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New Contributor
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎12-31-2012

5D Mark iii AF system - necessary for hobbyist photographer?

[ Edited ]

I take pictures of just about everything, including running/playing children. My biggest complaint about my current camera (a high-end point-and-shoot. Definitely time to upgrade!) is that it doesn't focus well on moving subjects, nor does it focus well in low-light conditions (or do anything in low-light conditions, really). I would like to purchase the 6D, but if it's going to give me trouble every time I try to focus on moving people, then it's not worth 2000 dollars. The 5D Mark iii apparently has amazing AF but, honestly, it almost seems overwhelming to me. My choices are a crippled AF or a complicated AF, and I'm not sure what to do. As a hobbyist photographer who often shoots moving subjects, will the 6D be adequate? Or should I buy the 5D Mark iii and just plan on spending a good amount of time with the instruction manual?

Respected Contributor
Posts: 1,861
Registered: ‎12-02-2012

Re: 5D Mark iii AF system - necessary for hobbyist photographer?

[ Edited ]

Hi, Nessa.

 

I have only had my 6D for a little over a week, and it tracks my kids fine.  Better than my T3i did.  If your budget is not a concern, and if you are OK with a fairly steep learning curve, the 5D3 might be great for you. 

 

I know a lot of shooters complained about the 7D, which has a similarly great but complex autofocus system.  Some people were not willing or able to master it, and then complained about out-of-focus shots.  As you have never had a DSLR yet, maybe (or maybe not) you would like to keep it a little simpler? 

 

In any event, you will ALWAYS want to spend most of your money on glass (lenses), not camera bodies.  If you would not have the money left over to pick up another lens or two, you might very well do better to spend less on the camera and use the money to then buy yourself a couple of lenses.  And a tripod for sure.  And a flash for sure!

 

For myself, I was on the fence.  In the end I used the price difference between 6D and 5D3 and used it to buy myself an extra lens, and pocketed some cash too.  (I already have tripod and flash).  Lenses hold value very well.  Camera bodies, on the other hand, get outdated like new cars or new computers do, and then you want the newest one every 3 or 4 years.  Because I also had some concerns about the 5D3 supposedly struggling to focus in dim light (see posts on this forum and elsewhere), and because low light focus is more important to me than is super-fast-moving-object-focus, and because the 6D is undisputably great in low light focusing compared to basically anything else out there (-3 EV!) I went with 6D plus extra lens (85mm f/1.8 in addition to the 24-105 f/4). 

 

I figure that 5D4 will be out in 3 years, and it will probably have x-ray vision, and will enable its user to fly and/or read minds, so I'll pick that up later.  Smiley Wink

 

Good luck!!

Scott

Canon 5d mk 4, Canon 6D, EF 70-200mm L f/2.8 IS mk2; EF 16-35 f/2.8 L mk. III; Sigma 35mm f/1.4 "Art" EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro; EF 85mm f/1.8; EF 1.4x extender mk. 3; EF 24-105 f/4 L; EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS; 3x Phottix Mitros+ speedlites

Why do so many people say "FER-tographer"? Do they take "fertographs"?
Super Contributor
Posts: 222
Registered: ‎12-29-2012

Re: 5D Mark iii AF system - necessary for hobbyist photographer?

For this hobbyist yes.   I went from a 7D to a 5D Mk III.  The 6D would have been a major disappointment for me in many ways.

 

But in your case it depends on where you are coming from and where you are going.  Coming from a P&S to a 5D Mk III is likely going to be very overwhelming and intimidating.  But that doesn't mean you can't handle it or you won't be successful.  Only you can know. 

 

Don't rule out the 6D.   The center AF point seems to be very quick and precise, and excellent in low light.  The 6D is not an action camera but that doesn't mean you can't get sharp photos of moving kids.  If you are set on a FF dSLR, I think the 6D with the 24-105 kit lens is the perfect place to start.  

 

Time to do your homework.  Get to a camera shop for some hands-on.  The 5D is going to feel like a monster.  Haven't picked up a 6D yet but I understand the form factor is much like a 60D.

 

http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/Canon-EOS-6D-Digital-SLR-Camera-Review.aspx

 

http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/Canon-EOS-5D-Mark-III-DSLR-Camera-Review.aspx

 

Otherwise for non FF, look into the 60D and T4i and T3i for starter cameras.   (The 60D is expecting a replacement sometime in 2013.)

 

BTW, focusing on moving subjects is a skill and even art that needs to be learned regardless which camera you own/plan to buy.  It takes patience, experimenting and lots of practice.  A high end camera will not give you automatic great results out of the box.

 

 

 

 

Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 2,386
Registered: ‎11-14-2012

Re: 5D Mark iii AF system - necessary for hobbyist photographer?

I'm not sure you need to spend any where that much money to start out so I'll ask for a bit more info because I could shoot kids and most anything else with the 20D I gave my daughter years ago. The right lens or lenses & having the camera set correctly can & has done the job for a very long time. That's not to say a better camera doesn't help do it a bit more easily, but at what cost. That said the 20D wasn't perfect in low light, but I'm not sure what you're calling low light. Could you describe the conditions you're worried about? Also is there a specific reason you're thinking of going full frame rather than a crop body?

"A skill is developed through constant practice with a passion to improve, not bought."
Respected Contributor
Posts: 1,861
Registered: ‎12-02-2012

Re: 5D Mark iii AF system - necessary for hobbyist photographer?

[ Edited ]

Cicopo's point is valid.  If you are looking for something better than a point and shoot, a body like 5D3 is a pretty expensive and enormous first step.

 

T4i (a crop-sensor DSLR) is a great camera with a pretty darned good AF system.  It can't do as well as a full-frame camera in low light without flash, but then you really need to get a flash unit anyway.  By purchasing a T4i, you save a lot of cash for the really important things like lenses, a good tripod, a flash, and more lenses.  Or more lenses.  Smiley Happy

 

It would help people to give advice if  you were to tell us what exactly you would like to photograph, and in what conditions.   Equally/more important, what is your budget for camera + lenses + accessories?

Scott

Canon 5d mk 4, Canon 6D, EF 70-200mm L f/2.8 IS mk2; EF 16-35 f/2.8 L mk. III; Sigma 35mm f/1.4 "Art" EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro; EF 85mm f/1.8; EF 1.4x extender mk. 3; EF 24-105 f/4 L; EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS; 3x Phottix Mitros+ speedlites

Why do so many people say "FER-tographer"? Do they take "fertographs"?
New Contributor
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎12-31-2012

Re: 5D Mark iii AF system - necessary for hobbyist photographer?

[ Edited ]

Wow, thanks for your advice, everyone! Smiley Happy And you're right; money doesn't buy skill so I shouldn't waste an extra thousand as an attempt to make up for my weaknesses.

 

My camera is essentially attached to my hip; I take it everywhere and shoot anything that interests me at the time. However, I can pinpoint two conditions in which I spend the most time shooting. I photograph a LOT of events, maybe half of which are indoors with varying lighting conditions. I also enjoy taking pictures at night in the city - people and stationary objects/settings. I currently use manual focus for night and low-light indoor conditions (which is frustratingly difficult when people are moving), and I use a tripod and long exposures for most of my night pictures (which is limiting). Even then, the pictures rarely turn out as sharp and vivid as I would like. The thought of a camera that can produce better quality images in the dark or low-light AND that can AUTO focus in said conditions sounds marvelous, and that's the reason I'm aiming for full frame. It sounds like some of the crop sensor cameras may be better than the 6D for all the events I photograph, given their AF capabilities, but I'm okay with sacrificing some AF (within reason) and some cash for quality night and low-light shots. Maybe I'm wrong in thinking that full frame is necessary for all this though? I just read reviews and saw sample images and was impressed with the pictures coming out of full frame cameras in low-light and night conditions. I don't have hands-on experience with crop sensor cameras though, so I may be underestimating them. Please correct me if I am wrong in any of my assumptions! Smiley Happy

 

Anyway, given my desire for nice low-light/night performance and AF performance with moving subjects at events, the 5D Mark iii is tempting. However, from what I've read and from what you all have told me, it sounds like the 6D will be a good fit for me while the 5D Mark iii is probably excessive. You asked about my budget. I have saved up 6,000, which is a lot, but perhaps not so much when considering that I currently own no photo equipment other than my point-and-shoot and my flimsy tripod, haha.

Super Contributor
Posts: 222
Registered: ‎12-29-2012

Re: 5D Mark iii AF system - necessary for hobbyist photographer?

You sound like you are on track to learn the fundamentals and develop the necessary skills.  Plus you've got the budget and are willing to spend money on your hobby.  With that being said and assuming you are happy with the feel and balance of the 6D, that is the camera I would seriously consider.  

 

Pick up the kit which includes the 24-105.  This lens is an excellent all-around, lens with a forgiving f/4 aperture.   Give yourself plenty of time to learn your new tools/toys before you buy anyone equipment.  

 

Rule #1:  don't buy too much equipment too soon.

 

Then you will know which focal lengths you need.  Maybe an ultra wide like the 17-40 for landscape, or a telephoto zoom like one of the 70-200Ls, or a fast prime for portraits that produce nice out of focus back grounds.   Whatever you do, do not skimp on lens, be practical but don't cut corners.  Sharp images are produced by the lens way more than the camera.

 

When you start looking at tripods, do not skimp.  Too many people waste their money on lower end tripods and end up repurchasing a quality one.  A sturdy set of legs with a rock solid head is money well spent.

 

Finally since you sound like someone on the serious path, don't completely rule out the 5D mk III.   Go to a shop and play with one.  Not many people would recommend that as a first dSLR (myself included), but that doesn't mean you shouldn't consider it.  Maybe it is the best choice for you.  

 

You have not described yourself as an action shooter (sports, birding, wildlife, etc.) but if you had, I suggest the 7D or to wait for the 7D mk II.

 

All in all I think you will be happier with the FOV (field of view) and image quality of a full frame camera.

 

Good luck and let us know your choices.

Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 2,386
Registered: ‎11-14-2012

Re: 5D Mark iii AF system - necessary for hobbyist photographer?

Based on what you say you like to shoot I'm sticking with the idea that any DSLR I've owned starting with the 20D which was my first can meet your needs (other than full frame). When the low light AF performance is being touted as superior it's relating to LOW LIGHT, as at dusk or in a very dimly lit room. Your streetscapes / cityscapes would have lots of light for the AF to work with, but now thanks to Live View you could easily use manual focus while tripod mounted for tough situations where you want a very specific focal point. Considering that you're going to have a camera which doesn't come with a mode dial filled with all the choices many P & S cameras have (landscape mode, night mode, sport mode etc) chances are that you'll want to learn the "old school" way to shoot such scenes rather than rely on Program mode (which likely does very well) so I really don't see the need for the 5D3 to get the results you're after.

As for action (I shoot a lot of fast paced action during the summer) the main thing to learn is that you need to set the AF system to AISERVO, which constantly adjusts the AF to follow whatever you're tracking as long as you are half pressed (shutter) or fully pressed (back AF button). You also need to use a shutter speed high enough to freeze the subject, which Program won't always do unless there's really good light. DSLR's react much faster than a P & S when you press the shutter button so it shouldn't take long to master shooting kids at play or even doing many sports.

"A skill is developed through constant practice with a passion to improve, not bought."
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