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 Post subject: Sharpness issues
PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2010 5:45 pm 
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Posts: 512
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Hey everyone.

I'm having some sharpness issues when taking pictures at sports and actions. Especially at fast sports like soccer and football, the autofocus is quite often letting me down. I'm not quite sure what is causing it, but I'm gonna write the camera settings and then a list of my best guesses. Also I'll post an example, so you can see what I mean. I really hope you can help me solve the mystery :)


Equipment:
    Canon EOS 400D
    Canon EF-S 55-250mm, F4.0-F5.6

Camera settings:
    ISO 400-800 (Depending on the light)
    Av mode, lowest possible aperture.
    AF-Servo
    Continuous shooting

My guesses:
    1. The camera and/or lens AF system is too poor.
    2. I'm doing something terribly wrong.
    3. The camera and/or lens is broken.



Image
It's a crop from a bigger image, but basicly all of the action in the picture is blurred.

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Jake

Canon EOS 400D + EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS + EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS + EF 50mm f/1.8
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2010 6:02 pm 
Hi Jake,

First of all, guesses 1 and 3 are never the case :wink:

It doesnt look as though there is any motion blur, but still, dont be afraid to kick the ISO even to the maximum when shooting sports with a slow lens.

I think the picture is out of focus personally as the grass starts to come into focus at the bottom of the picture. You could maybe try selecting your autofocus point manually, I dont really know how this works or what it is called on a 400D. Was the camera for example focussing on a focus point you didnt want it to?

Your lens should be fast enough to keep up with this kind of sport, autofocus wise, so wait until the subject is in focus, and then let the AF-servo follow him until your composition is spot on, and... snap.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2010 6:09 pm 
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Location: Largs, Scotland
Jake, what was the shutter speed?

On continuous, did they all come out as bad as that?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2010 6:19 pm 
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Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
The shutter speed was generally around 1/1000s. So it's more of a focus issue, I'm pretty sure.

And no, I did manage to get quite a few decent pictures (you can see some of them here), I just think the fail rate is a bit too high.


And jeremy, on the EOS 400D you have a diamond consisting of 9 focus poins, where you can select one, or all. The problem by selecting one is that its almost impossible to keep the action right under that point.

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Jake

Canon EOS 400D + EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS + EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS + EF 50mm f/1.8
My Photos - My webpage (danish)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2010 6:24 pm 
Quote:
The problem by selecting one is that its almost impossible to keep the action right under that point.


And thats why the pros get the big bucks :wink:

Nah Im joking, are you sure there isnt a mode where you select one point, but then if the action shifts over to another point, the camera realises and switches to that point? On Nikon this is called 3D tracking.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2010 6:52 pm 
Does your AF work well in other cases? Have you ever experienced any front or back focus issues in the past?
Btw,don't ever exceed the 800ISO value,it's not going to save anything.

p.s. if you can upgrade to a 40D in the future,then you'll be fine shooting sports. I tested both cameras & the 400D cannot do anything,even though is a capable little camera.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2010 7:02 pm 
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Location: UK
Looks like the focus is way out to me, so that's a combination of 1 and 2. Until cameras can read your mind, it means you have to do more of the work yourself. I personally prefer single point where precision is needed as multi-point tends to get interested in different things. Just get more practice in tracking. It can help to zoom out a bit more and crop to frame later.

I'd suggest you ignore Razvan's advice on ISO. Go as high as needed to maintain an adequate shutter speed. A noisy sharp shot is generally better than a less noisy motion blurred shot.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2010 7:27 pm 
popo,I don't think one more ISO step is going to save anything. 400D has 1600 ISO max,so...this is the reason I made that statement. :)

1/250 or 1/320 will be fine for football,it's all about the AF system here. And yes,popo is correct,keeping the center AF point as your only option will be faster. btw,try to exercise the control over DoF in manual focus. if you shoot in manual & you set your DoF trough the viewfinder,then your shooting will be as fast as possible. but this works if you're at a respectable distance from the game itself,so you could preset the focus manually


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2010 7:38 pm 
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Location: Largs, Scotland
popo read my mind. I tend to find 3d tracking jumps all over the place and not on what I want. single point servo on continuous should be the setting. ISO set to whatever you need for a fast shutter speed. Dont know enough about Canon to be specific to those models.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2010 7:53 pm 
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Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
ISO is rarely the problem.
I don't have any problems with AF normally. It can be dead on if i have enough time.

In case an equipment upgrade would help, where would i get the most bang for the bucks... A new lens (100-400mm L perhaps?) or a new body (like fx. the 50D or 7D)

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Jake

Canon EOS 400D + EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS + EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS + EF 50mm f/1.8
My Photos - My webpage (danish)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2010 8:11 pm 
Equipment upgrade definitely wouldnt help. Get to know your af system better first


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2010 8:16 pm 
7D would be a phenomenal choice.
if your AF is ok,then your answer in an upgrade.

the 100-400 is cool,depends on your needs. I know some people that are fine with the 70-300mm.

jeremy,there are reasons why some cameras are entry levels,others semi-pro & pros. :)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2010 10:22 pm 
Quote:
jeremy,there are reasons why some cameras are entry levels,others semi-pro & pros


Sorry I dont understand, are you trying to say that pro cameras have better AF systems?

This is true, but I think that until you are using your current system to the maximum it can physically take, you will not benefit from upgrading.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2010 11:06 pm 
Look at my post 2 prior to yours, Flying High, this was shot with a 50D and a 24-105 L. It has taken me over a year of practice to take sharp moving objects. I recommend you move your AF to the * button, shoot AF servo this way you can keep the AF going and press the shutter when the shot is right. An upgrade wont help if you have not mastered what you have. Also try shooting at f/8 to f/11 if light allows this will increase your DOF and make it a bit easier to hit focus. Look at www.dofmaster.com and get some knowledge of DOF , you will see how shallow it can be with a long lens at a large aperture. Hope this helps.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri May 07, 2010 7:37 am 
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Joined: Sat Dec 22, 2007 10:43 am
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Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Well, i'f you have any suggestions on how to improve my focusing skills, then i would love to hear it (afterall, its a lot cheaper than new equipment^^).
But I can't just pick one single AF point, because i would lose a lot of pictures on that too. I need some sort of 3D tracking, and i believe thats somewhat what AI Servo means. So i guess that i have to accept the fact that there is a chance it wont always focus on the player i want, but the thing i want to avoid is when its focusing on a still object in the back or nothing at all.

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Jake

Canon EOS 400D + EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS + EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS + EF 50mm f/1.8
My Photos - My webpage (danish)


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