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Archive 2012 · Why are my photos blurry? Not even sharp...
  
 
Brea
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Why are my photos blurry? Not even sharp...


I took some photos with my 5D3 on AI Servo with 70-200mm IS II, using primarily the right most focus point.
I thought the 70-200mm IS II would be sharper... am I a newbie?
All these photos have been processed with about 50-60 NR, 40-60 sharpening, and using some shadow recovery since I had no flash at that moment.
Pretty sure my shooting technique is fine... I even press the 5D3 against my nose for stability.



Brea 2012

  Canon EOS 5D Mark III    EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens    70mm    f/2.8    1/200s    1600 ISO    0.0 EV  





Brea 2012

  Canon EOS 5D Mark III    EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens    70mm    f/5.0    1/200s    8000 ISO    0.0 EV  





Brea 2012

  Canon EOS 5D Mark III    EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens    70mm    f/2.8    1/200s    2000 ISO    0.0 EV  




Sep 24, 2012 at 01:25 PM
martsmith42
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Why are my photos blurry? Not even sharp...


I'm sure someone will be along with more advice, but I'd start by asking why AI servo, and why the right focus point?
I would start with using single shot, centre focus point and see what happens.



Sep 24, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Brea
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Why are my photos blurry? Not even sharp...


Used AI Servo in case of movement, and I used the right focus point on the eye because if I recompose I might be off... is that the wrong mindset here?


Sep 24, 2012 at 01:35 PM
Photon
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Why are my photos blurry? Not even sharp...


I'm viewing this on a dying, flickering monitor, so I can't really judge, but it seems that the focus is pretty good on the eyes, where it belongs. I take it you were shooting jpegs, in which case the in-camera noise reduction can soften detail quite a bit. Try some shooting with a lower setting for NR. Also, of course, you should do a quick check of your lens by shooting with a tripod and live view focusing, or at least shoot in good daylight at a low ISO to see what you can get.


Sep 24, 2012 at 01:38 PM
Wahoowa
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Why are my photos blurry? Not even sharp...


martsmith42 wrote:
I'm sure someone will be along with more advice, but I'd start by asking why AI servo, and why the right focus point?
I would start with using single shot, centre focus point and see what happens.


Exactly what's I'm about to post. I know some people swear by AI Servo mode, but I see no point for portrait.



Sep 24, 2012 at 01:38 PM
ggOk
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Why are my photos blurry? Not even sharp...


I use right focus when I use wide open glass.. i.e. 35L. but for above shots, I would have used one shot mode in case AF start searching under not so bright lights.

/r
Andy



Sep 24, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Brea
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Why are my photos blurry? Not even sharp...


Photon wrote:
I'm viewing this on a dying, flickering monitor, so I can't really judge, but it seems that the focus is pretty good on the eyes, where it belongs. I take it you were shooting jpegs, in which case the in-camera noise reduction can soften detail quite a bit. Try some shooting with a lower setting for NR. Also, of course, you should do a quick check of your lens by shooting with a tripod and live view focusing, or at least shoot in good daylight at a low ISO to see what you can get.


No, this was RAW. This was an indoor event where lighting only came from the ceiling. I know I made mistakes due to that + no flash but that's no reason why a photo isn't as sharp. I know with tripod it'd be much sharper but there was no space to use one and I didn't think a handheld shot would be "not as sharp".



Sep 24, 2012 at 01:42 PM
Will Patterson
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Why are my photos blurry? Not even sharp...


This harsh fluorescent lighting is never good for deeming a lens' sharpness. Go outside and get a family member walking down a sidewalk or something along those lines.

And for what it's worth, I'll give you my experience with this lens as far as sharpness. It's so very sharp that you have to be absolutely sure that it is not front or rear focusing because whatever is in focus makes the rest look pretty obliterated. For instance, a photo of someone's face - the ears might be in focus, or maybe the tip of the nose if you're focusing on the eyes, but if it front or rear focuses it makes the eyes look a little soft.

It's almost like shooting with a 85 1.2. You should always try to nail the focus because when you do, the pictures are spectacular.



Sep 24, 2012 at 01:52 PM
AGeoJO
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Why are my photos blurry? Not even sharp...


Like Jess (Photon) mentioned, the images do not look out-of-focus to me either. The eyes of the girl on the second image seem to be sharp and it looks like that's more a depth-of-field issue rather than not sharp. The third one is a tad to small to judge clearly.

BTW, I do use AI Servo quite a bit, even for portraits, similar to this, just in case the target/model moves. For that though you have to use the back AF button and put the AF point where you want the focus to land, which is in this case, the eye or the eyes.



Sep 24, 2012 at 01:54 PM
jay tieger
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Why are my photos blurry? Not even sharp...


Just curious....do you use NR before sharpening or afterwards?
...If the latter that would soften the image...I do NR before sharpening to minimize the softening effect of NR



Sep 24, 2012 at 01:57 PM
 

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Brea
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Why are my photos blurry? Not even sharp...


I used ACR, noise reduction and then sharpening. Does that really have an effect?


Sep 24, 2012 at 02:00 PM
Gunzorro
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Why are my photos blurry? Not even sharp...


Brea -- I don't want to sound like a big know it all, but I have taken a few event photos, and know what you are up against here. My approach may not be the one you or others would choose, but I'll give you my view on how I'd make these shots more satisfying or successful.

My first advice for posed event portraits is to use a smaller aperture. You are shooting wide open with telephoto -- this give extremely shallow DOF, and even the single subjects will have some areas in focus, and some out -- too hard to choose unless you are selecting a specific feature you want to be in precise focus, such as eyes.

Second, when possible use a lens with wider angle for greater DOF. I like the 24-70L, and shoot most of these types of shots at 45-70mm at f/4.5 to 5.6 to assure what I consider adequate DOF for individuals and small groups.

If you want the effect on background of OOF or bokeh, you are going to have to live with a lot of slightly OOF areas within your subject area too. That's a creative vs. practical choice.

Regarding your specific pictures:

#1 -- I see many sharp elements, ruling out camera motion (plus you have high shutter speed). The fingers, parts of the hair in bangs and right side, fabric at waist area. But face seems a little soft -- just outside of plane of focus. I don't think you could do better at 70mm f/2.8 unless you stage the shot and use a tripod for precision -- that would not be "event style" but studio style. Otherwise trust to luck and shoot a ton to choose from. You are close to what you want here.

#2 -- Too many planes of focus! I know they look to be on the same plane, but even a couple inches difference will make you choose one subject or the other to be in focus and the other not, or in this case, neither exactly in focus. I know you used the smaller f/5, but it isn't quite enough for this much of a close-up. Use flash, maybe slightly smaller f/stop and back up a step (and crop later in PP), and balance your exposure to include the ambient light, albeit at a slightly reduced level. Or live with this result and use wider focal length, take tons of shots, and pray one will have all your key elements in focus. Flash would have helped put a twinkle in the subject's eyes too.

#3 -- I can't tell where the exact focus is in this one, but it does seem a bit off. It looks like her face may be just behind the plane of focus, but hard to tell. I'd need to see it at 100% to find the details establishing plane of focus.

The good news is, you've kept motion blur to a minimum by using a fast shutter speed. The flip side is you've had to open the lens all the way and gotten too thin a DOF. My usual is to go for lower ISO (1600-3200), flash/flash fill, 1/50, f/5.0, 24-70mm. Perhaps some others can give advice for posed shots with telephoto, high ISO and available light -- I've just found it too risky for paid assignments. People want to "look good" meaning good color and sharpness, unless it is a performance or activity.

Note: using flash would have helped get rid of the (sodium vapor?) color balance on the subjects! Best results are to filter the flash (if possible) to match the ambient light, then use the flash to balance or slightly subdue the ambient light strength. Then you can use slightly lower ISO for better details, flash for color, and following the above advice, better control of the DOF.

Anyway, hope this helps with something to think about. Looking forward hearing from others and maybe seeing their examples.

Oh, yeah, I wouldn't use AI Servo on posed subjects -- for me -- I tend to sway or be moving toward another shot. Joshua is a master of these types of shots with AI Servo and wide open, so I'm not saying it can't be done. Choose whatever method you like for AF point, but I use center/recompose and it works well, or always something positioned in the exact center to focus on.




Sep 24, 2012 at 02:23 PM
Monito
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Why are my photos blurry? Not even sharp...


Brea wrote:
I used ACR, noise reduction and then sharpening. Does that really have an effect?


Experiment and test and find out for yourself.

Internet opinions can suggest ideas for experimentation but should not trump your experience for your shooting and your workflow.

As suggested above, do tests in bright sunlight. If you want to get f/2.8, use the lowest ISO (100 or 50) and the highest shutterspeed for that aperture. If it is still too much light, lower the light by cloudy bright or shade conditions, but shoot with better light (easy to get better than convention center fluorescents).

Do focus tests with manual focus and focus bracketing (focus well and then take a few + and - on either side with just the slightest nudge of the lens). Do AF tests with all points enabled, and center point only, and a side point only.

Take the images back convert them with no NR and no sharpening. Then try various degrees of sharpening and NR.

Your examples look in focus to me with sufficient depth of field. They are at web resolution, and you haven't posted 100% crops, so we can't tell detailed sharpness, but I suspect that a little bit is being robbed by your workflow.

Also try an ISO and exposure test by making a range of exposures of a contrasty scene with a high dynamic range (details in shadows and in highlights). That way you can explore under and over-exposure and the effects of ISO noise. Process them without NR and with NR.



Sep 24, 2012 at 02:39 PM
jj_glos
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Why are my photos blurry? Not even sharp...


What do you have the AI Servo Image Priority set to? If set to release priority rather than focus priority this will let you shoot before focus is confirmed.


Sep 24, 2012 at 03:01 PM
AmbientMike
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Why are my photos blurry? Not even sharp...


If focus is good and ss high enough you should be sharp. I wouldn't use servo unless there was a lot of motion. Also af doesn't work well if the part you want in focus is darker than the bg.


Sep 25, 2012 at 03:19 PM
AmbientMike
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Why are my photos blurry? Not even sharp...


If IS zigs and you zag that can make image soft. What percentage of images were soft? All or just a few? I dont have much luck w/af accuracy ay the wide end of zooms.


Sep 25, 2012 at 03:21 PM
n0b0
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Why are my photos blurry? Not even sharp...


Cosplayers!!

On a more serious note, how about some 100% crop samples on the area around the eyes?



Sep 25, 2012 at 04:04 PM
learyt
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Why are my photos blurry? Not even sharp...


Watch this video at the 17:00 mark which describes why servo is not the best for stationary subjects. Could be that you're squeezing that shutter as the camera/lens is looking for that subject movement that you are telling it is there by being in servo. That being said, I sometimes use servo on static but assign back button for all focusing and shutter for just metering. Push back button to quickly acquire focus, thumb off back button and fire shutter.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/indepth/photography/tips-solutions/look-canon-autofocus-system-part-1






Sep 25, 2012 at 05:03 PM
Access
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Why are my photos blurry? Not even sharp...


Gunzorro wrote:
(1600-3200), flash/flash fill, 1/50, f/5.0, 24-70mm. Perhaps some others can give advice for posed shots with telephoto, high ISO and available light -- I've just found it too risky for paid assignments. People want to "look good" meaning good color and sharpness, unless it is a performance or activity.

More sharpness is not necessarily better... it depends on who and what. Part of sharpness is perceptual, or an illusion. In addition to increasing the sharpness in post, Lightroom's Clarity slider to increase local contrast can be very useful to making things look sharp. But use conservatively in most cases, typically no more than 20 unless you specifically want that unreal high-contrast, 'gritty' look.

When using that kind of telephoto, especially at the long end, don't be afraid to fire off a few shots quickly at varying apertures. This can be done pretty quickly once you get the hang of it. Or place a few of your favorite profiles on C1, C2, C3 and quickly switch through those. Decide which shot looks best later on.

People are never totally still, so 1/125 and preferably 1/200 or better should be your preferred shutter speed; stopping down more than f/5.6 is overkill, and don't worry too much about ISO (Auto ISO, max of at least 6400 is fine). Don't depend on metering, or even histograms, bracket exposures when you can.

Be aware of overexposure, and that some colors will blow out before others. When a color blows out, it shifts, for instance the blown red shifting toward yellow in your third photo. If you had bracketed, you could have taken the -1EV to keep the colors right.

Also if you are not going to use a flash, pull in your highlights and move the rest of the tone curve up to brighten up faces and such. (In lightroom, use a combination of the highlights slider and possibly the tone curve adjustment to achieve this). Setting the shadows to the proper level can also help.

All these things can help with perceptual sharpness, experiment and learn how to create and aid the illusion of sharpness in post.

Switch out of AF servo like most have already said, also if you are using a zoom lens mostly at one end or the other of the focal length, you probably want a different range or a prime.



Sep 25, 2012 at 06:16 PM
Brea
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Why are my photos blurry? Not even sharp...


Here's a 100% crops, NO PROCESSING.





Shadow +90







Shadow +50








Edited on Sep 25, 2012 at 06:43 PM · View previous versions



Sep 25, 2012 at 06:23 PM
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