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Archive 2012 · Why are my photos blurry? Not even sharp...
  
 
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p.2 #1 · p.2 #1 · Why are my photos blurry? Not even sharp...


Brea, in the crop above, I don't think you're focussed completely on the eye, also all the perceptual factors are working against you (dark, lower contrast, bad angle, etc.)


Sep 25, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Brea
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p.2 #2 · p.2 #2 · Why are my photos blurry? Not even sharp...


How do you focus completely on the eye? Pretty sure the focus point was aimed at the eye...


Sep 25, 2012 at 06:46 PM
AmbientMike
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p.2 #3 · p.2 #3 · Why are my photos blurry? Not even sharp...


Shooting a zoom lens wide open at iso1600+ in low contrast lighting like #1generally wont get you tip top sharpness. Whether this or anything Ive mentioned is the problem idk. The 3rd one looks soft but I think the bright poster behind the head might have goofed up af. The first 18-135 I got was soft wide open returned if for a sharp one. Won't hurt to test with live view focus 2.8 to make sure maybe use faster ss to be sure. 1/200 maybe a little on the slow side maybe not. Depends on how still you are.


Sep 25, 2012 at 07:34 PM
AmbientMike
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p.2 #4 · p.2 #4 · Why are my photos blurry? Not even sharp...


#2 i wonder about but iso 8000 and underexposed is not good. By 8000 you're gonna lose something. A flash will sharpen things up. I thought the photos looked ok what is the final use? Sharpness often not desired for portraits. #1 looked pretty sharp for the conditions iso 1600 underexposed in the shade imo.


Sep 25, 2012 at 07:41 PM
skasol
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p.2 #5 · p.2 #5 · Why are my photos blurry? Not even sharp...


This is a good topic and great support from other members.




Sep 25, 2012 at 08:12 PM
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p.2 #6 · p.2 #6 · Why are my photos blurry? Not even sharp...


Brea wrote:
How do you focus completely on the eye? Pretty sure the focus point was aimed at the eye...

If you have the time, set the focus to spot focus and select the individual focus point.

http://digital-photography-school.com/focus-points-on-the-canon-7d-and-other-models

Your #2 photo is the only one that was properly exposed in the camera. #1, parts of the red ribbon are overexposed, and #3, parts of the red shirt are overexposed. If you shot raw, try to pull this back or rebalance the colors in lightroom to bring the reds into range of the other colors. This is pretty common for this type of clothing, in the future you might want to recognize when the reds are very bright and in that cause, expose to the reds (or whatever color is the brightest) and rebalance the other colors in post. Or bracket, 0/-1/+1 (or more). Red is much easier to blow out than other colors, see in your #1 the yellow ribbon is never blown out, only the red.

I don't think high ISO is a problem with the camera you are using, I've used up to ISO 16000 in some photos and it honestly looks fine as long as you don't have to push the shadows too much.



Sep 25, 2012 at 08:38 PM
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p.2 #7 · p.2 #7 · Why are my photos blurry? Not even sharp...


Brea, returning to your thread with a good monitor in front of me and your crops having been added, I think our consensus of initial judgment was about right. That is, the focus on the eyes is good, the lens is sharp, but...
Pushing shadows +90, or shooting at ISO 8000 will take some edge off the detail and acutance. In the last shot, the quality of light getting through to her eyes may cause the apparent lack of contrast and acutance (micro-contrast).

The 5D3 or any 1D series can handle servo AF for portraits just fine (with back button AF). It is very useful for wide aperture close-range shooting, correcting not only for subject motion but also rocking motion of the photographer. You may get an occasional shot OOF, but I find more OOF with one-shot (when very shallow DOF is an issue and I'm shooting hand held).

I'm sure you were concerned about checking out new equipment, but just for perspective (and I'm not implying that you wouldn't already be aware of this), if I were one of the subjects of these photos, what I would first notice would be lack of light in the eyes, raccoon shadows, not great skin tones, and very bright nose in the last shot (I'm tempted to say "almost blown nose", but I won't ). Of course you've explained some of the circumstances, and we know this isn't the point of the thread, but even when we're talking gear it's good to keep in mind the goal.

I think you were on the right track with your choice of AF settings, so I'd urge you not to be discouraged about sharpness and expect that when you get good (even if very dim) light on your subjects you'll get some killer shots from that camera and lens.



Sep 25, 2012 at 08:49 PM
jeraldcook
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p.2 #8 · p.2 #8 · Why are my photos blurry? Not even sharp...


Brea wrote:
I took some photos with my 5D3 on AI Servo with 70-200mm IS II, using primarily the right most focus point.


The right most focus point isn't a cross-type on the 5D3. Try using the next focus point in; it's cross-type.

Brea wrote:
I thought the 70-200mm IS II would be sharper... am I a newbie?


My 70-200 IS II is crazy sharp on my 5D3. I used it this past weekend at a wedding reception in a darker venue than what you shot in (3200-6400, 1/60 - 1/100) and had great success with any cross-type focus point that I used, even in AI Servo.



Sep 25, 2012 at 09:02 PM
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p.2 #9 · p.2 #9 · Why are my photos blurry? Not even sharp...


Photon wrote:
I think you were on the right track with your choice of AF settings, so I'd urge you not to be discouraged about sharpness and expect that when you get good (even if very dim) light on your subjects you'll get some killer shots from that camera and lens.

Yeah that is what some people miss at these events, ask your friends if they can spend some more time with you, move around and find better lighting and backgrounds, or at least a corner where you can create it with a bounce flash. If the ceiling is too high bounce it off the wall to the side of you, aim to light the face from 30 to 45 degrees and use gels on your flash to match the ambient as close as you can.



Sep 25, 2012 at 09:03 PM
AmbientMike
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p.2 #10 · p.2 #10 · Why are my photos blurry? Not even sharp...


+1 Access and others

I think if you used the same iso ss and aperture but a softbox instead of regular auditorium lighting youd have better iq. Cant explain why though.

Edited on Sep 25, 2012 at 10:22 PM · View previous versions



Sep 25, 2012 at 09:30 PM
 

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AmbientMike
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p.2 #11 · p.2 #11 · Why are my photos blurry? Not even sharp...


Af often isn't that accurate. If you shot as few as 50 photos and these 3 were the only ones you thought had focus/sharpness problems that is really excellent.


Sep 25, 2012 at 10:05 PM
Monito
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p.2 #12 · p.2 #12 · Why are my photos blurry? Not even sharp...


Thanks for the 100% crops. It looks like things (lens and focus) are generally sharp and that what is causing the lack of crispness is a combination of high ISO and under-exposure.


Sep 25, 2012 at 11:20 PM
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p.2 #13 · p.2 #13 · Why are my photos blurry? Not even sharp...


Monito wrote:
Thanks for the 100% crops. It looks like things (lens and focus) are generally sharp and that what is causing the lack of crispness is a combination of high ISO and under-exposure.

Yeah I don't have LR or PS on this machine, but if I use irfanview to apply a gamma of 5.0 and contrast +85 they seem to be in reasonably good focus. Not perfect, but not that far off really.



Sep 25, 2012 at 11:48 PM
pKai
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p.2 #14 · p.2 #14 · Why are my photos blurry? Not even sharp...


Noone has mentioned this (I think ) but have you checked your focus calibration with something like FoCal?

Shooting wide-open in dim light requires spot-on focus. I used to think my 24-105 F4L was inherently soft in these situations until I got FoCal. Its a whole new lens now.

When I got my 70-200 2.8L IS II, I didn't bother using it until I calibrated it on both my bodies. It was pretty close out of the box (-2 on one and +1 on the other), but for $2,500, I want every bit of sharpness it can (and does) deliver.

BTW, I'm not a pixel-peeper nor a measurebator. Far from it. Big prints on the wall selling for lots of money is what counts for me, not 300% in CS6 on a $2,000 monitor which I don't own. I really hate going through routines like lens calibration and resisted it for a long time. Prior to digital, I shot for 15 years without calibrating squat and did just fine. One day, a friend showed me how "off" one of his lenses was (its a Nikon ) and the results afterwards. That sold me. I still hate doing it, but you only have to do it once per lens/body combination.



Sep 26, 2012 at 09:44 PM
splathrop
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p.2 #15 · p.2 #15 · Why are my photos blurry? Not even sharp...


Gunzorro's advice is all good.

Looking at your crops, I think maybe your focus point in the third example is on the mask instead of the eye, which is a problem you also get all the time with glasses frames. Your AF picks up whatever shows the best contrast. If you know that is likely to happen, you can autofocus, and then give your lens a minute manual twist to the left—a little practice will help you gauge how much is needed.

The other two shots also show eyes in shadow, which lowers contrast and makes them tough focussing targets. Photographers who rely on natural light in dark venues have no choice but to become expert at judging particular spots that may provide good facial lighting, good contrast, and natural catch-lights for the eyes. Concentrate on shooting as much as you can in those places. General darkness is also general flatness; learn to see that and avoid.

Be alert to the possibility that artificial lighting environments sometimes produce light in colors that slightly confuse AF systems, which are optimized for some-color which you may not be getting. When I was doing stage photography I learned that my AF was almost always going to miss when they went to deep red stage lighting. Using more-than-minimum depth of field is an answer, but it is a better answer when you have a shorter lens to help out, especially when things get really dark and you can't stop down much.

I don't think long lenses are usually good choices for dark environments, even with IS, because of the shallow depth of field. And for the kind of shots you are showing, foot zoom works fine. When I was doing that kind of work, my favorite dark-venue lens was the Canon 35 L. With that lens you get focus-forgiving depth of field combined with edge-to-edge sharpness at about f/3.2. Excellent bokeh, too, in most situations where you are close enough to fill the frame with a person or two. And you are ready to go really wide when things get really dark. With the light you had, you could afford to close down even more, and still have plenty of shutter speed for that lens. Maybe have room to lower the ISO a bit on the shot of the couple. I think the 35L is a dark-venue sweet spot. And I was shooting everything using focus and re-compose. With the AF in the 5D III that lens ought to be a killer.

Most event pros who use zooms are also flash photographers. If you want to cut against that grain and use ambient light, I suggest fast primes, on the wide side. Let short focal length provide the depth of field and motion stopping capability you need at your limited shutter speeds. Wide lenses are also better story telling lenses in a crowded room. You have more composition options. It's a different kind of photography, and less reliable for delivering the goods on every shot. It can provide sensational images, but you had better get awfully good at it before you undertake to do something like a wedding that way.



Sep 27, 2012 at 07:09 AM
Rickuz
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p.2 #16 · p.2 #16 · Why are my photos blurry? Not even sharp...


First thing that stabbed my eyes was the white balance...


Sep 27, 2012 at 08:51 AM
justruss
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p.2 #17 · p.2 #17 · Why are my photos blurry? Not even sharp...


Rickuz wrote:
First thing that stabbed my eyes was the white balance...


+1.

I don't think there's a sharpness issue at all here.

It's all about the operator. And it's just going to take time to figure out what works. You'll do that in part by trial and error (as long as you experiment), and by seeing how others work, and by reverse engineering examples of images you'd be proud to have shot, and by posting in the photo-critique sections of forums (here and elsewhere), etc.

Re the comment above, you definitely need to figure out how to get accurate white balance or else you're going to get all kinds of funky exposures, lack of depth, pp-flattening of the image, etc. That can mean anything from learning the color of lights, to carrying some kind of 18% grey card, to figuring out how to use the scene to get a custom wb, to gelling a strobe or light.

Also, you're going to want to figure out how to work with the available light in a way to position your subjects so that the lighting brings out the depth as opposed to flattening or neutering your subject. OR to use a flash to do with in conjunction with the light available.

As an aside: I'd skip servo and go with one shot and centerpoint AF for all of these. But that's not really what's causing the perceived lack of sharpness/depth/contrast. It has more to do with light, light quality, and light control.



Sep 27, 2012 at 10:13 AM
mspringfield
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p.2 #18 · p.2 #18 · Why are my photos blurry? Not even sharp...


I will throw in my .02 as well. I agree with the others here about AI Servo. To me it looks like you focused on the eye and then moved the camera slightly to recompose the shot. AI Servo will refocus slightly. For shots like the you almost always want to go with 1 shot, that way you can focus and recompose.

Remember your depth of field here. These shots were at 70mm, F5. Just a guess on my part but it looks like you were about 6' away from the subjects. At that distance you would have a DOF of about 6". Approx 3" in front of the focal point and 3" behind. That doesn't leave too much of a margin of error.

It's just a learning process and you will get better with time.



Sep 27, 2012 at 10:27 AM
Gunzorro
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p.2 #19 · p.2 #19 · Why are my photos blurry? Not even sharp...


Thanks splathrop, and I agree with the advice and observations you made.

Brea -- Thanks for the additional shots. What might have also helped initially was to see uncorrected images, with just your exposure modifications, without WB, shadow, or other corrections. From the comments and explanations that have come up since the initial discussion, it seems a lot of the problem attributed to softness is based on raising shadow areas too high and thereby destroying edge sharpness, or elevating dark areas containing little detail or defined edges.

I will readjust my advice: I don't think focus is off to any meaningful degree, and I don't think camera motion or use of AI Servo have had an negative effects either.

Basically, you need a flash for fill light (maybe reduce output to -2/3 or -1.0 -- do some testing) to give proper details lacking in your shadow areas. Also, getting a proper white balance is critical, and can be done in PP, but you'll need to gel your flash to match the ambient light. (Even without filtering, you'll be better off than you are, using a AWB or Daylight setting.) Shoot at as low an ISO as you can, such as 1600 or 3200 for low noise (keep protecting that shadow detail!).

Joshua successfully used a little 270EX II (I think that was the model, Joshua?) for flash fill at an outdoor Renaissance Faire with outstanding results for fill lighting. The same approach will work with indoor as long as the flash color is balanced.

I hope you can go to a similarly lit venue and do some test shots and we can see how all the advice is paying off (or not!).

Good luck!



Sep 27, 2012 at 02:19 PM
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p.2 #20 · p.2 #20 · Why are my photos blurry? Not even sharp...


Actually achieving good white balance can be near impossible in some of these places, you have too many mixed light sources from all around. You can end up with have 3000K, 5000K, and 6500K light all in the same scene.

A flash is great also because it lets you create subject isolation to avoid things like messy/unwanted backgrounds and such (brightening the subject without brightening the background or others).



Sep 27, 2012 at 06:34 PM
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