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Focusing – Canon 7D vs 5DmkII

Focusing - Canon 7D vs 5DmkIIThe question I’m getting the most since diving into the 5D world has been about “that infamous focusing issue”. I don’t think it would have been so infamous if the 7D hadn’t come out with such kickass focusing but now that everyone knows the possibilities, there seems to be a resounding sigh of disappointment with those in my situation: a 7D user upgrading (or downgrading?) to a full frame 5DmkII. So here’s my experience so far.

{Focus points}

The 7D has 19 focus points and the 5DmkII has 9. I manually select my focus point which means that I compose my shot and then select the focus point (takes just a split second). Which is awesome on the 7D because there’s always a focus point right where I want it. On the 5DmkII, this isn’t always the case so often, I need to recompose. Which also only takes a split second and doesn’t make or break the shot, but still leaves me feeling frustrated and like my camera isn’t in sync with my desires. Makes me feel like I’m not in control, the camera is. But do I pick up the 7D before the 5D simply because of this? No…the full frame lusciousness is enough to let this one glitch go.

{Focus speed}

While I can let the lack of focus points go, the difference that does make me want to throw it at a tree once in a while is the speed at which the 5DmkII focuses. I’d heard it said that the 7D was the choice camera amongst sports photographer because of its 8 fps shooting speed (vs 3 on the 5DmkII) but also, the 7D focuses faster and holds the focus better. Which is really important for me shooting kids. They’re fast little people and this often calls for sport-like tactics in grabbing the shot. But even with my posed childrens’ portrait sessions, this is often the scenario when using the 5DmkII: I set up the pose, get behind the camera, set the focus point and focus and hold it until the exact perfect moment to release the shutter. The moment the laugh naturally happens or their eyes tell me “GO!” On the 7D, this is no problemo. On the 5D, the focus takes longer to achieve and then ‘falls off’ the instant there’s a little head movement, hand movement…and then I’m right back to grabbing focus which means that the split second when their eyes tell me to hit it could be completely missed. Does this make me want to abandon the full frame at times in favor of my trusty 7D? You betchya.

{So…which should you choose?}

I realize I’m very lucky to have both cameras. I often get readers on my blog or in email asking which they should choose. It’s a hard one because the full frame has been life changing (melodramatic? No way…seriously life changing) but after being a 7D user, the 5DmkII has left much to be desired in certain areas. Some readers have even gotten to the point where they’ve saved up all the pennies they need to take the dive into full frame and want to know my advice. If you can have both, have both! But my official advice is this: I think the 5DmkIII is going to rock the camera world. It’s going to be a 7D/5D hybrid. Like a 7D with a full frame sensor. Hold out. As soon as they can be purchased or pre-ordered, do it. I know I will!

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Elizabeth Halford
Elizabeth Halford

is a photographer and advertising creative producer in Orlando, FL. She wrote her first article for dPS in 2010. Her most popular one racked up over 100k shares!

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