Foxy Fox Squirrels

JohnGerlach

I'm New Here
Aug 28, 2018
19
11
These fox squirrels are both abundant and super approachable in a downtown park in Seymour, IN. I use a Canon 1DX II and a Canon 800mm lens with an AF microadjustment of -3 to hit sharp focus. As the light was changing continually, I used my preferred Autoexposure mode of Auto ISO, and manual aperture and shutter speed to lock both in while letting the ISO adjust for changing light. All of this is mounted on a Wimberley gimbal head attached to a Gitzo tripod. AF microadjust has been a HUGE help in getting the focus sharp. Having tested several of my Canon lenses, all back focused a little and corrections have varied between -3 and -9. Many of my detailed photo technique articles appear on my blog at www.gerlachnaturephoto.com
web square Eastern Fox Squirrel_11-29-2018-14-06-27.JPG
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Aug 1, 2017
264
157
Very nice work. Thanks for sharing. Squirrels can be a nuisance but they are also amazing creatures that too many people take for granted.

Don't know about an AFMA of -3 on an 800 making a huge difference but if that's what you're seeing I guess it does. If my 1DX Mark II was consistently back-focusing I think I'd have Canon re-calibrate it.
 
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JohnGerlach

I'm New Here
Aug 28, 2018
19
11
Very nice work. Thanks for sharing. Squirrels can be a nuisance but they are also amazing creatures that too many people take for granted.

Don't know about an AFMA of -3 on an 800 making a huge difference but if that's what you're seeing I guess it does. If my 1DX Mark II was consistently back-focusing I think I'd have Canon re-calibrate it.
It makes the images a little sharper, and especially important for wildlife since I often can't stop down as much as I would like so the DOF covers the slight misfocus. Actually, all of my Canon lenses are off somewhat with both my Canon 5D Mark IV and 1DX Mark II, but nothing that can't be fixed with microadjustment. Having tested at least 20 Canon lenses of mine or clients, all benefited from some AF correction, but nothing has been more than a -9 correction. Considering the law of averages, someday I will try a lens where 0 microadjustment is best, but that has not happened yet.
 
Aug 1, 2017
264
157
Interesting. Thanks for the feedback. Personally I've found AFMA to be a bit of a mixed bag. I've found it can increase focus accuracy under circumstance similar to the testing scenario while making it worse in others. If I were shooting a portrait lens wide open at the same distance under the same lighting every day I think I'd get some benefit. I've never found much benefit when shooting wildlife but I could just be lucky I suppose. Your photos are very sharp so whatever you are doing seems to be working. As you say, there isn't much room for error with a 600 f4.
 

JohnGerlach

I'm New Here
Aug 28, 2018
19
11
I haven't noticed any change in my success with AF microadjusting as everything I do turns out this sharp when I want it to. I do wonder if the colder temperatures in Yellowstone where I am leading tours for a month will affect things. But I rarely shoot on a tour that I am leading, so it won't matter much. I only use autofocus when I must - usually wildlife, and landscapes from a boat where I am forced to handhold. I rarely handhold, but sometimes you have no other choice. All I can say is the improvement in my image sharpness has improved a little with AF microadjusting. i would not go without doing this. You can be sure when I lead my 40th photo safari to the best game parks in Kenya in Sept. of 2019, I will check the AF microadjustment of my Canon 200-400mm and Canon 800mm prior to the trip. Though, if things turn out just right, I hope to be taking the new Canon 600mm with the 1.4x version III and will AF microadjust for both the lens as is and with the TC. Thanks for your comments. And because of AF microadjusting, I prefer to use manual focus with a magnified live image whenever possible, and hope to some day be able to go with mirrorless, but I don't feel it is there yet for my needs - though I am watching it.
 

AaronT

EOS 80D
Jan 5, 2013
130
181
Just a photo of a wise, local squirrel. Taken with a 5DS R and my old 100-400L last month. To tell the truth I forget if I AFMA'd the combo or not. I can print it out at 24x36" and it looks good/sharp so I guess everything is OK. ;)
Squirrel5672PhzWeb.JPG
 
Reactions: Durf

JohnGerlach

I'm New Here
Aug 28, 2018
19
11
These shots do look sharp. But I always check focus for any lens i plan to use autofocus with. This looks sharp, but maybe it would be a little sharper if you made an adjustment. You don't know unless you check the autofocus.
 

AlanF

5DSR
Aug 16, 2012
4,869
1,524
I am paranoid about AFMA. I use FoCal to check edge sharpness, then splatter charts all over a wall to check resolution over the field. A couple of AFMA points can be noticeable, and some lenses can be way out, especially with TCs added. My first good lens a 300mm f/2.8 II front focussed by 5-7 AFMA units, depending on the body. Focal gives the spread of results from all measurements that are made and automatically uploaded by them, and +5 is typical for this lens with the 5DIV, at the centre of a bell-shaped curve with a spread of about -5 to +15. You can be really unlucky. One plus for the EOS R.
 

JohnGerlach

I'm New Here
Aug 28, 2018
19
11
AF microadjusting seems fairly straightforward to me. I don't have any trouble doing it, and deciding what setting is best until I get close. When using 5 step increments or greater, it is obvious which one is delivering a sharper focus. But, when deciding if -4, -3, or -2 is best, then the difference is tiny and harder as the focus is so close. But, at that point, I don't worry if I select -2 and -3 really is the best one as they are close. Here is how I do it as I wrote in an article a while back.

https://www.gerlachnaturephoto.com/single-post/2018/05/16/AF-Microadjust-for-Sharper-Images

I did not want to use special tools to run the test as I find I don't need them, and would not have them with me anyway as I travel so much and don't need to carry more stuff with me. If I have a dollar bill, I can do the test anywhere.
 

AaronT

EOS 80D
Jan 5, 2013
130
181
AF microadjusting seems fairly straightforward to me. I don't have any trouble doing it, and deciding what setting is best until I get close. When using 5 step increments or greater, it is obvious which one is delivering a sharper focus. But, when deciding if -4, -3, or -2 is best, then the difference is tiny and harder as the focus is so close. But, at that point, I don't worry if I select -2 and -3 really is the best one as they are close. Here is how I do it as I wrote in an article a while back.
https://www.gerlachnaturephoto.com/single-post/2018/05/16/AF-Microadjust-for-Sharper-Images

Hi John and Alan. I didn't mean to be cavalier about AFMA. I checked and my lenses are AFMA'd on my old 5D MKII. Since I got my 5DS R earlier this year I have been dealing with possible cancer, then finally getting a biopsy done and finding out in early September I have an advanced prostate cancer. I am currently undergoing external radiation treatment. So, I checked and the 5DS R is not AFMA'd. I will be doing that when I get my head back together from my current situation. Probably early spring. You are both right, AFMA is a necessity for getting the most from your kit. :)
 

JohnGerlach

I'm New Here
Aug 28, 2018
19
11
I wish you well Aaron! It seems all DSLRs benefit from AF microadjusting - just the nature of the beast. All of my Canon lenses do better with it, but the difference isn't huge and stopping down will mask slight focus errors.
 

AlanF

5DSR
Aug 16, 2012
4,869
1,524
Aaron
Sorry to read about your PC. Treatment is getting better all the time. Wishing you all the best for 2019 and a good recovery.
Alan
 

Valvebounce

EOS 5D SR
Apr 3, 2013
4,078
82
52
Isle of Wight
Hi Aaron.
Sorry to hear your plight, I do hope your treatment is successful and you can get back to your photography soon.

Happy new year, Graham.