Sony A850 vs Canon 1D Mark IV
The Sony Alpha A850 and the Canon EOS-1D Mark IV are two professional cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in August 2009 and October 2009. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a full frame (A850) and an APS-H (1D Mark IV) sensor. The Sony has a resolution of 24.4 megapixels, whereas the Canon provides 16 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their sensors, their features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
|Sony A850||Canon 1D Mark IV|
|Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Sony A mount lenses||Canon EF mount lenses|
|24.4 MP, Full Frame Sensor||16 MP, APS-H Sensor|
|no Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO 200-3200 (100-6400)||ISO 100-12800 (50-102400)|
|Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|3.0" LCD, 922k dots||3.0" LCD, 920k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|3 shutter flaps per second||10 shutter flaps per second|
|In-body stabilization||Lens stabilization only|
|Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|880 shots per battery charge||1500 shots per battery charge|
|156 x 117 x 82 mm, 895 g||156 x 157 x 80 mm, 1230 g|
Body comparison: Sony A850 vs Canon 1D Mark IV
The physical size and weight of the Sony A850 and the Canon 1D Mark IV are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the A850 – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon 1D Mark IV is notably larger (34 percent) than the Sony A850. Moreover, the 1D Mark IV is substantially heavier (37 percent) than the A850. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.
Concerning battery life, the A850 gets 880 shots out of its NP-FM500H battery, while the 1D Mark IV can take 1500 images on a single charge of its LP-E4 power pack. As can be seen in the images above, the 1D Mark IV has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power. In order to provide similar functionality for the A850, Sony provides the VG-C90AM vertical grip as an optional accessory (see here on eBay).
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|Sony A850»||6.1 in||4.6 in||3.2 in||31.6 oz||880||Y||Aug 2009||1,999||-||Sony A850|
|Canon 1D Mark IV«||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||43.4 oz||1500||Y||Oct 2009||4,999||-||Canon 1D Mark IV|
|Canon 1D X Mark II« »||6.2 in||6.6 in||3.3 in||54.0 oz||1210||Y||Feb 2016||5,999||Canon 1D X Mark II|
|Canon 5D Mark II« »||6.0 in||4.5 in||3.0 in||30.0 oz||850||Y||Sep 2008||3,499||-||Canon 5D Mark II|
|Canon 1D Mark III« »||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||40.7 oz||2200||Y||Feb 2007||4,499||-||Canon 1D Mark III|
|Canon 1D Mark II« »||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||54.1 oz||1200||Y||Jan 2004||4,499||-||Canon 1D Mark II|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II« »||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||42.9 oz||1200||Y||Sep 2004||7,999||-||Canon 1Ds Mark II|
|Nikon D750« »||5.6 in||4.4 in||3.1 in||26.5 oz||1230||Y||Sep 2014||2,299||Nikon D750|
|Pentax K-1« »||5.4 in||4.3 in||3.4 in||35.6 oz||760||Y||Feb 2016||1,799||-||Pentax K-1|
|Sony A7 III« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.9 in||22.9 oz||610||Y||Feb 2018||1,999||Sony A7 III|
|Sony A9« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.5 in||23.7 oz||650||Y||Apr 2017||4,499||Sony A9|
|Sony A99 II« »||5.6 in||4.1 in||3.0 in||29.9 oz||490||Y||Sep 2016||3,199||Sony A99 II|
|Sony A7 II« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.4 in||21.1 oz||350||Y||Nov 2014||1,999||-||Sony A7 II|
|Sony A7« »||5.0 in||3.7 in||1.9 in||16.7 oz||340||Y||Oct 2013||1,699||-||Sony A7|
|Sony A99« »||5.8 in||4.4 in||3.1 in||28.6 oz||500||Y||Sep 2012||2,799||-||Sony A99|
|Sony A77« »||5.6 in||4.1 in||3.2 in||25.8 oz||470||Y||Aug 2011||1,999||-||Sony A77|
|Sony A900« »||6.1 in||4.6 in||3.2 in||31.6 oz||880||Y||Sep 2008||2,999||-||Sony A900|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The A850 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 60 percent) than the 1D Mark IV, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down.
Sensor comparison: Sony A850 vs Canon 1D Mark IV
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Sony A850 features a full frame sensor and the Canon 1D Mark IV an APS-H sensor. The sensor area in the 1D Mark IV is 40 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 1.3. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 24.4MP, the A850 offers a higher resolution than the 1D Mark IV (16MP), but the A850 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.94μm versus 5.70μm for the 1D Mark IV) due to its larger sensor. It is noteworthy in this context that the two cameras were released in close succession, so that their sensors are from the same technological generation.
The Sony Alpha A850 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 3200, which can be extended to ISO 100-6400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Canon EOS-1D Mark IV are ISO 100 to ISO 12800, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-102400..
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under review, the A850 has a notably higher overall DXO score than the 1D Mark IV (overall score 5 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 1 bits higher color depth, 0.2 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.1 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|Sony A850»||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||-||23.8||12.2||1415||79||Sony A850|
|Canon 1D Mark IV«||APS-H||16.0||4896||3264||1080/30p||22.8||12.0||1320||74||Canon 1D Mark IV|
|Canon 1D X Mark II« »||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||4K/60p||24.1||13.5||3207||88||Canon 1D X Mark II|
|Canon 5D Mark II« »||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||1080/30p||23.7||11.9||1815||79||Canon 5D Mark II|
|Canon 1D Mark III« »||APS-H||10.1||3888||2592||-||22.7||11.7||1078||71||Canon 1D Mark III|
|Canon 1D Mark II« »||APS-H||8.2||3504||2336||-||22.3||11.1||1003||66||Canon 1D Mark II|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II« »||Full Frame||16.6||4992||3328||-||23.3||11.3||1480||74||Canon 1Ds Mark II|
|Nikon D750« »||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/60p||24.8||14.5||2956||93||Nikon D750|
|Pentax K-1« »||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60i||25.4||14.6||3280||96||Pentax K-1|
|Sony A7 III« »||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3730||96||Sony A7 III|
|Sony A9« »||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.9||13.3||3517||92||Sony A9|
|Sony A99 II« »||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||25.4||13.4||2317||92||Sony A99 II|
|Sony A7 II« »||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90||Sony A7 II|
|Sony A7« »||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.8||14.2||2248||90||Sony A7|
|Sony A99« »||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||14.0||1555||89||Sony A99|
|Sony A77« »||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.0||13.2||801||78||Sony A77|
|Sony A900« »||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||-||23.7||12.3||1431||79||Sony A900|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The 1D Mark IV indeed provides for movie recording, while the A850 does not. The highest resolution format that the 1D Mark IV can use is 1080/30p.
Feature comparison: Sony A850 vs Canon 1D Mark IV
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The A850 and the 1D Mark IV are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Sony A850 and Canon 1D Mark IV in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|Sony A850»||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||8000||3.0||n||Y||Sony A850|
|Canon 1D Mark IV«||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||8000||10.0||n||n||Canon 1D Mark IV|
|Canon 1D X Mark II« »||optical||Y||3.2||1620||fixed||Y||8000||16.0||n||n||Canon 1D X Mark II|
|Canon 5D Mark II« »||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||8000||3.9||n||n||Canon 5D Mark II|
|Canon 1D Mark III« »||optical||Y||3.0||230||fixed||n||8000||10.0||n||n||Canon 1D Mark III|
|Canon 1D Mark II« »||optical||Y||2.0||230||fixed||n||8000||8.3||n||n||Canon 1D Mark II|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II« »||optical||Y||2.0||230||fixed||n||8000||4.0||n||n||Canon 1Ds Mark II|
|Nikon D750« »||optical||Y||3.2||1229||tilting||n||4000||6.0||Y||n||Nikon D750|
|Pentax K-1« »||optical||Y||3.2||1037||full-flex||n||8000||4.4||n||Y||Pentax K-1|
|Sony A7 III« »||2359||n||3.0||922||tilting||Y||8000||10.0||n||Y||Sony A7 III|
|Sony A9« »||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||8000||20.0||n||Y||Sony A9|
|Sony A99 II« »||2400||Y||3.0||1229||full-flex||n||8000||12.0||n||Y||Sony A99 II|
|Sony A7 II« »||2400||n||3.0||1230||tilting||n||8000||5.0||n||Y||Sony A7 II|
|Sony A7« »||2400||n||3.0||1230||tilting||n||8000||5.0||n||n||Sony A7|
|Sony A99« »||2359||Y||3.0||1229||full-flex||n||8000||6.0||n||Y||Sony A99|
|Sony A77« »||2359||Y||3.0||921||full-flex||n||8000||12.0||Y||Y||Sony A77|
|Sony A900« »||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||8000||5.0||n||Y||Sony A900|
One feature that differentiates the A850 and the 1D Mark IV is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The A850 reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the 1D Mark IV has to rely on optical image stabilization in OIS-equipped lenses to achieve the same effect.
The A850 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards, while the 1D Mark IV uses Compact Flash cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails.
Connectivity comparison: Sony A850 vs Canon 1D Mark IV
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Sony Alpha A850 and Canon EOS-1D Mark IV and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Sony A850»||Y||-||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Sony A850|
|Canon 1D Mark IV«||Y||stereo||-||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 1D Mark IV|
|Canon 1D X Mark II« »||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-||Canon 1D X Mark II|
|Canon 5D Mark II« »||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 5D Mark II|
|Canon 1D Mark III« »||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 1D Mark III|
|Canon 1D Mark II« »||Y||-||-||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-||Canon 1D Mark II|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II« »||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 1Ds Mark II|
|Nikon D750« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||Y||-||-||Nikon D750|
|Pentax K-1« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||-||-||Pentax K-1|
|Sony A7 III« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y||Sony A7 III|
|Sony A9« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y||Sony A9|
|Sony A99 II« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y||Sony A99 II|
|Sony A7 II« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony A7 II|
|Sony A7« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony A7|
|Sony A99« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Sony A99|
|Sony A77« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Sony A77|
|Sony A900« »||Y||-||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Sony A900|
Both the A850 and the 1D Mark IV have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. Neither of the two has a direct successor, so they represent the end of the respective camera lines from Sony and Canon.
Review summary: Sony A850 vs Canon 1D Mark IV
So how do things add up? Is the Sony A850 better than the Canon 1D Mark IV or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha A850:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (24.4 vs 16MP) with a 24% higher linear resolution.
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (5 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- More compact: Is smaller (156x117mm vs 156x157mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 335g or 27 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (60 percent cheaper at launch).
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS-1D Mark IV:
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/30p video.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (1500 versus 880) out of a single battery charge.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A850 emerges as the winner of the contest (6 : 4 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera.
In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the A850 or the 1D Mark IV. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
Expert reviews: Sony A850 vs Canon 1D Mark IV
This is why expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). You can find the full text of the reviews by clicking on the site logo in the table header.
|Sony A850»||-||75/100||-||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2009||1,999||-||Sony A850|
|Canon 1D Mark IV«||-||89/100||-||5/5||-||Oct 2009||4,999||-||Canon 1D Mark IV|
|Canon 1D X Mark II« »||-||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||5,999||Canon 1D X Mark II|
|Canon 5D Mark II« »||91/100||79/100||4/5||5/5||-||Sep 2008||3,499||-||Canon 5D Mark II|
|Canon 1D Mark III« »||-||-||-||rev||-||Feb 2007||4,499||-||Canon 1D Mark III|
|Canon 1D Mark II« »||-||HiRec||-||rev||-||Jan 2004||4,499||-||Canon 1D Mark II|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II« »||-||HiRec||-||-||-||Sep 2004||7,999||-||Canon 1Ds Mark II|
|Nikon D750« »||HiRec||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||2,299||Nikon D750|
|Pentax K-1« »||-||84/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2016||1,799||-||Pentax K-1|
|Sony A7 III« »||HiRec||89/100||5/5||5/5||5/5||Feb 2018||1,999||Sony A7 III|
|Sony A9« »||HiRec||89/100||5/5||5/5||5/5||Apr 2017||4,499||Sony A9|
|Sony A99 II« »||-||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||3,199||Sony A99 II|
|Sony A7 II« »||Rec||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Nov 2014||1,999||-||Sony A7 II|
|Sony A7« »||HiRec||80/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||1,699||-||Sony A7|
|Sony A99« »||-||84/100||4.5/5||rev||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,799||-||Sony A99|
|Sony A77« »||91/100||81/100||-||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2011||1,999||-||Sony A77|
|Sony A900« »||HiRec||HiRec||4.5/5||4/5||5/5||Sep 2008||2,999||-||Sony A900|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu below. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
- Canon 1Ds Mark II vs Canon 1D X Mark II
- Canon 70D vs Panasonic FZ300
- Canon M6 vs Olympus E-PL7
- Canon T5i vs Nikon D3300
- Fujifilm GFX 50S vs Fujifilm XP130
- Fujifilm X-E1 vs Fujifilm X-A1
- Fujifilm X-Pro1 vs Canon 5D
- Fujifilm X70 vs Sony RX10 IV
- Nikon D70s vs Nikon D90
- Nikon D7100 vs Canon 2000D
- Olympus E-M10 III vs Leica M Typ 262
- Sony A7S vs Fujifilm X-T1
Specifications: Sony A850 vs Canon 1D Mark IV
|Camera Model||Sony A850||Canon 1D Mark IV|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Sony A mount lenses||Canon EF mount lenses|
|Launch Date||August 2009||October 2009|
|Launch Price||USD 1999||USD 4999|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||APS-H Sensor|
|Sensor Size||35.9 x 24.0 mm||27.9 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||861.6 mm2||518.94 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.2 mm||33.5 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||24.4 Megapixels||16 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6048 x 4032 pixels||4896 x 3264 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.94 μm||5.70 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.83 MP/cm2||3.08 MP/cm2|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||200-3200 ISO||100-12800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100-6400 ISO||50-102400 ISO|
|Image Processor||BIONZ||DIGIC IV|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0 inch||3.0 inch|
|LCD Resolution||922k dots||920k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Maximum Shutter Speed||1/8000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||3 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||Lens stabilization only|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or MS cards||CF cards|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Type||NP-FM500H power pack||LP-E4 power pack|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||880 shots per charge||1500 shots per charge|
156 x 117 x 82 mm
(6.1 x 4.6 x 3.2 in)
156 x 157 x 80 mm
(6.1 x 6.2 x 3.1 in)
|Camera Weight||895 g (31.6 oz)||1230 g (43.4 oz)|
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