Sample 1DMKIV video footage – shot in the dark at Opryland using ISO 1600

I’ve had the new Canon EOS 1D Mark IV for several days now. I’ve used it primarily as a video camera but also have made some test still shots. I think I have enough information to form a credible opinion.

The camera is very, very solid. It’s a pro-body, fully weather-sealed. It’s not the lightest camera you will ever pick up, but it feels about right to me.

The 100% viewfinder is bright and so is the rear LCD. It’s a 16.7 megapixel camera using Canon’s latest DIGIC processors. I could give you a feature list but that info is available all over the web. I’d rather share my experiences with the camera.

I wanted to test the video mode first. The movie mode gives you complete creative control over ISO, aperture, shutter speed, white balance, etc., right out of the box. No kludge necessary. You put the camera into live view, focus, set your exposure/WB/ISO and you’re ready to shoot video. Note this is 1080p 24/fps video, not 720p or 30/fps video. This is important to serious film makers.

Ergonomically speaking, my only disappointment with the camera is that the button you need to start capturing video is placed awkwardly for me – near the shutter button. The video capture button on the Canon 7D (on the back of the camera) is clearly marked and larger. Perhaps I’m just spoiled by the 7D – which I tested first – and for others, the location of the capture button will be no issue. It’s the FEL button, on top of the camera, between the shutter and the shutter speed control ring.

As far as video quality goes – well this is the easiest review I’ve ever written. It’s flat out, stand out superb. Looking at the footage right out of the camera posted above. In a quick and dirty test, I was shocked at how good it looked. I haven’t tested every possible ISO but I can say at ISO 1600, the video is absolutely noiseless. It’s almost freaky. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I plan to do more extensive tests at higher ISOs but suffice it to say, this low-light video performance of this camera will hands down out satisfy anyone with expectations that were crafted in this universe.

I shot at 24 FPS, 1080p and couldn’t be happier with the results. On a small screen it rivals stuff I’ve seen come from the RED camera.

As for the still camera? Again, Canon hit it out of the park. I only tested still images up to ISO 1600 – since I am teaching at Imaging USA, PPA’s conference in Nashville this week I have limited time, but I can tell you a few thing you will want to know. I believe that Canon has significantly closed the gap between the low-light still performance of this camera and the Nikon D3s. I’d say the Nikon overall, especially at the highest ISOs has about a stop advantage. But that’s starting to creep into the meaningless territory for most real-world situations.

ISO 1600 on this camera is the new ISO 400 – it’s that clean or cleaner. Virtually NOTHING in the noise category. Right out of the camera it’s smooth and creamy and lovely.

The new 45-point autofocus system works. It’s fast, reliable and accurate. And that’s important because this camera is being positioned as a sports/wildlife/action camera on the still side and things like super fast, super accurate autofocus are important.

The 1D MK III exhibited some well-documented problems with the autofocus system. This time, there’s nothing to worry about. Fire away.

The images from this camera are fantastic. The video quality out of this world. The build quality super.

The target market probably appreciates the 1.3 crop factor but I would have preferred full frame. The ergonomics are great except for the one little nit I explained earlier regarding the video capture button.

In short, based on my initial response to the 1DMKIV, I’d say that if you want the ultimate video-capable DSLR plus amazing still photo quality with great autofocus and 10FPS, this is your camera.

This post sponsored by the Digital SLR Store

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