Canon 5D IV Technical Info

by Mike Tomkins | Posted: 08/25/2016

Body and weather sealing

Although it looks much like the 5D III before it and features almost exactly the same control layout, the Canon 5D Mark IV actually has a newly-designed body. Compared to that of the 5D III, the 5D IV's chassis and external panels are designed both for greater rigidity, and to better-radiate heat during operation. (Most likely, heat output during 4K video capture was a primary concern during development.)

Inside, the 5D IV's chassis consists of aluminum and engineering plastic, while the mirror box is also plastic. On the outside, magnesium alloy is used for front, rear and bottom panels, and Canon says that a new coating on these has better wear resistance.

The company also tells us that the EOS 5D Mark IV is weather-sealed to the same degree as the 7D Mark II, and to a greater level than was the 5D III before it. In particular, sealing around the lens mount, shutter button, video switch, battery and card compartment doors, and the windows for the remote control, self-timer lamp and card access lamp are said to have been improved.


At the heart of the Canon EOS 5D IV is a brand-new 30.4-effective megapixel, full-frame image sensor. Compared to the 22.3-megapixel chip in the 5D III, the new one has about 17% higher linear resolution, on paper at least. It's not the highest-resolution sensor in Canon's lineup -- the 51-megapixel chip shared by the EOS 5DS and 5DS R takes that honor -- but it's higher-res than any other Canon DSLR bar those two.

Total resolution of the Canon 5D IV's sensor is 31.7 megapixels, and it has dimensions of 36.0 x 24.0mm. A low-pass filter is included to help combat moiré and false-colors artifacts. And unlike the earlier design, the Canon 5D IV's sensor has on-chip phase detection autofocus pixels, or Dual Pixel CMOS AF in Canon parlance.


Output from the new image sensor is handled by a DIGIC 6+ image processor. That's the same specification as is used in the EOS-1DX II, but where that camera has twin processors, the EOS 5D IV has just one. By way of comparison, the 5D III used an earlier-generation DIGIC 5+ processor.


Despite the significant increase in sensor resolution, the Canon 5D IV still shares the same overall sensitivity range as its predecessor. And impressively, a greater proportion of that range is available by default, without the need to enable ISO sensitivity expansion.

By default, a range of ISO 100 to 32,000-equivalents is available, which means you can roam a little higher than the ISO 25,600 default limit for the 5D III. Enable ISO expansions, and the full sensitivity range of ISO 50 to 102,400-equivalents will be available.

Burst performance

Even more impressively, despite a one-third increase in the amount of data included in each photo, the Canon EOS 5D IV is manufacturer-rated to shoot a full one frame per second faster than its predecessor. Where the 5D III topped out at six frames per second to manufacturer ratings, the Canon 5D IV will manage a full seven frames per second, according to its maker. Use of Dual Pixel RAW, Digital Lens Optimizer or Anti-flicker functions will slow this rate somewhat.

According to Canon, at the maximum seven fps capture rate you can expect to capture as many as 19-21 raw frames or 14-16 raw + large/fine JPEG frames in a burst, so long as you're using a sufficiently fast card. (That is to say, either UDMA CompactFlash or UHS-I Secure Digital cards.) If you're shooting solely JPEGs, you should be able to continue for as long as card space and battery power remain. Enabling Dual Pixel RAW shooting will reduce the buffer to just seven frames.

If you don't need quite this much performance, a low-speed continuous shooting mode is also provided, offering a maximum of three fps shooting. There's also a silent continuous shooting mode, which has the same three fps capture rate.


As a full-frame DSLR, the Canon 5D Mark IV accepts EF-mount lenses, but not the company's sub-frame EF-S or mirrorless-oriented EF-M lenses. Kit lens choices include either the EF 24-70mm f/4 L or EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM zoom lenses, or you can opt to buy the camera body-only if you prefer.

Like the 5D III before it, the Canon 5D IV includes the ability to correct for common lens defects with first-party lenses automatically. These include vignetting, chromatic aberration, distortion and diffraction.


As you'd expect in a DSLR at this pricepoint, the Canon 5D IV includes a thru-the-lens pentaprism optical viewfinder. Coverage is manufacturer-rated at 100% both horizontally and vertically, and the finder has a 21mm eyepoint from the eyepiece lens. Magnification is 0.71x, and a diopter adjustment ranging from -3 to +1 diopters is also included.

Compared to the 5D III, the viewfinder overlay in the 5D IV has been upgraded. It's basically the same Intelligent Viewfinder II system, which uses a monochrome LCD overlay but can also illuminate focus points in red for better visibility against dark backgrounds.

Touch-screen LCD

On the rear panel of the Canon 5D IV is a 3.2-inch, 3:2-aspect LCD monitor with a total resolution of around 1,620,000 dots. It's still an air-gapless Clear View II design with a resin layer that fills the space between the LCD panel and the cover glass, providing better contrast and lower glare. However, the resolution is significantly higher, as the 5D III had only a 1,040,000-dot screen.

Perhaps even more importantly, the LCD is now overlaid with a touch-screen panel. This allows it to be used to indicate your subject for autofocus in live view or movie modes, and to interact with images more intuitively in playback mode.

You can also now adjust the color balance of the LCD, selecting from warm, standard, cool 1 or cool 2 presets.


The Canon 5D Mark IV also sports an updated metering sensor. In place of the earlier 63-zone dual-layer iFCL metering sensor borrowed from the 7D, the Canon 5D IV now uses a 153,600-pixel, 252-zone RGB+IR metering sensor.

This new design was borrowed from the 7D II, and thanks to its much greater resolution, it should allow for better, more accurate face recognition and tracking in particular. It should also deal with hard-to-meter subjects better thanks to its improved granularity.

Metering modes include AF-linked evaluative, center-weighted average, 6.1% partial and 1.3% spot. The system has a working range of EV 0-20.


Although the autofocus sensor still includes a total of 61 focus points, of which 41 are cross-type points and the five centermost points are dual cross-types, it's not the same chip as in the earlier 5D III. There are three changes in the new High Density Reticular AF II chip: The Canon 5D IV now has wider coverage, better low-light sensitivity and improved performance.

Where the 5D III had a lower limit of EV -2 to 18, the 5D IV will be able to focus down to EV -3 with its center point and an f/2.8 maximum aperture, while still being able to function all the way up to EV 18. And in live view mode, it will focus in even dimmer conditions, all the way down to -4 EV.

All 61 autofocus points now work down to f/8, allowing use with lens extenders. The dual cross-type points work to f/2.8 on the diagonals, and the 21 points in the center of the array work to f/5.6 horizontally and vertically. The remaining cross types work to f/5.6 horizontally and vertically, and the remaining linear points also work to f/5.6 vertically.

And at the same time, the Canon 5D IV's AF points now cover 24% more of the image frame horizontally, and 8% more vertically.

Canon's Intelligent Tracking and Recognition system is included, and after analyzing information from the metering sensor recognizes both faces and colors, which allows it to assist the AI Servo AF III system with tracking.

In live view or moving shooting, of course, you can't use the dedicated autofocus sensor, and here Canon's Dual Pixel CMOS AF comes into its own. With 80% of the frame covered, this uses autofocus pixels on the image sensor itself, letting you use swift, accurate phase-detection across most of the image frame without needing to lower the mirror first.

And then there's the new Dual Pixel RAW function, which we've covered in depth in its own section of this review.

Mirror and shutter

To handle the uprated performance of the Canon 5D IV, the company has designed a new mirror mechanism to better control vibration.

Shutter life is rated at 150,000 cycles, just as it was for the 5D III. The Canon 5D IV's shutter allows for speeds from 1/8,000 to 30 seconds plus bulb.

Dust removal

Of course, dust is always a concern, especially for interchangeable-lens cameras. Here, the Canon 5D IV retains its predecessor's approach to dust removal: An ultrasonic system that shakes dust free from the low-pass filter which sits atop the sensor. The filter itself has a fluorine coating to try and prevent dust sticking in the first place. And if you get stubborn dust particles stuck above your sensor, Dust Delete data can be recorded to assist in removing signs of dust post-capture, or you can manually clean the sensor.

Exposure and creative

As you'd expect, the Canon 5D III offers a wide range of creative and exposure options.

Available exposure modes include Auto, Program, Shutter- and Aperture-priority and Manual, plus a Bulb mode. There are also three Custom modes, each of which has its own separate position on the mode dial. You can also shoot interval timer, high dynamic range and multiple exposure imagery with the Canon 5D IV, with dedicated functions provided for each.

In interval timer mode, images can be captured automatically for as long as storage space and a power source remain, with an interval anywhere from one second to 99 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds. You can specify a number of frames to record to a maximum of 99 frames, or just have the camera shoot indefinitely until you manually end the exposure series.

In the newly-added HDR mode, the camera will create a single image from three separate frames, one with the metered exposure level, one at a brighter level, and one darker. You can choose a step size between exposures of 1, 2 or 3EV, and you can also opt for one of five different image effects for your HDR creation. Handheld shooting should also be possible, as the Canon 5D IV will microalign the frames for you before creating your HDR merge.

In multiple exposure mode, up to nine frames can be layered with either additive, average, bright or dark stacking, and if you need to stack more than nine exposures, you can do so by starting from an existing raw file, then saving the result of your exposure as another raw file, ready to continue where you left off. It's clumsy, but it works.

Canon's EOS Scene Analysis System is still included in the 5D IV, incidentally, but now has a new trick up its sleeve: It can now detect and correct for flickering light sources when shooting your images. Other features carried over from the 5D III include a selection of seven Picture Styles, Highlight Tone Priority and Auto Lighting Optimizer functions.


The Canon 5D III was already a very capable video shooter, and the 5D IV includes quite a few upgrades in this area. We've already mentioned the availability of full-time phase-detection autofocus during video capture, but what else is new?

Perhaps the most significant change in this area is in-camera DCI 4K (4096 x 2160) video capture, just as in the flagship Canon 1DX II. And just as in that camera, there's one important thing to note: The sole compression type for 4K video is Motion JPEG.

That's both good and bad news. Since there's no interframe compression, image quality in 4K mode is good. However, file sizes are also be spectacular. (Although not quite as much so as is possible with the 1DX II, because where that camera tops out at 60 frames per second in 4K capture, the 5D IV is limited to 30 fps capture.)

Just as in the 1DX II, the Canon 5D IV will allow you to extract single high-quality 4K frames at their native 8.8-megapixel resolution in-camera, as well.

The Canon 5D IV captures a straight crop of the sensor in 4K video mode, using a 4096 x 2160 pixel region in the center. This works out to a 1.64x crop compared to the full width of the sensor or 1.74x relative to the full 3:2 area of the sensor. Full HD and HD modes capture data from the entire width of the sensor, so there is no additional crop factor other than the 16:9 aspect ratio.

Even if you're not shooting 4K yet, the Canon 5D IV brings other video improvements for you. For one thing, you can now shoot Full HD (1080p) at up to 60 frames per second, instead of the earlier 30p limit. And if you're willing to drop the resolution to HD (720p), you'll get 120 fps capture for either silky-smooth motion, or up to a 4x slow-motion effect without dropping your output below 30p.

There's also a new HDR movie function, which allows true high dynamic range shooting. This shoots frames at 60 fps, then combines them to create a Full HD output video at 30 frames per second. And if you want to record video externally, there's also a clean video output via HDMI, although this is at a maximum of Full HD resolution, not 4K, sadly.

Wi-Fi, NFC and GPS built-in

The Canon 5D III could be connected to wireless networks to share photos and videos, and could automatically tag your photos with their capture location. However, both functions needed clumsy external accessories that were expensive and radically changed the camera's handling.

The Canon 5D IV fixes all this, sporting Wi-Fi wireless networking and GPS without the need for external accessories. Instead, these features are built into the camera itself. For Android users, the Wi-Fi connectivity comes complete with NFC for quick-and-easy pairing.

The GPS system, meanwhile, is compatible with not only the American GPS system, but also Russia's GLONASS and the Japanese QZSS system. As well as tagging images with their capture location and orientation, the 5D IV can also record GPS track logs. And even if you don't want GPS for its geolocation capabilities, it's also handy for keeping your camera's clock updated. This could be particularly useful if you're shooting multiple cameras, and need their internal clocks to be synced extremely accurately.


The Canon 5D IV stores images on either Compact Flash or Secure Digital cards, including support for both the higher-speed UDMA CF cards and UHS-I SD cards, as well as the higher-capacity SDHC / SDXC cards. Images can be saved in either compressed JPEG or 14-bit raw formats, or both simultaneously.


Wired connectivity in the 5D IV includes USB 3.0 Super Speed data, a Type-C Mini HDMI high-definition video output, 3.5mm microphone and headphone jacks, an N3-type wired remote socket, a flash sync terminal and a hot shoe. The infrared RC-6 remote release is also supported.


Power comes courtesy of a proprietary LP-E6N lithium-ion battery pack, while the earlier LP-E6 type used in the 5D III is also compatible. Battery life is rated at 900 shots on a charge when shooting through the viewfinder to CIPA testing standards. In live view mode, this plunges to just 300 shots. With the BG-E20 battery grip accessory attached and a second battery installed, you'll get 1,800 shots through the viewfinder or 600 in live view mode.


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