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.

33 thoughts on “5D Mark II Has Better Autofocus Than 1D Mark III

  1. Why do the specs include 30fps, and not 24fps? Can you adjust the frame rate, or is it locked to 30…? That is what everyone wants. Does this use a rolling shutter, and if so… is it visible in the video?

    These are the things I want to know.

  2. I do agree with Alan B.
    Statistically speaking you should repeat the test with a 100 pictures sample and not with only 4-10.
    At that point you’ll see if the 5D MKII AF is better or not.
    According to the specs the AF sensors in the 1D MKIII are far better..
    I wait for a better test.

  3. I was worried that the 5D MrII would have the same focus system as the 40D, which I find too random at f2.8 (and I don’t shoot at high frame rates!). My 5D rarely misses a shot and then only wheb the subject is way off center and I’m not paying attention (EOS 3 eye control please).

    Newer doesn’t mean better. If it ain’t broken don’t fix it.

    OTOH – the TTL flash sucks on the 5D.

  4. Pingback: Canon EOS 5D Mark II: Not all it could have been « Fake Chuck Westfall

  5. >Marco says: statistically speaking you should repeat the test blah blah >blah..
    >You like to listen to yourself, don’t ya? fucking whiner.

    Sorry, Phillip W., I only have a PhD in astronomy, other than being a photographer, and I know what statistics is.
    Do you, Phillip W. ?

    So, do yourself a favor, buy a good book on Statistics and study it.
    One day, maybe, you’ll have enough feeling to say that there is a big difference between a 4-5 elements sample and a 100 elements one.
    The same applies to a pictures sample.
    It’s easy to say: one camera gets 4 pics/sec, another gets 10/sec, so we have more out-of-focus images in the 10 pics sample. You are comparing a sample which is 2.5 times bigger than the other !
    So, shoot 100 pictures with both cameras and count how many out-of-focus picture you have in both samples.

    Ops, sorry, I forgot it, you didn’t buy that book yet.. :-)))

  6. Marco-

    I’m afraid I have to disagree with you here. Last I checked, I don’t have a Ph.D. but I do know a hell of a lot more than you about cameras, especially the ones made by Canon. Because the 5D2 takes less out of focus images in 1 second compared to the 1D3 in 1 second, the 5D2 has better autofocus. We are comparing the same samples, namely, 1 second burst for both cameras.

    • WOW, so my broken 300D has the best autofocus.
      In one second doesn’t take any “out of focus” image.

      >Because the 5D2 takes less out of focus images in 1 second compared >to the 1D3 in 1 second, the 5D2 has better autofocus.

  7. Yeah, go ahead with your “fake” site.No way to do useful comments here. Post pictures instead of trying to convince people. Then we’ll see if you are right.

  8. Can’t believe how dumb some of you yanks are.
    My god, I would have thought the fact that this is the FAKE Chuck Westfall site you would have realised the whole thing is one giant piss take.
    I can’t believe how worked up some of you are getting re Chuck auto focus arguments (Which are bloody hilarious by the way) quoting statistics and sample sizes.
    You’re probably the same dumb shit I was laughing at a few months ago when one of our Aussie reporters asked you when 9/11 was (as a joke) and you thought it was some time in October.

  9. Pingback: M2 propuesta..Links y previews de la 5D MarkII <-- AQUI - Pgina 18 - Canonistas.com

  10. haha! Funny shit.

    Love your irony man! I’m going to get the Canon 1D mark III next week, but i’m also planning to get the new 5D mk2 next year. But im looking forward like baby to get the mk3.

  11. Every time I use my 5D for anything…I mean ANYTHING that I use AF for, I end up wanting to swing the god damn thing by the “Canon Digital” strap, and smash that fucking thing on the ground! Three years later, and I have found that I can manual focus better than that fucking thing can AF! Is that the way it is supposed to work Chuck?

    Tell your boss to kiss my ass!!


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  13. Wow, Marco! Bet they never taught satire in your PhD program, did they? Laugh a little. It will impress people more than your flaunting your degree to establish ‘credibility’.

    – Aziel, MSEE (no PhD, but I can understand satire when I read it)

  14. I have one of them internet degrees too. They’re easy to get. You just say what you have 🙂

    I have a PhD in Micro-cosmonautology.

    That is, the study of how little astronaut people interact with other little astronaut people.

    Really, I really have that.

    And now, I will tell you about my camera knowledge.

    I know everything there is to know about cameras ever.

  15. Dave, leave the Seppos alone. Remember, some still think that big island south of Indonesia is Iran so don’t want to antagonise.

  16. first of all, sorry for my poor english (I´m German).
    The 5D MK2, which I own since December 2009 is a great camera, but I have a problem with the autofocus (Canon could not solve it yet).
    I get amazing sharp pictures using livemodus (contrast via sensor). Using autofocus (one shot, central sensor. tripod etc.), I recognized that nearly all of my lenses had an backtfocus – but this problem is solvable.
    My main problem is, that the autofocus works not reproducable? (that means, if I make 10 photos with a tripod under same conditions, the results are variable and not constant).
    With the 100 mm macro I can´t use the autofocus for close up photos. With the 4/300 L IS USM and about 2 meters I get sporatic sharp focus with autotocus adjustment at 0 and at +20, about 60% at +10 are OK.
    But again: the main problem is not the backfocus but the sporatic changing of sharpness using the center spot autofocus.
    All photos with liveview are excellent (therefore I use this modus very often). But the variing autofocus under some conditions reduces the high quality of sensor and lenses.
    I compared this fact with the Nikon D300 and 105 Micro-Nikkor: no problem and the autofocus fits always 100%.
    I hope, you will understand my problem and may be, you have got an answer.
    Thank you very much
    and kind regards from Germany
    R. Oxenius

    • Oxenius, you can thank Canon Inc. in Japan for this. Unfortunately Maeda totally fucked up with the 5D2 out-o’-focus system.

  17. Well i read a lot of forum posts about similar problem what Oxenius got. The common answer from Canon owners is: its not the camera its you! Learn to use the foolproof manual-focus function and then 5Dmk2 and even 1Dmk4 will not have these kind of focus problems. The argument that if you pay £2000 for a camera you expect some kind of working autofocus system in it doesnt apply here, it applies only to Nikon camera owners.
    Its similar as with the lens hoods, Nikon supplies them with lenses, Canon users have to pay extra to get them. Nikon supplies its cameras with working autofucus system, Canon users have to bite the bullet and learn to use manual focus.

  18. Might be a bit off topic but I’ll add my $0.02 ~

    I’ve been shooting with Canon cameras for years and never had a reason to regret choosing Canon over its competitors. Well, not until last September when I bought a 5D mark II. From then onward things went downhill..

    At the time I had my trustworthy 40D (one of the best Canon cameras ever, together with the 1Ds mark II) and a used 1D mk III, but wanted a FF to go with my wide-angles. Anyway, I bought the 5D mk II and have been disappointed with it from day one. I don’t care for video (yet), so Canon’s deliberate crippling of its video features didn’t upset me too much. I was surprised, however, to find years old AF system previously used in original 5D.. But ok, I could live with that. What I can’t live with, and don’t intend to, is the pattern noise present even at ISO 100! Seriously, a distracting pattern over the whole image, visible in print and impossible to get rid of? Are you kidding me? Disappointed I returned the camera and went back to my old ones. Later I discovered that I wasn’t alone; there were other users seeing this pattern noise in their images. On the other hand, there were thousands of others who were happy with their 5D mark IIs. I thought I might have had a bad copy or something. I gave it another try.. I bought it again. This time the pattern wasn’t so pronounced, but it was still present. Plus the archaic AF. Returned the camera and decided to wait with the purchase of a FF and upgrade to another APS-C instead..

    Welcome the 7D. It was being released at approximately the same time and the feature set seemed incredible. Alright, having learned from my experience with it’s FF sibling before, I was cautious this time. I tried it in-store before buying. And hell, am I glad I did. Long story short: I am not buying this camera either. I don’t understand Canon’s strategy. Really, I don’t. They had such a winner on their hands with the 7D. Perfect ergonomics, perfects set of features, even the AF seems to be (almost) perfect. But no, they had to cram 18MP sensor into it! Hell, I can’t even use my 100-400L on it. The lens is a bit soft at its maximum aperture of f/5.6; my normal solution is to stop it down one stop to f/8 where the sharpness is very, very good. Not on the 7D! At f/8 the diffraction already kicks in.. resulting in soft images. Not to mention the inherent softness coming from (I think) the AA filter. So either way, I can’t get sharp images with my otherwise excellent L lens? Not to mention large-DoF-demanding scenes with ANY lens. Nice one, Canon.

    So right now I am still waiting for Canon to release a camera I could use. I’ve been considering going for Nikon ever since my first encounter with 5D mark II.. and ever since then I’ve been telling myself that a working Canon camera must be just around the corner. It’s not cheap to switch systems, what with all my L glass and all.. But I can’t wait any longer. My old camera is dying on me and I need to decide.. So it will be either Canon, if they come up with something usable anytime soon, or the Nikon D700’s successor. Whichever comes first.

    Oh well, thanks for reading.

    • Your complaint about the 18MP and diffraction is unwarranted. When comparing images at a specific print size, the softness you see as a result of diffraction is not affected by pixel density. A higher pixel density will make the diffraction look worse on pixel level, but NOT when you look at the whole image.

      It might be true that the 18 MP of the 7D is of no added benefit with the 100-400L, but it will certainly do no harm. Plus there are many other lenses that look great at f/5.6 and larger, so they can benefit from the 18MP.

      Having said that, I have no use for an 18MP crop camera – still waiting for Canon’s answer to the Nikon D700.

      • I don’t know if my complaint is warranted, but I tend to believe what my eyes show me. When I was testing the camera I had my own CF card on me and took all the pictures home to have a proper look at them. I understand that in theory diffraction has direct relationship with print size and viewing distance.. That being said, I printed a few images from the 7D and from my 40D, mostly 30 inches at the longer side, and guess which camera came out as a winner? Yup, my good old 40D. It goes without saying that the 40D images had to be up-sampled quite a bit to match the 7D’s resolution and yet they came out better. No amount of sharpening done on the 7D files managed to get the lost detail back. I don’t claim to be an expert, but this simply isn’t right, is it? If you have an explanation as to how to process 7D’s images to retain detail, please share. I would really love to like this camera..

        I don’t think they should have gone over 12MP in an APS-C sensor, but that might be just me.

  19. I think this is a stupid argument because you are not comparing apples to apples. No shit the 5DII focuses better while taking half as many fps. Thats like saying its easier to hit a rabbit with a ford than it is to hit a deer with a chevy.

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