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Canon lens updates

Edward
Frequent Contributor

I recently repurchased a 70-200 mm f 2.8 Is MKII to replace the older model that I sold 3 years ago.  I never liked this lens because it was heavy and the positioning of the focusing and the zoom rings.  The reason for the repurchase was because the image quality of my favorite 100-400 mm IS lens shows its deficiencies when used with the Canon 5DIII.

 

Since the autofocus functions has improved particular in the 5DIII and the IDx, the need to use the AF ring has greatly decreased to almost never used.  So why don't get rid of this ring and transfer the function to the back wheel of the cameras when needed, this wheel can be programmed to do so.  This will allow for moving the AF ring forward in the 70-200 and eliminating totally the focusing ring. In addition, a better balancing when handholding the lens/camera will be achieved as well as a reduction in mechanical parts, less weight in plus better weather sealing.

 

This concept could be applied to other lenses such as my 400 mm f2.8 MKII that has an oversized focusing ring that again I seldom if ever use.  

12 REPLIES 12

cicopo
Esteemed Contributor

Because there are other users with other bodies which don't / won't have the same ability.

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

p4pictures
Frequent Contributor

Actually I think your idea has some merit, it's time the whole system was looked at to see if there are better ways to do things in the future.

 

Though specifically for me as I'm a left eyed shooter then I would find the rear dial a bit awkard for manual focus.

 

Brian / p4pictures

Canon specialist trainer, author and photographer - http://www.p4pictures.com

jeffk42
New Contributor

Well, there are a couple of points to make here. First, "almost never used" is your experience but not everyone's.  Sure the AF is great normally but throw some extension tubes on some lenses and your AF will stop working. Also, a lot of macro photography might require precision manual focus since the DoF is already so razor thin.  

Second, in order for a fly-by-wire manual focus system like you suggest to be successful, it would have to be perfectly stepless -- and that's no easy feat for a digital system (i.e., if a 'click' of the wheel adjusts from 0.5 to 0.6, what if I need my focus at 0.527?).  Even if you could do it, you'd have to manage a way to move between super-fine control and the ability to go from one end to the other quickly when needed.  Honestly, there's no better system for this than turning the ring by hand.

Of course, then there's the issue of backward compatibility with older bodies.  And bodies like the D-Rebels that don't have wheels.  And since most people have their face up to the camera to judge MF, dialing it in using the wheel would be pretty awkward.

Aside from possibly improving the weather sealing, I see very little benefit to such a system.  Handholding won't change - AF is internal anyway, and the focus ring doesn't move.  Feel free to hold it there if you want!  Smiley Happy

Anyway, those are my thoughts, for what little they're worth. Smiley Happy

By the way, Canon tried a similar move in the 1980's with their 35-80 "Power Zoom" lens, where they decided people might want stepped electronic zoom controls instead of a ring.  They also removed the manual focus capability, probably thinking like you did, that no one needs it when you have great AF.  It was an abysmal failure and didn't last long.  (side note, I've used one of these and indeed they are attrocious. Smiley Happy )

35-80 Power Zoom

-------------------
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon D-Rebel XSi, Canon EOS 17-40 f/4L USM, Canon EOS 24-105 f/4L USM IS, Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM, Canon 70-200 f/2.8L USM, Canon Speedlite 580EX II, Canon Speedlite 430EX. Mounted via adapter: Olympus OM 50mm f/1.4, Olympus OM 135mm f/2.0, Olympus OM 28mm f/3.5, SMC Takumar 50mm f/1.4, Jupiter-9 85mm f/2.0.

John
Frequent Contributor

I bet the OP's suggestion for the using the body's quick control dial is possible with a firmware update.  Maybe enable/disable it via a custom setting.  

 

Taking the focus ring off of the lens may decrease the cost of making the lens, but it would definately alienate most buyers. Since Rebels don't have a quick control dial on the back, they probably won't buy a lens without a focus ring.  And Rebels outsell the XD and XXD bodies handily.

 

Besides, my left hand would get a little bored.

HDCamTeam
Frequent Contributor

@Edward wrote:

I recently repurchased a 70-200 mm f 2.8 Is MKII to replace the older model that I sold 3 years ago.  I never liked this lens because it was heavy and the positioning of the focusing and the zoom rings.  The reason for the repurchase was because the image quality of my favorite 100-400 mm IS lens shows its deficiencies when used with the Canon 5DIII.

 

Since the autofocus functions has improved particular in the 5DIII and the IDx, the need to use the AF ring has greatly decreased to almost never used.  So why don't get rid of this ring and transfer the function to the back wheel of the cameras when needed, this wheel can be programmed to do so.  This will allow for moving the AF ring forward in the 70-200 and eliminating totally the focusing ring. In addition, a better balancing when handholding the lens/camera will be achieved as well as a reduction in mechanical parts, less weight in plus better weather sealing.

 

This concept could be applied to other lenses such as my 400 mm f2.8 MKII that has an oversized focusing ring that again I seldom if ever use.  


The idea of controlling focus with the rear wheel is possible, and a very interesting one. In fact there are some 3rd party accessories like Okii FC1 USB controller that allows focus control, and also ML's feautre.

 

BUT there are tons of other users who do use the focus ring often. Not to mention for video purpose, where focus is always manually controlled. So getting rid of the focus ring would be an astronomical mistake.

 

Regards

 

HD Cam Team
Group of photographers and filmmakers using Canon cameras for serious purposes.
www.hdcamteam.com | www.twitter.com/HDCamTeam | www.facebook.com/HDCamTeam

Edward
Frequent Contributor

I reviewed the line of Canon EOS and all have a wheel/button that can be programed to use to electronically focus a lens without a focusing ring.

 

In the not so long past, all SLR lenses came with an f-stop ring that is now  gone from most EOS lenses (except for shift lenses some macro lenses).  When this ring disappeared, the depth of field scale also disappeared, a most practical tool to hyperfocus a lens.  Does any one complaint about this? 

 

Currently most point and shoot digital cameras do not have a focusing ring or way of adjusting it with a wheel or button; nor do the smart phones that are delegating point and shoot cameras to the dust bin.

 

In the near future, most EOS cameras will not have a mirror box.  For the purists, this may considered a drawback as is the idea to getting rid of the focusing ring.

 

As I stated before, removal oi the focusing ring will reduce weight,  the number of mechanical parts, better weather sealing.   Finally, the incentive for the manufacturers  to eliminate the focusing ring will happen since it reduces production costs and increase profits.  Time will tell.

domina
Occasional Contributor

I base my lens purchasing decisions on how good the focus ring is 🙂 I want to be able to focus manually and I bought the Ef-S high-precision focusing screen for my EOS 60D specifically for manual focus work, as well as a third-party LCD magnifier accessory. I mainly use it with old manual-focus lenses. But I want the aperture ring back on modern lenses, as well as good focus rings!

HDCamTeam
Frequent Contributor

@domina wrote:

I base my lens purchasing decisions on how good the focus ring is 🙂 I want to be able to focus manually and I bought the Ef-S high-precision focusing screen for my EOS 60D specifically for manual focus work, as well as a third-party LCD magnifier accessory. I mainly use it with old manual-focus lenses. But I want the aperture ring back on modern lenses, as well as good focus rings!


Agree. I also would love to see the aperture ring back (aside from being able to control de aperture from the camera).

 

The reason is simple: being able to keep an exact aperture aliminates small difference in aperture when shooting time lapse or any other sequence of large amount of shots. With current electronic controlled aperture ring, the aperture is not 100% reliable. That's why even when selecting f/5.6 (for instance) you won't always get f/5.6. Small differences will happen, that will show up as small difference in exposure.

 

Old system used by Nikon was probably not fast as today's, but you were able to set the aperture manually or set it to the maximum f-stop to let the camera control it. That was really useful.

 

But, I don't think we'll see such "step back" from any manufacturer (that's why we use some lenses with aperture ring for specific purposes 🙂 )

 

Back to the OP: if you get rid of the focus ring, current follow focus system used for filmmaking would be unusable on those lenses without focus ring. The capability of controlling focus with a FF system, is amazing and extremely important, you don't need to see the screen (or EVF, or any kind of monitor) because you already marked the focus points acording to the scene you're filming. Of course, that's for video/filmmaking purposes.

 

But honestly I don't think manufacturers will get rid of focus ring, at least in near future, especially Canon which has earned SO MUCH from the video/Cinema features implemented on DSLRs...

 

Regards

 

PS: I also carefully check the smoothness of the focus ring when purchasing a lens. I don't like any kind of slack or "play" on it. I make fine adjustments by hand when shooting video and stills very often.

 

HD Cam Team
Group of photographers and filmmakers using Canon cameras for serious purposes.
www.hdcamteam.com | www.twitter.com/HDCamTeam | www.facebook.com/HDCamTeam

David
Frequent Contributor

Although the autofocusing has greatly improved with the latest cameras, they still do not always know where you want the focus plane to be and manual focus will then be needed (bird in a tree surrounded by branches).

 

I learned by using manual focusing cameras so maybe I am biased but having the focusing ring on the lens seems like the most logical and fastest way to manual focus a camera.