Please Help Me Tweak My 7D to Improve Image Quality

Started Mar 10, 2013 | Discussions thread
OP steve88 Contributing Member • Posts: 905
Re: Please Help Me Tweak My 7D to Improve Image Quality

TTMartin wrote:

steve88 wrote:

TTMartin wrote:

In my opinion your shutter speeds are too high, and your apertures are too wide. Bring your shutter speeds down to around 1/800 - 1/1000, and your apertures to around f/5.6 - f/8.

Also, use focus point expansion, or 9 point zone AF. Unless theses are crops, in your first photo, center auto focus point would have been focusing on the backstop. In the second photo your depth of field would have been about 6 inches in front of the point of focus, and 6 inches behind (assuming a subject distance of 30 feet), if AF had focused on the hand, the face and body will be out of focus.

You also might want to choose the upper focus point(s) for portrait mode (7D will switch to it automatically when you turn the camera), as most likely you'll be focusing on a single individual like in this photo, and you'll want their face in focus, not their hand.

Also, in my opinion for outdoor sports, AV or TV would probably be better than full manual.

Thanks TT. In order to freeze the ball, you usually need to shoot around 1/3200 or faster. If it were just the players I was trying to freeze, I agree, I probably would've shot around 1/800 or 1/1000. But shooting at f/5.6 to f/8 would create a very busy background don't you think? The reason I usually shoot at f/2.8 is to isolate the action and the players. Yesterday, I shot at f/4 thinking it might help make the images sharper but that didn't work so well. That's more an issue with light, however, not the fault of the camera. Mid-day light is just horrible for photography, as I'm sure you know.

In the first shot, I'm actually using manual single focus point and I've chosen the far right point and centered it over the batter's body. In the second shot, I'm using the center point and it's aimed just above her belt line. I seem to have better luck with manual single points than any of the zones. When I use a zone, it tends to focus on an area behind the play (like the grass or wall) rather than an actual player.

How busy the background is depends on your depth of field. There are a number of factors that come into play in regards to depth of field, it is not just the aperture (see my last post).

Your focus inaccuracy (yours not the cameras), and your too shallow depth of field are what are causing your issues.

Increasing either one will help, for right now increasing depth of field is easier than improving your focus accuracy.

Also, if you're going to go through all that post processing to sharpen your subject from inadequate depth of field, why not try more depth of field, and apply a gaussian blur to the background?

Start with deeper depth of field, this will give you immediate result, then work on your focus accuracy (turn the focus point on in DPP (or whatever you use), so you can see where the camera focused, and then adjust your shooting style accordingly. As your accuracy improves, then you can pull back your depth of field.

My 2 cents.

Thanks, TT.  I'll experiment with using a large depth of field and work on improving my shooting techniques to prevent motion blur in the future.  I agree it makes way more sense to nail the shot from the get go rather than trying to fix problems you create by using an improper focusing technique or incorrect shutter speed/aperture.

That being said, I do have the focus points turned on in DPP and they're showing that the single point I manually selected is where I stated it was above.  On shot one it's right over her left arm and covers her green undershirt, her striped shirt sleeve, and the middle of her striped shirt.  To me, that should be enough contrast for the point to lock onto.

On the second shot, the single manual point is directly above the runner's beltline on her shirt.  Perhaps that was not enough contrast for the point to lock onto and it locked onto her left hand instead.

Hopefully, the issue I had yesterday was very bright sun coming from directly above the field of play.  The only reason I don't think it was the aperture was because I've shot at f/2.8 at bike races even closer to the cyclists than I was yesterday to the softball players and I've gotten excellent with great bokeh.  And, like I said, that's at the same distance (30 feet or so) and often even closer.  Here are some examples:

Anyway, I do appreciate your feedback as well as everyone else's.  You bring up some very good points.  I am by no means an expert and I know I still have a lot to learn so thanks again for your comments and advice.  I will definitely try a smaller aperture next time to see how it affects the sharpness and IQ.  Thanks again!

 steve88's gear list:steve88's gear list
Canon EOS 7D Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM
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