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Super Contributor
Posts: 223
Registered: ‎05-19-2016

Having trouble getting sharp focus on a moving subject

Ok, I have been taking pictures of horse racing, some good, some not so much.

I am using Rebel Xsi, usually in a creative mode, AV or TV or just starting manual mode as well.

I am in AI servo, using center af point, continuous shooting mode.

I have not tried Back button focusing (yet).

 

These pictures where taken in later afternoon, early evening, (6-7 pm) so the ISO is a little higher, just trying a few different things.

One thing that is common is that I am getting more pictures out of focus than in sharp focus, so clearly I am doing something wrong.

Either I'm not getting the center af point on my subject, or camera shake, or too slow of a shutter speed. Or I need more practice Smiley Happy

 

My post processing is pretty bad as well as I am only using what Iphoto has to offer.

I am panning my shots, either to freeze the motion or to try a little motion blur.

I realize it will be very hard for you all to give me any concrete advice as you are not with me, but as always, you have giving me sound advice.

 

This one is in focus.

IMG_7811.jpg

 

 

 

This one, not so much.

IMG_7810.jpg

 

Some others......

IMG_7935.jpg

 

IMG_7952.jpg

 

IMG_8118.jpg

IMG_8128.jpg

 

VIP
Posts: 13,875
Registered: ‎12-07-2012

Re: Having trouble getting sharp focus on a moving subject

I am not a fan of Creative Mode.  As a matter of fact none of my cameras even have it as an option. Of course I come from a time when all cameras only had manual.

But for making the subject the sharpest it can be, the SS must be faster by some degree than any moving item.  Make sense?  Camera or subject, doesn't matter. SS must be quicker.

 

You might try Tv.  You may need to experiment to see just how how it must be for stop action.  But 1/500 gets a lot of things pretty well stopped.  You could set the Tv to 1/500 and let the camera choose the Av.  You can also use auto ISO of which I am not a fan either but some like it.  I just can't seem to give up the control.  Funny though, I always say, a lot of the time the camera is smarter than the photographer. Smiley Happy

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!
Super Contributor
Posts: 223
Registered: ‎05-19-2016

Re: Having trouble getting sharp focus on a moving subject

It makes total sense.

I usually am in TV mode.

It was getting late so I thought the very quick shutter speed would make my pics a little darker, maybe I should have used a little Exposure compensation.

The first one that is sharp, was ISO 320, f 3.2, SS 1/1000 with a 100mm lens.

 

I usually have the ss on a bright day (hopefully today), about 1/1500 or higher, but these pics, being early evening, light disappearing, it was hard for me...... One day, I will figure it out, haha.....

 Some of these were in manual mode and some in av & tv mode.

I'm slowly trying to get into manual mode......

VIP
Posts: 13,875
Registered: ‎12-07-2012

Re: Having trouble getting sharp focus on a moving subject

I think your next step is to get in to post editing.  Always shoot RAW.  A good editor for the amateur is Photoshop Elements.

When you shoot RAW you have a great deal more latitude in post. If you miss exposure by a stop or even two, you can usually recover all.

If I were you I would stick with one mode, in htis case Tv.  Make sure you know how it is acting on your shots.  Try different settings in the ISO and the Av.  But keep the SS pretty high at least 1/500 and stay with Tv.  When you make big changes like switching between modes, Tv and then Av and perhaps,... etc., your ability to learn what is happening goes down. Too many variables!

 

Because of slightly differing conditions, what worked last weekend might not work this weekend. Some tweaking is in order.  If you have stuck with Tv for a while and know what it is doing, making small adjustments is a snap.  You will just know, feel, what to do.

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!
Respected Contributor
Posts: 1,973
Registered: ‎02-26-2015

Re: Having trouble getting sharp focus on a moving subject


@ilzho wrote:

It makes total sense.

I usually am in TV mode.

It was getting late so I thought the very quick shutter speed would make my pics a little darker, maybe I should have used a little Exposure compensation.

The first one that is sharp, was ISO 320, f 3.2, SS 1/1000 with a 100mm lens.

 

I usually have the ss on a bright day (hopefully today), about 1/1500 or higher, but these pics, being early evening, light disappearing, it was hard for me...... One day, I will figure it out, haha.....

 Some of these were in manual mode and some in av & tv mode.

I'm slowly trying to get into manual mode......


Canon calls P, Tv, Av, and M the Creative Modes and you are correct for using that.

 

I don't think you need to use a faster shutter speed than 1/1000 of a second. All your other settings, AIServo, continuous shooting etc. are correct. By using the center AF point you have to be sure that the AF point has sufficient contrast to focus on. So if your center AF point is on the horses brown neck there may not be enough contrast for it to focus on. You might try Auto AF point selection mode. In AIServo Auto AF point selection mode, your camera will start with the center AF point, and hand it off to the surrounding AF points if the center AF point loses enough contrast to focus on. 

 

Other than that, just keep practicing.

Super Contributor
Posts: 223
Registered: ‎05-19-2016

Re: Having trouble getting sharp focus on a moving subject

Thanks!

Good advice.

 

I did try auto af point one time at the track and I learned not to do it when it's a group of horses together, because it grabbed focus of a subject that was in the background and the front horses were out of focus.

Now, I probably did some things to create that, but I guess if the horse is clearly by itself, auto af point would probably work better.

From that day, I just figured I better learn how to use the center af point, haha.

This rebel only has 9 points, so I try to use the center one.

VIP
Posts: 13,875
Registered: ‎12-07-2012

Re: Having trouble getting sharp focus on a moving subject

"This rebel only has 9 points, so I try to use the center one."

 

That is what you should be doing.

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!
VIP
Posts: 11,535
Registered: ‎08-13-2015

Re: Having trouble getting sharp focus on a moving subject

"My post processing is pretty bad as well as I am only using what Iphoto has to offer."

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Try visiting this link ... 

 

https://www.usa.canon.com/internet/portal/us/home/support?tab=drivers 

 

... and download the latest Canon DPP software for the computer.  You will need the serial number on the camera to download some software applications.  DPP4 is not the best package, but it is free, and it is a start.  Canon's DPP is a good introduction to many of the concepts and strategies behind processing your camera's images.

 

DPPis most flexible when you process images saved as RAW format.  It also allows for lens correction, distortion and vignetting, but only for Canon lenses it seems.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Doctor told me to get out and walk, so I bought a Canon."
Honored Contributor
Posts: 7,907
Registered: ‎11-13-2012

Re: Having trouble getting sharp focus on a moving subject

The primary value of AI Servo is when a subject is moving around the viewfinder and/ or moving to or from the camera. There is about a tenth of a second lag between when you actuate the shutter and when the image is captured. Depending on the speed of the subject it could move out of the focus point/DOF. 

 

A horse/race car etc. moving parallel to you doesn't present that issue. The distance between the subject and camera isn't changing. 

 

Canon on recommends that if you are in AI Servo you focus on the object and half press the shutter about a ½ second before you snap to allow the camera to "do the math". 

 

Different people pled have different opinions, so you should try your own experimentation, but I would suggest you try One Shot. 

 

I agree 1/1000 shutter speed is more than adequate. At 60 mph the subject would only move an inch. 

 

John Hoffman
Conway, NH

1D X Mark III, Many lenses, Pixma PRO-100, MX472, LR Classic
Super Contributor
Posts: 223
Registered: ‎05-19-2016

Re: Having trouble getting sharp focus on a moving subject

Well, I'm using my brother's camera/lens so he has the software on his machine, but I'm getting my set-up in the next week or so.

Until then, I'll keep playing around and start shooting in raw.

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