Thursday, June 21, 2012
Canon Rebel T4i and EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Hybrid AF Video Test
Canon's latest flagship entry level Rebel, the T4i/650D, touts a new Hybrid auto focusing system for video and the first LCD touchscreen for Canon DSLR's. Also introduced is the long awaited Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM pancake lens. Otherwise known as the "shorty forty", this very slim profile prime lens has an affordable retail price of $199.
The new Hybrid AF system of the T4i/650D allows objects or people to be continuously tracked in focus during video recording. With Canon's new EF STM or stepper motor lenses, the Hybrid AF system allows smoother lens focusing when compared to USM and non USM EF lenses. The new Hybrid AF system and the LCD touchscreen of the T4i/650D work in conjunction with STM lenses such as the new Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM pancake lens for smooth focus tracking of subjects during video capture.
I wanted to see for myself Canon's revolutionary hybrid focusing system. As a veteran television news photographer, I always manually focus lenses on my video cameras. Just the thought of horrible focus hunting and motor noise gives me nightmares. So how does Canon's Hybrid AF system stack up? Watch my 1080p video above shot with the Canon EOS Rebel T4i/650D and the EF 40mm f/2.8 STM lens.
My Canon Hybrid AF conclusion? The Servo AF only works well with subjects and people moving at a toddler's pace. Anything faster than crawling, the Hybrid AF does not keep up with fast moving people or objects. My 15 month old baby daughter just started to walk recently and the Canon T4i/650D paired with the EF 40mm f/2.8 STM pancake lens kept her in focus most of the time. Before the test, my expectations were not too high for this T4i or any HD DSLR. Disappointed with focus tracking of normal everyday people or object movements, I was quite surprised at the quiet and smooth focus of the new STM or stepper motor. Say goodbye to noisy, ratchety and jarring focus movement of previous EF USM and non USM lenses. Canon's next step is to match the AF system of conventional camcorders out in the digital video market. Patience is a virtue!
While we are on the topic of DSLR video, the Canon Rebel T4i/650D replaces the 16 month old Canon Rebel T3i/600D with added and removed DSLR video functions. The Canon Rebel T4i/650D most notably does not have 1080p 3x to 10x Digital Zoom video capture and the "AF Quick" mode for video focusing. What happened? My only guess is Canon's marketing division got hold of the R&D department. The Canon Rebel lineup is marketed to the entry level and novice DSLR demographic, most notably soccer mom's. I can't blame Canon for this because all I see at theme parks and zoos during travels with my own family are inexpensive DSLR's strapped around parental necks. New parents mean "green" full auto mode on the control dial 24/7! This includes auto focus with shooting video, as well.
Let us take a break about video and focus on the great Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM lens image quality. This pancake lens is an amazing and must have for your camera bag. It is affordable, portable and super sharp for crop and full frame sensors. The color rendition of this lens is just about "L" glass quality. The above image was shot with the "shorty forty" and the Canon EOS 5D Mark III at ISO 3200. Focus was dead on and the image quality was outstanding for $199. This "shorty forty" is a no brainer!
I will have more video tests with the pancake lens paired with the Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 1D Mark IV shortly. I am working diligently capturing, transcoding and editing video footage to share the knowledge.
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I just posted my Canon EOS Rebel T4i/650D Verdict and Video Test here.