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70-200 2.8 USM II sharp only sometimes

77dark
Contributor

Hello, I am looking for a solution in this forum because a few weeks ago I bought a Canon 70-200 2.8 USM II lens (previously I had a 55-250 STM) and I have had problems with it.
I have had the opportunity to photograph football during these weeks and I have not been convinced by the telephoto lens due to different things that I am looking for how to solve:
One of the most recurring problems is that I can very rarely get the image to be sharp enough, at least in 300 images, about 30 or 40 at most are usually sharp, in many of them the focus seems to be nowhere. .
Another problem I have is that even if there are two people nearby, only one will be in focus and the other will not (I think I was able to solve it by changing from f2.8 to f.4, I don't usually worry because I usually shoot during the day and I have enough light).
My camera is a Canon 60D, I take photographs in burst mode and previously in one shot, selection of automatic focus points and all active points, AI Servo mode, the photographs that I will show will contain the EXIF ​​data and have been taken from 1/1250 to 1/6400 so I don't think the problem with sharp focus is due to slow shutter speed, I don't use a tripod but I can stay stable.
Adding that the camera does not have an autofocus micro-adjustment and that neither the lens nor the camera have suffered any blow, fall or any problem, nor has the camera been calibrated, so it could be a problem for that as well.
In the first photo I give as an example the blur of two people standing next to each other.
In the second photo I give as an example the little sharpness I get in the vast majority of the photographs.
In the third photo I give as an example when it is maximum clear.

Problem with focusing two peopleProblem with focusing two peopleProblem with focusProblem with focusFocus working great and good sharpnessFocus working great and good sharpness

1 ACCEPTED SOLUTION

Anonymous
Not applicable

In your first picture, the two players are at two different distances from the camera and your depth of field is not enough to capture both in focus. As you stated, using a smaller aperture (F4.0 rather than F2.8) increases depth of field. That is normal for any lens. The second picture has nothing in sharp focus. I don't know what focus point the camera used to focus on, so I have no suggestions.

I believe a lot of your problem is selecting all the focus points of the camera to be active. This allows the camera to choose the focus point, rather than the photographer. I would suggest that you select the center focus point only, and place that point on the desired object that you want in sharp focus. Using one-shot focus may also help your situation. 

 

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13 REPLIES 13

Tronhard
Elite
Elite

Hi and welcome to the forum:

The 60D is a great camera for its time, I had three of them and the EF 70-200 f/2.8 IS USM MkII, but it does not have features like face and eye tracking.  I shoot with back button, single-point centre autofocus, in servo mode so that if I tap the AF button for a static subject it remains locked on that distance, but if I hold the AF button down, it adjusts with the moving object.

Furthermore, you do not indicate that your copy of the 70-200 has image stabilization (IS).  If that is not the case you are more likely to suffer camera movement issues.  Given you are using a crop sensor, to avoid camera shake you need to be shooting at about 1/400sec so the next question is if you need shutter speeds as indicated at the higher end of that range to stop subject movement.

Using the camera a f/2.8 or even f/4 is giving you a fairly shallow Depth of Field, so I am not surprised when you cannot get focus on two people in frame at the same time unless they are almost exactly the same distance apart from the camera.   If I was shooting, especially given in daylight, I would be doing so at around f/8.  Have an ISO around 800-3200 range and see how that works with the shutter speed.  I would be surprised if you need more than 1/1000sec to capture football, so I would ask why you are shooting at the very high the shutter speeds you indicate (up to 1/6,400, when that extra leeway can go into your smaller aperture settings for greater DoF.

All three of the images below were taken at 1/1000sec, with apertures of f/8 and single point BBF which is centre-locked, and once that is done, I recomposed the image.

R1006717 copy.jpg  R1006805 copy.jpg  R1007054 copy.jpg


cheers, TREVOR

"All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris

My 70 200 lens has an image stabilizer, I forgot to say.
Also shoot with the back button, focus with the back button and then shoot.
I usually leave the automatic stabilizer on, although I don't know if it's necessary since I usually use high speeds.
What you mention about the reduced depth of field is exactly what I was thinking, since when trying changing from f2.4 to f4.0, a lot of improvement in focus was noticed for several people.
I have shot soccer games with speeds of up to 1/500 and it still freezes perfectly. I have not tried diaphragms like f8 or f11. I think the only excuse I would have for not using them would be that something I really like in photos is bokeh. , I feel that having an aperture like 8 makes the photo a little confusing and the central focus of the photo is lost.

Given the distances at which you are shooting, it's not going to offer you the bokeh of that lens up close and doing a portrait shot.  If you look at professional sports shots you will will see that bokeh is not massive in these shots with a 200mm lens.
The rules for DoF are:
the close the subject the shallower the DoF
the longer the Focal Length the shallower the DoF
the wider the aperture (smaller f/#) the shallower the DoF

Remember that 200mm is on the short end for sports photography and using longer lenses - up around 400mm, is more common, but that is a much more expensive.


cheers, TREVOR

"All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris

Anonymous
Not applicable

In your first picture, the two players are at two different distances from the camera and your depth of field is not enough to capture both in focus. As you stated, using a smaller aperture (F4.0 rather than F2.8) increases depth of field. That is normal for any lens. The second picture has nothing in sharp focus. I don't know what focus point the camera used to focus on, so I have no suggestions.

I believe a lot of your problem is selecting all the focus points of the camera to be active. This allows the camera to choose the focus point, rather than the photographer. I would suggest that you select the center focus point only, and place that point on the desired object that you want in sharp focus. Using one-shot focus may also help your situation. 

 

Add that in the previous lens I used to have a 250mm 5.6, but now I have a 200mm 2.8, perhaps that is one of the things I still haven't adapted to.
About selecting all the focus points I agree with you, the camera does not know what I want to focus on so it will focus on what it wants, also as Tronhard mentioned, it does not have face recognition, which makes it more imprecise at the same time. When it came to focusing, it has happened to me that several times the problem was not that the subject was not in focus, instead, the camera decided to focus on another part of the photograph, that is completely my mistake.
I think that using the central focus point will correct most of the problems. I was not able to fully test it, but in a game I used it and it gave me good results. I also usually leave the subjects centered in the photos, so it will help me a lot.
Something I'm not sure about is how it will work when the players position themselves laterally, will I still focus on them or will I have to try to center them?

Anonymous
Not applicable

"Something I'm not sure about is how it will work when the players position themselves laterally, will I still focus on them or will I have to try to center them?"

You would still place the center focus point on your subject, hold the shutter button halfway (or press whatever button starts focus), and then recompose the photo by shifting the framing of your photo and take the shot. This is the method I use.

Another thought about the first picture, if you had focused on the boy closest to you, and still using the lens wide open, the second boy probably would have been in good focus also. With subjects at two different distances from the camera, focusing on the closest subject yields better results for the other subject. Doing it the other way around, usually causes the results that you are seeing in your first photo. This works if the subjects are not too far apart from each other (distance to the camera).

Update: Today I have been able to try several games and I have tried to use the focus point only in the center, although it is much more difficult to always center the action, it has done its job focusing very well and when it failed to focus it was my mistake, no of the camera, so it is true that the automatic focus was a problem since the camera could not guess where I wanted it to focus and it does not have artificial intelligence focus to follow human faces.
I really appreciate all your answers and that you have taken the time to tell me how to solve it, and as they said in one of the first messages, the error is the human's and not the camera's.

Waddizzle
Legend
Legend

I do not see EXIF data in your posted images, which have been cropped to 999 x 999 resolution.  This means the posted images are not good samples to evaluate your issue(s).

The players seem to be running around, maybe even towards the camera.  Their distance to the camera is rapidly changing.  These types of shots should not be too difficult to capture.  You need to be cognizant of approximately how much DoF you may have for a given shot compared to how fast your lens refocuses and the frame rate of the camera in Continuous Drive mode.  

Your camera can lock focus on running players.  But due to a slower frame rate, by the time it fires the shutter the players may have moved outside of the DoF of the focus lock.  The one image you say is sharp also happens to be an image where the players are not moving, or rapidly changing their distance to the camera.

And, speaking of a focus lock, the camera does not always wait for a focus lock before it fires the shutter.  If you are using AI Servo AF Mode, then the camera will fire the shutter when you fully press the shutter button, ready or not, focused locked or not.

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"The right mouse button is your friend."

I take that back.  Two of the three samples lack EXIF data.  The third one does have it.

When you playback the images in the camera, do you see a locked AF point?  This is a playback option that must be enabled in the camera menus.

If you use the Canon DPP application, does it show you a locked AF point?  Again, this is an option that must be enabled in the app menus.

[EDIT] It is not an issue if you do not have a locked AF point to display.  It would help diagnose the problem.  But the camera can fire the shutter without having a locked AF point.

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"The right mouse button is your friend."
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