1dX Mark II - many out of focus photos in SERVO mode

Started Sep 18, 2017 | Discussions
tadziak Junior Member • Posts: 27
1dX Mark II - many out of focus photos in SERVO mode

Hello,

Sine November 2016 I'm the owner of brand new 1dX Mark II. In general camera is impressive, however I've been struggling with big amount of out of focus pictures, especially in Servo Mode, shooting sports in which the athlete is approaching fast.

Of course, those are not easy circumstances, but I still feel like my old 1d Mark IV or current 7d Mk2 are more reliable and have better % of good, sharp shots.

The camera has been checked by Canon service already 4 times (2 times in Poland, once in Austria, once in Germany). Always returned with the same verdict: no issues were found.

I'm using the Canon 70-200 2.8 L lens and the Canon 100-400 4.5-5.6 II. The problem seems to occur on both. In general it's not terrible, it's just not as good as I would expect for that kind of money and class.

I don't cross out the possibility that it's my fault, especially that I did not own 1DX so it's quite a big difference in the way AF works here. But over the past 11 months I tried different settings, presets and it did not really help. I just learned to take many shots, hoping some are okay.

Below I post an example of my problem. If somebody would be kind enough to advise or offer some feedback - I would appreciate.

NOTE: In most cases I use single central focus point or central + surrounding ones.

Here is also a link to more examples of not sharp sequences of photos (full, original files):

https://we.tl/KBSjZqqACW

Canon EOS 7D Canon EOS-1D Mark IV
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expro Senior Member • Posts: 1,778
Re: 1dX Mark II - many out of focus photos in SERVO mode

You are right about expectations... the 1dx and 1dx2 should handle examples like this very easily and I would expect 100% or very close to all in focus.

i can't tell from these what your problem is but I personally would shoot any action at higher than 1/800s. This simply might be motion blur....

If I was you I would experiment with 1/2000 and above and see if there is a significant improvement.

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(unknown member) Senior Member • Posts: 1,768
Re: 1dX Mark II - many out of focus photos in SERVO mode

Shooting 2.8 might be the reason. Mac

OP tadziak Junior Member • Posts: 27
Re: 1dX Mark II - many out of focus photos in SERVO mode

expro wrote:

If I was you I would experiment with 1/2000 and above and see if there is a significant improvement.

Thank you for your feedback.

There are many factors that can play role here - the light reflexes that confuse the AF,  might be me not managing to perfectly track the subject but it's not motion blur. Motion blur looks a bit different.  It was shot in rather bad light conditions in Northern Finland and with 1/2000 I would have to go to like 12 000 ISO minimum.

Below you have a different example in much better light.

OP tadziak Junior Member • Posts: 27
Re: 1dX Mark II - many out of focus photos in SERVO mode

mac west wrote:

Shooting 2.8 might be the reason. Mac

I see similiar behaviour when shooting in 5.6 with 100-400 lens...

apersson850 Senior Member • Posts: 1,547
Re: 1dX Mark II - many out of focus photos in SERVO mode
1

In the first sequence, I think almost all pictures either have good focus or focus is on the green beam in the background.

Are you tracking the same person for a while during flight? It's not individual pictures, from different jumps, of the same person?

I see that you use a single point, or a single point with four assist points. Have you tried increasing that to more assist points?

Which AF case are you using? Have you modified it? Which settings for AF/release priorities are you using?

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Anders

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OP tadziak Junior Member • Posts: 27
Re: 1dX Mark II - many out of focus photos in SERVO mode

apersson850 wrote:

In the first sequence, I think almost all pictures either have good focus or focus is on the green beam in the background.

Are you tracking the same person for a while during flight? It's not individual pictures, from different jumps, of the same person?

Yes, I'm tracking the athlete from the begining to the end, trying to keep the subject all the time in the focus point (of course it often goes a bit OFF). I keep the shutter pressed at high speed mode.

I see that you use a single point, or a single point with four assist points. Have you tried increasing that to more assist points?

I tried also with more assist points (surrounding), as well as "full set of focal points" (that gave the worst results).

Which AF case are you using? Have you modified it? Which settings for AF/release priorities are you using?

I tried mostly the default one (universal for more cases), as well as "tennis scenario". I tried even some custom settings but the difference seems within the 'error margin'. In general - I get much better results with good light + little background elements so that the AF doesn't get lost. But in most cases the light is limited and there are always some trees or sky with very strong contrast.  
I always use AF priority and shoot in manual.

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Anders

Turnanewleaf Regular Member • Posts: 256
Re: 1dX Mark II - many out of focus photos in SERVO mode
4

Look, your shutter speed is too slow.  To freeze the action with objects as fast as a Ski Jumper, at a close proximity (200mm underneath the take off point  of the jump!), you will need at least 1/2000 sec, or more like 1/4000 sec depending on your hand holding/panning skills.  I assume no tripod here, so you must be diligent in your technique.

The first series of images you posted look like night shots.  The second series look like dusk shots.  If that is the case (I don't really know for sure), then you need to push up ISO way more than you think.  ISO 1000 in your last series of shots is nothing.  With the 1DX II you can push past 5000 with good results (assuming you know what you are doing in post processing).

And don't expect razor sharp images wide open (f2.8 70-200, or f5.6 100-400) coupled with slow shutter speed (1/800 sec - 1/1000 sec).  It ain't gonna happen.

And lastly, you have a flagship body, so your lenses deserve proper micro adjustment to get them aligned with your body.  Invest $100 in the the lens align/focus tune software to match your lenses to you body.  The Pros do this so should you.  Get your lens and body working perfectly and predicatively.

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BlueCosmo5050
BlueCosmo5050 Senior Member • Posts: 1,589
Re: 1dX Mark II - many out of focus photos in SERVO mode
1

You shouldn't have any problems, it's either use error, something in the settings may not be set close enough to focus priority, etc.

I only have a 5D Mark IV, which has the same focusing system as the 1DX Mark ii but not the same computing power driving the focus system and even on my 5D Mark IV it's hard for me to get a shot out of focus.

The only time I get one that isn't a keeper it's always user error. That's been one of the most impressive things about the camera to me, I've never owned anything that came near that. I used to take 3 pictures of even still objects to make sure I got focus on at least one, now I can confidently take one photo and walk away because I know I got it.

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apersson850 Senior Member • Posts: 1,547
Re: 1DX Mark II - many out of focus photos in SERVO mode
1

The 5D Mark IV has a lower frame rate, so it has more time to measure and think between images. That's why it can accomplish the same with less computing power.

From what I read and what I see here I'd use AF case 2, and perhaps set the first parameter all the way to the left. Just make sure you don't press the AF-ON button to start focusing before you actually have the jumper in sight. If you accidentially lock focus on the background, the camera will be even less eager to give that up and focus on your real target instead.

When using assist points, maybe also the third AF case parameter should be increased a notch, to increase the probability that the camera actually hands over tracking to an assist point, should your aim wander off from the target.

Do you set the image stabilizer in the lens to mode 2?

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Anders

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OP tadziak Junior Member • Posts: 27
Re: 1DX Mark II - many out of focus photos in SERVO mode

apersson850 wrote:

The 5D Mark IV has a lower frame rate, so it has more time to measure and think between images. That's why it can accomplish the same with less computing power.

From what I read and what I see here I'd use AF case 2, and perhaps set the first parameter all the way to the left. Just make sure you don't press the AF-ON button to start focusing before you actually have the jumper in sight. If you accidentially lock focus on the background, the camera will be even less eager to give that up and focus on your real target instead.

Thanks for the tips - I will try them next time I'm shooting.

When using assist points, maybe also the third AF case parameter should be increased a notch, to increase the probability that the camera actually hands over tracking to an assist point, should your aim wander off from the target.

Do you set the image stabilizer in the lens to mode 2?

in my 70-200 2.8 L lense I have no IS, and in my 100-400 II lens - I'm using mode 2 or 3. In general I get much better results with 100-400 - I guess mostly because with bigger zoom, the jumper is bigger and easier to track than with 200mm.

I was mostly interested if my problems can be due to some technical issue with the camera itself.  But in general I can't find anybody complaining within the last year on that body, so it's for sure not any known/common issue...

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Anders

OP tadziak Junior Member • Posts: 27
Re: 1dX Mark II - many out of focus photos in SERVO mode

Thank you for your advice. I will try it out. My main goal was to see if that might be some actual defect in my body, but from what I gather from your responses plus what I found (or not found) in previous threads - seems like there is no known AF problems with 1dX Mark II...

A colleague of mine got his body replaced because it behaved badly in lower temperatures...We suspected similar issue with mine, but it doesn't seem to change depending on weather/temperature.

cblasi
cblasi New Member • Posts: 19
Re: 1dX Mark II - many out of focus photos in SERVO mode
2

Hello,

apart from all good suggestions so far, I made the experiences that my hit rate of tack sharp images with the 1DX Mk2 as well as the 5D Mk4 and 7DMK2 is to disable EOS iTR AF (OFF) at poor light conditions and backlight. As soon the condition are good, I enable EOS iTR again, but still, it is not as good as Nikon's 3D Tracking in the latest generation.

HTH,

CB

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whumber
whumber Senior Member • Posts: 2,440
Re: 1dX Mark II - many out of focus photos in SERVO mode

Usually when somebody posts one of these there is some obvious error in the way they've set things up, but in your case it looks like you did everything correctly from what I can tell. I really don't think it's a motion blur issue as some others have stated as the target is fairly far away and so DOF is relatively large, it definitely looks like a miss. I would send the camera in and see if Canon can find anything off with the AF system.

On another note, have you noticed any pattern to the misses (always in low light, connected to a certain color target, only on a certain lens)?

EDIT: Sorry, missed that you'd already sent it in multiple times.  Can you rent or get a loaner for another copy to test?

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Tazz93
Tazz93 Senior Member • Posts: 2,081
Re: 1dX Mark II - many out of focus photos in SERVO mode

Looks pretty much normal to me. I wouldn't expect a 100% hit rate on a subject moving that fast against a background that busy. You may be able to improve it marginally, but I can't imagine doing substantially better than that.

I would study the cases and their adjustments and tailor the need to the shot. For example this one might work better with a little more of a "locked" on setting, as you don't need to change targets. That would also help "hold" focus when you accidentally grab a background item.

I would also change the release priority to a more focus oriented setting.

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OSP2017 Regular Member • Posts: 145
Re: 1dX Mark II - many out of focus photos in SERVO mode

I've noticed that you zoom out as you track the jumper. Can you maintain the same focal length instead? If you look at your first sequence, trees in the background are obviously preferable to the weird-looking canopy. Set your focal length to ideally frame the jumper with trees as the background, track him for a little while, start shooting right before he hits the target zone, and stop shooting after you get a few shots. You'll have far fewer images to go through (very important when you have to cover the whole event) and your tracking motion will be nice and smooth.

Several settings to look at: disabled IS; focus priority; "sticky" focus so that you would maintain focus on the jumper. Your shutter speed is fine -- I've never shot ski jumping but I have no problems freezing freestyle and giant slalom skiers at 1/1000 - 1/1250.

OP tadziak Junior Member • Posts: 27
Re: 1dX Mark II - many out of focus photos in SERVO mode

cblasi wrote:

Hello,

apart from all good suggestions so far, I made the experiences that my hit rate of tack sharp images with the 1DX Mk2 as well as the 5D Mk4 and 7DMK2 is to disable EOS iTR AF (OFF) at poor light conditions and backlight. As soon the condition are good, I enable EOS iTR again, but still, it is not as good as Nikon's 3D Tracking in the latest generation.

HTH,

CB

Hello,
Thank you for your advice. I will definitely test it. Most of my photos are taken in poor light conditions and often with strong backlight (like white, cloudy bright sky). 
Best regards

OP tadziak Junior Member • Posts: 27
Re: 1dX Mark II - many out of focus photos in SERVO mode

whumber wrote:

I really don't think it's a motion blur issue as some others have stated as the target is fairly far away and so DOF is relatively large, it definitely looks like a miss. I would send the camera in and see if Canon can find anything off with the AF system.

I already mentioned that this body was in at Canon already 4 times, at 3 different service centers and all reporter no issues found.  Las time I tried sending it in around May. 
It might be a problem we me sometimes missing the athlete, especially when I start shooting pretty early and 12 fps makes the camera shaking/vibrating, more difficult to stay with the focus point on the subject.

On another note, have you noticed any pattern to the misses (always in low light, connected to a certain color target, only on a certain lens)?

It's usually more problematic in low light and with the high contrast background (like bright/white sky or against some floodlight) . It seems to be worse on my 70-200 than 100-400, but I also think it's related with bigger distance => smaller object to hit.

EDIT: Sorry, missed that you'd already sent it in multiple times. Can you rent or get a loaner for another copy to test?

During one event I rented another copy and it "felt" better. But also not night and day better- just slightly and it might have been related with specifics of the weather/light conditions (I took same shots with mine a day earlier and the day after). It was also at a location/event when mine gave decent results (not perfect but not as tragic as in the above examples). Maybe it would be best to get another copy for a longer test, but it's not so easy to do. Also no two shots are exactly alike, small details always change...

1Dx4me Senior Member • Posts: 7,084
Re: 1dX Mark II - many out of focus photos in SERVO mode

go to DPP and see where your focus point is pointed at? i noticed the bar behind the flying guy is in perfect focus, so DPP should tell you where the issue is. i can understand when things are happening very fast, it is difficult to pay attention where to point the focusing point to keep the subject in focus, especially when you choose 2.8 aperture

apersson850 Senior Member • Posts: 1,547
Re: 1dX Mark II - many out of focus photos in SERVO mode

True.

But even if the focus point is on the correct target, it could have been on the bar the moment before, and the camera hasn't corrected that yet. That's why I recommended slowing down AF change of focus a bit. If we assume the AF point is on the correct target most of the time, that could prevent it from shifting over to the background during short periods of erroneous aiming.

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Anders

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