If you spend any length of time in filmmaking or video production, you’ll come across DSLRs. DSLRs offer great advantages to filmmakers and videographers:
- Fantastic image quality.
- And much more…
Canon are a camera company who’ve been instrumental in the development of what a lot of us dub the “DSLR Revolution.” With the release of the Canon 5D Mark II, cinematic style filmmaking was suddenly an option for many low budget filmmakers.
Over the years, Canon have redefined and reiterated their products to create amazing cameras that add so much to the industry. With the release of the Canon 5D Mark III, and then the 5D Mark IV, Canon innovated a lot.
So you’re looking for a Canon DSLR camera? But where do we stand on the ongoing Canon 5D Mark III vs. Mark IV debate?
Well, a certain amount of this comes down to personal preference. As we’ll see, budget is a big factor. The Mark IV, naturally, costs more. There are a range of innovations between the two cameras, as we’ll discuss in the article, but you’ll need to pay for those developments.
Some people prefer one or the other. This article aims to cover both cameras in detail and shed light on the reasons you would choose one over the other.
Canon 5D Mark III vs. Mark IV – The Models Themselves
Let’s take a detailed look into how the Canon 5D Mark III vs. Mark IV stack up against each other.
One of the best Canon DSLR cameras on the market is the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. Canon have innovated and improved on their premium offering over the years.
It’s true that millions of dollars has gone into the development of this camera tech and Canon are on the forefront of innovation.
Yes, this is the younger (but ever so charming!) brother of the Canon 5D Mark III (mentioned later). It’s also a distant cousin of the camera that started off the whole DSLR video revolution in the first place, the awesome 5D Mark II.
Now, both of these cameras have been absolute workhorses for us over the years and I have great love for both of them. However, I really wanted to highlight this camera as the first one I chose.
- It really has stunning performance. With use of the viewfinder, you get more information about the configuration. For example, the metering mode, white balance, autofocus and drive modes. This is good because you can make revisions to your config without detracting from the viewfinder.
- The autofocus feature is quite advanced. It depends to a certain extent on what lens you are using, but the standard is that it has 61 AF points. It’s also easy to switch the autofocus points without having to move your eye from the camera.
- Flicker frequency of 100Hz to 120 Hz to detect light sources and to be able to capture with good light, and adjust for less flicker effects.
- High tracking accuracy – because of the EOS iTR AF system, your target moving image stays focused throughout.
The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV is the latest addition to the legendary EOS 5D family. With a long and storied history of making video DSLRs for filmmakers and videographers, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV features:
The image sensor features a 30.4 megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor paired with a DIGIC 6+ processor to provide internal DCI 4K video recording at up to 30 fps.
It can transition from taking still photographs to shooting videos in a near instant, capturing Digital Cinema (DCI) 4K Motion JPEG videos of 4096 x 2160 pixels at up to 30 fps.
ISO sensitivity range of ISO 50-102400 (expanded), and 7 frames per second (fps) high speed shooting.
The 5D Mark IV is easily the most versatile DSLR camera from Canon yet. Having roughly the same dimensions as a 7D or 6D, but packing video and photo features from the much larger 1D X Mark II, the 5D Mark IV will never feel out of place or underpowered.
Whether you’re shooting sports indoor or recording/tracking a fast moving subject, the EOS 5D Mark IV will deliver professional results.
Wi-Fi/NFC connectivity, GPS, Dual Pixel CMOS AF, 61 autofocus points, Movie Servo AF, Dual Pixel RAW, and a 3.2″ 1.62m-dot touchscreen LCD.
61-point autofocus with f/8 AF for tele converter/extender setups: The Canon EOS 5D Mark 4 has a new AF sensor, with 61 AF points covering a broader vertical area of the image than its predecessor.
This autofocus system delivers excellent accuracy and performance, with up to 41 cross-type AF points available, and extra-high-precision AF at up to 25 points on the AF array (when wide-aperture lenses are used).
DIGIC 6+ processor
This processor controls autofocus, metering, video data, and image data. It then uses that data with advanced algorithms to provide autofocus and metering that is quick and accurate.
This produces images and videos that are rich in detail and low in noise, with accurate colors and skin tones.
1.62 million dot 3.2″ touch panel LCD monitor: It features a 1.62 million dot, low-reflection 3.2-inch Clear View LCD II monitor for bright, sharp display in a wide variety of shooting situations.
The LCD’s touch panel surface facilitates fast, intuitive operation, including AF frame switching, menu and setting changes plus image magnification during Live View shooting and movie shooting. Still photographs can also be captured quickly with the touch panel’s shutter release function.
SD and CF card slots
It uses SD and CF card slots accepting fast UDMA 7 cards for a write speed of up to 167 MB per second. It should be noted that fast cards are essential when recording either 4K or high frame-rate videos.
Microphone and headphone sockets
Microphone and headphone sockets let you record superior audio in your videos and monitor audio for the perfect level.
This is a much improved series of audio options, especially compared to the audio setup on some of the Canon cameras of the past that met with much criticism.
High dynamic range (HDR) video mode
The Canon 5D MK IV’s HDR movie mode can alternate between normal and under-exposed frames, compressing the brightest parts of a scene to retain more highlight detail – thus delivering videos with a wider dynamic range.
The EOS 5D Mark IV features a camera anti-flicker function that detects the frequency and phase of a light source’s flicker and captures images near the point of peak brightness when the subject is most likely to be properly illuminated.
Built-in Wi-Fi and NFC
The 5D Mark IV features built-in Wi-Fi and NFC to connect to your smartphone, tablet or laptop.
This makes posting to social media platforms easy, as you can send a file from your camera to your mobile device, and from your mobile device to a platform. FTP/FTPS support is great for those shooting in Wi-Fi equipped venues when added security is required.
GPS data helps when cataloguing images and video footage and lets you retrace your steps to find specific shooting locations.
The 5D Mark IV can be controlled wirelessly from an iOS or Android smart device running the free Canon Camera Connect App. Remote operation is extremely useful for producing stable video or sharp pictures, as most camera operations can be done without touching the camera.
Intelligent Viewfinder II
This offers a bright, customizable view that displays AF points, an electronic level and current camera settings.
Digital Lens Optimizer
The Digital Lens Optimizer uses optical design values to correct various lens aberrations, diffraction, and the softening of resolution caused by the low-pass filter.
Now, let’s take a look at the Canon 5D Mark III.
Now that we’ve covered the Canon 5D Mark IV, the later version to my next recommendation, the Canon EOS 5D Mark III.
It has strong key features that still make it stand out, even when there is a newer model in the market. And, of course, price wise it makes a less hefty (on your bank balance!) entry into prosumer models of Canon DSLRs.
As most videographers know, the 5D Mark III took the best features of its baby brother, the 5D Mark II, and improved upon them. Canon listened to their audience of videographers and created a camera that became the next level in DSLR video shooting.
Great for corporate/promo work, as well as event shooting, the Mark III has become a lot of filmmakers’ go-to video DSLR.
For this reason, it ranks very highly on anyone’s list of the best Canon DSLRs. Here’s what it boasts:
- 22MP full frame CMOS sensor
- ISO 100-25600 standard, 50-102,800 expanded
- 6 fps continuous shooting
- Shutter rated to 150,000 frames
- 1080p30 video recording, stereo sound via external mic
- 61 point AF system
- 63 zone iFCL metering system
- 100% viewfinder coverage
- 1040k dot 3:2 LCD
- Dual card slots for CF and SD
These features are also a definite upgrade to the Canon EOS 5D Mark II. Especially the increased maximum shooting range to the AF sensor – from 9 points to 61 points, and the multiple exposure feature.
This camera has gone a long way, and it can definitely be expected to hang around in most people’s picks as a top Canon DSLR without being seen as obsolete.
And what better DSLR to feature than the ever-reliable and all-round workhorse, the Canon 5D Mark III?
This camera continued where the older brother (and cheaper) Canon 5D Mark II left off, providing exceptional quality video and photos. If you remember, the 5D Mark II was the camera that really started the DSLR filmmaking revolution.
So the 5D Mark III is a great all-round camera, whether you’re making a narrative film or just filming yourself talking for a YouTube video.
Let’s look at some more info about the specs:
The Canon 5D Mark III has a supercharged EOS performance and full frame, high-resolution image capture is designed to capture great video. This camera is capable of 22.3 Megapixel full-frame Canon CMOS sensor, Canon DIGIC 5+ Image Processor.
Special optical technologies
61-Point High Density Reticular AF and extended ISO range of 100-25600 make this it ideal for shooting footage both indoors and outdoors.
Professional-level high definition video capabilities includes a host of industry-standard recording protocols and enhanced performance that make it possible to capture beautiful cinematic movies in EOS HD quality.
Additional technological advancements include an Intelligent Viewfinder, Canon’s advanced iFCL metering system, High Dynamic Range (HDR), and Multiple Exposure.
This is the only DSLR camera we’re going to mention by name. However, other DSLRs out there could be a great fit, depending on your needs and budget. Both Canon and Nikon make great DSLRs and have a large range of these cameras to fit all budgets and use requirements.
The rest of the cameras here will be cheaper, more entry-level cameras. Not necessarily cameras that are good for narrative (and more serious) filmmaking, but great cameras for filming YouTube videos.
The 5D shoots basic H.264 video at 24/25fps 1080p and 720p60 that you can conform for slow motion, and has a high quality HDMI output for external monitors (always HD).
Low light sensitivity is fantastic with useable ISOs up to 6400.
The camera is great for shorts, music videos, commercials, and web content. Magic Lantern installation allows for far better video functionality (scopes/guides/meters/intervalometer etc.)
- Large full-frame sensor size is bigger than 35mm film.
- Small, weather proofed, rugged magnesium-alloy body
- One of the best stills cameras on the market (22mp raw)
- HD output via HDMI for monitoring and external recording.
- Better low light sensitivity than the 5Dm2
- Reduced moire and rolling shutter (still much worse than non-DSLR’s)
- At this price, it’s getting close to competitive video cameras that will out perform it in certain areas.
- Not designed for constant video use, possibility of overheating.
- No pro audio inputs, nearly worthless onboard mic.
- Bitrate and codec limitations aren’t great for post flexibility
- Menus and buttons are designed for photos, can be awkward with video mode
When we’re covering the Canon 5D range, we’d be remiss not to mention the Mark III and IV’s older brother, the Canon 5D Mark II – also known as, the camera that started the whole DSLR filmmaking revolution!
When Canon released the 5D Mark II, it changed the indie filmmaking world forever. It also changed the wedding videography world for good, too.
All of a sudden, we had immensely stunning 1080p HD footage that made wedding films look like cinematic movies. Sure, you still had to know what you were doing with the camera. But now we actually had an affordable technology that could give us near-cinematic quality video footage.
Canon 5D Mark III vs. Mark IV – In Conclusion
As we’ve discovered, choosing one camera or the other comes down to a lot more than just technological innovation. Budget is a big factor.
If you can afford it, the Canon 5D Mark IV is the superior camera from a tech standpoint. However, if budget is a large factor in your purchasing decision, then you might want to consider going for the Canon 5D Mark III for now.
As with anything camra related, don’t forget that you can upgrade at any point in the future. You could get a number of great (profitable) years out of the Mark III, and then potentially upgrade to a Mark IV when you have the budget (or the price comes down a bit!)
Either way, both cameras are great pieces of filmmaking equipment that will make you a great return on investment for many years to come.
We hope this article on the Canon 5D Mark III vs. Mark IV has been helpful. We’ve tried to cover all bases here, but might have missed something out. Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below.