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Occasional Contributor
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎06-26-2014

Need advice, 5d mark ii autofocus issues

Hello everyone!

Me and my 5D mark ii need some advice. I bought it some years ago, but didn't use it too much until the last year or so (long story) and I really should have, since the warranty is long expired :/

 

I'm having issues with autofocus. I was shooting some product photos in studio when I realized that this was a pretty big issue, I've just told myself that it was a user error other times when a shot was out of focus, but this was getting serious and I'm honestly not that horrible of a photographer Smiley Tongue

 

I recently also purchased the spyder lenscal, to check if it could be my lenses (though it did seem weird that this issue would affect ALL my lenses, and that it would only happen sometimes) and with my first test I took a photo and it looked a little off center, so I did a minor micro adjustment, turned the focus ring all out, made the camera focus and take a photo, and the focus was now WAY off. I found it odd, so I simply turned the focus ring again, focused and took another shot, and this time the focus was almost spot on. Oh, I only used center af point, the red point shows focus where I wanted it. I did the above several more times, in good lighting and camera on tripod, and some photos turned out pretty sharp while others were completely out of focus. I own 2 lenses, 17-40 and 50mm, and this happens on both though it seems to happen less frequently with the 17-40. I also find the autofocus hunting something fierce from time to time, no matter if it's in a well lit studio, outdoors or indoors.

 

Have anyone else had this issue and had it fixed at a certified canon service center? I'm trying to figure out if it's worth fixing or if it's time looking for a new camera. Honestly, I do want it fixed. I bought this camera with a small inheritance, investing in a camera that was going to stay with me for as long as possible as I usually dont have the funds to buy new ones that often. I'm afraid that sending it in for repair will cost so much that it would be wiser to just get a new one.

 

I'm guessing there isn't anything I can do myself about this issue. Does anyone know how much approximately it costs to get something like this fixed?

 

Sorry for the wall of text, and thank you for any advice you can give me.

Valued Contributor
Posts: 425
Registered: ‎01-19-2014

Re: Need advice, 5d mark ii autofocus issues

You know that if you focus and recompose the focus point will not be accurately reflected on the screen when you go to review?

Occasional Contributor
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎06-26-2014

Re: Need advice, 5d mark ii autofocus issues

I'm not sure I understand what you mean, I should disregard the info about where my camera focused? Just to clarify, I did use autofocus, only center af point activated and aimed at the same spot on the lenscal every time, I've just read that for the focus to be accurate I should manually adjust everything out of focus before using autofocus again.

I just mean that according to my camera, it focused at the right spot every time, despite images being out of focus.

Valued Contributor
Posts: 425
Registered: ‎01-19-2014

Re: Need advice, 5d mark ii autofocus issues

[ Edited ]

Okay, if you are not recomposing, are you focusing where there is sufficient contrast to guarantee sharp autofocus? If not, you might very well experience a variety of results. I have the 5D Mark II and when I shoot stills in the studio, I use the live view mode and if autofocus isn't sharp, I'll use manual focus with the 5X and 10X enlargement feature to guide that focus.

 

The 5DII doesn't have the most sophisticated autofocus system but given enough light and a sufficient amount of contrast, I've found the autofocus to be reliable if not perfect. You might try using the outer focus points. While not cross type, they are still very capable. I've attached a diagram below which points out those points that are vertical and horizontal as well as the cross type center point. Also note that maximum lens aperature also determines autofocus performance.

af-color.gif

Occasional Contributor
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎06-26-2014

Re: Need advice, 5d mark ii autofocus issues

[ Edited ]

The lenscal should have sufficient contrast I'd say, but this is an issue that is constant. Portraits, landscapes, product photos, dark enviroment, light enviroment, flowers, you name it. I cant stand live view because I rarely get anything in focus using it, it takes ages to try and find focus if it actually does. 

 

I wary what focus points I'm using when I'm photographing. It was just for this particular test that I used only the center one, as I've read many will say "center focus is the most accurate/will give the best or sharpest result". 

 

I am aware of aperture, of course, but I've gotten out of focus shots being no more than 50cm away from my product, at F11. With a tripod.

 

My eyes were not made for manual focus I'm afraid, and sometimes I just don't have the time to focus manually before a moment is gone. By the way, thank you very much for trying to help me Smiley Happy It's been a frustrating time trying to figure this out, I had the 10D and 20D before and never had any issues like this. It would be nice to be able to use F4.5 to get beautiful depth without having to take 10 photos to get the focus where the camera said it was Smiley Tongue

Valued Contributor
Posts: 425
Registered: ‎01-19-2014

Re: Need advice, 5d mark ii autofocus issues

Because the camera will autofocus on maximum aperature and close to selected aperature only after you press the shutter, there shouldn't be any need to experiment.

 

Are you listening for the focus lock beep when you shoot? Sorry about forgetting that you had the lenscal solution and all the questions, I'm hope I can help but was trying to narrow the circumstances. (You name most situations as being a problem but maybe there's something in common that isn't helping you.)

Occasional Contributor
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎06-26-2014

Re: Need advice, 5d mark ii autofocus issues

Yes, I always make sure to keep the beep on so I can hear, as well as see, when the camera has locked focus. I also use the function where the camera can't take a picture without being in focus, though that doesn't help if I should fall forwards or something when I take the picture, lol ^^ 

 

I know the autofocus is rubbish if there is little to no light in a room, but I'd rather it didn't beep and tell me it has something focused when it clearly hasn't Smiley Tongue But the part that is most important to me is having accurate autofocus in good to great light. I do feel like the problem is worse with my 50mm, but that is the cheapest one Canon sells so I don't expect the same performance as my 17-40 F4 usm lens. That being said, the 17-40 hunts more than the cheap 50mm, but that too is mostly a dark enviroment issue, or low contrast issue. 

 

It feels a little bit like entering a lottery every time I take a picture. One of the reasons I bought the cheap 50mm lens was to see if the issue would disappear with a different lens. I've tried to narrow it down too, but I'm not very technical so it's really helpful to discuss these things with someone that knows more than I do.

Reputable Contributor
Posts: 780
Registered: ‎06-11-2013

Re: Need advice, 5d mark ii autofocus issues

[ Edited ]

Here are several ideas...

 

Okay, first of all you wrote you are seeing the same issues with both lenses: 17-40 and a 50mm.

 

Which 50mm? If it's the 50/1.8, it's a micro motor lens with a reputation for somewhat iffy auto focus. Many folks who try to Micro Focus Adjust it eventually give up, because it isn't very consistent. It also tends to hunt a lot in lower light. You probably would see better results with only the center point and this lens, but a USM lens such as the EF 50/1.4 or similar would give much faster, more consistent AF.

 

The 17-40 is an f4 lens... so can't take full advantage of the f2.8 sensitivity of the center AF point. Still, as an USM lens, it should focus more surely and quickly than the EF 50/1.8.

 

What focus mode are you using? One Shot or AI Servo?

 

See the AF point pattern in the above response? Note the 6 points right around the center one (roughly on or within the circle denoting the spot focus area), making for a total of 15? Those are "hidden" Assist Points that have to be enabled in the menu, are not indicated in the viewfinder and only work in AI Servo focus mode. The other nine points (center one, plus 8 peripheral), as seen indicated in the viewfinder, are available in both One Shot and AI Servo.  For the type of photography you are doing, I'd be using One Shot, which gives greater accuracy than AI Servo. (Notes: 1. Above ignores AI Focus mode... because it really isn't a focus mode at all. In AI Focus the camera is supposed to decide for you whether or not the subject is moving, then switch to using the appropriate mode: AI Servo for moving and One Shot for stationary subjects.  2. Live View focusing uses contrast detection AF instead of phase detection that's done with the AF points seen in the viewfinder, is even more accurate than One Shot, although it's much slower.)

 

Of the nine "usual" AF points, on 5DII (and 5D original for that matter), yes, only the center one is the more sensitive "cross" type. All the others are single axis an less sensitive. However, for the types of things you shoot, they should all be usable. The 5DII's AF system is rated down to about -.5 or -1.0 EV light levels, if memory serves. I find the center point on mine is actually a little better in low light than my 7Ds or, before them, 50Ds... all of which are rated the same as the 5DII.  Slower, yes, but still able to lock on after the 7Ds and 50Ds gave up completely.

 

Anyway, I most often use the center point only on my 5DII (and with other cameras). You do have to be a bit careful focusing and recomposing, though, with any shallow depth of field shots.

 

Regarding calibrating your lenses using MFA... I haven't used the product you mention and don't know how you are using it.. Canon and Reikan Focal both recommend the "target" for most lenses be at a distance 50X the focal lenght of the lens. So a 50mm lens would have a target 2500mm or 2.5 meters (or about 8 feet) away. A zoom lens is harder to MFA.... you probably should check it at both extremes of the focal length range and if they aren't the same (seldom are) might need to arrive at an average amount of adjustment or skew it a little toward one end or the other that you use most. (Note: newer cameras with a later version of the MFA feature allow for two adjustments to zoom lenses, one at each end of the zoom range.)

 

Also, I've heard of folks having trouble doing calibration indoors, in artificial light. In particular, any common fluorescent lamps can mess with AF. Best if possible to do it outdoors in sunlight or light overcast or light shade.

 

Stopping down to f11, you should get a lot of depth of field that would hide most minor focus errors, unless the subject is very close (i.e., near macro distances).

 

If the camera and lenses haven't been used much, you might try cleaning the lens to camera electronic contacts. I recommend just lightly dampening a clean, lint free rag with a few drops of isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol and carefully wiping the contacts with that. There might be finger oils or something on them effecting AF performance.  

 

It also might be worth having the camera cleaned. Perhaps some dust has settled on the AF sensor array or on the mirror that's effecting AF performance.  I don't recommend trying to clean these yourself, perhaps aside from a puff of air from a bulb blower.

 

How are you viewing and evaluating your images? I ask because many people make the mistake of over magnifying images.... looking at a 5DII's image at 100% is like looking at a five or six foot wide print from 18" away... so close that minor and meaningless flaws are bound to be seen. I usually evaluate image focus and sharpness at 50% or 33% with my cameras (though I do work on images at higher magnifications for other reasons).

 

Also, some softwares can be a little "flaky". I use Lightroom extensively and have to be careful. When I open an image at even moderate magnifications in the Develop module, it takes a while to load, showing an enlarged thumbnail intially that always looks poorly focused... And I find if I have the crop tool active, it takes even a little longer to render the image correctly and show it's true sharpness and focus accuracy.  

 

Finally... do you have any filters on the lenses? If so, try some tests without any filters. I have seen filters effect AF performance. If not using one it's possible a lens hood might help, too, by keeping oblique light off the front of the lens.

 

All that being said, it is possible something is wrong with the camera and you should have it (and the lenses) looked at.

 

Hope this helps! Keep us posted.

 

***********
Alan Myers

San Jose, Calif., USA
"Walk softly and carry a big lens."
GEAR: 5DII, 7D(x2), 50D(x3), some other cameras, various lenses & accessories
FLICKR & PRINTROOM 

Valued Contributor
Posts: 425
Registered: ‎01-19-2014

Re: Need advice, 5d mark ii autofocus issues

The EOS 5D Mark II has two types of focus systems. Phase-detection AF is active when using the viewfinder and Quick AF mode in Live View. Contrast detection AF is available in Live AF and Face Detection Live AF modes in Live View. Generally speaking, contrast detection will focus where the issue is "camera will not focus". If you were able to adjust to using Live View at least some of the time, I think you could increase the number of keepers you get.

 

In order for the center point to function as a cross point, it needs an aperature value of f/2.8 or greater (f/2, f/1.8, etc.). Your 17-40mm lens is not fast enough to enable cross point functionality.

 

I can't remember if you'd said that the 50mm lens was a recent purchase. Because of the larger maximum aperature, you should be getting better results through the viewfinder with it.

Reputable Contributor
Posts: 780
Registered: ‎06-11-2013

Re: Need advice, 5d mark ii autofocus issues

[ Edited ]

 

I can't remember if you'd said that the 50mm lens was a recent purchase. Because of the larger maximum aperature, you should be getting better results through the viewfinder with it.


True... if it's the 50/1.4 USM. But not if it's the 50/1.8 II, even though it's got greater than f2.8 aperture.

 

There's quite a difference in focus performance, between these two lenses. The 50/1.8 is a great little entry level prime (a lot of lens for very little money). But the f1.4 USM lens is well worth the upgrade and additional cost for more serious use. One of the key reasons to spend the extra for the upgrade is the difference in AF performance. Aside from that, fhe f1.4 is somewhat better built, 2/3 stop faster, and has subtly better image quality: a bit better flare control, better saturation and contrast, nicer background blur. But the difference in focus speed, accuracy and consistency might be the single most important reason to spend more for the f1.4 lens.

 

***********
Alan Myers

San Jose, Calif., USA
"Walk softly and carry a big lens."
GEAR: 5DII, 7D(x2), 50D(x3), some other cameras, various lenses & accessories
FLICKR & PRINTROOM 

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