It's no secret that Canon has autofocus problems with it's DSLR digital cameras. Whether it's persistent soft focus, out of focus, or back focus, Canon can't seem to get it's autofocus system to work properly in its DSLR lineup.
We all heard about the Canon 1D MkIII autofocus problems. Rob Galbraith blew the lid off that one, and try as they did, Canon couldn't keep denying that the 1D MkIII had autofocus problems when more and more people were able to replicate Rob's findings.
When the Canon 5D MkII came out, a lot of people were singing it's praises from the get go, but there was another chorus that could be heard singing in the background, and the song was all about 5D MkII autofocus problems, questions, issues, and complaints. Those talking about the problems they were having with the 5D MkII autofocus were initially drowned out by the initial 5D MkII praisers and ravers, a lot of which were a direct result of a great marketing campaign and publicity push by Canon, but the tide is turning and the voice of those having issues with their 5D MkII autofocus is starting to drown out the praisers and ravers.
Peter Gregg, inventor of A Better Bounce Card (my favorite flash modifier), was one of the first to write about the 5D MkII autofocus. In his latest article, Can the coming Canon 1D Mark IV win back those who switched to Nikon?, Peter makes a pointed request of Canon. "I say this respectfully, but I want a focus system that works. No more sloppy soft images." Many a Canon shooter nodded their head respectfully when they read that line in Peter's article, some shed a tear, and others felt the resentment and anger begin to rise again as they thought about all the issues they've been having with their $3,000 5D MkII that can't focus properly.
The Fake Chuck Westfall brought up the 5D MkII autofocus problems in his post, F@#$ed, for the foreseeable Future, and many 5D MkII shooters wrote in to comment. Some were relieved to find out they weren't alone in experiencing autofocus problems with their 5D MkII, and some were glad to realize it wasn't anything they were doing... just a problem with the camera. All could agree that a $3000 5D MkII that couldn't focus properly was unacceptable, and Canon should do something to rectify the situation.
While I haven't had the misfortune of owning a 5D MkII, I have owned and shot the original Canon 5D, the 40D, 30D, 20D, and Digital Rebel XTi. While I did get some fantastic shots with each of my Canon DSLRs, I also got a lot of out of focus and soft shots with each one. I shot a lot more photos when I shot Canon DSLRs because I could never be sure if the focus would be good. Now that I'm back to shooting Nikon, I shoot a lot less photos because I'm not having focus issues anymore.
Don't get me wrong, I liked my Canon DSLRs, but once Nikon came out with it's newer generation of DSLRs (D300, D3, D3X, D700, and soon to be D700X), the balance swung in Nikon's favor. The big advantage with Canon had always been it's high ISO quality. When Nikon released its newer generation of DSLRs, Canon's high ISO advantage disappeared. Nikon took the high ISO crown with the D3 and D700, and all of Nikon's DSLR lineup focuses MUCH better than the Canon DSLR lineup.
When the 5D MkII came out, I considered buying one. It had a lot of things going for it, and I was intrigued. I was also wary though, as my past Canon experience had left me once bitten, twice shy, which, as it turns out, was a good thing. The 5D MkII has the usual Canon autofocus problems as many 5D MkII owners have found out. No matter what else a camera has going for it, if it doesn't focus well, I don't want it. You can have all the megapixels in the world, and they don't mean a thing if your photos are out of focus.
Come on Canon! I can't believe you aren't capable of making a DSLR that focuses as good as the Nikon D3, D3X, D700, or my D300. In fact, I don't see why you can't leapfrog Nikon and come out with an even better autofocus system than the Nikons have. In the immortal words of Peter Gregg, "I say this respectfully, but I want a focus system that works. No more sloppy soft images." And while you're at it, how about fixing your quality control problems too!
Feel free to leave a comment if you've had problems with your 5D MkII or any other Canon DSLR for that matter. If we make our voices heard, Canon will have to start listening!
**Update: Canon EOS 7D - Will We Be Seeing a Canon 7D in September? and Why Most Of The Canon 7D Specs Are Wrong**