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Archive 2013 · Auto focus help, especially with my new Canon 500 MkII
  
 
Jim McCann
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Auto focus help, especially with my new Canon 500 MkII


Admittedly, I am a digital rookie, and I've been struggling with learning to properly auto focus. Doesn't seem to be a big deal with any of my other lenses at the moment, but I'm not getting the number of keepers lately on relatively slow moving critters, like ambling caribou and just yesterday a walking wolf.

Not sure how to post photos here to show you, but likely it wouldn't make any difference. The lens doesn't appear to front or back focus, just no focus at all. I had the fortunate opportunity to get some quick shots of a lone wolf yesterday in pretty great light. I had the 500 attached to one of my 7Ds, and I'd been using ISO 800 previously so that's where it was for the wolf. Camera set to AV and a aperture of F7.1, shutter was 1/2000th. I just recently took the advice of so many here and changed my AF to the star button on the back of all my camera bodies.

Could it be that my tracking sensitivity is set wrong? Or perhaps I should be pushing the back button more than once when following an animal?

I realize no one will know what my problem is for certain without going through my menus, but I thought I'd ask for some general ideas to get me started on the right path.I'm sure my 500 can do much better than just an occasional keeper!

Thanks!

Jim



Mar 04, 2013 at 08:07 PM
mitesh
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Auto focus help, especially with my new Canon 500 MkII


Jim,

I'm sure you will get better help from others, but to get started, I have a few questions:

1. What focus mode are you in? AI Servo or One Shot? If you're in Servo, then you'll need to keep the focus button depressed in order to track the subject. One Shot, like the name implies, focuses at a given point when you depress the focus button and won't track a moving subject. You would need to depress the focus button again to acquire new focus if the subject moved. I wasn't sure from reading your post if this was the case- apologies if you are already aware of this.

2. Have you checked the focus limiter switch on your lens to make sure that AF is possible in the range in which your subject is located? Also, please ensure the lens AF switch is set to "AF".

3. I don't have a camera in front of me, so I can't be sure this is even possible, but I would also check to make sure that you haven't assigned AF start to the shutter button as well as the "*" button.

4. Does the lens ever refuse to search for focus? I'm not sure if 7D has a "lens drive when AF impossible" setting, but if it does, I would turn that to "On" to make sure the lens drives to achieve focus.

I'm sure others will offer more and better help than me, but hopefully this gets you looking in the right direction. Good luck!



Mar 04, 2013 at 08:29 PM
BrianO
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Auto focus help, especially with my new Canon 500 MkII


I have nothing to add to mitesh's good suggestions, but just wanted to say that I envy anyone who can be having trouble with a $10,000 lens.


Mar 04, 2013 at 09:05 PM
Jim McCann
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Auto focus help, especially with my new Canon 500 MkII


Well, those are some great places to start! Thank you, mitesh.

I think I have the lens focus limiter on "Full." I'll check.

I'll have to check the "lens drive" settings on the 7Ds and my 5D III. I figured once I pressed the back button and held it down it should work?

BrianO, I have trouble with most things. I'm an old manual camera guy. :-)




Mar 05, 2013 at 12:06 AM
mitesh
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Auto focus help, especially with my new Canon 500 MkII


Jim,

If Lens Drive is set to "Off", then the camera won't attempt to drive focus on a severely defocused lens. Also, how is your AF set up in with respect to AF point selection? Are you using single point or some type of AF expansion mode? Please post back to let us know your AF setting (One shot or AI Servo) and how you have mapped your shutter button (what functions are assigned to it).



Mar 05, 2013 at 01:31 AM
Jim McCann
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Auto focus help, especially with my new Canon 500 MkII


mitesh,

I use AI Servo mostly, but will in some circumstances press the DOF button to switch to One Shot. I use single point mostly, sometimes spot. On the wolf I had it set to Spot. I handheld the lens and kept shooting as the wolf moved to my left. Had the same problem with caribou walking in deep snow. I wonder if I should be pumping the back button? Perhaps there isn't enough contrast? Perplexing, but I think I'll just keep shooting, and trying different things. I sure wish I'd been able to capture the covey of ptarmigan in flight a few days ago.

Thanks for your help.



Mar 05, 2013 at 01:56 AM
Jim McCann
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Auto focus help, especially with my new Canon 500 MkII


"Mapped my shutterr button"...if I understand you correctly then I can say that I have metering on the shutter release, and AF on the star, or asterisk on the camera back.


Mar 05, 2013 at 01:59 AM
Ferrophot
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Auto focus help, especially with my new Canon 500 MkII


Jim, I thimk on the 7D you have to remove the AF function off the shutter button when you use the back button. Other suggestion is to start with simple subjects and work up to the critters. AFMA? I only shoot single shot, slow moving animals included, refocussing as needed.


Mar 05, 2013 at 02:17 AM
mitesh
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Auto focus help, especially with my new Canon 500 MkII


Jim,

Is there any way that you can provide a link to any of the photos with EXIF intact?



Mar 05, 2013 at 02:20 AM
UgashikBob
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Auto focus help, especially with my new Canon 500 MkII


Jim:
Some excellent suggestions here so far. I don't have a 500 yet but have used both my 7D and 1DMKIII w/100/400 with rear button config and I only keep bumping the rear button on fast movers like BIF's. Something slow like a walking caribou or wolf you should be able to see and hear it hit in spot mode unless you have confusing backgrounds at long distances. Walking caribou and wolves I get close to 100% but not BIFS. Ptarmingan are a challange. I tried both single point and the surrounding expansion for BIF's and it doesn't seem to matter as both are very low unless I have a clean background like a clear sky. I'm mapped like the post above.



Mar 05, 2013 at 02:27 AM
 

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BluesWest
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Auto focus help, especially with my new Canon 500 MkII


I just recently took the advice of so many here and changed my AF to the star button on the back of all my camera bodies.

This was your first mistake. If, as you say, you are a "digital rookie", then don't make the challenge of becoming familiar with your gear any harder than it has to be. Restore the camera's defaults, and spend some time making sure you can obtain consistently in-focus images using the standard settings. Once you've done that, then you can try back-button focus, although IMO there is no reason to use it (unless your goal is to satisfy the camera-gear forum "experts" who insist "that's how the pros do it...".)

John

John



Mar 05, 2013 at 02:30 AM
Tim Kuhn
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Auto focus help, especially with my new Canon 500 MkII


BluesWest wrote:
This was your first mistake. If, as you say, you are a "digital rookie", then don't make the challenge of becoming familiar with your gear any harder than it has to be. Restore the camera's defaults, and spend some time making sure you can obtain consistently in-focus images using the standard settings. Once you've done that, then you can try back-button focus, although IMO there is no reason to use it (unless your goal is to satisfy the camera-gear forum "experts" who insist "that's how the pros do it...".)

John

John


Wow, this is exactly what I was going to say. Well put John

Tim



Mar 05, 2013 at 02:50 AM
Jim McCann
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Auto focus help, especially with my new Canon 500 MkII


Well, I will try and attach one of the out of focus images perhaps later this evening if I can steal the time. Attaching Exif...hmmm, that might be a challenge for this old guy, but I'll try.

I'm sure I'm doing something simple, wrong. I wonder if my very cold finger came off that back button? I've got some experimenting to do, that's for sure. Just haven't been getting enough time to do so lately.

Thanks to everyone for the help.

Jim



Mar 05, 2013 at 02:55 AM
terrimbga
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Auto focus help, especially with my new Canon 500 MkII


Jim,

Don't feel bad. I just purchased a D300s and it was focusing just fine. I don't know what I did but now it will not autofocus. I've spent hours trying to figure it out as I am not savy in knowing how to drive this thing. I think I have pulled out most of my hair and the rest will just have to wait until tomorrow.



Mar 05, 2013 at 03:16 AM
uz2work
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Auto focus help, especially with my new Canon 500 MkII


BluesWest wrote:
This was your first mistake. If, as you say, you are a "digital rookie", then don't make the challenge of becoming familiar with your gear any harder than it has to be. Restore the camera's defaults, and spend some time making sure you can obtain consistently in-focus images using the standard settings. Once you've done that, then you can try back-button focus, although IMO there is no reason to use it (unless your goal is to satisfy the camera-gear forum "experts" who insist "that's how the pros do it...".)

John

John


+1

I know that there are those here who swear by using the back button for focusing, and, yes, there are some who will consider you to be a rank novice if you don't do it that way. If it works for them, that's great, but, after trying it both ways extensively, I find that I am able to concentrate better on other aspects of shooting when I only have to think about pressing one button, and not two, in order to take my shots. Regardless of which way ultimately works best for you, I would echo the suggestion to start with going back to the default of having focus activated with a half press of the shutter button. If nothing else, it will allow you to confirm that the camera and lens are working properly. Once you put in some time with it that way, you can go back to experimenting with separating focus from the shutter button and better decide which way works best for you.

Les



Mar 05, 2013 at 03:22 AM
galenapass
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Auto focus help, especially with my new Canon 500 MkII


terrimbga wrote:
Jim,

Don't feel bad. I just purchased a D300s and it was focusing just fine. I don't know what I did but now it will not autofocus. I've spent hours trying to figure it out as I am not savy in knowing how to drive this thing. I think I have pulled out most of my hair and the rest will just have to wait until tomorrow.


Did you accidentally switch the the focus selector to "M" - the selector is on the front of the camera in the 4 O'clock position with the camera facing you.



Mar 05, 2013 at 03:24 AM
PetKal
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Auto focus help, especially with my new Canon 500 MkII


Tim Kuhn wrote:
Wow, this is exactly what I was going to say. Well put John

Tim


+1

I looked at that (*) back button focus a few years back, and decided the thing is not for the birds .....therefore, I am still doing the main shutter release button AF.
In fact I can not fathom how can anyone who photographs action with a handheld setup use their thumb for AF.

I use my thumb for:

(1) Prehensile grip on the camera in order to help stabilise the entire setup.
(2) Aperture change on the main control dial (or EC change if I happen to be doing Av)
(3) AF point movement.
There is no "room" for anything else there.

The index finger does the central action: focussing and firing.

The camera is not an I-pad or a cell phone.....where the trend is the more you can screw around with menus and applications, the better. The camera controls have to be totally simple, one button operation whenever possible, because the objective is to take good pictures, and not screw around with custom settings for their own sake.



Mar 05, 2013 at 04:22 AM
galenapass
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Auto focus help, especially with my new Canon 500 MkII


You know, I've let the bias on this and other forums make me shift to using the back button focus technique, but it never really has felt "right". I'm going to switch back this weekend!


Mar 05, 2013 at 04:28 AM
jcolwell
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Auto focus help, especially with my new Canon 500 MkII


BBF rules!


Mar 05, 2013 at 04:36 AM
Jim McCann
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Auto focus help, especially with my new Canon 500 MkII


Thanks to everyone for your help. 30 years of professional photography with manual focus equipment and now this old dog is learning all over again. I'm going to swear off being bi-buttonal for awhile and go back to loving the shutter button does all mode and see what happens. Hard enough for me to learn all this post proccessing stuff, much less three computer-like cameras. All I ever did in the past was create as fine an image as possible on transparency film, caption them, and send them off to magazines and agents. The B&W darkroom was mostly for me. But now...well, you know what it all requires now, most of you guys and gals are masters with a computer whether that computer is in the camera or where you do your post proccessing. But I'm learning, and I'm having fun again with my photography.

I'm taking a closer look at what I have set for tracking as well. I suppose the body of a wolf is hard for auto focus to lock in on anyhow, not much contrast. I did okay when focused on the wolf's face, albeit, a rather distant shot at that point that required a lot of cropping. Going to sneak away from the office and tax info gathering requirements and maybe head back up into the mountains to test my lens again. Tough duty, for sure, but I think I'm up to it. :-)

Jim



Mar 05, 2013 at 05:07 PM
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