Is the AF really that bad on the 5Dmk2

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kenraw

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Hi I'm considering purchasing a 5dmk2 as a third camera since the prices are really good at the moment, but it seems to get a lot of bad reviews regarding it's auto focus. Can you 5dmk2 owners share your thoughts and is the AF really that bad. I would be using it for weddings and portraits.

Thanks
 

neuroanatomist

I post too Much on Here!!
Jul 21, 2010
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Uh, oh...look what you've done. :p



Seriously, the center point of the 5DII is very good - locks on in low light and is accurate, especially with an f/2.8 or faster lens. The outer points, well, they sort of suck. AI Servo tracking isn't terribly good with oncoming/receeding subjects, although it does ok with subjects moving across the frame at the same distance from the camera.

For weddings and portraits, the AF of the 5DII will do just fine.
 

dstppy

EOS 6D MK II
Apr 26, 2011
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Connecticut . . . ish.
neuroanatomist said:
Uh, oh...look what you've done. :p


Seriously, the center point of the 5DII is very good - locks on in low light and is accurate, especially with an f/2.8 or faster lens. The outer points, well, they sort of suck. AI Servo tracking isn't terribly good with oncoming/receeding subjects, although it does ok with subjects moving across the frame at the same distance from the camera.

For weddings and portraits, the AF of the 5DII will do just fine.
[/quote]

Neuro, which xD xxD xxxD models would you say bracket it (one step better, one step worse).

Just curious :)
 
K

kenraw

Guest
neuroanatomist said:
Uh, oh...look what you've done. :p



Seriously, the center point of the 5DII is very good - locks on in low light and is accurate, especially with an f/2.8 or faster lens. The outer points, well, they sort of suck. AI Servo tracking isn't terribly good with oncoming/receeding subjects, although it does ok with subjects moving across the frame at the same distance from the camera.

For weddings and portraits, the AF of the 5DII will do just fine.
Thanks Nero

Do the outer points work ok then with static subjects such as portraits as I always select a point I dont really use center spot and recompose a whole lot.
 

K-amps

EOR R
Aug 8, 2011
1,790
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Indianapolis
The outer points are the weakness as Neuro says. I use center spot and recompose.. it's second nature now. Center point is accurate. If you do not want to recompose, then it will be a hit/miss scenario.
 

neuroanatomist

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Jul 21, 2010
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dstppy said:
Neuro, which xD xxD xxxD models would you say bracket it (one step better, one step worse).
I'd say the center point is on par with the 7D's center point, the outer points are on par with the 450D-600D outer points, and overall performance is between the 450-600D and the 40-60D (each range has basically the same AF system).

kenraw said:
Do the outer points work ok then with static subjects such as portraits as I always select a point I dont really use center spot and recompose a whole lot.
They are ok - just ok - with static subjects. Sometimes they just plain miss. The other issue with the 5DII's outer points is their location. You mention it as a 3rd body - what are the other two? Probably doesn't matter - the spread of the 5DII's AF points is worse overall than any other xxxD - xD body (except the original 5D, which is the same). The horizontal spread is good - the same as the 1DsIII, in fact (and Canon highlighted that when the 5DII came out). But, the vertical spread is very narrow (which Canon didn't mention, of course), and as a result the points which you may care most about - the ones closest to the rule-of-thirds intersections, are nowhere near those intersections. 1-series, 7D, xxD, and even xxxD/Rebel bodies all have points that are pretty close to those intersections.

The image below shows the 5DII AF points in dark blue, compared to the 1DsIII with a rule-of-thirds grid for reference. The 1DIV and 7D's relative coverage is actually a little greater than the 1DsIII. Except for those two widely spaced side points, all of the 5DII's remaining AF points (including the invisible assist points) are clustered just outside or just inside the spot metering circle.
 

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briansquibb

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I do weddings with the 5DII and (mostly) the 24-105. I use a lot of flash so low light is never an issue

The outer focus points are fine for f/4 and faster lens.

That said I have just got a 1Ds3 for next year :D

AF point - his nose which is th left focussing point
 

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lbloom

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I've heard a lot about this, especially from Nikon users :eek: but this does seem to be the 5D mkII's largest complaint. I bought my 5D mkII back in November (right before it went on sale...) and the photos are awesome but I have to agree with everyone else about the focus points. The outer points are not that accurate and don't always find focus, but the center point works well.

I won't even bring up the issues with the focus-recompose method, but I suppose it's about as good as missing with the outer points :p

I suppose the largest complaints come from those who have experienced excellent autofocus systems, like in the 1D series cameras or the 7D.
 

JR

EOS 6D MK II
Sep 22, 2011
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As long as you use the center point then the answer to your original question is no, it is not bad at all! The only two area I find it difficult to use myself as pointed out by others are when using outer points (useless for me) and when trying to shoot moving subject in AI Servo mode - need an aperture of f8 to make it work.

Now that I am used to it though, I dont really think about it. I no longer miss a lot of shot because of AF...
 

Taemobig

www.junmapue.com
Jan 13, 2012
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I just recently got the 5D mkII for christmas and its not that the AF on the 5D mkII is bad, its just that my old 50D which I got for 1/4th the price of the 5d mkII can focus better, specifically the outer af points. I'm guessing other people like me were dissapointed that a cheaper camera has better af.
 
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briansquibb

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The AF from the 20D to the 50D and the 5D is the same as the 5DII IIRC - which is why my number of keepers fro the 5DII was about the same as the 5D and the 50D
 
S

smirkypants

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I'm just so used to using the joystick to move the focus point and nailing the focus every time. Stop and recompose? This is 2012! Purposefully crippling a camera makes me think unpleasant things about the Powers That Be at Canon.
 

neuroanatomist

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briansquibb said:
The AF from the 20D to the 50D and the 5D is the same as the 5DII IIRC
Not quite. 20D/30D are the same, then that AF system went to the 400D and is still used in the current xxxD model. 40D got a new AF (all 9 cross-type points) and that's in the 50D and 60D. 5D got a modified 20D-like system (center f/2.8-f.5.6 cross, 8 outer single-orientation f/5.6 lines, but added 6 invisible assist points). 5DII uses the same system as the 5D.

So, in specification of the user-selectable points, the 5D/5DII are most like the 20D and the Rebel/xxxD line, with the invisible points aiding AI Servo tracking (albeit not resulting in much improvement - the 40/50/60D with 9 cross-type points does better).
 

CowGummy

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Aug 18, 2013
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neuroanatomist said:
briansquibb said:
The AF from the 20D to the 50D and the 5D is the same as the 5DII IIRC
Not quite. 20D/30D are the same, then that AF system went to the 400D and is still used in the current xxxD model. 40D got a new AF (all 9 cross-type points) and that's in the 50D and 60D. 5D got a modified 20D-like system (center f/2.8-f.5.6 cross, 8 outer single-orientation f/5.6 lines, but added 6 invisible assist points). 5DII uses the same system as the 5D.

So, in specification of the user-selectable points, the 5D/5DII are most like the 20D and the Rebel/xxxD line, with the invisible points aiding AI Servo tracking (albeit not resulting in much improvement - the 40/50/60D with 9 cross-type points does better).
I know what you say above is true and correct, but I can't help but feel that the AF on my 5DII is a lot better than that from my 400D. It may well be a psychological thing, but I was out last night shooting with the 5DII in rainy/sleety conditions - shooting low light street scenes and there is now way my 400D would have been able to lock AF onto anything, whereas the 5DII performed excellently. At least in my eyes anyway, and compared to the Rebel body. Lowlight AF was always an issue for me on the 400D, even without rain to contend with.
I used to carry around one of those 1,000,000 candle power torches when shooting with the 400D to illuminate the scene so that the camera could find focus... Compared to that the 5DII is stellar in performance!
 

neuroanatomist

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yellowkamper said:
The focusing is ok its the users. its only a tool learn how to use it to its
Briansquibb, is that you? :p

Let's be clear - the 5DII's AF isn't crap. It's decent if you know and work around its limitations, which is the same for any tool.

But your example really doesn't support the AF of the 5DII as being particularly good. It's a panning shot, and the camera-to-subject distance isn't changing appreciably as you pan. It's a great shot, like Brian's kart shots, but it would be pretty simple to manually focus and get a similar shot.

The OP is wondering about portraits and weddings. If he plants himself at the back of the aisle as the flower girl skips toward him, the 5DII's AI Servo AF will likely not be able to track her as she comes toward him with a wide aperture/shallow DoF. OTOH, a 7D (or a 1-series body) would have no trouble with that scenario.

CowGummy said:
I was out last night shooting with the 5DII in rainy/sleety conditions - shooting low light street scenes and there is now way my 400D would have been able to lock AF onto anything, whereas the 5DII performed excellently.
I certainly agree. Granted, the specifications are the same - what matters in that scenario is the EV rating of the AF system, and for the 400D,7D and 5DII, that rating is the same: -0.5 EV (by comparison, current 1-series are rated down to -1 EV and the 1D X drops another stop to -2 EV). But subjectively, my impression is that the center point of the 5DII outperforms the 7D's center point in very low light (and the 500D/T1i I had before, as well). When I attach a Speedlite, the 7D starts firing the AF assist lamp in light levels brighter than when the 5DII starts needing the help. But that's the center point only - in dim light, IMO the outer points of the 5DII go from being not-that-good to being nearly useless.
 
K

kenraw

Guest
neuroanatomist said:
dstppy said:
Neuro, which xD xxD xxxD models would you say bracket it (one step better, one step worse).
I'd say the center point is on par with the 7D's center point, the outer points are on par with the 450D-600D outer points, and overall performance is between the 450-600D and the 40-60D (each range has basically the same AF system).

kenraw said:
Do the outer points work ok then with static subjects such as portraits as I always select a point I dont really use center spot and recompose a whole lot.
They are ok - just ok - with static subjects. Sometimes they just plain miss. The other issue with the 5DII's outer points is their location. You mention it as a 3rd body - what are the other two? Probably doesn't matter - the spread of the 5DII's AF points is worse overall than any other xxxD - xD body (except the original 5D, which is the same). The horizontal spread is good - the same as the 1DsIII, in fact (and Canon highlighted that when the 5DII came out). But, the vertical spread is very narrow (which Canon didn't mention, of course), and as a result the points which you may care most about - the ones closest to the rule-of-thirds intersections, are nowhere near those intersections. 1-series, 7D, xxD, and even xxxD/Rebel bodies all have points that are pretty close to those intersections.

The image below shows the 5DII AF points in dark blue, compared to the 1DsIII with a rule-of-thirds grid for reference. The 1DIV and 7D's relative coverage is actually a little greater than the 1DsIII. Except for those two widely spaced side points, all of the 5DII's remaining AF points (including the invisible assist points) are clustered just outside or just inside the spot metering circle.
My existing two bodies are 7d's which perform well. I would like a 5dmk3 when it finally arrives but I've got a feeling it won't be cheap I'm guessing around £2500 - £3000 at least. The 1DX seems like a dream camera but the price tag isn't going to make my images from the 7D over £4000 better especially when I can print 24 x 36inch with the 7D's no problem and in wedding album size the images are superb. I would just like a full frame for the better iso for when I need it and the shallow dof when I want that artistic shot. I feel the 5dmk2 at the moment is a bargain as the IQ is amazing. I'm sure the focussing would be fine it's a shame canon didn't put a new system in it back then like the 7D's. I think Nikon caught them with their pants down regarding AF and now they are playing catch up. However if the hype with the 1Dx is true I'd say Canon have done more than caught up!
 

Axilrod

EOS 6D MK II
May 12, 2011
1,379
0
I don't think its "bad" at all, although it's subjective I suppose. I think there are a lot of different settings that affect AF performance and lots of different combinations of said settings. If you use the wrong ones for the situation it could lead one to believe that the autofocus is bad. I remember thinking it was initially, but after messing with the settings I feel it performs just fine.
 

7enderbender

EOS 7D MK II
Feb 17, 2011
643
3
Boston, MA
kenraw said:
Hi I'm considering purchasing a 5dmk2 as a third camera since the prices are really good at the moment, but it seems to get a lot of bad reviews regarding it's auto focus. Can you 5dmk2 owners share your thoughts and is the AF really that bad. I would be using it for weddings and portraits.

Thanks

Honestly, my 5DII is my first SLR with AF. I find it "bad" in that it has AF at all and everything that comes with it (smaller and dimmer viewfinder, harder to use manual focus, dependence on more expensive and more vulnerable lenses, etc).

Once I was over that I don't find it "bad" at all - it is way better than this weird reputation that has been building up in various forums. For what it is it works just fine, even in rather bad light.

I understand that the 1-series or 7D AF is better - but then again it's not fabulous either in my view. The spread of the AF points is still rather centered and doesn't even fully hit anything that you might want to place further out when thinking rule-of-thirds. So recomposing often will be necessary anyway.

It all depends on the application obviously. There are probably better choices for sports, bird and other fast action shooters (not just because of the AF). For pretty much everything else I don't see how it makes much of a difference under normal circumstances. And I've gotten decent results even for soccer, sled dogs, birds, etc
 

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K-amps

EOR R
Aug 8, 2011
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kenraw said:
...... I think Nikon caught them with their pants down regarding AF and now they are playing catch up. However if the hype with the 1Dx is true I'd say Canon have done more than caught up!
and that is why we relish free competition. ;)

Nikon, please do some more !!