The EOS 5D Mark IV captures a wedding in low light

Jeff Ascough

A marriage made in heaven

Jeff Ascough
Jeff Ascough


Highly-acclaimed wedding photographer and Canon Ambassador Jeff Ascough, along with his wife and shooting partner Sarah, reveal how a combination of significant technical advances in the EOS 5D Mark IV have helped alter their approach to wedding photography in new and more exciting ways.

Jeff and Sarah Ascough have a discerning eye for detail. The multi award-winning photographer duo from the UK have built an enviable reputation around the world for exceptionally beautiful images, packed with detail and captured with a reportage eye.

So when they had the opportunity to sample a pre-production 5D Mark IV, on a recent wedding in Romania, Jeff and Sarah were keener than most to see how much better the digital files would be coming from its new 30.4 Megapixel CMOS sensor. Would they be good enough to tempt them away from their 5D Mark III and 6D workhorses? It took about a minute for them to realise that the RAW file rulebook has been well and truly rewritten...

“The files were amazing,” Jeff admits. “When I first saw the images on screen Sarah thought I’d already worked on them. The JPEGs were almost spot on. In fact I started wondering why I needed to shoot RAW at all, because the JPEGs were so good. Skin tones were lovely; the gradation from the upper highlights to the extreme highlights were much smoother and I was able to pull a lot more shadow detail back before noise became an issue. The dynamic range was so much better.”

Lighting challenges

Jeff used the camera in very changeable and high contrast light for this outdoor wedding. With 38-degree heat it was an occasion that would test even the most accomplished photographer, let alone the equipment.

“The lighting was so difficult!” he recalls. “Sarah and I were shooting into the sun for much of the day. The ceremony was backlit with loads of flare and a real lack of contrast as a result. It struck me straight away that EOS 5D Mark IV, especially with the new EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM lens, handled flare brilliantly. It gave me confidence immediately.”

Sarah also found herself immediately impressed with the camera’s performance. “I’m not a really technical photographer,” she admits, “so I need a camera that gets what I want the moment I need it. Jeff sets the cameras up for our style of shooting which then leaves me with all the time I need to capture those special moments.

“In low light especially I noticed a huge difference in the focusing. Whereas the 6D might struggle and hunt a bit for a sharp image, the 5D Mark IV locked on straight away and stayed there even when the guests were moving about. For me, that’s such a fantastic benefit.

“With the EOS 5D Mark IV I felt immediately comfortable with it and was pleased to find it wasn't bulky or heavy at all. I’m so used to the EOS 6D for the work I do but I could see straight away that I’d be upgrading to this new model as soon as possible.”

Jeff was just as impressed with the new lens, as he was the camera. For a wedding photographer, the pairing was perfect. “The lens in itself was a phenomenal piece of kit,” he enthuses. “It is so much more improved over the previous incarnation; the difference is unreal.”

He continues: “One of the things that is happening in wedding photography now is that we are being asked to shoot longer hours and shoot more pictures, so we try to reduce the amount of gear we take to the absolute minimum. Zoom lenses are great, but one of the problems was that you would run out of high ISO capability towards the end of the day so you’d have to carry the faster prime lenses around just for those periods. With the higher ISO performance of the 5D Mark IV you’ve got about a stop more to play with, which is a critical advantage when shooting with an f/4 lens. That one lens is enough for the whole day unless you want shallow depth-of-field effects. I personally feel I am at the stage now where I can do a job just with that one camera and lens. It allows me to concentrate more on what I’m doing without having to swap lenses all the time and I have complete confidence in it to deliver time and again. The stabilisation was outstanding and the sharpness was on another level.”

"It is so much more improved over the previous incarnation; the difference is unreal."

Opportunities to explore

For Jeff, the only way he could properly compare the 5D Mark IV to the 5D Mark III was to switch everything off. “All the automatic corrections – Digital Lens Optimizer, everything – were switched off in order for me to compare like for like. There’s no doubt this camera is a highly significant step forward in all aspects. It’s lighter, which again makes it really attractive for a camera you’d use all day and shooting with dual cards I never got locked out with buffer limitations. Plus the camera was fast and responsive; the ideal companion.”

New for the EOS 5D Mark IV is Wi-Fi, a much-requested feature and one that Jeff was very curious about. “Wi-Fi is an interesting development for a wedding a photographer,” he muses. “There’s lots of talk now for online platforms for wedding photographers, so that they are able to show images from the wedding day directly from the camera to the client. It’s very much in its infancy at the moment but the technology is there now on the 5D Mark IV to make that workflow a possibility if the client requests it.”

A focused performance

Along with the high quality of the files, the second most important consideration for Jeff on a wedding is rapid focus. “Ninety percent of the time I use centre focus and on the 5D Mark IV the speed was noticeably quicker compared to the III. During the wedding there was a girl coming towards me down some steps in low light and over a sequence of four or five images, every one of them was sharp as I followed focus. That was something I wouldn’t have been able to do as successfully with the old camera. It really was quite a revelation.”

Along with the focusing advantages, Jeff also noticed how easy the 5D Mark IV was to set up and use compared to his Mark III. “The menu settings were very intuitive and very easy to use coming from the previous model. I could set my camera up to exactly how I like to use it, no trouble at all.”

"Now that I’ve had a go it’s going to be a real come-down to go back to my old EOS 5D Mark III."

“Now that I’ve had a go it’s going to be a real come-down to go back to my old EOS 5D Mark III,” he admits. “When that camera came out five years ago I thought it would be the one I could use for the rest of my career. And then they go and improve it with this new one! This is such a huge advance you don’t realise how much of an improvement it is unless you start using it. And then when you do, you really don’t want to put it down!”

“The EOS 5D Mark IV is a camera you don’t even think about while using it. And that, for me, is the best type of camera.”

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