So many out of focus photos?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Haylotx85, Apr 12, 2019.

  1. Haylotx85

    Haylotx85 TPF Noob!

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    Hi there! I am seeking advice for why I am getting so many out of focus photos. I am shooting with a Canon 6d with a 50mm/1.4. I take a lot of free photos for family and friends and would like to be able to charge people on of these days... but I will never be confident if my images don't become more consistently sharp and in focus. I want photos that you can zoom in on that are still clear! I am including a link of the latest photo session I did of my cousin who is a senior. You will find some decent photos and quite a few photos that were totally blown because they were not in focus. HELP! TIA! Here are all of the photos and further down in this post are 3 photos I pulled out to use as examples.
    Karsyn Kemp Senior 2019 (EDITED PHOTOS) - Google Drive

    1)Is it the technique I am using?
    -- I most often shoot using my AF focal points, I move them around to the focal point I want to be most in focus.
    2)Is it the distance for which I am trying using my 50mm?
    -- I seem to get much better shots when I am taking an up close head shot opposed to standing back. The further back I stand, is it always necessary to bring my f stop up to achieve in focus photos?
    3)Is it the lens?
    -- Am I trying to take too many different types of photos with the same lens? Do I need to purchase something different for shots that are further away but will still achieve a great focus and sharpness? Do you have a lens recommendation? If my lens needed calibrated, would I be able to achieve any good photos or is this most likely caused by my technique?

    I appreciate any insights you have, thank you.
    Some examples from the above link, all images edited in LR:
    ISO:200 f/1.8 1/50sec
    [​IMG]
    ISO: 100 f/1.4 1/25sec
    [​IMG]
    ISO: 400 f/2.0 1/80sec
    [​IMG]


     
  2. 480sparky

    480sparky Chief Free Electron Relocator Supporting Member

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    I don't think they're out of focus. They're just not sharp. Using a lens wide-open can do that. F/1.8. F/1.4. F/2.0. You need to get down to f/5.6 or so. There may be some camera movement in there as well.

    And you allowing the camera to refocus once you choose your focus point, or are you 'locking it in' at that point?
     
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  3. goooner

    goooner Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Looking at your shutter speeds, I'm guessing camera shake. I would also start with a greater depth of field (Dof), say something in the region of F4. I would use that lens, set the ss to 100th/s and F4 and see if the shots are sharper.

    Practice on subjects that don't move, a flower vase etc, and see if it is the lens, or technique.
     
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  4. goooner

    goooner Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    haha, sparky beat me to it.
     
  5. smoke665

    smoke665 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Couple suggestions come to mind from the examples you posted. First is shutter speed. If you're holding your camera they could all benefit from a much faster shutter speed. Even on a tripod outside, wind movement can cause blur. I'm not familiar with the shake reduction on the Canon, but you need to consider that any movement is along 5 axis, (pitch, roll, yaw, horizontal, vertical), which leads to the second point, focus plane. At 10 ft away using your aperture setting you're only looking at approximately 12" DOF. Now consider that DOF is like a thick plate of glass, tilt it in any direction and your DOF changes. Bumping up your aperture will give you more leeway in DOF selection.

    Also as mentioned above every lens has a sweet spot. The aperture setting at which a lens will be it's sharpest.
     
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  6. jcdeboever

    jcdeboever TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Razor thin DOF glass, like 1.4 take a lot of time to master. I have found (Nikkor glass) typically as Sparky mentioned, stopping down a bit to like f2.0 will yield more consistent results in sharpness because the DOF is not as tight. Try and keep shutter speed at or above 1/125s to help with camera shake. I usually shy away from super fast glass for that reason, soft wide open, and razor thin DOF. Nikkor 1.4 glass is usually soft in the corners and only a small portion of the center is sharp so I gravitate to the f/2 glass which is sharper wide open and way cheaper.

    Granted, you have the glass, which is probably stellar stopped down a bit, try and master it. Their are DOF calculators out there that can guide your understanding of the lens.
     
  7. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    In theory you can handhold down to a shutter speed around 1/focal length of the lens.
    So with a 50mm lens that's around 1/50sec at the slowest. BUT that is only a rough rule of thumb and assumes you've good posture when standing. In reality you might find you need faster shutter speeds; furthermore if you can crouch or lean on something for support you can handhold slower than normal - walls, trees, posts etc.... are all good to lean on.

    However that only tackles the camera end of things, at 1/50 or 1/25sec if your subject moves even a little its going to blur the motion somewhat.


    The point about depth of field has also been noted, razor thin means that you've got to practice and work at it because even a tiny bit out of focus will result in the shot failing. Start around f4 or f5.6 and get good there then steadily open up the aperture to wider and wider values (smaller f numbers) and work your way down. That's easier than trying to master it starting out at f1.4

    Finally don't forget whilst higher ISOs might increase noise; you get less than if you underexpose and brighten the photo in editing. So raise that ISO higher so that you can use those smaller apertures and faster shutter speeds. Many modern cameras to ISO's can go pretty high without much loss of image quality provided that you're making good exposures.
     
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  8. Soocom1

    Soocom1 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I am going to agree with the majority of folks here.

    But I am also going to give a bit of wisdom form the firearms world.

    You may or may not be doing this, but take some time to test yourself on it:

    1:Keep your eyes open when shooting.

    This may seem like either non-sensicle or even stupid, but many people (including myself) for years shot a camera and closed my eye when I pushed the shutter.

    This habit is instinctive when your shooting anything because your guarding yourself from potential harm.

    2: Don't jerk the shutter. This one is a bit harder to master if you have muscle memory set, but pushing down much harder on the camera than what is needed can cause movement.

    To ensure that its not a glass, lens body or camera issue, prop the camera on a tripod and shoot some still life.
    If no blurr, then it could very well be the way your holding the camera.

    If blurr, then look into your shutter speed, focal issues, and aperture.
     
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  9. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    1) Probably (see #2, below) Learn "half-press" shutter control. Focus, (even after moving your focus point), hold the half-press, and move the frame to where you really want it, then finish the press. Learn better camera holding technique.

    2) When your subject is close, the amount of movement is relatively small, but at longer distances, the smalll amount of angular movement is multiplied greatly. Any tiny camera shake (as when pressing the shutter) will show up in the photograph when using such a long shutter.

    3) I don't think so, based on viewing one of your photographs (Karstyn, third shot). Even without zooming in, you can see that a portion of her shirt is sharp, but not anything else. Yes, some lenses are inherently sharper or softer, even within the same make and model sometimes, but you need to do some testing to properly evaluate that lens. Also, compare those results with another lens. If you don't ever seem to get the sharpness you want with that lens, then maybe you need to look for a replacement.

    So let's make a checklist of some potential issues:

    1. Your DOF is too thin. (Even when a part of your subject is sharp, not all of her is sharp.)
    2. Your camera is focusing on Karsyn's shirt, not her eyes. (a portion of the shirt looks sharp)
    3. Very slow shutter. (see #4, below)
    4. Faulty camera holding technique. (learn proper camera holding technique) (note: Doing hand-held informal portraits without using flash is not the most professional method of getting sharp photographs.

    The better way is to:

    A) Use a longer lens. Some portrait photographers would recommend something STARTING at around 85mm, and going up to 180mm. Doing this makes it way easier to create separation of your subject from the background without needing f/1.4. Yes, you will need to step back to get all of your subject into the frame, but you'll end up with a better result.

    B) Use flash. Flash "freezes" motion. Don't use the built in flash, and not a speedlight on top of your camera, but rather one or more flashes on stands with modifiers. Reflectors can work, but you need someone helping you who knows how to use it. Learn flash and your photography will leap forward by bunches.

    C) Use a tripod. It is difficult to hand-hold any lens unless your technique is nearly perfect, and longer lenses will need a more stable platform than you can hold by hand. Even bracing your camera on a fence or tree trunk will help, but you might as well just start using a tripod because tree trunks have a way of not being in the right place.

    D) Read a book on posing your subjects.

    E) Don't keep everything. Edit ruthlessly. Show only your best.

    Good luck. Have fun. Check back.
     
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  10. dennybeall

    dennybeall No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Camera on a good solid tripod and use a remote trigger, either wireless (preferred) or wired.
    The DOF thought was a good one as is up the shutter speed some.
     
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  11. 480sparky

    480sparky Chief Free Electron Relocator Supporting Member

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  12. ac12

    ac12 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    My thoughts:
    • Shutter speed is too slow.
      • For a 50mm lens on a FF camera, I would not go lower than 1/125 sec.
        • 1 / (focal length x 2 )
        • This is only a guideline. You may have to raise it; if the ground is not stable, it is windy, you cannot get into a stable posture, etc.
      • If the subject is moving, raise your minimum shutter speed to 1/250 sec. You have to stabilize both your movement and the subject's movement.
      • IMHO, it is better to raise the ISO level, so that you can use a higher shutter speed, and accept the noise; rather than have a blurry picture because the shutter speed was too slow. Many of today's cameras do not have to be use used at the lowest ISO, and still give you good images.

    • Autofocus (AF)
      • If you are able to move the AF point to the subject, that is in theory better than focus and recompose.
      • However, the meter of the camera may not move with your AF point.
        • Center weight will read the center the screen, no matter where you move the AF point.
        • Spot may follow the AF point.
        • I have no idea what matrix/evaluative does when you move the AF point.
        • Read YOUR camera manual for specifics, as it could/will be different for different cameras.
      • AF needs contrast to focus. So you NEED to put the AF point on a part of the subject where there is contrast.
      • note, the AF point used is also determined by the exposure mode.
        • Auto mode, in many cameras uses "closest subject" logic, and that fails when there is 'something' between you and your subject. Because it will focus on that 'something,' rather than your subject.
        • I used "auto" mode ONCE, got burned by the AF, and will never use it again.
      • You have to HOLD the AF point on that part of the face.
        • If you move just as you press the shutter, the AF point could/will be on a different part of the face; her cheek, forehead or nose, rather than her eye.
        • This also means you have to have a smooth press of the shutter button, so that you don't move the camera.
          • Tip: Learn to move only your trigger finger at the 2nd joint. And do it smoothly. Do NOT move your arm when you press the shutter.
            • I've seen people use their arm, and pull their right hand and the camera down, when they press the shutter.
    • Focus notes
      • The closer you are to the subject, the more critical it is to pick the appropriate part of the face to focus on.
      • For portraits, it is usually the closest EYE. Cuz we usually look at a persons eye first.
    • The closer you are, the wider the aperture, the shallower the Depth of Field (DoF).
    • You could get the closest eye in focus but the rest of the face (nose, far eye, mouth) is out of focus.
    • When you are up close, I would use a smaller aperture for a deeper DoF.
    • AF mode
      • Check that your camera is in AF-S (Auto Focus, single) mode, rather than AF-C (auto focus-continuous) mode.
        • AF-S will allow the shutter to fire, only if the lens is IN focus
        • AF-C will allow the shutter to fire, even if the lens is NOT in focus.
          • AF-C is usually used when shooting action/sports in continuous mode, like 6 frames per second.
      • AF-C note
      • If the lens focus is significantly far from the subject distance, the lens could still be focusing when the shutter is fired.
        This happens to me often when shooting volleyball, and I shift from a far to near player. The first shot is usually out of focus, because the lens is still changing focus from far to near when the shutter fires.
        This is why you do NOT use AF-C for normal shooting.
    • Chimp
      • In sunny conditions, the back screen is virtually useless, as there is too much glare from the sun.
        • There are portable hoods+lens that you can hold over the screen which shade the hood and let you view it with your eye up close.
      • Learn to use the magnify feature on your camera, if it has one, to verify focus.
        • This is not as good as checking it on your computer, but better than nothing
      • Learn how to check the AF point that was used
        • Not all cameras have this
        • Useful to determine if the subject is out of focus, because the camera used a different AF point than what you thought you were using.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2019
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