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Canon 1D MKIII Autofocus- Interactive Review
Published by drew
06-27-2007
Day 9- New MKIII vs. Older MKIII



Day 9: July 16, 2007

New MKIII vs. Older MKIII


There are a lot of new factors and things to discuss regarding the Canon 1D MKIII autofocus system. But, let's just get this out of the way right now.

The data strongly suggest:

There are bad focusing Canon 1D MKIII bodies in circulation and there are good focusing Canon 1D MKIII bodies in circulation.

We just finished putting a newer 1D MKIII body through the rigors of the running test, and it performed as well as the 1D MKII.

So, you want to know how to tell the difference. And, you want some proof.

The proof is easier, so let's start there.

Before we get started, I just have to say that while I have enjoyed working on these reviews, I am not necessarily looking forward to troubleshooting more cameras to this degree. We have spent a lot of time on this project. However, since I gave the camera such a clean bill of health the first time around, I felt a responsibility to dig deeper. Here's to hoping our next hardware review requires a little less running in the heat.

Mucho, mucho thanks goes out to the folks at PPR who let me borrow different cameras and lenses on several different occasions. I could not have provided this interactive review without their help.

The Proof:

"The Bad Body" (camera body, that is.)



Canon 1D MKIII Sample Data
Serial #
504439
(This is the original Body for all previously reported data)


36 out of 74 oof = 48.6%
(file numbers ending in 676-750)

28 out of 61 oof = 45.9%
(file numbers ending in 755-816)

31 out of 69 oof = 44.9%
(file numbers ending in 829-898)

46.47% Out of Focus Canon 1D MKIII Original Body at f/2.8


*Full Member Extra:
Download the "Bad Camera Body" Zip Pack with all 3 runs.

(You will want to view them all in a series at 100% using Lightroom, Zoombrowser, etc. To find the focus area you will often need to look for the area of highest contrast. Usually the seam on the t-shirt at the shoulders. Unprocessed jpegs straight from the camera.)



"The Good Body"



Canon 1D MKIII Sample Data
Serial #
522721
(Brand new body just received by PPR)


11 out of 44 oof = 25%
(file numbers ending in 5008-5052)

12 out of 41 oof = 29.3%
(file numbers ending in 5077-5118)

16 out of 56 oof = 28.6%
(file numbers ending in 5147-5203)

27.63% Out of Focus on Canon 1D MKIII at f/2.8

*Full Member Extra:
Download the "Good Camera Body" Zip Pack with all 3 runs.
(You will want to view them all in a series at 100% using Lightroom, Zoombrowser, etc. To find the focus area you will often need to look for the area of highest contrast. Usually the seam on the t-shirt at the shoulders. Please note these files were shot at a smaller jpeg size (M2) to facilitate downloading and viewing.)


Overall Results:

28% Out of Focus MKIII (Serial #
522721)

vs.

47% Out of Focus Original MKIII (Serial #
504439)

(Canon 300mm at f/2.8, AI Servo, "Ring of Fire" Autofocus Point Selected, Fast Action Running Series)

Some Perspective:
It is possible that there is some other variable(s) at play here that could be causing these different results. But, it is highly unlikely, given the controlled nature of the study. Same location, similar temperature, similar time of day, same clothing, same runner, etc.

We reasonably conclude from the data that there are both good camera bodies and bad camera bodies. We also conclude that in a fast action series, with variables similar to those above, you lose an average of 47 shots out of every 100 that you shoot when using a bad body. When using a good body you will lose an average of about 28 of every 100 that you shoot. This means with a bad MKIII body you lose, on average, about 19 more shots out of every 100 than you would with a properly focusing MKIII body.

Ok, so this newer body is better. That's good. But, wait, I thought you showed on Day 5 that the 1D MKII only lost about 13 out of every 100 shots, not 28. So, is this "good" 1D MKIII body really as good at the running test as the Canon 1D MKII that preceded it?

The answer is a qualified, yes. In fact, it may be better.

What's coming up:
But to demonstrate that we are going to need to go back and look at some of the main variables that affect autofocus performance in the running test. Hint: One of them is contrast and how/ where the sun strikes the subject.

In the coming days we will also look at how to test your camera, autofocus performance in static subjects, big differences in Lens IS performance, and what this all means.

Stay tuned...

To navigate this review use the arrows at the bottom of each page and/or the content box at the top right of this article.
<<  <    Next Page: Day 10- MKIII vs. MKII Round 2 (Page 11 of 26)    >  >>
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By Noel_Carboni on 06-27-2007, 09:25 AM
Re: Canon 1D MKIII Autofocus- Progressive Review

So far so good. Reinforces my theory that a problem such as Rob saw must be a manufacturing defect. Let's be realistic: It would actually be difficult to design an AF system that would be negatively affected by temperature.

The fact that Rob tested two different bodies and found virtually the same defect in both may mean it's a component problem with a particular batch, which was a different batch than the one from which the camera you tested, Drew, was made.

It's a shame there had to be a controversy over this new camera, even to the point where folks canceled orders. Even the best home run hitters in baseball don't hit home runs every time at bat, and even a whole game devoid of homers doesn't mean their capacity to hit them is diminished.

-Noel

P.S., your review's second page is a bit wide as viewed in IE7.
Last edited by Noel_Carboni; 06-27-2007 at 09:28 AM..
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  #1  
By EricC on 06-27-2007, 10:01 AM
Re: Canon 1D MKIII Autofocus- Progressive Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by Noel_Carboni View Post
Even the best home run hitters in baseball don't hit home runs every time at bat, and even a whole game devoid of homers doesn't mean their capacity to hit them is diminished.
You HAVE got to be kidding. The difference between us and the masses is that we ARE expected to come back with 'the' shot EVERY time. I can hear it now..... Lets just go into the church's basement for your portraits, it's too hot and bright out here. MY batting average HAS to be better than .500, it darn well be better than .750 or I can trade all my gear in for a mini van and start shuttling kids off to soccer practice.

Good thing the Super Bowl is held in February and in the evening.
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  #2  
By Steve_Brenner on 06-27-2007, 11:52 AM
Re: Canon 1D MKIII Autofocus- Progressive Review

Drew,
I appreciate your effort to evaluate the AF quality in the Canon 1D MkIII. As one who has taken delivery of an early model, I am most interested in how the AF is working. The football season is still a few months away, but concerns about the AF system's effectiveness are weighing on my mind right now.

I would have liked to see some comparisons of the "runner" standing still at a few distances from your camera to see how the AF works on a non-moving object. In addition, there seems to be some motion created blur which indicates that a faster shutter speed could have resulted in less overall blur.

Thanks for contributing to our understanding of the issue. My hope, of course, is that Canon is listening and will make appropriate adjustments to both currently manufactured and future Mk III bodies.

Steve Brenner
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  #3  
By Noel_Carboni on 06-27-2007, 12:55 PM
Re: Canon 1D MKIII Autofocus- Progressive Review

Quote:
You HAVE got to be kidding.
Nope. Perhaps you misunderstood me. I meant to imply that Canon has quite likely designed a great camera, and that several may have gone out the door with a particular problem that is not seen in every one. Drew keeps proving the camera he has his hands on does NOT exhibit the AF problem seen by Rob Galbraith.

The issue here is whether the Mark III has an overall DESIGN flaw or Rob's cameras have a common MANUFACTURING flaw. The sample size is WAY too small to prove it DOES have a design flaw, but just one camera shown to be working properly can go a long way toward proving it DOES NOT.

Do I want to see more tests? Sure.

-Noel
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  #4  
By drew on 06-27-2007, 01:21 PM
Re: Canon 1D MKIII Autofocus- Progressive Review

Thanks.

There is a LOT more to come.

I got in late last night from testing the camera at a local Atlanta professional soccer club with Ron Holt. I just wanted to get something up.

I am planning on doing more running tests today with additional settings and a higher ISO to yield a faster shutter throughout the run. I spent at least two hours yesterday in the heat lining up and running at the camera. While I was generally satisfied that all was working well. There was too much motion blur due to the low shutter speeds to produce consistent and definitive positive results. This was especially true of the ones where I was wearing all black to try and more closely simulate the runner on Rob's site. I must say I am not really looking forward to running at a camera over and over again today. It is almost as hot as yesterday.

I also plan to test a few other things today.
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  #5  
By drew on 06-28-2007, 03:23 AM
Re: Canon 1D MKIII Autofocus- Progressive Review

Day 2 Added.
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