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Sudden fuzzy photos - EOS80D


I have an odd problem with my camera. I have been using my camera a lot this week due to graduation photos, so I know this issue is brand new and that the camera was working perfectly fine very, very recently. 


In short, my camera's photos are coming out extremely fuzzy. Auto mode seems to help, but not entirely, and I do not know how to fix the issue. Here are examples of photos I took recently, and photos I tried to take yesterday. I'll also show the comparison between manual and auto mode from yesterday. 


This photo was taken before the camera experience these problems:




Here's what my photos looked like yesterday, same lens, extremely similar manual settings:


Nothing in this picture is in focus.


Auto-mode was slightly better, but I still notice some fuzziness...




Any ideas? Has this happened to anyone before? 


"Spot metering is dependent on where the main focus point falls (i.e. on a dark pixel or a light coloured one, affecting contrast, and perceived sharpness) and is most effective when the subject fills all or most of the viewfinder."


I am not sure what you mean by this, but spot focus is always at the center of the viewfinder:




Somehow, in a way I have never understood, evaluative metering is linked somehow to the focus point, but not spot metering.

Hi Kevin.


Evaluative metering takes the whole viewfinder's scene in account to determine shutter speed, aperture, and iso settings, while spot metering concentrates primarily on the 3.8% area around the focus point - then 'looks' at the whole scene, secondarily.


Spot is effecitive when photographing small objects/areas as it 'samples' a relatively small area (i.e. 3.8% vs 100%) - to get the 'most pleasing' exposure.




Right, which is not what you said above. And I don't think that spot metering "looks at the whole scene secondarily", that is center weighted average, which I did not show in my screenshot above.

Spot metering in the 80D is only measured at the center AF point. Always. You can select any AF point you wish for focusing. Spot metering is always at the center.
"The right mouse button is your friend."


I do not want to beat this to death but you really need to re-read Tim Campbell's suggestion and advice.


First, a camera is not a likely source for blurry pictures.  It can be, but not the first place to look.  The lens would be the first place.  But that too is behind user mistakes or error.  Knowing you are probably not going to heed this advice, your only next solution is to send the camera and lens to Canon for a C&C. You will never otherwise be satisfied it is not the camera/lens and quite possibly you.

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

Oops I meant to update this - it's been solved!
It turns out the lens had damage. Thankfully my camera is fine. When I tested out other lenses the issue was no longer there, and when I let my professional photographer friend use the lens in question she also was not able to produce photos.

Thanks anyways! 🙂

@aubreys wrote:
Oops I meant to update this - it's been solved!
It turns out the lens had damage. Thankfully my camera is fine. When I tested out other lenses the issue was no longer there, and when I let my professional photographer friend use the lens in question she also was not able to produce photos.

Thanks anyways! 🙂

From your images, I doubt there is anything wrong with the lens.


It is most likely the problem is how you are using it. You appear to be using too large an aperture too close to your subject, simple as that.


You have been given a lot of misinformation in some previous responses....


1. Spot FOCUS and Spot METERING are two entirely different things and have relatively little to do with each other, aside from the similarity of the names of the two features. 80D has spot metering but 80D does NOT have spot focus. So it's really a moot point in this case. But... just to clarify.... Spot focus is a high precision focus mode that uses a single AF point that's smaller than usual. It's ONLY found on the cameras with 61--point and 65-point AF systems (1DXII, 5DIV, 7DII).  Spot focus IS NOT restricted to the center of the image area. It can be done with any ONE of the AF points in the array. Spot focus works well when trying to photograph a subject that's behind a tangle of branches, for example. It does make AF slightly slower, so may not be ideal for faster moving subjects.


An earlier response shows how spot metering compares to other metering patterns. When using spot metering, in most Canon models the metered area is fixed. Only the spot delineated by the circle at the center of the image area is being measured. A few of the very high-end pro camera models have "AF linked spot metering", where the spot being metered can be located elsewhere in the image area... This was first introduced on the EOS-3 film cameras I used years ago and essentially spot metering is tied to and "follows" the active AF point. On various models I've used with this feature, the camera needs to be restricted to using a limited number of AF points (EOS-3 only use 11 AF points with it, if I recall correctly).


Although it's not the same as AF-linked spot metering, Evaluative Metering pattern acts somewhat similarly. It measures the overall image area, but it puts extra emphasis on the area right around active AF point(s). In other words, it gives priority to whatever you are focusing upon.


2. There is also misinformation about how AI Servo works and using it with stationary subjects (which is something I do 95% of the time). IN FACT, AI Servo is a good, all-around focusing mode... But first you need to understand the workings all three of the focusing modes the camera offers:


One Shot focus mode is designed for stationary subjects ONLY. AF starts when you half press the shutter release or press the AF On button on the rear of the camera, AF achieves focus... then it stops, "locks", and gives you Focus Confirmation (green LED in the viewfinder, red flash in some camera, audible "beep" if you have  it enabled). That's fine so long as both you and the subject remain stationary. IF THE SUBJECT MOVES and/or you move and the distance between you changes, focus will be incorrect unless you consciously re-do it.


Another possible problem with One Shot is that some modern zoom lenses are "varifocal" designs... which means they do NOT maintain focus when zoomed. If you are using this type of lens, perform auto focus, then change the focal length of the lens, you MUST re-do focus or it will be inaccurate. "Parfocal" zooms that maintain focus precisely when zoomed are more complex and difficult to build, so tend to be more expensive. Since auto focus has become almost universal and can compensate for it (when used correctly), many manufacturers have resorted to varifocal zoom designs to help keep the cost of manufacture down and be able to offer competitive pricing. 


AI Servo focus mode is designed for moving subjects, but is also can be used with stationary with some minor limitations, unless other techniques are used in combination with it. Once you start AI Servo focus running, it does so continuously until you stop it by lifting off the button or finish taking the shot.  While it's running AI Servo constantly updates to maintain focus on the subject (so long as you keep the active AF point on the subject). There is no Focus Confirmation in AI Servo.


It is NOT correct that AI Servo always causes the shutter to release whether or not focus has been achieved, reducing focus accuracy. IN FACT, there is a setting on 80D and many other models that lets you prioritize how the camera handles the situation. Page 418 of the 80D user manual discusses how to set Custom Functions II-4 and II-5. These only apply to AI Servo and let you select whether you prefer the camera go ahead and releast the shutter even if focus hasn't been fully achieved, or if you are willing to accept a possible slight delay of the shutter release while waiting for the camera to achieve focus. Setting the priority all the way to the "focus" side of the scale assures the latter (and is what I use, personally).


There are two different Custom Functions for this purpose. CFn II-4 effects only the first image in a consecutive burst of images, if you have the camera set to a high frame rate. It will also effect a single image when drive is set to that and AF is in AI Servo mode. CFn II-5 determines how the camera treats the second and all subsequent images in a consecutive burst. It will not have any effect if you are using the camera in single shot drive mode with AI Servo focus mode.


The reason for these options is that in some action shooting situations it may be more important to "get the shot" than for focus to be perfect. Maybe you're using a smaller aperture anyway, that would cover any minor focus error and so might opt for the shutter release to be as fast as possible. But, again, neither of these Custom Functions have effect in One Shot focus mode.


AI Focus is the third focus mode. But it actually isn't a focus mode at all. It's automation where the camera is supposed to decide for you whether or not the subject is moving, then switch to use the correct focus mode: Either One Shot (stationary subject) or AI Servo (moving subject). Personally I haven't used this focus mode in many years. I avoid it. When I experimented with it on older cameras I found it seemed to slow AF, sometimes didn't choose correctly or sometimes wouldn't switch modes if a stationary subject started moving or vice versa. It might be a hint that the most pro-oriented Canon models - the 1D-series cameras - don't even have AI Focus mode. They only have One Shot and AI Servo.


Now that you know how the focus modes work, when to use them is the next question. Personally I use AI Servo almost all the time with both moving and stationary subjects. Partially this is because I shoot a lot of action and sports.


Something important - I always use Back Button Focusing (BBF). This is necessary in order to use AI Servo in some situations, such as when using a focus and recompose technique. In combination with AI Servo, BBF it puts me in more full control of exactly when and how the AF functions.I can turn it on and off with the simple press of  the AF On button.


Setting up BBF on more recent camera models is no big deal. In most cases, it's just a matter of modifying how the shutter button works, setting it so that a half press of it doesn't start AF. The AF On button is already set up to control AF, so all that's being done is removing that function from the shutter release button (Custom Function for button assignments, navigate to the shutter release button and set it to "meter" instead of "AF". Note: Some Canon don't have an AF On button, but can still be set up to do BBF using the * button, which normally provides AE Lock (I recommend to set the CFn so that there is not AE Lock... If needed you can always set the camera to M and get the same effect as AE Lock).


An advantage of always using AI Servo is that its continuous focus will automatically correct any loss of focus if using a varifocal zoom. The AF system will instantly correct focus. One Shot can't do that.


It's also important what "focus pattern" you choose to use. The 80D has four "AF Area Selection Modes", as Canon calls them. They are: Single Point/Manual, Zone (9-point), Large Zone (15-point) and All Points/Auto. (Note: Some other models incl. the 7D Mark II that I use have those plus three more: Spot Focus, 4-point Expansion and 8-point Expansion.)


The most accurate way to focus is Single Point where you manually choose the AF point you want the camera to use and place it right where you want the camera and lens to focus. This is what I use most of the time (with AI Servo and BBF) and I get upwards of 95% of my shots acceptably focused. It's more work for me to use the camera this way, but it insures the most accurate focus.


Any of the multi-point patterns leave it up to the camera to decide where it will focus. Usually it will focus upon the closest object covered by an active AF point. This may or may not be where you want it to focus. You are leaving it more to chance, when you don't select the AF point yourself and keep it right where you want the camera and lens to focus. Of course, it's more work to do this (as is using BBF, described above).


The multi-point patterns are useful in certain situations. For example, a rapidly moving bird in flight can be difficult to focus upon and one of the zone patterns can be useful. This will work best if the bird is against a plain sky or a very distant background with little detail that might "distract" the AF and cause it to miss focus. I suppose the same could be true of All Points/Auto, though to be honest I never use that. It's more a "point n shoot/camera phone" focus method, as far as I'm concerned. The two Zone patterns are also "auto", but more limited in what the camera can opt to use.


Finally, the reason your images are "fuzzy" is because you are using such a large aperture and are fairly close to your subject, which results in relatively shallow depth of field (DoF). Assuming none of the images are cropped... Your first image is "sharp" because you are at a greater distance from your subject ... and you got lucky using f/1.4 aperture. The second and fuzziest image is both closer and shot at f/1.8, making for less DoF. The third image is shot at the same distance, but when you switched to an "auto" mode the camera selected f/5.6, which greatly increases DoF. Their abiliyt of render shallow DoF is one of the reasons large aperture lenses are "challenging" to use. It makes that type of lens more unforgiving of any minor focus error.


A 35mm lens at 5 feet with f/1.8 aperture renders DoF of f inches. That's the plane that will be in acceptably sharp focus. It  doesn't take much focus error at all for that to cause problems in images. The "error" might be as simple as the camera focusing on the tip of the person's nose in a portrait or the closest wingtip of a bird flying past. (Longer focal lengths will render even shallower DoF, but you will be standing farther from your subject in order  to frame the subject the same way, which increases DoF.) For comparison, the same lens and distance using an f/5.6 aperture renders DoF of 18 inches... much more forgiving. Many lenses also aren't at their sharpest wide open... are sharper stopped down to a middle aperture.


EDIT: You mention using "Auto". If by that you mean the "AUTO +" on your camera's mode dial, then you are using All Points/Auto and AI Focus modes. The camera forces you to use those, in that mode. It also prevents you from savign RAW files, only allows JPEGs, makes the camera use Program exposure mode with Program Shift, won't let you use Exposure Compensation and other highly automated modes. It's essentially a "point n shoot/camera phone" mode that takes away all of your control of the camera..


If you mean that you set the AF point selection to All Points/Auto, that's different... You can still choose your own exposure mode, use Exposure Compensation, etc., etc.. But to some extend it's still allowing the camera to decide where it's going to focus... rather than you making that decision.


Also, your camera has a Micro Focus Adjustment feature, which might be needed with that particular lens. Every lens and camera combo is different, so this is provided on the 80D and higher models to allow you to fine tune autofocus to be as precise as possible. There are instructions in the user manual how to use it.


Hope this helps!



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

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