When lens adapter maker par excellence Metabones recently announced version 1.7 of its firmware, the news spread like wildfire across the interwebs. Metabones Canon EF to Micro Four Thirds Speed Boosters, most sites reported, would be getting autofocus alongside their existing support of in-lens image stabilization for Canon EF lenses with it built in. I read those reports, visited the Metabones firmware download page, and was dismayed to conclude that this firmware update and support for autofocus were only available for EF-to-M43 Speed Boosters.
I don’t have a Speed Booster yet. I had been holding off on one until the new XL and ULTRA Speed Boosters were available and I was needing to rent some Canon glass. I do currently have a Canon EF to M43 Smart Adapter bought when I retired my Canon 5D Mark II but kept the EF 24-105mmm f/4 kit lens that came with it.
That kit lens remains a favorite of many cinematographers and stills photographers despite it neither being the fastest nor the sharpest in the toolbox. But its images do have that renowned Canon color and its lack of the ultra sharpness apparently seen in Sigma’s 24-105mm f/4 Art lens can be considered a virtue, especially when shooting female subjects.
The EF 24-105mm is now my only Canon lens, and I wanted to be able to press it into service when needing double its native focal length. I am not one for heaps of lenses or extremes at the optical wide or long end, but it can be handy having what amounts a 48-210mm lens when bayonetted onto a GH4 via a Smart Adapter.
I worked out that the Smart Adapter could take firmware version 1.7 when studying the image slideshow on Metabones’ front page. The slides flip over too fast to read the fine print – blink and you’ll miss it. So I dragged the one about autofocus onto my iMac’s desktop and, lo and behold, the Canon EF to Micro Four Thirds T Smart Adapter and Canon EF to Micro Four Thirds Smart Adapter were at the end of the list beneath the current four different Speed Boosters. Yay!
Over to the firmware page, download the updater, read and re-read the instructions, plug in my Smart Adapter and before too long I had a freshly updated autofocus-capable device.
I was itching to see autofocus in action so took GH4, Canon kit zoom and adapter with me on our weekly visit to the local hair salon. The lighting and backgrounds can pretty dreadful at the salon – daylight, several types of old fluorescents, old incandescent light fixtures and the odd newer LED lights along with a big storefront picture window. Close-up details are the key.
Thanks to firmware version 1.7 I got great results and far more sharp focus hits than misses in my high speed photo session of our fave hairdresser at work.
Having worked as a magazine photographer before autofocus became the norm, I rarely rely on it for stills and never for shooting video. I love the focus peaking and focus magnification on my GH4 especially when focussing manually by default. But what the new autofocus function on my Smart Adapter gave me almost from installation is a looser, faster, more fun way of shooting, producing more cinematic results and enough accurate focus to never worry.
If I don’t get it in one snapshot then I will in the next one. And shooting digital just doesn’t cost like shooting analog used to. I like to shake myself up every so often, to avoid falling into the twin trap of formulas and repetition. So out with manual focus for a while and let’s see what autofocus can do.
Even better, my 1.7-equipped Smart Adapter and 24-105mm combo has given that lens a whole new lease of life and opened up new possibilities for stills photography. I am loving it. Thank you, Metabones! [bctt tweet=”Metabones' 1.7 firmware update adds autofocus to EF-to-MFT Smart Adapters too!”]
(cover photo credit: Karin Gottschalk)
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