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an expensive but possibly worthwhile upgrade to the 1dmk3
the 1dmk3 was a truly great camera, and still holds it own- so the purpose if this review is to compare and contrast the 1dmk3 and the 1dmk4, to help you decide if it's worth the upgrade.
it was easy for me to justify the upgrade as I like to shoot 1 series cameras, and I also now have a need to shoot video- so a 1 series camera that I could take anywhere rain or shine and also record video with was exactly what I wanted.
16mp is a nice increase on paper, but in real terms isn't really much of a resolution increase- you have to up the resolution by 4x to see 2x the difference, i've been making 30x20" prints with my 10mp 1d3, so the extra megapixels mean I can crop a bit and still make big prints- although maybe you'd be better spending the upgrade money on fast telephoto glass.
The difference in price is huge but the difference in features is small- you're really paying for the small bump in resolution, higher ISO's and the video functionality- if those things appeal to you then it's a worthwhile purchase, Im very happy with my decision.
A mini review of the camera itself: it's a great camera, like all 1 series cam's it has great build quality, best in class weather sealing and zippy AF, the AF system is more complicated than the 1d3- I prefer the simplicity but you can adapt fairly quickly, other than that both cameras work similarly and there really isn't much difference between then, it goes to higher iso but I don't think they're really any better, the 1d3 already had a clean 6400
As the Canon flagship DSLR until the 1D X releases, I expected a lot of the 1D Mark IV (1D4), and was not disappointed. With a crop sensor at 16.1mp it weighs in at around 8mp less than Canons 5D II and III, but handles beautifully and feels significantly weighty. It also has the now-usual Canon video modes tucked away in the menus.
Speaking of weight, I would not recommend this camera if you are of a frail disposition or suffer from neck or back pain. I say this as a fairly average 30-something who has mild back issues. I have invested in a sling-style strap which has made a world of difference to the comfort of carrying this for longer periods. I certainly would NOT recommend carrying it round your neck.
It has a 1.3x crop factor sensor, which means when using a 100mm lens, the lens will have an effective focal range of (or field of view equal to) a 130mm lens. While some may consider this a downside and prefer a full-frame camera such as the 5D series, having a camera with a crop factor means that the outer edges of the glass on your lens will not be used. This means the camera sensor is utilizing the sharpest centre area of the lens over a greater area of your shot. However when purchasing lenses it is "easier" if a 50mm lens is in fact a 50mm lens when in use and so if this is important to you, I would recommend looking at the 5D line or new 1D X. Also of note is that although this camera has a cropped sensor, it is NOT compatible with Canons EF-S lens mounts. You can only use the standard Canon EF mount.
The 1D4 is certainly expensive, so what do you get for that money? Weather sealing, very solid construction, numerous autofocus adjustments, 10 frames per second for taking in-motion images of a moving subject and knowledge that you have the premium Canon camera. You are able to customise many settings which you cannot on a lesser model, for example your auto-ISO level, which shooting modes are available, and max & min shutter speeds. Regarding noise levels, I shoot RAW 100% of the time and as such noise is noticeable on a desktop screen at 100% zoom from around ISO 800, however it is minimal and not unpleasant to look at, and still provides superb image quality all the way up to ISO 3200. I have my auto ISO limited to 12800 due to advances in current software which can very effectively remove noise. I feel the ISO modes above this level are superfluous.
One thing which I should mention is the autofocus settings. They are complex and should be looked at in detail in conjunction with Canon's guidance which can be found here: http://www.canon.co.uk/Images/EOS%201D%20MK%20IV%20AF%20guide_tcm14-721275.pdf
One particular autofocus feature of note is the ability to switch the servo mode to enable the camera to continue to track an object (for example a bird in flight) while it passes behind random obstacles such as trees or fence posts. Although this sounds very impressive, in practice I find the autofocus to be more accurate with this disabled, however other users may find a use for it. Another feature of note is the ability to tweak the autofocus settings for individual lenses. For example if you have a 50mm lens which consistently focusses in front of your intended target, you can tweak the lens micro adjust in the cameras menus, to tell that particular lens to focus further back. This feature is found on some of the lower end Canon cameras too so is by no means a make-or-break feature, but can be very useful. Another feature I will just mention is the dual memory card slots. Very useful. You have 1 x CF slot and 1 x SDHC slot. You can switch between the two or run from one on to the other when full.
Let me just say in conclusion that this camera is the best DSLR I have ever owned. It feels great in the hands and I suspect I will struggle to ever switch away from a 1D series body now. However...
With the event of the new Canon 5D Mark III, and the 1D X on the horizon, which both appear to have autofocus to better this camera, plus a higher mega pixel count (thus greater cropping ability in post-processing), and full-frame sensors, I have a hard time recommending this camera right now, because quite simply the 5D III appears to do it all for less money. If however you need the rugged build quality and weather sealing as part of your job or hobby, with advanced autofocus adjustments, or you are perhaps a wildlife enthusiast and likely to be out shooting in poor weather, then I cannot recommend it enough. Just keep in mind that the 1D X is on the horizon.