Image quality issue with Canon 60D


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Jun 2, 2013
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Greetings and salutations,

I own a 60D. I have two issues: first the camera is producing soft images meaning they are not nearly as crisp as with my other fixed lens Canon model. When I view at 100% I don't see sharp details. It look quite fuzzy both in the foreground and background, not the blurry or out of focus you get with depth of field issues, but looks just like a low res image as you would get from a very low megapixel camera.

Second, there is noticeable noisy shooting at ISO 200.

I typically shoot both macros and landscape shots in plenty of light. I used both auto and manual focus when needed. Viewing images at 100% they are soft(at least in most areas of the image). My current lens is a Canon 15-85mm. I've used a Canon 24-105mm f/4L and didn't see much change in the image quality. Also used a Canon 100mm lens for macro. Same deal. I nearly always use a tripod, fast shutter speeds(125 or higher) and the images typically good much better on the LCD than the computer.

Is there an problem with the sensor? I expect the image quality from the 60D to be much better than from a point and shoot. And from my two lens tests it's not the glass on the end of the camera that's the problem here.

Any one else experienced such problems? If needed I can post a slice of a RAW file showing what I'm talking about along with EXIF data.

It's not possible for the sensor to create "soft" images based on the physics of how it works. Now... I suppose I could spray some foggy spray into your camera body that leaves a hazy residue on the low-pass filter that protects the sensor (this is the same filter that vibrates with the piezoelectric effect to do the dust-removal.) That would be pretty obvious if the filter had a hazy residue on it. Apart from that... it's the lens or the focus sensor (which is NOT the same as the imaging sensor.)

You can test the phase-detect focus sensor.

1) Put the camera on a tripod. It must NOT move.
2) Get a focus target. While you can buy commercial targets, you can also download and print a target from the Internet. Here's one: Jeffrey Friedl's Blog » Jeffrey?s Autofocus Test Chart
3) Carefully align the camera per the instructions to the focus target and you're going to take a lot of pictures. Manually turn the focus all the way "in", let the camera auto-focus (make sure you're using the center focus point and it's carefully aligned to the middle of the target) and take the shot. Do this several times. Manually turn the focus all the way "out". Repeat several times. Your camera will occasionally "miss" focus, but most of the time it should nail it. You're looking to see if the camera performs differently when focusing from shortest focus to the correct focus... vs. focusing from farthest focus to the correct focus (in other words is there "slop" in the focus?)
4) Switch to "Live View" mode. Repeat the whole test in "Live View"

Does "Live View" nail the focus while the normal phase-detect focus missed focus? Was their a difference between whether the lens started from "inside" focus vs. when it started from "outside" focus?

Change lenses and repeat.

You're trying to figure out if it's the lens, the focus direction, the focus mode, etc. etc.

And of course the reason for the tripod is to make sure a hand-held camera isn't to blame (in other words is it "you").

Due to differences in the way "phase detect" focus works vs. "contrast detect" focus (that's the normal through-the-viewfinder focusing vs. "live view" mode focusing) the "contrast detect" (which is what "live view" uses) SHOULD nail focus every time on every camera (it is theoretically the most accurate focus mode even though it is also the slowest mode.) The "phase detect" focus is much faster and more intelligent but the phase detect sensors live on the floor of your camera's mirror body and not on the sensor itself. It has to be calibrated (only the factory can do that for a 60D). So if calibration is screwed up, Canon can adjust it. If "live view" mode is no sharper than the normal mode then it's your lenses that are to blame (and this assumes you do actually have a "solid" tripod).

A sheet of newspaper tacked to a wall makes an excellent test because it's the fine print is highly detailed with excellent contrast and from corner to corner. DO NOT take a photo of some landscape, leaves, plants, etc. The detail is just too variable.

Read this article: - "This lens is soft" and other myths

(Note, the 60D does not have focus adjustment. The 50D had it and also the 7D and higher camera have it. For some reason, Canon omitted the feature from the 60D (and no Rebel models have it). But you can send the body in (along with the lenses having the problem) and Canon can factory calibrate it.
I think a sample photo will help. Also, did you post process the photo after you capture them in RAW format? if yes, were they sharpened during post production?
You may be seeing the digital image softness caused by the low pass (anti-aliasing) filter in front of the image sensor.
Understanding Camera Autofocus
Tutorials - Sharpness
Digital Camera Image Noise: Concept and Types

Dark or underexposed areas of a digital photo will show noise at even low ISO settings because of the way digital images work.

A technique used to minimize image noise is know as Expose to the Right (ETTR).
Exposing to the right - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Optimizing Exposure
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Sometimes you can try and try and try and nothing helps and that mean taking you camera to Canon service centre to let the pro deal with it.
Even though, it is more often user error or a lack of user understanding of the technology being used.
You need to turn off IS when using the tripod. When not using the tripod, shutter speeds need to be high enough to compensate for subject motion. With IS, 1/125 should be enough for the IS lenses, but not for a 100 mm macro without IS. For that lens, you need at least 1/100 for full frame, or something like 1/160 for crop. This is for a static subject, and higher speeds are needed with motion or greater magnification. I would use the IS for hand held photos. Use at least 1/200 for the macro lens if not on the tripod.
I use a 60D and it gives me sharp photos. What apertures are you using? If you are in bright daylight, I recommend staying at F8, but no smaller than F11. Most lenses are at their best 2 stops down from wide open. If the apertures are too small, you can get diffraction effects. Also, use the hood. It can help in bright light. I don't need it with the 24-105, but it might help with the 15-85.
Try setting ISO so you get F8 for the zooms and the macro lens, and see if this helps. Most lenses aren't at their best wide open, but yours should be pretty good. The 24-105 should be optimal at F8. You may want F11 for more depth of field, depending on the subject.
the Canon 100 F2.8 is pretty sharp wide open at F2.8 on the 60D, but shutter speeds need to be high when the lens is hand held. Are you using a shutter release when the camera is on the tripod?
The OP hasn't logged into TPF in 6 months.

The act to process image after it is captured will influence the photo quality? Sorry, would you give us more information about your guessing on this fuzzy photo issue?

I think a sample photo will help. Also, did you post process the photo after you capture & save the image in RAW format? if yes, were they sharpened during post production?
Every edit done to a digital image comes at some cost to image quality. Including, what is often called non-destructive parametric or Adjustment layer image editing.
Non-destructive just means the original pixels are not changed.

ACR (Camera Raw/LR Develop module) and Aperture are parametric image editors - PIEware.

Global edits take a larger toll than do local edits.

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