Canon 5D mark III in street photography

Started Apr 27, 2013 | Questions
murksch
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Canon 5D mark III in street photography
Apr 27, 2013

I am using my Canon 5D mark II often in street photography. Because of the not so good AF-system, more than some photos are not sharp on the subject, the house behind them is. None of the AF points covered the subject walking on the street. I am thinking about buying the mark III because the AF-system is far more sophisticated. But searching the web I couldn't find any article describing the performance of the new AF-system in street photography, especially in hip-shots. Did anyone use the mark III in street photography and if so, is the AF-system performing really better than the AF-system of the mark II for this kind of photography?

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Canon EOS 5D Mark II Canon EOS 5D Mark III
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canuck dave
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Re: Canon 5D mark III in street photography
In reply to murksch, Apr 27, 2013

"my Canon 5D mark II often in street photography. Because of the not so good AF-system, more than some photos are not sharp on the subject, the house behind them is...."

Have you considered for a moment that it may be YOU that is not 'so good'? The 5DII is an extremely capable camera.

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robonrome
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Re: Canon 5D mark III in street photography
In reply to murksch, Apr 27, 2013

frankly for street photography you're better off using manual focus. prefocus to the approx distance. switch to manual and then wait until your subject hits the zone and press shutter. no delay focus nailed.

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Brad Evans
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Re: Canon 5D mark III in street photography
In reply to robonrome, Apr 27, 2013

I used my 5DII extensively for street photography and never found its AF deficient.

I always use center point AF and recompose if I need to. Works great. Once in awhile, depending on  the circumstances, I'll use "all points" AF, in which case the front-most object (usually a person) will be focused.

The 5DII is a superb sp camera. Lots of sp photos at the link to my blog below...

Brad

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Dave Seeley
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Re: Canon 5D mark III in street photography
In reply to Brad Evans, Apr 28, 2013

Brad Evans wrote:

Lots of sp photos at the link to my blog below...

Brad

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Big props for your site Brad - truly impressive pics

I sold my mark II after not touching it for the first 6 months of my mark III.  Autofocus was the huge boone.  Suddenly far more keepers, and overall sharpness was impressive.  Maybe I had a bad copy of the II, but wow.  I've had a few times I needed to do stealth photography, which sounds like what the IP is after.  Hard to imagine that the III autofocus system from the hip is not going to produce far more often than the II, largely because I could not judge accurately enough where the centerpoint is falling.

Dave

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ron purdy
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5D mark III wins with 41 cross-type AF sensors
In reply to murksch, Apr 28, 2013

(sound like the responses thus far - other than Brad- are from people who have not owned both of these cameras.)

The 5D2 has well documented focusing issues, there are *hundreds* of articles all over the web detailing the problems people have with the outer AF points. Here is one I wrote myself:

http://www.afashionshooter.com/2008/12/20/5d2-af-in-dim-light/

I have personally owned 4 different 5D2 bodies.

I now have a 5D3, and the focus is superb - WAY BETTER than the 5D2. 5D3 has 41 (!) cross-type sensors, spread across the focusing area. I have the camera set to only use the cross-type points, and even in the dark (too dark to manually focus) it nails the focus every time.

Also, it has a fantastic silent shutter mode, which should help on the street. I have taken photos literally within a foot of someone and hey had no idea I was shooting.

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quadrox
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Re: Canon 5D mark III in street photography
In reply to Brad Evans, Apr 28, 2013

Brad Evans wrote:

The 5DII is a superb sp camera. Lots of sp photos at the link to my blog below...

Brad

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Color me impressed!

This is the first time I have seen street photography that is actually worth the disk space it is stored on. Lots of interesting photos, not just random snapshots of people on the street. I hope I can learn something from looking at your blog and your photos!

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Dan Marchant
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Re: Canon 5D mark III in street photography
In reply to murksch, Apr 28, 2013

murksch wrote:

..... is the AF-system performing really better than the AF-system of the mark II for this kind of photography?

Only if you actually point it at the subject.

As others have said the 5DII is a great camera. You need to upgrade your technique before you upgrade your equipment. Look through the viewfinder, frame your shot, focus and then shoot.

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Learnphotography
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Re: Canon 5D mark III in street photography
In reply to Dan Marchant, Apr 28, 2013

I highly suggest you go back to basics and learn how to focus properly. My old 550D can focus spot on 99% of the time in the street.

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Brad Evans
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Re: Canon 5D mark III in street photography
In reply to quadrox, Apr 28, 2013

Thank you - appreciate the kind words!

Best - Brad

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huksywolf
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Re: 5D mark III wins with 41 cross-type AF sensors
In reply to ron purdy, Apr 28, 2013

There is no attempt to argue 5D Mk III has better focusing system than Mk II.

However, Brad does demonstrate very well that 5DII with 16-35 lens is more than sufficient for street photography.

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Dave Seeley
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Re: Canon 5D mark III in street photography
In reply to Dan Marchant, Apr 28, 2013

Dan Marchant wrote:

Only if you actually point it at the subject.

As others have said the 5DII is a great camera. You need to upgrade your technique before you upgrade your equipment. Look through the viewfinder, frame your shot, focus and then shoot.

But I believe that he OP was thinking hipshots, meaning, no viewfinder or lcd.  It's an odd technique but potentially necessary for stealth shooting.  I did some of it, collecting reference shots for an illustration of cops, so went looking for cops to photograph from a few feet away.  Got my pulse rate up for sure.

The notion of this kind of stealth street photography is relatively new to me, but I am curious about it.  The silent shooting mode of the 5Diii would also be very welcome in this context, but the fact that it's a full dslr body is inherently an attention grabber.  Small format mirrorless might be a better choice, because the casual person on the street doesn't immediately assume you're out to shoot "serious" pictures, but these cameras are delivering awesome IQ for the comparatively tiny format.

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ron purdy
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Re: 5D mark III wins with 41 cross-type AF sensors
In reply to huksywolf, Apr 28, 2013

huksywolf wrote:

There is no attempt to argue 5D Mk III has better focusing system than Mk II.

However, Brad does demonstrate very well that 5DII with 16-35 lens is more than sufficient for street photography.

EXCEPT that the OP stated that he is shooting from the hip, and at times the subject *falls somewhere in between* the 9 AF points, and therefore the camera is focused on the background.

Did you read his whole post, or just part of it?

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Brad Evans
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Re: For SP it's not about gear...
In reply to Dan Marchant, Apr 28, 2013

Most excellent advice, Dan!

Street photography is very undemanding with respect to equipment. I have also used an iPhone exclusively for a year, and a point-n-shoot. It really makes little difference outside of a very few obvious specific areas.

That said, I don't understand why people do hip shots when the 5D/II/III (or any camera that) has a perfectly good viewfinder and AF system.

Best - Brad

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Dan Marchant
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Re: For SP it's not about gear...
In reply to Brad Evans, Apr 29, 2013

Brad Evans wrote:

That said, I don't understand why people do hip shots when the 5D/II/III (or any camera that) has a perfectly good viewfinder and AF system.

In many cases it is embarrassment. They generally want to avoid people seeing that they are taking photos in order to avoid the possibility of confrontation. In other cases they don't want to distract the subject with the camera so as not to spoil the moment. Personally I haven't had any trouble getting the shot without distracting my subject, plus I get to frame the shot properly.

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chironNYC
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Why so many rude responses?
In reply to Learnphotography, Apr 29, 2013

Learnphotography wrote:

I highly suggest you go back to basics and learn how to focus properly. My old 550D can focus spot on 99% of the time in the street.

Why so rude? Read the OP's post. He is shooting in his own way, and there is little question that the 5d3 will be MUCH better for what he wants to do. Can he do it with a 5d2? Sure. He could do it with an all manual Leica, like Cartier-Bresson. He could do it with a 4X5 Speed Graphic, like Weegee. But the 5d3 will help him get more in-focus keepers by a very significant percentage given his style of shooting. That's what he was asking about. He doesn't need to shoot the way someone else likes to.

Sounds like the OP stepped on some 5d2 owners' toes.

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aftab
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Re: Why so many rude responses?
In reply to chironNYC, Apr 29, 2013

chironNYC wrote:

Learnphotography wrote:

I highly suggest you go back to basics and learn how to focus properly. My old 550D can focus spot on 99% of the time in the street.

Why so rude? Read the OP's post. He is shooting in his own way, and there is little question that the 5d3 will be MUCH better for what he wants to do. Can he do it with a 5d2? Sure. He could do it with an all manual Leica, like Cartier-Bresson. He could do it with a 4X5 Speed Graphic, like Weegee. But the 5d3 will help him get more in-focus keepers by a very significant percentage given his style of shooting. That's what he was asking about. He doesn't need to shoot the way someone else likes to.

Sounds like the OP stepped on some 5d2 owners' toes.

I don't think 5D3 will give OP any extra advantage in street photography (I own both, so didn't step on my toes). As you said it can be done with almost any camera.

It seems that shooting from hip is his style. And if he is focusing more often on the background than the subject then how is he going to avoid that with 5D3? More AF is not likely to help, it probably will make it worse.

A friend of mine shoots with a rebel and 70-200/f4. I saw him shooting. He holds his camera at the waist level, and when he spots his subject it takes him literally 2 seconds to bring the camera against his eye, focus, shoot and bring it down to waist level again. So, I would suggest that OP becomes more confident and shoot normally instead of from hip.

And of course, practice, practice, practice.

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MASTERPPA
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Re: Canon 5D mark III in street photography
In reply to murksch, Apr 29, 2013

5DII has a great center AF, but as for the outer points, it is nothing compared to the 5DIII.

murksch wrote:

I am using my Canon 5D mark II often in street photography. Because of the not so good AF-system, more than some photos are not sharp on the subject, the house behind them is. None of the AF points covered the subject walking on the street. I am thinking about buying the mark III because the AF-system is far more sophisticated. But searching the web I couldn't find any article describing the performance of the new AF-system in street photography, especially in hip-shots. Did anyone use the mark III in street photography and if so, is the AF-system performing really better than the AF-system of the mark II for this kind of photography?

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chironNYC
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Re: Why so many rude responses?
In reply to aftab, Apr 29, 2013

aftab wrote:

chironNYC wrote:

Learnphotography wrote:

I highly suggest you go back to basics and learn how to focus properly. My old 550D can focus spot on 99% of the time in the street.

Why so rude? Read the OP's post. He is shooting in his own way, and there is little question that the 5d3 will be MUCH better for what he wants to do. Can he do it with a 5d2? Sure. He could do it with an all manual Leica, like Cartier-Bresson. He could do it with a 4X5 Speed Graphic, like Weegee. But the 5d3 will help him get more in-focus keepers by a very significant percentage given his style of shooting. That's what he was asking about. He doesn't need to shoot the way someone else likes to.

Sounds like the OP stepped on some 5d2 owners' toes.

I don't think 5D3 will give OP any extra advantage in street photography (I own both, so didn't step on my toes). As you said it can be done with almost any camera.

It seems that shooting from hip is his style. And if he is focusing more often on the background than the subject then how is he going to avoid that with 5D3? More AF is not likely to help, it probably will make it worse.

A friend of mine shoots with a rebel and 70-200/f4. I saw him shooting. He holds his camera at the waist level, and when he spots his subject it takes him literally 2 seconds to bring the camera against his eye, focus, shoot and bring it down to waist level again. So, I would suggest that OP becomes more confident and shoot normally instead of from hip.

And of course, practice, practice, practice.

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I think the question the OP is asking is whether he will gain advantages in his style of shooting with the 5d3. He is not asking how he should shoot differently or modify his style of shooting.

The 5d3 has a large number of autofocus modes and capabilities and settings that are not available on the 5d2. Many of these would enhance his keeper rate.

For instance, in the example he gave of the 5d2's single focus point missing the subject and getting the background, the 5d3's AF Focus Point Expansion mode would likely be very helpful. So would the 5d3's better implementation of AI and servo focus give him a much better keeper rate in different situations.

The 5d3's AF system is much more flexible and powerful than the 5d2's and that is the area in which he is having difficulties.

In addition, the 5d3 has the silent shutter mode, which would also be an advantage in many street situations.

I think the choice is obvious for the situations and problems he describes.

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Mais78
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Re: Canon 5D mark III in street photography
In reply to murksch, Apr 29, 2013

murksch wrote:

I am using my Canon 5D mark II often in street photography. Because of the not so good AF-system, more than some photos are not sharp on the subject, the house behind them is. None of the AF points covered the subject walking on the street. I am thinking about buying the mark III because the AF-system is far more sophisticated. But searching the web I couldn't find any article describing the performance of the new AF-system in street photography, especially in hip-shots. Did anyone use the mark III in street photography and if so, is the AF-system performing really better than the AF-system of the mark II for this kind of photography?

If you shoot from the hip, maybe rather than a better AF you need a camera with a swivel screen like the 600-650-700D, so you can frame properly in live view, or better a m43 with swivel screen, you will have much faster AF. A 5DIII to shoot from the hip is overkill in my opinion.

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