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Author Topic: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?  (Read 15558 times)

thepancakeman

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How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
« 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!
« Last Edit: November 23, 2011, 03:20:11 PM by thepancakeman »

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How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
« on: November 23, 2011, 02:53:11 PM »

lukaszb

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Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
« Reply #1 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?

neuroanatomist

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Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
« Reply #2 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.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2011, 12:39:41 PM by neuroanatomist »
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briansquibb

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Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
« Reply #3 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.

handsomerob

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Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
« Reply #4 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.

Meh

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Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
« Reply #5 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
« Last Edit: November 23, 2011, 05:06:39 PM by Meh »

thepancakeman

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Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
« Reply #6 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!

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Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
« Reply #6 on: November 23, 2011, 04:51:33 PM »

neuroanatomist

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Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
« Reply #7 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!!
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awinphoto

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Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
« Reply #8 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. 
Canon 5d III, Canon 24-105L, Canon 17-40L, Canon 70-200 F4L, Canon 100L 2.8, 430EX 2's and a lot of bumps along the road to get to where I am.

briansquibb

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Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
« Reply #9 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



« Last Edit: November 23, 2011, 05:06:57 PM by briansquibb »

Edwin Herdman

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Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
« Reply #10 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!

briansquibb

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Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
« Reply #11 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

thepancakeman

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Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
« Reply #12 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!)   ::)

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Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
« Reply #12 on: November 23, 2011, 05:21:04 PM »

briansquibb

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Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
« Reply #13 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.

Picsfor

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Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
« Reply #14 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...

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Re: How bad is the AF on 5DmkII really?
« Reply #14 on: November 23, 2011, 05:49:06 PM »