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Author Topic: Speeding up 1DX foc lock... Any tips?  (Read 5254 times)

mccallew

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Speeding up 1DX foc lock... Any tips?
« on: August 26, 2012, 09:09:25 AM »
Anyone have any tips that work for speeding up focus lock in low light situations (in my case wedding receptions)? I was hopeful that the 1DX would lock focus faster than the 5DMk3 bit alas it doesn't seem to. I love the camera after a half dozen weddings with it, and about 15 with the Mk3, but the extremely slow time to lock is killing me. Both the 5D1 and 5D2 did WAY better, which boggles my mind! If there are AF configurations I can try to speed things up I am eager to learn. Thanks all!

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Speeding up 1DX foc lock... Any tips?
« on: August 26, 2012, 09:09:25 AM »

neuroanatomist

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Re: Speeding up 1DX foc lock... Any tips?
« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2012, 09:12:07 AM »
Manually select a single point (not Spot AF), try to find a region of high contrast to focus on.
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Sycotek

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Re: Speeding up 1DX foc lock... Any tips?
« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2012, 09:24:10 AM »
Anyone have any tips that work for speeding up focus lock in low light situations (in my case wedding receptions)? I was hopeful that the 1DX would lock focus faster than the 5DMk3 bit alas it doesn't seem to. I love the camera after a half dozen weddings with it, and about 15 with the Mk3, but the extremely slow time to lock is killing me. Both the 5D1 and 5D2 did WAY better, which boggles my mind! If there are AF configurations I can try to speed things up I am eager to learn. Thanks all!


Sample problem Mate,

Wedding yesterday, was great till the reception. If anything using af assist on the 600EX made it slower to single shot. I tried one point as well as expansion and zoning with no luck - still took 2-3 sec to get a lock.

This was iso 3200, f7.1 1/125 with ettl flash.

Swapped over to a 5D2 and it was instant.

I'm not happy, I'm on my second 1DX and I am half considering grabbing a D4 after my experience playing with one today it's lowlight focus ability obliterates the 1DX (not as fast in good light unfortunately).

I did google search and found that we aren't the only ones: http://photography-on-the.net/forum/showthread.php?t=1219299&page=1&fb_source=message


mccallew

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Re: Speeding up 1DX foc lock... Any tips?
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2012, 09:46:58 AM »
It's exceptionally frustrating. I've only used the 600s on the 1DX and Mk3, and agree, until The lights get turned way down it is best to leave the AF assist been off. How did canon botch this so bad, especially on the 5D, a camera seemingly built for weddings. Is it a hardware or software problem, you think? I loath to think about switching to Nikon D4, especially since their color seems all over the map and I'd need 2... Maybe 1DX Mk2 will resolve this crappy AF...

Richard Lane

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Re: Speeding up 1DX foc lock... Any tips?
« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2012, 10:30:31 AM »
In my testing at home, the things that helped with low-light, low contrast AF with the 1DX were:

1) Use One Shot Mode and Avoid AI Servo
2) Use Manual Select Single Point or Manual Select AF Expansion and choose a higher contrast point on the person or clothing.  Also Avoid Spot Af point.
3) Avoid letting the camera choose the Automatic AF Points, so also avoid Zone Area AF Points.  The Automatic and Zone AF points choose the closest point to the lens and you need to choose the point with the highest contrast.
4) IR AF Assist with the 580 EXII helped a lot in my tests with the 1DX.  I don't have the 600 to test.
5) Keep FPS at 10 or less if using High "H" FPS.  It seemed to save about 1-2 seconds in One Shot Mode.
6) Manual Focus if all else fails.
7) Live View Mode, not too practical though.

Rich
« Last Edit: August 26, 2012, 10:33:07 AM by Richard Lane »

Viggo

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Re: Speeding up 1DX foc lock... Any tips?
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2012, 02:30:58 PM »
Just for the record, this doesn't at all apply to all 1d x's... Mine locks just as easy in no contrast/no light as it does in bright high contrast light.

But it is concering that there are so many of them out there.

You ALL M U S T report this to Canon, unless, it will never get fixed.

Just took this shot in a dark kitchen, Ai Servo, 4 points surrounding, Case 1, 12fps, this is the only shot I took of it. Couldn't see anything in the VF, it lock as fast as the lens motor had reach the correct distance, no hunting at all.

Exif: f1,6 1/250s at iso 10.000

« Last Edit: August 26, 2012, 02:41:00 PM by Viggo »
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Richard Lane

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Re: Speeding up 1DX foc lock... Any tips?
« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2012, 03:17:34 PM »
Viggo,

Thanks for posting the example, it looks successful!

It seems to happen when there is low light, low contrast, stationary or slow moving subjects, and/or when the subject is rather flat.  When there is an edge included in the shot like on your coffee pot handle then that seems to make it easier.

On my test, I hung a charcoal gray towel over the shower curtain bar in the bathroom with the light off (ambient light only from the hallway), I stood inside the doorway and the 1Dx failed to lock AF on the center of the towel in AI Servo.  The edge seems to create contrast for the AF to lock onto, even if the edge is the same color as the problem area. I would imagine that this would present a problem at a wedding with dark tuxedo's and low contrast dresses in low light.

If I aimed at a towel with stripes under the same light, then no problem.

If I aimed at the white shower curtain "Bar Only" (which is "narrow" and round), then it locked focus in AI Servo.

If I aimed the AF Point at the front of the white cabinet or wall, then AI Servo struggled. 

If I aimed at the corner, or top, or bottom "edge" of the white cabinet, then it locked focus in AI Servo although slower than One Shot.

All of the test results improved in One Shot mode.

If you could test yours under these conditions that would be great!

Thanks,
Rich
« Last Edit: August 26, 2012, 03:21:56 PM by Richard Lane »

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Re: Speeding up 1DX foc lock... Any tips?
« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2012, 03:17:34 PM »

bdunbar79

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Re: Speeding up 1DX foc lock... Any tips?
« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2012, 03:20:10 PM »
In real low-light, I agree that it doesn't lock focus any faster than the 5D3 or 1D4.  It's pretty subjectively doing so even in well-lit areas.  I wouldn't personally state that one of the 1D X's major advantages is AF lock speed, because I guess I haven't really realized that yet.  There are other major things I like.

Viggo

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Re: Speeding up 1DX foc lock... Any tips?
« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2012, 03:26:28 PM »
I must say I have no expectations that af will work and lock on a all grey towel in no light. Aiming at tuxedos? Aren't we aiming for faces ?

I don't mean to be rude or anything, I just think af needs some sort of contrast.
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Richard Lane

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Re: Speeding up 1DX foc lock... Any tips?
« Reply #9 on: August 26, 2012, 05:19:05 PM »
No offense taken at all.  The solid color gray towel in low light is only trying to "simulate" low contrast to reproduce the problem, so that we can create a workaround solution until hopefully a firmware update can help improve this situation.
The conditions weren't with no light, it was with low light.  It even struggled at ISO 10000 with low contrast.

Personally, I don't usually shoot towels in my bathroom either, as I tend to shoot action or sports and those subjects are moving quickly and/or wearing jerseys with numbers on them creating contrast.  I'm also shooting under lights, poor lights sometimes but still lights. It's certainly more than mood lighting at a wedding reception.

I'm just learning the limits of the camera myself and trying to help others out.  I would also like to add that initially I found the MKIV performed similarly to the 1DX under these same low contrast, Servo conditions, however the more testing that I've done in conjunction with the above techniques, I would now give a slight edge to the 1DX.

Wedding photographers shoot low contrast, slow moving subjects, in low light, and there seems to be more than a few that are experiencing this problem, and additionally Canon adds black AF points to their pro camera to top things off.  Some of them also like AI Servo for their dancing or action shots during the reception.

I as well as many others, have found some ways to improve focusing under these conditions and they're listed in my post above.  Yes, you can aim for faces, but a lot of faces and skin have low contrast too, especially with dim overhead lighting.

You could also aim for a dark contrasting hairline on a person with lighter skin.  Aiming for the suit/white shirt border may be another solution.  What has more contrast, your nose or eye, or a white shirt underneath a black tuxedo?

Some photographers were using Automatic and Zone AF in AI Servo, and they won't have a chance with those settings under those conditions.  Their previous cameras seemed to have less of a problem with this, however this is an entirely new AF System.

Now, if the photographer can move the points manually to a contrasting edge, or shoot in One Shot, then the problem is greatly improved.  Aiming for a contrasting edge will also help even in AI Servo!  Some Wedding Photographers are actually using their 5D2 for the reception, and other experienced photographers have contemplated switching to Nikon, so it's a real problem.

So, if you would like to see if you got lucky and your 1DX doesn't have this limitation, then you could simulate my test above, if not then no problem.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2012, 05:43:00 PM by Richard Lane »

jaayres20

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Re: Speeding up 1DX foc lock... Any tips?
« Reply #10 on: August 26, 2012, 06:59:44 PM »
I have shot almost 20 weddings with the 5D3 this year and I used to have the same frustraiting problem. I agree there is a big problem and it should be addressed but in the meantime I have discovered a couple things that has made me almost forget there is a problem. First off a good lens is very necessary. I almost always use my 70-200 or 24L which both focus fast in difficult lighting. The 50L completely falls apart as does the 85L. The AF assist is of no help unless it is very dark. I have found focusing without the AF assist on my 70-200 to be fairly easy even in really low light. The 24L seems like it does a lot better with the AF assist. I have also discovered that the camera does actually focus fast but the red conframation blink is often delayed. I changed the settings that allow me to take the shot without a focus lock and I have found that 9 times out of 10 the initial split second focus is in perfect focus even without the red conframation blink. Hope this helps. I seriously think there is something wrong with the AF assist on the 600ex or a combination of the 600ex and 5D3.  I hope the fix it.

Sycotek

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Re: Speeding up 1DX foc lock... Any tips?
« Reply #11 on: August 26, 2012, 07:34:53 PM »
OK SO HOLD UP FOR A SECOND.

This isn't the Ai Servo bug/low light contrast bug

This is single shot lowlight - AF assisted - 1DX, taking 2-3 sec to lock a target in lowlight - NOT AI SERVO (absolute POS in lowlight so no point trying useless servo in those conditions)

I would assume the 5D3 would have the same issue - I can't isolate it down to the 600EX or the body as I don't have any 580II's anymore.

If you turn off the AF assist it focuses marginally faster - however a 5D2 and 7D kick the snot through the 1DX in the same reception situation.

For me I can't afford to wait 2-3 sec for each focus - that's a lot of: "Oh sorry just hold for 2 seconds, waiting for my camera to focus..."

I reported similar findings to canon over a month ago still waiting for response

I don't want to be selling off my gear but the 1DX is costing me moments - which is unacceptable to me, this is my second body (I handed back the last one after it completely locked up shooting with 600EX flash fill, 70-200 II in broad daylight - several times over 2 weddings, this body as yet hasn't done that as yet) and not sure if I can be bothered with a 3rd.

---

My gutt says hardware - the AF points are so small they are fantastic for hand-off of points however this would hinder the af acquisition in lowlight - notice the nikon variation, center af points are massive in comparison.

« Last Edit: August 26, 2012, 10:21:24 PM by Sycotek »

mccallew

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Re: Speeding up 1DX foc lock... Any tips?
« Reply #12 on: August 26, 2012, 08:48:00 PM »
During wedding receptions, my issues come during first dances/parent dances and later in the evening during reception dancing. Even people posing on the dance floor static, aimed at their faces in one shot mode with a 600ex-rt with AF assist on is slow as mud. The 5DMk1 and 5DMk2 blow both the1DX and 5DMk3 out of the water in this regard. It is super frustrating. Like one of the commenters above, I lose moments, trying to catch a couple before they turn, or a smile or look, they are more often gone before I ever get focus The silver lining, if there is one, is that I am becoming even better at anticipating those moments... I have to so that I have the 2-3 seconds to lock focus. Also, I typically am shooting a 70-200 f/2.8 IS II, 24-70 f/2.8 (I hate this lens, but like the focal range) or 16-35 f/2.8. I'd like more primes, but mine are 50 and 85 1.2, which are awesome for portrait work but junk at a reception. I would love for this to be something that can be fixed in firmware, but if it can't the 1DX and 5D3 are merely a stepping stones to hopefully better cameras that don't have such glaring and seemingly obvious flaws.

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Re: Speeding up 1DX foc lock... Any tips?
« Reply #12 on: August 26, 2012, 08:48:00 PM »

Viggo

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Re: Speeding up 1DX foc lock... Any tips?
« Reply #13 on: August 27, 2012, 02:33:48 AM »
So this suddenly has nothing to do with Ai and working better with 10 instead of 12 fps and all that? I find Ai so good I veryvery rarely need One Shot, and I'm seriously low light.  I'm so sorry it has problems causing you to miss shots, but if it is with af assist and a brand new flash, I'm sure it's firmware.

2-3 seconds for focus to lock is ridiculous!!

In Ai it locks as fast as the lens motor can get there.
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Sycotek

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Re: Speeding up 1DX foc lock... Any tips?
« Reply #14 on: August 27, 2012, 08:12:25 AM »
Viggo I can tell you exactly why that locked.

see the white lines in the middle of the frame, the reflections along the handle? The 1D gobbles that up and latches on - not kidding.

if it wasn't so white it would hunt.

Now this is dark:

1/13, f1.4, ISO 12800 - and as much as I hate to say it - the d4 didn't even remotely hesitate - locked on instantly and accurately. The 1DX on the other hand racked once and gave up - this is in single shot mode. 3D tracking on the d4 actually locked on where as the 1DX yet again racked and gave up.


Not without its flaws - apparently they haven't worked out that artificial fluros trick out the d4/d800 wb yet? Completely laughable but I'd take messed up wb in artificial light over not being able to focus personally. The shot here is me testing out the 70-200 VR II - how many different wb variations do you count lol!
« Last Edit: August 27, 2012, 08:25:33 AM by Sycotek »

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Re: Speeding up 1DX foc lock... Any tips?
« Reply #14 on: August 27, 2012, 08:12:25 AM »