Nikon vs. Canon: AF

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by 147798, Mar 26, 2009.

  1. 147798 Suspended

    Dec 29, 2007
    With the release of the 500D, I've been reading a lot of heated debate in other forums claiming that Canon is losing ground, and that Nikon is the place to be -- better AF and micro AF adjustment support.

    I understand the latter, but does the former have any sound statistics to support it, or is this just chest-thumping or internet rumor mongering?

    I ask only because I've got an XTi and some cheap-o lenses (35/2, Sigma 18-55 and Canon 55-250). I'm thinking of stepping up my investment in DSLR stuff, and possibly move to the 500D body, but not if there is a better system.

    I realize there are ergo issues, and other bells and whistles differences, but I'm just asking here about Focus. Has anyone seen any concrete statistical proof around Canon AF issues as being worse than Nikon? I have no issues w/my XTi, but I'm a little fearful right now to invest more.
  2. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    i think the "better" AF only applies to the D700 and D300 vs 5D and 50D. AF accuracy is up to debate, but the Nikons have a lot more AF points, which is a big help with subject tracking in AI Servo.

    once Canon decides to trickle down its 1D AF system, it won't matter anymore.
  3. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    I hate to say it but you sound like the guy who buys the General Moters Econo-box car because he hears Corvetts are really fast.

    People use this argument all the time. How many versions of "I'm going to buy a Canon Rebel because when I see football games all the pro photographers I see are shooting with Canon." Yes but they are not shooting with Rebels or with 55mm f/5.6 lenses.

    You have to compare exact model of camera to exact model of camera and do NOT compare brands. Within each brand there is a HUGE range in quality and auto focus speed. Some Nikons are quite slow, still using their "screw driver" lenses and other body/lens combo are very fast. When you compare AF speeds you have to think in terms of body/lens combo

    That said. Why is it that every today thinks they need fast AF? Did everyone forget how to rotate a focus ring? Very few subject actually need fast AF. Most sports are so predictable that yu ca prefocus to a spot and then wait for the action to come to that spot.
  4. 147798 thread starter Suspended

    Dec 29, 2007
    A) who buys GM cars anymore?


    B) I did not say such an ignorant statement about sports shooting. Nice straw man, but doesn't work here.

    OK, here's a comparison: Nikon D90 vs. Canon XSi. Why the XSi? Because the 500D reportedly uses the same AF system, and there is much whining about the XSi AF system (over at DPR, for example - purported back and front focusing). Some have said those two cams aren't in the same league, and shouldn't be compared, but they are close enough. A D90 is about $950 street price, and the 500D currently is listed at $799 msrp (both body only). For me, that's close enough. Maybe that's a real $250-300 difference, but it's not a $500+ difference.

    I was thinking of moving up in Canon lenses (next perhaps the 18-55 IS), but if there are known AF issues in the Canon line, it might make more sense to switch systems. I only started with Canon because I had some old Canon lenses.

    btw -- I remember how to rotate a focus ring. When did Canon forget to include a split prism in the focus screen? Don't know about you, but I cannot MF my Canon lenses effectively, and I take pics of my kids -- not flowers from a tripod shot.
  5. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    Same people as always I suspect, just fewer of them :p

    His points (which are valid) are that (a) broad "this manufacturer's feature vs. that manufacturer's feature" statements are mostly not applicable to an entire line and (b) Very few people challenge any AF system enough to go for one brand over another based upon that single feature.

    Here's the point- if you go one way, then your next three camera bodies are going to be important- and there's not really enough of a difference in any generation to make it all that important.

    If you're a single-issue voter, then I'd really honestly suggest going and trying out both bodies.

    Split prism screens are hell on automatic metering, but Katz makes them for most DSLRs. My "green dot and arrows" on my Nikon D2x works well for me- I'm sure Canon does something very similar with their bodies.

    I hear all sorts of AF issues with "prosumer" Nikons and >90% of the time, it's operator error, there are several settings for AF, and the defaults aren't always the "best" ones for moving subjects- I honestly don't think the grass is all that much greener.

    Move because you like contrastier lenses, you want a 200-400/4, or something like that, but IMO, moving because of AF is over-worrying about something that's really not going to make as much difference as shooting with a faster lens so the AF system has more light to work with. There's more difference in AF between a 4.5-5.6 lens and a 2.8 one than between Nikon and Canon.
  6. Maxxamillian macrumors 6502

    Nov 16, 2004
    Captain Obvious here...

    A few thoughts:

    1. The glass you shoot with is critical (I know, captain obvious here)--if you are looking at buying into a brand then take a look at their lenses. If you find that you have a passion for photography then your lens purchases can make your camera body purchase look like nothing. In short--look into the entire system, not just the camera body.

    2. Find a camera that just gets out of the way and lets you do what you want. Need to dive into 10 different menus to get to some settings? Do you want to dive into ten different menus???

    3. Unless someone comes out with something that is truly groundbreaking, then you won't be switching systems willy-nilly down the road. Think about it, the more you invest in your equipment, the more painful the switch to a different system (again with the captain obvious, I know...) The camera body purchase is just the tip of what can be a staggeringly expensive iceberg.

    4. Do your research, take your time. Listen to others and their experiences. Rent the cameras and gear that you are interested and then play and experiment before you buy.

    5. Oh...and the AF thing? Unless you are doing straight macro (or something similar) work it is VERY important. I'd lose clients if I didn't have a fast, flexible, and reliable system.

    Good luck! Whatever you decide you will find that Canon and Nikon are very good for each other and very good for you (the consumer).

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