The release of the new EOS 5D Mark IV, a model update four years in the waiting, has drawn much attention lately. The camera was developed with the aim of widening the scope of photographic expression in the respective genres of photography. The following is an interview with its developers on its concept and body design. (Interviewer: Ryosuke Takahashi, Group photo: Takehiro Kato)
(Back row, from left)
Kazuki Haraguchi, Megumi Inazumi, Keisuke Kudo, Yasuyuki Watazawa, Takashi Kon, Kiyoshi Tachibana, Yutaka Kojima, Hiroaki Nashizawa
Mirror vibration control system revamped to achieve a continuous shooting speed of up to approx. 7 fps
- What is the tagline for the new EOS 5D Mark IV?
Tachibana: Our global tagline is “All-round performer”. While different regions might vary slightly in their approach in presenting the tagline, it basically intends to convey the message that the EOS 5D Mark IV can be used in all genres ranging from landscapes to sports.
- How did you come to decide on the number of pixels this camera would carry (i.e., approx. 30.4 megapixels)?
Tachibana: We took into consideration the balance with factors such as the high-speed continuous shooting and ISO speed performance, before deciding that the best pixel count for this camera would be approximately 30.4 megapixels. The EOS 5D series targets users who place emphasis on image quality. As members of the development team, we took into account the various factors that determine image quality, and decided that we want our users to feel the advancement in resolution compared to the EOS 5D Mark III. Based on this, we focused particularly on the image quality in terms of the number of pixels among the many features that have been enhanced on this “all-round performer”.
EOS 5D Mark IV/ EF11-24mm f/4L USM/ FL: 11mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/8.0, 1/320 sec., EV-0.7)/ WB: Daylight
- Was there a plan to introduce a low-pass filter cancellation feature similar to that on the EOS 5DS R?
Nashizawa: Besides the EOS 5DS R, which comes with a low-pass filter cancellation feature, we also released the EOS 5DS at the same time, which comes with a low-pass filter as usual. Canon continues to maintain the stance that the low-pass filter is indispensable, and we believe that the EOS 5DS R would not have come into being without the presence of the EOS 5DS. While we were developing the EOS 5D Mark IV, we did a simulation of the image quality when the low-pass filter effect is cancelled. We also took into careful consideration deterioration in the image quality due to false colours and moiré before we ultimately decided to keep the low-pass filter.
- Can you tell us more about the technical background that made it possible to achieve a maximum continuous shooting speed of approximately 7 fps?
Kojima: From a mechanical point of view, a major contributing factor would be the revamped mirror vibration control system. While both the EOS 5DS and EOS 5DS R make use of a similar system, we have made further enhancements on the EOS 5D Mark IV. Specifically, we revamped the mechanism to stop the mirror from vibrating for a short period of time, and this allowed us to increase the frame rate.
- What are the key components that enable mirror control?
Kojima: The key components include the use of a high-torque motor and a new lever mechanism. The mechanism to flip the mirror up and down using a motor and a cam gear is similar to that adopted on the EOS 5DS and EOS 5DS R. However, the EOS 5D Mark IV differs in that a high-torque motor is used to boost the drive and speed control accuracy, based on which the speed is reduced significantly to minimise the vibrations. Meanwhile, the newly-developed lever mechanism effectively suppresses mirror bound, thereby shortening considerably the time needed for the vibration to come to a stop.
A power-packed body design
- In terms of design, what are the characteristics of the EOS 5D Mark IV?
Inazumi: The EOS 5D is like the brand icon of Canon, and occupies an important place in the EOS series. Besides inheriting the “grand appearance” that characterises the past models of the EOS 5D series, the design of the EOS 5D Mark IV is also one that suggests power. First of all, the overall silhouette of the camera is significantly different. More specifically, the edge in front of the four buttons of the top cover slopes steeply downward. Doing so adds a sense of allowance when the camera is seen from above, while leaving a bold impression when viewed from the front. We also tried to convey the sense of boldness through a contrast between the taut-looking surface, which brings out the inner strength of the camera, and the sharp, fine edges. Furthermore, we also made changes to the design at the top of the grip to increase the thickness around the shutter button, thereby adding a stronger sense of intensity to the entire body to convey the power of the camera.
- So you did not just simply thicken the grip.
Inazumi: No, we did not thicken the entire grip. We tried to not to compromise the comfort of the grip even as we optimised the design, renewing the camera's appearance and enhancing its robustness. The pentaprism of the EOS 5D Mark IV comes with a built-in GPS and Wi-Fi module, so we adopted a magnesium top cover, but changed the material around the sensor to resin to prevent signal interruption. We cooperated with the design division to fine-tune the lines that connect the two different materials as well as the different parts for a seamless design. Since the signal transmitter is made of resin, we could not use the same paint as that for the metallic parts. It was a rather tough challenge to maintain an integrated feel while using a different type of paint that is able to match the texture of the magnesium top cover.
Design changes on the new EOS 5D Mark IV
The terminal for cable release (A) is now moved to the front of the EOS 5D Mark IV, which is why the team changed the logo plate design (B). Also, though not immediately visible, a built-in dust- and water-resistant ring was added to the circumference of the lens mount (C).
While no changes have been made to the position of the main buttons, a new AF area selection button (D) has been added. Other minor changes include the position of the index for the Live View shooting/Movie shooting switch (E), the design of the Quick Control Dial (F) and the position of the light sensor (G).
- The camera is 60g lighter despite the inclusion of components such as the GPS and Wi-Fi modules. How did you manage to achieve this?
Kojima: Perhaps we can thank the determination of the staff in the mechanical design team in charge of weight reduction for that (laughs). The mechanical design team has also placed importance on the need to achieve a lighter weight while enhancing the specifications. With an increase in the number of electrical parts for GPS and Wi-Fi, for example, we have changed the material from stainless steel to aluminium to improve heat dissipation. At the same time, we tried to maintain the robustness of the body, which is an essential consideration, such as by replacing some resin parts with metallic ones. It is these fine-tuned efforts that allowed us to make the EOS 5D Mark IV as much as 60g lighter than the EOS 5D Mark III.
- Please tell us more about the areas you placed importance on to ensure dust- and water-resistance.
Kojima: We have made enhancements to the water-resistance of the joints on the exterior of the body. We have adopted water-resistant materials even for those parts that we refer to as “high-precision joints”, or in other words, exterior parts that are connected seamlessly without any clearance space. The airtightness of the battery compartment cover has also been improved. In the past, sealing materials such as sponge were attached to the battery cover, which would be squeezed and deformed to achieve airtightness when the battery cover is closed. However, this method may prevent the cover from locking into place in some cases, and the battery might pop out during use depending on how the camera is handled. Our design team members resolved these issues by paying attention to details including the slight angle difference of the locking components as well as the repulsion force of the sealing material. Also, the terminal cover is now split into four separate sections for better dust- and water-resistance.
Design changes on the new EOS 5D Mark IV
Besides making changes to the design at the top of the grip (H), the way the letters are imprinted on the Mode Dial (I) has also been altered. The design around the shutter button has also been revised for a more sophisticated feel (J).
The terminal cover is now split into four sections (K) for better dust- and water-resistance. In addition, a separate part is adopted for the cover of the pentaprism (L), while the line of the edge that connects the pentaprism and top cover is also altered to make the entire body appear more rounded.
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Born in Aichi in 1960, Takahashi started his freelance career in 1987 after working with an advertising photo studio and a publishing house. Photographing for major magazines, he has travelled to many parts of the world from his bases in Japan and China. Takahashi is a member of the Japan Professional Photographers Society (JPS).
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