Color reproduction

Here you can see a generated GretagMacbeth ColorChecker chart. Place your mouse over any of the labels below it to see the color reproduction in that mode. Select a camera/setting combination from the 'Compared to' drop-down to comparative boxes inside each patch.

The 1D Mark IV offers the same Picture Styles image parameter presets that have been a feature of the EOS range for several generations.

Canon EOS-1D Mark IV Compare to:  

Artificial light White Balance

As is usually the case with Canon DSLRs, the White Balance performance is acceptable, rather than great. As we've said before, that assessment depends on whether you believe the aim of white balancing is to completely or only partially correct for the original light source. There are aesthetic arguments for the second approach but we believe white balance should do what the name implies and balance the three color channels to render whites as white, particularly when you chose a preset and specify what type of lighting you're trying to correct for.

If you do want the camera to retain some of the 'mood' or the original shooting situation then the Canon does a better job under incandescent light than under fluorescents. The Auto white balance setting leaves a rather unpleasant yellow/green tinge in images shot under our fluorescent lights, which is unlikely to represent the way most people would remember the scene.

Incandescent - Auto WB
Red: 9.1%, Blue: -12.6%, Poor
Incandescent - Incandescent preset WB
Red: 7.9%, Blue: -13.1%, Poor
Fluorescent - Auto WB
Red: 5.9%, Blue: -12.0%, Average
Fluorescent - Fluorescent preset WB
Red: 4.5%, Blue: -4.6%, Average


The 1D Mark IV doesn't have a built-in flash but can make use of Canon's Speedlite range of external flashguns. In our portrait shot we found the results to be a fraction under-exposed (shot directly) but generally the flash performance was pretty good.

Overall Image Quality / Specifics

The EOS-1D Mark IV's JPEGs have a distinctive, sharpened look and it's hard not to be impressed with both the color and the detail that they convey. The high ISO performance is more than a match for the 1D Mark III's, even at a pixel level, giving greater freedom to crop when you're shooting subjects moving too fast to guarantee perfect composition every time.

However the high resolution, combined with the very precise focus requirements of the kinds of work it's likely to be put to present a problem - you will see every flaw in your lenses. Even the slightest hint of mis-focus or any imperfections in optical performance are described in high detail. As a result of going out and shooting the 1D Mark IV we found more than one of our lenses is in need of a little attention.

The other obvious issue with the 1D Mark IV is that, unusually for Canon, its highest ISO setting appears to be a little beyond its capabilities. At any noise reduction setting the JPEG output from ISO 102,400 is almost unusable with large amounts of chroma noise, including large, hard-to-remove blotches. Processing from RAW does little to resolve this problem, with the noise reduction options in both Adobe Camera Raw and Canon's Digital Photo Professional both making little dent in the noise levels. Even judicious use of NR and downsizing are not enough to produce an attractive image.

Canon's rather polite take on this is that: 'When you need the photo, and image quality is not the primary concern, you can get images with these ultra-high ISO speed settings that would not have been possible with previous cameras.' And, while this is true, D3S users will get significantly better results, and there's a limit to the 'anything is good if it lets me get the shot' argument if the probability of a customer accepting the results fall too low (which we think might be the case in this instance).

Ultimately, though, the 1D Mark IV performs well enough in low light that we were able to comfortably shoot sports in light requiring ISO 25,600, and that's not a sentence we can write about many cameras.

The 1D Mark IV has Canon's usual rather enthusiastic metering, tending towards bright images but with the constant risk of losing highlight detail. We found we preferred shooting with -1/3EV exposure compensation much of the time. Engaging Highlight Tone priority is also a pretty effective solution.