What does the Canon 5D Mark IV Say About Canon’s Future?

by Bret Hoy12 Comments

planetMitch note: These are Bret's thoughts, I don't necessarily agree with them (and have mentioned that in other posts). But that's why I love having discussions like this online… people get to express their opinions based on their own perspectives and we don't always have to agree. I tend to believe Canon knows exactly what they're doing. But let's see what Bret thinks…

When we discuss the new Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, most of the time we’re discussing its specs and what we like and dislike.

The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV is at the very least an interesting step forward for Canon’s 5D line, but what I find the most intriguing about its release isn’t even about the camera itself. The 5D Mark IV signifies something very difficult to understand and comprehend about Canon’s brand development. It’s something that I think we’ll be looking at for years to come.

When we look at the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, the features that jump out at us are the 30mp/60mp Dual Pixel sensor, the 4k settings and the 4:2:2 internal video. Which, by the way, are all solid features of any camera. But when I step back and look at everything through a wider lens, I can’t help but scratch my head and wonder what they’re doing.

It seems to me that the release of the 5D Mark IV undercuts a lot of the technology and bodies that Canon has given us over the past four years. They’ve created a situation where they’ve cut across the middle of the market so aggressively that you have to wonder how they’re going to sell other, comparably priced bodies on their line.

If a photographer wanted to buy a Canon EOS 5DS R, a camera priced probably higher than the 5D Mark IV, hasn’t Canon made that decision much harder and against their own best interest by releasing a camera with 60MP files? Either that, or they’re deliberately going to limit the 5D Mark IV’s photos to help sell more 5DS R bodies.

If a shooter was looking to buy a C100 Mark II, with the Canon 5D Mark IV on the market, why would they? You could make an argument about the 10bit, 4:2:2 out of the C100, but how long will that argument hold up now that the 5D Mark IV has 4k and internal 4:2:2?

The C100 Mark II brings up an even more troubling aspect of this conversation.

The C100 Mark II was released a little over a year ago and didn’t add 4k, C-Log or internal 4:2:2. You can make a lot of arguments about Canon’s R&D being slow, but I find it hard to believe that these features, implemented in the 5D Mark IV couldn’t have been considered for the release of the C100 Mark II.But then if you consider that the 5D Mark IV can only shoot 4k with a x1.74 crop, you could make a decent argument saying that maybe Canon’s R&D just isn’t quite there. So what is it? Are they holding stuff back from their customers or are they just that behind?

This is just speculation however, so I will stick to what we actually know and are presented with.

Somehow, in releasing the 5D Mark IV, Canon has created even more confusion as to their future direction.

I’m sure when reading this, there’s going to be a group of people that will argue, “well, you don’t know what’s going to be released, so why are you saying their future is confusing or lacking direction?”

And you’re totally right with that critique. I don’t know what they’re going to put out. But here’s my point:

We waited four years for the release of the Canon 5d Mark III, and then another four years for the release of the 5D Mark IV. This slow progression is what we expect from Canon. Do we really expect Canon, less than a year after its release to announce an upgraded C100 Mark III with all the features that the body will need to compete with the 5D Mark IV? Will they make a new 5DS that will leapfrog the 5D Mark IV in photo quality?

I personally don’t think so. I’d like to think that Canon has something crazy up their sleeve, but what evidence do we have of that? And if they do have something up their sleeve, how long will it be until we’re allowed to see it?

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(cover photo credit: snap from source in post)


  1. I agree with what Mitch says about Canon (but not in the way he thinks): “I tend to believe Canon knows exactly what they’re doing”. They certainly know what they are doing. However, is it the right thing? Many big corporations have had so-called “smart marketers” who miserably failed their companies. This time the outcry is stronger than it’s ever been. To ignore customers like this is to risk future goodwill with their customers.

  2. Personally as a mainly stills photographer, I’m quite excited about the release and specs of the 5d4. I think the 30mp has hit a sweet spot for those who take 1,000’s of images in a day’s work or simply doing portraits. The resolution is perfect. If they can match the ISO performance or greater than its predecessor then it’s a clear winner for me. The frame rate is not the best but it’s good enough to place this camera as a well rounded versitile camera. I don’t care for video so I can care less about any of those specs. If they sensor technology is as good as the 1dx2 than that knocks it out of the park for me. If I wanted higher resolution Id go with the 5dsr or a7r2 but I don’t need huge file sizes for some of the work I do. I Think for most who are a little disappointed it’s more of a “want” and didn’t get is what disappointed. From a wedding and portrait photographer I think it’s a home run!

  3. Canon does not implement a lot of important and convenient features, although they easily could do it.
    It looks like they make innovation as slow as possible to milk consumers as long as possible.
    Too many Canon photographers also don’t seem to realize yet how great many video features could be for their photo work as well.
    In many ways the Canon product range does not offer great functions of competitors like Sony, or makes them 5x as expensive:

    – Filming and reviewing through an EVF: Canon doesn’t offer it in any large sensor camera.
    – Silent Photo Shooting: Canon doesn’t offer it in any large sensor camera.
    – Ability to use speedboosters: Not possible with a Canon product.
    – Focus Peaking: Not available in any Canon camera that also shoots photo.
    – Zebra: Not available in any Canon camera that also shoots photo.
    – 4K shooting in Full Frame: Canon doesn’t offer it.
    – 4K shooting in any zoom range between Full Frame and the middle 8 MP crop: Canon doesn’t offer it.
    – 4K shooting with 60fps: Canon offers it from 6500 bucks on, but not with modern video features.
    – 1080p shooting with 120fps: Canon offers it from 6500 bucks on, but not with modern video features.
    – 720p shooting with 240fps: Canon doesn’t offer it.
    – 4K shooting in 3840 width: Not available in any Canon camera that also shoots photo.
    – 4K shooting with an efficient codec: Not available in any Canon camera that also shoots photo.
    – Shooting 4K Video in Log Mode: Canon offers it from 6000+ bucks on, but not with modern video features.
    – HDMI out in 4K: Not available in any Canon camera that also shoots photo.
    – Adapting APS-Crop Lenses: Not available in any Canon 4K camera that also shoots photo.
    – Fully assignable buttons incl. a third wheel for ISO: Canon doesn’t offer it.
    – Installation of apps: Canon doesn’t offer it.
    – Audio and other things through a Multi Hot Shoe: Canon doesn’t offer it.
    – Articulating screen: Not available in any Canon 4K camera that also shoots photo.

  4. The trouble is that canon has released the mark 4 and it will be 4 or so years before the mark 5. Currently the nark has acceptable specs. But you know just around the corner Sony has is next camera up its sleeve…and then another and then another… Leaving canons acceptable camera far behind. Don’t get me started on the fact it has been updated to CFast cards. Reason enough not to but it.

    1. But the VAST majority of the 5D users do NOT need that kind of speed nor do they want to pay for CFast prices. Smart move on Canon’s part if you ask me.

  5. Great article with some very interesting points. As a C100 owner, I will point out that is only has 8bit 4:2:2 out (as opposed to the 10bits you mentioned). But that just works even more in favor of your point.

  6. They stumbled into the 5d mark 2 and its success and, imo, they regret opening that video can of worms in a dlsr.
    the new mark 4 would have been huge hit if it was released 2 or 3 years ago. In 2016, it will sell but nothing like the mark 2.
    It’s the same with their new c700, released 2 years to late.
    Canon, I only are behind the field with video cameras in general. My guess is they are going to rely more and more upon their glass

  7. This article is spectacularly poor.

    The 5DS/R doesn’t compete with the 5D4 in most cases. The 5DS is a studio/landscape camera for people who want maximum resolution, and don’t really care about having particularly good speed/low light. The 5D4 is designed to be an all-rounder, in much the same way the 5D3 was, and will mainly be used by wedding/event photographers, just as the 5D3 was. It has a significant bump in resloution, DR, and focus and a smaller one in speed compared to the 5D3, which for many people has been the perfect wedding camera.

    The C100 series and the 5D series don’t have much overlap in terms of user base. The C100 is an amazing documentary camera. DSLRs (and MILCs for the same reasons) are not. The horrible ergonomics, lack of XLRs, lack of ND filters etc make them second rate tools for video. They can make nice B-cams (particularly with DPAF for use on a steadicam/drone), but the idea that they compete with one another is just dumb.

  8. Whether Canon does it right or wrong will be decided by the market and until now they are still market leader. As market leader you must have the highest prices to keep the overall market profitable. In case you are not satisfied with Canon you can buy any brand you like – there are no bad cameras out there – only bad photographers. So honestly dont understand what you want to tell us?

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