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Thread: Canon 40D - Focusing Problem

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    Canon 40D - Focusing Problem

    Hi,
    I am very new to this website and found the tutorial really useful. Let me introduce myself a bit for you to know what am exactly doing. I am doing my pro photography course from NYIP. I have purchased lot of gadgets. I am basically into IT field but want to move my career into photography. I love photography.

    Fine. The issue is, i have been told i have a good view, but when i submit my photos to some pro photographer's they always say my subject is not in sharp focus and always out of focus. I tried all different settings and shutter, aperture everything. Even i raised this same question in shutterstock and i did not get any proper result or solution.

    I have taken my camera to a camera shop and compared mine with Nikon D300. With the same settings it was able to take great sharp pics but mine is kind of soft esp when it is being viewed in 100%. But nikon pic was kind of faded like taken in auto mode. My camera gave me the right color tone.

    Finally i called Canon and sent them some of my pics and they called me back and advised me that for my low aperture the distance with the subject might have circle of confusion. Do you think that could be the reason? I feel so. But i was googling around to understand focal distance, inches, meters, distance calculation, dof calculator.. but i was not able to understand it deeply.

    Can someone please explain what is wrong and how can i take sharp pictures using my canon 40D?

    My Gadgets: Canon 40D, 50 mm prime lens, 28-135mm lens, 70-300mm lens, slik 3way tripod, canon wired remote, battery gripper.

    This is my first thread in this forum and any help will be greatly appreciated. Looking forward to hear from you. Even personal message is fine. You can contact me at hswami@rocketmail.com.

    Thanks in advance!

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    Re: Canon 40D - Focusing Problem

    Hi there, and welcome to the forums.

    They say that " a picture paints a thousand words" - don't know about that, but a few sample pictures could sure save us a thousand words!

    The other thing I'd like to know is what mode are you shooting in (eg JPEG or RAW), and what sharpening are you applying in post processing. Also, have you done any focusing tests (eg photographed something clear and sharp with the camera on a tripod (using both manual and auto-focus)) to try and see where the problem lies?

    We'll be glad to help - but really need more information first

    Cheers,

    Colin - pbase.com/cjsouthern
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 12th January 2009 at 06:25 AM.

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    Re: Canon 40D - Focusing Problem

    You don't say if you are focussing manually, or using auto-focus.
    There can be problems with front or back focus when using auto-focus.
    If it's this, you might need to get the camera/lens calibrated by Canon.
    Post a few pix and let us look.

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    Re: Canon 40D - Focusing Problem

    Hi Sharyharan I agree with the other posts that you need to show us some images. However, one other quick check you could do is to look at what picture style you are using on the Canon 40D (e.g. Standard) and check whether the sharpness setting has been inadvertently altered. You should be able to access this through the Picture Style button on your camera (5th button from left at bottom of back of camera body).

    David

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    Re: Canon 40D - Focusing Problem

    Fine. I am sorry for the delayed response. I am not sure where to upload pictures. That is why i have given the url where my pictures are lying...

    You can see my pictures at http://jpgmag.com/people/eyepoint but i dont think u can get exif data.

    What i have tried so far?
    1. I have tried manual focus & auto focus
    2. I have tried in different picture styles and even increased the sharpness & contrast
    3. I have tried using the tripod with or without wired remote
    4. @ f11, daylight, 5.6 meters, in av mode i have taken pics as one pro requested me to do so
    5. I have tried auto mode in the day light (some shots were reasonably sharp)
    6. Lenses tried: 50mm prime lens, 28-135mm lens, 70-300mm tamron lens, slik 3way tripod (sturdy enough to hold my canon 40d camera), wired remote canon
    7. Two days back i have compared my camera with Nikon D300 and it gave me sharp image on the same settings but nikon gave me very faded color image and mine gave me the right color tone
    8. I called canon and they asked me to send my camera to calibrate and before that they wanted to see my images to make sure i have not done anythign wrong
    9. i have sent few images and that lady analyzed it and gave me a call back and told, am using low aperture and it is the problem with DOF. i have tried the exif in dofmaster website and i did not quite understand and am not sure the distance & focussing techniques. And am not very convinced with her replies bcoz, even i have taken few shots in high fstop like f16, f11 etc.

    I hope i have given enough information to isolate the issue. Did i? Thanks for your great help.

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    Re: Canon 40D - Focusing Problem

    Here are two pictures with exif data. I just overlooked about the attachments. Hope this helps. Thank You!
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Re: Canon 40D - Focusing Problem

    Hi Sharyharan - Thanks for posting the photos and for the extra information. I think Colin and rc53 are probably better than me at assessing technical aspects of sharpness, but nevertheless I can make one or two tentative comments. To my eye and on my monitor (ViewSonicVP2030b) your images of buildings such as the Statue of Liberty, the Hindu temple and so on, look acceptably sharp. There is no indication on your web site as to what lens and what aperture etc was used for these images. However, I think that they are OK. Of course, they could be further sharpened by use of a software tool, and that might be a way forward.

    The photos of cyclists and water sports are generally not as sharp, but then these are more difficult subjects to capture. Not all parts of a moving object are moving at the same speed or in the same direction. Thus, the camera may capture one part in sharp frozen motion but another part is slightly blurred. This is where skill and practice come in.

    With the images of children and people, there does seem to be a problem. To my eye they do not seem to be as sharp as they could be. One issue appears to be depth of field. For example, in the image entitled "Model", the lady's eyes and much of her veil are in sharp focus. However, the scarf over her head does go out of focus at the top. I think that is a DoF problem that a smaller aperture would solve. Yet, I wonder if the lens is quite good enough or if there is a problem in the camera.

    I'm not sure that my comments have taken the matter forward, but the others may be able to pin-point something I've missed. Here's an "out-of-the-loop" suggestion: get your critical tutor to take some shots with your camera, suggesting that he/she is the best person to show you what you're doing wrong. Then, if their efforts fail their sharpness criteria, either your equipment is dud or your tutor is!!

    Cheers

    David

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    Re: Canon 40D - Focusing Problem

    David: Actually you are referring to my other pictures which i have taken using my Kodak z812 IS camera. I meant, statue and temple. And is it must we do the post processing job in photoshop to increase the sharpness? Canon tech support also told me that am doing something wrong in DOF area. so do you mean tto say i should always capture in high fstop numbers? then if i really want a shallow dof when i shoot portrait how do i increase the sharpness?

    And i use spot metering and i focus on eye and then take a shot. i dont know what's wrong. And i dont have a very critical tutor yet. In search of somebody lol.

    And i have taken few pictures yesterday night. I had no choice to take good pictures using low iso when i was taking my friends pics. Even though i set my iso to 1600 still i was only able to take in 2 sec exposure. how to avoid that? Can i use canon 580ex speedlight to avoid that? but will i miss the real lighting conditions? pls see the following pictures... i have attached. waiting to hear form you. thanks!

    Note: Unfortunately am not able to reduce the picture size to below 290kb. Please visit
    http://www.jpgmag.com/people/eyepoint for the night pictures. thanks!
    Last edited by McQ; 12th January 2009 at 06:18 AM.

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    Re: Canon 40D - Focusing Problem

    More questions, I'm afraid.
    Do you shoot in raw or jpg? If the latter, what in-camera settings?
    What post-processing? Do you use 'capture sharpening' in in raw? Do you 'sharpen for output' when submitting to web?
    raw pix require sharpening at both stages, to get the best out of them. jpgs don't need capture sharpening, but might need output sharpening -- and, annoyingly, this sharpening differs for print and monitor/screen use.

    You indicate the aperture, but not the shutter speed - though I note the use of a tripod. What shutter speed for the hand held shots generally? At f11 you should get a good dof, though with smaller apertures you then run into the problem of diffraction, which produces a softening/unsharp effect.

    The eyes in 'Model' are quite dark, hard to see if sharp or not.

    I don't quite understand the Canon lady's response. However, there can be issues with 'calibration' -- that is the apparent focus, even when manually focussed -- isn't correct -- as if the position of the focussing screen wasn't quite right.

    Your site pix are a bit small to evaluate well. You should be able to post here -- 'go advanced' and click the paper clip icon, for example. Alternatively, click the 'mountains'.

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    Re: Canon 40D - Focusing Problem

    Try this test.
    Mount the camera on your tripod, turn image stabilization off [I'm not familiar with your lenses, but I presume they are stabilized], enable mirror lock-up, then wait a few seconds before 'firing'.

    As a target, use a ruler or tape measure running obliquely away from you. Focus on a particular measure on the tape, and note which one it is. Use manual focus, then auto focus with only one point. Use the widest aperture [smallest f number].

    You might have to fiddle around a bit to get these distances to work. You want to try this at the minimum focussing distance for most obvious results.

    Then look at the pix on the monitor. Is the place where you focussed the point of maximum sharpness? If it isn't, is the focus in front or behind this point? If so, then the lens/camera combination is either front or back focussing, and needs adjustment. Canon should do this under warranty.
    Last edited by rc53; 15th December 2008 at 08:45 PM.

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    Re: Canon 40D - Focusing Problem

    Thanks for your immediate response, rc53. I shoot in fine large JPG. And i use photoshop for post processing. infact i have never done some photoshop work but i watched few youtube videos and started working on unsharpen mask, level & curves. Nothing else i do. By the way what is mean by capture sharpening? do you mean when i take the picture i raise the sharpening in the picture style mode? If so yes i increased 1 point for several pics not all of them.

    And raw pix require sharpening @ both stages? what stages rc? am sorry to ask you questions back.

    The canon lady asked me to go to dofmaster.com while she was on call. She was asking me what was the distance of my subject. I attach that picture here & dof calculater result for that exif. Probably you can extract the exif data then you will know what am talking and she was explaning.

    Canon lady said, my subject is not in the right distance for this settings to achieve the sharp focus. But i tried to understand myself from that dof calculater but i hardly understand the result. do you think she meant i will get the sharpness only from 9.81feet to 10.2feet? all others are not in focus? Kindly explain... and one more thing is, i have spent a lot on my gadgets. i want to earn something through my photography. Other than sharpness what do you think of my photography? Do i have a good view and is my picture saleable? Usually what are the basic editing should i do in photoshop? I am planning to take pictures in Raw + Jpeg hereafter to get the best result out of my pictures.

    I have submitted my pics twice to shutterstock and i got rejected. so am waiting to get the sharp focus then i can do i guess. any help would be greatly appreciated. thank you!
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by McQ; 12th January 2009 at 06:19 AM.

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    Re: Canon 40D - Focusing Problem

    I'm a wee bit busy to be able to answer your entire post in depth just at the moment, but thought I'd just chip in and give you a heads up on capture sharpening.

    In a nutshell all cameras introduce a degree of softness into an image - firstly due to a glass filter that covers your sensor that (amongst other things) attempts to stop a phenomenon called aliasing (a "beating" type pattern where some repeating pattern in an image just happens to resolve to a size that's similar to (or "sympathetic with) the spacing of the pixels on the sensor). So they blur the image slightly with the AA or anti-aliasing filter), god bless them. Additionally, the demosaicing process introduces additional softness.

    Capture sharpening fixes up these little anomalies pretty well. Without getting into lots of theories - Canon recommend applying a USM (UnSharp Mask) with the amount set to 250 (or 300), Radius to 0.3, and threshold to 0 (or 1) for 100/200 ISO images - or threashold up to about 6 or 7 for particularly noisy/high ISO images.

    If you don't capture sharpen then you won't see any difference unless you're printing really large, and looking really close - but - it makes the images so so so so much nicer to work with when you're zoomed in to around 100% (pixel peeping).

    To see the difference it makes, open a RAW image in PS - zoom in to 100% - open the USM dialog box - dial in 300/0.3/0 then toggle the preview control to see what difference it makes.

    If you're shooting JPEG then the camera will apply a degree of sharpening to the image - unfortunately (considering optimal sharpening requires at least 3 passes - Capture - content/creative, and output sharpening) the one-size-fits-all default sharpening applied by the camera to a JPG is NEVER optimal - one of the main reasons I never shoot JPEG, but that the subject of a whole new post!

    Hope this helps,

    Cheers,

    Colin - pbase.com/cjsouthern
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 12th January 2009 at 06:15 AM.

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    Re: Canon 40D - Focusing Problem

    I am sorry. You must forgive me, english is not my first language, something seems to be tough for me to understand. what is the 3 passes means? and do you mean to say, Canon produces only soft image now a days? so is it not related dof which that canon lady mentioned that i am doing wrong? pls confirm me. if you can tell me the situation to isolate that my camera can produce sharp image in certain settings i could do that. ofcourse i want my images to be sharp when it is being viewed in 100%. because i have lot of my friends who looks like model and i want to start taking quality pictures to submit to stock photography. please help me colin...

    if any of you can im me in yahoo that should be great as well. my yahoo id is hariharan.shakthi@yahoo.com.

    thank you!

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    I'm a wee bit busy to be able to answer your entire post in depth just at the moment, but thought I'd just chip in and give you a heads up on capture sharpening.

    In a nutshell all cameras introduce a degree of softness into an image - firstly due to a glass filter that covers your sensor that (amongst other things) attempts to stop a phenomenon called aliasing (a "beating" type pattern where some repeating pattern in an image just happens to resolve to a size that's similar to (or "sympathetic with) the spacing of the pixels on the sensor). So they blur the image slightly with the AA or anti-aliasing filter), god bless them. Additionally, the demosaicing process introduces additional softness.

    Capture sharpening fixes up these little anomalies pretty well. Without getting into lots of theories - Canon recommend applying a USM (UnSharp Mask) with the amount set to 250 (or 300), Radius to 0.3, and threshold to 0 (or 1) for 100/200 ISO images - or threashold up to about 6 or 7 for particularly noisy/high ISO images.

    If you don't capture sharpen then you won't see any difference unless you're printing really large, and looking really close - but - it makes the images so so so so much nicer to work with when you're zoomed in to around 100% (pixel peeping).

    To see the difference it makes, open a RAW image in PS - zoom in to 100% - open the USM dialog box - dial in 300/0.3/0 then toggle the preview control to see what difference it makes.

    If you're shooting JPEG then the camera will apply a degree of sharpening to the image - unfortunately (considering optimal sharpening requires at least 3 passes - Capture - content/creative, and output sharpening) the one-size-fits-all default sharpening applied by the camera to a JPG is NEVER optimal - one of the main reasons I never shoot JPEG, but that the subject of a whole new post!

    Hope this helps,

    Cheers,

    Colin - photo.net/photos/colinsouthern

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    Re: Canon 40D - Focusing Problem

    Hi,

    Sorry - I push people into the deep end sometimes!

    3 pass sharpening means that for best results, the image needs to be sharpened 3 times - each time with different settings.

    The first "pass" or time is called capture sharpening where we correct the softness introduced by the anti-aliasing filter and by the demosaicing process. It's typically a USM with amount - radius - threshold settings of 300 - 0.3 - 0., and makes the image much easier on the eyes when working on it at high magnifications.

    The second "pass" is called content (or "creative") sharpening - it's where you start to make the image "pop". Exact settings vary depending on a number of things, but typically I end up using amounts in the region of 50 to 125, with a radius of around 4 (mind you, I typically print on canvas up to 2.2m long).

    The third "pass" is called output sharpening, and it's done to optimise (a copy of) the image in it's final form. There are no typical values here - an image that is down-sized to, say, 500 pixels wide to be displayed on the web requires completely different settings to one that will be printed 2 metres wide.

    If you're keen to learn more about sharpening, the industry standard book is "Real World Image Sharpening" by the late Bruce Fraser - available through Amazon.com.

    To answer your questions regarding softness of Canon cameras ...

    "Do Canon cameras only produce soft images these days ..."

    No - that's probably a misleading way to think of it. The camera can produce an image for you in 2 ways - (1) as a RAW file, where it basically dumps the contents of the sensor into your lap and leaves it up to you to process as you see fit, and (2) as a JPEG file where it makes a start on the processing for you. A RAW image - to look it's best - will need to be sharpened up to 3 times, but for a variety of reasons; Capture Sharpening makes the image easier on the eyes when you're working on it - Content/Creative sharpening brings out the best in the image at whatever size you want to display it at - and Output sharpening adjusts the image so that the image retains the look you want once it's been resized and printed. A JPEG image is initially sharpened by the camera (according to the preferences that you've set in the picture styles menu) - which is quick and convenient - and may be all you need, but is never perfect - it's a "one size fits all" approach. The down side is that if the incamera sharpening isn't right then there's no way to undo it - you can only sharpen it again - sometimes this works, but sometimes it just degrades the image even more. Or to put simply, JPEGs are quick and convenient - but at the expense of ultimate quality whereas RAW images have the most potential, but sometimes at the expense of speed and convenience. (quick answer I know - RAW -v- JPEG is the topic of a whole new thread).

    "Was what the Canon lady said about Depth-of-Field wrong"

    In a word "probably not" (ok, 2 words) - the problem is that there are many things that can make an image "soft" - the thing to remember is that it may be a single thing thats giving your greif - or it might be a combination of things - the "trick" is to work out which ones - and we do that by a process of elimination. Some of those things are ...

    - Smearing on the front or real elements of the lens
    - Fungus in the lens
    - Camera shake
    - Focusing error (either automatic or manual or lens malfunction)
    - Subject movement
    - Depth of Field issues
    - Post processing issues
    - and probably a few more that I can't think of right now

    To be honest (and I hope I don't get in trouble here for saying this!) - but this is probably a good question for you to post on the Canon EOS forum at photo.net. Reason I say that is that I used to spend a lot of time there, and it's an issue that pops up quite regularly - and there are a lot more people there who will be able to get back to you quickly with some good advice.

    Hope this helps.

    Cheers,

    Colin - pbase.com/cjsouthern
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 12th January 2009 at 06:16 AM.

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    Re: Canon 40D - Focusing Problem

    Hi Sharyharan - You've certainly raised a lot of issues. The replies from Colin and rc53 should be studied with great care because there is a great deal of useful information therein. With respect to your reply to me, I'm sorry that I did not realise you had used a different camera for some of your shots. Let me address the points you raise.

    First, there is no absolute rule that you have to do any sharpening during the post-processing of an image. Whether you do or not depends on your style, your intent, and what you want to do with the image. As your tutor was critical of the sharpness or lack of focus of your work, one way to improve matters may be to use sharpening. Colin gives a very account of how to do this.

    Second, regarding depth of field as seen in your "Model" image, again there is no absolute rule that everything has to to be pin-sharp in an image. As you describe taking such images, use of a large aperture and spot-metering on an eye are perfectly acceptable. Parts of the image will be out of focus, but that is not necessarily bad. Again, as your tutor was apparently unhappy about sharpness, another way to resolve the issue in portraits is to use a smaller aperture to get greater depth of field and hence sharpness over the whole image.

    Third, as for the night shots of San Antonio (I remember it well from a visit a few years ago) these look very reasonable. To get over a two second exposure while taking a photograph of a friend against a dark background, you could try 2nd curtain sync with a flash gun such as the Speedlite 580. You might need to experiment a bit to get the conditions correct, but the basic idea is to set your flash to fire when the shutter closes (hence 2nd curtain sync). So you set up your shot for a two second exposure which will capture the natural light and at the end of that the flash fires to capture your friend. If he has moved a bit during the two seconds that will not be noticed because of the flash. Make sure you have set your focus point on your friend.

    I hope these points help. I'm going off for a Christmas break, but should be back early January. Merry Christmas and Happy Shooting.

    David

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    Re: Canon 40D - Focusing Problem

    Ok. I understand what you are all trying to say. Definitely will study more about sharpening and raise a question in canon forums now itself. Thanks a lot for your reply colin. But one thing is, i did not get replies for stock photos and how to earn that's ok. It was a very big reply already and am happy. thank you once again!
    Last edited by McQ; 12th January 2009 at 06:21 AM.

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    Re: Canon 40D - Focusing Problem

    David: Yep, am sure i raised a lot of questions. But his review really gives me a opinion that am not taking good pictures as well. And as it is my pictures also got rejected from shutter stock. I am going to raise this question in canon forums. let me see what happens. thank you david. merry christmas to you too..
    Last edited by McQ; 12th January 2009 at 06:22 AM.

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