I have had a certain expectation on Canon 85/1.2 (so called Mantou lens) before purchasing, so in here review if it performs as expected. Key areas to check are AF accuracy in various shooting environment (this is a buying point for me as manual lens user) and color rendition on Sony body.
I use Carl Zeiss Planar HFT 85mm f1.4 which is, I think, deserved fame in top-10 lenses ever produced in history. Planar HFT is optically the same as Planar T * 85mm f1.4 for Contax but the T* lens has a typical octagonal aperture blade, while the HFT lens for Rolleiflex has triangular aperture which is unseen elsewhere. Of course lens coating is different too, T* vs HFT as inscribed in front of the lens.
And talking about Canon 85/1.2 lens, it is only available AF 85/1.2 lens for photographers so far so long…
I use several other manual lenses in addition to the Planar HFT 85mm, so I’ve been thinking about changing one of portrait lenses to AF version. When my kids growing, I put Canon 85/1.8 (called baby-Mantou) almost as fixed one. But as soon as they got into middle school, quit dad’s photo model role abruptly. Sold baby-Mantou then…
After a few years using manual lenses, I finally added AF 85mm due to degradation of eyesight….as explanation for wife…. and the pleasure of shopping… :- )
Auto focus accuracy with Sony A7R II
Good focus, example #1 Click photo to view larger size
In Sony body, there are 3 focus spot size, large, medium & small. I used mostly medium size spots, but test the small size spot in this time. I hope and try, small spot AF works better to focus on model’s eyes precisely. First, frame the photo (composition), then move the small focus spot to the eye & push shutter button to make focusing.
This method works well in a controlled environment like a studio shot, but really hard to practice in dynamic environment in Cosplay event. Problem is the focus spot is pale grey, it is hard to find where the spot located in the view finder or LCD screen in outdoor shooting. I wish that Sony provides an option to change the spot grid color, something like Orange, to track it easily.
In case a small spot is not on eyes correctly (or contrast area), it fails focusing & move barrel infinity to the closest distance to stop. Eventually I gave up and switched to a medium size spot to continue shooting.
Good focus, example #2
Good and bad focus, example #3
There is different type of difficulty using medium size focus spot. Because it is relatively larger, it includes eyes, nose and hair on forehead in the spot area, therefore AF is not always locked to eyes. Like example above, it may focus on other areas around eyes. In that sense, Sony’s ‘eyeAF’ feature is really great idea. Unfortunately, this feature only works for genuine Sony lenses, so 3rd party lens like Canon, does suffer AF inevitably.
There are three vendors offer an adapter by hacking this feature (by “reverse engineering” in legal-ish term). First runner is TechArt’s NEX III adapter but it only shows potential not real value. It is impractically slow because works only on A7’s contrast focus mode. Also it has serious quality control problem so ended up in a mass recall.
The next runner is Sigma MC-11 which supports the eyeAF function for Sigma lenses only. Disappointing news for non-Sigma lens users, but understood their marketing decision to promote own lenses. Well…
The third one is the ‘Metabones V’ adapter which supports eyeAF for Canon lenses. Only drawback is its price. This adapter (ADAPTER!) is more expensive than many other ordinary lenses….
Focus problem on the periphery area
Surprisingly & unexpectedly, when move focus spot into peripheral areas it cannot make good focus, rather shows front-focus. This problem is neither caused by Sony body nor the Canon lens. With Sony lens in Sony body, it works well even if the focus spot is on the periphery. Canon 85/1.2 lens attached to Canon body also works fine in that platform.
This is a bug that occurs multiple vendor products mixed I guess. In this particular case, the body is Sony, the adapter is Sigma and the lens is Canon … . Each of them has its own firmware and protocol to drive the system, and mixed forcibly it resulted in less-than-perfect situation.
Because the MC-11 is basically designed for Sigma lenses, Canon lens users are advised to use a Metabones V adapter unless owns other brand already OR not concern on ridiculous price tag from the monopoly supplier.
Anyway, for the time being, I will use MC-11 with the method, focus with center spot at first and change the composition to avoid peripheral spot’s focus accuracy issue.
Hack (again) EyeAF function of Sigma’s MC-11?
I heard there is a firmware of MC-11 that does not block eyeAF for Canon lens accidentally released sometimes ago. I tried to contact couple of sites to confirm or get this firmware but result in vain.
Sigma Art Series lens is a new line of Sigma which reshape brand name definitely, from cheapo dupo stuff to a premium product. The performance is excellent according to most of reviewers and the price range seems to be reasonable. Those who use Sigma lens will delight to have MC-11 adapter to use in A7 series. Latest release Sigma’s 105mm f1.4 draws strong attention for me as well, but having 2 lenses 85/1.2 and 105/1.4 is not an option… I will wait expert’s review who compares these 2 bokeh monsters.
On the other hand, Canon users will be happy with Metabones adapter, the only way to get eyeAF …. Or if not care about eyeAF, several other brand adapters are available in 100 USD price range.
- Canon 85/1.2 lens works well with Sony A7R II, BUT…
- If medium size focus spot used, it may focus on other object around eyes
- With MC-11 adapter, peripheral focus spots does not perform well. Stay on central spot
Using small size focus spot is better way to ensure model’s eyes focused but main bottleneck is the visibility of the spot in Sony body. Need practice in order to operate flawlessly in the field. Worth to try I think…
There is no way to improve peripheral focus issue (front focus) with MC-11 other than try different brands. I think different brands (different firmware) works more or less with a specific lens, so key point is finding ‘optimized firmware for Canon lens’ as much as possible.
(To be continued)