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Canon's Mysterious 4K DSLR Spotted in the Wild -- Or is This the 5D Mark III?

01.24.12 @ 4:49PM Tags : , , , , ,

The mysterious 4K Canon DSLR — or some other widescreen Canon HDSLR — has been spotted in the wild… literally. Stephen Oachs from Aperture Academy was shooting wildlife in Kenya (with a camera, not a gun) and spotted a Japanese cameraman using the unreleased Canon 200-400mm with built-in teleconverter and Canon 600mm lenses. The cameraman was also using the as-yet-unnamed 4K a mysterious DSLR, which has a widescreen LCD and a new “RATE” button. I’ve lightened and blown up Stephen’s image for as much detail as possible:

Here’s how Stephen came to spot the camera:

While photographing a Cheetah on a Thompson Gazelle kill, we first spotted the Japanese Canon employee. He stood out because of the array of naked lenses (no skins/coats/protection) and the bright colored sticker labels on the tops… Scott did his best to speak with the man who, via his driver helping to translate English to Japanese, confirmed he worked for Canon and that it was the upcoming 200-400mm Canon lens… Three days later, in another location of the Masaii Mara, where we were shooting wildlife, we again ran across the Japanese man. This time we noticed the 600mm Canon lens prototype and the new camera body, so we decided to take a few pictures, first just to zoom in to see what it might be. We quickly realized that this camera was something not yet released, thus we decided to share the images on this blog.

More analysis at planet5D, where Mitch thinks the camera looks more like a 7D than a 5D. I agree with that, though I think that doesn’t mean it’s a 7D by any means — the 5D is an older camera and has been improved upon ergonomically since its release. Also note that there’s a removable battery grip attached — it is not a “full size” DSLR. And the image is definitely real — you can download the RAW .CR2 image below.

UPDATE: Via Film and Digital Times, here’s the 4K DSLR prototype, which shares the 16:9 LCD but has some definite differences:

I’m not sure if this a 4K DSLR or the next 5D… upon further review, it seems like it’s something other than the 4K solution. Thoughts?

Link: Follow-up Post RE: Prototype Canon Products Written About on This Blog – Aperture Academy


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  • Rev. Benjamin on 01.24.12 @ 4:57PM

    Well *I* think it’s the new gh3… *Shifty eyes*

  • Andreas Lange on 01.24.12 @ 5:06PM

    if this is supposed to be the new 4K DSLR.. why would they be testing it by doing wildlife still photography with super tele zoom lenses? seems like a Canon 7D Mark II perhaps.

    another option might be that they are testing the amount of detail the sensor picks up by shooting with
    telezoom . Then zoom a lot digitaly in the picture afterwards to see how much detail it picks up?

    as you can see on picture in the camera its zoomed to maximum.

  • McBlakewich on 01.24.12 @ 5:20PM

    That’s a tough call but I would only hope it was the new 4K Canon. Being that I own a 7D I don’t think I’d have a hard time making the switch due to the obvious functionality similarities. What do you guys think the “rate” button is all about?

  • Greatest post in the last few weeks!!!
    WTF is up with that RATE button? Is it a frame-RATE, or shorter for “Aspect-RATIO”… Hahaha, Im going kinda far with guessing what it stands for, but whatever it is, I just hope this the 4K camera, and that it comes out SOON!
    Greak post Koo!

    • Perhaps bitrate since the new Canon’s are supposed to support various options like intraframe high bitrate modes?

      • If it is a video-centric camera, might it be a “good take/bad take” tag?

      • Yeah, bitRATE makes sense, but as another person mensioned, it would be nice to have a “RATE” button, as in Good or Bad. It would REALLY help in post.

    • Wilbert Thomas on 01.25.12 @ 8:30PM

      I bet the RATE button is just to give a photo a RATING of 1-5 stars.

  • Evan H Senn on 01.24.12 @ 5:27PM

    It does not have a built in flash. My money is on a new 5D.

  • Why no articulating screen?

    • most likely becasue it’d decrease the camera’s waterproof-ness, extra seams, same reason a 5D doesn’t have a pop-up flash.

      • The current 5D doesn’t have a pop up flash, because a full frame prism lives in that space. Hence the 7D having it.

        Also, the 5D is far from weather sealed.. its like a rebel.. leaky bucket. The 7D is sealed.

        • This is somewhat misleading. ALL Canon DSLRs have sealing. The 5DmkII has fewer number of seals as the 7D….because the 7D has more controls that need to be sealed…it’s not BETTER sealing. They both protect their internals to the same degree. (i.e., you wouldn’t run them under a tap….like you could a 1D)

          I’ve been stuck shooting in light rain with the 5DII, no problems. I would say as long as you don’t expose it directly to a downpour, I can’t see you ever having an issue with it’s weather sealing.

  • Yes the last one is the 4K Canon, has the same buttons as the official Canon picture on the top of the camera…

  • From the arrangement of the buttons, the RATE button is placed above zoom, image view and delete button, so its function may have something to do with images/videos taken. My guess is that it’s just a button to give your photo a star rating or something, then it will probably prioritise those photos with high star rating when doing post processing.

    • Definitely….the RATE is simply to give your images star ratings in camera…that will carry over into DPP software.

      As for the 1D body photo you posted above…it’s not some 4K DSLR….it’s just the new 1Dx.

  • Gil Herrera on 01.24.12 @ 6:59PM

    It also doesn´t have a built in flash. It might be the new 5D.

  • It looks like a 7d with a different nob at the top

  • It’s the Canon 5D MKIII. The 4K camera Canon has in store is designed solely for video. That camera offers different photography modes for professionals.

  • Oh no! It’s an alien spacecraft that looks like a 5d….wonder who the japanese dude was?

  • John Jeffreys on 01.25.12 @ 12:52AM

    5D MARK III w/ 4K video built in


  • looks very much like a 7d mrk ii to me.

  • 5D3 (or 5DX), with button layout similar to 7D

    the big mirror box means full frame and with mirror, so it shouldn’t be the 7D2 or the 4K
    (also, I’d hope the final 4K camera would have a swivel screen)
    (and I wouldn’t test the 4K video-oriented camera on a safari in Kenya)

    the original source of these (and more) pictures is here:
    and there’s a followup post detailing how those pictures were taken and what he knows about the gear seen in them:

  • Looks like Canon also starts an Apple philosophy with accidentally releasing marketing news.

  • Getting excited with new camera releases it´s fine but we rather be concerned about the content of our creations, the current cameras are infinitely great, our ideas may not.

  • After 15 years of loving and beliving in canon, I’m ready to switch to Nikon!! In ct almost every canon user I know has switched to Nikon and their images are crisper and better!!!!

  • That D4 video footage is nothing to brag about.

  • 4K DSLR, or 5d MKIII…..or perhaps, both?

  • It has a grip and no popup flash, it only can be 5DMKIII…

  • Actually, looking at the contruction, layout, button functionality, this could be the a new variant on the 1Ds Range, it has been rumoured for a long time they are working on a medium format sensor….

    If it is a lessor camera more in the prosumer range, the ‘rate’ button is so fauxtogs can press the ‘rate’ button so it appears on their facebook, flikr galleries…????????

  • Forget the camera.

    I want the job where my boss says to me “Go test this camera” and I say “Okay then, I’m off to Africa. Back in a week.”

    (Comparing my 5D2 and the picture, I too am guessing its a 5D3.)

  • It seems hard for me to believe that canon will create something that will make their video products obsolete unless they start to get too much pressure from RED. I think they are going to have to balance what they do with the DSLR’s and Video side like the C300. Why spend 30K when you can spend 3K? Unless they get aggressive and say screw it. we will take the loss on the high end but dominate in market share. Either way I would love to see 4K anywhere under 4K in price

  • Notice how they put a piece of gaffers tape on the Canon logo below the screen?
    “If we cover this logo, nobody will ever know it’s a Canon!” ;)

    Without the flash, it’s probably a 5D Mk III. Also it would be next in line to get an upgrade.

    Plus it would make sense to test new high-end tele lenses on a full-frame camera with an extremely high resolution. Which would also mean the 5D MkII probably has a higher resolution than the 1D X, which is why they would take the 5D MkIII prototype to test the new lenses…

  • Just saw some news pop up about the 4K RAW produced by Canon. Really interesting stuff. People assume it will take about 2 years from now and by then 4K is a standard. I think it will be much sooner that expected. Canon has a game changer on their hands right now and if they can sell it well under $3500,- … Pffiew! Think about what it shall do with the current digital film industry (RED). And what if they announced it on the 9th of February. Would be pre-tty sick.

  • If no problem is in a container like MOV – to store 4 K files. H 264 Kompresion Codec is able to do also 4 K. This is the only problem bisjetzt no software import and export can make 4 K. Avid can make export as 4 K of a timeline HD and import as a HD of 4 K. Software updates and D 5 Mk II is able to do 4 K

  • Anybody notice the switch for video mode isn’t on the top dial but To the right of the eyepiece? Also there seems to be a analogue type button under it for screen navigation

  • I work at Universal Studios in Osaka Japan and I saw a group of people all with the same camera (canon looking) where taking photos of the stunt show…all markings had been covered up with gaffer tape….interesting. Couldn’t stop to look as was out in the water, but trust me I notice these things :)

  • i think to write in blogs, you have to be very focused on what is the main subject and the rest comes casually.

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