Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by colin_elliott, Mar 26, 2012.

  1. Hello,
    I normally post in the Medium Format and Leica forums. However, I shall be entering the DSLR world shortly and am considering either a Nikon D800, or Canon 5DII. (the 5DIII is too expensive).
    I am wondering about the autofocus comments regarding the 5DII. There seems to be much negativity particularily now that there is a Mk III out.
    My primary interest is landscape photography, so speed is not normally one of my issues but accuracy is. Before making a decision I need to know whether the 5DII autofocus is considered to be slow or inaccurate or slow AND inaccurate?
    Being from the Leica and Zeiss camp, I'm also a little concered about subsequent lens quality.
    I would appreciate any comments from those who have first hand experience.
  2. Personally, if you are invested in the Leica/Zeiss RF world, you will be much better biting the bullet and scoring one of the Leica digital RF cameras as you will be able to use all of your favorite lenses. As good as modern SLR lenses are, wide-angle lenses for SLRs must be retrofocus designs which affects the quality negatively. That being said, there are some great lenses, but all are bigger and not quite as good as their Leica/Zeiss counterparts.
    Of course, in SLR world you have the option of using all of the wonderful TS-E lenses offered by Canon. While still retrofocus designs (at least the wider ones), they are all excellent lenses and offer better control over the plane of focus (and hence your depth of field) than you can get from a RF camera.
    As for the camera, you will be completely satisfied. The AF is good enough for anything other than serious sports/wildlife shooting and while a bit slow, it is dead-on accurate.
  3. Hi Colin, I' totally would have to agree with Craig on this one, the DSLR is a great world to be in also. However I can only comment on my 5D mark ll, I was also analysing the forums on the metering and auto focus system. But with my copy, I have not experienced what I had read. I will say that it is not the fastest system around. Let's just say you wouldn't use it for sports photography and in low light conditions if action was the name of the game. But if you are into landscape or portrait and studio work and just general use, it would be very hard to go past the 5D Mark ll, I have a large arsenal of L series lenses which work superbly on this body. The D800 sounds good on paper, but in the real world it has not had the age test, that would be a bit of a concern to me, it has a very big pixel jump, not to sure if you need that many, however if you do that can only be a good thing I guess. As I said Colin this is just my point of view and opinion, I definitely won't be jumping to the 5D mark lll, there would be no need. Good luck with your decision. Grant.
  4. I haven't experienced any focus problems with the 5D2, it's been a very reliable tool.
  5. In my experience 5DII AF works fine provided (a) you do not mind having a rather limited range of AF points and (b) you are not trying to do the more demanding forms of AF tracking in AI Servo mode.
    But you are in danger of missing a trick here as a landscape photographer, Colin, and that is the availability of Live View. Contrast-detect AF in Live View, although slow, is exceedingly accurate, and since it works off the sensor itself there are no calibration issues of the kind that generate so much discussion over phase-detect AF. And if you want to focus manually, the ability to magnify the screen image to ×10 at any point on the screen allows you to focus as accurately as the steadiness of your hand on the focus ring will permit.
    Finally, I would endorse the comment about the TS lenses. Even my originaversion TS24 opens up competely new possibilities compared to conventional lenses, and by all accounts the new TS24II and TS17 are magic.
  6. Colin - like you I shoot MF and I also shoot rangefinders Leica and Contax G ( Leica in both digital and film). I have had a 5DII since they came out and I really like this camera. There is no AF issues to worry about - I would suggest that 90% of what you hear is user error and the remaining 10% is true. The AF on my 5DII is as good as the AF on my 1NRS which was a pro standard sports body in the late 1990s / early 2000s. So long as you use the centre AF point and understand the different AF modes (don't use AF Focus) you will have no issues with speed and accuracy. The 5DII has AF micro adjust which will allow you to fine tune the focus of some lenses - most don't need it. The AF speed is fine - I have shot ski racing and ice hockey with my 5DII. It does not perform quite as well as my 1 series bodies as the keeper rate for AF issues falls. the 1 series will give 95% to 98% in focus on the desired subject (depending on lighting and sport) whereas the 5DII is probably 90 to 95%. Of course this is for action sports. Where the 5DII struggles is low contrast or where a fast moving subject suddenly comes into view. For landscapes the only OOF shots I have are user error.
    You can use Leica R or Zeiss lenses on the 5DII and it is best to use a tripod and shoot in Live view using a zoomed rear LCD to focus. I shoot a Zeiss 50mm lens and some of my Mamaiya M645 lenses on my 5DII. If you have Hassy lenses you can buy an adaptor and shoot these on the Canon - there is no focal length multiplication so an 80mm lens is an 80mm lens. I do this with my Mamaiya M645 lenses and use a Mirex adaptor (about $400 after shipping and taxes) which give me a full tilt and shift capability.
    The Canon lenses are very good but have different trade offs to the German lenses. Overall I prefer the German look. The Japanese lenses have sharper transitions form IF to OOF and tend to focus more on centre sharpness and contrast. I find that the German lenses (Especially Leica - but even my Cosina / Voigtlander cheapies that are made in Japan) give a more three dimensional look. That said the Canon lenses are very good and I love my 17mm F4 Tilt Shift (even though you cannot really use filters with this lens). I have played with but do not own the Canon 24mm MkII TS lens - this lens is amazingly sharp and will be my next Canon EF purchase.
  7. There are a couple of answers to your focus question regarding the 5D2 in the light of your plan to use it for landscape.
    First, for this kind of shooting (something I do a lot of) the AF works just fine. Generally, when people say negative things about the AF system of the 5D2 they fall into one of several camps:
    • People who think that AF should be able to focus on anything perfectly, no matter what. (They don't really understand how AF work nor understand what constitutes good performance.)
    • People who understand how AF works and shoot subjects for which an optimized AF system that can handle quickly moving subjects and so forth is better than an AF system that is more basic.
    • People who understand AF and have concerns about margin performance situations such as night photography or very low light work.
    Overall, the 5D2 AF system is just fine. It works well in almost all situations. As a 5D2 user who is very happy with the camera I can tell you that its weaknesses can include occasional difficult with some marginal subjects in low light and some issues regarding the AF point pattern.
    The second issue has to do with the "best" way to get very accurate focus with such a camera when shooting landscape. For me, landscape means shooting with the camera on a tripod and working as carefully as I can. With this in mind, I rarely use AF for landscape work - not because it can't work, but because "live view" is much more effective for my work, and in a wide range of ways. (I've written more about this here: 'Live View' on the EOS Canon 5D Mark II)
    If you are a very serious landscape shooter, I think you'll find the the combination of the 5D2, decent lenses, careful and skillful shooting, and live view will produce very fine results.
    (By the way, I'm skeptical or even put off by odd notions about "the look" of German versus Japanese lenses. That sort of mysticism doesn't impress me at all, and you can produce really excellent photographs with better Canon lenses of all types. The number of folks doing fine landscape work who agree with my point of view is much larger than the number who believe in the "German lens" mysticism. If you doubt me, it is fairly easy to figure out what gear such folks use - either look at their EXIF or ask them.)
  8. I doubt you'll have issues.
    Canon's tilt-shift lenses don't have AF anyways.
    For static subjects, use manual focusing with live-view turned to maximum magnification.
  9. david_henderson

    david_henderson www.photography001.com

    If you are used to slow landscape photography on a tripod then you should think about using Live View with manual fucus in any case, as has been mentioned above. You use a 5 x or 10X magnifier both to achieve sharp focus and also (with the DOF button) to check sharpness of other objects in the frame at a given focus point. Its not a workaround for an inadequate AF system- its just the best way IMO to get good results from this and other cameras.
    The one disadvantage is notably faster battery usage.
  10. The Nikon D800 will be the better landscape body, however I chose to make the Canon 17 TS-E my main landscape lens, when I sold my Nikon 14/2.8. Then I decided to mount it on a 5D II. I have no regrets over my decision. Check out lenses from both manufacturers since that may help you make a decision.
    Leica R and Contax Zeiss lenses can be easily mounted on Canon EOS bodies using cheap mechanical adapters. I do regret selling my Contax Zeiss 85/1.4 T*.
  11. Thank you all for your invaluable comments regarding my intentions.
    My Leica gear is of the M family so no DSLR mounting possibility for those lenses. My Medium Format is from the Contax 645 and again, I don't believe there is an adapter for those electronic mounts.
    Even with the AF on my Contax, I tend to use it to "get me there approx." and touch up with manual focus. One of my favourite functions of the Contax 645 is the ability to overide the AF just by grasping the lens. Do the Canon lenses allow for this with the system in AF mode? I believe that Nikon AF-S lenses have this function.
    I know that I maybe in the wrong Forum, but is it likely that Nikon lenses are superior to the Canon L's?
    My demands on any AF system would be primarily for everyday shooting. My considered landscape images are always from the camera mounted on a tripod. It may come down to having to buy the appropriate Zeiss ZE or ZF mount lenses. If this were to be the case, the D800 with its megapixel advantage may be the proper choice. Given that the ZF lenses have a d.o.f. scale, my hyperfocal focusing technique remains straightforward.
    IIRC, some years ago, Canon had a "depth" mode on certain bodies. This allowed the photographer to focus on the nearest object to be sharp and then focus on the most distant object required to be sharp.The camera then set the "hyperfocal distance" before making the exposure. Is this function available on the 5DII?
    I apologise for the lengthy posting but I wish to make an "informed choice" at the end of all this.
  12. All modern Canon EOS lenses w/ USM have this ability. Full time manual overide is achieved simply by turning the focus ring.
    As far as the 'superiority' of particular lenses, the simple answer is that it depends on the lens, not the manufacturer (or even the 'series' necessarily). Some nikon lenses are better than their Canon equiv, and vice versa. Some 3rd party units are better than the best either Nikon or Canon have to offer.
    Given that you have no existing lens set, it very well may be that the D800 is a better choice for landscape. While shooting landscapes from a tripod, w/ the time to properly compose (and focus), plus the expansive DOF, and even the software modification available (for distortion, CA, etc), the 'weakest link' becomes absolute resolution, which the D800 has in spades (1.5x the 5D2/3). Since you are used to the flexibility MF gives you, I think you may very well find that a deciding factor. Also, the 'full' AR of the D800 is 5:4 (as opposed to the 2:3 of the 5D2/3), which could also affect your imagery significantly.
    The 5D2 (as far as I know) doesn't have the 'depth' mode you are referring to (I know I've never 'found' it ;-) ). Of course Av can accomplish the same thing, but it's not quite that simple (obviously)
  13. Just to be completely clear: all ZE and ZF mount Zeiss lenses are manual focus only, so autofocus is not an issue if you intend to use those. Many of the better Canon lenses for landscape (the tilt-shift family) are also manual focus only. Of the Canon lenses that have autofocus and are still in production, almost all allow touching the focus ring after autofocus has finished (sometimes called full-time manual focus or FTM). A couple of the older 50mm lenses don't allow it, everything else does. Third party lenses sometimes have FTM, sometimes not.
    A pity there is no adaptor for the newer 645 lenses - is it because they have an electronic diaphragm? Any fully-mechanical medium format lens can certainly be adapted.
    The mode you refer to was called A-DEP and I believe it was dropped from newer bodies.
    Rather than number of pixels I would be more concerned with dynamic range, since blown highlights are usually irreparable. I don't know how the 5D2 measures up against the D800 in that regard.
  14. According to DxOMark, the D800 blows the 5D2 out of the water in regards to DR. In fact, it appears to be their highest rated sensor to date (in regards to DR)
    They have the D800 earning 14.4Evs
    vs. 5Dmk2 earning 11.9 Evs
    Probably not a huge surprise, since the 5D2 is 4yrs old, but that's still a heckuva difference! They don't have 5Dmk3 results posted yet (nor 1Dx), obviously.
  15. Thanks Marc and Ed.
    Marc, What is "AR"? Aspect Ratio? If so, surely with a 36x24 sensor the AR is 3:2
    Am I missing something here?
  16. Colin
    I tested the Zeiss lenses and was not that impressed by their performance - for the money the Canon lenses are as good (and in some cases better). If you really want to go MF then look into Leica R or Contax SLR although these are also very expensive these days (they were cheaper when they were orphans). Unfortunately you cannot use your Contax 645 lenses on an adaptor as (like my Fuji GX680) they are designed for AF. In my experience Nikon and canon lenses perform very similar - sometimes the Canon is better, sometimes the Nikon - just depends on age and design.
    Dan - while you may not believe me, there is a difference in the look of German and Japanese lenses. This difference is due to the trade offs the designers make. All lens design is a set of compromises and the designers tended to choose different approaches. This has nothing to do with where the lens is made - my Contax G series and Voigtlander M mount lenses have a "German" set of trade offs.
    The differences are subtle but present perhaps these sections taken from a longer discussion may help
    In Europe, the German lens designers (Leica and Schneider) balanced their lens designs so that they’d produce subtle and smooth color tonal ramps throughout both the in focus and out of focus areas of the image. Also, barrel and pincushion distortions as well as chromatic aberrations in both the in-focus AND out of focus areas in the image were minimized. To accomplish all of this, the trade-off was some edge sharpness.
    In Japan, their top lens designers at Nikon, Olympus, Pentax, etc., concentrated on lens designs with the sharpest possible focus and bold colors. Out of focus distortion and aberrations were acceptable trade-offs as long as the in-focus plane was tack sharp and the color tonalities were vivid and bold.
    The thing I notice most is that the Canon lenses are sharper wide open in the centre but slightly softer at the edges than my "German" lenses. The other thing I notice is the transition from in focus to out of focus - the German lenses (Especially Leica) tends to be more progressive whereas the Canons tend to have a sharper transition.
    If you read my post carefully I did not say that one was better than the other - just that there was a slightly different look. Since I have a large number of expensive Canon lenses (Both FD and EOS) I am clearly very happy with their performance. I am not sure what lens I will buy next but it will either be the Leica WATE (16,18,21 mm M mount) or the Canon 24mm F3.5 TS II. While I find that the rangefinder lenses tend to be less compromised at wide angles - even here the Canon lenses are very good and there is no "German" alternative for the 17mm F4 TS. If you have not shot with the 17 F4 or 24 F3.5 II I suggest you try them. I find that I hardly ever use my 16-35 F2.8 II zoom since I bought the 17 F4 about 1 year ago.

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