December 11, 2017, 12:54:45 AM

Author Topic: Upgrade to 5D Mark IV or Cheaper Cam for a Wedding Photographer?  (Read 12987 times)

supaspiffy

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Hi guys,

I'm tempted to really pull the trigger on that $2799 Canon Store refurbished 5D Mark IV but I just need a little push to either side of the fence! I'm a part time wedding photographer and I carry a 5D Mark III and a 6D with me. Things are working out fine but there are still some things left to be desired. These are the real world issues facing me…

1)   I want to carry two dual slot full frame cameras with me for professional work, so I'm looking to upgrade that 6D. Although I know the chances of memory cards breaking is extremely low, working pros keep talking about how dual slots are a must and it only takes one incident to ruin you. I recently had a scare when one of my SD cards started to physically split apart, but thankfully I could still salvage the images from it.

Are dual slots really a big deal to working pros? I figure if I have a dual slot camera for redundancy and insurance, what’s really the point of having it on one when the other one doesn’t?

2)   High ISO can always be better. I’ve had weddings when flash can’t be effectively bounced or is not allowed, so I’m cranking that ISO for those outdoor reception shots. There’s plenty of times when I’m hitting 25600 and I have to noise reduce the hell out of the images in post. This tends to create manikin-like people so I have to thread a fine line choosing how much of it to do.

Would the 32000 ISO and better sensor tech of the 5D Mark IV provide a noticeable difference from the 5D Mark III when I process noise reduction on the images? Would I notice the improvements in a meaningful away? I’m viewing the images on a 27’’ Thunderbolt display.

3)   Autofocus is a big thing for me. For all its AF prowess, I think my 5D Mark III still pumps out too many out of focus pics for me to feel comfortable. Or maybe I’m just a terrible shot! But I do find myself shooting in technically challenging situations all the time… either it’s really dark to reliably focus or I’m shooting against the sun.

Will the new Dual Pixel AF system in 5D Mark IV allow me to just reliably track subjects in the dark or against the sun for stills? Do I need to enable Live View or would it still kick in through the viewfinder?

My other issue right now is that I have to slowly select focus points every time I want to nail focus on portraits. And during events when people are moving, selecting focus points can sometimes be way too slow to capture fleeting moments. Would the intelligent face tracker allow me to just shoot subjects on the fly without having to select single focus points for reliable AF? Would the face tracker also make selecting focus points redundant?

4)   Sometimes I forget to set exposure properly when the lighting changes on me. Before I notice, I’d end up with a batch of severely overexposed or underexposed shots. This is when a EVF would really help me! I know shooting in Live Mode through the LCD would allow me to check the exposure before taking the shot, but in the 5D Mark III and 6D, Live View AF was too slow and unreliable for this to realistically be an option.

With the Dual Pixel AF in the 5D Mark IV, would Live View AF work just as fast as AF through the viewfinder? In fact if I wanted to, could I just shoot from the LCD indefinitely as a way to nail exposure every time, without sacrificing AF performance?

5)   The 4K screen grab feature really intrigues me because I could totally see myself just using it on really fast paced action sequences, when I can’t trust myself to press the shutter button at exactly the right time.

Aside from the monstrous file sizes, which I feel is obviously necessary for high res screen grabs to work, would the quality be on par with actual stills? Would I be able to edit them almost the same way as I could with higher megapixel RAW or jpeg stills?

The other option is to just get another full frame camera with dual slots like a 5D Mark III or a 5D Mark II. The 5D Mark II could be bought for about a thousand these days, but it would be a step down in image quality from the 6D, and it’s also over a decade old. A 5D Mark III would cost double that but getting another one would not really help with the above issues I’ve outlined.

So my choices as I see them…

1. For a thousand more bucks, I could upgrade the 6D to a 5D Mark IV and be good for the next 3-4 years at least. If i was going to do this, I would sell the 6D for about $1000, and a Tammy 70-200 lens to fund the upgrade.

2. Or I could save some extra money and get an older camera with two dual slots.

3. Stick with my current setup (5D Mark III and 6D) and don’t even worry about dual slots and having that security when working paid jobs, because realistically memory card failure don’t even happen.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2017, 02:07:12 PM by supaspiffy »
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drmikeinpdx

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Re: Upgrade to 5D Mark IV or Cheaper Cam for a Wedding Photographer?
« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2017, 09:14:17 PM »
Those are really great questions, Spiffy!  Sorry I can't answer most of them - I hope other forum members can, because I'd like to hear what they have to say.

I can say that dual pixel autofocus only works in live view due to the nature of the beast.

Also, I want to comment on your fear of memory card failure.  My thought is that it happens very rarely and can be avoided entirely by purchasing high-Gig top tier cards.  If you are only using a fraction of the capacity, they won't wear out like small capacity cards which get filled up regularly.  Treat them very carefully too, so you don't cause mechanical damage.

Many photographers have horror stories about cards that went bad at the worst possible time, but I would bet most of those happened several years ago or involved cheap cards.  The Sandisk and Lexar cards we have now are really reliable if you don't abuse them.

I stopped using the second card slot in my 5D3 shortly after I got it and haven't lost an image in a decade.

I'm sure other forum members will disagree... have at it, friends!
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Don Haines

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Re: Upgrade to 5D Mark IV or Cheaper Cam for a Wedding Photographer?
« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2017, 09:31:23 PM »
On image security....

If you have a camera with 2 cards, write RAW to both....
If your camera has one slot and you are worried, look at dumping to the cloud over WiFi......

On grabbing frames from video.....
Never a good idea..... For video, you want a slow shutter speed to blur the images.... this way, motion in your video is smooth.... and if you grab a frame, it is blurred..... If you shoot video at a faster shutter speed, the individual frames are sharper, but when viewed as video it becomes jumpy and you loose the smooth flow of motion, and the whole reason for shooting video is to capture motion!

On sensor quality....
As a rule of thumb, the last camera released is the best one, but the camera to camera improvements are very small and you will be hard pressed to detect a difference. If you are talking generation to generation, then you will certainly notice the difference.
The best camera is the one in your hands

Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: Upgrade to 5D Mark IV or Cheaper Cam for a Wedding Photographer?
« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2017, 11:54:23 PM »
Here is my two bits, and its why I don't fool with weddings.

If you are shooting a once in a lifetime opportunity such as a wedding, and charging for it, the Bride is certainly going to be very very unhappy if you tell her a card failed and you lost the photos.  If its a serious wedding, she will have her attorney on you in a Flash (Pun Intended).  Failing to use a dual card camera would be a easy target for a smart attorney, no matter what your contract says, it would be foreseeable neglect on your part, particularly since other photographers have already warned you, and you even posted it publicly.

If you want to be a serious wedding photographer, get dual card cameras, and two of them.    Having the latest and greatest cameras is not that important, two 5D MK II's would be fine. Forget uploading to the cloud as you shoot. Its unlikely that there will be high speed internet available to you while photographing a wedding, and uploading raw images takes a long time. Plus, if a card fails, there would be nothing to upload.

Having a second photographer is a good thing, people need to be redundant as well, getting ill is not unheard of, but its not so foreseeable like a card failure.

jprusa

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Re: Upgrade to 5D Mark IV or Cheaper Cam for a Wedding Photographer?
« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2017, 12:47:36 AM »
Here is my two bits, and its why I don't fool with weddings.

If you are shooting a once in a lifetime opportunity such as a wedding, and charging for it, the Bride is certainly going to be very very unhappy if you tell her a card failed and you lost the photos.  If its a serious wedding, she will have her attorney on you in a Flash (Pun Intended).  Failing to use a dual card camera would be a easy target for a smart attorney, no matter what your contract says, it would be foreseeable neglect on your part, particularly since other photographers have already warned you, and you even posted it publicly.

If you want to be a serious wedding photographer, get dual card cameras, and two of them.    Having the latest and greatest cameras is not that important, two 5D MK II's would be fine. Forget uploading to the cloud as you shoot. Its unlikely that there will be high speed internet available to you while photographing a wedding, and uploading raw images takes a long time. Plus, if a card fails, there would be nothing to upload.

Having a second photographer is a good thing, people need to be redundant as well, getting ill is not unheard of, but its not so foreseeable like a card failure.
two 5D MK II's would be fine.

5d 3 's right Mt Spokane?

Don Haines

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Re: Upgrade to 5D Mark IV or Cheaper Cam for a Wedding Photographer?
« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2017, 12:55:21 AM »
Two cameras is a given, one for wide and one for long..... you don't want to be swapping lenses as she walks down the aisle........

I have never (while paid) been the main photographer at a wedding, but many times have been second shooter.... you can't concentrate on the bride and concentrate on the guests at the same time..... you can't shoot stills and video at the same time.... two people is a given for any client who is willing to hire a pro.....

The best camera is the one in your hands

Orangutan

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Re: Upgrade to 5D Mark IV or Cheaper Cam for a Wedding Photographer?
« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2017, 08:43:43 AM »
two people is a given for any client who is willing to hire a pro.....

I disagree: it's business, whatever the client and contractor agree to is the appropriate deal. 

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Re: Upgrade to 5D Mark IV or Cheaper Cam for a Wedding Photographer?
« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2017, 08:43:43 AM »

Orangutan

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Re: Upgrade to 5D Mark IV or Cheaper Cam for a Wedding Photographer?
« Reply #7 on: July 03, 2017, 08:56:54 AM »
a once in a lifetime opportunity such as a wedding
Not so much, anymore.  :(

Quote
very unhappy if you tell her a card failed and you lost the photos.
While I agree that dual-card is a good idea, you're cherry-picking your risks: there are many risks during a wedding shoot (illness, car trouble, etc), and all must be considered.  It makes no sense to have dual-slots, but drive an unreliable vehicle or to go out on a bender the night before.

Quote
If its a serious wedding, she will have her attorney on you in a Flash (Pun Intended).  Failing to use a dual card camera would be a easy target for a smart attorney, no matter what your contract says
Presumably, your smart attorney has looked at your contract and told you it's solid, and is defensible against claims of negligence.

Quote
it would be foreseeable neglect on your part
There are many foreseeable problems, you can't 100% mitigate all of them.  How do you decide which are the most important, and deserving of a chunk of your income?

Quote
particularly since other photographers have already warned you, and you even posted it publicly.
Warnings could be factual or simple fear.  We can't make rational risk-management decisions based on ignorance and fear.


Quote
If you want to be a serious wedding photographer, get dual card cameras, and two of them.
Dual-slot is a good idea to mitigate one risk, but photographers should not fixate on it to the exclusion of all the other risks.  Without really useful data on card failure rates, I don't think we can legitimately say that single slot is more of a risk than car trouble or illness.

Mikehit

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Re: Upgrade to 5D Mark IV or Cheaper Cam for a Wedding Photographer?
« Reply #8 on: July 03, 2017, 09:06:24 AM »
You also need to bear in mind personal experience and perception. Someone who lost all their images on a shoot due to card failure will have a different perception of that risk than someone who has never had a card failure, and different again from someone who had a card failure and was able to recover the images later on. 

It irritates me when advocates of dual slot talk about 'negligence' or 'unprofessional' when someone uses single slot. As long as the photographer has made a reasoned judgement their decision is their own.

old-pr-pix

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Re: Upgrade to 5D Mark IV or Cheaper Cam for a Wedding Photographer?
« Reply #9 on: July 03, 2017, 09:41:23 AM »
...
Quote
If its a serious wedding, she will have her attorney on you in a Flash (Pun Intended).  Failing to use a dual card camera would be a easy target for a smart attorney, no matter what your contract says
Presumably, your smart attorney has looked at your contract and told you it's solid, and is defensible against claims of negligence...

Perhaps, but you really don't want to get to the point where you are testing whose attorney was smarter.  And, dual cards is an obvoius and relatively inexpensive insurance policy. 

Orangutan makes good points re. assessing and addressing all the risks.  That's part of why second shooters are employeed.

As to OP's questions on AF and AE issues, seems like 5DIII or 5DIV are the only options to improve over the 6D.  A 7DII would be an improvement as well, but OP states frequent low-light situations so discount the 7DII.  I'm also assuming that 1DxII is out of budget.
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unfocused

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Re: Upgrade to 5D Mark IV or Cheaper Cam for a Wedding Photographer?
« Reply #10 on: July 03, 2017, 11:04:46 AM »
I tend to agree with Orangutan's comments regarding dual slots. I think the risk is overstated, but this is a debate that ignites fierce feelings on the part of some and can only be resolved through personal choice.

Disclaimer: I have no experience with the 5DIV. My comments are based having used a 5DIII, a 7DII and now a 1DX II, but I expect the experience to be similar.

High ISO: I think I see a marginal improvement from the 5DIII to the 1DX II, but it is only marginal. From what I have read, the 5DIV is not significantly weaker than the 1DX II, so you will probably see a little improvement, but nothing major.

Autofocus: My main comment is this: autofocus isn't magic.

I found the autofocus of the 7DII slightly better than that of the 5DIII and the 1DX II slightly better than the 7DII, but only slightly and frankly they all leave a lot to be desired. I don't shoot weddings, but I do shoot sports and a fair number of events. In my experience, the most accurate focusing remains single point and none of the alternatives ever works quite as well at getting the subject in focus. For action or moving subjects, I shift to one of the multi-point options, which can be an effective compromise. I find the full-on all-point autofocus pretty worthless for most of my shooting, but that may just be my style.

(Side note: I do think the multi-point autofocus may be a little better at capturing birds in flight, where the camera can have an easier time picking out the subject from the background)

There is, of course, also the problem of depth of field in the kinds of low-light situations I encounter at events, and you are likely to be encountering at weddings. Yeah, you can get one person in focus, but there is seldom enough depth of field to get a second or third person in focus. No autofocus system can overcome that. You can only compensate through careful composition.

So, my point is really this. If you are hoping that the newer autofocus systems will solve your problems, you will be disappointed. They can help, but as I said, they aren't magic.

Live View: I don't shoot that way, so can't really help. But, I generally find looking at the live view screen to be too cumbersome. I'm just too used to viewfinders.

I also have no experience with 4K screen grabs, but I doubt it would be as easy as many people fantasize.

aceflibble

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Re: Upgrade to 5D Mark IV or Cheaper Cam for a Wedding Photographer?
« Reply #11 on: July 03, 2017, 01:24:57 PM »
It sounds to me like you want a Sony α9.

As far as the 5D4 goes, yes, it's an upgrade. If you were to bench the 6D, make the 5D4 your main camera and the 5D3 your secondary, that'd be a solid pair.

Yes, it's a step up in image quality, although not drastically so. (The 5DS R is of course the big leap in IQ, but then that's also slower.) Yes, it's a step up in AF, though the things you're asking to do are a bit of a stretch for any camera right now. (Mirrorless cameras do the face tracking kind of stuff better, but they're still worse in lower light; SLRs are the reverse, including the 5D4.) No, the 4K frame grabbing isn't on par with regular stills (if it was, there'd be literally no point in capturing stills whatsoever), but if you don't need to crop and an 8mp equivalent file is good enough for you, it's useful.

But none of this is such a leap forward that it's going to magically solve all the issues you're having. ISO 256000+ on any camera is noisy; that noise is very slowly going down with each generation, but it's still there. AF still is not perfect, especially in lower light and especially when tracking in lower light. An EVF or good Live View (same thing in effect) does help gauge exposure if you're not the type to measure but they're still not perfect and you're still relying on judging exposure via an calibrated screen.


As I said before, it does sound like what you want is a Sony α9, really. Better IQ, better tracking, as-good-as-currently-available EVF/screen shooting, and the 20fps rate and deep (though slow to clear when totally full) buffer means you're covered for 'action'. That's the only thing which, realistically, does everything you're asking for. The 5D4 is a step up from the 5D3 but not by that much, not enough to cover what you're looking for.

 
 
All that said, at minimum, get another 5D3 to replace the 6D. Dual card slots is a must, no excuses.

In the last ~12 years since I went fully digital, I've had one memory card fail. Only one. But that card failed after a full day of recording trade interviews for international broadcast (this was while working for a tech publication), and it failed in a body which did not have a second card. Biggest industry event of the year, a team of eight of us flown to Köln, and that one memory card cost us every single piece of coverage. By sheer luck, we happened to have some free time the next morning we had planned to use to relax and see the city. We managed to get in touch with enough of the companies and interviewees that evening and arranged to quick-fire reshoot everything in a single hour the next morning before our flights home. We got all but one interview re-recorded, edited on the plane, and got it all upload 'only' 8 hours after our deadline. (Anybody who has worked in any part of the tech industry knows how long 8 hours is in press time.) Suffice to say that of that team of eight people, only one wasn't let go as a result. One memory card failure in over a decade and it cost seven of us our positions.

If you shoot a wedding and have a card go bad, it's even worse. Myself and my team, we lost time, which lost money for the publication. Enough for most of us to be kicked out. But a week later and that publication is on to the next big story and the industry moves on and who cares. But if you have a card fail, you haven't just screwed up for that day or that week. That couple and their family and friends will be missing those photos for their entire lives. (Or at least 6 months, depending on how pessimistic your view on marriage is.)
If you miss focus by a fraction or you slightly overexposed and have to pull the file back then yes, it's not ideal, but at least you produced something. If your card breaks then you'll be producing nothing.

No matter what, replace that 6D. The 6D's a good camera, but it's not made for reliability, and reliability is the most important thing for a wedding photographer. Used 5D3s are very reasonably priced now. Hell, a 7D2 has better AF than the 5D3 (about on par with the 5D4, actually) and has dual slots; sure, the image quality will take a hit, but I'd rather receive a noisier image than no image.

 
 
When it comes to actually nailing the shots, to me it sounds like your first priority is to have your lenses & bodies calibrated for focus so you can be sure there's absolutely minimal technical error, and after that, sharpen up your skills more than anything. I can't imagine any wedding situation where you'd need to be hitting ISO 25600 unless you have some very slow lenses and/or are picking some needlessly high shutter speeds; I've shot death metal concerts—which are a lot darker and more energetic than any wedding!—with older Canon cameras never going above ISO 3200. I can't imagine any focus situation at a wedding where the 5D3's AF isn't good enough either; that thing will keep up with a peregrine falcon (which moves at over 200mph and completely unpredictably; by far my favourite AF speed & accuracy/tracking test for any camera). The whole reason that the 5D4 isn't selling so well is precisely because it's not that far ahead of the 5D3 and the 5D3 still handles basically everything well.
 

This really sounds to me like either your standards are unrealistically high (refer back to Sony α9 comments) or your standards are reasonable but you yourself are missing the boat dramatically. (See directly above.)
 
 
Set a second 5D3 as your absolute minimum, and from there, think about what else you do actually need vs what might actually be user error. If you do decide in the end that you do need all of the things you listed before, the Sony α9 is the only body on the market which will do it all. The 5D4 won't be enough. If you decide you only need a body to solve some of your problems—especially just basic image quality and getting that second card slot—then the 5D4 will be a good upgrade for you, though the 5DS R (image quality) and 1DX & 1DX2 (speed) are also worth keeping in mind, depending on exactly which points you wish to prioritise. (Of course there are also the Nikon equivalents; right now Nikon beats Canon in image quality as they're still using Sony sensors, but AF is about even and if you're already deeply invested in premium Canon lenses, switching likely would not be worth it for you.)


While I agree that dual-card is a good idea, you're cherry-picking your risks: there are many risks during a wedding shoot (illness, car trouble, etc), and all must be considered.  It makes no sense to have dual-slots, but drive an unreliable vehicle or to go out on a bender the night before.

That's why you don't do either of those things, either, and such things are utterly irrelevant to the conversation. This isn't an either-or situation. You don't say "well my memory card corrupted, but at least I didn't turn up hungover, eh?" Just because there are other things which can go wrong doesn't mean you should or can be blasé about all potential problems.

"Yeah well I figure I can risk it 'cause I could also be hit by a bus tomorrow so what difference does it make."

Gordon_C78

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Re: Upgrade to 5D Mark IV or Cheaper Cam for a Wedding Photographer?
« Reply #12 on: July 04, 2017, 07:06:20 PM »
Interesting reading through all the comments.

Im in a similar situation to the original poster. I am just starting out on the wedding photography circus here in the uk, first shoot as a second shooter in the next couple of weeks. I am working with a reputable local photographer as a free second shooter so anything I get is a bonus and not expected by the wedding party. Despite having many years of photography experience  I want some good real life experience of this sector before trying to charge anything!

I'm looking to upgrade body's very soon as my well used 650d is somewhat long in the tooth! To be fair although its an older and somewhat basic body I always maintain its the human factor rather than the equipment that makes the biggest difference, that and some good glass! All my glass is good quality full frame and will be adding a f2.8 24-70 shortly (prob Tamron/Sigma's latest offering as cant justify the silly canon price for non IS!)

I was waiting for the 6D2 release but im somewhat less than impressed and confused. Here in the UK a new 6D2 is the same as a new 5D3! Ok, one is the latest shiny new FF offering, and the other is 5 years old. Still something is drawing me more to the 5D3 rather than the 6D2. 5D4 is simply out of reach at the moment!

So here's the plan:

1. Purchase 6D2/5D3 (thats the really difficult decision!) and a new 24-70 f2.8 to supplement existing primes and longer zooms, whilst retaining 650d as (somewhat old) backup.

2. Practice, practice practice as second shooter

3. Earn a little cash and then add a second FF to replace 650d (5D4?)

Does this seem reasonable?

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Re: Upgrade to 5D Mark IV or Cheaper Cam for a Wedding Photographer?
« Reply #12 on: July 04, 2017, 07:06:20 PM »

bokehmon22

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Re: Upgrade to 5D Mark IV or Cheaper Cam for a Wedding Photographer?
« Reply #13 on: July 04, 2017, 07:37:21 PM »
If you are making decent money from wedding, I would upgrade.

I was shooting with 2 6Ds for weddings and felt dual SD, AF, ISO performance, MP was worth it.

Drum

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Re: Upgrade to 5D Mark IV or Cheaper Cam for a Wedding Photographer?
« Reply #14 on: July 04, 2017, 07:46:05 PM »
Ok I won't get involved in the second card debate, I have both the 5D3 and 5Div and have been more than happy with the upgrade. The higher iso shots are easier to clean up, I haven't been upto 25000 but I did find that 16000 was easier to clean up.
      The most thing that I am happy with is the lower light AF. the mark 3 would really struggle in lower light to lock on but I found in a similar situation the mark iv focused fast and smooth and locked on. ok no 2 situations are exactly the same but it felt to me very similar.
     The touch screen on the mark iv is also pretty good, I don't use live view very much but touch screen af may encourage me to do so. changing settings without the Q button is faster too.
     If you are used to the mark 3, my opinion is that the mark iv is a good upgrade. I haven't done any video on it so I haven't used all the features  yet.

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Re: Upgrade to 5D Mark IV or Cheaper Cam for a Wedding Photographer?
« Reply #14 on: July 04, 2017, 07:46:05 PM »