Comparing the Canon 1D Mark IV, 5D Mark II and 7D

Canon 1D Mark IV (Front)

It’s been only a few short months since Canon announced the EOS 7D with it’s all new auto focus system and 18 MP sensor. Now they’ve announced another eagerly awaited, high-end DSLR to “Pro Series” product line, the 1D Mark IV.

In the coming weeks and months there will be previews, reviews, fanboy posts and flames galore on the various industry watching blogs and forums with hundreds of different viewpoints on this new pro model’s features and benefits.

To help cut through some of the rhetoric I thought I’d post a quick and dirty comparison of the differences between the new 1D Mark IV, the 5D Mark II and the 7D cameras based upon the information currently available.

Basically, the same comparison I recently posted on the new G11 and G10 cameras. Let me state for the record that this comparison is from a still photographer’s perspective only. The video capabilities of these cameras are cool but not where my interests lay.

List Price:
1D4 – $5000 (USD)
5D2 – $2700 (USD)
7D – $1700 (USD)

1D4 – APS-H (4896 x 3264) (16 MP)
5D2 – FF (5616 x 3744) (21 MP)
7D – APS-C (5184 x 3456) (18 MP)

Pixel Density
1D4 – 3.1 MP/cm2
5D2 – 2.4 MP/cm2
7D – 5.4 MP/cm2

1D4 – Dual DIGIC 4
5D2 – Single DIGIC 4
7D – Dual DIGIC 4

1D4 – 50, 100 – 12800, 25600, 51200, 102400
5D2 – 50, 100 – 6400, 12800, 25600
7D – Auto, 100 – 6400, 12800(H)

1D4 – 63 Area, Center Weighted, Partial, Spot (Center, AF Point, Multi-Point)
5D2 – 35 Area Eval, Center Weighted, Partial, Spot
7D – 63 Area Eval, Center Weighted, Partial, Spot

Auto Focus:
1D4 – 45 Point (new technology)
5D2 – 9 Point (same as original 5D)
7D – 19 Point (new technology)

Exposure Compensation:
1D4 -3 to +3 EV in 1/3 EV or 1/2 EV steps
5D2 -2 to +2 EV in 1/3 EV or 1/2 EV steps
7D -3 to +3 EV in 1/3 EV or 1/2 EV steps

Continuous Shooting:
1D4 – 10 fps
5D2 – 3.9 fps
7D – 8 fps

Raw Formats:
1D4 – RAW, mRAW, sRAW
5D2 – RAW, sRAW1, sRAW2
7D – RAW, sRAW, mRAW

1D4 – Pentaprism, 100% Coverage, 0.76x Mag
5D2 – Pentaprism, 98% Coverage, 0.71x Mag
7D – Pentaprism, 100% Coverage, 1.00x Mag

1D4 – LP-E4 ($110 USD)
5D2 – LP-E6 ($66 USD)
7D – LP-E6 ($66 USD)

1D4 – 1230g
5D2 – 830g
7D – 860g

Comparing these three cameras is somewhat difficult since each is targeted to a very different segment of the DSLR market. The new 1D Mark IV is aimed squarely at the professional sports and action photographer with it’s incredible high ISO capabilities and equally incredible high speed drive (fps).

It’s also interesting to note that each camera offers a different size and resolution sensor, with only the 5D Mark II offering a full frame sensor. While I’m fairly certain the next “1Ds” model will boast a full frame sensor with enough resolution to rival the Nikon D3X, it’s a surprise that Canon continues to support the APS-H (1.3x FOVCF) sensor. It will be interesting to see just how well the new 1D Mark IV does when compared to high ISO shots taken with the 5D2.

Obviously, the new 1D Mark IV, like all the “1D” series cameras, was designed for the professional in mind. It’s the only of these three bodies to offer real weather-proofing in its construction. The 1D Mark IV is also considerably larger and heavier than the 5D2 or 7D bodies, which may not be the best thing for an “on the go” sports photographer.

It also remains to be seen if this camera’s new auto-focus system has what it takes to convince sports shooters to upgrade. Canon’s reputation has taken quite a beating in the past few years over AF issues in the 1Ds, the 5D2 and even the new 7D. The new “predictive” AI Servo mode in the 1D4 sounds great on paper, but only time will tell if this translates into sharper images.

Final Thoughts:
Once again, In the words of David duChemin, “Gear is Good, Vision is Better”. It’s not the camera that makes the photograph, it’s the person behind the camera. Having said that, anyone spending $5000 (USD) on a DSLR in today’s economy deserves for the camera to work perfectly right out of the box. This is especially true for sports shooters where there are no second chances!

Posted in Photography Tagged: Canon, Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 7D