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Gear Talk => Canon General => Topic started by: babiesphotos on February 25, 2013, 02:18:28 AM

Title: What am I doing wrong???
Post by: babiesphotos on February 25, 2013, 02:18:28 AM
I get good pictures. But my percentage of unsharp ones is horrific. With all lenses.

I like shooting wide open, and I'm shooting active toddlers, so I know it's not easy. But still, I have 5D mark III, I am aware of shallow DOF, I am aware of field curvature, I am aware that shooting 1.8 on 1.4 lens may lead to focus issue (can't remember the term). Still, I don't get what am I doing wrong? Are kids that quick that 1/160 is so often smudged? I tried 1/500 and it did help some, but not completely. Do I shake the camera when firing? Any ideas?

Few example, 2 bad ones and one ok (all 1/160 50 1.4@1.4). Third shot is ok and is fired the same second when second shot (bad one) was fired... Quite often, it seems to me like there is nothing in focus, so I started thinking I'm shaking the camera, but when 1/500 didn't solve it, I got lost...

Help...
Title: Re: What am I doing wrong???
Post by: Eli on February 25, 2013, 02:43:59 AM
You using AI Servo?
Title: Re: What am I doing wrong???
Post by: Spooky on February 25, 2013, 03:18:09 AM
These all look like the focus is just in front of the face, not movement blurring, so shutter speed won't help. The 50 1.4 has very shallow depth of field and a my Canon one is a bit hit and miss when focussing close. I would recommend manual focus and just moving your body to achieve focus - not too easy with toddlers! Using f2  - f4 may help without gaining too much depth...
If you can, check the lens focus calibration using AFMA, if your body can do this.
Title: Re: What am I doing wrong???
Post by: verysimplejason on February 25, 2013, 03:21:23 AM
Your lens might need an AFMA or send it to Canon with your camera so they can fine-tune it.  I've done the same thing for my 28mm.
Title: Re: What am I doing wrong???
Post by: alexturton on February 25, 2013, 03:29:33 AM
I had the same problem on my canon 50mm 1.4. AfMA (+20 for me) helped a lot but its still soft at 1.4. I might send me for calibration.

My hesitance is the last time I sent something to canon for calibration it came back with +8 off focus. So I might use an authorised third party dealer.
Title: Re: What am I doing wrong???
Post by: Spooky on February 25, 2013, 03:45:26 AM
As Eli has said above, are you using 'one shot' and toddler or you moving?
Title: Re: What am I doing wrong???
Post by: celliottuk on February 25, 2013, 04:45:18 AM
Try this
Try again. Actively listen and look. Do you get a beep?(Assuming you have that switched on), or a viewfinder indication that focus has been achieved?(Again, assuming you have that switched on) If not maybe there is insufficient light to allow the autofocus to fully lock
Try somewhere brighter..still out?
Reset the camera to factory defaults(You might have inadvertently set a weird setting without knowing it)
Select "P" mode
Shoot-still out?
Select AI servo, shoot, still out?
Pick a static subject, auto focus, shoot, still out?
Same static subject, manual focus, shoot. This should definitely be in focus, if not.....
If the auto focus is out, but the manual focus is in, try a different lens-that might help clarify if it's a lens or body problem
Get the camera calibrated
Title: Re: What am I doing wrong???
Post by: Schruminator on February 25, 2013, 05:03:51 AM
On the first shot, it seems pretty clear to me that the focus is actually closer to the elbow of the child than the face. You can see that that part of the shirt looks perfectly in focus-- so I would agree with a previous poster that your lens is focusing in front of where it should be (assuming you're using the correct focus point, got a focus confirmation beep, etc etc).

Try adjusting the AFMA to see if this significantly improves your rate of keepers or look into having a 3rd party/Canon calibrate the lens and body combo.

Title: Re: What am I doing wrong???
Post by: Max Power on February 25, 2013, 05:11:14 AM
Using the center point AF?

My keepers went way up after I stopped using all the points...it's too unpredictable. Looks like it may be grabbing highlights on his sleeve instead of staying center focused like you composed.
Title: Re: What am I doing wrong???
Post by: M.ST on February 25, 2013, 05:27:22 AM
First try to select a faster shutter speed. But at an aperture from 1.4 you have only a small depth of field.

With many EF 50 mm 1.4 lenses there are problems. A lot of AF system donĀ“t work perfetly, if you put this lens on. Send in the lens for some adjustings.

There are also AF problems with some EF 24-70 2.8 II L and EF 17-40 4 L lenses (only if you select the longest focal lenght that is possible).
Title: Re: What am I doing wrong???
Post by: Viggo on February 25, 2013, 05:37:12 AM
Use Ai Servo, Case 6 with -1 on tracking sensitivity and use one single point (the 5 vertical in the middle) with 4 point expansion. Highest drive mode to increase your chances. Forget any longer shutter than 1/500s . Use M mode and 1/1000s and f1.8 and auto ISO up to 6400 or 12800 if you're comfortable with the noise.

Buy Reikan Focal to calibrate your lens. I suspect it's off so the few shots you have in focus is actually when the AF misses and for example back focuses it actually hits because it's miscalibrated.

That'll get you the best tools, now all you need to is practice practice practice!
Title: Re: What am I doing wrong???
Post by: hendrik-sg on February 25, 2013, 06:09:33 AM
if you let the camera choose the focus point, it will choose use the one with the closest subject. on a face it will focus the nose not the eye.

i shoot portraits with one point focus and ai servo, if i dont have to recompose. maybe it helps to only let the camera choose cross-type points.
Title: Re: What am I doing wrong???
Post by: PeterJ on February 25, 2013, 07:26:40 AM
if you let the camera choose the focus point, it will choose use the one with the closest subject. on a face it will focus the nose not the eye.

i shoot portraits with one point focus and ai servo, if i dont have to recompose. maybe it helps to only let the camera choose cross-type points.
+1, looking at those images given the position of the focus points I'd say that's the case. 5D3 allows the focus point to be easily be moved with the joystick so the total auto-selection modes are an abomination in my opinion.
Title: Re: What am I doing wrong???
Post by: J.R. on February 25, 2013, 07:53:10 AM
I get good pictures. But my percentage of unsharp ones is horrific. With all lenses.

I like shooting wide open, and I'm shooting active toddlers, so I know it's not easy. But still, I have 5D mark III

Any ideas?


With ALL lenses??? The only idea that comes to mind is that you've got a lemon - the AF of the 5D3 is, usually, extremely reliable with most lenses. 

Try the lenses with a different body to isolate the problem. Given that your lenses are rendering unsharp images, I'd recommend you send the camera back to Canon and ask them to check. 
Title: Re: What am I doing wrong???
Post by: pato on February 25, 2013, 08:17:59 AM
I would simply guess wrong focus point!
Which point(s) do light up when you look through the viewfinder and press the shutter halfway through?
For doing Portraits, you might want to exclusively use the center focus point, so always the center will be sharp.
Title: Re: What am I doing wrong???
Post by: AmbientLight on February 25, 2013, 08:39:33 AM
I would like to suggest manual selection of a focus point, but not the central focus point. Instead I suggest to select a focus point so that it ends up right on one of the toddler's eyes.

Then you can test focussing with a series of shots. Don't fire off quick shots, but wait for focus confirmation. With a 5D Mark III you should get pretty good and consistent results using this method unless of course your lens focussing is way off, which I suspect is happening to you.

You can quickly verify autofocus accuracy by focussing your 50mm f1.4 lens and other lenses on a static area with sufficient detail to allow checking autofocus. A stretch of tarmac in good light will do. If you try AFMA you should check how much your corrected autofocus results will vary. If you can achieve some autofocus reliability you can return to shooting the pictures you want.
Title: Re: What am I doing wrong???
Post by: Puddel on February 25, 2013, 08:46:05 AM
The first thing i thinking of is,  We press the shutter button 1/2 way down to gain focus and ligth metering to get a good picture. If your portrait or you move your head and camera 10mm before you press the shutter button the rest 1/2 way down your picture is out of focus with f/1,4- 1,8
Try to be quicker on your shoot, and dont let your subject get out of focus after you have locked your fokus whit 1/2 way shutterbutton.
p.s hope you understand my crappy English (im from Norway:-)
Title: Re: What am I doing wrong???
Post by: TexPhoto on February 25, 2013, 11:20:37 AM
If you are not shooting AI Servo, try it.  Kids and sports demand fast focus. 
Title: Re: What am I doing wrong???
Post by: babiesphotos on February 26, 2013, 02:08:20 PM
Thanks for answer everyone!

There were couple of useful advices/suggestions. Like one with trying case 6 (I used case 4 until now), and that maybe delay in firing after half press is possibly responsible, and suggestion to go for really high shutter speed, use M mode and auto-ISO, also comments on the closer focusing distance are spot on, most of the problems are at the close focusing distance. Comments on 50 1.4 being hit and miss also accurate, seems to be one of the worst offenders I have, though I can make any lens miss, easy...

Most of other things I tried and knew. Summary of answers:
- I don't think camera is a lemon, it must be the owner :), as I had the same situation with 5d mkii
- I never let camera choose focus points. I mostly use one point, central point most of the time. I use servo when kids are on the move, or if I don't need to recompose at all. MY DOF button is configured to switch mode while being pressed, so I liberally move btw. one shot and servo. Obviously, I'm not quite a beginner, and still so many misses.
- I aim to place my chosen point on the eyeball, absolutely ALWAYS.
- I did AFMA some of my lenses, though it's possible I didn't do it well
- I'll take exception with analysis that elbow is sharp on the first picture. When I look at 100%, I don't see real focus anywhere. No clean fiber. Not that 100% matters, I was just trying to figure out what happened.
- I do get quite a few keepers, and my percentage of good shots is maybe 50% for (rental) 24-70L II to 20-30% for 50 1.4. Maybe that's to be expected? But where I'm getting annoyed is that many times kids do stop for a second and still many of those pictures are to me inexplicably smudged.

Look, couple more examples, any theories are welcome:
1 - just slightly annoyingly unsharp.
2 - There is nothing truly in focus. Yeah, it looks like sweather is in focus, but not true. Check third picture to see how sharp it looks like. Much better, right, so it makes me think it's not only OOF issue, but camera shake?
3 - this one is sharp
Perhaps I should have chosen something more obvious, but this is 24-70 II, pinnacle of lenses right now, and it does seem better, i.e. keeper percentage is higher, and unsharp pictures are less unsharp. (English is my second langauge, so please no jokes :)
Title: Re: What am I doing wrong???
Post by: Dantana on February 26, 2013, 03:18:12 PM
The other posters have some great suggestions and you should give them a try, but when I look at these shots and read your original post, it makes me think of one thing:

You have no DOF and you are shooting a moving child. I'd say that's a huge part of your problem. I know that we all love the separation you get with a shallow DOF shooting wide open, but there are limits to what makes sense. I'd try stopping down a couple stops and see what you get.

I don't think you are seeing blur from the motion as much as the subject moving through the focus point.
Title: Re: What am I doing wrong???
Post by: robbymack on February 26, 2013, 03:44:59 PM
I don't think it's the camera, more so your exposure choices. At f1.4 you have so small a dof (especially at near mfd) most kids won't stay still long enough to stay in it. When I shoot my kids the 5diii custom mode is set to f4 1/125 and auto ISO and ai servo. The 5diii files can take a cranking of the ISO and at 1/125 most anything outside of running will be frozen. It also doubles as the default mode for my wife when she picks up the camera so she doesn't have to fiddle.
Title: Re: What am I doing wrong???
Post by: babiesphotos on February 26, 2013, 04:28:53 PM
first, third picture is not that sharp to my taste.  taking a look at the third picture, it seems like that you focused and re-composed on that image?  as if you did, please quit doing that with apeture of 1.4 unless you are standing far away from subject.

Hey, I'm grateful for offer of help, but kinda not liking that you made assumption these are pictures I care about (otherwise, why critique?). I guess my ego is too big, eh? :). And I do know that f4 or f5.6 is miles easier to work with than f1.4.

These pics are just a showcase of a problem. Picture 3 HAS a plane of sharp focus, picture 2 doesn't! Where did the focus go? What caused smudginess? Why are they not ALL like attached one? That's what I'm wondering about.

Some of my pictures I like, not necessarily all sharp :) are at babiesphotos.ca
Title: Re: What am I doing wrong???
Post by: Viggo on February 26, 2013, 04:36:29 PM
The 5d3 is capable of shooting thin dof and moving kids. The problem might be that it is on the edge of what's impossible AND you have to struggle with the not-canon's-best AF of the 50mm f1.4.

Try the same settings outside and see if more light helps, I'm sure it will.

What you should try, since you say when the kids stop suddenly and it's "Still" oof, that is my experience to, if your AF is set up to respond to fast erratic action, when the subject stops the AF is still in top gear wanting to hit action.

First off, get your AF-start off the shutterbutton and onto the AF-ON button on the back, that way you can, for example, shoot off a few shots of a sequence, track away and shoot off a few more without the AF having to find your subject every time you push and release the shutter.

Then, and this I'm not 100% sure you can do on the 5d3, but I think you can; Select the AE lock button to recall settings and set those settings to fast action with expansion points, case 6 etc. And the AF-ON button to engage "normal" case 1 AF with single point. That way you can just move your thumb 5mm and change the behaviour of the camera COMPLETELY and get all shots focused, even if your kid runs and jumps or suddenly sits down having a sip of his juicebox. Trust me, I know one set up doesn't work with kids, you need to take advantage of EVERYTHING the 5d3 offers, and again, practice, practice, practice.
Title: Re: What am I doing wrong???
Post by: ishdakuteb on February 26, 2013, 04:41:35 PM
first, third picture is not that sharp to my taste.  taking a look at the third picture, it seems like that you focused and re-composed on that image?  as if you did, please quit doing that with apeture of 1.4 unless you are standing far away from subject.

Hey, I'm grateful for offer of help, but kinda not liking that you made assumption these are pictures I care about (otherwise, why critique?). I guess my ego is too big, eh? :). And I do know that f4 or f5.6 is miles easier to work with than f1.4.

These pics are just a showcase of a problem. Picture 3 HAS a plane of sharp focus, picture 2 doesn't! Where did the focus go? What caused smudginess? Why are they not ALL like attached one? That's what I'm wondering about.

Some of my pictures I like, not necessarily all sharp :) are at babiesphotos.ca

true... your liking image does not need to be sharp.  it is about the moment.  sorry about mis-understood your question.  however, i am going to delete that post so it is not going bother you...
Title: Re: What am I doing wrong???
Post by: babiesphotos on February 26, 2013, 04:43:02 PM
The 5d3 is capable of shooting thin dof and moving kids. The problem might be that it is on the edge of what's impossible AND you have to struggle with the not-canon's-best AF of the 50mm f1.4.

Try the same settings outside and see if more light helps, I'm sure it will.

What you should try, since you say when the kids stop suddenly and it's "Still" oof, that is my experience to, if your AF is set up to respond to fast erratic action, when the subject stops the AF is still in top gear wanting to hit action.

First off, get your AF-start off the shutterbutton and onto the AF-ON button on the back, that way you can, for example, shoot off a few shots of a sequence, track away and shoot off a few more without the AF having to find your subject every time you push and release the shutter.

Then, and this I'm not 100% sure you can do on the 5d3, but I think you can; Select the AE lock button to recall settings and set those settings to fast action with expansion points, case 6 etc. And the AF-ON button to engage "normal" case 1 AF with single point. That way you can just move your thumb 5mm and change the behaviour of the camera COMPLETELY and get all shots focused, even if your kid runs and jumps or suddenly sits down having a sip of his juicebox. Trust me, I know one set up doesn't work with kids, you need to take advantage of EVERYTHING the 5d3 offers, and again, practice, practice, practice.

Huge thanks!
Title: Re: What am I doing wrong???
Post by: Eli on February 26, 2013, 04:48:57 PM
- I never let camera choose focus points. I mostly use one point, central point most of the time. I use servo when kids are on the move, or if I don't need to recompose at all. MY DOF button is configured to switch mode while being pressed, so I liberally move btw. one shot and servo.

And try get out of the habit of focus & recompose, just move the selected AF point via the joysticky thing, takes same amount of time as focus & recompose and you'll be able to keep it on Servo mode.
Also set it on continuous shooting and fire off multiple shots to increase your hit rate.
Title: Re: What am I doing wrong???
Post by: Viggo on February 26, 2013, 04:50:40 PM
The 5d3 is capable of shooting thin dof and moving kids. The problem might be that it is on the edge of what's impossible AND you have to struggle with the not-canon's-best AF of the 50mm f1.4.

Try the same settings outside and see if more light helps, I'm sure it will.

What you should try, since you say when the kids stop suddenly and it's "Still" oof, that is my experience to, if your AF is set up to respond to fast erratic action, when the subject stops the AF is still in top gear wanting to hit action.

First off, get your AF-start off the shutterbutton and onto the AF-ON button on the back, that way you can, for example, shoot off a few shots of a sequence, track away and shoot off a few more without the AF having to find your subject every time you push and release the shutter.

Then, and this I'm not 100% sure you can do on the 5d3, but I think you can; Select the AE lock button to recall settings and set those settings to fast action with expansion points, case 6 etc. And the AF-ON button to engage "normal" case 1 AF with single point. That way you can just move your thumb 5mm and change the behaviour of the camera COMPLETELY and get all shots focused, even if your kid runs and jumps or suddenly sits down having a sip of his juicebox. Trust me, I know one set up doesn't work with kids, you need to take advantage of EVERYTHING the 5d3 offers, and again, practice, practice, practice.

Huge thanks!

No problem, I have struggled with all of this myself and have gotten great tips here at CR and worked out a few solutions of my own, because toddlers are the worst to keep up with, and yes we want shallow DOF!  ;D