Canon 1D Mark IV – Unboxing (Can you spell – AWESOME CAMERA!!!)

The brand new 1D Mark IV from B&H Photo arrived in a plain brown box with signature B&H tape around it. All eyes in the place are on the box as the UPS man walks through the front door and over to the receiving person.  The packages for the day are signed for and the man in brown wonders why the intense looks on him today. Remembrances of Legally Blond must be running through his head and I can’t help but chuckle.

Of course, I told everyone it would be arriving today day and I think the anticipation had been rising as everyone was eagerly waiting for it. Now it was here, unconfirmed to most of the people in the room, but the box was just the right size and the tape plainly announced where it was from.

The words “B&H” was the right “password” to open the door to bridled excitement. For me, it was just another day right?? After all I shoot with the Nikon D3X so what kind of draw did this brown box have on me, probably none. Wrong!!!! “Don’t touch that box” I boomed to everyone in the room, I felt like a kid and I just couldn’t wait to get my little shutter triggering fingers on that camera.

This is an important camera. This camera that will either help Canon fly higher or all of us will watch as one of the largest corporations in Japan will start a downward spiral that could make history as we wonder – will it crash or not?? Bottom line, this camera is an incredible winner. I feel excited as I can’t wait to see how this camera will be either more of the same stuff from Canon or a new chance at the top spot for Canon again.

For many years Canon has been running on some kind of internal gas that fed them the notion they were just plain invincible. They had “THE” sensor or the decade and no one else had it. Basically it was like this: if you want Auto ISO – go to Nikon, want consumer level weather resistant camera? Not in the Canon house you don’t. Canon had the sensor and Canon made the rules, made the camera, made the choice of options, made the features we ALL would have to live with. And since around the year 2000 Canon dictated what could and could not have in our cameras – including build quality.

Then the bubble burst like a loud POP!!! Nikon came out with a camera that actually had a better sensor – and it was an incredible surprise. Surely Canon would catch up, the huge powerhouse of cameras would bounce back easily and quickly. But Nikon threw another quick jab, a D700 camera that had the Nikon superb sensor AND lots of juicy features missing from Canon’s cameras AND also Nikon’s best top of the line focus system. Ouch. Canon had lots to do to catch up, first on the technology side of the map, and then NEW territory for Canon, the features that Canon seemed to guard so carefully so no one would get more than just a little bitty drop at a time.

This would present a really big challenge to Canon; both to the engineers and to the marketing mavens that helped put Canon behind the eight ball to begin with. Then, out of nowhere, the might big flagship, the Canon 1D Mark III discovered a problem in its focus system that basically crippled the cameras pristine reputation for the rest of it’s life.

What was Canon to do??? What it always did – of course. Marketing or some department put the mighty 5D Mark II out. Did Canon rise to the challenge of the D700 and the D300 even? Canon’s answer was more of what they have done for the last 8 years – great sensor, low features and low focus system. Three year old focus technology didn’t seem to most of us to be the best choice as an answer for the loyal Canon shooters. Canon’s bait was a brand new powerhouse sensor that would surely put all others to shame, and the price. For Canon loyalists it was a welcomed camera as it was the only choice all of us had.

Unfortunately the Canon philosophy of metering out features slowly and adding them a few at a time in newer camera models as time marched on was wearing thin. it looked like a lot of shooters started to buy Nikon gear and there seemed to be a tide going over to the Nikon pond. I have been a Canon shooter since the original D30. Remember the low end Rebel body with the high price and superb sensor? Yup, I owned me one of those puppies. It was the only deal in town. Then I owned the D60, then the 10D, the 20D the 1D Mark II, the N, the S the III and so on – lots of so ons! Then I bought me a Neeekon and found that cameras actually CAN focus and focus well. Wow, this was remarkable. And there is loads and loads of features in these Nikon bodies, what a surprise!!! Not only me, but boat loads of other professionals did the same thing. Way to many bought Nikons, or at least that is the way it looked to me and I was beginning to worry about Canon’s future.

I bought the Canon 5D Mark II, hoping for a new day on the Canon side of the playing field. I soon realized a great sensor needed a great camera. The 5D Mark II certainly has a really terrific sensor make no mistake about that, but Canon decided if you wanted better focus you needed to spend a lot more money. That philosophy did not hold true in the Nikon marketing strategy so while feeling a bit guilty, in came my first Nikon.

I felt terrible, how could I possibly be sitting here with a Nikon in my hands?? But the D3 was a beauty, a work of art. All the stuff Canon wouldn’t put into it’s cameras was in the Nikon. And there was no penalty for having an inferior sensor anymore – it did exquisite high ISO. It was a dream come true. Now this was the real upgrade to the 5D mark II camera, but it had the wrong name on it, my new Canon camera said “Nikon” on it. What a funny feeling.

The Nikon D3 experience coupled with the wonderful 5D mark II sensor experience soon had me owning the D3X. The D3X is the only camera that all the major features in one camera but also has a top of the line price to go with it. But there was no other player in the game so the D3X became my main player.

My first taste of the soon coming Canon re-emergence was and is the Canon 7D. Any smart man (or woman) could see the fingerprints of the engineers who would be making the 1D mark IV all over the 7D camera. The Canon 7D was the first glimpse of what was to come. The 1D Mark IV.

And this is it – the unboxing of the camera that NEEDS to lead Canon out of the trench they found themselves in. The box arrives:

The signature black 1D series box starts to emerge:

And a star is born:

Canon gives lots of stuff with the 1D series cameras:

The beginning of unpacking everything:

The camera body finally peaks out of all it’s wrapping. The battery charger, which holds 2 batteries at once but will only charge them in sequence rather than both at the same time. Charging the battery is the first priority:

In looks, the entire 1D series has a family resemblance. But with each new model there is the fine tuning to make things better and better. From consideration for people who wear gloves being able to easily operate the camera, to the understanding that pro level bodies are used in difficult conditions even in total darkness – hence the mode controls are by menu rather than by knob.

The LCD is just plain “wow” material. After you experience one of these new LCD screens you never ever want to go back to the old screens. If you never have used the new high resolution screens in real action, you don’t understand how important they can become. The histogram is the main tool for metering a picture, with the new screen on the 1D Mark IV you can confidently learn to predict how the final image will look in print or for other media.

Charging the battery starts you at near empty and it comes in lower than 50 percent charged. It takes a few hours to bring the battery up to full charge. The battery, like the 1D Mark III and the “s: model communicates with the camera to tell you how much fuel is left inside of it. The charger is also used to recalibrate the battery and also to provide electricity from a standard socket via an adapter. The earlier cameras required you use the adapter plugged into an electric outlet in order to update the firmware, the newer cameras like this one will do the firmware using the battery. It will not allow a firmware update to proceed without the battery being at full charge or close to full charge for safety sake.

Dual card slots gives you the option of shooting CF and SD cards in a variety of configurations. You can overflow from one card to the other, put RAW on one and JPG one the other, or you can copy one card to the other card. Ever read the manual – lol – it is to your advantage to do so with this camera.

Mini-HDMI and a host of other connections live under the weather resistant caps:

And there she sits, the new Canon 1D Mark IV:

Even though there wasn’t much of a charge in the battery, my top priority was to target 2 areas of high curiosity. The focus and the high ISO. I will be having a report on that really soon, but as something to wet your appetite here is my dog, he can run across three back yards faster than you can take one swig of a beverage. He is running straight at me with a captured prize of the moment, an empty bottle. The 1D Mark IV tracked him with amazing accuracy using just an 85 1.8 USM lens. I put the camera at auto ISO and set it in Tv mode putting the shutter at 1/1000 and the tracking speed at fastest. The results are mind blowing. If this camera doesn’t pass the Galbraith tests from hell I will flatly be outright surprised. The 1D mark IV tracked better than my 1D Mark III, better than the 1Ds Mark III, better than my Nikon D3 or D3X. I will do more tests on that but the early results is THIS IS THE WAY IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN 3 YEARS ago. Canon has a huge winner on it’s hands. The camera really inspired confidence and in the backdrop of the Canon experiences of the last 3 years this camera is in another league completely. This camera will not just place or show, it will win hands down.

These pictures are straight out of the camera done in RAW and no sharpening added. There is no other post processing either, exposures are coming in remarkably accurate, more accurate than expected.

A certain lonely little statue in my house has tripped up every camera in the focusing department from the smallest camera to the mighty Nikon D3X and totally humiliated the Canon 1Ds Mark III. The brand new Canon 1D Mark IV handled it the best of any camera I have EVER tried and focused the first time and almost every time. I want to say 19 out of 20 were tack sharp:

The statue pictures are not sharpened (except the last one below) and no exposure or color temp adjustments either. The camera handled the white balance and the auto ISO on it’s own with no help from me. The 1D Mark IV chose ISO 12800 as it’s setting for this shot. I can honestly say when I read about ISO 12800 for the first time my response was it was nice, but it probably wasn’t for me. I can feel comfortable to shoot at ISO 12800 withe the 1D4 – and I am flabbergasted to say it out loud, much less even think it. The 1D Mark IV having more than 16 million high quality pixels will make this print stand out from the crowd:

The detail at that ISO is really surprising – a LOT surprising! But with most pictures for me, the real rubber meets the road in the prints. Just for fun I wanted to process this image to see what would happen. I haven’t printed it yet, but this is a fully processed image at what I expect it to look like in a wedding album or a larger print. It has had Noiseware Professional applied to it and has been sharpened by PK Sharpener:

Amazing huh???

I plan to take the 1D Mark IV on a few test runs and write about it here so stay tuned. I want to compare prints from this camera at high ISO to the Nikon D3X and the new Nikon D3s to see what happens in the real world.

I want to say a word of thanks to B&H Photo as a world leader in photographic equipment for having the right equipment at the right time. They are there to answer questions and give a helping hand at every turn. Cheers, keep looking for my next report as we go through the new 1D Mark IV together. i will establish and share my favorite settings for the camera as we progress o this journey with the 1D mark IV.

Peter Gregg

Peter Gregg is a professional wedding, portrait photographer, teacher, and free lance writer. Peter Gregg has also founded A Better Bounce Card that provides softer light from your hot shoe flash for both bouncing the light and shoot-thru products.

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3 Responses to “Canon 1D Mark IV – Unboxing (Can you spell – AWESOME CAMERA!!!)”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. Chris McCord says:

    Amazed.

  2. Denis says:

    Peter,
    Thank you for this first report; quite a helpful overview.
    Having been through the 1DMk3 & 1DsMk3 sad sagas, your report is a breath of fresh air.
    Perhaps Canon has learned a lesson from its dumb customer relations with the 1DMk3, in particular.
    I look forward to your more complete report.
    Denis.

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