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Topic # 160394 5-Jan-2015 14:00
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I've been enjoying photography for a few years but recently did a beginners course and am making the effort to use more manual controls.

 

 

I am using a Canon 600D and a recently purchased Canon 17-55mm f2.8 lens

 

But I'm still having trouble getting the shots perfectly focussed.

 

Can anyone give me some tips?

 

 

(after looking through the 'what I shot today thread' I need some help!)

 

 

In the photography night course I did they set the focus to the centre point. I am half pressing to focus, and getting some nice shots, but half of them are also blurry. e.g. child scootering past.

 

Doing a level 2 night course next term so hopefully will pick up more skills then!

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  Reply # 1208565 5-Jan-2015 14:10
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If the subject is moving you have motion blur - a kid on a scooter probably needs a shutter speed of 1/250th or faster (eg 1/500th or 1/1000th) to stop motion. A person standing perfectly still needs 1/30th to 1/50th, as people move imperceptibly. Don't be afraid of high ISO, on your camera 1600 should be fine.

I sold all my Canon gear (4 cameras inc 7D, 6 lenses inc L lenses) and moved to Nikon a few years ago. I find focus performance much better - I went from a keeper rate of 40% to 99%. This was after calibration, and many will argue with me, but that's my experience.




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  Reply # 1208594 5-Jan-2015 14:31
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Thanks

 

I forget about shutter speed sometimes, focus mainly on Aperture and ISO but that makes sense.

 

 

What about making sure a persons face is in focus? Some of my photos I think I have focused on their face, but I have actually got someone behind, or a tree!

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  Reply # 1208599 5-Jan-2015 14:36
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Use the focus selection button to move the focus point closer to the subject.  Located here... Use the arrows on back of camera to move the point, then half press shutter to select. 

http://cdn.cameratips.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/canon-t2i-focus-point.gif

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  Reply # 1208602 5-Jan-2015 14:39
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esawers: Thanks I forget about shutter speed sometimes, focus mainly on Aperture and ISO but that makes sense. What about making sure a persons face is in focus? Some of my photos I think I have focused on their face, but I have actually got someone behind, or a tree!


Forget manual, use P mode until you have the basics down. I'm a professional, I do use M in specific situations but it's mostly to counter metering issues and to ensure consistent processing when light is consistent. I use other modes too, Av when light is changing or I'm moving.

Single center point focus is generally most accurate - focus, reframe, and shoot.

However what you're describing is why I switched to Nikon. Canon focus systems just never worked that well for me. If I shot 5 photos of a stationary family group only 1 would be in sharp focus despite using best practice. Once I switched to Nikon 4/5 or 5/5 are typically in focus.

However that's probably not the case for you - it's probably the basics. Remember the exposure triangle, shutter, aperture, iso.




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  Reply # 1208610 5-Jan-2015 14:56
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macuser: Use the focus selection button to move the focus point closer to the subject.  Located here... Use the arrows on back of camera to move the point, then half press shutter to select. 

http://cdn.cameratips.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/canon-t2i-focus-point.gif

 

 

Thanks! Just did a bit of research on that.

 

 

Is Al Servo worth trying for things like scooters?



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  Reply # 1208611 5-Jan-2015 14:57
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timmmay:
esawers: Thanks I forget about shutter speed sometimes, focus mainly on Aperture and ISO but that makes sense. What about making sure a persons face is in focus? Some of my photos I think I have focused on their face, but I have actually got someone behind, or a tree!


Forget manual, use P mode until you have the basics down. I'm a professional, I do use M in specific situations but it's mostly to counter metering issues and to ensure consistent processing when light is consistent. I use other modes too, Av when light is changing or I'm moving.

Single center point focus is generally most accurate - focus, reframe, and shoot.

However what you're describing is why I switched to Nikon. Canon focus systems just never worked that well for me. If I shot 5 photos of a stationary family group only 1 would be in sharp focus despite using best practice. Once I switched to Nikon 4/5 or 5/5 are typically in focus.

However that's probably not the case for you - it's probably the basics. Remember the exposure triangle, shutter, aperture, iso.

 

 

I'm 95% of the time using AV and changing the ISO

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  Reply # 1208614 5-Jan-2015 15:17
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AI servo can be useful for moving objects, so long as they're moving consistently.




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  Reply # 1208615 5-Jan-2015 15:19
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I have had so many arguments with snobby camera club/PSNZ members over the use of Manual for exposure.  They seem to think they are upping their game by using manual.   My argument is that if you have a DSLR, or high end compact, that does exposure compensation, use Aperture Priority and dial in some AEC.  Learn to read the scene so you can second guess the offset without resorting to trial and error, but even if you need to fine tune, you are still better off using AEC in most real world situations.

People have argued that by using manual together with the camera's histogram, they get better results.  I argue that if you do that and the conditions change a wee bit, your exposure will be out.  They say they can see that on the histogram, and adjust.  I say they just missed a shot, and that wile they are making the adjustment, they are about to miss another shot.

Yes, you need to use manual in low light with strobes, or in a studio situation, but otherwise, manual is not a smart choice.  One of these snobby people was not even aware that her camera had an AEC feature.  She is the same person who would shoot 1000 exposures in a day shooting landscapes, while I might take 50 tops, and probably only half that.




Trevor Dennis
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  Reply # 1208616 5-Jan-2015 15:28
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TLD: I have had so many arguments with snobby camera club/PSNZ members over the use of Manual for exposure.  They seem to think they are upping their game by using manual.   My argument is that if you have a DSLR, or high end compact, that does exposure compensation, use Aperture Priority and dial in some AEC.  Learn to read the scene so you can second guess the offset without resorting to trial and error, but even if you need to fine tune, you are still better off using AEC in most real world situations.

People have argued that by using manual together with the camera's histogram, they get better results.  I argue that if you do that and the conditions change a wee bit, your exposure will be out.  They say they can see that on the histogram, and adjust.  I say they just missed a shot, and that wile they are making the adjustment, they are about to miss another shot.

Yes, you need to use manual in low light with strobes, or in a studio situation, but otherwise, manual is not a smart choice.  One of these snobby people was not even aware that her camera had an AEC feature.  She is the same person who would shoot 1000 exposures in a day shooting landscapes, while I might take 50 tops, and probably only half that.

 

 

Thanks! I had been using EC (and had since forgotten about it lol).

 

Happy to stick with Av with minor adjustments for now, I know I have a lot to learn

 

The occasional photo I get really sharp, I just want them all to be like that.

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  Reply # 1208617 5-Jan-2015 15:35
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As timmmay suggests, centre point is your best option for nailing something, but you have to be very precise about getting their head/face directly in the middle whilst you are doing this. 

 

Focussing seems to be one of the main reasons people should consider upgrading their cameras.  I upgraded mine for that exact reason, in that sooo often my person would be out of focus and the background that was supposed to be all blurry was nice and sharp.  Manual focus is an option if you have the time, but this can be a bit hit and miss via small viewfinders.  Live view on the rear of the camera can help if it has a digital zoom option and focus peaking also.  Sorry I'm not familiar with Canon offerings around this.

Sony and Pentax do face recognition, so once they have detected a face they will ensure it is the main item in focus.  Sony goes as far as eye focus on some models.  Personally I'm not a fan of the selecting the focus points method as this can take an age.  It might be fine for group portraits or still life etc, but it's overrated in my opinion for any shots with movement.

If there is motion, you may well be in focus, but if the shutter is held open for too long the subject will be moving/blurred during the shot.  Sounds like your issue is focus related only though from what you are saying.

 

 

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  Reply # 1208622 5-Jan-2015 15:58
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TLD: I have had so many arguments with snobby camera club/PSNZ members over the use of Manual for exposure.  They seem to think they are upping their game by using manual.   My argument is that if you have a DSLR, or high end compact, that does exposure compensation, use Aperture Priority and dial in some AEC.  Learn to read the scene so you can second guess the offset without resorting to trial and error, but even if you need to fine tune, you are still better off using AEC in most real world situations.

People have argued that by using manual together with the camera's histogram, they get better results.  I argue that if you do that and the conditions change a wee bit, your exposure will be out.  They say they can see that on the histogram, and adjust.  I say they just missed a shot, and that wile they are making the adjustment, they are about to miss another shot.

Yes, you need to use manual in low light with strobes, or in a studio situation, but otherwise, manual is not a smart choice.  One of these snobby people was not even aware that her camera had an AEC feature.  She is the same person who would shoot 1000 exposures in a day shooting landscapes, while I might take 50 tops, and probably only half that.


Agree. When your light isn't changing and you're taking heaps of photos manual makes processing easier, and if flash is your main light then manual is best. Otherwise aperture priority works with EC for me.

One thing to learn (to the OP): how exposure works and what exposure compensation does. It's to do with 18% grey. Too tired to type it out, but google for it.




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  Reply # 1208661 5-Jan-2015 17:47
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Cameras are getting so clever nowadays.  A camera club friend bought her new 7DMK2 round a couple of days ago because she was having so much trouble with follow focus.  She actually thought I had a 1DX, but I skipped that upgrade.  The 7D2 does have things in common with my 1DMK4 though. 

Her specific problem was with BIF (birds in flight) but that has to be one of the most difficult of subject matters.  The best we we got round to was to slow to lock onto the bird as early as possible, and slow down the three tracking sensitivity settings so that the focus does not hunt all over the place if you can't keep the bird on the designated focus points.  Tracking sensitivity can be increased for small fast moving birds like fantails.

I suspect that most people are surprised by how steep the learning curve can be when moving to a DSLR, and the more expensive the camera, the steeper the learning curve.  My main camera bodies, 1DsMK3 and 1DM4 don't even have an auto setting, although Av, and Tv could be considered auto.  I actually know more than person who has got their LPSNZ and even an APSNZ without ever taking their camera off full auto.    I own a little Canon G1X just for traveling, and it generally works better in auto mode than when I try to take control, but compacts don't work the same as a DSLR, and you need a different approach to get the best out of them.  For instance the sweet spot for the Canon G series compacts is around the f3.5 mark, and I was initially stopping down below that and approaching diffraction issues.

You can certainly get sharp images with a compact. This was taken with the G1X supported on a stone wall, for instance. 
https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8032/7928851074_0a5edbdd9f_o.jpg

Hmmm... I think we have strayed away from the original question.




Trevor Dennis
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TLD

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  Reply # 1208676 5-Jan-2015 18:04
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OK, not sure what body you are using, but a 17-55mm on what is probably going to be an APS/C body (1.6 crop factor) is not typically going to give  you a lot of problems focus wise, because it will have a god depth of field.  However, the lens does open to f2.8, and you mentioned night photography, so focus could be an issue in those conditions.  Bottom line is always get it a good as possible.

You need to go back and see what the shutter speed, ISO, and aperture were for those problem issues.  It is likely that the shutter speed was 1/30th or lower, and that camera shake, or subject movement, caused the blur rather than focus.  If the camera body is fairly recent, don't be afraid to crank up the ISO in those conditions.  Astro photographers, for instance, use very high ISO because ISO noise trumps other issues associated with very long exposures, like hot pixels, although they do use multiple exposures which they merge and blend to cancel out the noise.

Did they show how to focus and recompose on the course?  Use the center spot, aim at the main subject, and press the shutter half way down.  Then recompose without releasing the pressure on the shutter button, and take the shot.  You can do the same thing by selecting the desired focus point with the rear and top front adjustment dials, but they are usually only used by sports photographers, and the focus and recompose is much faster for a one off.

Always use Single shot focus unless you really need to use follow focus (AI Servo) as it generally gives more accurate results.  If the subject is a person, focus on an eye.  If both eyes are in the shot, focus on the nearest eye.  Always remember that sharp focus will always extend much further beyond, than in front of the chosen focus point.

If you join a camera club and go out on field trips, you'll be able to buddy up with an experienced photographer.  If you say where you are, I/we can recommend a club or two, or even a person who might take you under their wing.




Trevor Dennis
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  Reply # 1208684 5-Jan-2015 18:13
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I found the 17-55 inconsistent to focus on the 7D mk1. I also owned three, dropped and broke two - they're fragile. Don't drop them.




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  Reply # 1208727 5-Jan-2015 19:39
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TLD: OK, not sure what body you are using, but a 17-55mm on what is probably going to be an APS/C body (1.6 crop factor) is not typically going to give  you a lot of problems focus wise, because it will have a god depth of field.  However, the lens does open to f2.8, and you mentioned night photography, so focus could be an issue in those conditions.  Bottom line is always get it a good as possible.

You need to go back and see what the shutter speed, ISO, and aperture were for those problem issues.  It is likely that the shutter speed was 1/30th or lower, and that camera shake, or subject movement, caused the blur rather than focus.  If the camera body is fairly recent, don't be afraid to crank up the ISO in those conditions.  Astro photographers, for instance, use very high ISO because ISO noise trumps other issues associated with very long exposures, like hot pixels, although they do use multiple exposures which they merge and blend to cancel out the noise.

Did they show how to focus and recompose on the course?  Use the center spot, aim at the main subject, and press the shutter half way down.  Then recompose without releasing the pressure on the shutter button, and take the shot.  You can do the same thing by selecting the desired focus point with the rear and top front adjustment dials, but they are usually only used by sports photographers, and the focus and recompose is much faster for a one off.

Always use Single shot focus unless you really need to use follow focus (AI Servo) as it generally gives more accurate results.  If the subject is a person, focus on an eye.  If both eyes are in the shot, focus on the nearest eye.  Always remember that sharp focus will always extend much further beyond, than in front of the chosen focus point.

If you join a camera club and go out on field trips, you'll be able to buddy up with an experienced photographer.  If you say where you are, I/we can recommend a club or two, or even a person who might take you under their wing.



I'm using a Canon 600d, about 4 years old. I was planning on upgrading to the 70d in the next few months would that help at all?

Thank you for all the great suggestions, lots of things to try. My most common problem is where the subject is a few metres away, and hard to get an accurate focus point on their face.


I'm in Christchurch, and would be keen on joining a camera club

And yes I know how to use and do use the focus then recompose

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