Comparing the Canon 1D Mark IV, 5D Mark II and 7D

Canon 1D Mark IV (Front)

It’s been only a few short months since Canon announced the EOS 7D with it’s all new auto focus system and 18 MP sensor. Now they’ve announced another eagerly awaited, high-end DSLR to “Pro Series” product line, the 1D Mark IV.

In the coming weeks and months there will be previews, reviews, fanboy posts and flames galore on the various industry watching blogs and forums with hundreds of different viewpoints on this new pro model’s features and benefits.

To help cut through some of the rhetoric I thought I’d post a quick and dirty comparison of the differences between the new 1D Mark IV, the 5D Mark II and the 7D cameras based upon the information currently available.

Basically, the same comparison I recently posted on the new G11 and G10 cameras. Let me state for the record that this comparison is from a still photographer’s perspective only. The video capabilities of these cameras are cool but not where my interests lay.

List Price:
1D4 – $5000 (USD)
5D2 – $2700 (USD)
7D – $1700 (USD)

1D4 – APS-H (4896 x 3264) (16 MP)
5D2 – FF (5616 x 3744) (21 MP)
7D – APS-C (5184 x 3456) (18 MP)

Pixel Density
1D4 – 3.1 MP/cm2
5D2 – 2.4 MP/cm2
7D – 5.4 MP/cm2

1D4 – Dual DIGIC 4
5D2 – Single DIGIC 4
7D – Dual DIGIC 4

1D4 – 50, 100 – 12800, 25600, 51200, 102400
5D2 – 50, 100 – 6400, 12800, 25600
7D – Auto, 100 – 6400, 12800(H)

1D4 – 63 Area, Center Weighted, Partial, Spot (Center, AF Point, Multi-Point)
5D2 – 35 Area Eval, Center Weighted, Partial, Spot
7D – 63 Area Eval, Center Weighted, Partial, Spot

Auto Focus:
1D4 – 45 Point (new technology)
5D2 – 9 Point (same as original 5D)
7D – 19 Point (new technology)

Exposure Compensation:
1D4    -3 to +3 EV in 1/3 EV or 1/2 EV steps
5D2   -2 to +2 EV in 1/3 EV or 1/2 EV steps
7D     -3 to +3 EV in 1/3 EV or 1/2 EV steps

Continuous Shooting:
1D4 – 10 fps
5D2 – 3.9 fps
7D – 8 fps

Raw Formats:
1D4 – RAW, mRAW, sRAW
5D2 – RAW, sRAW1, sRAW2
7D – RAW, sRAW, mRAW

1D4 – Pentaprism, 100% Coverage, 0.76x Mag
5D2 – Pentaprism, 98% Coverage, 0.71x Mag
7D – Pentaprism, 100% Coverage, 1.00x Mag

1D4 – LP-E4 ($110 USD)
5D2 – LP-E6 ($66 USD)
7D – LP-E6 ($66 USD)

1D4 – 1230g
5D2 – 830g
7D – 860g

Comparing these three cameras is somewhat difficult since each is targeted to a very different segment of the DSLR market. The new 1D Mark IV is aimed squarely at the professional sports and action photographer with it’s incredible high ISO capabilities and equally incredible high speed drive (fps).

It’s also interesting to note that each camera offers a different size and resolution sensor, with only the 5D Mark II offering a full frame sensor. While I’m fairly certain the next “1Ds” model will boast a full frame sensor with enough resolution to rival the Nikon D3X, it’s a surprise that Canon continues to support the APS-H (1.3x FOVCF) sensor. It will be interesting to see just how well the new 1D Mark IV does when compared to high ISO shots taken with the 5D2.

Obviously, the new 1D Mark IV, like all the “1D” series cameras, was designed for the professional in mind. It’s the only of these three bodies to offer real weather-proofing in its construction. The 1D Mark IV is also considerably larger and heavier than the 5D2 or 7D bodies, which may not be the best thing for an “on the go” sports photographer.

It also remains to be seen if this camera’s new auto-focus system has what it takes to convince sports shooters to upgrade. Canon’s reputation has taken quite a beating in the past few years over AF issues in the 1Ds, the 5D2 and even the new 7D. The new “predictive” AI Servo mode in the 1D4 sounds great on paper, but only time will tell if this translates into sharper images.

Final Thoughts:
Once again, In the words of David duChemin, “Gear is Good, Vision is Better”. It’s not the camera that makes the photograph, it’s the person behind the camera. Having said that, anyone spending $5000 (USD) on a DSLR in today’s economy deserves for the camera to work perfectly right out of the box. This is especially true for sports shooters where there are no second chances!

19 thoughts on “Comparing the Canon 1D Mark IV, 5D Mark II and 7D

  1. With some time since this article was originally written, I’m hoping some more 5dm2 vs 1dm4 comparisons have been made and I was wondering your new opinion on a photographer getting into weddings–where, just like sports, if you miss the moment it’s gone for good.

    While speed of the subject isn’t much of an issue, low light is (dark reception halls, low lighting ceremonies). If price wasn’t an issue I’d obviously go for the 1dm4, but $5000 is a bit hard to swallow; however, if it’s worth spending the extra money on for it’s increased speed in af, improved iso quality, faster fps, and better build quality (ie weather proofing) I’m willing to wait and save for it…

    So with that said, do you feel the 1dm4 is worth the extra money for wedding photography?

    • Michael,

      The new iD Mark IV is a much better camera for weddings and sports in my opinion. The brand new AF system in the 1D4 performs so much better than the outdated system in the 5D2 that it’s embarrassing. The 5D2 is a great camera for product and landscape work but the 1D4 is in a class by itself.


  2. also… most of the reviews i read tell me that the 60d is just a super rebel – is 50 D more a professional camera?

  3. Hi … I currently own a 400D and have really outgrown it. Am looking to buy a new body as an uppgrade from a begginer to an amature who understands photography… i cant afford a 7d or a 5d, so my choice is between a 50D or a 60D… for someone who has NO interest in video and just wants a semi-professional camera.. which one should i buy.
    also im not interested in sports photography – im more into street, creative and photo-journalism.

    • Ahmed,

      Thanks for reading. The new 60D would be a better choice than the 50D in my opinion. I shot with a 50D for one year and never did like to noise the sensor produced. Honestly, your best bet might be a refurbished or used 40D. The 10MP sensor in the 40D produced superb images and I’m sorry I ever sold mine.


  4. I take a lot of portraits and wedding photos (intermediate amateur would probably describe me). I want to upgrade from the XSI that I have and love but am unsure which would be the better choice of cameras the canon mark 5d or the 60d.
    One other question is will my lens from the xsi fit on the 5d?
    Thanks. Any info will be greatly appreciated.

    • Estee,

      Thanks for reading. If you are using Canon’s “EF-S” lenses on your XSi then I’d recommend the new 7D or 60D bodies as an upgrade to your XSi. If you are using Canon’s “EF” series lenses, you can choose the 60D, 7D or 5D Mark II. Each camera has its strengths and weaknesses but all three are significant upgrades to the Rebel line. I suggest renting each body before making your final decision. Every photographer is different and what works for me may not work for you.


  5. I own a 7D and love it for professional video, commercial, music vids, youtube, indy film, shorts. I also have used the 5Dm2 which is superb in every way too. Both are great cameras for film and photos. Forget the crop factor. I just take 2 steps backwards with the 7D (no big deal). It all comes down to Glass…ZEISS for FILMING. CANON L for low light and low light and low light. I like the 5D for Low light video. But the 7D aint that bad–just different. I love my new Tamron 2.8f (all the way through) zoom 17-50mm. It is way great with the VC (vibration controll!!!) on for doing handheld. These are great cameras. For Big Screen Features you can use these cams with Zeiss lenses in tight spots or when low light sitches they excell. But the new Panasonic camcorder will be the gamechanger for filming. Overall…all Canon Cameras are great. JAPANESE BODY (canon) with GERMA LENSES (zeiss)….that is the golden ticket.

  6. I’ve tried and tested both the 7D and 5DM2 and personally, I prefer the 5DM2 for film work. I just seem to get better footage with it than the 7D. Whilst the 5DM2 is my ‘go to’ camera, I still use the 7D a lot for 60 fps work.

    Once the 5DM3 comes out, likely it will have 60fps and I will probably sell my 7D… Not before extensive testing though!

  7. Hey every one, i accidently stumbled upon this review for doing some research on the 1d MK iv, coz i was debating on should i buy another 7d or should i get 1d MK iv this time, because i wanted to know if the quality is the same. Apparently some what……. not. The main reason i decided to write a reply to every one is…. well i’m coming from a real world filmmaking, I’m a 1st AC. The funny part is that, i still can’t understand why every one thinks 5d MK ii is used most of the time for shooting film/commercial/music video. Well i’m in Hollywood, and i don’t know if you’ll be surprised or not, but 80% of the time if someone wants to shoot music video/commercial/movie, than 7d is the choice. And again, i’m coming from the real world, i’ve used RED, Panasonic HPX500 and i just got another gig that we’re going to use ARRIFLEX. For some reason 7d has some what slightly better “Cinematic” quality than the rest of the DSLR’s. Why you ask? well, apparently 1.6 cropped factor is behind it. It gives off a little bit of graininess to the quality and of course since its a DSLR that gives the shallow depth of field, it looks more cinematic. Now, here in LA(Hollywood) 5d’s are used mostly for videography, 7d’s on the other hand are used for commercials, music videos, and movies. Photography wise, as long as you don’t do 60″x80″ prints with high ISO, your good.

    • Hello dear sir, i do agree with you that 7D is best for filming/MV/TVad as i also see many of independent filmmaker are using and sharing their film shoot with 7D. The most important thing having complete gear to it. I am looking for more now for my lovely 7D into my next TVC project. Cheer!!!

  8. Hi guys,

    I’ve been racking my brains on which to choose between the 5Dmk2 or 7D.
    Unlike you guys i’m not a photographer and want to specifically use it for filming shorts or music videos with.

    I’ve worked with the 550D and love it for the price tag and results.

    My question is for someone doing my type of work would the 5D work best as it has a full frame censor compared to the rest?
    and will lens that are used for 7D and 1D work with the 5D?

    Sorry if this sounds too newbe as i want to transition over from a giant camcorders to the compact and equally better DSLR market.

    kind regards


    • Deelan,

      Thanks for reading. I love my 5D2 but I’m strictly a still photographer so I can’t really comment about using it for video work. I do know there are many folks producing incredible videos with the 5D2. All you need to do is Google “5D Mark II Video”.


  9. I have a difficult decision myself to make, I need speed for some of the action and racing photography I shoot and I am looking for exceptional detail and low light sensitivity for landscape, portrait and night photography, that puts me on opposing sides of the fence for either the 7D or the 5D MKII. The obvious answer is to step up to the 1D MKIV. After doing a little research it seemed to be the no brainer but then I got a quote on the 1D MKIV with an extra battery, and a couple of memory cards to take advantage of the ultra fast sensor and video capabilities. I was looking at over $7000.00 all in. It is becoming more apparent to me that in order to perform a multitude of tasks I just may need to divi’ up the work load, and when faced with the cost of Nearly $8000.00 with taxes, it just may make more sense for me to pick up the 7D for the action and sports photography, and a 5D MKII for Landscapes, Portraits and images where the highest level of details is required. The up-side is that while it now takes 2 bodies to do the work of one, I get 2 bodies for less than the price of one, and splitting the work load means longer lifespan. There is no question what so ever in my mind that the 7D just doesn’t compare to the 1D MKII, but it’s within reach and could make great back up for the 5D MKII to pick up the pace when increased frame rates outweigh the need for exceptional image detail.
    Sure the 1D Mark IV would be my choice hands down over the 7D and I could live with the almost negligible disadvantage over the 5D MKII in terms of detail and DOP but for me at the level and frequency that I am remunerated for my work it is an investment that would be difficult to recover. The only difficulty I face now is which one first the 7D or the 5D MKII.

  10. hi to everybody on this great forum.
    i just bought canon eos 7d about 3 month ago and pretty good camera, that time i didn”t have enough camera about crop and full sensor of camera, now i really want to know how much difference for image quallity between cop sensor like canon 7d and full sensor like 5d mark ll or 1ds mark lll ?
    my style photography will be on landscape and wedding and portrait,
    i was thinking if i want to buy second camera ,should be full frame, but i don”t know which one of the full camera i have to buy it.
    the bad thing is canon just have to full frame camera .one of them 5d mark ll and second one 1ds mark lll.
    and also i heard that the new camera canon 3d will be come out in next year and unfortunately isn”t full frame.
    now i need your advice about in my situation, thank

  11. I also bought the 7D, not predicated on this article, but i held both in my hand (5D, 7D).
    I would say the better form factor is 7D but 5D FF is un-matched when using EF lenses… In short after using the 7D it’s like having a pony it’s a horse, but not a thorough breed

  12. Jeff,

    Just a quick note to thank you for your review of the 5D II and 7D, and for guiding me with my acquisition. Based on the information I had provided you, you thought the 7D suited my needs. It has been two weeks since I purchased the 7D, and I love it. I took plenty of pics at different settings and I’m very pleased. Once again, thank you.


  13. Looking forward to see real life results from this camera. At first glance it looks awsome and I for one am grateful Canon stuck to the APS-H.
    I presently shoot a 1D3 and 7D.
    I will upgrade to a 1D4 if ever the opportunity comes but I have no reason not to just keep using my 1D3. It is a fantastic camera for my needs.
    7D is really great in all respects (coming from a 40D).
    I am glad to see the 1D4 has the same on/off switch setup as the 1D3. People rave on about the 7D’s on/off switch which is now located on the left side- a la Nikon – so you can “better utilise both hands”… But real photographers pick up a camera cradeling the base/lens with their left hand which makes the original Canon layout used on all it’s other cameras perfect to let you switch on using your right hand’s thumb as you lift the camera to your eye. There is much to like about Canon’s approach to photography ( other than the &*%$ print button…) so I look forward to seeing the 1D4 in action.
    I do not need FF much but I am tempted to go for a 5DII at some point alhough a 1Ds3/4 would be even better…

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