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Autofocus performance, particularly in low light - my eyesight isn't what is was
Old 09-24-2019   #1
CharlesDAMorgan
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Autofocus performance, particularly in low light - my eyesight isn't what is was

I went to the local County agricultural show on Saturday. A lovely day with lots of farmers, animals, tractors and even a funfair. I took a minimal kit to avoid my shoulder dropping off, and given the size of the showground, this was a good idea. One was the Nikon F80 (light and capable) with the 105mm Nikkor DC f2 - just long enough for animal judging which takes place in large rings, and for lightness, a Minolta X500 with 35-70 f3.5 zoom.

I found the autofocus of the 105mm even in good light to be a little slow, but it did the job few a few too many misses (part of this may be user error - I don't use the F80 much and invariably find its options slow to set). The Minolta was fine outside but inside however, despite a bright viewfinder, I missed focus far too many times. Obviously f3.5 is a bit dark, but it's pretty good for a zoom, and I find myself inside so many times that I can't tolerate the idea of not getting adequate focus. My eyesight is just fading enough.

A long intro, but really, of the autofocus systems around, which would you go for for rapid and accurare autofocus in low light. Vibration reduction would be a big plus. Given I have a number now of both Canon and Nikon film bodies and AF lenses (far too short in the former - a 40mm would have been useless for this purpose) and rather slow zooms in the latter, it is most likely I'll have to choose between one or other.

This is for film - my little Fuji XT30 does everything I need digitally!

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Old 09-24-2019   #2
p.giannakis
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People rave about the AF performance of the F80 but i always found it slow. The older F90x is much faster (but much louder too).
If you don't mind the weight of the F5, it has a balancer and absorbs part of the vibrations.
On the Canon stable, for me the choice is obvious. The EOS5 - cheap, dead sient (more silent than the F80) and it can focus in pitch dark due to the IR lamp assistance.
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Old 09-24-2019   #3
CharlesDAMorgan
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I had an F5 many years ago and I found it a bit large. I should have taken the F90 but the F80 sits in my hands a bit better. The sound is irrelevant really.

I love the 105mm defocus control Nikon - I'm not sure there's really a Canon equivalent but how it resolves the out of focus areas is a joy.
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Old 09-25-2019   #4
Sarcophilus Harrisii
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The SX-70 Sonar excels. Technically interesting but I doubt it's the type of SLR you're after.
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Old 09-25-2019   #5
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Not at present, but at some point I shall explore Polaroids!
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Old 09-25-2019   #6
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I'm not a doctor, so I don't know all the reasons why a person may have increasing difficulty focusing at more advanced age. I have seen threads on this topic from time to time, so I know it's a real thing. One thing I do know about is cataracts. They cause a reduction in brightness, and a loss of contrast, making it harder to focus an SLR owing to diminished ability to see detail. I'd say there is less difficulty with a rangefinder, since it is easier to tell when the split image lines up--whether it looks sharp in the finder, or not.

However! Removal of the cataract and replacement of the natural lens with a plastic one is a six minute surgery! Then it takes a day or two for the fog to clear; after which, you have bright, sharp, and contrasty vision like you haven't had in years!

So for many of us, the equipment change that is really needed, is not an autofocus camera, but a new lens--the one in our eyes. I can focus a camera now, just as well as I could at eighteen.
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Old 09-25-2019   #7
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I have at present no sign of cataracts at all (I have an annual eye screen) but it is certainly something people should check out and have done - my father and numerous others I know have benefitted.
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Old 09-25-2019   #8
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Another vote for the Canon EOS5. I still have one I bought new. Set focus to a small centre point and that thing will focus on anything in near darkness, and silently with a USM lens. The IR lamp is a brilliant focus assist.
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Old 09-25-2019   #9
p.giannakis
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If you want to stick to Nikon and you didn't like the F90x then the other option is the F100 although a bit expensive and bigger in size. Should this fail, the F80 you have is your best bet.
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Old 09-25-2019   #10
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Another vote for the Canon EOS5. Mine is still going strong and batteries are readily available.
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Old 09-25-2019   #11
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I've got an EOS5, glad to hear it is by far the better choice for low light.

Now I need to decide upon the best lenses - having the 40mm f2.8 and the 50mm f1.8 II already. I suspect, having been happy with a small zoom at the wide end, I'll look there to start, and probably around the 100mm mark, which I think is my sweet spot for use.
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Old 09-25-2019   #12
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Canon EOS with focus by eyes and L lens.
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Old 09-25-2019   #13
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Not knowing your budget, perhaps have a look at this 100mm EF lens which is on the cheaper side of what is available: Canon EF 100mm 2.8L Macro Image stabilized USM lens. It goes for $ 750 on BHPhoto with stellar reviews. https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ..._8L_Macro.html
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Old 09-25-2019   #14
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Thanks - I think in the first instance the 100mm f2 EF looks to be a pretty unbeatable value and performance. I'll start saving my pennies for other things, perhaps when I've sold off some of my Nikon kit. I'd love an 85mm L f1.2 but that's out of the question at present.

I think I've now managed to get the Eos5 to track my eyes with or without glasses. The other thing I enjoyed last time I used it was being utterly blanked by a barista in a hipster coffee shop who effused himself the previous time I was in with my Leica M3, but looked at the Canon like something the cat dragged in...
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Old 09-25-2019   #15
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I own the 1.2/85, aka 'the pineapple' and it's a very heavy, tricky, particular lens...not best suited for hand-held shooting. I've had a look at the f.2 100mm and I'd rather spend a little bit more for the 2.8 image stabilized version but that's just me. Good luck!
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Old 09-25-2019   #16
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I don't care about AF speed. I have two AF film cameras and two digital AF cameras. And I need them as I was missing focus with my favorite cameras.
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Old 09-25-2019   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Out to Lunch View Post
I own the 1.2/85, aka 'the pineapple' and it's a very heavy, tricky, particular lens...not best suited for hand-held shooting. I've had a look at the f.2 100mm and I'd rather spend a little bit more for the 2.8 image stabilized version but that's just me. Good luck!
Possibly not the 1.2 then...
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Old 09-25-2019   #18
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I can sympathize with your vision difficulties. My eyes are getting worse and I need to find a new ophthalmologist soon. My previous ophthalmologist and I had a personality conflict--she doesn't have one. Before our parting of ways, she had diagnosed me with early signs of macular degeneration, something that scares me enough to want to keep on top of the condition.

I will agree with the suggestion of an EOS5 or any of the EOS models of the same vintage. I still have a pair of EOS A2E's (US designation) packed away along with an EOS 1n and I remember them as having highly reliable AF, even in low light conditions. I recall that when I was looking to buy an AF camera around 1998/99, I was trying to decide between Nikon and Canon. I had used Nikons for over 25 years previously but Canon's AF of the time was superior so I went in that direction.
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Old 09-26-2019   #19
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I very much hope you keep on top of that Dogman, and best of luck with a new ophthalmologist soon, having the right person is vital.

A friend of mine is a keen Canon owner and hopefully he's got a lot of lenses I can test on his digital cameras. He owes me lunch too!
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