Canon Focus Is Second Rate!

All photos are 100% crop with some JPG compression to keep the size down. Full EXIF included.

Do too many of your portraits turn out like this?


Canon 400D EF50mmf/1.8 f/2.8 1/20 sec ISO800

or like this?


Canon 40D EF50mmf/1.8 f/2.8 1/160 sec ISO400

or like this?


Canon 40D EF70-200mmf/2.8LIS f/2.8 200mm 1/400 sec ISO400

or perhaps like this?


Canon 400D EFS18-55mmIS f/8 44mm 1/200 sec ISO200


Go back and check those camera and lens details again, there is some pretty well regarded technology there!

If you are getting crap results like these most of the time, especially indoors,

then the problem is most likely Canon focus.

That is, it's not a malfunction, it's just the normal spec Canon Auto Focus. Tough luck hey?

I don't mean that Canon's AF never works, sure it works fine under good conditions: out of doors, high contrast subjects you can get some cracking shots:


Canon 400D EF50mmf/1.8 f/5.6 1/1000 ISO200

And I have plenty more top shots, BUT, I got way too many failures. I reckon that on average, over all conditions I got 50% OoF, 45% soft and only 5% worth keeping. TOO MANY BAD SHOTS CANON!!!

It's no use Canon telling us that you need a high contrast subject in good light to ensure correct focus: We are human beings and we like to photograph humans and human faces are low contrast. Furthermore humans are often indoors.

If I get a focal lock I expect the shot to be in focus! If the camera can't set the focus correctly then it shouldn't give the focal lock signal!

Mind you, soft focus with Canon is not limited to faces:


Canon 400D EF50mmf/1.8 f/4 1/1500 sec ISO200

Canon would tell you that this shot is within spec, ie either you couldn't see any OoF looking at a 6x9 inch print from 10 inches or that some part of the subject is in focus. This is no consolation to the photographer however, who knows damn well where the focus should be and is constantly frustrated when Canon put it somewhere else.

Nor is Canon's Auto Focus consistent. For example I shot this:

Dandelion 1

Canon 400D Tamron70-300mm f/8 200mm 1/750 sec ISO400

Hopelessly soft! But then I shot again and got this:

Dandelion 2

Canon 400D Tamron70-300mm f/8 200mm 1/750 sec ISO400

Sharp as a tack! Go figure???

Unpredictable results are a pain in the quoit for any serious photographer. You need to be able to trust your tools. You might only get one shot at something special and you can't afford having a hit and miss system let you down.

I have tried 4 Canon SLRs and numerous lenses over 4 months and thousands of photos in different situations. I checked my lenses and bodies with various tests for focal plane positioning and blur and I had a couple of lenses and a body sent back for calibration. I read widely and experimented intensively. Eventually I came to the conclusion that Canon's SIR Auto Focus system is simply second rate.

"But how can this be?" I hear you say. Surely if that were the case everyone would know and Canon wouldn't sell cameras. Ever heard of the Elephant in the Room? People haven't complained in great quantity until recently, because many digital SLR owners came from film and didn't expect great AF. Also, Canon's IQ was so much better than the competition that people ignored the high failure rate.

These excuses no longer provide. Now most people are upgrading from compacts, which exhibit perfect AF through the contrast detection scheme and they expect SLRs to do just as well. Also Canon no longer lead the world in IQ and people can get better results with other manufacturers. And therein lies your salvation.

Realising that Canon's AF was never going to satisfy me I resolved to try some other brands and that if they were demonstrably better I would jump ship. This I did and I was so happy to find that they ACTUALLY FOCUSED!!!

I took my time and I made my decision and I bought a Nikon D60 and sold my Canon stuff. I now get 90% of my shots in correct focus. I now have a tool I can pretty well trust, and I am getting more great shots than I know what to do with! Photography is a joy again!

Sure Canon still lead the photography world in a number of areas, and Nikon have their irritating little quirks and shortcomings that make using their stuff a bit of a pain at times,

BUT.....   THEY FOCUS!!!!!

And I have learned that NOTHING is a important as focus!


Nikon D60 AFS18-55VR f/8 55mm 1/60 sec ISO400

Yes, this Nikon's entry level setup.

Believe it!