I've been using my Canon 70-200 f/2.8L IS II for years now and it's always been my favorite lens for sports. In my last couple outings, I noticed that I was getting a lot of blurry shots and I now realize that they are all my shots taken at full 200mm zoom. Is it common to have focus go bad just at the long range of a lens? Seems the same as usual at say 170mm and under. Could something like this be fixed with AF Microadjustment? In these cases, nothing is in focus (so it's not focusing on something else). Do I need to take this in for servicing?
I'm not a professional photographer but been having taking sports photos for my kids' teams for a while. Those test shots didn't require AI Servo but I wanted to show examples of where it was failing to focus. Here are some photos from the race where I realized what seemed to be the problem because all my 200mm shots were blurry (whether subjects were standing still or moving).
Flickr is going through maintenance now so I apologize if this link doesn't work or is slow...
I'm going to take some One Shot test photos to see if the problem is limited to AI Servo mode.
Thanks for everyone's input!
"Here are some photos from the race ..."
I looked at your shots on flckr. Here comes the photo critic! There is always a critic, isn't there?
You have some good shots and you have some not so good shots. Some shots could be fantastic if you had a post editor and did some selective processing and cropping. None fo the ones I looked at required AI-servo, so don't use it.
Never cut a person in half, if you do crop it out in post. Make sure the main most important thing is the main most important thing. Most of all keep in mind the 3 most important things in photography. Location, location and location! Where you shoot from. Close is usually always better. Location can be part of the issue you are seeing.
Good luck and keep shooting.
"None fo the ones I looked at required AI-servo, so don't use it."
If people are racing by and I'm wanting to keep a particular subject in focus as they approach, go by and go past me, wouldn't that be a case for using AI Servo?
Thanks for the feedback on photos. I do select / crop photos so maybe I just need to be better at that. Can you give an example of a bad one? Perhaps some of it is in conflicts of what I'm trying to shoot for. In some cases they are to get cool shots, others are to get more people into the shot (like for tagging multiple people in an Instagram post, and others are just to capture the race (e.g. bad, far away shot but I want to see later what place my daughter was in).
Also, I'm a little limited in where I shoot from because I'm just a parent and often have to stay behind the fences and often behind the 'real' photographers 🙂
"If people are racing by and I'm wanting to keep a particular subject in focus as they approach, go by and go past me, wouldn't that be a case for using AI Servo?"
No, it isn't, One shot will do and probably do it better.
AI-Servo tracks focus on moving subjects so as your subject moves closer or moves further away. Just think if your SS is 1/500 or perhaps even faster the subject is not moving as far as the camera is concerned.
This photo could be a candidate for AI-servo but I doubt the runner is going to be faster than your camera can focus in One shot.
I would not use AI-servo for this photo at all.
Great photos are made in post not in the camera. And, where you shoot from is by far the most important thing there is. Why do you think "the 'real' photographers " make you stay back?
" I'm just a parent and often have to stay behind the fences ..." You have hit on a huge pet peeve of mine with that. I do lots of school work and I run into other"pro" photographers who think the Sun and Moon rise and set on them. Well it doesn't. I admit I have free range of anywhere I want to go and I understand you can't have a few dozen parents running around everywhere but you are at a distinct disadvantage.
What are you doing your post editing with?
This is a nice shot. It tells you all you need to know.
This isn't. What is it? What is going on? Cut off feet. Cut off people in half.
Is the young lady in the center the subject?
On AI Servo, I lock on the subject and as they run toward, past and away from me, I keep the focus lock on them and fully press to capture shots or hold down for continuous shots. 1DX focus indicators show me what it keeps in focus and I don't have to keep resetting focus with One Shot. In the example you suggested not using AI-Servo, I take several as she goes over the hurdle, lands, and keeps going. I wouldn't want to keep re-establishing focus along the way, right?
On location, most of the photographers are pretty nice and some have encouraged me to join them. It's the occassional meet directors and coaches that don't allow non-credentialled photographers to come out that keep me behind the fences.
And on the bad photo, yeah, I gotta little quick on cropping / editing (ignoring the quality over quantity argument). That young girl is the subject and I actually cropped some of the other people out to draw attention to her. I know her in particular and just tried to grab more frames to share later. Maybe not the best job but I at least cropped out the guy on the right who was scratching his nose.
Travelig tonight and have Section Championships tomorrow so won't have time to tripod-test my lens. But thanks for the advice on the lens and photos!
And I capture with my 1DX / 70-200 f/2,8L IS II and use Lightroom 6.13 (desktop version) for post.
"That young girl is the subject and I actually cropped some of the other people out to draw attention to her."
And you know her parents, not you?, will probably love it. I have to mention the girl that is jumping up in the in the line up shot is priceless. As is the girl that is running up from behind. It is a really good shot.
"And I capture with my 1DX / 70-200 f/2,8L IS II and use Lightroom 6.13 (desktop version) for post."
That is almost exactly what I have. I never use AI-servo if One shot will do the job. Not saying there isn't a situation where AI-servo isn't the bets choice but your 1DX should be able to AF faster than kids can run. Depending on where you set priority, AI-servo may fire when the subject is not in focus.
ebiggs1 wrote, "Keep in mind great photographers never show the bad ones."
But it is a good idea to keep those bad ones in mind as a learning experience. I printed the photo below and it is on the wall above the PC I use for image processing as a reminder to me. This COULD have been one of the best images I captured of my daughter all season IF dad had been fully focused mentally on the task at hand instead of also talking with a coach about some needed photos of other players. Because of this lapse instead of following the play and properly framing the shot, I ended up with a nice jumping photo of a partially headless daughter from trying to react at the last second. Just like the players, the person documenting the action needs to keep his head fully in the game and this is my reminder which will stay in its place on the wall until I make an even more stupid error.
It is the missed opportunities like this one that will provide an excellent education. My daughter had an excellent freshman year on the varsity squad breaking the existing school single season scoring record by 9 goals and being unanimously selected for first team all-conference. Dad needs to do better next season 😞
I do have some other captures from that game that would allow for a pretty simple PS fix and I will probably do that during the off season but right now it is serving a better role as a reminder not to be so easily distracted in the future.
I "wear" two cameras during the game, typically with a 300 2.8 on the 1DX 2 and a 70-200 2.8 on the 1DX. At that range I would have switched to the second body with the 70-200 had I been paying full attention but even if I had anticipated and followed the jump with the 300mm I would have captured all of my daughter set against part of the other player's body which would have amply conveyed the jump and altitude.
There are times after a missed shot like this where I feel like I should be shooting something slow moving like the nursing home soccer league 🙂 I may have a chance to try something similar because next week Anna will be participating in a math modeling workshop with a group of college undergrad and grad students. In addition to academic research pursuits they have some social activities including a student versus faculty soccer match and the director asked me to capture a few photos of the event and I am counting on some slow and out of shape faculty to make for easy and interesting image capture.
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