If you’re a Canon user and looking at advanced DSLR cameras, then you’ll want to know how different models match up against each other. In this review, we look at the Canon 5D Mark IV vs Canon 5D Mark III to see which is better. We’ll be looking at what improvements have been made with the new model, and whether these upgrades warrant the higher price tag.
Canon 5D Mark IV: Advantages
- Built-in Wi-Fi
- Full touchscreen
- Improved environmental sealing
- Higher LCD screen resolution (1,620 K dots vs 1,040K dots)
- Faster continuous shooting rate (7fps vs 6fps)
- Lighter weight (890g vs 950g)
- Higher color depth (24.8 vs 24.0)
- Higher dynamic range (13.6 vs 11.7)
- Better ISO performance
- Can support UHS memory cards
When Canon previously upgraded from the Mark II to Mark III, it didn’t offer a huge leap in terms of resolution over the previous DSLR model; only 21.1Mp to 22.3MP. But the new Mark IV ramps things up to 30.4MP with a brand-new sensor design. As per usual, the focus points are spread all across the full-frame surface area and a low-pass filter is also included to prevent aliasing effects on the images.
The Mark IV also includes a new processor, upgrading from the DIGIC 5+ to a DIGIC 6+ processing engine. What this means is a higher ISO range (32,000 ISO as opposed to 25,600 ISO), better noise reduction, and a faster burst shooting rate.
At first glance, the Mark IV’s 61-point AF system appears to be the same as the Mark III. But a closer inspection reveals a few changes. For starters, the AF points are more widely distributed, and all 61 AF points remain effective at F8 which will please a lot of 5d Mark IV telephoto lens users. The AF systems detection range has also been improved, upgrading from -2EV to -3EV, which drops down further to -4EV when using live view.
Another small upgrade is the Mark IV’s ability to use UHS memory cards. This means being able to use faster cards so you shoot more without any hiccups or delays. Other improved features such as the built-in Wi-Fi and touchscreen make the Mark IV far more user-friendly than its predecessor.
One exciting new feature which the Mark IV has is a little something called Duel Pixel Raw. This allows you to make adjustments to the focus after you’ve taken the shot. For this to work, you need to switch on a special mode through the menu screen. It increases the RAW file size, but could be invaluable for saving those photos that are just a bit off-focus.
As an added bonus, the Mark IV is a touch smaller and lighter than the Mark III and has better environmental sealing for better protection against potential dust and water incursion.
Canon 5D Mark IV: Disadvantages
- More expensive
- Weaker battery life
- Smaller pixel area
Compared with the Mark III, the Mark IV doesn’t really suffer from many drawbacks or disadvantages, other than being more expensive. Both cameras, however, do suffer from the same disadvantages. Those being no built-in image stabilization, no tilt-swivel LCD screen, and no built-in flash.
No built-in flash is hardly that much of an issue. If you’re going to be investing in a professional DSLR like either of these models, you’re unlikely to make much use of an unreliable built-in flash. Instead, the use of a flashgun which can be mounted on the hot shoe is far more effective.
Though, the lack of image stabilization is an issue and a puzzling feature to leave out for a DSLR geared towards advanced users. Similarly, no-tilt-swivel screen means you’ll have a harder time getting low angle shots or shooting video, something which is almost standard on most cameras in this price range.
However, there is one thing the Mark III does better than the Mark IV. The Mark III has a larger sensor pixel area, 39.06 vs 28.69, a 36% increase. This gives it the potential to collect more light on pixels and hence less noise in low light or high ISO images.
Canon Mark III: Advantages
- Less expansive
- Better battery life
- Larger pixel area
Canon really went the extra mile in upgrading all areas of the Mark III and adding some new features to the Mark IV. However, this comes at a significantly higher price tag which must be considered before immediately jumping on the Mark IV. Ask yourself: do you really need all these extra features?
The Mark III is still a fantastic full-frame DSLR in its own right. If up to now you’ve only used entry level cameras, then the Mark III will still represent a significant improvement. Image quality and noise reduction are fantastic, as is the ease of handling. If you’d rather save money for a good lens, you can still get away with a lot on the Mark III.
Still, the only advantages it holds over the Mark IV is a slightly better battery life of 950 shots compared to the Mark IV’s 900. A better advantage comes with the Mark III’s larger pixel area: 36% larger. This means bigger pixels, which means more light falls on them for less noise. Not really an issue unless you’re making very large prints, but it might be something to consider.
Canon Mark III: Disadvantages
- No built-in Wi-Fi
- No touchscreen
- Lower LCD screen resolution (1,620 K dots vs 1,040K dots)
- Slower burst shooting rate (7fps vs 6fps)
- Heavier weight (890g vs 950g)
- Lower color depth (24.8 vs 24.0)
- Lower dynamic range (13.6 vs 11.7)
- Lower ISO performance
For disadvantages, the Canon III has a bundle when compared to its successor. However that might look, though, don’t let it distract you from what is still a great camera.
The Mark III does have a port for connecting a separate unit to give Wi-Fi connectivity, but users complain that this can be a nuisance and only serves to make the camera bulkier. No touchscreen, while not being a vital component, is still something that makes the Mark IV more user-friendly. If you’re used to having touchscreen, this can feel like a big downgrade
Other disadvantages include the lower resolution on the LCD screen, lower color depth, and lower dynamic range. Lest we forget the lower ISO sensitivity, as well.
The DIGIC 5+ image sensor, compared to the DIGIC 6+ on the Mark IV, is the main reason why it scores lower in these areas.
Then there’s the slightly larger and heavier build of the Mark III. For travel photographers, this will be something to keep in mind as a lighter weight makes getting around a bit easier.
The Mark Iv is clearly a big step up from the Mark III, which makes its heavier price tag a bit easier to swallow. An improved sensor and processing engine, better LCD resolution and lighter weight make the Mark IV the stronger choice, and it’s more likely to survive against newer models by its rivals.
If though you don’t feel you need that extra resolution, and have no interest in shooting video – you can still do pretty well with the Mark III. Budget will be the main deciding factor for most people, and many may feel they’d rather save the money and invest in a good lens instead. However, if you have the cash for it, the Mark IV is a pristine choice for the advanced photographer.Back to Top