Commercial photographer, filmmaker and Canon Explorer Christian Anderl reflects on the EOS 5D Mark IV’s movie shooting superiority and its ability to capture stills quickly and efficiently behind the scenes.
“This camera is all I need; it has the perfect blend of low light technology and handling to make what I do a pleasure.” Christian’s enthusiasm for the EOS 5D Mark IV is obvious the moment he starts talking about it. A long-time user of the 5D series, he began filming with the 5D Mark II and has kept pace with Canon’s technological advances ever since.
“Canon knows what people like me need,” he reflects. “Just when I think a camera can’t get any better they go and make it better! And I have to say, this is the biggest jump forward by far. It truly is superb.”
For Christian, small and subtle changes to the EOS 5D Mark IV have had the biggest impact on his workflow. Take the autofocus toggle button on the back of the camera, for instance: a new addition neatly positioned right where the thumb would fall to the right of the LCD screen. “This was the biggest deal for me in this camera!” he exclaims. “I was shooting behind the scenes stills on a music promo completely in autofocus, which I have never done before. And as soon as I started I was amazed. It just worked! With the new AF lever on the back by the LCD, I could use it to switch face detection focus positions from one person to another. I was really, really impressed by that.”
He continues: “Even shooting movies in very low light conditions, when I thought the focus would mess up, this camera performed superbly. And from a photography point of view, the Dual Pixel RAW was incredible too. I had one picture I really liked but it was not quite sharp enough on the eyes, but I adjusted it in the Canon Digital Photo Professional software later and – wow ¬– it was a perfect shot!”
“I think this is just the beginning of a fantastic new revolution from Canon,” he enthuses. “The new 30 Megapixel sensor has an amazing dynamic range and on the camera’s super sharp LCD screen I could see the difference in the images immediately.”
"I think this is just the beginning of a fantastic new revolution from Canon."
Using the EOS 5D Mark IV to shoot behind the scenes stills and video, Christian realised it was a tall order. To perform both duties on one camera was a challenge. “Normally I would use two bodies, one for filming and one for stills but in the close confines of this film set it would have made for a very tricky experience with too much bulk, limiting my ability to move fast. I was immediately struck by the camera’s ability to be used in a ‘run and gun’ situation for both stills and video, where quick reactions and snap-to focusing were really critical.”
He reflects: “I originally was expecting to shoot just portraits of this band but the crew asked me to shoot film as well. So I found myself having to shoot both stills and videos, which was the ultimate test.”
“Behind the scenes video and photography is challenging. You have to shoot like crazy which is where autofocus really helps a lot. I just concentrated on my framing and the AF just took care of itself, and of course with that fantastic toggle lever on the back of the camera I could direct the focus to wherever I wanted.”
Christian used the camera on a very simple handheld rig. Because he was shooting video and stills it was impossible to set up in a big cage like he would use usually if he were just filming.
“That little rig was just fine, he recalls. “The handling was something I really loved about my old Mark III and I love it even more with the EOS 5D Mark IV. It’s lighter than its older model, and that weight saving was crucial. As was another new addition: Wi-Fi!”
He continues: “Wi-Fi on a DSLR is not a gimmick any more. This is now a genuinely useful addition. We had the camera tethered to a tablet so we could control autofocus remotely when filming which was so cool. So at certain moments I concentrated on the framing while an assistant could just specialise on the focusing. We could both perform our tasks independently of each other but in real time. No time lag, no confusion. Perfect result!” “I only bought the EOS 5D Mark III last year because I just loved the 5D Mark II so much and it did everything I needed. But this Mark IV? Wow, I need it straight away. I’ve already put my order in!”
"The new 30 Megapixel sensor has an amazing dynamic range and on the camera’s super sharp LCD screen I could see the difference in the images immediately."
Looking back at the footage he got from the shoot, Christian could see immediately the benefits of the EOS 5D Mark IV. “As a filmmaking tool it takes all the best features from the previous two generations of camera and adds 4K video and an incredible array of correction tools for using on the move such as Digital Lens Optimizer plus other lens aberration corrections and the Fine Detail Picture Style. Plus when you get back to your desk the Dual Pixel RAW mode is just incredible.”
“The autofocus in video mode was also what I liked a lot as was the high ISO capability and low grain. The colours are true and the low light noise at 6400 ISO was just incredible. It looks like a beautiful film grain. It’s something you would add as a filter in post-production, it’s that good!”
“I’m not really a techy kind of photographer,” he concludes, “But this is a tool for me which just works the way I want. I’ve never had a camera like this, which I can start using quickly straight away. I was truly sad to give it back!”
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