Canon 550d - Focusing when photographing shiny things

Started Nov 12, 2011 | Discussions thread
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LaurenGrace New Member • Posts: 6
Canon 550d - Focusing when photographing shiny things


I've recently upgraded to a 550d from a little Fuji Finepix zoom point and shoot. Before you immediately give up reading in despair, I know that DSLR is completely different from point and shoot photography and I have RTFM and also Canon 440d For Dummies!

I'm a jeweller and have been taking photographs of my jewellery with my Fuji for years, but it didn't give me the shallow depth of field I was after, so I got the 550d.

The problem I'm having is the focus. I'm using continuous studio lighting (5000k), a tripod and a shutter release cable. I've used the focus point selection to choose the single centre point. I half press the button, it focus locks and does the beepy thing, but when I full press the button it comes out blurry. I've tried Av, Tv, and M modes, I've tried live view. I've tried manual focusing in live view, but even though the focus looks perfect at 10x magnification, again when the shot is taken it comes out blurred. I've tried selecting other focus points than the centre one. Examples here:

Oh, I've tried the 18-55IS kit lens and the 50mm f1.8 lens.

The odd thing is, when I switched it to full auto for the same objects, it focuses fine!

The problems with the auto settings are that (a) it keeps wanting to use the flash, despite abundance of bright shiny lights, and (b) I bought the DSLR so I could have more control over DOF, exposure etc and using full auto completely defeats the point! Also, it tends to over-expose. I tried noting the settings that full auto used when it got a perfect focus and dialling the exact same settings into M mode, but again focus locks but the image turns out blurred.

Basically, my question is what am I doing wrong with the focusing in Av, Tv and M modes? It's obviously some kind of user error, as the focus works fine on other objects, and in auto mode (which is the thing that really confuses me...). I know a macro lens would be ideal for jewellery photography, but I don't really want to spend money on a new lens if I'm going to have the same problems, and don't know what I'm doing wrong at the moment.

Any help and advice you guys can offer will be gratefully received, as this is driving me bonkers. For the sake of contrast, most photographs on my website here: I took with my Fuji point and shoot.

Canon EOS 550D (EOS Rebel T2i / EOS Kiss X4)
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