ever since the MKII revolution within our industry, we have been patiently awaiting what canon would follow up with. all of our traditional 3ccd video cameras were replaced with these DSLRs and a pile of lenses. not only did our imagery improve tenfold as we transitioned over, but our understanding and appreciation of optics did as well.
when the 7d was launched, with it’s improved auto focus, aps-c sized sensor, and 24P/60P options (all in a sub $2000 price point) we brought in six of those and they became our workhorse. some felt the crop was a drawback – we loved the opportunity to get in tighter with less light loss (as compared to a longer lens on the MKII). the aesthetic of 24P was certainly not easy for us to give up, and that alone was enough reason for us to bring in the 7d.
now it’s time for the 1d MKIV to launch and our first question, of course, was how will it stack up against the others?
mark was kind enough to put in some extra hours around our rather grueling holiday schedule and put together this comparison of the three different cameras. we looked at high iso performance, the crop factor, and rolling shutter.
practically speaking, the rolling shutter felt significantly reduced on the MKIV. if you pair that with the increased weight and the different form factor that the integrated battery grip provides, it almost feels like you could shoot handheld. it has never been our style to shoot completely hand held (we often use a monopod or shoulder rig) but for those who do shoot that way, it feels much more natural with this camera. being a pro series camera, it certainly has a super solid feel to it. as we all gave it a test, the consensus seemed to be that the form factor of the MKIV was very conducive to video.
being a pro series body means you also get features like super fast auto focus, many more AF points (45 points), and it can shoot up to 10 photos per second in burst mode. while that may not interest those out there who are looking mainly to this camera for video, it certainly piqued my interest as a way of incorporating a time lapse of stills with other video segments.
the camera is is also ‘weather resistant’ so you can get away with much more in tough outdoor conditions. with our shooting style, that certainly means a lot.
the MKIV certainly triumphed in low light, and it is crazy what these cameras are able to do, but in comparison to the others it wasn’t as striking of a difference as i was expecting from reading vincent laforet’s blog. at higher iso settings the MKIV certainly looks cleaner, but the MKII and 7d both perform so well that it is tough to be significantly better than that.
as for the crop factor, the 1.3 factor of the MKIV is right in between that of the MKII (full frame, 1.0) and the 7d (1.6). while it doesn’t sound like much, when you see them side by side you realize just how much of a difference that actually translates into. i am of the mind that a crop factor always has it ups and downs. as good as it is to get wider when you have a full frame sensor, getting in tighter is also great in many situations. as you get longer lenses, they are generally slower and heavier as well, so keeping small fast primes that get in super tight is quite the tool to have. the 1.3 crop factor of the MKIV feels like a great balance between the MKII and the 7d. i think many who weren’t happy with the 1.6 of the 7d will feel much more comfortable with the MKIV.
so what camera would we choose? depending on what country your in, the prices will vary, but here we are looking at about $2500 for the MKII, $1600 for the 7d, and $4900 for the MKIV.
is the MKIV twice as good as the MKII? currently, with no 24P on the MKII my answer would be absolutely yes. if and when the 24P firmware update happens, we would need to see if the rolling shutter was corrected (or potentially even worsened with a slower frame rate).
is the MKIV over three times as good as a 7d? for me, the answer would again be yes, but for many it may not be so straightforward. the form factor, the crop factor, as well as the weather resistance would all lead this to be my main camera (not to mention all of the awesome photo features). if i were a smaller studio starting out, i would probably look to the 7d first, as that camera offers an unbelievable value. a perfrect combination for many will likely be a MKIV as the workhorse with the MKII or the 7d rounding out the team as B,C, and D cameras.
we should, of course, never lose sight of the fact that this is just gear after all and being such, should always come secondary to our vision and approach. i hope we demonstrated with our JC + Esther film that it doesn’t have to take a ton of gear, cameras, or lenses – but simply the right gear, with the right understanding and vision.
thanks again to mark for putting this together. we have something else shot with the MKIV that we are hoping to debut in the coming weeks. amina and justin are also planning a follow up with some images to give you their take on the MKIV which, from what i here, will quickly become our main photo camera. any questions about the MKIV, please feel free to comment and we will do our best to keep up.