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I am having issues wit the sharpness of my 70D. I have yet to be able to take a truly sharp photo


Hello there,

I was hoping someone could help me with a problem that I am having with my 70D. I have had my camera for almost 6 months now and I have yet to be able to take a truly sharp photo with my camera in ANY kind of automatic mode. The ones I would consider passable where ones that I had to manually focus and even then there is only a 50/50 chace that I'll get any that I truely like.

My lens of choice is the 100-400L IS and yes I do know that with this lens I have to contend with camera shake. I almost always shoot hand held and I do know that  shooting this way it is much harder to get  shots that are in focus and I almost always shoot in Manual.

I have set the camera up to use the Center Point Focus and I have noticed that it will very rarely focus on that point. For example I will focus on the eye of a bird and the back of the head will be in moderate focus and the eye will be soft or blurry.

I previously had a T2i and I was getting wonderful results with that camera and I was so excited to get the 70D and see what I could accomplish with it. I have been really disappointed in the results so far.

I have no idea what I'm doing wrong with this camera and any help would be appreciated.

Examples below:

Image below was take with my T2i a few years ago and I'm very happy with this image.  400m at 1/1600 f/10  ISO 400. Slightly cropped. Taken on a bright, very sunny day. I was sitting on the ground and had the lens stabalized on my knees.

gatorland #1 1207a.jpg



Image below was taken with my 70D yesterday. Not so happy with this one. This image is an example of the image quality I get with this camera. Taken on a very bright, sunny day. This bird was slightly closer to me me than the one above. I was also sitting on the ground and had the lens stabalized on my knees. Not cropped. Straight out of the camera. 400m at 1/1000  f/7.1 with ISO 200.

dora 225.JPG


Any help on what I am doing wrong would be most appreciated. I really am having quite a time trying to get good phots with this camera. I wanted something better than just snapshot quality.


To virtually guarantee you don't get "great" photos is, use the green square fully auto mode.  That is a compromise for exposure and not for what you intend.

Saying that, all cameras have a limit as to what is possible. Some of the time it is limited by simply the lens you use. Other times for lack of light and so on, etc.

Generally speaking you want a high f-number for a large amount, DOF, of the picture to be in focus. Example f11 or f16.  Again this may be beyond the limit of the camera/lens combo you have.  For instance inside an average family living room, may not have sufficient ligth to warrant f16 or even f11.  In that case you must supply the required amount of light.  It might be a flash for instance.

At any rate, you must learn the other more controllable modes of your camera and get off the green square full auto setting.


Getting and learning a good post editor is another way to get you the great photos you seek.

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

 I rarely stop by this forum, or any other for that matter, so I feel a little out of place when I do post, what with the plethora of fine photographers located here. I've read most of the advice being given to help this gentleman and it's all good, however, as to the two original photos used as an example of soft focus the first thing I noticed is that the 70D birds eye is turned slightly away from the camera and is in the shade where as the first shot is taken in complete sunshine and the birds eye is considerably larger than the second bird. As mentioned several times: hard to make a comparison. I have to agree with "post processing". One of the best photography tools out there. One more quick observation: that's a big, heavy lens that's being used. I have found that as I get older I simply cannot hold my rig as steady as I could some years ago. Tripod time?



@RobertTheFat wrote:

Indeed, the AF point is on the background, which is extremely unsharp. Doesn't this suggest that a manual adjustment was made after focus was achieved?

Not necsnecessarily,  could one of be several things.


Actual sensor and focus areas are larger than the squares displayed.


Back button focus could have been used and OP focused and recrecomposed, releasing back button before recomposing. 


Or just a focus and recompose and AI Servo did not refocus on the background by the time the photo was taken.  Tracking sensitivity is set to -2, so focus would stay locked a little longer before it starts trying to refocus.  Typically I use back button focus with -2 tracking sensitivity on my 7D.  There is a lag for focus to jump to another object that interferes with the main subject I am tracking, which is what I want for some sports.

This particular shot was #2 or #3 in a burst of 5. So no manual focusing on this photo.

AI-Servo doesn't always deliver every image in focus. If you want to be sure your gear is functioning I recommend going outside on a nice sunny day in Program mode with lens at 100mm. Choose a static subject that can fill frame.
John Hoffman
Conway, NH

1D X Mark III, Many lenses, Pixma PRO-100, Pixma TR8620a, LR Classic

Thank you Mr. Hoffman,

I was planning on doing that this weekend or sooner with my big lens.

I have the test shots I did with my small lens downloaded to disk so I could take them into town with me when I went to the camera shop but unfortunately that disk is in one of my camera bags that I loaned to my brother.

I am sure that I could get a possitive answer to my question if I had "test photos" to show than actual "working" photos with the lens that I use most.

I'll post them when I have them.

Again thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.


By any chance, do you have a "protection" filter on the lens for the second shot (70D), that wasn't on the first shot (T2i)?


The reason I ask is that the original 100-400mm is widely known to not "play well" with filters. Many users of the lens have found that even high quality filters on it can cause softer images. The lens can be quite a bit sharper without any filter.


This applies to the original version 100-400L only, not the Mark II version. I don't know of any similar issue with the newer version and filters (but it's likely to be sharper since the newer version now incorporates a fluorite element, where the original version didn't).


Also, almost any image needs some sharpening in post-processing. Especially when shooting JPEGs, all cameras do some sharpenting in due course of making an image. How much varies from model to model. But in-camera sharpening should be kept minimal. Final sharpening is best done in post-processing, once the image has been sized for it's particular use, and might be different depending upon usage. For example, an image being used to make a print needs different sharpening than an image to be displayed online.  And a 4x6 print needs different sharpening than an 11x14 print or a 20x30 print would need.


If you were shooting RAW files, the camera would set a "tag" as to how much sharpening is being called for by the camera's settings... but the sharpening isn't actually done to the image until the RAW file is processing into a JPEG or TIFF or PSD or PNG or whatever. In other words, with RAW you can still change the degree and type of sharpening to be applied.


The reason digital images need sharpening is because there is an anti-aliasing filter in front of the sensor. This actually deliberately slightly blurs the image. This is done to reduce or eliminate an undesirable optical effect called moiré ( Images are then re-sharpened.... in the camera when you shoot JPEGs and have sharpening set, or in post-processing if shooting RAW files.


You can get cameras without an anti-alias filter or with a particularly weak one, or have the filter removed and replaced with a plain one to produce as sharp and detailed an image as possible. The new 5DS-R has no AA filter or an especially weak one, for example. The 60Da (version of the camera expecially for astrophotography) is another example.


However, if you were using those you would find the moiré issue a problem at times and it's generally better simply sharpening your images carefully yourself, once final use has been determined.  


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

Thank you for your comments Mr. Myers.

As to your question about the filter on the lens the answer is no, I did not.

I had been seriously looking into getting a set but it seems that your comments about the original 100-400L not "playing well" with filters fits the consensus I have beens running across. No need to add another layer of "not working properly" to my set until I can figure out what is going on at the moment.

Thank you for explaining the in camera process for sharping. I try to do as little post as I can prefering to get what I need when I take the photo. My T2i was a perfect camera (for me at least - after I got over the learning curve) where I could look at the shooting situation, enter my shooting info and at the end of the day I would have more keepers than trash. If the camera was sharpening the photos it was doing a wonderful job. Now with the 70D it seems I have more trash than keepers and it is getting rather discouraging.

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.



I also went with the 100-400L from the T2i to the 70D. I get noticeably more sharp photos with the 70D. Your 70D photo is not sharp, but as others have noted, you need to do more controlled tests.

Most of the thime, in myexperience, this type of issue is mostly user error or technique.

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