Canon 7D focus issue-new observation

Started Mar 31, 2013 | Discussions
ldgehman
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Canon 7D focus issue-new observation
Mar 31, 2013

I realize there has been much discussion about the Canon 7D focusing issue, whether real or perceived  but I have purchased a 7D in December last year, and I have been battling "real" focus problems since I received it The biggest problem is that the focus/sharpness issue is intermittent. At first I thought it was just the learning curve with a new camera, but finally I started to run tests from a tripod to stationary objects, and I discovered that one day I could take ten shots in sequence and get ten absolutely tack sharp images. The next day I could take the same ten shots and possibly get one or two good ones with the rest having varying degrees of softness.I got the same results whether using AF or MF. The problem seemed worse with the longer focal length lenses. Here is the interesting part--I used my 400mm lens from a tripod to a stationary object and switched the camera to "Live View" mode, using the 5X and 10X magnification feature to manually focus as precisely as possible. What I observed on the screen I believe is a clue to the inconsistent sharpness. When the problem is present the screen (in "Live View") is constantly jittering with focus rapidly fluctuating in and out. Remember, this is all with manual focus. Whenever I observed the jittery screen and then took regular test shots (out of "Live View") as stated before, I would get about 10% sharp images. When the problem cleared (no image jitter in "Live View") then the test shoot yielded 100% good images. Bottom line is the quantity of good images coincided directly with the image/focus jitter observed in "Live View". I certainly don't claim to be knowledgeable about the inner workings of the image sensor or focus sensor on this camera or any camera, but I suspect there is something going on with one of these sensors or supporting hardware or software. It's completely hit or miss depending on the state of the sensor image at the instant the shutter is released.

The big question is--what is causing the image/focus jitter or fluctuation? And can I get someone to listen to my observations without automatically attributing my frustration to operator error? That is basically the response I have gotten so far from Canon technicians. I wonder if others with "real" focus problems with this camera may have or could have observed a similar phenomenon in "Live View" mode. I have not seen a description of such in any forum. If anyone else is experiencing similar symptoms switch to  "Live View" with magnification, focus manually, and look for jittery focus.

roger bourland
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Re: Canon 7D focus issue-new observation
In reply to ldgehman, Mar 31, 2013

Do you have your drive setting to one shot or servo?

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CrazySwiss
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Re: Canon 7D focus issue-new observation
In reply to roger bourland, Mar 31, 2013

roger bourland wrote:

Do you have your drive setting to one shot or servo?

sounds like..

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roseve
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Re: Canon 7D focus issue-new observation
In reply to ldgehman, Mar 31, 2013

I monitor the forum quite a bit but normally do not reply but your observation caught my eye.

I have noticed the exact same thing that you are referring to but not using "Live View". I have noticed it using the viewfinder. I shoot a lot of BIF and also many just sitting. This seems to happen mostly with both my 400mm f5.6 and 100-400mm f4.5-5.6. Especially while trying to focus on an object that may fill only a smaller portion of the viewfinder. I have tried spot focus and many other settings. I have also tried manual focus. I believe that Canon has a design flaw with the autofocus in the 7D but do not know what it would take to convince them. I do get some very nice photos with the 7D but the keeper rate is low.

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TTMartin
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Re: Canon 7D focus issue-new observation
In reply to ldgehman, Apr 1, 2013

400mm lens at 10X zoom even with the best tripod will show vibrations from the floor.

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ldgehman
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Re: Canon 7D focus issue-new observation
In reply to roger bourland, Apr 1, 2013

roger bourland wrote:

Do you have your drive setting to one shot or servo?

When I was doing the test shots I used one-shot, but in "Live View" I was not actually recording  images, only observing the magnified live capture on the screen.

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ldgehman
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Re: Canon 7D focus issue-new observation
In reply to TTMartin, Apr 1, 2013

TTMartin wrote:

400mm lens at 10X zoom even with the best tripod will show vibrations from the floor.

You are right, any slight vibration/shake will be seen, but that's not what I am observing. When this problem occurs the screen image rapidly goes in and out of focus and also jitters randomly almost like it's being modulated with a noise pulse. If you would see it you can easily distinguish it from camera shake. Also I had the opportunity to compare when the problem is not present and the same image in that case is absolutely rock solid steady. By observing the "Live View" image I can accurately predict when my shots will come out sharp. Problem is if you are doing a shoot you can't know when the problem will rear it's ugly head without warning. I'm trying to find out if there is some kind of pattern to when it happens.

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rndman
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Re: Canon 7D focus issue-new observation
In reply to ldgehman, Apr 1, 2013

ldgehman wrote:

I realize there has been much discussion about the Canon 7D focusing issue, whether real or perceived  but I have purchased a 7D in December last year, and I have been battling "real" focus problems since I received it The biggest problem is that the focus/sharpness issue is intermittent. At first I thought it was just the learning curve with a new camera, but finally I started to run tests from a tripod to stationary objects, and I discovered that one day I could take ten shots in sequence and get ten absolutely tack sharp images. The next day I could take the same ten shots and possibly get one or two good ones with the rest having varying degrees of softness.I got the same results whether using AF or MF. The problem seemed worse with the longer focal length lenses. Here is the interesting part--I used my 400mm lens from a tripod to a stationary object and switched the camera to "Live View" mode, using the 5X and 10X magnification feature to manually focus as precisely as possible. What I observed on the screen I believe is a clue to the inconsistent sharpness. When the problem is present the screen (in "Live View") is constantly jittering with focus rapidly fluctuating in and out. Remember, this is all with manual focus. Whenever I observed the jittery screen and then took regular test shots (out of "Live View") as stated before, I would get about 10% sharp images. When the problem cleared (no image jitter in "Live View") then the test shoot yielded 100% good images. Bottom line is the quantity of good images coincided directly with the image/focus jitter observed in "Live View". I certainly don't claim to be knowledgeable about the inner workings of the image sensor or focus sensor on this camera or any camera, but I suspect there is something going on with one of these sensors or supporting hardware or software. It's completely hit or miss depending on the state of the sensor image at the instant the shutter is released.

The big question is--what is causing the image/focus jitter or fluctuation? And can I get someone to listen to my observations without automatically attributing my frustration to operator error? That is basically the response I have gotten so far from Canon technicians. I wonder if others with "real" focus problems with this camera may have or could have observed a similar phenomenon in "Live View" mode. I have not seen a description of such in any forum. If anyone else is experiencing similar symptoms switch to  "Live View" with magnification, focus manually, and look for jittery focus.

OK. I have seen that "jitter". But I guess it is more like waving or fluid so to speak. Like an image in the water. I have seen this happen only when the subject is outside. If you are inside a room (hoping you have long enough distance) it does not happen. I could test only within 25-30 feet inside.

Now I am not sure if this is due to the air density or weather or whatever.

Now is that the factor I am not sure. You mention that you don't see that always. I need to check that. However as you have mentioned, I too have the inconsistent focus behavior even on a tripod with shutter speed much high (> 1200) , MLU engaged and 10 sec timer. I am yet to determine if I should send mine to Canon (it is ut of warranty so I have ample time to ponder)

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rndman
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Re: Canon 7D focus issue-new observation
In reply to roseve, Apr 1, 2013

roseve wrote:

I monitor the forum quite a bit but normally do not reply but your observation caught my eye.

I have noticed the exact same thing that you are referring to but not using "Live View". I have noticed it using the viewfinder. I shoot a lot of BIF and also many just sitting. This seems to happen mostly with both my 400mm f5.6 and 100-400mm f4.5-5.6. Especially while trying to focus on an object that may fill only a smaller portion of the viewfinder. I have tried spot focus and many other settings. I have also tried manual focus. I believe that Canon has a design flaw with the autofocus in the 7D but do not know what it would take to convince them. I do get some very nice photos with the 7D but the keeper rate is low.

Yup. I see it with the same 2 lenses.

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ldgehman
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Re: Canon 7D focus issue-new observation
In reply to roger bourland, Apr 1, 2013

roger bourland wrote:

Do you have your drive setting to one shot or servo?

I'd like to add something to the previous reply to this post.

Some of my test shooting was done in MF. The AF really is not a factor in all this, because when the problem is present the inconsistent sharpness is just as bad in MF as in AF. In fact I think it's worse in AF one-shot because the AF seems to want to track the constantly changing jitter/focus in the sensor image.

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rndman
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Re: Canon 7D focus issue-new observation
In reply to TTMartin, Apr 1, 2013

TTMartin wrote:

400mm lens at 10X zoom even with the best tripod will show vibrations from the floor.

But OP confirms that it does not happen every time..

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ldgehman
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Re: Canon 7D focus issue-new observation
In reply to rndman, Apr 1, 2013

Yes, my problem is definitely intermittent. I have times when the problem is not present and the "Live View" is rock steady, and during those times I get amazing results with normal shooting using AF one-shot or AI Servo and MF. Almost every shot is spot on. But that quick the problem can return and unless I'm constantly checking with "Live View" and a tripod I don't know when that happens. I'm trying to determine if there is a pattern when it happens.

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Ubilam
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Maybe its the lens?
In reply to ldgehman, Apr 1, 2013

I get the 'jitter' problem with my Bigma on EVERY camera I used it at the low end. 50 to 100 mms. Often it has to do with 'One Shot' or 'AI Focus' and especially 'AI Servo' settings and the focal length. My 7D and Bigma on AI Servo goes nuts trying to focus at the low end - constant refocus sometimes. I then shut off AF (using the lens switch) and go manual focus with long lenses then to not miss the shot. My 2 cents.

Ubilam.

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plugin
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If it happens in MF, it is not a focus issue.
In reply to ldgehman, Apr 1, 2013

I have no idea what is causing it (mine does not do anything like that), but if you are talking to Canon techs and call it a focus issue, you are making it harder for them to diagnose.

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rndman
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Re: Canon 7D focus issue-new observation
In reply to ldgehman, Apr 1, 2013

ldgehman wrote:

Yes, my problem is definitely intermittent. I have times when the problem is not present and the "Live View" is rock steady, and during those times I get amazing results with normal shooting using AF one-shot or AI Servo and MF. Almost every shot is spot on. But that quick the problem can return and unless I'm constantly checking with "Live View" and a tripod I don't know when that happens. I'm trying to determine if there is a pattern when it happens.

Please post if you find any pattern. I will keep a look out as well..

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rndman
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Re: If it happens in MF, it is not a focus issue.
In reply to plugin, Apr 1, 2013

plugin wrote:

I have no idea what is causing it (mine does not do anything like that), but if you are talking to Canon techs and call it a focus issue, you are making it harder for them to diagnose.

My suspicion  is that there could be some issue with the sensor cleaning mechanism. That is the only thing that can move the sensor. I know it ma not be moving back and forth, but that should be enough to create the un-sharp pictures..

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Mr Ed M
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Re: If it happens in MF, it is not a focus issue.
In reply to rndman, Apr 1, 2013

rndman wrote:

plugin wrote:

I have no idea what is causing it (mine does not do anything like that), but if you are talking to Canon techs and call it a focus issue, you are making it harder for them to diagnose.

My suspicion  is that there could be some issue with the sensor cleaning mechanism. That is the only thing that can move the sensor. I know it ma not be moving back and forth, but that should be enough to create the un-sharp pictures..

It doesn't move the sensor, it moves the filter in front of the sensor.

Camera shake with a big long lens can be caused by a number of factors from the wind, to surface vibrations, to simply touching the camera.

Nothing new here that I haven't seen with reasonable explanation to the cause.

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rndman
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Re: If it happens in MF, it is not a focus issue.
In reply to Mr Ed M, Apr 1, 2013

Mr Ed M wrote:

rndman wrote:

plugin wrote:

I have no idea what is causing it (mine does not do anything like that), but if you are talking to Canon techs and call it a focus issue, you are making it harder for them to diagnose.

My suspicion  is that there could be some issue with the sensor cleaning mechanism. That is the only thing that can move the sensor. I know it ma not be moving back and forth, but that should be enough to create the un-sharp pictures..

It doesn't move the sensor, it moves the filter in front of the sensor.

Camera shake with a big long lens can be caused by a number of factors from the wind, to surface vibrations, to simply touching the camera.

Nothing new here that I haven't seen with reasonable explanation to the cause.

I agree.

But if the tripod is setup inside the house with subject being focused is outside, and you are just watching the image on the LCD from a distance. Now there should be no wind effect or touch effect. May be only floor vibration to some extent. Also the vibration just shakes the image it does not become wavy. What is the explanation to that..

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GrantD
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Re: Canon 7D focus issue-new observation
In reply to ldgehman, Apr 1, 2013

I've had a 7d for more than 3 years now. Most of the time I've been very happy with the focus, huge improvement over my old 40d. I use it a lot with a 100-400 lens for bird photography, using centre point expanded for BIF and spot for when they are still. Mid last year I unexpectedly had some big problems, lots of out of focus images for no obvious reason - using same shutter speed etc as usual. The only thing I could put it down to was that I was experimenting using other than spot focus for stationary subjects. I haven't taken a lot of bird photos for quite a while now, but the ones I have taken, with spot focus, are back to being good again. An intermittent problem, or a problem with focus modes?

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rndman
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Re: Canon 7D focus issue-new observation
In reply to GrantD, Apr 1, 2013

GrantD wrote:

I've had a 7d for more than 3 years now. Most of the time I've been very happy with the focus, huge improvement over my old 40d. I use it a lot with a 100-400 lens for bird photography, using centre point expanded for BIF and spot for when they are still. Mid last year I unexpectedly had some big problems, lots of out of focus images for no obvious reason - using same shutter speed etc as usual. The only thing I could put it down to was that I was experimenting using other than spot focus for stationary subjects. I haven't taken a lot of bird photos for quite a while now, but the ones I have taken, with spot focus, are back to being good again. An intermittent problem, or a problem with focus modes?

So you are saying you use "spot focus" for birding and not "single shot" or "expanded".

I have seen people recommending "expanded" preferably with center point.

Yes, I know that "spot" focus yields better results as it is precise, but then it would be hard to focus using "spot" on the fast moving subject like bird.

And if you read OP, he is not talking about focus. He is mentioning what he sees in LV and trying to find if that has an effect on his misfocused shots.

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