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Old 20th of May 2007 (Sun)   #1
Rebel without a cause
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Default Why don't my pictures turn out very sharp?

It seems like no matter what lens I use, I often have this problem where my pictures don't turn out very sharp or clear. They look noisy almost. There's only so much unsharp mask can do. In this photo I used my Canon rebel with a rented 17-55mm 2.8 lens. The camera was set to AV mode and the settings were:

Tv(Shutter Speed)
1/320Sec.
Av(Aperture Value)
F6.3
Exposure Compensation
0
ISO Speed
100
Focal Length
18.0 mm

Any thoughts?

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Old 20th of May 2007 (Sun)   #2
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Default Re: Why don't my pictures turn out very sharp?

You mean the XT or the 300 or 350? Do you have it on center focus?
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Old 20th of May 2007 (Sun)   #3
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Default Re: Why don't my pictures turn out very sharp?

The wedding dress looks blown out and the focus is on the building behind. Looks like operator error. Choose centre point and one shot if you are unsure of metering for the dress use exposure compensation and do a three shot burst.
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Old 20th of May 2007 (Sun)   #4
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Default Re: Why don't my pictures turn out very sharp?

Best to post a 100% crop of an area of the file so we can get a good look, along with any in-camera sharpening used or not used. Most digital files will be a little soft right out of the camera due to the AA filter but will clean up with some USM .. Canon recommends using 200, 0.3, 0 as the USM settings to remove the anti-aliasing filter effect. Zoom Browser has a function that shows where the focus was on each shot (or at least which AF point was used on the shot).

If your files are soft with every lens maybe your camera is back-focusing.
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Old 20th of May 2007 (Sun)   #5
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Default Re: Why don't my pictures turn out very sharp?

I think you do what my partner used to do...aim high...her focus was generally right on, but some shots were like horrible but the fence or the trees would be in focus..

I would work on your rules of thirds...search for it so you will know what it is...always focus on your main subject, then move the camera and take your shot.
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Old 20th of May 2007 (Sun)   #6
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Default Re: Why don't my pictures turn out very sharp?

Sorry, my camera is a rebel xt. I used the center point on the brides face, then recomposed. How do I know if my camera is back focusing and how do I fix that? Could it have anything to do with what metering mode my camera is set to?
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Old 20th of May 2007 (Sun)   #7
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Default Re: Why don't my pictures turn out very sharp?

I have the original rebel and have complained about the same problem you are having. The only time I get sharp pictures is when I'm quite close to the subject. I've been playing the the focus lock button to see if that will correct it. To my understanding, you should be able to lock a point on the subject, hold down the focus lock button, and recompose, but my camera re-focuses on me. Not sure if this is the problem anyway, though, since when I don't recompose, I still get images that I feel should be more sharp.
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Old 20th of May 2007 (Sun)   #8
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Default Re: Why don't my pictures turn out very sharp?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rebel without a cause View Post
Sorry, my camera is a rebel xt. I used the center point on the brides face, then recomposed. How do I know if my camera is back focusing and how do I fix that? Could it have anything to do with what metering mode my camera is set to?
Focus & recompose may be the problem if there is not enough DOF to cover the focus area and the recompose area and they are both at different distances from the camera. Unless there is a reason to use the center point and recompose (low light or contrast, moving subjects, etc,) best to switch to the AF point you want in focus.

To check for back focus put your camera & lens on a tripod with and shoot a ruler at about 45 degrees. Mark the area on the ruler you focus on and check to see if the file shows the same focus point. Metering will not affect focus.
Mike
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Old 20th of May 2007 (Sun)   #9
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Default Re: Why don't my pictures turn out very sharp?

The pic above is overexposed, which suggests a lack of understanding of exposure. If you can overexpose to this degree, you may also be underexposing at times, underexposed shots, when corrected in software will become noisy - at any ISO.
In the above pic, the background appears to be in focus, it's only a guess, but perhaps the focus point latched onto the window frame behind the bride. Remember 2 important issues to avoid this.
Auto focus mechanisms look for a high contrast area to focus on, a face at this distance isn't really high contrast enough, the Brides neckline would've got you focus and been more than 'near enough' at that distance/focal length/aperture.
The focus points are considerably larger than the boxes in the viewfinder, whilst the box may be over her face, the actual sensor will almost certainly include some of that window frame.
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Old 20th of May 2007 (Sun)   #10
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Default Re: Why don't my pictures turn out very sharp?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mmahoney View Post
Focus & recompose may be the problem if there is not enough DOF to cover the focus area and the recompose area and they are both at different distances from the camera.
I appreciate focus / recompose gets a bad press, but at 18mm and f6.3 (focussed beyond 2 metres) it's not in the frame as a suspect here surely?
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Old 20th of May 2007 (Sun)   #11
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Default Re: Why don't my pictures turn out very sharp?

Purely as an aside, I notice that the horizon's tilted in your photo. One of the minor benefits of using a tripod for posed group portraits like this one, is that one may more easily notice compositional issues like unintentionally tilted horizons, a tree branch growing out of someone's head, a piece of blown litter cluttering up the background, etc.

I realize this isn't directly related to the sharpness of your photo, but it seemed like a point worth mentioning.

Oh, and you asked about back focusing. I'm no expert, but isn't the degree of back focus one typically encounters (if any) fairly minor? Because if you're shooting at 18mm and f/6.3, I would think depth-of-field would probably overwhelm a couple of inches of back focus, such that it might not be at all visible. (Now, in a head-and-shoulders portrait taken with an 85mm lens at f/1.8, I could believe a small degree of back focus would be a visible problem.)

Again however, I'm relatively ignorant of back focus issues.
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Old 20th of May 2007 (Sun)   #12
mmahoney
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Default Re: Why don't my pictures turn out very sharp?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil V View Post
I appreciate focus / recompose gets a bad press, but at 18mm and f6.3 (focussed beyond 2 metres) it's not in the frame as a suspect here surely?
Not here as at 18mm 6.3 the DOF is probably enough to cover but your OP indicated this was a common problem with your shots. And DOF is not actually being in focus .. it is an area that is "acceptably" sharp, and the definition of sharp varies with the COC and sensor size. So something within the DOF will be sharp, but not as sharp as something on the exact plane of focus.

PhilV makes a good point about the AF areas being larger (about 3X, but still rectangular in shape) than what you see and it will usually find the highest contrast point within that AF area.

But do a focus test first to (hopefully) eliminate any back or front focus problems your camera body may have, then you can isolate the problem with your technique. Again, best to post 100% crops with the focus point shown so we can get a good look.
Mike

PS you may ask a mod to move this to the lens forum.

Last edited by mmahoney : 20th of May 2007 (Sun) at 17:00.
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Old 21st of May 2007 (Mon)   #13
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Default Re: Why don't my pictures turn out very sharp?

For back/front focus issue use this chart and read the instruction.

http://focustestchart.com/focus21.pdf

hope this will help

Last edited by canotographer : 21st of May 2007 (Mon) at 02:45.
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Old 21st of May 2007 (Mon)   #14
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Default Re: Why don't my pictures turn out very sharp?

This could be an issue. If you are doing focus recompose the only way it will work is to get the focus off the shutter button. Otherwise as soon as you focus recompose and then hit the shutter to get the shot it will refocus on a new target and it wont be what you want. Not sure about the rebels but with my 30 d the focus is on the * button. Focus on the subject hit the * button to lock focus then release then recompose then hit shutter. That works.
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Old 21st of May 2007 (Mon)   #15
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Default Re: Why don't my pictures turn out very sharp?

thats custom function 4.1. its gotta be the only way to shoot
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