Old 12-30-2011, 02:16 AM   #1
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Default Focusing issues and shooting modes.

Hi everyone,
I need some help with what is hopefully some easy to solve issues. I've been having problems with the autofocus changing the focus between shots. Here's and example, first shot, tack sharp, second, not at all sharp, no movement of the lens and very slight movement of the camera. These were shot on one shot mode with one shot autofocus
http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d1...1/IMG_2185.jpg
http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d1...1/IMG_2186.jpg
I had the same problem today, took the first shot, in focus then the rest not.
So I tried experimenting with the AI Servo focus on continuous shooting, different, and worse results. First shot is fine, zoom out, all fine, then it goes wildly out of focus.
http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d1...1/IMG_2301.jpg
http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d1...1/IMG_2302.jpg
http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d1...1/IMG_2303.jpg

I am using a Canon T1i with the basic 18-55 kit lens, granted its not a great lens but in focus wedge shots dont seem to be that much to ask for.. All shots were on Manual mode with F stop 6.3-7.1, and shutter 1/800 -1/1000
Anyone have suggestions, user error or is it likely that there is something wrong with the lens? I want to get to the root of the issue before I mess up something important.
Thanks,
-Nikos
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Old 12-30-2011, 02:26 AM   #2
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If you're shooting in a burst (ie. holding the shutter release down and taking more than one photo), you're going to want to shoot in AI SERVO. Reason being, AI Servo is used to shoot moving subjects, when the focal distance of the subject is always changing.

Also, check your custom functions. I'm not sure what the different settings are on the T1i. I'll do some more research and get back to you.

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Old 12-30-2011, 02:28 AM   #3
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Are you picking 1 point to focus, or leaving that for the camera to decide? I had a similar problem (though the photos weren't as out of focus as your last shot) before I discovered how to change the focus point.
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Old 12-30-2011, 02:47 AM   #4
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I make sure to focus before hand exactly where I want the train to be in focus.
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Old 12-30-2011, 02:59 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by stlgevo51 View Post
Are you picking 1 point to focus, or leaving that for the camera to decide? I had a similar problem (though the photos weren't as out of focus as your last shot) before I discovered how to change the focus point.
I let the camera decide, I put it on one point focus once and it was a disaster, I couldnt even get the camera to focus at all and had to resort to using my S5IS since the train was approaching. Probably because I had it on lower point focus, which one have you had success with?

And the CSX train I was shooting in AI Servo but it still seemed to completely loose focus for some reason, thats the worst its ever done, I could tell it lost focus even through the viewfinder.
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Old 12-30-2011, 03:14 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nikos1
I let the camera decide, I put it on one point focus once and it was a disaster, I couldnt even get the camera to focus at all and had to resort to using my S5IS since the train was approaching. Probably because I had it on lower point focus, which one have you had success with?

And the CSX train I was shooting in AI Servo but it still seemed to completely loose focus for some reason, thats the worst its ever done, I could tell it lost focus even through the viewfinder.
I've never had any problems with any of the focus points. I set the focus point in the center (default in case I'm in a rush and can't change the focus point in time) and change it to which ever point I want when the train is coming. I don't even mess with AI Servo, etc. (I don't even know what that stuff means ).

I don't know if yours is a problem with you or the camera, but my guess is that the fact that you aren't setting the points is messing you up. Again, that is just a guess, considering I'm not an expert on focusing.
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Old 12-30-2011, 03:15 AM   #7
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Nikos, I don't know if reading this thread first set up a false expectation in my mind, but this shot doesn't look that sharp either:

Image © Nikos Kavoori
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Old 12-30-2011, 03:17 AM   #8
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I shoot sports as a kind of work, and it's a given that you want to try to keep the subject on or near the focal point you've chosen on the camera. You ABSOLUTELY want to choose where the camera is going to focus, you tell it what to do, dont let it tell you. Obviously, you know how to change it if you set it in the center. If you don't want your subject to be centered, try to imagine your subject in your viewfinder and set the focus point to something else...be creative!
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Old 12-30-2011, 03:24 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by JRMDC View Post
Nikos, I don't know if reading this thread first set up a false expectation in my mind, but this shot doesn't look that sharp either:

Image © Nikos Kavoori
PhotoID: 385300
Photograph © Nikos Kavoori
I think its either false expectations or overly high expectations. I looked at the original image for that shot and it sharp, I can see all the individual bricks and read the reporting marks on the high cube. If the buildings in the background arnt perfectly sharp I'm guessing thats due to atmospheric distortion or whatever its called. I shot that with my 55-250, I dont ussualy have problems with it.
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Old 12-30-2011, 03:28 AM   #10
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I shoot sports as a kind of work, and it's a given that you want to try to keep the subject on or near the focal point you've chosen on the camera. You ABSOLUTELY want to choose where the camera is going to focus, you tell it what to do, dont let it tell you. Obviously, you know how to change it if you set it in the center. If you don't want your subject to be centered, try to imagine your subject in your viewfinder and set the focus point to something else...be creative!
Yes after nearly missing a shot because I had inadvertantly set the focus point to lower I figured it out lol. Ideally I want everything in focus. Thats why I have kept it on automatic selection. Would center point give the best assurance for this? On several occasions the auto selection has focused on the units nose and made the rest out of focus which is nearly as bad.
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Old 12-30-2011, 03:42 AM   #11
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Have they finished demolishing the old Southern Railway office building there yet?
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Old 12-30-2011, 03:49 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nikos1 View Post
Ideally I want everything in focus. Thats why I have kept it on automatic selection. Would center point give the best assurance for this? On several occasions the auto selection has focused on the units nose and made the rest out of focus which is nearly as bad.
I don't think that is what will happen. To keep everything in "focus", you need a higher aperture speed. No matter what settings you shoot on focus wise, your focal point will only be at 1 position. Not selecting a point to focus on will just make something more in focus than something else, and the thing in focus might not always be what you want (not the train or main subject). ALWAYS select a focus point.

The center focus point will make whatever is behind that dot the most focused. Everything else will be in various sharpness based on distance from the subject in focus. If the subject you want focused on is in the center, than shoot with the center point. If not, change accordingly. (Usually when shooting more wedgie type shots, I put the focus point on one of the bottom corners. That way, the front of the train will be in focus and the train will be in the bottom third portion of the frame. Then I frame the train accordingly and shoot.)
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Old 12-30-2011, 03:59 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by stlgevo51 View Post
I don't think that is what will happen. To keep everything in "focus", you need a higher aperture speed. No matter what settings you shoot on focus wise, your focal point will only be at 1 position. Not selecting a point to focus on will just make something more in focus than something else, and the thing in focus might not always be what you want (not the train or main subject). ALWAYS select a focus point.

The center focus point will make whatever is behind that dot the most focused. Everything else will be in various sharpness based on distance from the subject in focus. If the subject you want focused on is in the center, than shoot with the center point. If not, change accordingly.
+1, except that you meant "smaller aperture" or "higher aperture value" instead of "higher aperture speed."

At any rate, f/7.1 should be sufficient for this type of shot. For example, at that aperture it should not matter whether the camera focuses on either end of the engine pair.
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Old 12-30-2011, 04:00 AM   #14
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Have they finished demolishing the old Southern Railway office building there yet?
Where they supposed to start? Where did you hear this from?
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Old 12-30-2011, 04:00 AM   #15
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To keep everything in "focus", you need a higher aperture speed.
Higher aperture speed? That's a new one...

Aperture has nothing to do with speed. Lower F number = wider aperture = more light let into the sensor = "faster" lens. Higher F number = smaller aperture = less light let into the sensor = "slower" lens.

Quote:
No matter what settings you shoot on focus wise, your focal point will only be at 1 position.
Correct. I dont know if you use Nikon or Canon, I didnt read the whole thread. If on Canon you choose "all focus points" you have zero control over what will actually lock focus. Only one of the points can actually BE in focus at any one time.

Quote:
Not selecting a point to focus on will just make something more in focus than something else, and the thing in focus might not always be what you want (not the train or main subject). ALWAYS select a focus point.
I think I said what you were trying to say here a little better.

Quote:
The center focus point will make whatever is behind that dot the most focused. Everything else will be in various sharpness based on distance from the subject in focus.
Not completely accurate, it is based on your aperture. The "smaller" (higher F number) aperture, the more depth of field your shot will have, no matter what focal point you use.

Quote:
If the subject you want focused on is in the center, than shoot with the center point. If not, change accordingly.
I will disagree with this too to some degree. Depending on what camera you use, and what lens. Again, I dont know if you use Canon or Nikon. On Canon non-1 series bodies, the center focus point is the MOST accurate. Depending on what lens you use, if you use a F2.8 or faster lens (no matter what aperture you set your exposure for, autofocus is ALWAYS done wide open, then it "stops down" to expose the shot), the center focus point is enabled in "high precision" cross-type focus point. If you use slower than F2.8 lens, it is not as high precision. On Canon 1D and 1DS camera models, ALL focus points are "high precision" cross-type focus points (if you use F2.8 or faster lenses). What am I getting at? Some cameras are better than others when it comes to focusing using the non-center focus point. Some cameras suck pretty bad when using anything but center focus point. A good example is the Canon 5D. It sucks balls on anything but center focus point. Whereas the 40d, all focus points are pretty damn good. Depending on what camera I use, I will frame the shot and use one of the outside focus points. If I am using the 40d, I can do that, if I am using the 5d, I will use center point no matter what, and crop to my liking afterwards. This takes some planning before hand...

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Old 12-30-2011, 04:02 AM   #16
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I don't think that is what will happen. To keep everything in "focus", you need a higher aperture speed. No matter what settings you shoot on focus wise, your focal point will only be at 1 position. Not selecting a point to focus on will just make something more in focus than something else, and the thing in focus might not always be what you want (not the train or main subject). ALWAYS select a focus point.

The center focus point will make whatever is behind that dot the most focused. Everything else will be in various sharpness based on distance from the subject in focus. If the subject you want focused on is in the center, than shoot with the center point. If not, change accordingly. (Usually when shooting more wedgie type shots, I put the focus point on one of the bottom corners. That way, the front of the train will be in focus and the train will be in the bottom third portion of the frame. Then I frame the train accordingly and shoot.)

Thanks thats a good explanation, I will play around with it when I have some junk trains to shoot for practice. I try to shoot F7.1, 1/1000 when possible but sometimes I have to drop it down lower to 6.3 1/800, or even lower in low light.
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Old 12-30-2011, 04:03 AM   #17
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Where they supposed to start? Where did you hear this from?
Last time I Was there (August I think), it appeared they had begun demolishing it. Maybe I am wrong, maybe they are renovating it? I will be there tomorrow if the sun is shining and will see for myself...

Oh yea, North Georgia / Western NC / NW SC people, I will be in the area tomorrow and Tuesday, I may run into some of you when out and about.

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Old 12-30-2011, 04:05 AM   #18
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Thanks thats a good explanation, I will play around with it when I have some junk trains to shoot for practice. I try to shoot F7.1, 1/1000 when possible but sometimes I have to drop it down lower to 6.3 1/800, or even lower in low light.
No need to do 1/800 or 1/1000, that is way overkill unless you are shooting Amtrak on the NEC or TGV in France.

1/640 is what I aim for, 1/500 is sufficient. I would tend to shoot for F8 and slower shutter speed personally rather than bigger aperture and faster shutter speed... it will help your depth of field and sharpness drastically on some lenses/cameras believe it or not. Especially on a crop camera.
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Old 12-30-2011, 04:17 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by troy12n
Higher aperture speed? That's a new one...

Aperture has nothing to do with speed. Lower F number = wider aperture = more light let into the sensor = "faster" lens. Higher F number = smaller aperture = less light let into the sensor = "slower" lens.
I guess since lens can be "faster" or "slower", I got confused with words. Oh well, you knew what I meant.

Quote:
Originally Posted by troy12n
I think I said what you were trying to say here a little better.
Probably.

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Originally Posted by troy12n
Not completely accurate, it is based on your aperture. The "smaller" (higher F number) aperture, the more depth of field your shot will have, no matter what focal point you use.
True, but the distance away from focused subject does have a little effect even at higher f-stops, doesn't it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by troy12n
I will disagree with this too to some degree. Depending on what camera you use, and what lens. Again, I dont know if you use Canon or Nikon. On Canon non-1 series lenses, the center focus point is the MOST accurate. Depending on what lens you use, if you use a F2.8 or faster lens (no matter what aperture you set your exposure for, autofocus is ALWAYS done wide open, then it "stops down" to expose the shot), the center focus point is enabled in "high precision" cross-type focus point. If you use slower than F2.8 lens, it is not as high precision. On Canon 1D and 1DS camera models, ALL focus points are "high precision" cross-type focus points (if you use F2.8 or faster lenses). What am I getting at? Some cameras are better than others when it comes to focusing using the non-center focus point. Some cameras suck pretty bad when using anything but center focus point. A good example is the Canon 5D. It sucks balls on anything but center focus point. Whereas the 40d, all focus points are pretty damn good. Depending on what camera I use, I will frame the shot and use one of the outside focus points. If I am using the 40d, I can do that, if I am using the 5d, I will use center point no matter what, and crop to my liking afterwards. This takes some planning before hand...
Interesting, I didn't know this. With my 50D, I rarely use the center focus point. Usually the subject I'm shooting (train) is never in the center of the photograph. My 24-105 IS is pretty good at detail, but I always feel like I could improve the quality of my photographs a little bit (they are good, but I feel like they could be a tiny bit better. Maybe I need a 1D!). Maybe shooting with the center point could solve this super small problem. Any suggestions?
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Old 12-30-2011, 04:42 AM   #20
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Nikos,

Are you completely releasing the shutter button in between shots (i.e. is the camera re-focusing between shot #1 and shot #2)?

I would suggest (as would Jim Thias) to get your focus control completely out of the shutter button. I'm assuming the way your camera is set up now is you press the shutter halfway down to focus, all the way down to take the picture? If so, get into the custom function settings and set up the * button to be your focus button; that will prevent your camera from re-focusing when you release the shutter button and push it down again...
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Old 12-30-2011, 04:55 AM   #21
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Nikos,

Are you completely releasing the shutter button in between shots (i.e. is the camera re-focusing between shot #1 and shot #2)?

I would suggest (as would Jim Thias) to get your focus control completely out of the shutter button. I'm assuming the way your camera is set up now is you press the shutter halfway down to focus, all the way down to take the picture? If so, get into the custom function settings and set up the * button to be your focus button; that will prevent your camera from re-focusing when you release the shutter button and push it down again...
Yes thats the way it is right now. I believe in one shot mode the camera refocuses for each shot? Setting focus to * would eliminate the camera refocusing but wouldnt that create new problems with the camera loosing focus when I zoom in or out, having to keep hitting the * button while the train is approaching sounds like a pain.
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Old 12-30-2011, 04:56 AM   #22
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No need to do 1/800 or 1/1000, that is way overkill unless you are shooting Amtrak on the NEC or TGV in France.

1/640 is what I aim for, 1/500 is sufficient. I would tend to shoot for F8 and slower shutter speed personally rather than bigger aperture and faster shutter speed... it will help your depth of field and sharpness drastically on some lenses/cameras believe it or not. Especially on a crop camera.
Point taken, makes sense, I will adjust that next time.
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Old 12-30-2011, 05:00 AM   #23
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Last time I Was there (August I think), it appeared they had begun demolishing it. Maybe I am wrong, maybe they are renovating it? I will be there tomorrow if the sun is shining and will see for myself..

Oh yea, North Georgia / Western NC / NW SC people, I will be in the area tomorrow and Tuesday, I may run into some of you when out and about.
They were demolishing the old Mitchell St. bridge, it was closed sometime before I got to Atlanta in 2009 because it was found to be structurally deficient (it was 70 years old or so it figures as much)
The new bridge is now being built, I wish I had gotten more shots of the scene without the bridge, wont be able to repeat that again and it opened up a good shot.
The offices are safe for now, they are neat buildings and there are always more Zombie shows they can film in them...
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Old 12-30-2011, 07:47 AM   #24
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Yes thats the way it is right now. I believe in one shot mode the camera refocuses for each shot? Setting focus to * would eliminate the camera refocusing but wouldnt that create new problems with the camera loosing focus when I zoom in or out, having to keep hitting the * button while the train is approaching sounds like a pain.
Only if you're slow! I have my index finger on the shutter button and my thumb on the *; it's easy enough to zoom out, refocus, and shoot. It just takes a bit of practice and it becomes second nature...
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Old 12-30-2011, 09:36 AM   #25
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Only if you're slow! I have my index finger on the shutter button and my thumb on the *; it's easy enough to zoom out, refocus, and shoot. It just takes a bit of practice and it becomes second nature...
Agreed, I started using the * after posts by JT a few weeks ago, on my 450D it is in custom functions 10, I have found it really easy especially if you pre focus on a spot you want the subject to be, I only missed a couple of shots when first trying it.
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