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Gear Talk => EOS Bodies - For Stills => Topic started by: thepancakeman on November 23, 2011, 02:53:11 PM

Title: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: thepancakeman on November 23, 2011, 02:53:11 PM
After shooting a cylcocross race this weekend, I am definitely feeling like I cannot wait until some of these rumors pan out to get my next body.  I cannot afford anything in the 1 series, so that leaves me with a 5DmkII or a 7d.  I tried a 7d this summer and was not thrilled with the sharpness of it (already discussed that in other threads, so not necessarily a focus of this one.)

I keep reading that the AF on the 5 is really pathetic, but rarely have a context for that, so it's hard to know if it applies to my scenario.

So the question is, will a 5DmkII work for me?  I am primarily shooting sports, but those with linear/predictable motion and a fairly big target (e.g. running races, bike races) and use the center spot for my AF.  Obviously that puts me outdoors, but that's not a guarantee of good light, but nearly always better than a dark gym.  I do not need fast fps, so that's not a deal breaker at all.  So for the given situation, will a 5DmkII track the cyclist coming down the road?  How quickly can it re-aquire if I change targets (i.e. 2 cyclists coming at me, I frame and shoot one and then switch to the other)?

As I alluded to, I was hoping to wait for the next gen of either the 5 or 7, but feel I can't wait any longer.  I can live with a 7, but if I'm putting out $1500+, I'd rather be happy with my purchase than just "not unhappy."   :P

Thanks!
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: lukaszb on November 23, 2011, 03:49:20 PM
I actually work with both cameras.  5dMKii problem is really in low light situation.  It hunts for focus and will eventually focus on a wall instead of your subject.  This absolutely drives me insane.  But again this is at a wedding where the light is very dim.  7d in these situations is much better.

I've also shot a running cheetah at the Wild Animal Park in San Diego this past summer.  I didn't have any problems tracking and freezing the subject.  I think you will have some issue if you have to refocus between subjects really quickly (as you mention from one bike to the next), but here a lot is also dependent on a lens. 

I've shot that running cheetah with 5dMKii and 24-105 attached to it and didn't have any problems.  Lighting conditions were very good.  How about renting the camera first?
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: neuroanatomist on November 23, 2011, 03:59:19 PM
I think you'll be better off with the 5DII 7D.   I have that and the 7D, and the 7D AF is substantially better. A couple of days ago, I was shooting my four-year-old daughter running toward me through a pile of fall leaves.  I was using the 5DII and the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II - a very fast-focusing lens.  I was using AI Servo AF and shooting at f/2.8. She was having fun running, so I was able to make several attempts at bursts of shots as she ran toward me.  Each burst was about 2-3 seconds, so 8-12 shots.  From each pass, maybe one or two of the 8 to 12 shots was actually in crisp focus. My guess is that's not going to give a high enough keeper rate for you. Note that she was running directly or nearly directly straight at the camera, that is a challenging situation for autofocus system.  But she's a toddler, it's not like she can run that fast compared to your subjects. I suspect if you were shooting cycling or racing from the side, where the action was passing across the field of view the 5DII would do a decent job; it's able to keep up with my kids when they run straight across the field of view. But for oncoming subjects the autofocus system just isn't that good on the 5DII.

For comparison, using the 7D I shot a similar set of sequences of my daughter running toward me, although that was through a field of summer flowers instead of fall leaves.  The 7D was able to get almost every shot in focus (~95%) - and that was with the slow-focusing 85mm f/1.2L II and at the thin DoF of f/1.2.
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: briansquibb on November 23, 2011, 04:11:08 PM
I have done a lot of panning with the 5DII and had no problem

The time to lock on is a bit slow - but after that in Servo mode I have had no problem

The AF on the 7D is better, but then I prefer the IQ of the 5DII - especially after a crop.
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: handsomerob on November 23, 2011, 04:19:03 PM
So the question is, will a 5DmkII work for me?  I am primarily shooting sports, ...

If you are primarily shooting sports then you know you need the best AF performance you can get. IMO, you should prefer this above anything else, including IQ. Noise can be reduced, image can be sharpened but those OOF shots are not going to do you any good.

7D's AF is far better. It locks and tracks very well and very accurately, given there is enough light and you use good glass (pretty important if you want fast AF). You'll have much more keepers so you'll have more options.
7D also has a crop sensor, which will give you 1.6x extra reach. I find this very important for sports. If you are currently using a crop camera, you'll lose lots of reach should you choose to go for FF.
With the 7D you can shoot all sports, it's made for that. So you won't be limited to "those with linear/predictable motion and a fairly big target".

Most users say 5DII's center point is pretty good and does a very good job when light levels are low. But the other AF points are not really all that useful. They also cover a very small area of the frame, compared to the nice spreading on the 7D (maybe not that important since you'll be using center point only). There are a lot of people using 5DII happily shooting all kinds of action.

I would easily pick 7D over 5DII for sports. If you have the chance, try renting both so you can compare them once yourself.

Good luck with your decision.
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: Meh on November 23, 2011, 04:30:12 PM
I think you'll be better off with the 5DII.  I have that and the 7D, and the 7D AF is substantially better. A couple of days ago, I was shooting my four-year-old daughter running toward me through a pile of fall leaves.  I was using the 5DII and the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II - a very fast-focusing lens.  I was using AI Servo AF and shooting at f/2.8. She was having fun running, so I was able to make several attempts at bursts of shots as she ran toward me.  Each burst was about 2-3 seconds, so 8-12 shots.  From each pass, maybe one or two of the 8 to 12 shots was actually in crisp focus. My guess is that's not going to give a high enough keeper rate for you. Note that she was running directly or nearly directly straight at the camera, that is a challenging situation for autofocus system.  But she's a toddler, it's not like she can run that fast compared to your subjects. I suspect if you were shooting cycling or racing from the side, where the action was passing across the field of view the 5DII would do a decent job; it's able to keep up with my kids when they run straight across the field of view. But for oncoming subjects the autofocus system just isn't that good on the 5DII.

For comparison, using the 7D I shot a similar set of sequences of my daughter running toward me, although that was through a field of summer flowers instead of fall leaves.  The 7D was able to get almost every shot in focus (~95%) - and that was with the slow-focusing 85mm f/1.2L II and at the thin DoF of f/1.2.

I'm confused (happens often). Neuro, you start off stating he's better off with the 5D2 but most of what you wrote sounds like you're recommending the 7D to him.  What am I missing?

I also have the 7D and 5D2 and recommend the 7D for the type of sports shooting described.  Shooting cycling where many (maybe most?) shots will be of fast moving riders coming towards the camera, the 7D will be the best choice.  Best possible AF will be your friend.   But, as others have pointed out, 5D2 AF is not "terrible" in absolute terms just not as good as the 7D and your keeper rate in AF servo mode will not be as high.

Or, at current prices, just buy one of each body.  Put a 70-200mm f/2.8L II on the 7D and a 50mm f/1.2L on the 5D2 and have a good time.   Oh wait, that's a lot of coin.... crap I spend a lot on camera gear to take snapshots of my kids!   ;D
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: thepancakeman on November 23, 2011, 04:51:33 PM
...and you use good glass (pretty important if you want fast AF)...

Yep, my wife let's me use her 70-200mm f/2.8L IS, 24-105mm f/4.0L, the 85mm f/1.8, etc, so I'm good on glass.

Noise can be reduced, image can be sharpened but those OOF shots are not going to do you any good.

Wow, sometimes I miss (or forget) the obvious--thanks!
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: neuroanatomist on November 23, 2011, 04:57:38 PM
Mea culpa. Can I blame my iPhone for autocorrecting 7D to 5DII?  I guess not. I just mistyped, meant better off with 7D.

Sorry!!
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: awinphoto on November 23, 2011, 05:00:20 PM
I shoot with both now so I have a bit of a perspective... albeit maybe not as much as some... If you are shooting sports, the 7D wins hands down... This is not to say you cant get a few keepers every so often with the 5d2... it's just not as responsive... I may be a tad more sensitive with my keeper rate in focus, but i would say, for me and my taste, about 75% of 7D's photos in burst shots are acceptable focus and maybe even fewer crisp (but this is based off of crisp focus where I can count eye lashes or bolts on jets, etc)  With the 5D it's got to be closer to 50% acceptable in burst modes and fewer crisp... Image quality, 5d wins but not as much as you would think with almost a $1000 difference in msrp, (closer to $500 or so street difference), which is what I think neuro was eluding to with his first statement in his response... Bottom line, 5d for studio, portrait, still life, and other image quality critical work, and 7D for sports, action, everyday stuff. 
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: briansquibb on November 23, 2011, 05:04:48 PM
...and you use good glass (pretty important if you want fast AF)...

Yep, my wife let's me use her 70-200mm f/2.8L IS, 24-105mm f/4.0L, the 85mm f/1.8, etc, so I'm good on glass.

Noise can be reduced, image can be sharpened but those OOF shots are not going to do you any good.

Wow, sometimes I miss (or forget) the obvious--thanks!

When getting a comparison it is always best to listen to people with experience of both cameras - else the view will be skewed towards the one they own.

All I can say about the 5DII is that tens thousands of togs have used this AF system with astonishing sucess over the years - cant be that bad - perhaps it isn't idiot proof so you will have to work at it.

However there have been the same stories about the 7D and soft pictures - which almost invariably boil down to user error.

From your glass list it looks likely that the cycle photos will be a relatively small part of your activity, so perhaps it might be the better option with the 5DII and learn how to use the AF most effectively. I only got the 7D for the crop to get the extra reach from my lens.

From the 5DII



Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: Edwin Herdman on November 23, 2011, 05:09:06 PM
Yep, my wife let's me use her 70-200mm f/2.8L IS, 24-105mm f/4.0L, the 85mm f/1.8, etc, so I'm good on glass.
More primes will probably be better in this regard - it's worth thinking about.

Mea culpa. Can I blame my iPhone for autocorrecting 7D to 5DII?
At least it didn't say D3X.  Damn you, autocorrect!
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: briansquibb on November 23, 2011, 05:19:47 PM
Mea culpa. Can I blame my iPhone for autocorrecting 7D to 5DII?

Apple clearly have the inside info  :D :D :D
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: thepancakeman on November 23, 2011, 05:21:04 PM
Yep, my wife let's me use her 70-200mm f/2.8L IS, 24-105mm f/4.0L, the 85mm f/1.8, etc, so I'm good on glass.
More primes will probably be better in this regard - it's worth thinking about.

How so?  Can you explain more?  (Not that I'll have any money left for lenses, but hope springs eternal!)   ::)
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: briansquibb on November 23, 2011, 05:25:53 PM
Yep, my wife let's me use her 70-200mm f/2.8L IS, 24-105mm f/4.0L, the 85mm f/1.8, etc, so I'm good on glass.
More primes will probably be better in this regard - it's worth thinking about.

How so?  Can you explain more?  (Not that I'll have any money left for lenses, but hope springs eternal!)   ::)

Personally I think your lens collection is about right. Unless you are going to get very seriously in to photography then decent zooms are all you NEED.
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: Picsfor on November 23, 2011, 05:49:06 PM
i don't have a 7D purely because it doesn't fit in my hand properly - just the wrong size.

But i dearly want one for when i do sports/ wildlife/ action shoots because the AF is soo much better than the 5D2.

As said, the centre point is extremely good, and not to be sneezed at, but in AI servo - it really does have to be watched. It will only too happily disappear off to the tree, or advertising hoarding etc just when you need the subject focused.

The AF is my only downer on an otherwise excellent 5D2...
7D would be my choice for sports every time...
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: briansquibb on November 23, 2011, 05:57:51 PM

But i dearly want one for when i do sports/ wildlife/ action shoots because the AF is soo much better than the 5D2.


Are you basing that on reviews or experience?

Trust me the 7D AF is not THAT good. You have to try a 1D4 to find out what good AF and metering is about.

I was expecting a lot when I bought a 7D to go with my 5DII and I was rather underwhelmed.

I then bought the 1D4 and was blown away. Am seriously thinking of selling the 5DII and the 7D and just making do with two 1D4s
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: Meh on November 23, 2011, 06:23:11 PM

But i dearly want one for when i do sports/ wildlife/ action shoots because the AF is soo much better than the 5D2.


Are you basing that on reviews or experience?

Trust me the 7D AF is not THAT good.

Isn't a review someone's experience?  No more or less valid than your experience that you ask to be trusted.  No offense, just injecting some perspective. 
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: briansquibb on November 23, 2011, 06:28:37 PM

But i dearly want one for when i do sports/ wildlife/ action shoots because the AF is soo much better than the 5D2.


Are you basing that on reviews or experience?

Trust me the 7D AF is not THAT good.

Isn't a review someone's experience?  No more or less valid than your experience that you ask to be trusted.  No offense, just injecting some perspective.

A review is of a single camera - we are looking for a comparison which a review wont give you. The experience has to have the same baseline, the shooter, in order to compare.

Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: Meh on November 23, 2011, 06:45:33 PM

Isn't a review someone's experience?  No more or less valid than your experience that you ask to be trusted.  No offense, just injecting some perspective.

A review is of a single camera - we are looking for a comparison which a review wont give you. The experience has to have the same baseline, the shooter, in order to compare.


Not necessarily, the credible reviewers have usually used/tested/reviewed many if not most cameras and lenses and will make comparisons to other bodies in the same class.   And reviews and lab tests have the advantage of being more controlled and less biased towards a brand or a body the reviewer has a preference for.  I'm not trying to devalue your personal experience as I'm sure it's extensive but you do seem to have a strong preference for your personal, anecdotal experience over reviews/tests.  For me, I like to consider multiple sources and types of information.  The reviews and lab tests are very informative.  Personal experience, such as yours, is also valuable which is why I like this forum.   Again, no offence intended.
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: neuroanatomist on November 23, 2011, 06:56:38 PM
In my experience, the 7D is a big step up from the 5DII for AF, and a modest step up for metering. Although I've never used a 1-series, I know it will be substantially better at both, which is why my next body will be a 1D X. 

Frankly, my fear is that the 1D X AF will spoil the 7D for me...
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: TexPhoto on November 23, 2011, 07:10:01 PM
I own both a 7D and a 5DII.  When I shoot sports, the 7D is my primary camera. 

My 5DII is an awesome camera, but it does feel like Canon went out of it's way to limit in a few areas to keep it from cutting 1D/1Ds sales.  Now I sell stock, and the 5DII is my primary for almost everything I shoot besides sports.  I have never been unhappy with it's AF system, I just don't expect it to be a 7D.

In any case if sports was my primary focus, I'd buy the 7D way before a 5DII.  Strap the best 70-200 you can afford on it and you have a sports machine gun rivaled only by 5000+ camera, and then by only a small margin.
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: Meh on November 23, 2011, 07:19:06 PM
In my experience, the 7D is a big step up from the 5DII for AF, and a modest step up for metering. Although I've never used a 1-series, I know it will be substantially better at both, which is why my next body will be a 1D X. 

Frankly, my fear is that the 1D X AF will spoil the 7D for me...

Agreed.  I've only had my 5D2  a few weeks (although I've used one on occasion in the past) but it's AF simply isn't as good as the 7D.   My bias though (and possibly yours since I think you also had the 7D first) is that once used to the 7D the 5D2 may appear much worse that it really is.  And briansquibb (sorry to pick on you Brian) might have a similar bias after using a 1D4 in that the 7D AF, based on the comparison to 1D4, gets an artificial downgrade and "appears" to be not much better than the 5D2.  There's a name for that in psychology (can't think of it right now) where human perception tends to bunch things together and minimize differences in the context of something much bigger/better.
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: Mt Spokane Photography on November 23, 2011, 07:57:00 PM
My 5D MK II has slower but more accurate af, particularly in low light, easily beating my 1D MK III and 7D.  My 7D has faster AF which will track fast moving objects, which is what you want for sports.  I've never actually used my 1D MK III to track rapidly moving objects, but it is better than the 7D all around, and only loses out to the 5D MK II in high ISO sensitivity and fast autofocus.

I'm considering picking up a used 1D MK IV, but am waiting on the 1D x to get some reviews from trusted sources.  There are lots of camera reviews that may be less than accurate or objective, we all have our bias, so I usually look at reviews from sources I trust who have a track record of accurate reporting.  This means that I do not take a review posted by a new camera owner with a unknown amount of experience as a trusted source.
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: wickidwombat on November 23, 2011, 08:00:22 PM
My 5D MK II has slower but more accurate af, particularly in low light, easily beating my 1D MK III and 7D.  My

Is this the center point only? can you get any of the other points to achieve focus lock in low light?
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: briansquibb on November 23, 2011, 08:18:34 PM
And briansquibb (sorry to pick on you Brian) might have a similar bias after using a 1D4 in that the 7D AF, based on the comparison to 1D4, gets an artificial downgrade and "appears" to be not much better than the 5D2.  There's a name for that in psychology (can't think of it right now) where human perception tends to bunch things together and minimize differences in the context of something much bigger/better.

I bought the 7D and then because it didn't meet my expectations I bought the 1D4. I am still using the 7D and the 5DII as well as the 1D4 - last Saturday I was using all 3 on my shoot - so it was real back to back comparison.

I have always said that the AF of the 7D is better than that of the 5DII. However (possibly because I only use the centre focus point and have had a long line of 9 pointers) I automatically work round the AF and dont hit the problems that others seem to hit - for example that little delay for the AF to lock. Where the 7D works for me is the use of the expansion point for tracking - it is quicker to lock, but there is still a delay. What may not be a problem for me may of course be a dealbreaker for someone else.

However as a package there are several downsides to the 7D which take the edge off the  better AF. The first of which is the picture IQ, particularly when cropping ( that applies to all crop cameras) that the bokeh inevitably looks worse.

I can also see the difference in the picture quality too. Put two sharp A3 prints on the table and I can tell which came from the 5DII and which came from the 7D, particularly when low light is involved. This is my perception that the 5DII gives a smoother image, whereas the 7D seems more raw.

I find that people, who have never used the 5DII, are trashing the 5DII AF based on the street reputation alone as are the press.  I believe you can only objectively comment on this after some experience of the camera.

The title of this thread is 'How bad if the AF on the 5DmkII really'. From where I stand the AF is not bad at all if you are using the centre focus point, however you will find that the tracking AF on the 7D does a better job for you and definitely the 1D4 is significantly better.

If the question was 'Is the 7D better than the 5DII' I would be much more hesitant. If the 7D was better than the 5DII why does the 5DII sell in such huge numbers? - there aren't that number of dedicated studio people around.

Here is a good example of what the 5DII can do - the A3 version of this is stunning IQ and the colours are sumptuous.

5DII, 24-105@92, iso50, f13, 1/15,



Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: neuroanatomist on November 23, 2011, 08:20:06 PM
My 5D MK II has slower but more accurate af, particularly in low light, easily beating my 1D MK III and 7D.  My

Is this the center point only? can you get any of the other points to achieve focus lock in low light?

The 5DII's off-center points achieve a lock in low light with the effectiveness of...well, I can think of a sufficiently ineffective example, but the bottom line is that while the 5DII's center AF point is quite good, the rest of them pretty much suck.
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: neuroanatomist on November 23, 2011, 08:22:23 PM
I find that people, who have never used the 5DII, are trashing the 5DII AF based on the street reputation alone as are the press.

FWIW, I have one, and I 'trash' it to some extent. 

Here is a good example of what the 5DII can do - the A3 version of this is stunning IQ and the colours are sumptuous.

The OP was questioning it's capability for shooting sports...a lighthouse at f/13 might not be the most relevant example.
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: wickidwombat on November 23, 2011, 08:26:47 PM
My 5D MK II has slower but more accurate af, particularly in low light, easily beating my 1D MK III and 7D.  My

Is this the center point only? can you get any of the other points to achieve focus lock in low light?

The 5DII's off-center points achieve a lock in low light with the effectiveness of...well, I can think of a sufficiently ineffective example, but the bottom line is that while the 5DII's center AF point is quite good, the rest of them pretty much suck.
yeah thats pretty much what I find, Have you used AI servo much with the 5D2? How does it go tracking after achieving lock with the center point?
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: neuroanatomist on November 23, 2011, 08:34:49 PM
yeah thats pretty much what I find, Have you used AI servo much with the 5D2? How does it go tracking after achieving lock with the center point?

Ok - but not great - for subjects moving across the frame. Pretty poorly for subjects moving toward or away from the camera.
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: briansquibb on November 23, 2011, 08:39:56 PM

The OP was questioning it's capability for shooting sports...a lighthouse at f/13 might not be the most relevant example.

I have already posted the Kart going 40+ - I think that answers that question

The lighthouse is just an example of a 5DII photo.
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: briansquibb on November 23, 2011, 08:47:47 PM

FWIW, I have one, and I 'trash' it to some extent. 



I didn't say the all people that trash it didn't have one.

If fact not all people that have one trash it as well.

The users that didn't like it are those that want to use the non central points, particularly in low light. The OP specifically stated that he was a central focus point user - there in the context of the question no one found fault with the AF in this thread.
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: neuroanatomist on November 23, 2011, 08:48:13 PM
I have already posted the Kart going 40+ - I think that answers that question

Not really. It's a great shot, but you're panning to follow the car.  I've had plenty of success doing that with manual focus lenses, so to me it says very little about AF capability. Stand at a curve in the track and use your 5DII to shoot an AI Servo burst of the car approaching you at 40+, then show me the keepers from that...
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: briansquibb on November 23, 2011, 09:03:17 PM
I have already posted the Kart going 40+ - I think that answers that question

Not really. It's a great shot, but you're panning to follow the car.  I've had plenty of success doing that with manual focus lenses, so to me it says very little about AF capability. Stand at a curve in the track and use your 5DII to shoot an AI Servo burst of the car approaching you at 40+, then show me the keepers from that...

I think it was you that said that it followed well going across the frame - and there is the shot that proves it.

You will find motorsport shooters always take the photos from the side as it gives the impression of speed, so sorry a head on shot is not going to be available.

Kart tracks are tight and twisty and this shot was on the exit from a corner. Not really possible to pan on the angle using manual focus. Here is the exit of the corner from the entrance side - the other shot was taken from trackside of the exit of the corner. I was tracking all through the corner on servo.

(this shot was taken with the 1D4 - just here to show you where the other shot was taken coming out the corner rather than along a long straight)
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: briansquibb on November 23, 2011, 09:18:28 PM
This is the only wa photo of the track that gives a better view of where the kart was (sorry about the quality) - showing how I had taken it coming stright on and kept it locked in focus. Look for the RENAULT boarding on the right which is behind the kart in the first picture. For the first picture I was standing by the first pole and took the picture as it was past the apex (just moving away from me) To get that picture it is clear that the AF was locked on through the corner when the kart was coming straight on to me.

I think that answers the question about the AF locking on with real evidence.

Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: briansquibb on November 23, 2011, 09:24:11 PM
I think the OP has his answer then - not bad at all
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: wickidwombat on November 23, 2011, 09:24:33 PM
thats in good light though I think the AF achieves lock in good light fine even on the other 8 points not in the center. The issue I have is in low light it just doesnt happen.
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: Jamesy on November 23, 2011, 09:26:54 PM
OP said: "How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?"

My questions would be, how does the 40D (which I own) perform next to a 5DII in regard to AF? I have heard they are very similar, is this the case?
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: briansquibb on November 23, 2011, 09:30:53 PM
OP said: "How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?"

My questions would be, how does the 40D (which I own) perform next to a 5DII in regard to AF? I have heard they are very similar, is this the case?
I have a 40D as well - I went to a 5D and then the5DII and I dont remember the AF having any differences
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: briansquibb on November 23, 2011, 09:36:56 PM
In my experience low light AF from the 5DII is  good just a bit slow.

Perhaps this article might help you

http://www.canon-europe.com/Support/System/Search.aspx?TcmUri=tcm:13-607862&SearchType=3 (http://www.canon-europe.com/Support/System/Search.aspx?TcmUri=tcm:13-607862&SearchType=3)
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: neuroanatomist on November 23, 2011, 09:41:24 PM
I think it was you that said that it followed well going across the frame - and there is the shot that proves it.

It was, but it doesn't.  It wasn't the 5DII's AF that was tracking the car, it was you panning the camera, as the background blur attests.  That shot very clearly demonstrates your skill as a photographer, but doesn't demonstrate effectiveness (or lack thereof) of the 5DII's AF system.
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: neuroanatomist on November 23, 2011, 09:45:24 PM
This is the only wa photo of the track that gives a better view of where the kart was (sorry about the quality) - showing how I had taken it coming stright on and kept it locked in focus. Look for the RENAULT boarding on the right which is behind the kart in the first picture.

I think that answers the question about the AF locking on with real evidence.

Looking at the signage along the side of the frame, it appears that the DoF is rather deep...so, again, I'm not convinced that this is evidence of AF tracking performance.
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: wickidwombat on November 23, 2011, 09:46:52 PM
In my experience low light AF from the 5DII is  good just a bit slow.

Perhaps this article might help you

http://www.canon-europe.com/Support/System/Search.aspx?TcmUri=tcm:13-607862&SearchType=3 (http://www.canon-europe.com/Support/System/Search.aspx?TcmUri=tcm:13-607862&SearchType=3)

Is that center point only or have your outter 8 points managed to get lock in low light?

LOL at the link
yeah thats why i use back button focus focus lock recompose shoot, works ok with the center point and if the model isn't walking toward you and shooting with wide aperture it would be nice to be able to achieve that initial focus lock with at least 1 of the other 4 surrounding points that sit near where the subjects eye will be in the composition (less movement require in recomposing) the extreme outer 4 points I dont really care actually. Even just making these 4 points around the middle and the center point high sensitivity in future would be  massive improvement
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: jaduffy007 on November 23, 2011, 10:09:59 PM
I think the question is..."5d2 AF compared to what?" Compared to, say a Nikon D700... a 5d2 in good light, on slow moving subjects it's "B-".  In low light, a C-.  In a studio, shooting portraits... B+.  So for landscape and studio shooters, the 5d2 is a fantastic value.  Throw in video...all the more so.  For PJ and sports?...unfortunately, it's "spray and pray".
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: neuroanatomist on November 23, 2011, 10:24:08 PM
...and the slow 'spray' means LOTS of 'pray'!
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: pwp on November 23, 2011, 10:24:55 PM
I cannot afford anything in the 1 series, so that leaves me with a 5DmkII or a 7d... 
I keep reading that the AF on the 5 is really pathetic...
I am primarily shooting sports, but those with linear/predictable motion and a fairly big target (e.g. running races, bike races)

If you are primarily shooting sports, you need the right tools. Let's get this straight. The 5DII delivers almost unrivalled files. But it ain't a sports camera. With the budget you mentioned, if you must buy new, the 7D (with a grip) and f/2.8 or faster lenses is the way to go.

But think outside the square for a moment. You clearly need a 1-Series body. The astonishing shots run in Sports Illustrated from the 2004 Summer Olympics were most likely shot on a Canon 1DMkII. Fast forward a bit and you get to the almost legendary 1DMkIIn, a body which I still own and occasionally use. It's as responsive and quick as my MkIV.

Fast forward a little further to the MkIII. The early copies may have had some AF issues but pick yourself up a late MkIII and you have got yourself a VERY respectable sports camera.

Don't worry about a well kept older 1-Series as far as reliability goes. They are carved from a solid lump of Unobtanium. My 1DMkIIn must have over 500,000 actuations and still looks like new and purrs like it did when new. And for shooting action it will beat the pants off any 7D.

Paul Wright

Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: briansquibb on November 23, 2011, 10:25:34 PM
I think it was you that said that it followed well going across the frame - and there is the shot that proves it.

It was, but it doesn't.  It wasn't the 5DII's AF that was tracking the car, it was you panning the camera, as the background blur attests.  That shot very clearly demonstrates your skill as a photographer, but doesn't demonstrate effectiveness (or lack thereof) of the 5DII's AF system.

Draw the track of the kart out on a sheet of paper and you will find that it was only parallel to me for a moment - and that the AF had to be locked on at that point - prior to it coming alongside and the photo shows it driving away from me.  The wa photo is not to show the AF but to show where I took the first picture from and how the kart did not come along a straight but in fact straight at me round the corner where it kept the AF locked on when turning at the apex.

DOF is not at all important when panning as the background is going to get blurred anyway.

Sorry if my skill is masking the issue  - after 54 years with a camera I am bound to have picked up something. I did say that with the right technique the 5DII delivered good pictures( and got abused for the comment). Well there is the good picture to prove it. And still people are demying it

The evidence is there for all to see - you cannot claim that the AF is bad as the evidence shows the AF spot on.
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: Jamesy on November 23, 2011, 10:35:01 PM
OP said: "How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?"

My questions would be, how does the 40D (which I own) perform next to a 5DII in regard to AF? I have heard they are very similar, is this the case?
I have a 40D as well - I went to a 5D and then the5DII and I dont remember the AF having any differences
Thanks. I have shot with a 5D and 5DII and they seemed similar to the 40D but I only use them in the studio so I do not have an overall appreciation of their AF capabilities under real world conditions.
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: mp2011 on November 23, 2011, 11:32:10 PM
I recently upgraded from a T1i, and I had a terrible time deciding what to upgrade to. I bought and returned a 7D. I think the 7D AF system is overly complicated for what it provides, but I am also not the 7D target market- I am a "mom with a camera". I also thought the image quality was no better than my Rebel, and that it amounted to a big heavy camera that was still a crop sensor, and frankly, I just didn't like the camera. So I didn't know what to do, and I rented a D7000. The camera had amazing, very fast, AF. Grabbed and locked very quickly, worked well. But, I could not justify selling all my lenses, flash etc. to switch to another crop sensor camera. And most importantly, I do not prefer Nikon colors, or the contrastiness (not a word, I know) of Nikon files. You can address it through editing, but it seemed like it would be a constant struggle.

So I bought a 5DMII, and based on everything I has read about the focus system, I expected pretty much all of my photos to be out of focus. I thought it was going to be just horrible. And I have found that via One Shot or AI Servo, shooting my toddlers, my keeper rate is very high. I do find it hunts in low light. I do not use the center point exclusively, I do toggle, and I find the outer points are ok in most situations. No, I probably would not choose it for a serious birds in flight, sports camera. It doesn't necessarily feel like a "fast" camera. But overall, factoring in the size and weight, and the image quality, and the affordability of the camera relative to other full frame options, it is the right camera for me.  A lot of extra information there, but to address the original post, I don't think the AF is "that bad"- other cameras have better AF for sure, but I think that people make it out to be more of an issue than it is. And I decided I would rather stay invested in Canon and hope that by the time I upgrade, the AF will be better. But the AF is good enough for most situations I photograph.


Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: Old Shooter on November 24, 2011, 02:10:45 AM
I recently upgraded from a T1i, and I had a terrible time deciding what to upgrade to. I bought and returned a 7D. I think the 7D AF system is overly complicated for what it provides, but I am also not the 7D target market- I am a "mom with a camera". I also thought the image quality was no better than my Rebel, and that it amounted to a big heavy camera that was still a crop sensor, and frankly, I just didn't like the camera. So I didn't know what to do, and I rented a D7000. The camera had amazing, very fast, AF. Grabbed and locked very quickly, worked well. But, I could not justify selling all my lenses, flash etc. to switch to another crop sensor camera. And most importantly, I do not prefer Nikon colors, or the contrastiness (not a word, I know) of Nikon files. You can address it through editing, but it seemed like it would be a constant struggle.

So I bought a 5DMII, and based on everything I has read about the focus system, I expected pretty much all of my photos to be out of focus. I thought it was going to be just horrible. And I have found that via One Shot or AI Servo, shooting my toddlers, my keeper rate is very high. I do find it hunts in low light. I do not use the center point exclusively, I do toggle, and I find the outer points are ok in most situations. No, I probably would not choose it for a serious birds in flight, sports camera. It doesn't necessarily feel like a "fast" camera. But overall, factoring in the size and weight, and the image quality, and the affordability of the camera relative to other full frame options, it is the right camera for me.  A lot of extra information there, but to address the original post, I don't think the AF is "that bad"- other cameras have better AF for sure, but I think that people make it out to be more of an issue than it is. And I decided I would rather stay invested in Canon and hope that by the time I upgrade, the AF will be better. But the AF is good enough for most situations I photograph.

Sounds like a lot more expertise than "mom with a camera"!  I'm curious what lenses you have paired with your 5DII and what you think of the results?
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: bycostello on November 24, 2011, 03:16:35 AM
only focusing problems i have had is in the pitch dark...  then i use a flash light just to illuminate the subject a bit...  an on camera ste2 or flash would do a similar job..
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: cdang on November 24, 2011, 03:36:13 AM
I honestly think the AF system on the 5D isn't bad. I think people make it sound worse than it really is and the reputation of it being bad goes from there and spreads like wildfire online. Its not the best but its not bad either.
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: pwp on November 24, 2011, 06:04:13 AM
I honestly think the AF system on the 5D isn't bad. I think people make it sound worse than it really is and the reputation of it being bad goes from there and spreads like wildfire online. Its not the best but its not bad either.

Yes, you're right. It's perfectly fine for many applications and shooting conditions.

Criticisms of the 5DmkII AF kick in when compared with the flexibility and speed of the 1-Series bodies with 45 AF points vs nine in the 5DII. Where the difference really kicks in is shooting fast moving, sometimes erratic action. This can be sports, news, fashion, weddings, wildlife or any photographers shooting style that keeps people in motion, especially when shooting longer focal lengths.

The 5DII AF isn't bad...it's just not ideal for action shooting.

Paul Wright
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: handsomerob on November 24, 2011, 07:04:54 AM
The 5DII AF isn't bad...it's just not ideal for action shooting.

I think this sums it up pretty well.
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: S P on November 24, 2011, 07:15:19 AM
I think the "bad" 5D Mark II AF is one of the most overblown issues on the Internet period.  I use mine for all sorts of things including chasing toddlers around who never sit still, sports, landscapes, and even a wedding once in awhile, and have never had even the slightest bit of trouble.  No it's certainly not as capable or as flexible or as "smart" as the 1-series and other bodies, but it's hardly an incapable AF system.
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: torger on November 24, 2011, 07:45:19 AM
I think generally what may cause a bit disappointment around 5Dmk2 is that it is in most aspects except the sensor a less good camera than the 7D. The 7D has better weather-proofing (at least of what I have heard), those spring-loaded bay doors add some extra feel of quality the 5D don't have, and the speed is higher and autofocus is more advanced. Most don't know if they would actually benefit from a more advanced autofocus though.

Personally, the build quality is what disappoints me somewhat. It is really 'good enough' for my amateur needs, but I would rather have something really robust and those nice little details like spring-loaded bay doors, and I would pay for it. Oh, the plastic battery grip is just an insult :-), but I've heard the 7D grip is not too good either...
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: wickidwombat on November 24, 2011, 06:44:29 PM
Did a shoot last night at sunset on the beach to test out one of these i just got with a couple of 580 ex2
http://www.hkyongnuo.com/e-detail.php?ID=277

and this little unit throws out a AF assist grid I was only using the center point anyway and recomposing as i have given up on the other points well this little AF assist grid was brilliant I think out of about 250 shots I had trouble achieving lock on about 5 or 6 and that was even shooting directly into the sun, very contrasty and variable light. I was using only f2.8 lenses too I should try this again with the 24-105 f4 and see if there is much difference as the center point is better with 2.8 or faster glass.

Given I wasn't shooting action or movement but I think that af assist beam really helped the AF on the 5D2

other things i love about this little yongnuo unit
its light so it sitting ontop of the camera is very comfy
you can rotate the head 180 degrees to point to your flash setup no matter where you are (yes its IR and line of site)
has a really good range
I found it kept up with recycle times of the flash  fine even using eneloops (apparently if you use lithium 1.5v batterys cycle time improves alot but i didnt have any problem with having flash available for every shot I wasnt shooting at a high rate anyway
it takes AA batterys
Its CHEAP I think it was only about $120 on ebay
you get FULL ETTL and High speed sync
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: thepancakeman on November 25, 2011, 10:34:23 AM
Thanks for everyones responses!

I guess my take-away is this: multiple people stated in essence: "I have both the 5D2 and the 7D and I use the 7D for sports."  Obviously for these people the quality of the AF on the 7D outweighs the better IQ of the 5D in a sports setting, and that is what I was asking.  Especially since the nature of what I'm doing is more dependant on keeper rate than getting that one "money shot", it sounds like the 7D is the way to go for me.   :)
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: Picsfor on November 25, 2011, 01:59:33 PM
Gosh, have a few days off and the world goes mad.

My take on the 7D is personal experience. When it came out i tested it, at Focus last year Jacobs were almost throwing at me to have one (really - such a good price i almost took the bait), i go on photography shoots with people who have one, and see them get the lock i can't - when using the same lens.

I've also tried in Park Cameras on numerous occasions, i think they smile every time they see me pick it up, and i've tested it at other various industry exhibitions etc.At all of them i come back with a card full of pictures to compare with. Same result every time - the 7D AF is superior to the 5D2.

Really, it just does not sit well in my hand - even with a battery grip.

In my comment, i wasn't trying to compare it with a 1 series camera - that wasn't the question.

Heck i know people with 1D4's who can not wait for the 1DX to come out because the AF on that is soo superior to the 1D4.  Even i'm thinking of trading my 5D2's in for a single 1DX the AF is that good (so is the high ISO and the body).

Is the 7D AF better than a 5D2 - in my personal (have tried both cameras) experience - yes!

In regards to 5D2 against 40D AF, i would choose the 40D every time - much better, but then the 40D was a different camera...

And i am a focus point toggler - always have been since 30D and 40D - select the focus point for the shot!
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: UncleFester on November 25, 2011, 02:23:47 PM
This is the only wa photo of the track that gives a better view of where the kart was (sorry about the quality) - showing how I had taken it coming stright on and kept it locked in focus. Look for the RENAULT boarding on the right which is behind the kart in the first picture.

I think that answers the question about the AF locking on with real evidence.

Looking at the signage along the side of the frame, it appears that the DoF is rather deep...so, again, I'm not convinced that this is evidence of AF tracking performance.


I think one factor in what you can get in focus in a perpendicular plane is distance. The greater the distance the longer the subject stays in the plane that is in focus. The shorter the distance the faster the suject leaves that plane. Too quick for the 5D to lock on.

Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: neuroanatomist on November 25, 2011, 02:27:09 PM
Thanks for everyones responses!

I guess my take-away is this: multiple people stated in essence: "I have both the 5D2 and the 7D and I use the 7D for sports."  Obviously for these people the quality of the AF on the 7D outweighs the better IQ of the 5D in a sports setting, and that is what I was asking.  Especially since the nature of what I'm doing is more dependant on keeper rate than getting that one "money shot", it sounds like the 7D is the way to go for me.   :)

Sounds like the right choice.

No, the 5DII's AF isn't horrible, but for tracking action it just isn't that good. Great though the go-kart pic is, I remain unconvinced that's the 5DII's AF locking and holding. Panning is not the same as tracking as an oncoming subject. As briansquibb stated, DoF doesn't matter for panning, since the panning blurs the background.  The desire for a long shutter when panning usually means a narrow aperture which means a deep DoF - which masks the ineffectiveness of the AF.  If I shoot my toddler running toward me with a wide FoV at f/5.6, no problem - the shots are sharp, but that's not AI Servo doing the job, that's the 6' deep DoF she's running through.  Knowing the 5DII's limitations, I could shoot WA and narrow aperture, and the 5DII AI Servo would keep up - but not get me the shot I want, which is a tight crop at wide aperture to blur the background.
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: Mt Spokane Photography on November 25, 2011, 02:33:45 PM
My 5D MK II has slower but more accurate af, particularly in low light, easily beating my 1D MK III and 7D.  My

Is this the center point only? can you get any of the other points to achieve focus lock in low light?

I only use the center point on my 5D MK II in low liight, same as my 7D and 1D MK III.  The center point on all of them is best in low light, and they do not track as well, if at all using outer points in very low light.
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: Carny on February 27, 2012, 11:34:05 PM
I know this thread is a little old, but it seemed more appropriate to resurrect it than to start another.

What other Canon camera would you say the 5Dii's AF is closest to?  I've used a few different rebels and a 50D, how does it compare to those?
Title: Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
Post by: briansquibb on February 27, 2012, 11:38:42 PM
I know this thread is a little old, but it seemed more appropriate to resurrect it than to start another.

What other Canon camera would you say the 5Dii's AF is closest to?  I've used a few different rebels and a 50D, how does it compare to those?

In practice the 50D is not far off