Kind of scared to post this...7D focus problems

Started May 5, 2012 | Discussions
JenniferRB
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Kind of scared to post this...7D focus problems
May 5, 2012

After seeing a bit of tension regarding the issues with the Canon 7D focusing, I'm sort of scared to post this, but here it goes.

Let me preface this by saying that I'm not a professional by any means. I'm a photo enthusiast. I've got some pricey equipment and I've taken lots of photography courses over the years but I'm not a pro.

I also want to mention that I got the 7D back in September before a mission trip to India using the Canon Loyalty program. In other words, my camera was refurbished.

Anyway, back to the problem...

Earlier this week I was asked by a friend, who is 'professional', to help her with a senior photoshoot. She was feeling very ill at the time and needed some extra assistance with shots. I was nearby, so I was happy to help.

After seeing some of the shots I got, I was once again reminded of how I'm just not impressed with the focus and sharpness of my shots. I've tried messing around with the 19 brackets, AF Servo and such but the results are the same. (These shots were taken with my 24-70mm 2.8 EF lens and my 50mm 1.8 lens.)

I'm including the ones that most caught my attention.

Am I being overly critical, or was I shooting with too low and f-stop? (LOVE shallow DOF!) What am I doing wrong?

Please don't bite my head off! Seriously not being a 'troll.' I just want clear and crisp pictures.

Thanks,
Jennifer

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tko
tko
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Re: Kind of scared to post this...7D focus problems
In reply to JenniferRB, May 5, 2012

First of all, don't be afraid. Yes, real life people have focus problems. Yes, sometimes the camera needs adjustment. Lenses have problems as well. I don't think the forum is mean to people who are willing to listen and try things.

But one of the problems is that, in my opinion, the problem is best found by doing some controlled tests. Sure, the tests can come out perfect and there could still be something wrong. But you have to do things one step at a time.

I'd say there is something wrong w/your photos. Can't say what, but I think they could be a lot better. It's late at night here, but I'm sure people will jump in to help you. Here's my short list of troubleshooting steps.

(1) Shoot in a way that should guarantee close to perfect shots. Use a tripod (or sit it on a table.) 2-second time release. Flat subject like a wall or something taped to a window. Camera pointed straight at the wall. Use liveview to focus. Take one photo w/your lens wide open, another with it stopped down to say, F8.0. If both shots are sharp, your lens is OK, and you know your camera s/b capable of sharp shots. This is your reference shot. Oh, while your at it, try the other lens.

(2) Using the exact same set up, take a couple of test shots using the standard AF mode. Since it's a flat object it shouldn't matter which focus points you use, but try to use the center one. Is the shot just as sharp? If not, you might need a MFA, or to send a lens in to get it calibrated.

(3) If everything is still OK, it could be your technique. Shutter speed, how you "mash" the shutter button, which AF points you pick. Most people don't realize how high a shutter speed you have to go to to get really pixel sharp shots. Much higher than the 1/F rule. Maybe 3 times that if you want to be sure.

Obviously I just covered the barest details. But the point is to start with simplest, most basic shooting situation, and make it more and more complicated till you figure out what's wrong.

Its amazing how many people refuse to do these basic tests. They take a photo of a dog moving in poor light, at an angle, with all focus points turned on, and complain the AF never works for them. That's what gets the forum excited. Something might be wrong, but how can you tell what? Could be a combination of things.

I've probably done these tests a hundred times. Many times for each lens and camera combination I own. But do the tests once, fix what's wrong (camera, lens, or technique) and you'll have sharper shots from now on.

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california_sunset
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Re: Kind of scared to post this...7D focus problems
In reply to JenniferRB, May 5, 2012

to me the first shot there is motion blur, in the second shot you are grabbing the focus between her hand and her hair... the soles of her boots are only slightly more out of focus than her face... so I think the AF was hitting that area of very high contrast. Both of these shots certainly can be saved with some post... they are not that far off. The third shot against the wall I think is in pretty good focus just slightly behind the eyes, but the flash is overexposing.

So many of these issues depend on the specific settings you were using and what the AF system was using... if you can post with AF points and complete exif I can give you a much better answer of how to improve. I like the vibe of your shots... just slight technical adjustment would make them spot on.

I really doubt there is anything wrong with your camera... but I have been known to be very wrong in the past.
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SelNZ
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Re: Kind of scared to post this...7D focus problems
In reply to JenniferRB, May 5, 2012

Try using a higher iso ( try iso 320 outside. Push it even higher inside 640 up ) to give yourself a higher shutter speed. There is motion blur in all three shots.
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irm
irm
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Re: Kind of scared to post this...7D focus problems
In reply to JenniferRB, May 5, 2012

My recommendation is not to use AFservo for portrait shots, use single shot.

Like you I like to use the small f stops for the look, but also realise that other people like shots with a bit of DOF.

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labe
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Re: Kind of scared to post this...7D focus problems
In reply to JenniferRB, May 5, 2012

I've not had my 7D long and had a simular issue. Mine was caused by 2 things , the first was shutter snatch and the 2nd was the need for +5 MFA. I found the motion blur by taking the same shot first natural light and then with a flash mounted. The flash shot was sharp. I have now improved my technique. Even tho i've not had this issue with any other camera. My shutter button is very hard on my 7D.
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irm
irm
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Re: Kind of scared to post this...7D focus problems
In reply to labe, May 5, 2012

requires a visit to Canon, the shutter button should be smooth and even to depress.
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Aussie Rod
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Re: Kind of scared to post this...7D focus problems
In reply to irm, May 5, 2012

Don't try and do focus tests with the 50 1.8. It's not the most reliable lens out there!

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Paul69
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Re: Kind of scared to post this...7D focus problems
In reply to Aussie Rod, May 5, 2012

Do calibration before you decide to use your lens+camera, 7D has micro adjustment. Some lenses have different micro adjustment number, so you have to write down micro adjustment number for each lens. You can use calibration tool like Spider LensCal.

As I see your picture, first pic has front focus problem while another's back focus.
This issue is common happened in some lenses.

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axlotl
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Re: Kind of scared to post this...7D focus problems
In reply to JenniferRB, May 5, 2012

Hi Jennifer, I don't usually contribute to this forum, but happened to be looking here in an idle moment and saw your post. My 60D is the 12th Canon EOS SLR/DSLR I have owned since 1989 with more lenses than I could remember but currently an EFS 15-85. I have experienced unreliable focussing like yours with every single camera, including the 60D/15-85 combination and am finally giving up Canon DSLR's for that reason. Over the last two years I have been using Samsung NX10/11 and Panasonic G1/3 and GH2 cameras increasingly often. In single shot mode with reasonably still subjects these cameras auto focus correctly first time, every time, all the time. They will focus correctly on brush marks in paint. The only time I see AF problems with the Pansonic M43 cameras is at the long end of tele zooms in low light/low contrast conditions. Apart from the NIkon 1V, mirrorless cameras are not yet suitable for sport/action. I see you are using high end Canon gear so the upcoming Panasonic GH3 with 12-35 mm f2.8 lens may interest you.

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dhuffjr
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Re: Kind of scared to post this...7D focus problems
In reply to JenniferRB, May 5, 2012

First shot sure looks to me to be sharpest on the window to the right. Did you set focus point?

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DVT80111
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Middle picture
In reply to JenniferRB, May 5, 2012

The shoe was in focus. Look at the wood grain on the bench.

There is no reason for the camera to pick the shoe as focus point. So if there was no other error, it got to be front focus problem with that lens.

This also explains why the other 2 pics are soft too.

Try with a tripod to confirm. There is micro-adjustment feature in the 7D camera. Good luck.

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JenniferRB
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Thank you!
In reply to DVT80111, May 5, 2012

Thank you to everyone that contributed to this post! I will try to do the tests and learn a bit more about my camera (for example I was using AI Servo because I assumed that since she would be moving that was best).

I'm including a couple more pictures just to see if it's a problem with me. These were taken with the wide angle EF lens, I believe.

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JenniferRB
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Re: Thank you!
In reply to JenniferRB, May 5, 2012

In the middle picture, I wanted both in the focus but only ended up getting the little girl.

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Luvthelight
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One vote for the 7D.
In reply to DVT80111, May 5, 2012

Back in the old days we learned exposure and depth of field and knew the capability of the lenses we were using.Manual focus was slow and could be unforgiving. Determining exposure by shutter speed with the correct f-stop. Now these new cameras are supposed to do it all for you but they are still a machine and to be used to their potential they need to be understood. I have a 7D and have not had the problems all these people talk about.I had a 300D and still have a T2i and havent the problems these people speak of. Have I had exposure issues in tricky lighting yes,auto focus isnt infallible,I consider it a tool and when understood its great. I would spend some time learning how the 7D wants you to use it rather than the other way around and have another go at it.

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JenniferRB
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Re: One vote for the 7D.
In reply to Luvthelight, May 5, 2012

This whole issue is making me seriously consider taking this class since it is specifically designed for Canon users. I'm assuming since it's an advanced class there will be Marks and 7Ds there so I can converse with them about specific issues. Thanks!

http://www.canonadvancedshooter.com/

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tko
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be careful with AI servo - it's slower to acquire
In reply to JenniferRB, May 5, 2012

I've found that AI servo takes a fraction of a second to lock on. It's designed to acquire a moving subject, and I feel that takes a little more time. Make especially sure you don't mash the button in AI servo. Half press, follow the subject for about 0.25 second minimum, then take the photo.

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MisterPootieCat
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Need more info on camera settings
In reply to JenniferRB, May 5, 2012

JenniferRB wrote:

In the middle picture, I wanted both in the focus but only ended up getting the little girl.

What AF points were selected? If you're using all 19 AF points then the results are as expected. The camera will always try to focus on the closest subject, in this case it would be the girl. And the lady to the left is beyond the DOF and we wouldn't expect her to be in focus or sharp.

There are a couple tricks that will improve results. The first would be to stop down the lens to f8 or smaller to increase the DOF. The second would be to manually focus at a point slightly behind the girl. I always use the rule of DOF being 1/3 in front and 2/3 behind the point of focus. Shifting the focus so it's slightly behind the girl will improve the sharpness of the lady on the left.

I would recommend downloading one of the free DOF calculators and spend some time learning about hyperfocal distances and how to adjust the focus so the subjects in the composition are sharp.

BTW: Having the lady slightly out of focus tends to enhance the image but it's mostly a matter of taste.

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The_cheshirecat
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Re: Thank you!
In reply to JenniferRB, May 5, 2012

Using all AF points or right zone would explain the little girl in focus. Canon (not just the 7D) uses the closest subject with respectable contrast as the favored AF point. This also explains the gray bearded man being sharper. I don’t think you would have gotten both in focus with a wide aperture - a shallow DOF. If you were using a single AF point, then you may be front focusing.

I can’t tell which lenses were used for which pictures, and bring this up because some are a little less consistent in their reproducibility than others.

If I can suggest… 10% of the quality of a picture is the equipment, 50% is due to the choices made (hopefully by the user, not the camera) and 40% is technique. This may not be entirely accurate or be quantified, but you get the idea.

And… Others have provided some excellent suggestions to begin identifying the source of you problems. If you are receptive to suggestions recommendations, civil and non-defensive in your responses, you should have no fear of being berated.

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JenniferRB
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Re: Need more info on camera settings
In reply to MisterPootieCat, May 5, 2012

I got lucky with that one. My intention was to get both subjects in focus but I ended up liking the way it came out with just the little girl in focus. So, I definitely agree with you! I was just sharing this as an example.

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