Frustrated - shots not as sharp as they should be

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by MarcusM, Mar 12, 2008.

  1. MarcusM

    MarcusM TPF Noob!

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    I've had my new lens for a few weeks now (Canon 50mm f/1.4) and taken quite a few shots so far, so I'm starting to get a feel for it, but I'm beginning to wonder, do shots at 1.4, 1.6, 1.8, 2.0, 2.2, 2.5, and 2.8 just not come out sharp at all?

    I've heard that shots are soft wide open to a few stops down with this lens, but I'm beginning to wonder if this is the best it can do or if something is wrong with the lens, or is it partly that my camera kind of sucks?

    I just can't seem to get as sharp of shots as I would think I should get with this lens.

    Here's one at:

    f/1.4
    SS: 1/60
    ISO: 200

    As you can see, the eyes are fairly sharp, but not "crisp".
    [​IMG]

    Here, I bumped up the ISO to 400 so I could increase the SS, and the sharpness is still about the same:

    f/1.4
    SS: 1/160
    ISO: 400
    [​IMG]

    Now, I bumped up the ISO to 800 and decreased the shutter speed so I could stop my aperture down by 2:

    f/2.8
    SS: 1/100
    ISO: 800
    [​IMG]

    As you can see, even though I stopped down the aperture by 2, I'm still getting roughly the same sharpness on the eyes, even at 1/100! I think one reason is the high ISO. 800 is just not good on my 300D, and I think I lose detail and sharpness at higher ISOs. But is this the main reason I'm not getting that "crisp" focus? I really thought I was going to be more impressed with this lens as compared to my kit lens. Any advice much appreciated!

    P.S. Sorry for the booger shot on #2 - I cloned it out and re-uploaded to photobucket, but for some reason it must have cached the original because I can't get it out of there. Oh well, it's a baby, right!
     
  2. Ajay

    Ajay TPF Noob!

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    To me it looks like you focused on other parts of her face and exactly on her eyes. Even at 2.8, Traveler told me that the amount in focus is only like 1/2 an inch. Her forehead looks sharp in the first and her nose in the second. What kind of metering is your camera set to? I believe mine is on center-weighted - might not be the right term - but when I'm looking through the viewfinder I only have one bracket to focus with, so I point that where I want the focus, the eyes, lock it in and then recompose the shot.

    And if everything I just told you is complete bull hopefully someone else will come along and set it straight.
     
  3. MarcusM

    MarcusM TPF Noob!

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    Thanks, I focused right on the eyes for every shot. Metering doesn't have anything to do with focus. I do know how to use the AF points.
     
  4. Ajay

    Ajay TPF Noob!

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    Wrong terminology sorry, but you knew what I meant. Didn't mean to insult or anything - I just know that I went through the same issues and using the AF points accurately made a difference for me.
     
  5. MarcusM

    MarcusM TPF Noob!

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    No offense taken, I just wanted to clarify so that you knew that that wasn't the issue - it wasn't the AF points, because I absolutely made sure I focused right on the eyes - along with holding the camera as steady as possible.;)

    I'm just not sure what is causing the lack of sharpness. Again, I've heard with the wide open apertures, that this lens is somewhat soft, but I'm pretty sure I've seen other people's shots w/this lens wide open and they were sharper. I mean, really, if I knew this was going to be the best results, then I would have just stuck with my kit lens - what's the point of using the wide open apertures if the result is not what I want?

    I'm beginning to think that either I got a somewhat defective lens or my camera just sucks. I'm tempted to just put the 40D or 5D on my credit card...(no, can't get a new camera until I get the card paid off. Life would be hectic for about a month with the wife!:()
     
  6. MarcusM

    MarcusM TPF Noob!

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    anyone else have any advice or suggestions?
     
  7. KhronoS

    KhronoS TPF Noob!

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    I've had the same problem only with different lens... i was using the widest aperture that the lens supported, as i stopped down, for example from f/3.5 to f/7.1 -f/9 the images started to get very sharp. But my problem was with a zoom lens. Usually a prime should be sharp at the widest aperture.

    Try photographing someone outside with good lighting. see if it get sharper. I think that you problem was that the photo was taken indoors and a shutter speed of 1/60 still can get you some blurry photos.

    Don`t know, try experimenting a lot like take photos outside, see how it gets, use a tripod and shoot static objects, see if it get a little more sharper, step down you aperture size. and compare the results.

    If you still get blurry i think that you should go back to the shop and explain to them your issue :)

    Good luck dude :)
     
  8. Flash Harry

    Flash Harry TPF Noob!

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    Regardless of the lens used focus at wide open and close to subject is a no no, if your close in stop down the lens to improve DOF/sharpness, at the low f numbers focus is critical, more so close up. H
     
  9. notelliot

    notelliot TPF Noob!

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    it's not that it's a "no-no", it's just tricky. almost everyone that uses a 1.8 or faster lens seems to think that it doesn't focus properly. you breathe, your focus changes - dof is that shallow.
    if you must shoot at 1.4, move back a little so your dof isn't so shallow. that or stop down like harry said.
    also, you aren't likely to get "tack-sharp" results wide open. they should be a bit sharper than they are, but as you stop down, sharpness will increase until about f/9 or 11.
     
  10. jcolman

    jcolman TPF Noob!

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  11. chris

    chris TPF Noob!

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    Did you use a flash for the shots? If not then at 1/60th your shutter speeds are a bit on the slow side. The rule of thumb is 1/(focal length x 1.5) for a DX sensor to give the slowest shutter speed for hand holding but that is really for a more general view, landscapes etc. For close-up work you need shorter speeds to ensure sharpness. Also, at 1/60th subject movement could be a factor in reducing sharpness.

    As noted above, most lenses are not at their best fully open and will look slightly soft. The depth of field at a range of 2 feet and f1.4 will be about 0.3 inch so it would be difficult to get both eyes in focus at the same time anyway. Even if you go to f11 the depth of field is still only 1 inch, hardly enough to get the tip of the nose and the eyes in focus at the same time.
     
  12. Rhubarb

    Rhubarb TPF Noob!

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    I have had the same problem as the OP with a 50mm f1.8. I found the problem to be me! :)

    At f1.8 the DOF is super shallow. You compose and focus the shot, either you or your subject (or both) moves only slighty and you loose sharpness on the eyes and the shot looks like crap.

    Get out side on a sunny day, stop it down a bit and try some more shots. I personally have found that using a 50mm lens at f2.8 gives me the wiggle room to ensure sharp portraits.
     

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