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Old 12-09-2016, 06:52 PM   #16
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Canada
Posts: 794

When I get blur or fuzziness on one side of the frame only (but the front of the locomotive is sharp) I suspect that it's one of three things. First, it could just be a finger smudge or something similar on the front or rear element. Second (and you just hope this isn't it) an internal problem like a loose or misplaced element from an impact to the lens, like by dropping. The third and often overlooked cause when shooting trains is drifting heat distortion from locomotive exhaust. Do some minor detective work. First clean your lens. Shoot something static with fine detail (like a leafless tree on a calm day against a backdrop of sky or snow). If the image is sharp all across the frame then you can breathe a sigh of relief, it's probably just heat distortion. Don't forget that on a hot day you can get heat distortion rising from the ballast and possibly other landscape features but normally that will be evident on both sides of the frame and if there's enough of it even in front of the locomotive. Generally the more distance from your lens the more distortion you're shooting through and the more evident it becomes. There may also be other factors at play (like focus/depth of field issues as mentioned above) but these are the first things I'd look into.
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