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Thread: Focusing problem

  1. #1
    Digital's Avatar
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    Focusing problem

    A friend of mine has a Nikon D80. Yesterday he took 200+ pics at a flower garden. The images looked fine through his viewfinder, and he was able to release his shutter.
    Today he looked at the images, and they were all out of focus. The camera and/or the lens has not suffered any trauma that he is aware of.
    Any theories of what could be the problem here?

    Bruce

  2. #2

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    Re: Focusing problem

    A great many options here. We really need some more details about camera settings and method of focusing etc. Was a tripod used?

    My first thought would be handheld at too low a shutter speed.

    Try some more test shots at static subjects using a tripod, or other stable support, and see what happens.

    ps. I thought there was a similar reply from Kathy posted at the same time, but I can't see that now.

  3. #3
    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Focusing problem

    Bruce, as Geoff has already mentioned, this is not an awful lot to go on.

    1. Was the autofocus turned on? Funny how not doing so that will screw things up nicely, and of course the camera will fire away. Assuming that it was, what autofocus mode was he using? If the wrong autifocus mode was in use, the camera could have decided to focus on something completely other than the subject?

    2. What kind of shots was your friend taking? If he got in too tight and was shooting outside the closest focus distance of the lens? That would also result in out of focus shots.

    3. What aperture was he shooting at? Wide open and shallow DoF can look out of focus.

    4. As Bruce points out, "out of focus" shots could be something totally unrelated to focus; camera shake (slow shutter speed) can look remarkably like autofocus, even though it is not.

  4. #4
    Digital's Avatar
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    Re: Focusing problem

    Geoff, and Manfred: I did not give you much to work on. As soon as I can reach my friend I will attempt to secure more information. I do know this: he is an experienced photographer, and I doubt that he shot these flowers w/o using a tripod; however I will ask what SS he was using as well as other pertinent information hopefully to be able to come up with an answer for this issue.

    Bruce

  5. #5
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    Re: Focusing problem

    Quote Originally Posted by Digital View Post
    A friend of mine has a Nikon D80. Yesterday he took 200+ pics at a flower garden. The images looked fine through his viewfinder, and he was able to release his shutter.
    Today he looked at the images, and they were all out of focus. The camera and/or the lens has not suffered any trauma that he is aware of.
    Any theories of what could be the problem here?

    Bruce
    Always take into account the wind.

  6. #6
    Digital's Avatar
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    Re: Focusing problem

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowman View Post
    Always take into account the wind.
    John, I thought of that. I will question my friend on this variable as well.


    Bruce

  7. #7
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    Re: Focusing problem

    Ok here goes: He shot in both continuous/single modes. Besides flowers he was photographing butterflies. A tripod was used with a cable release. His aperture varied from F5.6 to f23. His SS varied (do not know the ranges; however he did relate that the SS was high). His ISO ranged from 100 to 800. Setting the focus on manual produced the same results. He did not notice any problem with minimum focusing distance.
    He also related that he set up the same parameters in a test situation, and got the same results.
    Also, wind was not a factor.
    The lens used was a Nikkor 18-200 mm.
    Any assistance will be greatly appreciated.

    Bruce

  8. #8
    The Blue Boy's Avatar
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    Re: Focusing problem

    Hi Bruce,

    I've owned a D80 and found it almost to be without any problems whatsoever. My first thought was the same as Manfred's, in the fact that your friend had forgotten to turn from manual focus to auto. We've all done it,

    The only other thought is maybe the lens is not communicating with the body. Maybe the the contacts need a clean.

    Or maybe the diopter is in the wrong position?

    Difficult to know really...

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    Re: Focusing problem

    Try a different lens on the camera and see what happens.

  10. #10
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    Re: Focusing problem

    Mark: if the lens was not communicating with the body then the image would not appear to be in focus via sighting thru the viewfinder, IMHO? Although you may be on to something. The odd thing about this is the camera/lens appear to be focusing normally.

    Steve: a different lens was tried- did not correct the problem.

    Bruce
    Last edited by Digital; 29th July 2013 at 10:03 PM.

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    Re: Focusing problem

    Bruce,

    By saying the images 'were all out of focus' is he referring to the 'entire' image being soft OR just the part that he assumed he was focusing on being 'soft' ?

    Has he somehow changed the in camera settings for the jpegs to very soft and is only viewing these on his computer ?

  12. #12
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    Re: Focusing problem

    Bruce,

    Has he tried manual focusing on a subject then switch to autofocus? It sounds to me that the latter is maybe out of sync.

    The best way I've found to check this is to place a newspaper at a 45 degree angle to the lens, at a distance of a few feet, then set focus points on different parts of the page. You can download test pages for this. Google Autofocus test page.

  13. #13
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    Re: Focusing problem

    Quote Originally Posted by Digital View Post
    Mark: if the lens was not communicating with the body then the image would not appear to be in focus via sighting thru the viewfinder, IMHO? Although you may be on to something. The odd thing about this is the camera/lens appear to be focusing normally.

    Steve: a different lens was tried- did not correct the problem.

    Bruce

    Difficult to tell mate. What may appear to be "in focus" to one person, may seem totally blurred to another. Loads of things to consider, but I think we've covered almost all of them here so far...

  14. #14
    Digital's Avatar
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    Re: Focusing problem

    Grahame: he is due to download a pic to me that represents what he is talking about. From what I understand the entire image is soft.
    I do not know whether he changed the settings within the camera that may have resulted in softened images.
    I will check this out.

    Mark: apparently he encounters the same problem in manual focusing as well as autofocus.


    Bruce

  15. #15
    The Blue Boy's Avatar
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    Re: Focusing problem

    Bruce,

    Sounds like something is seriously out of sync mate. It might need to go back to the factory,

  16. #16

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    Re: Focusing problem

    Did he use the VR version of the lens. If on tripod did he turn off the vr. If not the lens will hunt and generate movement in the shot, rather like out of focus. If focus is a problem you will find something in focus even if not what you wanted.

  17. #17
    Digital's Avatar
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    Re: Focusing problem

    Quote Originally Posted by loosecanon View Post
    Did he use the VR version of the lens. If on tripod did he turn off the vr. If not the lens will hunt and generate movement in the shot, rather like out of focus. If focus is a problem you will find something in focus even if not what you wanted.
    Apparently he had the VR on for awhile while on the tripod, then while the camera was still on the tripod he turned VR off.
    Apparently he got the same results.

    Bruce

  18. #18
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    Re: Focusing problem

    Not seeing the images it is hard to diagnose the cause...

    Generally if some parts of the image are sharp and others (even most) is not sharp, that is a problem of incorrect focus (whether operator or equipment error) that could be accentuated by the use of a very wide aperture with inherent shallow DOF..

    Generally when none of the image is sharp the problem has been caused by one of two reasons...
    1. Too slow a shutter speed resulting in blur from camera motion
    2. The camera or lens being damaged

    Usually looking at an image, there are indications whether the fault lies in shutter speed or lens problems...

    Trouble shooting would be to try that lens on another camera and try another lens on that camera. You state "a different lens was tried- did not correct the problem.' That "could" indicate focusing problems with the camera body. If the lenses used can produce reasonably sharp images on another body, that would nail it down as a camera problem unless...

    Does your friend realize that all digital imagery can benefit from some post production sharpening? Perhaps his expectations of image sharpness directly out of the camera are not reasonable.
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 30th July 2013 at 06:04 AM.

  19. #19

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    Re: Focusing problem

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumpyDiver View Post
    If he got in too tight and was shooting outside the closest focus distance of the lens? That would also result in out of focus shots.
    And have I done it. We tend to move in to closely when shooting flowers.

    That might be the most likely cause, I would guess.

  20. #20
    Digital's Avatar
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    Re: Focusing problem

    An update: My friend cleaned the contacts between the lens, and the camera. Using the menu options he reset the camera.
    At this point everything seems to be working fine.
    He will upload one of the pics that was out of focus to me, and I will post on CiC for your analysis.
    I do have a question: are the camera sensors ever known to fail?
    Any comments will be greatly appreciated.

    Bruce

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