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Canon 100-400 vii lens - Pictures could be sharper Need help!

Summerlee340
Enthusiast

Okay, so it could be me - I'm not a total noob, but who knows. Been shooting with my Canon Rebel T3i for several years. Mostly used my 55-250 kit lens and at times I got some tack sharp photos from that lens

 

Regarding my new 100-400 vii lens, I have yet to get a crisp shot - the shots are just okay to me. Granted I am hand holding the camera and lens when  trying to take photos, and it is a bit heavy (mostly of birds and wildlife) but I do have the IS on.  I usually shoot on M but lately I've been using TV mode - my photos are okay but they just are not sharp enough.  I have it on AF - and sometimes it takes a few seconds to focus.

 

Even with my tripod, again, the shots are okay - some are passable, but I know what sharp is as I've taken a few with my 55-250 and so far I'm not cutting it.  

 

I usually have the lens to full zoom at 400 and I try to keep the shutter speed at least 400 as I've read the focal length should be reciprocal to the shutter speed.  My histogram looks great quite often...

 

Question/Issues:  Perhaps I am too far away from my subject? Birds are so skittish so I usually stand maybe  20 feet away.

 

 I thought with the larger zoom that meant I wouldn't have to be as close to my subject .  

 

So am I too far away?

 

If someone has a few moments, perhaps I can get some advice or point me to a great website....Thanks very much.

 

 

 

64 REPLIES 64

Of all the good/bad suggestions you have received so far, this one is probably the most important; "Don't let the camera choose an AF point for you."  Select just the center point and turn all the others off.  Your technique is one of the most important aspects of photography.  Setting up the gear correctly for the conditions is next.  Lastly, you absolutely have to have a good post editor.

 

Take Scotty's advice and use either Tv or Av.  I prefer a fixed ISO and for normal daylight, I like ISO 800. Adjust as necessary.  Most of the time I fix the tele one stop down from wide open.  One other thing that may help is high speed shutter.  Even slight changes in birds activity can make a big difference in sharpness.  Also, nobody gets 100% keepers.  Everybody misses from time to time.

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!


@ebiggs1 wrote:

Of all the good/bad suggestions you have received so far, this one is probably the most important; "Don't let the camera choose an AF point for you."  Select just the center point and turn all the others off.  Your technique is one of the most important aspects of photography.  Setting up the gear correctly for the conditions is next.  Lastly, you absolutely have to have a good post editor.

 

Take Scotty's advice and use either Tv or Av.  I prefer a fixed ISO and for normal daylight, I like ISO 800. Adjust as necessary.  Most of the time I fix the tele one stop down from wide open.  One other thing that may help is high speed shutter.  Even slight changes in birds activity can make a big difference in sharpness.  Also, nobody gets 100% keepers.  Everybody misses from time to time.


There you have it. Two votes for using Tv or Av with fixed ISO.  Two votes for using M with Auto ISO.  There are good arguments that can be made for any shooting mode, and how much you allow the camera to set for you.

 

Which mode is best is mostly personal choice, and the shooting scenario.  One thing the suggestions all have in common, though, is that the camera is being allowed to adjust only one leg of the exposure triangle automatically, which are shutter speed, aperture setting, and ISO value.

You have a choice, in this regard.  You can let the camera adjust any one, any pair, or all three settings.  Letting the camera adjust only one gives you the most control, and frees the shooter from constantly checking and adjusting exposure during a sequence of shots.  Your attention can be on the subject, instead of being distracted by operating the camera.

--------------------------------------------------------
"The right mouse button is your friend."

Thanks again, ebiggs. So true about freeing the shooter from constantly checking etc. I was using manual mode constantly when I used my 55-250 and I'm liking using TV or AV. I will practice all these modes.

Thank you, ebiggs. I definitely use the center point. I just started switching to TV and AV - normally I used manual. I recently started going down two stops from wide open to try to get a larger dof and I read that two stops from wide open can be a lens' sweet spot. Thanks for the comment about "nobody gets 100% keepers". I am very hard on myself. Next I'm going to set up the lens on my tripod and either press the shutter button or perhaps try a remote. I have PhotoScape which is on my laptop. I may try Lightroom - I heard good things about it.

ebiggs1
Legend

Summerlee340,

 

"The best thing you can do is return the lens in exchange for another and hope you get one that matches your camera ..."

 

This is a last, very last option.  If the lens simply, no matter what, will not preform call Canon Support before returning.

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!

Canon support can't help with machining tolerances unless they are out of tolerance. Returning to the purchase point and exchanging might. That is what I would do in that situation. I think she's smart enough to figure out the order of my advice. You did. Didn't you?

5D Mark III, Tamron SP 15-30 DI VC, EF 24-70 f/2.8L II, EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS II, EF 35 f/1.4L II, EF 135 f/2L, Rising standard pinhole, EF 2X III, ST-E3-RT, 600EX-RT x7, Flashpoint Streaklight 360ws

Summerlee340
Enthusiast
Yes I use that mode you are correct it's called continuous.

Summerlee340
Enthusiast
Great! Thank you


@Summerlee340 wrote:
Great! Thank you

I think you need to check your camera's default AF point setting.

 

LR_FocusInfo_03.JPG

 

You will get the most consistent results by using the largest AF point in the center.  Here is the legend.

 

LR_FocusInfo_02.JPG

 

The active AF point was the one near the squirrels belly. Focusing on the branch he's sitting on is not necessarilly a bad thing.  I sometimes focus on branches to pick a bird sitting a on branch, among a multitude of branches.   Your depth of field at this distance and focal length is less than an inch.  

But the sharpest part of the image seems to be the tree behind the squirrel.  Seeing where the focus point is, and how the sharpest part of the image seems to be behind the focus point, it may seem that the lens back focuses a bit. I zoomed in to the AF point that was indicated as locked. 

LR_FocusInfo_04.JPG

Of course, the AF point display can be misleading because you may have recomposed the shot, especially since you used One Shot mode to take the picture.  I think this image shows the camera focuses fairly accurately. 

 

I still think this little guy was trembling.  Notice how the head and feet seem to be in focus, but the body seems less sharp, even though all is about the same distance to the camera.

--------------------------------------------------------
"The right mouse button is your friend."

Hi, Wadizzle, 

 

I read everything you just said and I am loving that breakdown of information. It's from Lightroom, correct? I can't recall, but I think either you or someone else said that LR will automatically diagnose photos upon uploading onto a computer.

 

Questions or comments (if you have time!-Thanks!)

 

1. On the squirrel photo (which is on a bench) and on most of my photos, I have the AF point setting 99% of the time at "Manual" with the largest point in  the middle.  If I set it to the middle point in this photo (unless maybe I didn't - can't recall) I wonder why the locked AF point is below the middle point and on the belly of the squirrel.  I don't know if the middle point is the default or not...And how would I check if it is the default. If I set it, shouldn't it remain at what I set it at?

 

2.  I have been recomposing my shots, but I can't recall if I did in this photo.  My next practice session I am going to make a point to focus on animals' eyes.  Sometimes I'm in such a rush to capture a photo and don't think as much as I should.

 

3. You mention that my DOF and focal length is less than an inch - what does this mean?

 

4. If this lens seems that it may back focus, what can I do about that?

 

5.  Finally, there is a note on your comment that you "don't rent software".  How expensive is Lightroom? How does one get Lightroom - do I rent it? Buy it?  I ask because some people tell me they rent it and that it should not be bought because it eventually becomes outdated. Don't want to spend a lot - I have no idea how much it would cost. I will look it up but would like your opinion.

 

6. You mention the camera focuses fairly accurately - but isn't it also the lens? That is what I'm concerned about. 

 

7.  The next step for me is to put the camera and the 100-400 on my tripod and take some photos.  I want to buy a wireless remote control for my camera. I have an Altura, it worked once, then it died. I put in a new battery - still dead. So I'm going to order a Canon remote. If you have any thoughts on which remote, I'm all ears - otherwise, I think I've asked plenty of questions here.

 

 I really enjoy photography and plan on learning a lot more. Thank you so much - I absolutely appreciate the time you've taken. That focus information is so helpful

 

 

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