Rob Galbraith says Canon 1D MKIV Auto-Focus still unreliable. Is it true?
Rob Galbraith, has recently posted that the new Canon 1D MKIV is an unreliable sports camera for certain specific sports. As best I can tell, he bases his conclusion on some side by side shooting of sporting events with his friend Mike Sturk. His current comparison camera is the Nikon D3s.
He may very well have a point. I don’t know, and I can’t really tell from anything he has posted. To me this is deja vu all over again
You see, three years ago Rob and I published our first full reviews of the new Canon 1D MKIII on the same day. In an earlier preview of the camera, Rob indicated that Canon had specifically told him of an auto focus problem that needed to be resolved in the camera. So, of course, he went about looking intently at the auto focus performance to see if it had been improved.
To make a long story short, it hadn’t, at least totally. Kudos to Rob for having the gumption to state this fact, despite having close ties with Canon- at the time.
Our research on the subject showed that we had one camera that worked well, and one that did not. So, we postulated a hardware issue. After the hardware issue was resolved (sub-mirror fix) Canon continued to try and improve the firmware and algorithms to suit customers. Rob Galbraith never really seemed to believe any of the fixes got the camera to work as well as his original Canon 1D MKIIN. Our results with a Canon 1D MKII showed otherwise, but there you have it. Neither Rob, Mike or myself are professional sports photographers. We stepped into this thing with the best of intentions to try and help our readers get to the bottom of this issue. You have to remember, at first, Canon wasn’t talking. Because some members of Canon decided to try and work with Rob for a short period of time, a lot of credence has been lent to his opinion regarding auto focus issues and Canon cameras.
Now to the Issues:
Primary Auto Focus Problems of the Canon 1D MKIII as originally reported by Rob Galbraith
3 years ago Rob reported various issues with the auto focus performance of the Canon 1D MKIII camera. However, they eventually distilled themselves into two basic areas of complaint.
Primary Problem: Could not focus well on things coming directly at the camera (e.g.,- a runner) when compared to a Canon 1D MKIIN.
Secondary Problem: Could not focus well on static subjects
Moving the Goalposts:
Current Auto Focus Problems of the Canon 1D MKIV as being reported by Rob Galbraith
Rob’s latest report on the new Canon 1D MKIV states the above two problems have been solved. In fact, he says the camera “nailed it“ in regards to the primary issue he had with the MKIII. I would say so, our most recent testing shows the same thing. The Canon 1D MKIV outclasses all other cameras in this autofocus test getting 89% of all shots in focus vs. only 77% for the Nikon D3s.
So, according to Rob the Primary Problem of the MKIII has not only been resolved by Canon engineers, but works almost to perfection. Where is the simple recognition of this fact in this article? Rob says this is the main issue, they fix it, even according to his findings. Plus, now he is comparing it to an entirely different system. Where’s the comparison to the MKIIn? In sports terms what Rob has done with this story is to “move the goalposts.” The complaint now seems to have something to do with the autofocus not working well outdoors vs. indoors and working fairly well with some sports (e.g., track), but not so well with others (e.g., soccer).
These complaints were never the focus in his prior reports. But, let’s run with it a moment.
We agree on some things this time:
We seem to both agree that the Canon 1D MKIV autofocus system locks focus faster than the Nikon D3s. We both agree it nails the autofocus better for objects moving directly toward the camera at fast speeds. We both agree on these two things. What I don’t have a clue about is whether there is anything to these other claims. Nor can I truly investigate them.
Will the real issue please stand up (Finding the root cause):
For Rob to again be taken seriously, he will need to come up with some sort of repeatable, scientific test that emulates the conditions of the current complaints. This was done for his prior complaints with our design of a simple running test that could be replicated by almost anyone with their own equipment. We need something like this again to have any hope of getting to the bottom of this. One can’t scientifically keep a straight face and report that well, um, it seems to work better at some sports than others, and by the way I’m not a sports shooter.