Focus motors: In-body vs in-lens

Started Apr 15, 2013 | Discussions thread
Guidenet Forum Pro • Posts: 15,748
Re: Focus motors: In-body vs in-lens

EKB wrote:

Out of ignorant curiosity, what advantages (if any) are there to having a focus motor built into a lens rather than relying on the focus motor in the camera body?

Other than the obvious "will autofocus on entry-level bodies that don't have a focus motor" of course.

It seems obvious that putting a focusing motor in the lens will add to its cost and complexity. (Look at the price difference between Nikon's "D" vs "G" lenses.) Is the actual cost low enough for Nikon and other lens makers to routinely put a motor into all their new designs, just for the sake of "will work on a D5200 and below" - or is there some additional advantage that I'm overlooking?

There are many advantages to in-lens motors but they may all not apply to you or me. Moreover, there are more than one type on motors used in lenses. Some have more advantages and some are cheaper. Some advangaes might include

  • Faster focusing sometimes
  • Much more silent
  • Usually more accurate
  • Tend to hunt less

The fastest and most quiet tend to be the sonic ring type motors. You'll find them in lenses like the 70-200 f/2.8. There are also quiet rotary cluch systems that tend to be cheaper or tend to be better for video in that they maintain a steady speed.

Canon is using a new rotary technology called STM in some of their lenses which they claim is better for video transitions. I don't know.

I do know the older in-body motors and screwdriver type tend to be a lot noisier. Most of the tme, I don't care, but it can sometimes be important. For example on movie making, that whine is easily captured by the microphone and hard to get rid of in post.

Take care.

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Cheers, Craig
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