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5D Mark III pictures soft


Hello All

I recently upgraded from my 40D to MK III.I shoot with following lenses 100mm 2.8/70-200 f4 IS/85 mm 1.8 and 50mm 1.8.

I am an advanced enthusisasit and about 60-70 percent of my photos were keepers .For some reason I am not happy with the shots in MK III as about 80 percent turns soft/off focus where are same are pretty sharp in 40D with above combinations.

I am wondering if it is my lack of knowledge in full frames or did I get a lemon.How would I make sure I dont have a lemon which needs to go back.It is still in warranty




did you use MFA on your 40D? Have you tried to test your lens to see if it is front/back focus? Full frame camera has less DOF compare to crop so any focus mistake is more likely to show up.

When I first swtich from crop to full frame, I had the same problem too. But after evaluating my gears, and change my techniques, I get much better result.

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No I never did any adjustments with 40D.My concern was even with prime lenses the softness creeps in.Most of the photos I increased the sharpness to upto 10 in Digital photo professional.

Is there  a bunch of test I can do to eliminate bluriness due to hand shake.May be test shots with Tripod

Any time you're suspicious use a tripod & fast shutter speeds to verify the camera / lens combo. A shutter release cable or using the timer will take the test even closer to accurate by eleminating shake as you press the shutter button.


NOTE however that the new camera has roughly double the number of pixels which translates into double the number smeared from camera shake. As the pixel count goes up technique must be improved.


Also note the 40D didn't allow Micro Focus adjustments so there wasn't a way to do it then.

"A skill is developed through constant practice with a passion to improve, not bought."

Can you share more on your comment "after changing my technique I had
Much better results". Would love to hear about changes /adjustments. I too
Recently went to full frame 6D & having same issue.


Interesting you should mention that 80%, not 100%, turn out soft. And this is regardless of the lens used?


I'd be interested to hear if that number drops to 50% in the very near future.




First thing, do you have "protection" filters on your lenses? If so, remove them and see if there is a difference. Full frame cameras are less forgiving of any compromise in glass... whether it be lenses or filters on them.


If's not surprising you didn't MFA your lenses on your 40D. The 40D doesn't have MFA. 50D was the first APS-C camera to have it. 7D got it too. Then for some unexplicable reason Canon left it off 60D. But they are forgiven now for that mistake, since 70D has the new and improved version. 5DII was the first full frame model (other than 1D series) to get MFA, with the first version. 5DIII has the more advanced version and you'd be well advised to use it on your lenses if you find them front or back focusing.


Full frame cameras do not have shallower depth of field than crop sensor cameras. Sensor size doesn't change depth of field. It only changes when aperture size, focal length or distance to subject change. What does change with a full frame camera is that when we frame the same subject we shot with our crop cameras, we either stand closer or use longer focal lengths to achieve the same framing. Either of those can result in shallower DOF.


How are you evaluating your images? If you are viewing the 22MP images from your 5DIII at 100% on your computer monitor, with most modern computer monitors that is like looking at a 5 foot wide print from 18 inches away (assuming your monitor is set to native resolution of 96 ppi). Viewing your 40D's 10MP images at the same 100% on the same monitor would be like they were printed a little more than 3 feet wide. If this is what you're doing, you are actually looking at the 5DIII images far more critically.


When evaluating sharpness, be reasonable. Back off to 50% or so on your computer monitor. It also would be much better to evaluate sharpness from a print, made with a photo quality printer on heavy matte paper. That's the best way to truly see what results you are getting.


Study the AF system of the 5DIII carefully. It's quite complex. I initially had a really big drop in my "keepers" when I went from 50D to 7D, with it's much more sophisticated AF system. I was missing focus because I was using many of the focus patterns and adjustments incorrectly. Once I learned to use them, I now get better keeper rate than ever. I believe you'll find some tutorials online about the 5DIII focus system. I'd suggest scaling it back to something simple, such as single point, center point only... then experiment a little at a time with the other modes and setups. I steer clear of programmed settings, such as the "cases" offered to set up the AF system on the camera. I want to learn how to control it well myself, not rely upon some programming engineer's idea of how it should work.


Your 100/2.8, 85/1.8 and 70-200 all three should give you good results, especially if they are all USM lenses. The 50/1.8 has a more "iffy" auto focus system. It's not as consistent as the USM lenses. Reportedly some people who try to set up a MFA with the 50/1.8 just give up, due to lack of consistency with the lens. It's a decent lens optically, just very lightly built and with a less than stellar AF system... But, hey, what should we expect? After all it's Canon's least expensive lens.


Are you shooting RAW or JPEG? If JPEGs, do you have some sharpening set in the camera or a picture style set that has sharpening? Maybe you need to turn it up? If shooting RAWs, you'd do the same except sharpening would be done when post-processing the RAW files.  


Not sayin' it doesn't happen, that sometimes a camera is faulty... But I'd wager that some 9 out of 10 "gear issues" are actually user error. Especially when it's a new and unfamiliar camera.


Hope this helps!


Alan Myers

San Jose, Calif., USA
"Walk softly and carry a big lens."
GEAR: 5DII, 7D(x2), 50D(x3), some other cameras, various lenses & accessories




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