First off Camera is a 7D Mk1 and im sure its user error as it seems to happen with all my lenses. A few months back I sent in the camer body for cleaning as sugested by the group, as well as a lens i picked up a 28-135 IS USM for check and repair that fixed the lens issue and got the camera all tuned up and cleaned, they repaced the focus screen in the camera oddly due to dust entrapment in the viewfinder. Camera is working great I think for what I usually use it for, shooting Landscape. I usually run it in manual mode and set my F Stop and Shutter manually and play with exposure a bit and get great results.
A few weeks back I was invited to take pictures at a local function to help out and expand my eperience and have a bit of fun in the process.. To get a feel for things I decided to let the Camera do the thinking whie I earned to track moving objects and constantly moving myslef to get pictures in, so Current Settings are as follows
Camera is in P Mode
AF is in 19 Point
AEB Centered at 0
Picture Style is in Std 3,0,0,0 (Unmodified)
Auto White Balance, but was flipping to Florecent as well
One Shot AF
Anyway a good majority of the time i had to manually move the focus point to where I wanted it, so I did play with the bracketing a bit. But a Good Majority was a hair out of focus. My object I was wanting to attract attention to anyway, sometimes it was wanting to focus in the background or randomly grab something closer leaving the subject itself out of focus.
I am still learning this camera, is there a good book on this camera available or can someone coach me a bit on the different AF modes, like AI Servo, AI Focus, and One Shot and the Differing Metering. I sure its totally me at the controls as if I run in full manual it takes dynamic photos. I was just a bit under the weather for the event so I figured the camera would be smarter than me correct? LOL
Secondy I would love to hear some tips on taking pictures of refective objects. I was invited to a small car meet Sunday and decided to play with the camera a bit again and again to me every photo is a tick out of focus. Below is my own vehicle, taken in the backwoods in full daylight, had the tulip on the ens and a decent UV Filter. Blow I feel I did better in the shade with the Evo, bit i know the camera can do better once I learn, how to shoot better.. Locomotive and anscape the same way. Is it me, my lenses or something amiss with the camera. Constructive Criticism Wecome. But be gentle..
"AF is in 19 Point "
The 7D is going to focus on the closest object it can find. It may or may not be what you thought it was. If you want pin point focus use only the center point.
"...had the tulip on the ens and a decent UV Filter."
Lens hood good, filter bad. Remove it.
"I figured the camera would be smarter than me correct?"
Sometimes it is and sometimes it is not. Only experience will help with that. Keep shooting and learning which settings produce the results you desire. Memory is a great thing to have. On your great shots check out the exif data. What worked? Even the bad ones can teach you. What did not? They just might tell you more!
Now you will get replies that somebody is going to tell you exactly how they shoot and get fantastic shots. That's OK but it isn't anything like doing it and learning for yourself.
Auto focus info. Use "one shot" for stationary objects & "AI Servo" for moving targets & you need to activate the AF & track the target so that the camera can try to predict it's path & re focus as you shoot. Forget the other option, it wasn't good enough to include on the pro bodies. As for metering try all of the choices for a similar shot & compare, then do it again in a different scenario etc to see what YOU prefer.
Lots of comments to make...
#1 - Dump the UV filter. That's making things worse, not better. A "UV" filter was helpful in the days of film cameras where films were sensitive to UV light but it focuses at a different distance than visible spectrum light. The result was that images could be slightly less sharp and the UV filter dumped the UV light and provided a tiny improvement to the image.
But with digital cameras, the sensor is natively sensitive to more than film and very image would look worse without filtering. SO... the manufacturers all include UV and IR filter built into the camera (they are located immediately in front of the sensor). Consequently an external UV filter is redundant.
But what could it hurt, right? It turns out that smooth & flat glass surface on the filter creates reflections. Light passes through, some light reflects off the curved front face of your lens, back onto the nice "flat" reflective surface of the filter, and back into the lens again. This results in ghosting, extra flare, etc.
A lens can produce flare all on it's own ... but a UV filter will make things worse.
You'll want to avoid letting direct bright sunlight hit the front element of your lens (that's what the hood is for). If the hood can't block the sun, you can use anything available (hold a sheet of cardboard just out of frame to block the direct sunlight from hitting the lens) to help.
#2 - Your letting the camera auto-select it's AF point. When you use the full 19 point AF, the camera "evaluates" all the points... but chooses just one as it's favorite. That point is typically whichiever point could lock focus at the nearest distance to the camera.
When you know what you want in focus... it's better to select the focus point yourself.
#3 - You're using "P" (Program) mode. In this mode the camera doesn't really know what sort of shot you're trying to get so it just picks what it thinks is a "safe" exposure... but it will not likely be the optimal exposure.
If you want everything from the front to back of the car to be nicely focused, then you probably want an increased "depth of field". There are three primary factors that control this (including lens focal length and focus distance) but the factor you can adjust the easiest is the aperture value (aka "f-stop" aka "focal ratio").
For this you'd probably select "Av" mode (Aperture value mode) and select a higher aperture value such as f/8 or f/11 ... or even f/16.
#4 - You can use a "Circular Polarizer" to deal with reflections. This is a glass filter (much like your UV filter) and it threads onto the front of the camera lens. You can twist/rotate the filter and as you do, look through the camera and you'll observe that the intensity of "blue" in the sky and "green" in the foliage will change. If you're loooking at anything with a reflective surface (e.g. the car windshield on your red mitsubishi would be a good example) you'll notice the reflections are tamed and you can easily see "through" the glass instead of the harsh reflections on the glass. You'll actually notice all reflections are reduced as you rotate the filter to "tune" it.
However, these filters work best if the source of bright light that is creating the reflection is coming from the sides or at least a decent angle. If the source of bright light is nearly in front of your (like it is in the shot with the blue VW) then the effect will be reduced. Polarizers don't work well if the source of light is nearly directly ahead of you... or directly behind you.
Also, it MUST (this is important) be a "circular polarizing" filter (sometimes abbreviated "CPL") rather than a "linear polarizer" or just "polarizer". The name "circular" is NOT meant to refer to the filter actually being round (all thread-on filters are round). The name "ciruclar" refers to the fact that the polarizer actually has two layers... the front layer is a linear polarizer, but the back layer has something called a "quarter wave plate" (if you stare at the filter you wont see anything special. Your eye can't detect it... but your camera can.)
The light hitting the filter is randomly polarized. When objects strike a reflective surface, the reflecting rays take on an angle of polarizing based on the angle of the surface that caused the reflection. In other words all the light that is part of the "reflection" is polarized in the same direction (or nearly the same). All the light from sources that are NOT part of the reflection are randomly polarized.
The "linear polarization" layer lets you tune the angle of polarization for light to pass. Since all the light caused by the reflection will be polarized in nearly the same way, you can rotate the filter (twist it) to "tune out" those reflections... but all the light NOT caused by the reflections will still pass through the filter. The reflections disappear like magic (you may see a tiny bit... but reflections are dramatically reduced.)
But this solves one problem and creates another. It turns out both the auto-focus sensors in the camera as well as the metering system in the camera require randomly polarized light. When you use a "linear polarizer" the filter only allows light to pass that matches the angle of the filter's polarizing pattern.
This means the auto-focus system and metering system will struggle to work correctly.
So for a "ciruclar polarizer" they add an extra layer in the glass which is called a "quarter wave plate". This twists the polarized light such that the metering and auto-focus sensors are happy again.
If you place both a "linear polarizer" and "circular polarizer" on a table in front of you and inspect them... they're going to look and work the same to your eye. You wont notice any obvious difference. But to the camera, the "circular polarizer's" extra step (the quarter-wave plate) alters the polarity of light (in a way your eye can't detect) but it allows the camera AF & metering to work correctly.
#5 - I see you also have a picture of what looks to be a moving train. By default the camera uses a focus mode in which the camera begins focus ... and locks focus at some subject distance. Once this happens ... it STOPS focusing. But if your object is still moving... it's focus distance will be changing even though the camera has stopped focusing. The result is an out-of-focus shot.
This is the default behavior if the camera is in "One Shot" focus mode. The other mode is called "AI Servo" mode. In THAT mode the camera believes the subject is constantly moving and it never stops focusing... it will just keep updating the focus as the focus distance changes.
This has two consequences which may not be obvious. First is that the camera wont "chirp" to tell you it has finished focusing because... it hasn't finished focusing. It's continously focusing. So no chirp noises... just take the shot when you think it looks good. Second, this mode is usually used for action shots & sports where the most critical part of the shot is getting it at the "decisive moment". If you're shooting a runner sliding into home plate in baseball... there is a "best" moment to get that shot. This is what is meant by the "decisive moment". It's the one moment in time when the shot would be more appealing than any shot taking a second earlier or a second later. To help with this, the camera takes a behavior called "release priority". This means when you FULLY press the shutter button... the camera WILL TAKE THE SHOT. It will do this whether the camera had time enough to focus or not. In the default "One Shot" mode (meant for non-moving subjects) the camera uses "focus priority" which means when you FULLY press the shutter button, the camera will take the shot AFTER it belives it has achieved focus (which is not what action photographers want).
There is a third mode called "AI Focus" - which is an auto-decide mode. The camera initially behaves like it is using "One Shot" AF behavior... but if the subject starts to move it will switch over to "AI Servo" behvior. This might sound ideal but since it takes a moment for the camera to decide, this delay could cost you a "decisive moment" shot.
For this reason, if you KNOW you have stationary subjects, use "One Shot" mode. If you KNOW you have moving/action subjects, use "AI Servo" mode. If you aren't sure what you are going to encounter... use "AI Focus"
Your selection of AF mode and AF point can make a huge difference in the final result.
As already noted, if you select all AF points active, in One Shot mode the camera will focus on what is usually the closest object to the camera. In One Shot mode, manually select the center AF point. The center AF point is the most sensitive and accurate AF point in just about any DSLR. Focus on your subject, and then recompose the shot, if need be.
The best time to select all AF points is when you are using AI Servo mode. AI Servo is most useful for when the distance to the subject is changing. With all of the AF points active, and a little practice, the camera will pick up on what you want in focus, and track the subject’s movement through the frame.
The last AF mode is AI Focus. This mode intends to switch between One Shot and AI Servo automatically. Seeing how AF point selection for One Shot and AI Servo modes are very different, AI Focus does not give good results. The camera must figure out which mode to use, which slows down the overall AF speed. Most people never use AI Focus.
Appreciate all this input and suggestions. Coming from a 35 mm film SLR and cheap pocket Digitals I've got a lot to learn. Everyone I've talked with said I couldn't have scored a better setup in the 7D for a well rounded good for everything Camera. It's got an enormous amount of feature I'm still figuring out as well so much appreciated on the shot mode clarification.
So as far as the metering settings I suspect that will all play into the focus as well?
I can see the errors I made early now. I was unable to post pics from the event I did as there was many children in the frames but with the constant movement I'll try AI Servo next time and kick it out of 19 point and use center or manually select my focus point. I must of took 1700 photos that day and I'm saying majority were out of focus.
Again many thanks and I have learned something today. I'm sure more will chime in with more suggestions as well.
AI Servo mode is not that smart. It cannot track a subject until you learn how to select a subject, in such a way that the camera focuses where you want. AI Servo is best used at times when the distance to the subject is changing, which means the focus could possibly need correction at real time. Think sports.
Until you are more familiar with the camera, stick to One Shot Mode, and only have the center AF point active. Use a high shutter speed, 1/400 or faster. I try to use 1/800, or faster, for generally photography Some shooting modes allow you to dial in a SS, and others do not.
Waddizzle, even though it was a bit nasty out I grabbed the camera and went out to look for Eagles and Snow Geese. First I tried the suggestions above then went back to my roots and put it in manual after seeing no matter what I tried in P Mode and even Av mode is the shutter wanted to be down in the 80-200 range and pics look okay but zoom in on the camera or on the computer and they are okay but not razor sharp like I want. So Manual mode see my F Stop up and set the shutter at 1/800. And set it so my exposure was one tick under center. And OMG presto that is the ticket. At full zoom 135mm on my IS USM Lens I can pick out the pupil clearly on the goose at 50+ yards. Got a few young eagles as well but I had nothing to frame it with as they were standing along a cut in a muddy old corn field. That is what I was missing was being able to adjust the shutter where I wanted, and like you said in some modes it's almost impossible on the fly to adjust the shutter. So I'm guessing at the lower speeds when I'm at mid to Max zoom even with the IS on its picking up my hand shake. Going to see if I can modify a side grip to work with the battery grip and I am using a Joby sling as it's far better on my neck than the standard strap. Just wish I could leave it on with the tripod shoe. I'll upload a few here in a while, see what everyone thinks. I also ditched the UV Filter, well I'm going to take it apart and have a piece of glass cut to fit to just be a lens protector and get a Polarizer on order for the USM lens. Already have one on my base lens that came off my old telephoto from my film camera. Need to get one for my Tamron 300 mm as well I stupidly left at home while testing. Lol.
Again many thanks, I may figure out how to save this setting I dialed in to one of the custom presets. I have yet to venture in playing with the settings for them.
I did crop this image to get rid of a bad backdrop of mud flats.. Shot in P Mode, shutter was 1/100, one click under center on exposure. (Eagles)
Shot in Manual 1/200 Shutter, Center Focus, One Shot (Large Group of Geese)
Shot in full manual, 1/800 Shutter, Center Focus, and AI Servo (small Group of Geese/ Swans)
Shot In Full Manual, 1/800 Shutter, One Shot, Center Focus, No filter, One click under Center on Exposure, and Evaluative Metering. (VW Tiguan)
A bit better, but now I can start messing around with it, shutter speed was the key, along with learning to switch between the modes, on the fly.
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