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Archive 2021 · Anyone experienced A1 focus getting stuck?

  
 
wordfool
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Anyone experienced A1 focus getting stuck?


I've had a couple of instances with my A1 where it just would not focus (small flex spot in AF-C, 100-400 GM lens) on a closer subject despite that subject more than filling the focus point. Instead it remains stubbornly focused on something further back (perhaps the distance I last took a photo) despite me mashing the button. Imagine watching the blurred outline of a bird doing its thing right under the focus point yet never coming into focus despite mashing the button. Then imagine how frustrating it is to miss potentially great shots as a result!

I had assumed it was user error until I read someone on the FB group had experienced the exact same issue, so now I'm curious if this is perhaps a bug of some kind, perhaps related to the camera/lens combo, or maybe linked to some sort of focus priority setting I'm missing.

I don't think it's a low light issue because a) I've never experienced anything similar with my A9 that technically does not have as good low-light AF performance, and b) I can swing the focus point away to a bigger target at about the same distance in similar light to pre-focus before moving back to the subject, which will then snap into focus just fine.

It almost feels like instead of being in small flex spot mode (as set) the camera is either behaving like it's in expand small flex spot mode and the expansion points are locking onto something in the background and refusing to focus elsewhere, or the camera is waking up stuck at a particular focus distance and requiring a push (in the form of a big, easy target) to get the AF going again. It's definitely an intermittent problem, but I can experience it a couple of times if I'm out for 3-4 hours so it happens often enough to be annoying.



May 02, 2021 at 10:51 PM
dclark
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Anyone experienced A1 focus getting stuck?


Deleted - off-topic



Edited on May 03, 2021 at 08:12 AM · View previous versions



May 02, 2021 at 11:42 PM
wordfool
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Anyone experienced A1 focus getting stuck?


dclark wrote:
For the past few days I have had repeated instances where the A1+600/4 GM stops focusing. I was focusing on a bird in flight using wide AF. The AF spots were dancing around indicating it was focusing and suddenly it stopped. No matter what I did, it remained stuck. Then it slowly moved the focus to the minimum focus distance and stayed there. I tried changing AF to spot, no help, then back to wide, no help. I turned the camera off then on, no help. After a short time it started focusing again, but this behavior repeats at random
...Show more

I did update the firmware and re-initialized the camera. In my case there is definitely no movement to MFD, just a stubborn refusal to move focus from a plane behind the subject (it always seems to be stuck behind). It did once happen when I was in zone tracking focus mode for birds in flight and the dancing squares just never appeared at all, despite me clearly seeing a bird in the zone, so basically it refused to focus again. I had to pan down to some trees to get the AF to start working again. I do seem to remember that itís usually happening when the camera wakes from sleep, so perhaps thatís a factor ó the AF remains asleep


Edited on May 02, 2021 at 11:59 PM · View previous versions



May 02, 2021 at 11:53 PM
AGeoJO
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Anyone experienced A1 focus getting stuck?


No, it hasnít happened to me. I came back from a birding trip to Ecuador and there, I realized that the camera couldnít focus on a fairly short distance with my GM 600mm a few times but it was due to the minimum focusing distance of the lens. I mounted an extension tube each time I wanted to get a closer range.


May 02, 2021 at 11:57 PM
149113
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Anyone experienced A1 focus getting stuck?


wordfool wrote:
I've had a couple of instances with my A1 where it just would not focus (small flex spot in AF-C, 100-400 GM lens) on a closer subject despite that subject more than filling the focus point. Instead it remains stubbornly focused on something further back (perhaps the distance I last took a photo) despite me mashing the button. Imagine watching the blurred outline of a bird doing its thing right under the focus point yet never coming into focus despite mashing the button. Then imagine how frustrating it is to miss potentially great shots as a result!

I had assumed it
...Show more

I don't know if this is the cause/effect but this kind of thing has happened to me with the A7R4 and now A1 both on the 600mm GM. Good light, good contrast and subject separation for days with the background. But somehow the algorithm between the PDAF and CDAF does not kick in and detect anything. I am hammering the AF-On button to no avail. I have to turn the focus ring manually to get it close enough before it finds what I am intending to focus on. Frustrating as heck when a small bird is right there and the focus wont kick in



May 02, 2021 at 11:58 PM
TimMunsey
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Anyone experienced A1 focus getting stuck?


Happened to me a few times, this is why I would like an AF/manual choice on the lens so i could override the AF when it happens. I'm probably using a 200-600mm with TC when it happens. I normally have to point the lens at the floor of the target to fire it up.



May 03, 2021 at 02:14 AM
wordfool
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Anyone experienced A1 focus getting stuck?


149113 wrote:
I don't know if this is the cause/effect but this kind of thing has happened to me with the A7R4 and now A1 both on the 600mm GM. Good light, good contrast and subject separation for days with the background. But somehow the algorithm between the PDAF and CDAF does not kick in and detect anything. I am hammering the AF-On button to no avail. I have to turn the focus ring manually to get it close enough before it finds what I am intending to focus on. Frustrating as heck when a small bird is right there and the
...Show more

Frustrating is the word! For me it seems to happen when the subject is so out of focus (and so separated from the in-focus background) that itís just a faint blur in the frame. As you say, itís like the focus system just doesnít see anything there at all. Like it considered the blur as something other than a solid object and instead requires a much more solid object (like a tree trunk) to enable it to see anything at that distance, after which it behaves normally. Very disappointing to think this fancy focus system literally canít see anything at times.



May 03, 2021 at 07:43 AM
dclark
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Anyone experienced A1 focus getting stuck?


wordfool wrote:
I did update the firmware and re-initialized the camera. In my case there is definitely no movement to MFD, just a stubborn refusal to move focus from a plane behind the subject (it always seems to be stuck behind). It did once happen when I was in zone tracking focus mode for birds in flight and the dancing squares just never appeared at all, despite me clearly seeing a bird in the zone, so basically it refused to focus again. I had to pan down to some trees to get the AF to start working again. I do seem to
...Show more

Reading your post again I see that what you are describing is not the same problem I have experienced. You are seeing the AF sticking to the wrong subject, but it is continuing to focus. That is a common problem with lots of on-sensor PDAF cameras. You may want to try adjusting "AF Tracking Sensitivity", although that is not a full solution to your problem.

What I was experiencing is the AF stopping completely. Consequently I am going to remove my comment since it is off topic.

Dave



May 03, 2021 at 08:12 AM
arbitrage
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Anyone experienced A1 focus getting stuck?


This is common to every Sony camera and every MILC that uses on-sensor PDAF. If you still have your A9 and can setup a test where the A1 is not driving to the near, grossly OOF, small target I can guarantee the A9 will do the same thing. I'm surprised you never had this occur with your A9. This is a common MILC issue reported widely throughout the years.

I've had this issue with my A9, A9II, A7RIV, A1, R5, Z7, Z50. You need to either aim the camera at the ground or as you've discovered, a large enough target where the AF Area you are using has no chance of still "seeing" the distant background where it already has a clear, focused view. Other solutions include MF or setting a pre-focus distance closer in if you have a lens that supports that (400GM, 600GM or adapted Canon supertete)



May 03, 2021 at 08:59 AM
k-h.a.w
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Anyone experienced A1 focus getting stuck?


arbitrage wrote:
This is common to every Sony camera and every MILC that uses on-sensor PDAF. If you still have your A9 and can setup a test where the A1 is not driving to the near, grossly OOF, small target I can guarantee the A9 will do the same thing. I'm surprised you never had this occur with your A9. This is a common MILC issue reported widely throughout the years.

I've had this issue with my A9, A9II, A7RIV, A1, R5, Z7, Z50. You need to either aim the camera at the ground or as you've discovered, a large enough target where
...Show more


Yup. On my A9 it also helps to change the sensitivity so that it switches faster its focus point when refocusing.



May 03, 2021 at 09:27 AM
wordfool
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Anyone experienced A1 focus getting stuck?


arbitrage wrote:
This is common to every Sony camera and every MILC that uses on-sensor PDAF. If you still have your A9 and can setup a test where the A1 is not driving to the near, grossly OOF, small target I can guarantee the A9 will do the same thing. I'm surprised you never had this occur with your A9. This is a common MILC issue reported widely throughout the years.

I've had this issue with my A9, A9II, A7RIV, A1, R5, Z7, Z50. You need to either aim the camera at the ground or as you've discovered, a large enough target where
...Show more

Good to know. The A1's AF undoubtedly behaves slightly differently than the A9's because I literally went from using the A9 to the A1 overnight, photographing the same subjects in the same situations using the same lens and pretty much the same AF settings and I kept running into this problem -- one that I'd not really noticed with the A9. It might well have been happening with the A9, but not with nearly the same frequency to make it as infuriating. I don't think tracking sensitivity is a factor since I predominantly use non-tracking small flex spot for small, fast-moving birds in trees



May 03, 2021 at 01:48 PM
Daran
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Anyone experienced A1 focus getting stuck?


I had something similar three times now. Each time was right after switching the camera on after a long break. Each time the camera behaved as if the focus limiter on the lens (200-600G) were enabled. But it wasn't. Could also be a fluke of the lens or the contacts. Changing the focus limiter switch had no effect and yes it normally works. Switching the camera off and removing the lens worked twice. Today even that didn't fix it (WTF?). Changing to a different lens (90G) and back did finally fix it.


May 15, 2021 at 03:12 PM
somersettr
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Anyone experienced A1 focus getting stuck?


This is because of the way that pdaf works on mirrorless cameras. The camera tries to determine the shift between images collected from each side of the lens. It can only do that when it can recognise the same feature in each of the two images so when a feature such as your bird is so out-of-focus before you initiate the AF, the pdaf system really can't see it. Or at least see it well enough to determine an offset between the two images corresponding to the required focus shift to bring it into focus.

It has been suggested by some who have investigated it that dslrs suffer less from this effect because their dedicated pdaf sensor has built-in optics that operate at a very small relative aperture increasing the depth of field.

Knowing this, there are a few things you can do.

- Always try to keep your camera pre-focused to where your subject is most likely to be. <- Do this!
- Zoom out to increase the depth of field, focus and then zoom back in.
- Program a custom recall hold button to reduce the aperture to f/22, focus and then release the button. This does work to a degree but in my experience, not well eneough to sacrifice one of my three custom hold buttons for. The increase in depth of field moving from f/6.3 (or f/9 with the teleconverter) to f/22 is often not enough to get the AF to see the bird when it is close. I'd quite like Sony to build this into the AF-C algorithm though.



May 16, 2021 at 05:34 AM
Daran
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Anyone experienced A1 focus getting stuck?


somersettr wrote:
This is because of the way that pdaf works on mirrorless cameras. The camera tries to determine the shift between images collected from each side of the lens. It can only do that when it can recognise the same feature in each of the two images so when a feature such as your bird is so out-of-focus before you initiate the AF, the pdaf system really can't see it.

Thx for the response, but what you are describing is something that I'm dealing with all the time (capturing BIF) and very unlike what I tried to describe.

Usually I can point the lens at the floor, to some area that acquires focus, and then raise it, so the focus "walks" to the distance I want. Not so in my error case: it would focus on stuff very close, but on nothing that's further. As I said it may have stopped working right around the focus limiter border of 10m.



May 16, 2021 at 06:28 AM
kimknapp
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Anyone experienced A1 focus getting stuck?


AGeoJO wrote:
No, it hasnít happened to me. I came back from a birding trip to Ecuador and there, I realized that the camera couldnít focus on a fairly short distance with my GM 600mm a few times but it was due to the minimum focusing distance of the lens. I mounted an extension tube each time I wanted to get a closer range.


How long? And, how close did it bring the MFD?



May 16, 2021 at 06:33 AM
somersettr
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Anyone experienced A1 focus getting stuck?


Daran wrote:
Thx for the response, but what you are describing is something that I'm dealing with all the time (capturing BIF) and very unlike what I tried to describe.

Usually I can point the lens at the floor, to some area that acquires focus, and then raise it, so the focus "walks" to the distance I want. Not so in my error case: it would focus on stuff very close, but on nothing that's further. As I said it may have stopped working right around the focus limiter border of 10m.


I see. I didn't understand that.



May 16, 2021 at 06:34 AM
chiron
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Anyone experienced A1 focus getting stuck?


somersettr wrote:
This is because of the way that pdaf works on mirrorless cameras. The camera tries to determine the shift between images collected from each side of the lens. It can only do that when it can recognise the same feature in each of the two images so when a feature such as your bird is so out-of-focus before you initiate the AF, the pdaf system really can't see it. Or at least see it well enough to determine an offset between the two images corresponding to the required focus shift to bring it into focus.

It has been suggested by some
...Show more

The thing that worked for me on the A9 & A7RIV with the 100-400 when the intended object was too far out of focus to be seen by the pdaf was to briefly focus on something that is intermediate to where the lens is focused and where I want it to focus. This walks the focus back toward the intended object.



May 16, 2021 at 07:10 AM
AGeoJO
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Anyone experienced A1 focus getting stuck?


kimknapp wrote:
How long? And, how close did it bring the MFD?


Kim, I do have a set of extension tubes, a 10mm and a 16mm. More locally I put that set together and I could focus to slightly less than 10 feet (I didnít measure the distance) and while in Ecuador, I just used either one and I could get down to some 12-14 feet or so.



May 16, 2021 at 08:22 AM
kimknapp
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Anyone experienced A1 focus getting stuck?


AGeoJO wrote:
Kim, I do have a set of extension tubes, a 10mm and a 16mm. More locally I put that set together and I could focus to slightly less than 10 feet (I didnít measure the distance) and while in Ecuador, I just used either one and I could get down to some 12-14 feet or so.

Thanks, I'll try it. Could have used it a couple of days ago when I was trying to photograph a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher feeding and cleaning a baby cowbird!😁



May 17, 2021 at 07:53 AM
Dreadymmeyer
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Anyone experienced A1 focus getting stuck?


To the OP, I too noticed this today only after changing my settings from what Mark Smith showed to Steve Perry's settings. I'm on firmware 1.30 and ver.02 on the 200-600. I first had the issue after waking from sleep with a teleconverter on. I ended up resetting the camera settings and reloaded what I had saved, then it worked. Encountered the problem again after waking from sleep. Previously my go to sleep time was 5 minutes but after changing it to 2 minutes the problem arose. Still trying to nail down the issue but I never has that happen with the A9.


Feb 17, 2023 at 01:30 PM
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