Focus, equipment, or paranoia?

Started 6 months ago | Discussions thread
Ellis Vener
Ellis Vener Veteran Member • Posts: 9,356
Re: Focus or equipment?

spiritcat wrote:

So I seem to be having focus issues with a lot of my shots, and I have been trying to diagnose exactly what the problem is...especially whether it is me or equipment, or whether I am just imagining things. I would appreciate comments from those here more experienced, especially wildlife photogs. So the first of the puffin is typical of the kind of thing I've been getting, and it happens pretty often. Using Nikon D850 and Sigma 150-600, which surely should be a sharp combination when properly deployed. I have included a 1:1 close up of the puffin's head. Not exactly sharp! Very disapppointing. But what went wrong? This was 600mm at f 6.3, 1 /1250, so shutter speed should not have been an issue. I have also included two photos which seem sharp-ish to me, but perhaps not the pin sharp I had been hoping for. Do you concur? On the other hand, if you consider these ones sharp, does that mean that the problem is me, rather than the camera / lens / callibration, etc? Even with the puffin it is hard to imagine a better scenario. He was pretty much still. Plenty of light. I had plenty of time. So far as I recall the center focus point was right on his head. What went wrong? To what degree are these other pictures out of focus or unsharp in your eyes? In the Arctic Tern one, I have definitely pulled the sliders some in Lightroom.

In a recent outing, literally dozens and dozens of pictures were akin to the puffin one. Whatever it is, I have to get to the bottom of it. It's driving me nuts.

Having now looked at the full frame  of the Puffin and at 100% magnification  on an excellent 4K display,  there are three things  that are problematic.
1) Optical resolution problems : There is a lot of optical distortion, especially in the corners but really the global resolution is terrible. This is different than being out of focus and blur.  This may be caused by the wrong OIS setting, a bad copy of the lens, or user damage to the lens (has it been dropped or banged?)
2) Blur from camera and lens movement: I know you were handholding  but were you on solid ground or shooting from a boat? 
3) Out of focus. there is literally nothing in this frame is in focu althogu hthe Puffin's head is the area that is closest to being in focus. Assuming there is nothing mechanically or optically wrong with the lens  You need to tune the lens using the Sigma Dock and software as I mentioned in my first reply.

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Ellis Vener
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