I'm hoping to get some advice on why I cannot get any sharp shots with the above lens.
I have tried everything i can think of to improve my chances including spending a lot of time trying to improve my technique while using it handheld, using it with a tripod, using it with the IS, increasing the ISO to make sure i can get fast shutter speeds etc. I have also had the lens calibrated by Canon. No matter what I try i just can't get critically sharp shots. If I compare the shots I get with this lens to my 100mm macro lens the difference is night and day. Photos with the 100-400 lens just look fuzzy.
Just FYI I have tried using the lens with both a 6D body and an 80D body.
When I booked the lens in for calibration with Canon I asked for them to check if they believed the lens was actually functioning correctly or not but noone ever got back to me on this, the customer service was absolutely terrible but since I've already gone down that route I can't really get any advice from a Canon tech on whetehr or not this lens is as sharp as it should be.
Below is an example of an unedited, uncropped shot that feels so close to being good but just not quite there. Settings used were f7.1, iso 1000, shutter 1/1600, handheld at 400mm, manual focus, taken with the 80D.
I'm feeling like there's no point going out to take photos now because I am getting zero keepers, so any advice would be much appreciated.
Thanks for the reply Bokehen.
Firmware is all up to date so that's not it unfortunately.
If you are shooting in AI Servo mode, then the default setting is for the camera not wait to lock focus before firing the shutter. This behavior can be adjusted by setting the Image Priority, both 1st and 2nd Images, to full tilt Focus Priority. The setting can be set to prioritize Shutter Priority or Focus Priority. The setting only applies when you are in AI Servo mode.
Setting Image Priority to full Focus Priority will cause the camera to wait for a focus lock before firing the shutter when your are in Continuous Dive shooting mode. While this setting change may cause your FPS to take a small hit, your keeper rate should go up.
The camera will not beep, either, when it gets a focus lock. Depending upon your viewfinder settings, you may or may not see a visual focus lock confirmation.
Based on a long PM shared with me at another forum you are trying to capture sharp images of a VERY difficult subject. Dragonflies can fly in any direction including backwards & can switch directions almost instantly based on the person I was talking with & he is devoted to shooting them in the summer where he lives (in Europe). Start your testing on stationary items in good light. Also check the order of how to go about it here.
Do you have a "protection" UV filter on this lens? If so, try it without the filter.
Longer focal length lenses are known to have poor image quality with some filters.
I could not get sharp photos with my EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM until I ditched the UV filter and went with a Clear filter. This lens is cantankerous when you put a filter on it. Use a Clear filter, or nothing at all. I recommend B+W Nano Clear Filters.
I wondered if the shot of the dragonfly in flight might kind of confuse the topic a bit since you are correct it is a very difficult subject. The point is everything i shoot just looks fuzzy whether it is staitonary or not - see this shot of a dragonfly at rest, this was using the autofocus but it is so far off from being crisp...
I appreciate your thoughts tho!
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