL version found inside the EOS 5D Mark III.

Special features

Perhaps the most exciting change between the two is the addition of Canon’s impressive Dual Pixel CMOS AF system on the EOS 5D Mark IV. This is made possible through the new sensor, which allows for phase-detect AF to be performed when the mirror is flipped up (ie for live view and movie recording).

The advantage? You can have the camera focus faster and more fluidly when using the LCD than would otherwise be the case, and maintain focus on subjects as they move around the scene (even with Face Detection if you need it). Not only that, but thanks to the touchscreen, you can also pull focus between subjects when shooting videos with a simple tap, with the system keeping transitions smooth and professional.

This system also allows for a further option called Dual Pixel RAW. When enabled, this allows for the point of best sharpness to be shifted in post-production when using Canon’s DPP software. Through the same program you can also shift out-of-focus highlights and reduce ghosting effects.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

Other important improvements on the newer model include a better vertical spread of AF points across the frame, although the AF system on each model features the same 61 points, with 41 of these cross type. Burst rate has also jumped from 6fps on the EOS 5D Mark III to 7fps on the Mark IV, while built-in Wi-Fi, NFC and a GPS system – all missing from the EOS 5D Mark III – are included on the newer model.

Video Quality

The big news here is that the EOS 5D Mark IV gains 4K video recording over the EOS 5D Mark III’s more standard Full HD option (although EOS 5D Mark III users may soon be able to call on Magic Lantern to fix that for them). This records to the fairly inefficient Motion JPEG format, although one advantage of this is that the 8.8MP frame grabs that can be extracted from 4K footage stand to be high in quality because of it.

4K footage is recorded in the DCI 4K (4096 x 2160) format, at a choice of frame rates up to 30p, with 4:2:2 chroma subsampling. This is currently subject to a 1.74x crop factor, although there are rumours of a forthcoming firmware update that will decrease this. You can also output uncompressed footage through the camera’s HDMI port, although only in Full HD resolution.

Conclusion

The EOS 5D Mark IV is clearly a far more significant step up from the EOS 5D Mark III than that model was from its Mark II predecessor, which makes its premium a little easier to swallow. Its many and varied changes make it far more futureproof against its many rivals, although certain functionality – particularly with regards to video – is already being bettered by some cheaper options.

The newer model is understandably quite a bit pricier right now, so if you don’t need that extra resolution and you’ve no interest in video, you may well be served perfectly well by the EOS 5D Mark III. It’s entirely possible that Canon may reduce its asking price as it nears the end of its shelf life too.