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Gear Talk => EOS Bodies - For Stills => Topic started by: bdunbar79 on December 13, 2012, 12:47:06 PM

Title: 1D X AF in Low Light action
Post by: bdunbar79 on December 13, 2012, 12:47:06 PM
The 1D X finally met its match Tuesday night.  I filled in for a reporter for the News Journal at a game in Mansfield, in a terribly lit gym.  I used a 135L with a 1D X at 1/500s, f/2, and ISO 3200 to 6400 depending on location on the court.  The majority of my shots were slightly OOF, and I attribute this to the AF system not being able to lock focus in the dim lighting.  Looking at my photos, it didn't apparently lock on anything in the frame.  In a few burst shots, the first one was in focus (while athlete still on the floor) but the camera lost focus as the player went up for the layup, even with face-recognition on.  Needless to say, as I'm going through my RAW files right now, I'm highly disappointed.  I will admit though, that the 135L is not as good at locking on focus as the 70-200 f/2.8L II IS zoom lens, but I couldn't afford the loss of a whole stop of light in this gym.  I know I've been spoiled with a lot of light lately, but I just wanted to point out that as good as the 1D X is, and it is, it is certainly far from perfect.  My suggestion is that in these cases maybe don't use high burst rates, but wait for a moment and try to lock on, then move the camera with the player, sort of like panning, and then fire a shot, maybe even just one shot.  Bursting did NOT work at all here.  Ok, I'm done venting.
Title: Re: 1D X AF in Low Light action
Post by: Razor2012 on December 13, 2012, 01:13:26 PM
The 1D X finally met its match Tuesday night.  I filled in for a reporter for the News Journal at a game in Mansfield, in a terribly lit gym.  I used a 135L with a 1D X at 1/500s, f/2, and ISO 3200 to 6400 depending on location on the court.  The majority of my shots were slightly OOF, and I attribute this to the AF system not being able to lock focus in the dim lighting.  Looking at my photos, it didn't apparently lock on anything in the frame.  In a few burst shots, the first one was in focus (while athlete still on the floor) but the camera lost focus as the player went up for the layup, even with face-recognition on.  Needless to say, as I'm going through my RAW files right now, I'm highly disappointed.  I will admit though, that the 135L is not as good at locking on focus as the 70-200 f/2.8L II IS zoom lens, but I couldn't afford the loss of a whole stop of light in this gym.  I know I've been spoiled with a lot of light lately, but I just wanted to point out that as good as the 1D X is, and it is, it is certainly far from perfect.  My suggestion is that in these cases maybe don't use high burst rates, but wait for a moment and try to lock on, then move the camera with the player, sort of like panning, and then fire a shot, maybe even just one shot.  Bursting did NOT work at all here.  Ok, I'm done venting.

You can't beat real world, in the field testing.  Even with a top-of-the-line camera like the 1DX, nothing is perfect.  The good thing is, you could of been shooting with something else.  ;)
Title: Re: 1D X AF in Low Light action
Post by: Dylan777 on December 13, 2012, 01:16:24 PM
I'll trade you my 5D III ;D
Title: Re: 1D X AF in Low Light action
Post by: nightbreath on December 13, 2012, 01:22:08 PM
Try to lower your framerate as 12 fps makes a lot of light lost.
Title: Re: 1D X AF in Low Light action
Post by: bdunbar79 on December 13, 2012, 01:23:24 PM
I get your point guys.  I was just frustrated because I had some potentially good shots that were OOF.  I guess you have to make do with the situation you are in and to just try to do your best.  The nice thing about this website is that everyone seems to be ambitious and motivated to improve his or her photography. 
Title: Re: 1D X AF in Low Light action
Post by: bdunbar79 on December 13, 2012, 01:23:57 PM
Try to lower your framerate as 12 fps makes a lot of light lost.

Thanks.  Yes, that is what I was considering after I left the game :).
Title: Re: 1D X AF in Low Light action
Post by: JaxPhotoBuff on December 13, 2012, 01:33:29 PM
The 1D X finally met its match Tuesday night.  I filled in for a reporter for the News Journal at a game in Mansfield, in a terribly lit gym.  I used a 135L with a 1D X at 1/500s, f/2, and ISO 3200 to 6400 depending on location on the court.  The majority of my shots were slightly OOF, and I attribute this to the AF system not being able to lock focus in the dim lighting.  Looking at my photos, it didn't apparently lock on anything in the frame.  In a few burst shots, the first one was in focus (while athlete still on the floor) but the camera lost focus as the player went up for the layup, even with face-recognition on.  Needless to say, as I'm going through my RAW files right now, I'm highly disappointed.  I will admit though, that the 135L is not as good at locking on focus as the 70-200 f/2.8L II IS zoom lens, but I couldn't afford the loss of a whole stop of light in this gym.  I know I've been spoiled with a lot of light lately, but I just wanted to point out that as good as the 1D X is, and it is, it is certainly far from perfect.  My suggestion is that in these cases maybe don't use high burst rates, but wait for a moment and try to lock on, then move the camera with the player, sort of like panning, and then fire a shot, maybe even just one shot.  Bursting did NOT work at all here.  Ok, I'm done venting.

Your story is interesting to me because I have been shooting primarily (personally not professionally) high school basketball for the last several weeks in a variety of gym lighting conditions using the 1DX, and I have not experienced the problem you ran into.  I know from past years that some gyms have truly horrible lighting conditions, worse than what I've been shooting in lately, so I imagine that the symptom you describe may be both setting and lens dependent.  I shoot my 1DX with either the Canon 24-70 f/2.8 L or the 70-200 f/2.8 L IS.  The latter seems to track focus better and allow faster burst rates, but both have reliably achieved focus quickly. I shoot in AI servo, with the high speed burst rate set to 10 fps (not that it always achieves that). I also have the first and second frame focus priority settings set to focus priority (i.e. "don't fire unless focus is locked"). Sometimes that means the camera takes a fraction of a second before firing, if it hasn't locked on, but it has usually meant that the shots are in focus (unless I screwed up and put the focus point on the crowd).  I also set the camera in aperture priority mode, with an aperture of 4 to 5.6 and a minimum shutter speed of 1/500th and the ISO set to Auto. This has resulted in ISO settings of as high as 20000 in some cases, and I usually need to apply 50-60% luminance noise reduction in Lightroom, but the pictures end up looking great. Don't know if any of that helps, but thought I'd offer my recent experience.
Title: Re: 1D X AF in Low Light action
Post by: Drizzt321 on December 13, 2012, 01:56:18 PM
I'm assuming you performed AFMA on that lens + body, correct? If not, perhaps that contributed to the OOF. f/2 on the 135 is a pretty shallow DoF.
Title: Re: 1D X AF in Low Light action
Post by: bdunbar79 on December 13, 2012, 04:21:24 PM
Thanks for the responses.  They are much appreciated.  To answer some questions, this was perhaps the worst gym ever in which I've had to shoot, so to answer your question, yes it was pretty bad.  I did a game at Ontario with primarily the 135L and didn't have any problems.  If I have to return to the gym, I will likely shoot much less fps if I go with the 135L again.  I agree that the 70-200L focuses much better and faster, but shooting at f/4 to f/5.6 was out of the question and I didn't like the metering with f/2.8 either. 

My question is, if you do shoot at say, ISO 8000 and above, how do you post-process so that when you convert to jpeg it doesn't look grainy and terrible, and/or blurry?  Typically when I print 8 x 10's for the university and had to shoot at 8000 and above, the faces begin to seem blurry, for obvious reasons (noise reduction).  I try to avoid this at all costs and not go above 5000 if I can help it with aperture.  If you do need to, do you just add more clarity in post?

When the 135L does get it right, it gets it right.  This is from the game I was having problems:
Title: Re: 1D X AF in Low Light action
Post by: Sporgon on December 13, 2012, 04:36:12 PM
I thought the 135L had an acknowledge problem with the design - focusing behind. As someone has pointed out DoF at f2 is razor thin and I certainly gave up trying to get 100% focus on a moving subject at that aperture.

I don't think you had a chance.
Title: Re: 1D X AF in Low Light action
Post by: bdunbar79 on December 13, 2012, 04:49:14 PM
I thought the 135L had an acknowledge problem with the design - focusing behind. As someone has pointed out DoF at f2 is razor thin and I certainly gave up trying to get 100% focus on a moving subject at that aperture.

I don't think you had a chance.

I don't have this problem in well-lit gyms.  I use it all the time for basketball and volleyball at f/2.  I think given my hit rate in the past, I had a great chance.  If there is a "focusing behind" problem, I was not aware of it, but that would certainly be a problem.  Either way, getting good shots at this high school isn't going to be easy if I have to return again.  The ones from the past in the newspaper I've seen are very dark.
Title: Re: 1D X AF in Low Light action
Post by: bdunbar79 on December 13, 2012, 05:06:35 PM
I thought the 135L had an acknowledge problem with the design - focusing behind. As someone has pointed out DoF at f2 is razor thin and I certainly gave up trying to get 100% focus on a moving subject at that aperture.

I don't think you had a chance.

I forgot to add, I think considering this, I will go back to the 70-200 f/2.8L II IS lens as my MAIN lens and on my 2nd body shoot some with the 135L and compare.  If I have a higher hit rate with the zoom, despite ISO and noise, I'll try to work around the other problems.
Title: Re: 1D X AF in Low Light action
Post by: Sporgon on December 13, 2012, 05:09:44 PM
Colleagues who are Canon users in the States have told me
the focus issue with the 135L is one that Canon are aware of. In using it on
By using the 1DX no doubt you gave it the best chance !
But I doubt if the 1DX was to blame.
Title: Re: 1D X AF in Low Light action
Post by: bdunbar79 on December 13, 2012, 05:10:59 PM
Colleagues who are Canon users in the States have told me
the focus issue with the 135L is one that Canon are aware of. In using it on
By using the 1DX no doubt you gave it the best chance !
But I doubt if the 1DX was to blame.

Understand.  Thank you!
Title: Re: 1D X AF in Low Light action
Post by: helpful on December 13, 2012, 05:58:35 PM
Yes, as soon as I had the 1D X, I was already wishing for more. Sometimes I think the AF system is fine-tuned for decent lighting, and I have felt that it can miss some photos in worse lighting by being too good at trying to track the object, whereas a simpler camera might actually have gotten the shot in focus, not because it was smarter, but because it was dumber. The super advanced tracking algorithms don't seem to work as well in lower light. Yes, I have tried reducing the frame rate from 12 fps down to 8-10. It doesn't seem to make much of a difference. Sometimes I subjectively think it even hurts to change the frame rate below 12 fps (no scientific way I know of to measure it, though). It may be the math formulas that calculate focus are pre-optimized for the exact mirror bounce, delays, resonance and counter-resonance, and other physical issues that happen while shooting at 12 fps. I'm probably way off, though. I was just expecting much better results at a lot lower frame speed (since the AF sensor would be exposed to the image for a much greater percent of the time), and my results weren't really any better.

Another problem I have with my 1D X is that initial focus point acquisition in AI Servo seems to be imprecise. In 61 point mode, I was hoping to be able to acquire focus even on a subject included in only the center point (like the manual says that one can do) and then have that subject tracked using all 61 points.

Instead, the initial focus shifts to nearer objects if the desired subject is covered by only the center focus point. If the desired subject was already locked on when it was more isolated, then it's fine.

So basically it's almost impossible to shoot someone whose head is above a group of players, for instance, because it will lock on the other players all the time, unless I was tracking that player to start with.

If I use single point mode or four-point expansion, then I don't have problems, except I lose the benefit of the 61 point AF tracking system.

I hope that I am being stupid and overlooking something obvious, but I have tried every single possible AF combination, especially the obvious ones like disabling automatic AF point switching, and even the non-obvious ones like the advanced color tracking system, etc.

My 7D cameras seem to have absolutely no problem with acquiring initial focus on whatever is in the center point, even when they are in 19-point AF mode and lots of other objects are in the surrounding AF points.

Title: Re: 1D X AF in Low Light action
Post by: Chris Burch on December 13, 2012, 06:00:18 PM
I don't shoot a lot of sports, but I would guess that your choice of lens is most of the problem.  Lenses focus at their widest aperture, which means you have a very thin depth of field upon which to lock focus.  With moving target, the tiniest of movements will make shots drift away from sharp focus.  I know my 85 f/1.2 is VERY finicky and slow about locking focus.  That handicap, combined with your low f-stop means you had potentially missed focus lock and a razor thin margin of error once you fired the shot.  In your situation, I would have lowered the shutter speed in favor of a higher f-stop.  That would give you a little more latitude when the focus wasn't spot on.  You also have a ton of choices for AI Servo on the 1DX and you may not have been using the ideal settings for that type of action.  I have shot some indoor tennis matches with my 1DX and a 70-200 f/2.8II -- I would imagine that to be even dimmer than your gym (miserable light to play in much less shoot).  I was able to keep 1/250 and about f4 for most of the shots.  The racquets and balls were frozen, but there was little motion blur with the people.   Granted, I only had a single moving subject to lock onto, but the focus tracking stayed spot on.  Since I was shooting tennis, I used the AF mode with the little tennis icon and kept it's default settings.
Title: Re: 1D X AF in Low Light action
Post by: Drizzt321 on December 13, 2012, 06:26:21 PM
I don't shoot a lot of sports, but I would guess that your choice of lens is most of the problem.  Lenses focus at their widest aperture, which means you have a very thin depth of field upon which to lock focus.  With moving target, the tiniest of movements will make shots drift away from sharp focus.  I know my 85 f/1.2 is VERY finicky and slow about locking focus.  That handicap, combined with your low f-stop means you had potentially missed focus lock and a razor thin margin of error once you fired the shot.  In your situation, I would have lowered the shutter speed in favor of a higher f-stop.  That would give you a little more latitude when the focus wasn't spot on.  You also have a ton of choices for AI Servo on the 1DX and you may not have been using the ideal settings for that type of action.  I have shot some indoor tennis matches with my 1DX and a 70-200 f/2.8II -- I would imagine that to be even dimmer than your gym (miserable light to play in much less shoot).  I was able to keep 1/250 and about f4 for most of the shots.  The racquets and balls were frozen, but there was little motion blur with the people.   Granted, I only had a single moving subject to lock onto, but the focus tracking stayed spot on.  Since I was shooting tennis, I used the AF mode with the little tennis icon and kept it's default settings.

He was shooting at f/2.0, so the front/back focus issue that can come up with the lens stopping down for the shot when it has a very narrow DoF for the AF isn't in play here. It's quite possible it was the extremely bad and crazy lighting in the gym.

Although, somehow my 5d3 managed to lock focus & track when shooting a surfer in a black wetsuit at night next to the Santa Monica Pier with only the shifting light from the ferris wheel, and glowsticks taped to the edge of his wetsuit. It did take a couple of seconds to lock, but once it did it tracked pretty well. Using the 135L @f/2.0 as well come to think of it.
Title: Re: 1D X AF in Low Light action
Post by: bdunbar79 on December 13, 2012, 06:45:48 PM
I don't shoot a lot of sports, but I would guess that your choice of lens is most of the problem.  Lenses focus at their widest aperture, which means you have a very thin depth of field upon which to lock focus.  With moving target, the tiniest of movements will make shots drift away from sharp focus.  I know my 85 f/1.2 is VERY finicky and slow about locking focus.  That handicap, combined with your low f-stop means you had potentially missed focus lock and a razor thin margin of error once you fired the shot.  In your situation, I would have lowered the shutter speed in favor of a higher f-stop.  That would give you a little more latitude when the focus wasn't spot on.  You also have a ton of choices for AI Servo on the 1DX and you may not have been using the ideal settings for that type of action.  I have shot some indoor tennis matches with my 1DX and a 70-200 f/2.8II -- I would imagine that to be even dimmer than your gym (miserable light to play in much less shoot).  I was able to keep 1/250 and about f4 for most of the shots.  The racquets and balls were frozen, but there was little motion blur with the people.   Granted, I only had a single moving subject to lock onto, but the focus tracking stayed spot on.  Since I was shooting tennis, I used the AF mode with the little tennis icon and kept it's default settings.

1/250th is not going to work.  I won't shoot slower than 1/500th with a 135mm lens.  I cannot have motion blur for the type of photography I am shooting. 

I think most posters are misunderstanding the problem here, but I thank you for your detailed response because they are valid considerations.  The poster helpful is getting what I am saying.

The real issue is the "worse" EV tolerance for AF on the 1DX in high fps vs. less fps or one shot.  It makes no sense to argue that it's DOF when 1.  In well-lit gyms, I don't have this problem.  I have shot hundreds of in-focus photos in a row with the 135L at f/2.  2.  I lock focus on shot 1, and it randomly goes in and out of focus throughout the shot burst, annoyingly.  For instance, shots 1, 2, 3, 8 are in focus, while shots 4, 5, 6, 7, aren't.  This is clearly a low light AF issue with the lens/camera combination and not DOF. 

Why would I say that?  In enough light, this never happens.  In Ashland's gym I shot over 450 photos, all in high burst mode for instance, with the 135L at f/2 and not one was OOF.  I have gathered some inside info since my first post that the 1DX in high burst mode is sensitive about -0.5EV whereas about 10 fps and much less it gets better, to -1EV to -2EV.  This is the issue I was looking for.

Again, thank you for all who posted or messaged me.  I appreciate the help.
Title: Re: 1D X AF in Low Light action
Post by: paolotaverna on December 13, 2012, 07:10:47 PM
well, I read this and it really makes me miss my D4!


It is now 2 months that I own my 1dx + 24-70 f2.8....I have gone through several shoots and lots of Canon pro input(reduce burst, use different cases for AI Servo) in order to get something decent and consistant using 1dx in low light but I have just been disapointed.

The only way I have found to get something better is using "one shot" and snapping faster (as soon as focused is achieved)...

let me tell that it's very frustrating...everytime I read these threads!

 but as you all know, once you get to learn the camera's ability you seem to get around it and make the best of it...but having Canon employees telling me that it's normal that it misses some shots ...I beg to differ....never had to even think about missing shots before this.
Title: Re: 1D X AF in Low Light action
Post by: Sycotek on December 13, 2012, 09:38:36 PM
well, I read this and it really makes me miss my D4!


It is now 2 months that I own my 1dx + 24-70 f2.8....I have gone through several shoots and lots of Canon pro input(reduce burst, use different cases for AI Servo) in order to get something decent and consistant using 1dx in low light but I have just been disapointed.

The only way I have found to get something better is using "one shot" and snapping faster (as soon as focused is achieved)...

let me tell that it's very frustrating...everytime I read these threads!

 but as you all know, once you get to learn the camera's ability you seem to get around it and make the best of it...but having Canon employees telling me that it's normal that it misses some shots ...I beg to differ....never had to even think about missing shots before this.

They all have their pros and cons it's just what you can put up with.

I couldn't stand the 1DX/5D3 in terms of low light focussing combined with that af assist issue.

I don't miss my 1DX or 5D3's -- if anything i miss my 7D (ripper of a camera) but since the d4/d800 combo - yes there are a few issues with custom functions not executing and live view is still stuffed (no exp sim on the d4/d800 but the 600 works fine??)  but nothing that would stop me from getting my work done.

Canon need to fix a few issues - and its not like we haven't tried to help them (hell we've isolated the issues down to the sequence).

Title: Re: 1D X AF in Low Light action
Post by: Shawn L on December 14, 2012, 10:47:29 AM
To the OP, do you happen to know how charged the 1DX's battery was?

I ask because of something I'm seeing. I bought a 24-70 II and have had somewhat mixed results with it. I've taken some really sharp photos and some (with the similar settings in similar conditions) where the focus point (as determined by DPP) simply isn't sharp.

Thinking back on it, the really sharp ones were all taken in low light at a Christmas party. The others were taken outdoors, but in the shade, so somewhat similar overall illumination. The difference is that Christmas party ones were taken with the battery fully charged. The others were taken a week or so later with the battery at 30% or so.

Not saying there's causation, but I'm looking to explain a few things myself :)

Cheers.

Shawn L.
Title: Re: 1D X AF in Low Light action
Post by: Shawn L on December 14, 2012, 10:57:15 AM
Though, examining the photos in question again, I see that many of the really sharp ones were also taken in landscape orientation using focus points in the center three "tall" columns. Many of the soft ones were taken with points outside this region.

One of the really soft ones shot in landscape orientation at 1/500 of a sec uses points just to the right of the three tall columns.

Maybe it's time for me to read up on what's expected from the various focus points. I thought the difference was about ability to focus, not quality of it. But I could have that wrong.

Shawn L.
Title: Re: 1D X AF in Low Light action
Post by: paolotaverna on December 14, 2012, 11:04:49 AM
just discouraging!!!

what is cold outside? temperature can also influence the focusing system...I will sure test this over the week end as it's fairly cold here
Title: Re: 1D X AF in Low Light action
Post by: Shawn L on December 14, 2012, 11:23:38 AM
I'd say low 60s (F)

Here's the photo in question for those interested. Note that the focus is supposed to be on the chin, according to DPP.

http://home.comcast.net/~sal6/BY5R7623.CR2 (http://home.comcast.net/~sal6/BY5R7623.CR2)

(Hoping that upload worked, Comcast has been having FTP issues as of late.)

Shawn L.
Title: Re: 1D X AF in Low Light action
Post by: Drizzt321 on December 14, 2012, 11:42:25 AM
@Shawn L

Yes, if I remember correctly, the center column (in landscape orientation) is double cross type, with extra sensitive points if used with a compatible lens (I'd be 24-70 v2 and 135L are). Do you have FoCal software? I'm pretty sure you can do a test on all of the AF points to determine which one(s) are reading with high accuracy, and which ones aren't giving as great of accuracy. Something I've been meaning to do, but I'd be it takes quite a while so I haven't taken the time.
Title: Re: 1D X AF in Low Light action
Post by: Studio1930 on December 14, 2012, 12:37:08 PM
The problem is the lens, not the camera.  I have found that my 135 f/2 will not focus well in low light no matter what 1 series camera I use it with.  My 70-200 f/2.8 IS II is way better than my 135.  I shoot dog sports in very low light and the 1Dx works perfectly at 12 fps in light so low you cant read the buttons but it only works this well with one lens - the Canon 200 f/2.  Yes, I understand the price tag, but if you want f/2 and fast accurate focusing then this is the lens to use.  It is twice as accurate as my 70-200 so you can imagine how much better it is than the 135 f/2. 

Here is a shot in very, very low light (we refuse to shoot there now) where the 1Dx with a 200 f/2 hits the focus without issue.  Sorry this is a processed image but the original looks very good and is sharp.  The high ISO softens it a bit, but the auto focus hit perfectly and the numbers on the stickers on the shirt were sharp. I actually added grain to this processed image to match the retro color processing.  Note: that dog is super fast and runs 7 yards per second!

1DX, 1/800s @ 200mm f/2, ISO 25600, TV mode, +2/3ev, auto ISO, focus mode 4, single point + 4 expansion, using 2 down from center point (x type), 12 fps.

(http://studio1930.com/image_share/patti/20120714S1930-00188_900px.jpg)

Title: Re: 1D X AF in Low Light action
Post by: Shawn L on December 14, 2012, 02:23:16 PM
Drizzt321:

I do have the software and I will check it out (probably won't find the time until next weekend, though).

To Studio1930's point, I've never had an issue with my 70-200 II in low light -- even inside an ice rink. Kind of sad to see the issue with the 24-70 II. Though, I will say that I have used the 24-70 II at night on a moving train and still gotten fairly good pictures (at 1/200 sec with a more fully charged battery).

Still haven't ruled out user error on my part.

Shawn L.