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Canon EOS 1D Mark IV

Review Date: May 20, 2010 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated


This is a note of interest concerning my review of the Mark IV. I submitted the same review to B&H, and after it was posted for about a day, B&H deleted my review. Apperantely, they did not like my low rating. Maybe Canon Corp. has something to do with that, but I'm not sure.

That act, by B&H, further qualifies my low rating of this model. And it sends a message, to all, that all these positive reviews out there are cherry picked. So for every rating of a "9" or a "10", there is no telling how many low rating there is out there for this body.

Canon EOS 1D Mark IV

Review Date: May 19, 2010 Recommend? no | Price paid: $4,999.00

Pros: All positive aspects are useless since this camera cannot produce a properly focused image on a consistent basis
Very poor auto focus system. Poor image quality. High ISO rating, above 12800, are useless. No where near Nikon's D3S, yet the camera costs only $200 less. Not worth it.

As of now, there are three groups of reviewers for the Canon 1D Mark IV camera.

The first group are the ones who have upgraded from consumer/prosumer bodies, i.e. 40D, 50D, 5DMII. Most of these reviewers gave the Mark IV high marks. Well, that’s understandable since moving up to the 1D series is, indeed, a worthwhile upgrade. And the Mark IV does outperform all of consumer/prosumer bodies in many categories, even the auto focus, up to a certain point.

The second group are the one who are in denial. They are the ones who upgraded from the Mark II, Mark IIN , or the Mark III. They see the Mark IV’s shortcoming, and poor performance, but cannot bring themselves to the realization that after spending $5000.00, their new camera is not much better than the Mark III, and certainly, and without a doubt, not as good as the Mark IIN. For whatever reason it may be, they are trying desperately to convince themselves that their purchase is a good one. They are the ones who, after realizing what a poor performer the Mark IV is in areas that really count the most, go on boasting about the camera’s other features (high megapixel count, high frame rate, 1080P video), in hopes of making themselves feel better about their purchase. With all due respect to those reviewers, let me just say this: no matter what feature a camera has, or how many gigapixels a camera has, or any other feature it might have that separates it from the rest of its competition, that said camera is worthless if it cannot produce focused images. What good is a large image if it’s out of focus? No amount of pixels is going to help it. What are you going to tell your client, “hey, I have a great sequence of the winning goal/shot/peak moment, and you can have prints the size of the Empire State Building, too, just overlook the simple fact that the image/images are out of focus”.?

The third group are the ones who are realistic, and objective in their review. What I mean by that is they have come to the conclusion that the Mark IV is a great disappointment when it comes to the focus/autofocus department. And not to mention falling short when competing against Nikon’s D3S, in just about most categories, except the megapixel count and the 1080P video.

I belong in the third group. I have shot about 2000 frames with the Mark IV, in varying conditions, and the camera’s AF performed pretty much exactly as Rob Galbraith stated in his review of this body. POORLY. I do not have the Mark III (I opted to skip that party) to compare the Mark IV with, but I do have a Mark IIN, and I’m here to say that if Canon would simply take the Mark IIN’s AF system, as is, and put it in the Mark IV body, along with the 39 cross type AF selection points, that they may have a winner on their hands, or at least they won’t have as big a disappointment as the Mark III, and the Mark IV.

During a soccer game, on a cloudless, sunny sky, the camera’s AF had a difficult time. Whether using the single shot mode, or AI Servo mode, the AF system was consistently inconsistent. In single shot mode, on static subjects, the camera would confirm focus acquisition when in fact the subject is out of focus, which would be confirmed later after zooming in to verify focus. This problem happened on a regular basis, with different lenses. And different a body

In AI servo mode, the camera sometimes refuses to focus, and can be clearly seen in the viewfinder that the subject is out of focus, yet the focus points light up indicating focus and the camera is firing away as though the camera has acquired focus. I do not recall ever experiencing such behavior with the Mark IIN.

Another problem with the AF system is the low light focusing ability (inability?). There were many occasions where the light was dim, and the Mark IV would just hunt and hunt trying to acquire focus. Same situation, same lens, the Mark IIN would instantly acquire focus. The Mark IV was finally able to acquire focus, in the same dimly lit conditions, with the help of a speedlite’s IR beam. But then again, the Mark IIN did not need that kind of help.

I will not link Rob Galbraith’s site from here, but if you have not read his review, google his name, and read what he has to say.

Update: I had another Mark IV delivered to me to try out, and it had the same problems. The serial numbers of the two bodies were clearly from a different batch. When I contacted Canon C.P.S. to ask about these problems, they said, and I quote, “having used both the 1D Mark III and the 1D Mark IV, I can tell you that
the focus capability of the 1D Mark IV is a nice improvement over the 1D
Mark III, assuming of course that the camera is working as it should and
used correctly”.

A nice improvement? When I read that, my first impression was that of mild shock, but also an “aha” moment. When the Mark IV was introduced, it was supposed to have all the Mark III’s problems fixed. But now Canon says that the AF is a “nice improvement” over the Mark III. Well that confirmed to me that Canon never really overhauled the flawed system. I guess you can say that they just put lipstick on a pig, and called the Mark IV.

Another thing that C.P.S. told me is that the problems that I’m experiencing could be due an alignment problem with the camera. So, that’s two different cameras, from two entirely different batches, and they both have the same problems. According to Canon, this is an isolated problem. HA!

So as to those positive reviews out there, I am going to have to disagree with them. I don’t care what Canon says, or what other reviewers are saying, I know what I have experienced with this new model, and it ain’t pretty.