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Author Topic: 5D Mark II -- how is AF when shooting toddlers in low light?  (Read 26209 times)

stevevihon

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5D Mark II -- how is AF when shooting toddlers in low light?
« on: November 25, 2011, 12:27:02 AM »
Building on a recent post from "thepankcakeman" regarding the AF on the 5D Mark II.

I am in the process of switching from Nikon to Canon (I recently sold my D300 and 17-55mm 2.8 lens) and would like to move up to full frame for better low light / higher ISO performance.  Looking at the 5D Mark II, but I have read a lot about the poor AF.  Most photos I take are of my four year old daughter (unwilling subject and often I shoot at home in low indoor light).  Starting from scratch, so lens-wise, looking at a fast prime (50 1.2 or 85 1.2) or a zoom such as the 24-70 2.8.  Fine shooting with the center AF versus multi-point. 

For those with kids or those shooting action in low light, what has been your experience with the camera?  I could wait for a new model with a better AF and suffer with my S95 (nice compact, but much slower/much lower hit rate than DSLR) or buy a low priced model such as a T3i as a stop-gap.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2011, 01:08:46 AM by stevevihon »

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5D Mark II -- how is AF when shooting toddlers in low light?
« on: November 25, 2011, 12:27:02 AM »

Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: 5D Mark II -- how is AF when shooting toddlers in low light?
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2011, 12:54:41 AM »
The 5D MK II has excellent and accurate autofocus, particularly in low light.  It is not a sports camera, and does not excell at using the outer AF points, nor is it great at tracking objects from one focus point to another.

Except for those needing the very highest AF performance, it is fine. I have a 1D MK III, a 7D, and a 5D MK II.  I would not hesitate to use any of them for kids running around.  As for low light, that is a undefined term, one persons low light could be good light to another.  If it is virtually dark in a room, do not expect any camera to track a moving object or AF quickly.  Normal room lighting should be fine. 

Speed of AF is mostly determined by the lens used.

Here is a example of a dancer whirling around on a stage in near total darkness with my 5D, my 135mm L @f/2.0 and 1/160 sec at ISO 3200.  AF worked just fine.




wickidwombat

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Re: 5D Mark II -- how is AF when shooting toddlers in low light?
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2011, 01:11:52 AM »
with the current prices on 5D2 it great value for money
Look the AF is not the best but i was using 1 series for quite a while before getting the 5D2 so its a matter or re-adjustment and if you wait for a 5d3 i think your daughter will be a year older by the time you get to shoot.
I doubt the lowness of the light you will be shooting her in will be as low as the levels i was having issues at

and I find that in moderate to good light it achieves focus lock fine sometimes a little slow (remember this is all relative to previously using 1 series cameras (I think the AF on a 5D2 will blow the doors off anything you would have gotten out of an S95 anyway) so its relative.

definately there is a big difference between f2.8 and f4 lenses here too so i would recomend sticking  with an f2.8 lens or faster and accept that you only use the center focus point.

so if I were in your position i would get the 5D2 now and start getting the photos because there will always be something faster coming out on the horizon and in the mean time you will miss the shots if you wait

and mt spokane i'm impressed you got focus lock with it that dark, really impressive (center point?)
« Last Edit: November 25, 2011, 01:23:28 AM by wickidwombat »
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Re: 5D Mark II -- how is AF when shooting toddlers in low light?
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2011, 02:18:15 AM »
Hi.  I don't want to hijack this thread, but Mt Spokane Photography, you mention that you've got a 7D, 1D Mk iii and a 5D Mk ii.  Currently the used prices on the 1D are similar to new 5D prices.  Generally, if you were taking pictures of dancers (or four year olds) in near darkness, would you prefer to use the 5D or the 1D (or the 7D)?  Most reviews suggest the low light image quality of the 5D is significantly better than the 1D.  Would that be your feeling, too?
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briansquibb

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Re: 5D Mark II -- how is AF when shooting toddlers in low light?
« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2011, 05:07:16 AM »
Most reviews suggest the low light image quality of the 5D is significantly better than the 1D.  Would that be your feeling, too?

The high ISO performance of the 1D4 is better than that of the 5DII in my experience.

I was out doing night shooting last night and the AF was working fine at iso6400 providing the focus point was on an object with some contrast.

If there is sufficient light to take a photo of your daughter at f5.6 at iso3200 and 1/100 then the 5DII will work a treat.

FB64

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Re: 5D Mark II -- how is AF when shooting toddlers in low light?
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2011, 05:08:32 AM »
I am new to this forum and also new to a 5D Mark II having recently bought one to replace my ageing 40D.   I have to say that I am stunned at the low light capabilities it is amazing. 

As for shooting toddlers in low light well I'm past that thank God (mine a 7 and (9) but it does a reasonable job of my 2yr old golden retrievers.

I have found the AF a bit slow on sports shots of the kids but overall I still get a reasonable amount of keepers. 

handsomerob

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Re: 5D Mark II -- how is AF when shooting toddlers in low light?
« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2011, 05:32:51 AM »
Building on a recent post from "thepankcakeman" regarding the AF on the 5D Mark II.

I am in the process of switching from Nikon to Canon (I recently sold my D300 and 17-55mm 2.8 lens) and would like to move up to full frame for better low light / higher ISO performance.  Looking at the 5D Mark II, but I have read a lot about the poor AF.  Most photos I take are of my four year old daughter (unwilling subject and often I shoot at home in low indoor light).  Starting from scratch, so lens-wise, looking at a fast prime (50 1.2 or 85 1.2) or a zoom such as the 24-70 2.8.  Fine shooting with the center AF versus multi-point. 

For those with kids or those shooting action in low light, what has been your experience with the camera?  I could wait for a new model with a better AF and suffer with my S95 (nice compact, but much slower/much lower hit rate than DSLR) or buy a low priced model such as a T3i as a stop-gap.

Hmm a Nikon shooter wants to switch to Canon for "better low light / higher ISO performance"?  :P

5DII has excellent IQ and a lot of resolution. This will give you the option to crop your images freely. It's a full frame camera indeed and offers great high-ISO performance. But like it's said over and over again on similar threads, it's AF is not it's best feature, especially if you want to track moving objects. It's is capable but certainly not the best.

Now, you are coming from a D300 which is a capable action camera. So you had 51 focus points and 15 of them were cross-type. This Multi-CAM 3500DX AF system is more advanced than the one you find in 5DII, which has only 9 focus points, only the center point being cross-type. Nikon also uses the same module (3500FX, modified for FF sensor) on their higher models such as D700, D3, D3s etc. Hands down, Nikon has the edge here, if you want more keepers when you track objects. I am not saying 5DII can NOT track, but for you, because you are coming from a more advanced AF system, it might be a disappointment, giving you instant "buyers remorse". Which brings me to :

Did you consider upgrading to Nikon D700? Full frame like you want, excellent high-ISO performance (arguably better than anything Canon offers at this moment) like you want, and a very capable AF system, again, like you want. Layout, controls, dials, in short ergonomics are all very similar to what you are used to with your D300. AF is virtually the same except for AF points being more cluttered in the center, rather than nicely spread across the frame. If you pair it with good glass, you will get amazing results. Learning curve will also be very steep.

I shoot Canon myself and prefer it's offerings to Nikon's but in your case I don't mind recommending you a Nikon camera, since that one seems more suitable for you.

Now, if you say you actually meant "I want a 5DII for it's great low-light performance AND it's excellent IQ" (which is way better than on the D700) and you can live with "center AF-point only", then ignore the paragraph above and welcome to Canon. ;)


ps: as wickidwombat rightfully pointed out;

Quote from: wickidwombat
if you wait for a 5d3 i think your daughter will be a year older by the time you get to shoot.

Whatever you decide, get your camera today and start shooting. Time flies...   >:(

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Re: 5D Mark II -- how is AF when shooting toddlers in low light?
« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2011, 05:32:51 AM »

Martin

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Re: 5D Mark II -- how is AF when shooting toddlers in low light?
« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2011, 07:25:18 AM »
I switched from D300 to 5dII half year ago. SO...

-turn off Nikon's AF small lamp which supports achieving focus in low light and u will have smth similar to canon 5d2 AF.
-AF is not good to be honest in 5d2 (crap in low light)-it just cannot achieve focus even in center point (in LOW light).
-Image quality and resolution is far more better in 5d2. Quality is superb in my opinion with good lens of course. Cropping abilty due to resolution-WOW!
- ergonomics is far more better in Nikon, i have still problems using canon, it's not so intuitive as Nikon
-exposure meter is very good in Nikon, S___ty in Canon in my opinion or my 5d2 is a problem (sent it to service but they stated everything regarding built-in light metter is ok)- i have underexposed images in 5d2.
- so...after a while working in studio with canon I looked at nikon photos...OMG...where are those details I thought! I don' like most things in Canon, but on the other side I have to admit that quality of photos is really outstanding and not comparable to Nikon D300
-one more thing-Nikon has a lot of parameters u can set to fit your needs. Canon has very poor menu, u just cannot customize it in similar way to Nikon. It's limited in that area. For me, taking photos with Nikon was"easy"- good AF, good exposure meter, fast, reliable, has good built quality-i miss a lot of those things in Canon BUT...if u look at IQ from 5d2 it's hard to go back to Nikon's 12 MP. I don't know how far u go with post processing but there are also differences in that area. Maybe i was used to Nikon NEFs but i prefer them to procces, I am under the impression that I could achieve more from dark NEFs then from dark CR2s but, after getting some experience things might change. Another thing regards studio shooting-X-sync in Nikon is 1/250 which works in studio, Canon x sync is 1/200 but my 5d2 works with studio strobes only up to 1/125.
Canon is more "risky" when taking photos let me say and sometimes it leads me to frustration, but final result could be better than with Nikon. Nikon is camera which can be trusted but final results (IQ) is good or very good but not outstanding as from 5d2! Hmmm...having and using Nikon is like being married for 10 years with nice wife, using Canon is like having a sexy lover from time to time :)
Hope it will help a little bit.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2011, 07:59:18 AM by Martin »
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stevevihon

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Re: 5D Mark II -- how is AF when shooting toddlers in low light?
« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2011, 08:45:37 AM »
In response to handsomerob's post -- I did like the Nikon AF system very much, but found the higher ISO to not be great above 640.  I have given thought to the D700, but it is a few hundred more than the 5D Mark II and Canon lenses seem to be a bit less expensive compared to their Nikon counterparts.  If I did not have a APS-C only lens, I might have stuck with Nikon, but I would have to begin again anyway for full frame.  Appreciate your insight on both camera -- I would look at the "rumored D800" as an option but the 5D Mark II is actually a stretch for my budget, which is why I have not previously looked the D700.

ghosh9691

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Re: 5D Mark II -- how is AF when shooting toddlers in low light?
« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2011, 09:44:48 AM »
I recently upgraded to the 5D Mark II from a 20D. Coupled with either the 24-105 f/4L or the 50mm f/1.4 lens, I have had no trouble keeping up with my 3-year old twins indoors or outdoors in low light (approx. EV 3-5 range). I have taken it down to about EV 1 (with the 50mm) and auto-focus has not hunted. I mainly use the center AF point. I tend not to have my subjects pose for me preferring to capture candid style photographs. I doubt if you will have any problems with the 5DII camera.

UncleFester

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Re: 5D Mark II -- how is AF when shooting toddlers in low light?
« Reply #10 on: November 25, 2011, 12:08:47 PM »
I would strongly recommend using a 580ex ii and setting the 5d to AL focus for low-light tough subjects. And then just bounce.

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Re: 5D Mark II -- how is AF when shooting toddlers in low light?
« Reply #11 on: November 25, 2011, 02:58:02 PM »
5DII AF is pretty good in low light, IMO best among the non-1-series as long as you use the center point and an f/2.8 or faster lens.  There are times, though, that an AF assist lamp helps - I think the low-light IQ of the 5DII is a little ahead of the low-light AF. Since (unlike Nikon) there's no built-in AF assist lamp, you need a Speedlite - 430 or 580; you can use the assist without firing the flash. Auto WB isn't great under tungsten, so be prepared for some adjusting.
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Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: 5D Mark II -- how is AF when shooting toddlers in low light?
« Reply #12 on: November 25, 2011, 03:28:26 PM »
Hi.  I don't want to hijack this thread, but Mt Spokane Photography, you mention that you've got a 7D, 1D Mk iii and a 5D Mk ii.  Currently the used prices on the 1D are similar to new 5D prices.  Generally, if you were taking pictures of dancers (or four year olds) in near darkness, would you prefer to use the 5D or the 1D (or the 7D)?  Most reviews suggest the low light image quality of the 5D is significantly better than the 1D.  Would that be your feeling, too?

My 5D MK II is much better in low light as far as High ISO goes.  It is about the same for Autofocus.  I take both cameras to plays and theatre events, but in the really low light scenes like the one i posetd, the 1D MK III images were noisy at ISO 3200.  I use the high fps of the 1D MK III for really fast whirling jumps, or other scenes where the action only lasts for one or two seconds.  I am able to attend live reahersals, so I do the first one to get the settings right for the lighting, and so I'll know whats coming and where to setup.  Then, the final dress rehersal is where I do most of my shooting, because I can move almost anywhere, even up on the edge of the stage.  I always use primes, my 35mm l might be on the 1D MK III and my 135mm L on the 5D MK II.

I've tried my 70-200mm f/2.8 IS, it just does not cut it in the low light scenes, so I leave it at home.

I happen to have two images taken at almost the same point in the play, My wife and I using each camera.  I much preferred the 5D MK II image even thought the 1D was usable, it lacked something, and had a lot of NR due to the noise.  The lighting was different as well, which really helped with the 5D image.


1D MK III with 50mm f/1.4 at ISO 3200 f/1.4




5D MK II with 135mmL @ f/2 ISO 3200


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Re: 5D Mark II -- how is AF when shooting toddlers in low light?
« Reply #12 on: November 25, 2011, 03:28:26 PM »

7enderbender

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Re: 5D Mark II -- how is AF when shooting toddlers in low light?
« Reply #13 on: November 25, 2011, 05:11:56 PM »
I don't know if the 5DII will be the right camera for you of course. Or any other for that matter. Coming from Nikon you may have to adjust to a few things, just like anyone going the other direction.

If AF performance is your most important criteria then you might find that 3 or 4 other cameras may be better - but also way more expensive unless you want to take the risk of buying used.

But if the objective is to have an excellent camera for general purpose use - including pictures of little ones zooming around - the 5DII should serve you very well. It has been working for me and I'd say about half of my photos over the last year or so have been of my 5 and 8-year old kids. And that includes outdoors stuff, portraits, low light indoor stuff, dance recitals, soccer games, swimming, biking, doing all sorts of unpredictable things. And I don't think it's fair to expect a 100% keeper rate.

And say this as somebody who isn't a huge fan of any AF to begin with. All three modes work surprisingly well considering all the whining that I had read before. Yes, you still need to think ahead a bit and learn what works under which circumstance.

However, before putting a wad cash on the table for a 5DII and the top shelf lenses you mention I'd rent one for a weekend and see how you like it.
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Picsfor

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Re: 5D Mark II -- how is AF when shooting toddlers in low light?
« Reply #14 on: November 26, 2011, 06:23:11 AM »
Um, as a 5D2 user (2 of them), and a leading critic of the AF system on the 5D2, i can assure you that the 5D2 will handle that situation perfectly.

I have 3 grand children, 1 is autistic and suffers the 'standard rolls his eyes when some points a camera at him" syndrome, 1 who's hyper active and the other who would rather just getting on with being a 3 year old.

Most of the time, i have to shoot in natural light, because the flash is a bit of a give away - this is not difficult stuff for the 5D2's focus system.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/picsfor/page3/

Above is my Flickr link - starting at the stuff with low light focusing scenes. Oddly enough, most of my stuff does involve focusing in low light - the 5D2 did not struggle with any of those scenes (well the girl under the plane wing a little bit - but i wasn't using centre focus)

I go shooting with a mate who has a D300, and we some times take identical pictures to compare with, the 5D2 really is a large leap over the D300 - extremely more so than the D700.

Get the 5D2 with the 24-105 kit, it's your best price and you'll be good to go with the right lens choice as well.
Only other thing you would need is a flash, but you can get one of the nice yongnuo's for about £80 and they are just an unbranded 580EXII for all intents and pruposes...
« Last Edit: November 26, 2011, 06:39:05 AM by Picsfor »

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Re: 5D Mark II -- how is AF when shooting toddlers in low light?
« Reply #14 on: November 26, 2011, 06:23:11 AM »