One Hell Of A Pro DSLR…The Canon 1DMKIV

One hell of a Pro DSLR…The Canon 1DMKIV

I know this site concentrates quite a but on Leica and the smaller mirrorless cameras  that are flooding the market these days but over the summer I was able to use the AMAZING Canon 1DMKIV when shooting a week of the Seal tour in Europe. At the time, I was really into shooting the Leica M9 and Noctilux combo and shooting with the 1D was a bit foreign to me with its heft, size, and controls. But, within minutes I was comfortable with it and started shooting like a madman. If I was going to buy a pro DSLR, I would strongly consider the 1DMKIV even over the Nikon D3s. It’s a pro body through and through and lightning fast. The video is also pretty awesome, one area where Nikon still has yet to catch up.

This is not in any way meant to be a 1DMKIV review, as I only shot with it for 2 hours but I can say that this is one hell of a DSLR for those who need to shoot fast and get the shot. This camera is a powerhouse in it’s build, feel, and capabilities, no doubt! This camera is loaded with 16 megapixels, 1 gorgeous 3″ LCD, ISO up to 102,000, and a 10FPS burst mode. It’s also weather and dust resistant, shoots gorgeous HD video and has a 100% viewfinder! Yea, the 1dMKIV is a true pro machine. Slap on a lens like the 50L, the 85L or the 100 Macro L and be wowed. You will also be sore if shooting it for more than an hour but if you are in a pro situation, it’s not a problem 🙂

Here are a few new Seal images I found on my HD, all shot with the 1D4 and either the 100 MACRO or the 24 1.4.

Seal shot with the 1DMKIV – The AF is blazingly fast AND accurate. It was such a change from the Leica M I also used on this night. At first I did not like it but it started to grown on me and soon I realized how many keepers I was getting. This image was shot with the Canon 24 1.4II.

This night was very odd. The show started and the crowd wanted to move up to the stage to sing and dance and have a good time. Security tried to stop everyone from leaving their seats until Seal told Security to let them all up and have a good time. Here, a man rushed up and waved at Seal while Security was trying to get him back to his seat. Shot with the Canon 24 1.4 II lens.

The Exposure and color was usually spot on with the 1dMKIV and 24LII. Here I hung back a bit…

This shot was snapped with the new 100 Macro 2.8, which is a PHENOMENAL Canon lens.

Again, the 100 macro and yes, this shot was framed like this intentionally 🙂

If I were a pro shooter and needed a camera that delivered the good in AF, speed, and IQ as well as being nearly bulletproof, I think I would HEAVILY consider the Canon 1DMKIV. I have shot with the Nikon D3s but slightly prefer this 1.3 Crop sensor Canon. Im sure there are some of you out there reading this who own this camera, so if so, speak up and let me know how YOU like it!

As for Seal, his new Album was released this week and if you go to Itunes to download the Deluxe version you will not only get all of the songs but also 15 of my photos from the show which have been included with the music (in the deluxe version which is an Itunes LP format download). Seal 6: Commitment  – It is a SUPERB album, go buy it at Itunes! 🙂

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  1. Steve, I have to say that I like the other ‘Seal’ images you’ve posted in the past better than these.

    Having used both high-end Canon and Nikon I don’t understand how anyone could find wiggle room to argue one AF system over the other – they both work extremely well. The Leica S2 is a completely different animal, why even bother to compare or attempt to compare it? BTW, the S2 system is not even complete yet – the lens line is still coming to market.

    In fact, getting into ‘better-than’ discourse is really pointless and never really proves anything. The N&C both can do so many things and one has to ask; just how many of the available features will I ever use or need?

  2. PS: Since we are at it, what about the performance of the M9 for macro photography (again, insects butterflies flowers mosses and so on)?

  3. What about the Leica S2 / Leica S2-P, Steve? How do they compare with the Mark IV on a similar assignment?

    I do not own Nikon or Canon, but I think I would go for the EOS series because they are the perfect tool for shooting wild life. Let’s not forget about the spectacular L lenses, particularly the tele and macro lenses (the camera is not everything).

    Do you have any kind of comparison between Leica S2 and Canon on shooting wildlife (not only telephoto, but also macro, like insects butterflies flowers mosses and so on)?

  4. Everyone compares the Canon vs the Nikon, but why hasn’t anyone compared the Leica S2 to the 1D or D3? There’s been a couple mentions here, but are these S2’s not in the same league as the Canon and Nikon?

  5. Hey. Great post! I have a 1D4 and the same two lenses you used; the 24 L & 100 L. I shoot mostly at night/low light and these two primes paired with this camera make for an awesome setup. Having moved up from a 5DMK2 I don’t find the size, weight or even the crop an issue at all. I love the zen-like simplicity of the design and ease of use, as for the build quality, it’s like having a new sense of fearlessness – I just throw it over my shoulder and forget about it. I don’t care about comparisons with over cameras/systems, and I’m very happy with what it does; it seems like the perfect marriage of form & function to me. The shutter sound is a beautiful thing, too. Peace.

  6. Michiel-

    I hear what you’re saying. It’s just that the weight and size of the big dslrs makes them specialty products. Some shots are possible only with these types of cameras and focusing systems. Awesome, but really only useful when the main purpose of an outing is photography. One could say the same thing about the Leica S2. The sample photos show amazing detail and clarity, but something smaller (not just a rangefinder) is more likely to be useful in social situations other than at home.

  7. I think that when one spends about $5000.00 on a camera, usually it is a very good instrument. I also believe that a photographic artist can take great pictures with just about any camera, much like a great guitar player can make a cheap guitar sound great. The Canon 1D MKIV is a great camera. Thank you for showing pictures of the Seal concerts.

  8. As a Canon user my self i agree with Steve, 1dM4 got it right this time it has all the right stuff pack in one pro camera, what more can you ask for and oh yeah they already fixed the focusing issue. What more can you complain about it, well except its big and heavy but for a working pro this is no issue at all coz this camera get battered all day long everday of its life so deffenitly need that extra muscle…if some of you are still complaining i can care less.

  9. I was just wondering. Would it be possible to steer the discussion away from the rather easy comments on portability of (certainly pro level) dslr’s vs rf’s? It doesn’t reflect favourably on the average age and fitness of posters here… 🙂

    Let’s focus on image quality. The 1D’s is obviously very very good, so compliments where compliments are due.

    • Couldn’t agree more mate. The big DSLR’s are great at what they’re made for…just different form RF’s. I personally have lots of fun using both especially after a long bout of one. It’s just so nice to change things up and have a different, completely opposite approach to framing.

      There’s also something to be said for the ‘Bigger Bodied’ DSLR’s in that there’s definitely something that the extra heft gives you over the smaller bodied DSLR’s. It’s just a reassuring feeling (I’m 6ft 4″. That said, I cannot get with the ergonomics of the big bodied Nikon’s over their Canon counterparts. If it’s one thing that Canon do so well is form factor and balance of their bigger cameras. They have this incredible ability to make a camera seem smaller than it is and a whole lot lighter than a Nikon equivalent when really it isn’t that much lighter at all.


      • @’6′: A mate has an M8/Elmarit 28 on trial for a week; seeing him tonight at the pub. I’m bringing my D700/50 Zeiss. Always interesting to make the comparison!

        Ergonomics is of course much a personal thing; I find the D700 hangs easily on two fingertips all day, not even using Gordy’s beautiful wriststrap… 🙂 . Can’t comment on the Canon’s ergonomics though; never used one.

  10. The big Canons and Nikons are killer picture taking machines. The major downside is that they feel like boat anchors around your neck.

  11. I have and love my 1D Mark III, in fact it’s my longest owned camera, going on 3+ years at this point. It’s a work horse, great FPS, great AF, decent high ISO upto ISO 3200, and perfect when the M9 or rangefinders simply don’t reach far enough or where framerates are needed to freeze/capture action in the moment.

    I will likely upgrade to the 1DMk5 once it’s available, but the 1DIV is quite the capable camera of now. The nikon’s are solid entries as well, and stand up quite well, having many fans of their own, but there’s a reason that Canon white lenses are still the mainstay along the sidelines at most sporting events, though Nikon may soon catch up due to new lovely glass and outstanding sensor tech…

    For me, given my M9 proclivities, this system is for the 20% when rangefinders aren’t appropriate, and the Canon 1 series does an admirable job!

  12. Pro Canon or Nikon really are the puppies when it comes to getting the shot on assignments like live gigs. Sure you can use Leica but when you have three songs and the no flash rule with a band leaping around all over the place, fast glass, high FPS and auto focus really help things along 🙂 Not to mention being in the pit with other snappers jostling for an angle too. I personally shoot Canon as I used that for my mountain sports work over the years. Would I change, nope, no need, I have all the lenses I want and the difference in these DSLR’s is negligible in my eyes 🙂 I’d certainly like to try an M9 at a gig though…

  13. Funny you’re bringing up this topic Steve. To be honest I am thinking from time to time about buying one of these puppies. I’m not partial to either Nikon or Canon, both have their pro and con’s, but they would/could make my life easier sometimes
    For instance, this coming weekend the annual, all night open art happening Nuit Blanche will take place again here in Toronto all over town. I’ve been assigned by the artists to document/shoot their art installation called “The River Peace” taking place in the Distillery District, including the main shot high up from a sky-lift early Sunday morning.
    (Btw, this installation will come to New York’s Time Square next year.)

    I will be using my trusty M9 and also have on loan from Leica NJ a S2 at hand. This will be a fun shoot but to be honest, I’m a tad worried that something like the D3s or 1DMKIV would be more suited for the job.
    (I know what you will say but it makes no sense for me to rent one since, frankly, I’ve never used a DSLR before and therefore have no clue how to work all those buttons, menus and countless sub-menus.)

    The thing is I have no idea what is going to happen during the night. I know there’ll be a 1500 feet long ‘stature’ made out of bubble-wrap, illuminated by cell phones and carried on telescopic sticks. There will be also countless dancers and other performers involved all through the night and last but not least the public will hopefully join in.
    I’ll be right in there shooting but I don’t think i will even use my f1 Noctilux. I won’t be shooting at f1 anyway – don’t think crazy bokeh is right for the job – so it makes no sense carrying this heavy lens.
    Instead I’d prefer to use my 28/f2 summicron or the 50/f1.4 summilux. (Let’s see how the S2 will fare since i only have the 70mm lens for it (=50mm on the M90).
    This means I got to use a flash (depending on amount of ambient light available) unfortunately. Something I’d rather would like to avoid.

    As you can see, being able to shoot fast with ISO 6400 and above (with no noise!), would indeed be nice.
    Anyhow, it’s going to be fun, plus I love to improvise.

  14. A ‘professional’ instrument…designed to feed the insatiable need for ‘content’ of the masses. Amateur photographers better stay away from this overpriced overkill.

  15. A big +1 on the Canon 1D Mark IV. It’s the SLR that I use when I have to work super fast and I love it. Amazing image quality, handling, and responsiveness.

  16. oh no not another war with nikon and canon fans fighting each other….
    just shoot what you love and love what you shoot.

    • Ahhh. It could be worse you know, especially on his blog. This can end up being a Nikon vs. Canon vs. Leica vs. M4/3 vs. medium format. 🙂

      I’m sure things will be civil.

      Well. I hope.

      I mean if I can own a Canon 50D & XTi, a Panasonic GF1 & LX3, a Leica M6, a Voigtlander R2M, a Pentax MX, a Minolta X-700, a Bronica ETR, and a Mamiya C33 (…and more…), I think I’m proof that we can all live in very happy harmony!!

      Now…about the superiority of my Canon… Hahahahaha. Just kidding. But I’d looove to slap on the 24-70L or the 70-200L on that MKIV and pop off some shots at a show…

  17. Hi Steve!

    Two things not to forget if you compare Mk IV and D3s (which I do own and use heavenly for concert/opera/theater-shooting):

    1) D3s cleary beats the IQ of the Mk IV over iso1600

    2) the D3s holds its sharpness and color accuracy when shooting just in available ligth

    THAT’s why I did choose the D3s over the Mk IV (and of course because of the heavy AF-issues Canon had with it’s Mk III)

    • I don’t shoot with either camera, but read about that somewhere just recently. Maybe it was on Or maybe on a review of the camera itself on BH Photo and/or Amazon. Canon users switched to the D3s for the above reasons.

      • Found one review in Amazon about switching from Canon to Nikon by JM Cowboy

        “Having shot with Canon for the last 15 yrs, moving over to Nikon was not an easy decision. I had a decent collection of lenses and the 1D Mark II was beginning to show its age. The mark III had its issues and the mark IV had shown promise. ”

        Another by Chuck R. Bernard

        “I was using a Canon 5D Mark II camera for over a year but became more and more disappointed with it as time went on. The focusing system used on the Canon was poor and the high ISO was good but not great. “

        • i honestly just can’t tell how much of those product reviews is fan flame any more. some people out there deliberately make up things to make the other company/user group look stupid.

          however, i do agree that canon doesn’t put its best AF system on anything but the 1D(s) series. on the lower end, Nikon AF is quite a bit better than the Canon counterpart. but when it comes to the top-of-the-line products, i don’t know how much difference there is.

          • I was trying to give you some interesting links on both the canon and nikon camera, but it won’t allow me here. It’s from Digital Rev TV, under there reviews. Go through a few pages to see the comparisons.

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