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I'm considering buying a Canon 760D / Rebel T6S but it lacks autofocus microcalibration. It's an expensive camera and all upper models including the 70D offer it - so is it something that I can accept or should I invest in 70D? Canon 760D has a 24 MP crop sensor so exact focusing may be very important to avoid soft pictures.

I use only original Canon lenses but change them very often, and as most of them have plastic mounts which may wear out over time, microcalibration may be a very important feature to have - there must be a reason that all upper line bodies offer it.

  • I agree with Michael that microcalibration is extremely useful in focus critical situations. If you know which was the eeor lies and by how much you can allow for it, but this is extremely undesirable to have to do. | A thought (worthy of Heath Robinson) which I have not tried and which many would frown on - with due care and knowledge you could "micro-shim" [tm] a lens that erred in the appropriate direction. Having it adjusted professionally would be "rather better". – Russell McMahon Feb 22 '16 at 12:10
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    microcalibration is very important if your body has it. Not all lenses are created equal. On my D810 & D750, only my 70-200 2.8 did not require adjustment, 4 others did. Not by much, but it does make a difference. I use Datacolor SpyderLensCal, and re-calibrate every 5-6 months. – Gmck Feb 22 '16 at 15:10
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    Please use comments to ask clarifying questions or to suggest improvements. Please do not use comments to answer the question. – dpollitt Feb 22 '16 at 15:41
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... is it something that I can accept or should I invest in 70D?

Unless you're a professional, a camera is never an investment. It never appreciates. It's an expense.

Depends on what and how you plan to shoot. If you think you'll be doing focus-critical work, like macro shooting, where you work with a tripod and manual focus, it's not at all critical, as you're bypassing the autofocus system altogether.

If you're planning on using supertelephoto lenses on fast-moving subjects and need the AF to nail focus each time, then it can be much more critical.

Canon 760D has a 24 mp crop sensor so exact focusing may be very important to avoid soft pictures,

This, in and of itself is not a factor that means you require AFMA. In fact, the majority of entry-level dSLRs that don't have AFMA have the same resolution, so a number of folks are apparently getting by just fine without it.

I use only original Canon lenses but change them very often, and as most of them have plastic mounts which may wear out over time, microcalibration may be a very important feature to have ...

Actually, what this is telling me is that you only own entry-level lenses (EF 50mm f/1.8 and the EF-S 18-55 kit are probably the only two lenses with plastic mount plates). In fact, nearly all lenses these days have plastic mounts. And if you end up with a lens/body combination that is so out of calibration you notice serious AF issues, you can always send that gear to Canon service and have them calibrate the gear for you (i.e., do the adjustment).

To my way of thinking, it's mostly a convenience feature, unless you a) are completely unwilling to send a lens/camera combination to Canon to have them calibrated, or b) have a large number of lenses, or c) do a lot of shooting where autofocus accuracy must be spot-on at all times, and d) shoot wide open with fast lenses all. the. time.

(there must be a reason that all upper line bodies offer it).

The main reason is that successful professionals who can earn enough to cover the cost of high-end gear tend to use high-end gear to make things easier on themselves and to save time. Better glass generally means less post-processing. Harder-wearing bodies can take more wear and tear. And having AMFA means you don't have to wait on Canon Service to do adjustments for you.

I shot with a 350D/XT for four years and never felt the need for AFMA. I also used that camera body to shoot birds with an EF 400mm f/5.6L USM. I never needed to send the combo into Canon for calibration. I now shoot with a 50D and 5DMkII, both of which have AFMA, and I've probably used the feature a grand total of twice, and it only helped in one instance, because my methodology of adjusting the AF calibration was less than optimal (it's why I happily use Magic Lantern's auto dot-tune feature).

Note that Michael said he only noticed he needed AFMA when he used a $2000 telephoto L lens. And note how I said I used an $1100 supertelephoto L and never really did. In my book, this is a gracenote/convenience feature; not a have to have, and not a great excuse to indulge in feature-greed. To me, Don't get a 70D just for AFMA. Because, frankly, you probably need the cash you'd save for better glass. And the 80D was just announced. :) The 70D's used price will probably be dropping soon...

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It all depends on how you plan to use the camera. But if AF accuracy is critical for your application(s) then AFMA is a critical feature. Especially with lenses that have longer focal lengths, wider apertures, and sharper resolution.

The last body I bought without AFMA was a Rebel XTi/400D. For me, not having AFMA would now be a deal breaker. Even more so would be the lack of a second control dial, which the cameras in the Rebel series prior to the T6s also lack, and the additional direct control buttons that the T6s still lacks. But then I shoot a lot of sports/action in less than ideal lighting conditions. Being able to control most of the camera's functions quickly without taking my eye from the viewfinder is important to me.

I didn't really discover the benefit of AFMA, though, until several months after I had moved to the 50D when I finally acquired a lens long enough (focal length), wide enough (aperture), and sharp enough to learn how frustrating it is to nail everything about a series of action shots only to discover that every one of them is slightly misfocused in the same direction. For me that lens was the EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II.

The T6s is the first Rebel to have a rear control wheel, but it appears much smaller than the control wheel on most other EOS cameras that have one. It may or not be as usable to you as the larger versions. One of the complaints some had with the 70D was the change in the rear control wheel to accommodate a 4-way rocker switch between the SET button in the middle and the wheel on the outside of the circle. The T6s does the same but with a different shape. The forthcoming 80D appears to use an identical wheel/switch/button setup to the 70D.

Even with the rear control dial, the T6s still has fewer direct controls than the 70D. The Metering mode, ISO, AF mode, and Drive mode buttons are missing from the area in front of the top LCD display and the smaller top LCD displays less information (Drive mode, Metering mode, and AF mode are missing). There's also no C setting on the mode dial. This mode allows the user to record a specific camera setup and instantly return to it at any time simply by turning the mode dial to C. I frequently use this ability on my Canon bodies. And there is the larger, brighter viewfinder of the 70D (.95x, 98% coverage pentaprism) compared to the T6s (.82x, 95% coverage pentamirror).

My first DSLR body was the aforementioned XTi. I got many great shots with it! My next body was a 50D. The AFMA was just one feature among many that allowed me to get more great shots easier and more consistently than I could with the XTi. I told a friend not too long after the upgrade that in some ways it felt like walking out of the dark and into the light.

So if it were me and I already had something with which to shoot that could hold me over until I could save a little more and pick up the 70D (with the announcement of the release of the 80D now is a good time to buy a 70D as prices should be falling to allow dealers to clear out their remaining inventory), I'd wait for the camera with AFMA and faster handling. Right now it is only about a $150 price difference in the U.S. for the respective bodies.

  • Thanks very much for the answer, I'll try to buy the 70D. – user2720372 Feb 22 '16 at 9:54
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    It's possibly worth noting in your second paragraph that the 760D / Rebel T6s does have a second control dial. – Philip Kendall Feb 22 '16 at 11:33
  • Thanks for the catch. I did a quick glance at the T6s review at the-digital-picture and didn't notice the picture I though was the back of the T6s was actually a T6i with a mouseover menu beneath it that needed to be changed to the T6s. You'd think the default view displayed for a T6s review would be the photo of the T6s! – Michael C Feb 22 '16 at 15:18
  • The answer has been edited to reflect the control layout of the 760D. – Michael C Feb 23 '16 at 2:56

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