5D Mark II Has Better Autofocus Than 1D Mark III

People don’t seem to listen. Just this morning I told everyone to leave me the hell alone today, and emails keep pouring in from people bitching about the 5D Mark II. So far it looks like most people are disappointed with the “old” 9-point autofocus system in the 5D Mark II and others are wondering what the additional 6 assist points are going to do for them in AI servo mode.

Well let me tell you that the 5D Mark II has better autofocus than the current 1D series, even though the 5D has “just” 15 autofocus points and the 1D series have 45. You actually get LESS out of focus images on the 5D Mark II compared to the 1D Mark III.

This is because the frame rate on the 5D is limited to 3.9fps, where the 1D mark III has a 10fps framerate. Because of this, you get much less out of focus images in a 1 second burst on the 5D Mark II (4 max), compared to the 1D Mark III, which allows you to capture up to 10 out of focus images in just one second.

This is a big difference and just goes to show you how good the 5D Mark II really is, delivering LESS out of focus images with less autofocus points than the 1D Mark III.

So to all of you who complain about the “old” autofocus system in the 5D Mark II, which “has not been updated for 3 years,” and which “even the Nikon D300 blows away,” I say: Please get informed.

Canon engineers held back by marketing department’s “megapixel race”

This just in: Canon engineers held back by marketing department’s “megapixel race”

This is what I have been personally fighting against internally. Finally I seem to be getting some engineers on my side now.

More on that later, I’m currently still on the phone with Japan talking about the fucking mirror falling off of my 5D Mark II.

The 5D Mark II is out!

The long wait is over! The new 5D Mark II (official name now) is out! Check out the specs here on the Canon Inc. website. I also wrote a bit about the new sensor technology featured in the 5D2 in this week’s Tech Tips.

Canon EOS 5D Mark II

Canon EOS 5D Mark II

Although I sound happy and optimistic, I’m not. Last week I had to send my brand new EF 24mm f/1.4 L II lens, which I had just received, to our service center due to a rather extreme backfocus problem. This morning I got the lens back, attached it to my 5D Mark II body and took a short burst of pictures when I heard a weird and loud clicking sound in the camera body. It appears the goddamn mirror fell off, and not only that, it left a nice big scratch on the rear element of the brand new 24mm lens as well!

I can’t tell you how furious I am right now. This is what fucking happens when you release a new 5D with the same 3 year old shutter mechanism. I’ll be on the phone with Japan for the rest of the day. Please do NOT bother me today if you know what’s good for you.

Tech Tips for September 15, 2008

As you can see I’m a bit late with this week’s Tech Tips, but that’s because we’re quite busy here at Canon USA preparing for the big launch of the new “5D Mark II.” Things are getting really hectic as we approach the launch. I haven’t even had the time to shower for the last two days, and I’m sure Ying is not going to appreciate it when I get home.

Anyway, let’s start with the reader questions for this week:

My 1Ds Mark III is great, but I was wondering are there any hidden special functions that might help me get more out of my camera?

There is at least some functionality hidden in the firmware that’s currently in every 1Ds3 out there, but unfortunately there is no way for you to enable that. Most of these functionalities are related to features which we were not yet finished with when we released the camera. There’s also functionality which we disabled for marketing reasons because we felt we could get you to pay more to upgrade to the next camera once we enable them there. But as far as “special functions” go that you can enable right now, I have had a lot of emails sent to me in the last few months by photographers mentioning that they are very unhappy with their 1D3, and who felt that it’s essentially only useful as a door stop, albeit a very expensive one. Since the 1D3 and the 1Ds3 share a lot of features and essentially have the same body and build quality, I would assume that the 1Ds3 could also be used for the same purpose. With regards to the “that might help me get more out of my camera” part of your question, this is something that you would have to decide for yourself. But from the feedback I’ve gotten so far, other photographers do seem to get more out of their 1D3 by using the special door stop function.

Chuck this is not a technical question, but I’m looking at buying the new 5D camera (I have the “old” 5D now) and have a bit of a problem trying to convince my wife. I haven’t yet asked her about it, but I’m fairly sure that she won’t allow me to spend money on a new camera this year. Do you have any advice you can give me?

This is a very good question, thank you for asking. I’ve gotten this question a lot more in the past, and I also understand what you’re dealing with from personal experience during the time before I got a job at Canon USA. There are many ways to deal with this problem, and I’ve seen many people get very creative trying to find a solution. One way to deal with this problem is to make it a habit to tape over the logos and model names on your camera with black tape AS SOON AS YOU BUY IT. Even before you bring it home. It’s not always a problem if the wife has seen your camera before you’ve taped it, since most of them won’t be able to remember which model it was the next day. At Canon Inc. they understand this issue very well, and there have been numerous internal studies on it. One of the results of this study can be seen today in the fact that all upgrades to our cameras essentially look the same with only minor differences on the outside. This is why the 50D looks almost exactly like the 40D. We knew that it would be hard to justify to your wife buying a 50D just 10 months after you got your 40D.
So the benefit you get from taping over the logos and model names, is that once you have done that, you can essentially just go out and buy the new camera, tape it just like the old one, and bring it home without the wife noticing what’s going on. And since you’ve made it a habit to tape your bodies, she’ll think it’s normal. After a few years, she might even ask you herself why you keep using that same old camera and don’t go and buy yourself the latest, not knowing you’ve been doing just that every year.
As an added bonus, you’ll also look more important when you’re out shooting and people are going to stare at you, wondering if you’re using a new pre-production body that’s about to come out soon.

Hey Fake Chuck, get a fucking life. Don’t you have anything better to do than posting worthless crap on the Internet, you stupid fuck? How’s that for a tech tip question??

What you say?

I’ve seen you mention the exceptional low light capabilities of the new 5D on your blog, and I was wondering how Canon has been able to achieve this? And what’s that about the high sensitivity and low noise?

I know I haven’t been too clear about this, but this is for the simple reason that the new 5D hasn’t been officially launched yet, and a detailed white paper will be published shortly after its launch. But to clarify a little, we’ve made a lot of improvements to the sensor design to be able to achieve the exceptional low light performance.

5D2 Sensor Design Diagram

5D2 Sensor Design Diagram

If you look at the diagram above, you can compare part of the sensor designs of the 5D2, the 1Ds3 and the 1Ds2. As you can see from the diagram, one of the improvements we’ve made is that we have further reduced the gaps between the on-chip microlenses to the point where it has become gapless. This increases the light gathering efficiency of the sensor greatly. So we now gather even more light than before on the sensor. In addition to this, we have also further decreased the space between the microlenses and the photo diodes, increased the fill factor by applying the micro-rule that improves the performance of the exposure device, further adding to the light gathering efficiency super index matrix of the sensor. We have also included a Micro Solar Cel next to each photo diode on the sensor providing clean, localized power. As a result of this, we’re now sending a much lower voltage through the micro circuit wiring than was previously possible, resulting in a much cooler running sensor. Essentially we’re only reading from the micro circuit wiring now. Power consumption by the sensor has also been greatly reduced. We’ve also added a micro copper heat pipe grid on the sensor for heat spreading efficiency. These are very small interconnected copper pipes running below the photo diodes. With all of this we have virtually eliminated background noise resulting in a virtually noise free signal from the sensor.
Due to the fact that each photo diode now has its own power generator right next to it, we’re now able to reach much higher sensitivity levels further improving performance in low light. Combined with the low noise, we’re getting results which are 50 to 60 stops better than the 1Ds3.
We’re still not finished yet. Future improvements, such as the addition of watercooling to the sensor (through the micro copper heat pipe grid) will allow us to make the sensor run even cooler while increasing sensitivity and performance. More details will be available in a white paper that will be released soon.

I’m furious at Canon. How is it that Sony is capable of releasing a 24MP camera at $3000 and the 1Ds Mark III costs an astounding $8000?? Now I’ll be lucky if I can sell my 4 month old 1Ds Mark III for $4000. Thanks to you I’m taking a huge loss now. And as if that’s not enough the next 5D is going to be 21MP as well from what I have seen, including newer tech such as Digic 4 AND cost around $3000 as well. I hope everyone realizes how you’ve been screwing them with the $8000 1Ds Mark III body!

First, let me state that I completely understand your frustration and I will be happy to pass this along to Canon Inc. in Japan. The short version of my answer is “Yes, you’ve been screwed, and we didn’t use any kind of lube either. In hindsight, we probably should have at least lubed you up first.” The longer version of my answer is that this is simply the result of what happens when you have only one player on the market that is capable of supplying a certain kind of product or service. Chances are you are going to be paying a premium price for it, which was the case with the 1Ds Mark III. Now with Sony entering the high resolution full frame market, and Nikon expected to follow soon, there’s some competition and prices will drop as a result. And you too are going to benefit from that.

Thanks for reading Tech Tips. That’s it for now. Remember to email your questions to fcwestfall@gmail.com or leave a comment in this post. See you next week!

“5D Mark II” Marketing Campaign Rocking the Internet

I’m extremely happy with how our marketing campaign for the new “5D Mark II” is being received around the Internet. People are talking about it, people are searching the Internet every second for new information and technical details, emotions are running high, it’s simply marketing at its best. My compliments to our marketing department. Yes, as the technical adviser for Canon USA’s professional products marketing division I contributed too, of course. However, as usual, Japan didn’t listen to all my ideas, but I’ll come to this later.

People are even going so far as to use advanced imaging techniques to alter the images from our teaser animation, to try and squeeze every bit of detail out of it. What impressed me the most was the picture I found on this thread on DPReview:

5D Mark II

"5D Mark II"

The above picture was the result of running the blurry picture which I posted a few days ago through software called “Focus Magic” and the results are pretty nice. I was so impressed, I immediately sent an email to Yoroku, Sunichi and our engineers in Japan to check the possibility of including “Focus Magic” in our next firmware update for the 1D/Ds Mark III and future products. Notice how it managed to bring back the “5D” out of the blurry picture. Amazing. Galbraith is going to love this.

Bradley Cooper and Chase Jarvis - Seperated at birth?

Bradley Cooper and Chase Jarvis (right) - Seperated at birth?

But anyway, even though I’m pleased with our marketing so far, I still feel that we should have used a more modern approach at the same time. Like what Nikon did with that guy called Chase Jarvis. They gave him a D90 to play with and the guy started raving about it on his blog and it generated a lot of buzz. And they made the right choice too. Have you seen that guy? He has this overly energetic appearance. It’s almost like he’s high on crack 24/7. He could get you excited about anything! I look at him and feel exhausted within seconds. You simply can’t keep up. He reminded me of that guy played by Bradley Cooper in the movie “Wedding Crashers.” If you’ve seen Wedding Crashers, you know what I mean. Maybe we should hire him to positively influence public perception of the 1D Mark III.

But back to our “5D Mark II” marketing efforts. I’ve gotten some emails from people suggesting that the atmosphere at both Nikon and Sony is very tense right now, and gets even more tense with every day that we get closer to the official launch. The situation there has been described to me as sitting on death row waiting for their execution.

And let me tell you, they have every reason to be afraid. As I type this, major publications around the world are already trying out their sample of the “5D Mark II” and preparing their previews. We’re going to set the standard for the next few years this week. Regardless of what Galbraith says. Stay tuned.

Galbraith suggests problems with the “5D Mark II”

My job is certainly not an easy one, I can tell you that. You simply can’t begin to image the amount of email I get from photographers everywhere, asking for help, tips, complaining about issues, etc. Some days, everything just goes very well, and some days, like today, I suddenly get a message from someone that completely ruins the rest of my day.

It looks like Galbraith still isn’t satisfied with all the problems he caused us this year. Screw it, i’m not going to write about it now, here’s a screenshot of the conversation I had with him today. I think it speaks for itself:

Notice how he went completely silent in the end. Stupid coward. I hope you’re reading this Rob! Don’t make me post the other chatlogs too, you moron!

I’m going to get me a cappuccino now and lie down for a bit.

Tech Tips

Most of you already know that I’ve been publishing a “Tech Tips” column on The Digital Journalist for quite a while now. This has been a monthly column so far, and since I have my own blog now I was thinking of publishing some more tech tips here on my blog on a weekly basis where I can respond to your questions more quickly.

So if you have any questions (it doesn’t have to be technical), just email them to me at fcwestfall@gmail.com and I will post the answers here on my blog every monday in my Tech Tips. This should provide everyone with something to look forward to reading when they arrive at work in the morning. Please note that I can’t always comment on future products that haven’t been announced yet, although I might bend or break the rules sometimes, depending on my mood that day.

Oh and, I’ll still continue to do the column over at The Digital Journalist. I don’t feel comfortable letting them down at the moment.