Canon's new 61 pt AF system (1DX, 5D3) smokes Nikon

Started Aug 12, 2012 | Discussions thread
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Lots of misinformation here..
In reply to iShootWideOpen, Aug 15, 2012

I urge people to take time to collect facts before they make wild assumptions like "D800 AF is garbage" or anything along those lines. The amount of misinformation here is quite astonishing, although it's to be expected anytime someone feels the need to validate their purchase (this goes for anything, not just cameras).

I also find many people doing some "selective reading", again, usually when they feel the need to validate a purchase. All the posts across various forums with huge praise for the D800's AF system, complete with examples/proof, always seem to go unnoticed, or suspiciously ignored. Heck, I saw a thread today about a guy shooting BIF (Bat in flight) with the D800 in near darkness, as well as head-on BIF shots. There is another thread floating around with flawlessly sharp handheld shots of a bumble bee in flight even while using a 2.0 teleconverter. For whatever reason these types of threads are always ignored, yet the individual threads showing a possible left AF issue using questionable testing methods is somehow further concrete proof of a widespread issue. That just doesn't make sense.

I do agree there is an issue with some D800/D4 bodies and their left focus points, I am not arguing that at all. I do think the issue is exaggerated though.

Consider these points as well:

1) The D800 AF system is now probably the most thoroughly/commonly tested AF system ever. Imagine if every single 5DM3 body was tested with the scrutiny that many are testing the D800 (200% viewing, etc.) - I would bet that every 5DM3 (or any other camera) isn't 100% perfect from body to body. The more you test, the more variation you will find. I'm willing to bet many people would never have even noticed any left AF issue if they just went out and used the camera normally.

2) On top of the sheer number of people testing their D800's, consider that a HUGE number of them aren't using proper AF targets or ideal methods. Now combine that with how even the slightest imperfections in testing methods will be amplified by 36MP. A good example is this is what Thom Hogan wrote on his blog recently. He said that of the hundreds of emails he gets regarding the D800 issue, fewer than 20% MIGHT have the issue , and the rest either think they have an issue but don't, or have severely flawed testing methods. That would suggest that out of everyone who sent Thom an email thinking they had an issue, as many as 80% may not have any issue whatsoever. These may be some of the same people posting on forums saying their D800 has an issue.

3) I'm approximating here, but I think it's fair to say that 9/10 people will turn to internet forums/discussion/review sites when they have a problem or negative experience, but only 1/10 might start a thread to say how happy they are with their camera. This goes for anything, not just cameras. Complainers are always the loudest, and it can cause a snowball effect (as it did with the D800 clearly).

4) The D4 and D800 have the same AF system, and a handful of D4's did indeed have a legitimate left AF issue. If there was any actual widespread and/or uncorrectable issue, I would have expected to see far fewer Nikon shooters at the Olympics trusting once in a lifetime moments to that AF system.

5) As for the Lloyd Chambers write-up, his methods are heavily criticized, even by skeptical Canon shooters. Shooting an 85/1.4 at huge distances wide open is something nobody actually does, yet that was a determining factor of his verdict. Those lenses are optimized for close/medium range & portraits. I also believe he said his D800E is still his most used camera. Many people have just read that single review, and assumed the D800 can't AF.

6) Dpreview users probably account for 1% of D800 owners worldwide, yet many are quick to assume based on a brief glance of the D800 forums that there is some devastatingly huge issue affecting every single camera. Now combine that with the fact that disgruntled people post 10X more often than happy ones, and I suspect only a very small percentage of D800's are actually affected.

A big part of the problem, IMO, is that people are so paranoid, and testing so furiously, that they are testing beyond the reasonable accuracy of any phase detect AF system. Again, I completely acknowledge that some users do indeed have a legitimate and obvious left-AF issue, but much of the testing I've seen has been fairly inconclusive. When you need to view the 36 MP images at 200% to try and see an issue (like many "tests" I see), I think it's safe to say that camera probably doesn't have a problem, and it's more likely the user is seeing something to do with the lens if there are slight variances across the image.

Anyways, all I'm trying to say is that if people actually took the time to read every single "D800 AF Issue" thread, consider the source, testing methods, etc. before passing judgement. Additionally, I would bet that 99% of the people chiming in to this thread (probably even more) with their "facts" have never used a D800 for any meaningful length of time, if at all. It's much easier to create a post bashing the competition to validate a purchase after reading one review or a few threads than it is to spend hours examining the facts or gathering personal experience.

Anyways, I am certainly not claiming to know all the facts myself, but with the amount of wild assumptions, blanket statements, and jumping to ridiculous conclusions I see around here, I just wanted to throw in my $0.02 and urge people to put more effort into getting better information. A perfect example of this is the thread title suggesting the Canon AF "smokes" Nikon's - anyone with an shred of common sense would know that they are probably so close that the average Joe would never be able to tell a difference between the two without hours of rigorous side-by-side testing. Both are superb, that is a fact.


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