Review: Canon 5D Mk IV with Ikelite Dry Lock Port System

David Fleetham shares first impressions of the Canon 5D Mark IV for macro and wide-angle with Ikelite's new Dry Lock Port System
By David Fleetham

In case you are short on time I will start with the ending; Canon’s new professional digital SLR camera, the 5D Mark 4, is an impressive step up the ladder in this endearing line. The 30.4 megapixel CMOS sensor creates amazing files, and of particular interest to the underwater world is the improved gradation of blue water and drop in the noise found here. The 5D Mark 3 made a larger leap in this area, but I still note an improvement in this latest model.

I recently shot a longnose hawkfish on the shaded side of a wreck at 90 feet with Canon’s 100mm macro lens, without using a modeling light, and was amazed at the speed and accuracy of the autofocus. This species will often shy away from bright lights and can be difficult to keep in the viewfinder when using one. The new 61-point AF system with 41 cross-type sensors is the most noticeable improvement from the previous model and will be most welcome in many underwater situations.

I have been shooting in Ikelite 5D Mark IV housing, utilizing their new Dry Lock port system. The macro port for the 100mm lens ends with a 67mm thread to enable the use of a close-up lens to bring in a view greater than 1:1 (supermacro). I picked up an Inon UCL-330 close-up 67mm macro lens and have been impressed with the sharpness of the results.

The smaller opening in Ikelite’s macro port makes it unsuitable for a 50mm macro lens. As you move back from your subject, the corners of the frame begin to vignette in the smaller opening. As 50mm lenses go, I prefer Sigma’s 50mm macro lens to Canon’s for the full frame cameras because Sigma’s will focus down to 1:1 without adding an extension tube. I ended up shooting this behind Ikelite’s new compact dome with some fabulous results. Firstly, there is no vignetting and as an added bonus this combination creates the least chromatic aberration of any system I have ever shot, even right to the corners. I was able to focus down to 1:1, although the subject is then so close to the front of the port it may prove challenging to properly light.

I have Canon’s 16-35mm f4 “L” series IS USM zoom lens, which I shot behind Ikelite’s big 8” dome. No surprises here. Nice corners at f11 and a smooth zoom connection from housing to lens. The 5D  Mark 4’s autofocus again came through decisively nailing down the front of the subject in the frame. As with the 5D Mark 3, I prefer to turn the focus off at the shutter button and utilize the rear AF button, setting the camera to SERVO (continuous focusing). With this setting I turn on all 61 focusing points and let the camera do the job. If I need to fine tune the exact plane of focus I will release the AF button to lock focus where I want it to be. With the marked improvement in autofocus I intend to play with some of the other focus options for moving subjects.

The fourth lens I have shot is a 15mm full frame fisheye. This again is a Sigma lens, which is my choice for the fact that it can focus slightly closer than the Canon. Behind Ikelite’s big dome, with the shortest extension, this lens unfortunately vignettes at the corners. Ikelite is working on a solution for this, but at the moment Photoshop’s content aware fill is my fix. The corners are typically not my favorite part of a composition with a fisheye lens. The focus tends to fall away drastically here, especially at wider F stops. The few frames I have played with have been improved by filling them with content aware. Not an ideal situation, but not entirely impractical.


5D Mark IV for Video

One of the reasons I jumped on this camera is the upgrade to 4K video. Although I have only shot a couple of short tests, the quality here is going to set a new standard for SLR shooting. Most notable is the addition of dual-pixel autofocus, which allows the camera to continuously focus while shooting in Live View mode. This is a huge leap forward for the 5D series. One note on the 4K video shooting that could prove challenging is the fact that it utilizes a region of the sensor that is 4096 x 2160. This effectively crops your lens by a factor of 1.64 and will prove prohibitive for those out to capture extreme wide-angle vistas. On the plus side, this will take care of the vignetting on my full frame fisheye. The volume of information captured while shooting video will mean that you will need a fast CF card. It is unlikely current SD cards will keep up with this.


Additional Thoughts on the 5D Mk IV

There are a few new bells and whistles that are not necessarily big advances for underwater, but will be advantageous out of the housing. GPS has been added for those who like to have this information in the metadata of each frame. The 3.2 inch screen is now a touch screen. This means you can tap the screen to work your way through the many menus. I already have noticed an ease at getting to the format card menu and worry that one day I will erase images without wanting to. For reviewing photos on the camera you can now use some of the multi-touch gestures that we are used to on our phones and tablets like pinching and swiping. The camera also has WiFi built in and a Canon App that works with the camera. This will enable you to view/download the images on the camera without removing it from your housing.

In conclusion, you can just go back and read the first sentence again.



Check out the Ikelite Canon 5D Mk IV housing with Dry Lock port on Bluewater Photo





David Fleetham is one of the most published underwater photographers in the world.  He began diving and photographing underwater in 1976 and has been in Hawaii since 1986.  David's photographs have been published around the globe, with over two hundred magazine covers to date. In 1991 his photograph of a sandbar shark appeared on the cover of LIFE. It is the only underwater image to ever be published on the cover. His award winning work has been published by National Geographic (he has done several assignments for The NGS), The Cousteau Society, and every North American diving publication.



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