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Need help with 5DMKIII focus issues with 50 1.2L


Hey guys I just switched from Sony to Canon in the last couple weeks and have had quite a few focus issues with the 5DIII  I have a FocusAlign and also FocusTune software and have calibrated all my lenses to spot on. I have - 50 1.2, 85 1.8, 50 1.8, Sigma 35 1.4, tamron 70-200VC and a Tamron 90mm... So EVERY single lens has a focus adjust dialed in on both the 5DIII 6D and 7D. That isn't that bad but I figured it would be better buying all new gear. All my Sony lenses also had a focus adjustment though so that's ok. But here is the main problem - after our first wedding (where I told my wife who shoots the new 5D, to trust her focus points now), the 50L front focused on every shot where she didn't use the center point. And that was just about every portrait! So this is not good at all. So I put it back on the tripod and shot the lensalign a bit more and found that it has really bad front focus on every point but the center. The farther back the subject is, the worse the front focus is. So after a bit of research, I found that this is somewhat normal due to the curvature of the lens and the design of the optics in general for being a 1.2 lens. BUT here is the crazy thing - it focuses almost perfectly on the 6D! With any focus point!


So I called CPS and they said that I could send it in to be calibrated but I asked why it would focus perfectly on the 6D and not the 5D. They were mostly clueless but said to try to just use the center point! That isn't that bad and we can live with that, but why would it work on the 6D with a far less quality focus system? I tested all our other lenses on the 5D and it looks like the outer points work great with every other lens - including the Sigma 35.


I ordered another 50L that should be here tomorrow to really nail down if it is then lens or the body but I wanted to get some feedback to see what you guys think! You guys out there with the 5DIII and 50L, can you use the outer points at all? I have it set to just cross type points, single shot, manual point selection. Then I also tested the midway cross type points and they also front focus. But as far as the 6D to the 5D - the outer cross type points are in the same place in terms of how far out they are into the edge of the glass. So it's not like the 50L would have a harder time on the 5D than the 6D  Would you guys point more towards the lens being bad or the body having issues? I can't narrow it down well since all the other lenses work fine with the 5D and the 50L works fine on the 6D! I'm going crazy! And we have 11 shoots in the next 5 weeks so there is no way I can send the body or lens in for repair!


Here are my AFMA numbers for all 3  bodies (7d has the same issue as the 5d)



50mm 1.2: +6
50mm 1.8: +16
85mm 1.8: +12
Sigma 35 1.4: +3
Tamron 70-200: T +6 W +7
Tamron 90mm: n/a
Tokina 16-28: T +1 W +0 



50mm 1.2: -4
50mm 1.8: +6
85mm 1.8: +0 
Sigma 35 1.4: -3 
Tamron 70-200: T +2 W +4
Tamron 90mm: n/a
Tokina 16-28: T -4 W -5



50mm 1.2: -1
50mm 1.8: +6
85mm 1.8: +5
Sigma 35 1.4: -4 
Tamron 70-200: +8
Tamron 90mm: n/a
Tokina 16-28: -6


I'll attach a few pics from just now so maybe that will help. I can also upload a few from this last wedding - as they are much more pronounced.


Thanks for the help!




5DIII center point

5DIII left point

5DIII farther center point

5DIII farther out left point

6D center point

6D left point

6D farther out center point

6D farther out left point


Rising Star

If you haven't already, I'd also post this also over on Canon Rumors.  I know there are a handful of shooters also with 5D IIIs and 50Ls who have successfully gone down this exact path.  All I know is the 50L is somewhat of a specialty lens and can be quirky with its front/back focus issue.  Good luck.

Ok I will post it there 🙂


I think it's the 5D3 and it's worse for some lenses than others.  I notice the same thing on my EF 100mm f/2.8L IS Macro, 24-105mm f/4L IS and 24-70mm f/2.8L II.  The adjustment values are significantly different for different focus points.  Since I can only choose one, I MA for the center point only.  You can't compare between the 5D and 6D though.  The 6D only has a few points versus 61 points... a lot more room for errors :).


I notice that your charts were done indoors.  Not sure if you realize that the focus will shift with the amount and kind of light on the 5D3.  You must calibrate for the light condition you will shoot the most in.  I calibrate mine outdoors where I shoot 98% of the time.

Diverhank's photos on Flickr

Too bad you can only do 1 point... I wonder - Can Canon change multiple? I have heard that they do with the 1DX... That would be the answer! And the 5DIII has pretty much the same focus system. As for comparing it to the 6D, it is comparable, I have the 5D set to ONLY cross type points, and the point straight to the left of the center and straight to the right of center, match up with the same points on the 6D. So they are looking through the same spot of glass. As for the inside deal, you think it would be different outside? That would be insane?!?! That would mean that everything would go crazy from shooting a wedding outside to going inside for a reception. That would be bad!


Thanks! Cody

I definitely see a huge difference between outdoors and indoors.  Even indoors, the amount of light makes a big difference. The reason I noticed this was when I was calibrating indoors near a window where some sunlight was coming in.  I took the first set of shots but got interrupted with other chores.  When I came back when sunlight was almost gone and the incandescent lights were turned on,  I decided to retake some of the same settings and noticed a difference which prompted me to double check the photos...the focus point changes for different light levels and light source.  The 5D3 manual on page 109 talks about this and it is right, based on my observation.


This sounds bad but in practice, the focus shift is  minor and is noticeable only with razor thin DOF.  Most shots during a wedding (unless closeups) will be just fine.   For precise DOF work though, you should obtain and record data for various lighting conditions and reprogram the MA values for the appropriate shoot.  The kind of adjustments you showed I think is applicable only for very low light condition.  The focus shift is much less in better lighting condition so if you program them in, your pictures might be worse in better lighting conditions.  Most of my lens require no or 1 or 2 points adjustment for outdoors condition and around 10 in low light - huge difference.  Since I shoot mostly outdoors, this is my default MA setting.   This is why I always use flash when I shoot indoors as it has focus assist which is very good so I don't have to deal with horrible low light focus shifts.

Diverhank's photos on Flickr

Wow that is crazy. I really didn't know that. I'll have to look at the manual to see what it says. So I am also using a flash for calibration inside and shooting at like 160th or 180th of a second... Will using the flash change what you said or no? I'm in Florida and sometimes it's hard to do it outside but yes we do shoot almost always outdoors besides receptions and church ceremonies so I'll do it outside now. Maybe that will help!


Thanks! Cody

I sure wish some others would chime in with a response also if they can use outer points or no.


Here is an update - Bought the Sigma 50 to replace the 50L and it does the same thing with the outer points! The left side is a little worse as was the case the the 50L. But it consistently front focuses about a meter when over 15' away or so. And probably a foot front focus at 8' away or so. We also had another engagement shoot where I told my wife again to just use the center point so she did and every shot where she was over 15' away or so, the camera front focused like crazy! ... So I just shipped the 5D3 and the 50L to Canon on Wednesday. I sure hope they can resolve this because again, I put the Sigma 50 on the 6D and it works gloriously with the outer points! We have a few engagement shoots and 1 wedding scheduled during the time the camera will be at Canon so we will have to live with the 6D and 7D for a few shoots. Who knows, if they can't fix it, maybe 2 6D's would be better. Sure wish some others with this combo would chime in to help out a bit on this!


Thanks! Cody