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Archive 2013 · 50L Focussing Issues
  
 
kezeka
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p.1 #1 · 50L Focussing Issues


So here is where I am at: bought a 50L new (first new lens in years - trying to stick to buying used but didn't trust this lens) from BH and got it in on wednesday. Calibrated it using the dot-tune approach with both of my 5D2 and 1D3. Went out and took some photos. Found it did alright on day 1 - some missed focuses here and there but hell it could have been my fault. Day 2 - went out to take some street photos at night and found it consistently missing focus. Midway through taking photos I set MA to 0 (from a previous +5 that I confirmed to work at home before leaving) and found it focusing slightly better but still flat out missing focus by a meter on occasion. Took it out on the 1D3 today and have moderately better luck but still found it missing focus significantly more often than I am used to with the 85L on that camera.

Finally, came home from those daytime photos and recallibrated the 5D2 again at a longer distance (5 meter) and found it locking in at +1. Set the MA, checked the AF - it was nailing the target again. Go out and take photos - back focusing in 1/3 or 1/4 shots and straight up missed focus on a few more. Didn't matter if I kept the subject centered on the center AF point or focused and recomposed (tested a few times).

Every single one of these photos was taken wide open using the center AF point on the 5D2 (I don't trust the others) using one shot focusing. All were at intermediate to long distances (I'd say 5-40 meters away). There were multiple occasions where I would focus on a the center of a business' signage hanging down from a canopy and the lens would focus on the sign 5 meter behind the sign I was focusing on. I have never had problems like with my 85L that I shoot almost exclusively wide open so I don't think it is my technique.

Any suggestions on what to try to alleviate the problem? Should I send it to canon? Back to B&H for another copy? I am up for anything at this point.

I appreciate the advice,
Kezeka


PS - I am looking for advice, not criticism of myself or my competence. I know some people prefer the later two on this forum but I don't want any of that garbage right now.



Apr 27, 2013 at 03:48 AM
Rickuz
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p.1 #2 · 50L Focussing Issues


Maybe not the answer you are looking for, but I would send it back to B&H and pay the diference for the 85L. I've had two copies of the 50L and they never did what I asked, even after service at Canon. The 50L is one of the most inconsistent lenses I've ever used. The lens is wonderful when it hits, but it drove me crazy with all the missed shots.

Also, the 50L is basically designed to be inconsistent. It does not have a floating element to compensate for spherical aberration (focus shift).

The 85L on the other hand, has always been spot on, and notably sharper wide open than the 50L. I couldn't be happier with it.

Option two: Wait for the 50L II or the 50 1.4 II, or the upcoming 50 from Sigma.



Apr 27, 2013 at 04:20 AM
kezeka
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p.1 #3 · 50L Focussing Issues


Rickuz wrote:
Maybe not the answer you are looking for, but I would send it back to B&H and pay the diference for the 85L. I've had two copies of the 50L and they never did what I asked, even after service at Canon. The 50L is one of the most inconsistent lenses I've ever used. The lens is wonderful when it hits, but it drove me crazy with all the missed shots.

Also, the 50L is basically designed to be inconsistent. It does not have a floating element to compensate for spherical aberration (focus shift).

The 85L on the other hand, has
...Show more


I seem to have taken your advice a year in advance . I picked up an 85L last summer and love the lens. I was really hoping that the 50L would be a faster focusing and slightly less consistent lens. What I got was a lens that is fairly inconsistent without the colors and contrast that the 85L can be relied upon to produce. It would be awesome to have a more general purpose low light lens like the 50L could be.

How many copies did you try before giving up hope of finding a great or even just good 50L? Out of curiosity - what lens are you using to fill the 50mm focal length while waiting?



Apr 27, 2013 at 06:22 AM
saneproduction
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p.1 #4 · 50L Focussing Issues


Hate to say it, but you need a 5DIII. My 50L is so much better now.


Apr 27, 2013 at 06:59 AM
Lars Johnsson
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p.1 #5 · 50L Focussing Issues


My first copy was good. And even better with the latest 1DX or 5D3


Apr 27, 2013 at 07:03 AM
cputeq
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p.1 #6 · 50L Focussing Issues


I had the complete opposite with my 5d3 and CPS loaner. Up close it was a crapshoot (yes I know DOF is small) and 7-20 feet out it was pretty damn accurate though not perfect. I found it to be a finicky lens the 8 days I had it. Best of luck to you.


Apr 27, 2013 at 07:25 AM
kezeka
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p.1 #7 · 50L Focussing Issues



saneproduction wrote:
Hate to say it, but you need a 5DIII. My 50L is so much better now.


That is the general consensus from what I have read but I am happy with my current cameras with the other 3 lenses I have. There have been reports of people having good luck with the 50L on the 5DII but it seems to very much be based on the individual camera body. Anyone remember any tricks for getting the 50L to play nice with the older AF systems?



Apr 27, 2013 at 07:32 AM
saneproduction
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p.1 #8 · 50L Focussing Issues


With my 5DII it was all one shot focus re-compose center point. I would always shoot a burst and rock slightly back as I did to bracket focus. I still shoot a 5DII for backup but the AF difference can't really be underestimated. I know the 5DIII seems like a small upgrade, but it really took my work to a new place and it is painful to shoot the 5DII now for anything active.


Apr 27, 2013 at 07:37 AM
Rickuz
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p.1 #9 · 50L Focussing Issues


kezeka wrote:
I seem to have taken your advice a year in advance . I picked up an 85L last summer and love the lens. I was really hoping that the 50L would be a faster focusing and slightly less consistent lens. What I got was a lens that is fairly inconsistent without the colors and contrast that the 85L can be relied upon to produce. It would be awesome to have a more general purpose low light lens like the 50L could be.

How many copies did you try before giving up hope of finding a great or even just good 50L?
...Show more
I have owned two copies at different times. Both were bad, and both were sent to Canon for service. One of them got a little bit better after calibration, but still didn't live up to my expectations.

I don't have a 50mm right now, but I will get one as soon as Canon or Sigma makes a new 50. Until then my Sigma 35 and 85L will do just fine.



Apr 27, 2013 at 07:45 AM
Sven Jeppesen
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p.1 #10 · 50L Focussing Issues


cputeq wrote:
I had the complete opposite with my 5d3 and CPS loaner. Up close it was a crapshoot (yes I know DOF is small) and 7-20 feet out it was pretty damn accurate though not perfect. I found it to be a finicky lens the 8 days I had it. Best of luck to you.


Up Close it also have focus shift. I hope you understand that?



Apr 27, 2013 at 07:54 AM
 

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Sven Jeppesen
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p.1 #11 · 50L Focussing Issues


Only one copy. And that copy works good with 3 different bodies


Apr 27, 2013 at 07:55 AM
mogud
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p.1 #12 · 50L Focussing Issues


I went through three copies of the 50L. The third one was sent to Canon to be recallibrated. After callibrating the lens and understanding how to us it, I now get very consistent sharp results.

Don't expect this lens to be as sharp as the 24-70 II because it's not designed that way. In addition, don't pixel peep the images at 200x because you will be disappointed. Also, if your shooting at f1.2, don't focus and re-compose because all of the images will be OOF.

The lens was designed for maximum "dreamie" bokeh. It was also designed to shoot people. I shoot everything with mine as it's always on my 5D III. As others have indicated, the 1D X and 5D III make this lens really perform.

Edited on Apr 27, 2013 at 07:10 PM · View previous versions



Apr 27, 2013 at 01:26 PM
Gunzorro
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p.1 #13 · 50L Focussing Issues


kezeka -- Sounds like you are using the same focusing method as me -- center AF/One Shot. I'm having good results. Not 100%, but plenty of keepers to make its use a success. It is a finicky lens, no doubt, but not impossible to deal with.

I started with a used one of recent vintage on a 1Ds2 -- that worked great even without MA. I did need to play with MA on 5D2, 1D3, and 1Ds3 until getting satisfactory results.

If you can't get it working, see about sending the lens and a body (whichever is most important to you) to Canon for adjustment. I'd think it should be no charge if the lens is under warranty.

Oh, and I'm the opposite of you with the 85L -- I tried a CPS loaner and couldn't figure what all the fuss was about. At normal distances, it seemed a bit weak wide open. Closed down, it was good, but not worth hauling such a huge hunk of uber-expensive glass around. In fairness, 85mm, like 135mm, are not my favorite focal lengths. I ended up preferring the 90 TS-E, and especially the 100L Macro.

Obviously, there is no "right" answer, except getting the lens to operate properly and make you happy.

. . . or get a 5D3 (or 1DX!).



Apr 27, 2013 at 02:17 PM
rabbitmountain
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p.1 #14 · 50L Focussing Issues


I can second the advice to get a 5DIII to drive this lens. I don't own the 5DIII (yet) but I've done serious testing with it using a loaner 50L. I took it to a relatively dark place (a place where one would shoot a typical dark wedding) and used a 5DII (my own), a 5D (my own too) and a brand new 5DIII. I calibrated AF using a lens align target (5D and 5DII only of course) and the 5D was coincidentally spot on right out of the box. Then I shot the same targets with all 3 bodies. My results were:
- 5D shots were 80-90% OOF (and some slightly, many way out)
- 5DII was noticeably better than the 5D, but still 70% OOF, and closer to target than 5D
- 5DIII was crazy accurate. I had over 80% usable shots. I took about 5 consecutive shots for each subject with each camera to rule out chance. The 5DIII series weren't all exactly the same focus, but close enough to be very useful.

All shots were @f/1.2.

Now guess what? On my 5D I have a EE-S focusing screen. It's darker than the standard screen, but you can fine tune focus manually with wide aperture lenses like the 50L. Using MF on the 5D (classic) with that focusing screen, I was able to produce the same level of accuracy as the 5DIII. It took more time to focus of course, but I'm fairly sure I could make this a useful MF combo through practice, meaning I think I can get the same number of keepers and MF more quickly.

You can get a similar focusing screen for the 5DmkII. They're only 30-40 bucks so why not try it? Once the 50L comes alive with accurate focus it's a dream of a lens.

If you should consider sending the lens back, at least take a look at Jasmine Starr's wedding photos. She uses the 50L almost exclusively for her wedding photo's and usually wide open. She has been shooting her 50L successfully for years with a 5DII. Now she is shooting a 5DIII and couldn't be happier.

Basically the advice is get a 5DIII or get a different focusing screen. Your reward will lie in front of you.

Stay good,

Ralph



Apr 27, 2013 at 02:20 PM
lexvo
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p.1 #15 · 50L Focussing Issues


After MA, the 50L performs good on my 5DII (not perfect but good). It needed a MA of -11 which sounds like a lot for a new lens, but I'm happy it works


Apr 27, 2013 at 02:47 PM
jasonsim
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p.1 #16 · 50L Focussing Issues


I told you to buy mine :-). I purchased my first 50L from BH also and sent it back right away. The good one I sold two weeks ago and was a solid performer. I bought another one from someone on FM because cannot get used to the MF only Zeiss for all my needs at 50mm. For now I am keeping both since the 50 f/2 Makro-Planar T* ZE is also macro and does that very well.

I suggest you send it back for another. Maybe buy it from someone else that might have samples from a different batch: maybe Amazon. I like their exchange for lenses: they send a replacement to you overnight and you send the other one back to them. Really nice!!

Best of luck.

Jason



Apr 27, 2013 at 04:24 PM
kezeka
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p.1 #17 · 50L Focussing Issues


jasonsim wrote:
I told you to buy mine :-)...

Best of luck.

Jason


No kidding.

I bought this over the Zeiss for the AF because my vision isn't the best, which makes MF difficult for me without wearing contacts (it isn't going to happen). I'll try the rocking back and forth but I really don't think that is going to fix how massively out of focus this lens has been every now and then. As I said before, the 5D3 is not something I am going to be considering at this time.

It sounds to me like this lens need to be traded for another 50L with a prayer for one that functions better.



Apr 27, 2013 at 05:04 PM
cputeq
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p.1 #18 · 50L Focussing Issues


Sven Jeppesen wrote:
Up Close it also have focus shift. I hope you understand that?



I should have clarified, quality of image not that great up close, almost hazy. This with very careful LV MF at 14x. Perhaps out of calibration though not horrible.

However, I was under the impression (from all the reading) the focus shift happened on near-focus, non-wide/open shots, not wide open.



Apr 27, 2013 at 05:08 PM
jasonsim
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p.1 #19 · 50L Focussing Issues


You might also try something that I found works well. Before taking a shot of your main subject focus on something else at a different distance and then back on your subject. Sometimes the focus system needs to be "racked" to get it to lock on reliably.


Apr 27, 2013 at 05:16 PM
kezeka
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p.1 #20 · 50L Focussing Issues


jasonsim wrote:
You might also try something that I found works well. Before taking a shot of your main subject focus on something else at a different distance and then back on your subject. Sometimes the focus system needs to be "racked" to get it to lock on reliably.


I got used to doing this a lot with my old 350D when I had it. Tried it a few times over the last few days with limited success on the 50L. Maybe 1/2 of the shots were focused correctly.



Apr 27, 2013 at 05:52 PM
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