FILMMAKERS DREAM COMES TRUE – Tack Sharp Focus with a Tap of the Screen

I’ll admit it.  I didn’t think the Canon 70D would live up to the hype.
So Canon Pro Marketing Specialist, Genaro Arroyo, challenged me to try out the 70D HDSLR.   I rolled my eyes expecting the auto focus to work haltingly…second-guessing itself…sliding back and forth at the wrong times etc..
Now I’m so sold you’ll think I’m on the Canon payroll.
This baby focused through some venetian blinds to the marquee of the famous Car Wash sign next to Warner Brothers Studios outside my office which I couldn’t even see. It’s at 2:02 into the video.
Canon 70D grabs focus through venetian blinds
Don’t get me wrong.  I’ve worked with ace Assistant Cameramen, Dave Gasperik, who can pull focus on a Lambourghini speeding at us at night at f/2.8,
lambo far  lambo close
I’m just saying the Canon engineers are shutting down the focusing problem just like they shut down 35mm film.    I don’t think they’ll stop until they get it done.  But decide for yourself.  Here are the tests I ran.
Anna Walk
Anna’s @ 0:05 
(above) The tests begin with tracking focus on our gorgeous actress, Anna Easteden, the star of 80% of our CineBootCamps films. She walks toward camera in a dimly lit restaurant using the EF-S 24-135mm STM lens the 70D comes with. PASS.
Test #2 – RESOLUTION compared 70D to 60D and Canon 5D MIII
@ 00:32
(above) I ran some resolution tests and grain tests.
First, I compared the 70D to the 5D Mark III just to see how close the 70D was to the 5D Mark III.   I used the EF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II USM lens on the 5D Mark III.  I had to see the two side by side because the 18-135 EF-S STM lens on the 70D has some of the most impressive MTF specs of any Canon lens.  Both histograms were virtually identical even though the 70D looks darker.
MTF chart for EF-S 18-135mm f/.5-5.6 STM lens
(above) – MTF charts for EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM
70-200mm IS II lens MTF chart
(above)- MTF charts for EF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II USM
I thought with that good a lens I might see 70D actually get close to the 5DM3.    Decide for yourself.
70D vs 60D with the same lens
Then, I had to see if the 60D would deliver even better results with the 70D’s STM lens.  The lens the 60D shipped with was a EF-S 18-135mm lens but has no step motor so I’m assuming it’s different glass.  The MTF chart on that lens seem to indicate it’s a different lens.
MTF charts on 60D lens
(above) – MTF charts for EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS
So, I tested the 70D to the 60D, each using the EF-S 18-135mm STM lens (@ 1:13) .
The 60D’s “special sauce” eliminated more “dancing grain in the blacks” at 300% enlargement. (1:25)
Test #3 – FIND and FOCUS using a 70-200mm
focus tests
I performed a more challenging “find and focus” test using the EF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II USM lens on the 70D shooting hand-held, and not the EF-S 24-135mm STM lens. I didn’t know if 70-200 would focus smoothly when controlled by the 70D body.  Did it ever.  Fast; Crisp. Silent.
it was like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. (or to the younger filmmakers, Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke or whoever that guy was in the BeetleJuice suit.)
I panned to objects near and far. Kept it on Auto ISO (which reacted pretty fast as well.)
The 70D passed with flying colors…nailing focus in less than a second and often instantly.  It only got confused once by the reflection in a piece of glass. It even grabbed focus on something I couldn’t even see.  The Car Wash sign behind the half-closed venetian blinds at my office.
You’ve gotta see this video.
When you think of all the money people have spent on rigs and monitors to help them find focus you begin to appreciate the 70D more and more. Fact is, it will nail focus in three ways – by itself, or wait for you to tap the part of the screen you want in focus or find a smiley face or recognizable pattern to track.
It passed all tests to my satisfaction so I took it on a real world test.
In the real world shoot it did just as well.  We were doing the story of Angel Tree, an organization which offers to deliver presents to children of those in prison.  Mary Trujillo was the organizer.  You know how fast kids move and how easy it is to lose focus on a long lens.  Here’s a still from the video that I shot from twelve feet away. Gabriel at the door.
All it took to focus was a tap on the LCD screen. I never touched the focus ring. I could keep my hand on the zoom ring and just tap the part of the screen I wanted in focus. The 70D found focus positively in one motion…no driving past it and backing up or endlessly searching back and forth.
Canon has solved the number one problem that ruins filmmakers shots, i.e. out of focus.
Canon’s offering the upgraded AF sensor for the c100 cinema cameras. I can’t wait for the feature to be added to the 5DM3 or perhaps it’ll be the step up feature for the 5DM4.
Start saving up! This is too good a feature to not have on your camera when you’re shooting video.
(Fletch’s CineBootCamps now include the 70D in all their training materials and drills. Next boot camp is Feb. 22 & 23. We’ll be shooting the first episode of Season Two of ‘KILLER’.  Anna just killed her police detective husband with a tarantula when he wouldn’t stop risking her life with vigilante missions.  You see Anna loves to bring justice to the guilty. But her husband started sending her on missions to kill the innocent. And that was grounds for divorce.  But Anna’s Catholic and she doesn’t believe in divorce. So what’s a girl to do but let her pet tarantula do the job.)

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