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Author Topic: 6D af tracking: experiences & usage cases  (Read 10004 times)

Marsu42

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6D af tracking: experiences & usage cases
« on: October 15, 2013, 03:40:14 PM »
So I've at last bought a 6d and am fine with it because I knew what I was getting and what for. Still, Canon didn't dare to cut tracking completely - so the 6d does have an "ai servo"ish feature. After trying to use it a bit I'm not yet convinced I've got the best settings and handling method and would like to ask for your experiences.

1. Single af point tracking. So far I've found the outer points are bad for single point tracking, certainly worse than my 60d which has crosspoints and also up to +0.5lv light sensitivity. The 6d has trouble locking focus on low contrast areas like horses' foreheads, which also shows in stills shooting but really becomes a problem when trying to track in portrait position. Any different experiences?

2. Multi af point tracking: From 5d2->6d Canon didn't only reduce the af points from 15 (inc. tracking helpers) to 11, but also cut the firmware hook to select focus patterns through Magic Lantern - so you're stuck with either all or one af point.

My short experience indicates that when not tracking an elephant running towards you the 6d does a bad job choosing the af points and for some weird reason tends to ignore the good center point. If "center point with outer point tracking helpers" would work, the close af spacing could be a blessing in disguise - but somehow I found the selection to be rather erratic. Is this due to a not optimized Canon firmware, do I have the wrong settings or was I just unlucky so far?

3. The 5d3 has "af cases" which link the af settings to neat packages. With the 6d, you're on your own to find the best combination for different uses. I was trying to track running horses (from me, to me, parallel to me) - what do you track and what settings do you find work best?

  • Tracking sensitivity: I'm using "responsive" since I try to keep the object in the center af point - what's your experience with multipoint af, is "responsive" too erratic?
  • Accel./decel. tracking: I'm using higher values, or does this in your experience generate a too erratic behavior with the mediocre 6d af points?
  • AI Servo 1st image priority: I'm using "release" because I'd rather get an out of focus shot than lose a good one - or do you find the 6d is reliable enough to determine when the first shot is in focus?

Disclaimer: This thread is intended to help 6d users with tracking and multipoint af, if you don't have something helpful to add feel free to participate in another thread about the 6d's greatness or regressions vs. the 5d3.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2013, 02:23:33 AM by Marsu42 »

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6D af tracking: experiences & usage cases
« on: October 15, 2013, 03:40:14 PM »

RLPhoto

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Stick to center point only, shoot wider and crop in post for composition. Exactly the reason I left said AF system.  ::)

Skirball

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My short experience indicates that when not tracking an elephant running towards you the 6d does a bad job choosing the af points and for some weird reason tends to ignore the good center point.
    That problem I find is that although the AF points are able to lock onto an elephant running towards me, the polycarbonate and aluminum elements of the frame just aren't strong enough to protect the SD card for retrieval later.[/list]

    BozillaNZ

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    I bought a crappy Honda because I knew what I was getting and what for, now just tell me how can I drive this babe at 200MPH. Just tell me. I floored the gas pedal and it still struggles at 80MPH, what's wrong with it?

    I don't want to hear anything like "just buy a Porsche".
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    chilledXpress

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    So I've at last bought a 6d and am fine with it because I knew what I was getting and what for. Still...

    So, you knew what you were getting into and are fine with it... sounds like you should know the answer already.

    Marsu42

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    So I've at last bought a 6d and am fine with it because I knew what I was getting and what for.
    So, you knew what you were getting into and are fine with it... sounds like you should know the answer already.

    Of course I know that the af system won't be come a 5d3, but I suspect I could do better with tweaked settings or technique ... tracking is an optional extra for me, if it won't become better I'm ok with it, as long as I know it's the camera's fault and not mine. It's not like I wouldn't get nice tracking shots out of it, because at least iso3200 is usable unlike on crop.

    I hope some actual 6d users might share their insight, since unfortunately until now it's been more of "I'm able to buy a 5d3 and am proud of it" posts which aren't helpful for the actual case.

    AmbientLight

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    Re: 6D af tracking: experiences & usage cases
    « Reply #6 on: October 16, 2013, 05:25:49 AM »
    I hope some actual 6d users might share their insight, since unfortunately until now it's been more of "I'm able to buy a 5d3 and am proud of it" posts which aren't helpful for the actual case.

    You need to get out of this mess. You are unlikely to achieve any degree of AF happiness expecting to trick your 6D into doing more than its intentionally limited AF system can do. Anything remotely possible has been tried with 5D Mark IIs for years, hasn't it? My recommendation is to put up with its limitations, like Ramon has suggested:

    Stick to center point only, shoot wider and crop in post for composition. Exactly the reason I left said AF system.  ::)

    The only way to get around that without touching a 5D Mark III is an even more costly remedy: First put some money aside, then purchase a 1D-X and you will soon forget any gripes regarding 5D Mark III users.

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    Re: 6D af tracking: experiences & usage cases
    « Reply #6 on: October 16, 2013, 05:25:49 AM »

    Viggo

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    Re: 6D af tracking: experiences & usage cases
    « Reply #7 on: October 16, 2013, 06:07:39 AM »
    The fastest way to get oof images is setting 1st image to release. I Improved my tracking so much when setting the 1st image to only focus. If the first shot is off you have to use Erratic settings to try to get the next One focused. If you set 1st image to focus, and the Other settings to provide stable tracking and allow your point drifting without focus jump it will give you loads better hit rate.

    I use single point and Case 1 for slow and normal subtle movement, and 4 point expansion and +1 on acc/deacc And -1 on sensitivity for erratic behavior , works great. (This is all on the 1dx)
    « Last Edit: October 16, 2013, 06:10:17 AM by Viggo »
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    Marsu42

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    Re: 6D af tracking: experiences & usage cases
    « Reply #8 on: October 16, 2013, 08:47:59 AM »
    You need to get out of this mess. You are unlikely to achieve any degree of AF happiness expecting to trick your 6D into doing more than its intentionally limited AF system can do.

    I wouldn't call shooting with the 6d a mess :-) since I'm no pro sports shooter, I'm just trying not to stay even below what the 6d can do.

    Anything remotely possible has been tried with 5D Mark IIs for years, hasn't it?

    Indeed, but you're implying 6d = 100% 5d2 ... I wouldn't completely exclude the possibility that Canon has done at least a minor degree of changes, so why not ask other 6d users about it?

    The fastest way to get oof images is setting 1st image to release. I Improved my tracking so much when setting the 1st image to only focus.

    Thanks, I'll try that next then.

    AmbientLight

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    Re: 6D af tracking: experiences & usage cases
    « Reply #9 on: October 17, 2013, 05:56:34 AM »
    Anything remotely possible has been tried with 5D Mark IIs for years, hasn't it?

    Indeed, but you're implying 6d = 100% 5d2 ... I wouldn't completely exclude the possibility that Canon has done at least a minor degree of changes, so why not ask other 6d users about it?

    I don't want to imply that it is 100% the same, but given the 6D's positioning in Canon's camera lineup, you are facing any possible attempt by Canon engineers to not make the AF any better, which already was the 5D Mark II's obvious weakness compared for example to a 1Ds Mark III. Your attempt at collecting information is understandable, but I am just rather pessimistic regarding the outcome.

    What I described as a mess is how I've got the feeling that you may eventually feel boxed-in by the limitations of the camera, which is not to say that it is not fully capable to capture beautiful shots, but you will have to live with workaround solutions for focusing.

    jblake

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    Re: 6D af tracking: experiences & usage cases
    « Reply #10 on: October 17, 2013, 09:40:17 AM »
    Your best bet is to use the center AF point and use focus priority on the first shot in the AI Servo settings. This is what I did when I owned a 6D earlier this year. If you think there is some magical AI Servo setting that will allow those horrible outer AF points to acquire accurate auto-focus/good hit rate of sharply in-focus images, you are dreaming. You are experiencing the major downside to the 6D, the outer AF points; especially for action type photography.

    I tried every conceivable AI Servo setting and nothing really made a meaningful improvement with regard to those outer AF points. I shot some High School basketball games, and with the center AF  point, I easily got a 90%hit rate for shots that were in focus . When using the outer AF points, maybe 30% were in focus. Same story for breaching Humpback Whales in Maui earlier this year. You have to deal with the reality of using the center AF point and then crop to recompose if you want/expect to have a high hit rate of useable images.

    So, in short, it is not you but the 6D that has issues in AI Servo; this camera is simply NOT designed to excel in this area.

     






    verysimplejason

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    Re: 6D af tracking: experiences & usage cases
    « Reply #11 on: October 17, 2013, 10:37:34 AM »
    Coming from a TI1/500D, the 6D AF is a lot faster.  I've used the 5D2 for work and 6D is just a lot better compared to it.  For my uses, 6D is quite good enough even for wedding events.  I was able to survive with a 5D2, there's no reason I'll survive with a 6D even for wedding events.

    Marsu42

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    Re: 6D af tracking: experiences & usage cases
    « Reply #12 on: November 06, 2013, 01:26:37 AM »
    Your best bet is to use the center AF point and use focus priority on the first shot in the AI Servo settings.

    I am doing the same by now, and it works ok unless of course a non-cross point fails to focus in flat low-contrast surfaces ... the most important setting is "focus priority" since with the low fps of the 6d you are guaranteed to get mostly oof shots otherwise.

    Coming from a TI1/500D, the 6D AF is a lot faster.

    Oh my, now that's high praise indeed for the €1500 6d af :->

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    Re: 6D af tracking: experiences & usage cases
    « Reply #12 on: November 06, 2013, 01:26:37 AM »

    verysimplejason

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    Re: 6D af tracking: experiences & usage cases
    « Reply #13 on: November 06, 2013, 11:54:20 PM »
    Your best bet is to use the center AF point and use focus priority on the first shot in the AI Servo settings.

    I am doing the same by now, and it works ok unless of course a non-cross point fails to focus in flat low-contrast surfaces ... the most important setting is "focus priority" since with the low fps of the 6d you are guaranteed to get mostly oof shots otherwise.

    Coming from a TI1/500D, the 6D AF is a lot faster.

    Oh my, now that's high praise indeed for the €1500 6d af :->

    Well, that's how it is...  If there's any relief, I still got better pictures than my friend with 60D and 5D3.  I don't know what's your problem with it but if it can't serve your purpose then you have bought the wrong equipment.  You can't criticize something whose characteristics you know already before even buying it.

    Anyway, I've had more success with it tracking movements using center point AF.  I've tried and compared it with my friend's 60D center point AF, servo mode and the performance is almost the same.  I've used both a 28mm F1.8 and a 50mm F1.8.  I feel I got more keepers with it than my company's 5D2.  I won't hesitate using it instead of a 5D2.  The fact that I can take nice pictures with it even at 12800 is already enough for me.  I think if you still got problems with 6D AF and can't afford a 5D3, changing the focusing screen and doing it in manual mode might do the trick.  I have used this technique in my old Yashica SLR and is quite successful doing it.  But of course, if you can afford a 5D3, then by all means go for it.  There's no reason to buy a tool you can use for your purpose.

    Marsu42

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    Re: 6D af tracking: experiences & usage cases
    « Reply #14 on: November 07, 2013, 02:50:01 AM »
    Well, that's how it is...  If there's any relief, I still got better pictures than my friend with 60D and 5D3.  I don't know what's your problem with it but if it can't serve your purpose then you have bought the wrong equipment.  You can't criticize something whose characteristics you know already before even buying it.

    There's fundamental difference between you and me, and maybe also a difference between other CR members...

    ... of course I can criticize something I own and decided it's within my budget which will mean if has some flaws. I don't just stop pointing out the flaws just because I decided I can make do with it and work around the problems (with the help of constructive threads like this to find workarounds, not praise or bash the af system or each other for that matter).

    Because if I wouldn't where would we end up - other people say you cannot criticize something you *don't* own because you don't have the proper experience. So if I cannot criticize something I own nor something I don't own, should apply for a job in Canon marketing :-> ?

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    Re: 6D af tracking: experiences & usage cases
    « Reply #14 on: November 07, 2013, 02:50:01 AM »