AF comparison between 500D/50D/60D/7D?

Started Mar 5, 2011 | Discussions thread
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Entropius
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AF comparison between 500D/50D/60D/7D?
Mar 5, 2011

I'm asking this on behalf of my father, who does bird photography with a 500D and 100-400.

He's terribly frustrated with AF problems with his camera, which don't seem to be the fault of particular bodies/lenses; the same problems happen with his 350D and 100-400, and with his 70-200/2.8 (non-IS).

Essentially, the problem is that:

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the camera is easily distracted by foreground clutter (for instance, when trying to shoot a bird in brush)

--AF accuracy sometimes leaves something to be desired

--AF sometimes inexplicably refuses to lock on targets that ought to be easy (a bird on a twig five yards away)

This happens in center-point-only AF, on all AF modes.

I shoot Olympus, so I don't know the ins and outs of Canon AF, but I've borrowed his camera enough to know that he's not making this up and that it's not just user error.

He's thinking about getting a better body in hopes that it will solve his AF issues. He's not interested necessarily in super-speedy continuous AF/"AF Servo" performance, but in absolutely rock-solid center-point single-shot AF, which will focus on what you put the little dot on every time.

I understand that neither the 50D or 60D has spot AF, but the 7D does. Is that correct? Other than that, how is the AF reliability on these models (using a f/5.6 lens)?

Also, is the viewfinder improved on the 50/60D? In my experience with the 500D it is difficult to tell if the subject is actually focused from looking at the VF; even though the viewfinder on my old Olympus is smaller the "snap-in-focus" behavior seems to be better, probably due to some microprism wizardry or other.

I notice that DPReview seems to do very detailed tests of cameras' sensors but essentially none on AF systems. (This doesn't make any sense to me, since all modern sensors are quite good, and who cares how good the sensor is if the images are out of focus?)

Thanks in advance.

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