With my 1D Mark IIn in the doctor’s waiting room in New Jersey to get a diagnosis of what ails its focus system, I took my new-to-me Mark III to Crex Meadows yesterday to see if it would take a picture or two. It did, which is why I’m here telling you the story.
From the day the stork dropped it in camera stores around the world, the Mark III has been plagued by 1) focusing issues, especially in bright, warm and/or back lit conditions; and 2) a less than stellar response to said issues by Canon. I came within a key stroke of buying one when it first came out, and boy am I glad to have hesitated. The Mark III has been recalled three times that I’m aware of, and has seen multiple changes in firmware. The photographers I respect most — photojournalists who shoot under every condition imaginable — say it’s much, much better but still isn’t fixed. After sending my IIn for repairs I decided to find out for myself when I found a barely used Mark III in mint condition at a good price. Yesterday, I took it to Crex Meadows for some testing (and to escape the madding crowd). So, IMHO, is the Mark III 100 percent absolutely, positively fixed? No.
In one shot mode with only a single focus point selected, the Mark III grabs accurate focus immediately and locks it down. The resulting image is as sharp as anyone could want. This flycatcher was taken with the 500/1.4x combo . . .
But turn on AI servo and the story changes. Here’s a stationary, back lit cedar waxwing shot using a single focus point and AI servo. (It’s another big crop.)
I flipped over to single shot and got this.
In situations where the subject was larger in the frame and not back lit, AI servo worked fine, such as with this preening trumpeter swan. This was also in single shot. My AI Servo images of this swan are distinctly softer.
It also appears that turning on the helper points around the chosen focus point makes things worse in any situation in which AI servo is used. I say “appears” because I didn’t shot enough in that configuration to come to a firm conclusion.
More to come when I know it. I’m hoping to get back to Crex Sunday to get some panning and tracking shots of sandhill cranes.