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.
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.
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.
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.
I really like this advise ..........
"... set your camera to it's highest frame rate and get in the habit of shooting short bursts of 2, 3 or more shots, to best insure that at least one of them will be as sharp as possible."
And this ...
"Proper post-processing is every bit as important and essential to producing a great final image."
Since you don't have any filter on the 100-400mm lens, my next suggestion would be to use the 70D's Micro Focus Adjustment feature to fine tune the focus with that lens (and any other lenses you might have, if you feel the need and wish to do so). There are instructions in the camera manual how to do MFA manually. There are various products available to help with the process (some can be homemade). There also are softwares that can largely automate MFA (Reikan FoCal, for example... Google it if interested). I think it very likely this would solve a lot of your sharpness issues once and for all.
I agree with previous responses that AI Servo isn't quite as accurate all the time, as One Shot can be. However, whenever you are shooting subjects that are moving... or that might move unexpectedly at any moment... AI Servo may be your only choice. (Live View can be even more accurate than One Shot, but also can only be used in certain situations.)
I don't have a 70D. I have a pair of 7D's. But I am fairly sure your 70D has a Custom Function settings much like my 7D's have, since they use very similar AF systems.
First, look for an AI Servo focus priority setting C.Fn. On my camera it's a single C.Fn that serves both 1st image (in a burst of shots) and 2nd/subsequent images (in the burst). I've set it to prioritize "focus vs. shutter release". In other words, I accept that the camera may shoot a little slower, may delay the release of the shutter for a fraction of a second to allow time for more accurate focus. I want my shots in focus, even if it slows down my shooting slightly.
I think your 70D might use two different C.Fns for this purpose... One for 1st image... The other for 2nd/subsequent shots in the burst. Some of the models newer than my 7D that I've looked into use two different C.Fn in this way. These C.Fn settings only effect AI Servo focus mode... not One Shot.
Using AI Servo a lot, you also might want to might want to experiment with Back Button Focusing. This is a very popular sports/action photography technique where you separate the focusing from the shutter release button. BBF allows you to start AF in advance of taking the shot, giving the camera a moment to acquire and track moving subjects. I've provided a link to an older article about BBF... on your 70D (and my 7D's) it's a little different setting it up. Our cameras already have BBF at the "AF On" button on the back. So it's really just a matter of disabling AF at the shutter release button with these camera models. Optionally, it's possible to swap the function of the AF On and "*" or AE Lock button (I use this because the */AE Lock button is larger, more prominent and closer to my thumb... and I focus every shot, while I only occasionally use AE Lock).
To set up BBF on your camera, you need to go into the button/control assignment and setup custom function and navigate to the shutter release button. There you set it to the second (middle) choice, which I believe is simply labelled "metering" or "start metering". That's all you really need to do, unless you want to swap the functions of the AF On and * buttons, which is done by reassigning them within that same custom function.
Try BBF and see if it helps. It quickly becomes second nature and puts you more in control of when and where the AF focuses. BBF also makes possible to use AI Servo by default (there are some situations or techniques, such as Focus & Recompose, that can't be done in AI Servo without BBF). Many people like and swear by BBF (including me). Some people just don't find it works for them, in which case it's very easy to switch back.
Finally, there are also custom functions controlling AI Servo tracking and how it deals with accelerating/decelerating subjects. Suggest you set the AI Servo tracking speed C.Fn to -1 or -2 at least initially. This governs how quick the camera is to jump to another object that might come between you and the subject or if you accidentally let the AF point slip off the subject momentarily. This C.Fn doesn't effect One Shot mode... only AI Servo. I find that when I'm in practice and better at keeping my AF point right on the subject, I can turn this back to 0 or even to +1 or +2 (which will deal with subject direction changes better). However I usually set this to -1 when I'm out of practice with the cameras and particular types of subjects.
The other C.Fn governs how AI Servo deals with subjects that are changing speeds. My cameras don't have this feature, but I believe yours does. Most people seem to find it works best for them set +1 or +2.
I hope these ideas help. One last thing I'd suggest is to set your camera to it's highest frame rate and get in the habit of shooting short bursts of 2, 3 or more shots, to best insure that at least one of them will be as sharp as possible. Better to have several to choose among, than none in focus. The above recommended settings and techniques, as well as the way AI Servo operates also favor using short bursts in this manner.
Oh, and while it's certainly commendable to try to "get it all right" in-camera as much as possible, IMO taking the shot is only half the job of making a photograph. Proper post-processing is every bit as important and essential to producing a great final image. I have never made a finished print or even shared an image online that hasn't been through at least some degree of post-processing . It might be only a few seconds to straighten, crop and tweak color and exposure levels (such as in Lightroom... for proofs). Or it might be many minutes or even some hours of work for finishing to a higher level (in Photoshop and similar... for prints and other purposes). By design, more advanced cameras (such as 70D vs T2i) do less image finishing in-camera, becuase more experienced users tend to do at least some post-processing. Back in the days of film, post-processing was typically done for us by our film lab. Today with digital, for all practical purposes we each are now our own "film lab".
About the focus points. This is from the 6D, but it is similar.
The point you see in the viewfinder is smaller than the real one. You have the 7D here: http://media.the-digital-picture.com/Images/Other/Canon-EOS-7D/Canon-EOS-7D-AF-Point-Coverage.gif