Canon 7d out of my skill set?


TPF Noob!
Mar 25, 2010
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San Antonio, Texas
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So I recently upgraded to a 7d from my rebel, as I have enjoyed photography and gave had pretty good results with the rebel and he glass I own. (mainly tamron 17-55mm f/2.8). I wanted to upgrade for the better ISo performance, mp increase, af system and overall performance. I have struggled so far, about (1 week of owning) with obtaining Sharp photos. They look pretty good on the computer and camera, but when looking at the actual pixels or zoomed in they appear to be petty soft.

I'm getting petty frustrated and wanted to know if any one had any advice on things I could do to improve this. I have been shooting a lot outdoors both with one shot and al servo modes and trying a couple of different af systems. (one focal point, zone and auto af).

Any advice would be great. I did read that this model did have a couple of problems with soft photos and a hard reset could fix, but I don't think hat is the case as I have achieved good results in about 5 shots.

Thanks everyone.
I know nothing about Canon but how do the images look when using one shot and only the center focal point??
I will have to go back and determine which results go with which focal point.
I seem to recall when the 7D came out, there was discussion about needing a really sharp lens with that sensor because of its very high resolution. Users who I know who have the 7D are very happy with it, but they all have "L" glass.

One way to determine if its the lens or your focusing ability, would be to put the camera on a tripod, aim at a detailed target 10-15 feet away, and use live-view at 10x magnification to get the manual focus just right. Then do the same using autofoccus, and see if you're getting the same results. If the manual focusing technique gives you sharp images, and the AF doesn't then the problem is in AF. If both give the same results, then the issue may be the lens.
Are you shooting at f/2.8? That will give you a soft result.
I do know that the anti-aliasing on the 7D can give pixel peepers some grief, which may well be your problem here. We'd really have to see what you are talking about to begin to diagnose.
Examples are very important for helping us help you - without them its hard to say for certain where the loss of sharpness is coming from as it could be any one or any combination of a range of factors.

Also remember the 7D has more MP than many of the rebel series - so with increased MP when you view the photos at 100% you are actually viewing the scene even more englarged than on smaller MP sensors. As a result things might appear, at 100% to be softer, when resized they appear normal or better. I tend to compare and view my 7D files at around 60% to start with, I find that gives a more comparable feel to the RAWs I'm more used to seeing (in my case from a 400D which was 10MP - so roughly half the size of the 7D files at 100%).

In addition this increased magnification means that if you want hand shake free shots at 100% (note this is at 100% only) then your shutter speeds, again, need to increase beyond the 1/focal length*1.6 value. But this is only for 100% viewing of course.

The 7D does bring with it a new sensor and thus a new approach to noise and sharpening is needed in order to get the best out of it - however these changes are often only small
I've been feeling the same way as Ricky21 since upgrading about a month ago from my T1i to my 7D. I feel like I've tried all the permutations using both my 50 mm 1.4 and my 24-70mm L 2.8. I will open my images shot raw into Lightroom and be disappointed in the softness I see.

It was great to read what people have suggested here so far as a way to test out the camera and I will try it out ASAP.
If you post some pix with full exif info then maybe one of the people here will be able to reverse the setps....
When I jumped from the XTI to the 7D I thought I had made a huge, huge mistake. It does a take a little time to get the shaprness with this body as I did with the XTI. Those extra pixels do make a big difference and this is much less forgiving. In fact I'd prefer not to have the extra....

Keep at it, one day it will all come together and you will be happy with your 7D.
I would take a news paper and tape it to the wall. Then I would mount the camera on a tripod say 10 ft. away set the auto exposure to A, have the camera do the auto-focusing and then shoot it at every f-stop on the lens making sure to record the f-stop for each stop. Then look at the pics on the monitor and see what is going on. That would be a start
.... I will open my images shot raw into Lightroom and be disappointed in the softness I see....

Assuming no problem with the gears, did you apply any sharpening to the photos?
I moved up from the XSI to the 7D. Be patient and learn the AF system. You'll love that camera soon.
I use the 60D which has the same sensor as the 7D, and given it's pixel density, it's really tough to get images that are tack sharp at 100%. The sensor outresolves a couple of my lenses, so even with perfect technique, physical limits still get me a pixel or 2 of blur. The thing is, I've never needed to use anything at 100%. Like Overread mentioned, once you get to about 60%, achieving sharpness is totally realistic. Having all that resolution is still nice for editing latitude.

Also, if you're shooting RAW, you will need to apply some sharpening in post, since the camera isn't doing it for you. Assuming perfect technique, tripod, one of my best lenses etc... .5 pixel unsharp mask at 25% is plenty. That's not every shot though, sometimes I need to run a few rounds at a few radii. The important thing is analyzing your sharpness based on what's practical and realistic. If you're just looking at stuff on a monitor, or making small prints, you'd never even notice the difference between an image that's sharp at 100% and one that's not sharp until 60%.
Thanks everyone for your advice. I will post some examples tonight to show you what I'm talking about. I did some tests with it the other night. I put on a tripod, set to AV, low ISO, used the remote shutter, and shot around F/11. It was inside and after work, so I used the flash to add light, as any movement from my wife would cause some camera shake. These results were ok, but seemed really soft. I was outside yesterday taking some shots of my son in good lighting conditions. I was shooting in AV again, low ISO and between F/5.6 and F/8. The shutter speed used was quick, I want to say 1/1000 or so due to great lighting outside. One the camera, my son's face looked perfect, but once on computer at 100%, it was pretty soft and I lose a lot of the detail in his eyes and other facial features. I will work on getting some pics posted later tonight. Also, I was shooting in a lot of Al Servo AF expansion mode.
I just looked up a test on your Tamron. It's pretty much only sharp in the center (at the levels we're talking about, for an 18mp sensor). It'll do best at 5.6 and in the center of the frame, but it's still not outresolving the camera. 7D is a high resolution machine, and to really get critically sharp images across the frame, you need critically sharp glass.

My guess however, is that if you took an image with your rebel, and viewed like 1500px wide, and then viewed the same image with the same lens off the 7D at 1500px wide, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference.

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