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Reputable Contributor
Posts: 618
Registered: ‎12-24-2013

Re: Can't get sharp shot with EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II

Try using LiveView because it uses Contrast AF instead of Phase Detection AF. 

 

 

Mike Sowsun
S110, SL1, 80D, 5D Mk III
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Posts: 7,335
Registered: ‎08-13-2015

Re: Can't get sharp shot with EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II

[ Edited ]

@jgro002 wrote:

Hi cicopo,

 

I wondered if the shot of the dragonfly in flight might kind of confuse the topic a bit since you are correct it is a very difficult subject. The point is everything i shoot just looks fuzzy whether it is staitonary or not - see this shot of a dragonfly at rest, this was using the autofocus but it is so far off from being crisp...

 

I appreciate your thoughts tho!

 

 


 

I think your shot is not focused on the dragonfly.  It seems to be focused behind it.  I cropped your image so that it can be seen.

 

EA168901-E868-4F12-A88B-083C708B3FE8.jpeg

 

This does not mean the camera/lens combination [is] back focusing.  This is another tough shooting scenario. So, it might not be the best example, either.  Picking out a subject from among surrounding branches and leaves is TRICKY. 

 

I have no idea where you locked focus for this shot.  Some of the leaves and stalks in parts of the image seem to be pretty sharp.  However, all of the focused areas seem to be behind the intended subject, the dragonfly.  

 

I think this shot is most likely simply missed focus, and not a back focus issue.  Believe in the hardware, because more times than not, it is working properly.  Again, this is one the trickiest shooting scenarios a nature photographer may encounter.

 

—————————————————————

 

I would approach this scenario using One Shot mode with the just the center AF point.  I would also use BBF, so that once I achieved focus on the dragonfly, then the lens does not try to refocus when I press the shutter.  I have this combination of settings saved as a Custom Shooting mode, which i think of as “Brid on a Tree Branch” mode.  I also have my custom shooting modes set to not to automatically update themselves.

 

 

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"I don't rent software. I use Photoshop CS6, ACR 9.8 and Lightroom 6.8 ."
Honored Contributor
Posts: 7,335
Registered: ‎08-13-2015

Re: Can't get sharp shot with EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II

These are the Image Priority settings that I described earlier.  This screenshot is from the 80D instruction manual.

 

EFB57575-998D-4FCA-B0B9-C428295DF52B.jpeg

 

These settings are only in effect in AI Servo mode.  The assumption is made that the camera is in Continuous Drive shooting mode.  I recommend setting both functions to “Focus Priority”.  While your FPS may take a hit with Focus Priority, what is the point of a high FPS when the shots are not focused?  Besides, you lens focuses fast enough that you may not even notice a difference.  The 6D has a similar function setting.

 

With the 80D, you can set the camera to “track” subjects in AI Servo mode.  Tracking can always begin with your selected AF point, or the camera can pick a starting point on its’ own.  Most people select the Center AF point as the starting point.  The camera can be set so that you can see which AF points are “active” as the AF system tracks a subject.  

Understanding the AF system and how it tracks subjects is easier to understand with the 80D than a 6D, because of its’ real time AF tracking display.  The 6D AF system operates in a similar fashion.  You just do not see it.  Because of its’ higher number of AF points, the 80D has more advanced AF Assist tracking features, which the 6D has in a less sophisticated form.

 

With the 6D, you will not see a tracking display.  Instead, you will see constant display of where the AF points are located.  You simply need to keep your subject within that center area of the frame.  Without a real-time AF tracking display, you do not have visual confirmation of tracking, nor when you lose tracking on the subject.  

 

The 6D is good at tracking subjects that fill the frame (humans playing sports), and less so for smaller subjects (small birds) that do not.  The more AF points that you can put on a subject, the better AF system can track its’ movements.

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"I don't rent software. I use Photoshop CS6, ACR 9.8 and Lightroom 6.8 ."
Occasional Contributor
Posts: 9
Registered: ‎12-14-2018

Re: Can't get sharp shot with EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II

Waddizzle, thank you so much for your thorough and thoughtful replies, I really appreciate it!

 

I think you're likely correct that the sticks etc in the background of the second shot made focusing more difficult. Maybe part of my struggles have indeed been subject matter and lack of skill on my part...I'll keep practicing.

 

Below are two shots I took in the last 24 hours (unedited) both handheld at 400mm with autofocus on the 80D. The moon photo in particular looks pretty sharp to me and the bird is probably acceptable too, although I admit with no prior experience in this kind of wildlife photography I'm not even sure exactly how sharp is sharp enough!

 

Thanks again for your help.

 

IMG_2814.jpg

 

IMG_2901.jpg

Honored Contributor
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Re: Can't get sharp shot with EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II


@jgro002 wrote:

Waddizzle, thank you so much for your thorough and thoughtful replies, I really appreciate it!

 

I think you're likely correct that the sticks etc in the background of the second shot made focusing more difficult. Maybe part of my struggles have indeed been subject matter and lack of skill on my part...I'll keep practicing.

 

Below are two shots I took in the last 24 hours (unedited) both handheld at 400mm with autofocus on the 80D. The moon photo in particular looks pretty sharp to me and the bird is probably acceptable too, although I admit with no prior experience in this kind of wildlife photography I'm not even sure exactly how sharp is sharp enough!

 

Thanks again for your help.


Both of those shots look better than your previous shots.  Now we are getting somewhere.  As I suspected, it looks like your focusing issues are not hardware related.  Operator error is quicker and cheaper to fix than a bad lens or camera.  I suspect lens switch settings are the culprit, BTW.

 

The pigeon(?) shot looks a little soft, though.  The focusing range switch can make a big difference, as can the camera settings that I pointed out earlier.  I cannot read AF mode or Drive mode in the EXIF with my iPAD software, either, Lightroom CC.  

 

The IS mode lens switch setting can make a big difference, too.  I would use Mode 1 for either of these shots.  For the Moon photo, I would have definitely turned off the IS because I would have the camera on a tripod.  But, shooting handheld means you probably would want to use IS Mode 1, because your subject is stationary.  Use Mode 2 for moving subjects.  Mode 3 is a little more subtle.  It disables IS until you actually fire the shutter.  I rarely use it.

 

You used a 1/1000 shutter speed af f/8, and ISO 400, for the bird.  I think that is the minimum shutter that i would want to use with that camera lens combo.  The rule of thumb says to use a minimum SS of 1/FL, where FL is the focal length in use.  But that applies to a full frame camera body.  

 

For an APS-C body, the rule of thumb says to use a minimum SS of 1/(2*FL), or twice the focal length.  This works out to 1/800 shutter for the 80D.  I would like to use at least 1/1600 for subjects that size with my 6D, which is 1/(4*FL).  This would work out to roughly 1/3200 on the 80D.

But, you also used an f/8 aperture.  Normally, using f/8 would be a good rule of thumb.  In my experience with this lens, I can get way with shooting wide open with it, and it is still razor sharp.  Adjust the lens to a 100mm focal length, and then dial in the minimum aperture of f/4.5.  The camera will stop down the aperture as you adjust the focal length.

Do I think your shutter speed is an issue?  No, but it could be if you are shooting handheld.  I began shooting with a monopod, and the sharpness in my photos suddenly jumped upwards when my SS was close to 1/FL for stationary shots like the bird.  

 

Experimenting with faster shutter speeds, and lens switch settings, taught me the best settings to use for different scenarios.  Many times I did not wait for an opportunity to photograph a bird sitting on a branch.  I would photograph squirrels, too.  Even an apple hanging in a tree.  I would take several versions of the same shot, but with small changes to my camera and lens settings.

All of it taught me a few things.  Shutter speed can make a world of difference, so do not be afraid to push SS, which pushes the ISO, a little bit. Getting the appropriate lens switch settings for a given shooting scenario is critical.  The focusing distance switch can mean the difference between clear and sharp.  

 

I typically have the lens set to the distant focusing setting, 3 meters to infinity.  Your shot of the bird strongly reminds me of the test shots I take with the lens focusing switch set to full range.  Also, the AF point selection makes a difference, too.  You will get better results with one of the cross-type AF points, like the center AF point, for focusing on still subjects like the bird.

 

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"I don't rent software. I use Photoshop CS6, ACR 9.8 and Lightroom 6.8 ."
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Re: Can't get sharp shot with EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II

"I'm not even sure exactly how sharp is sharp enough!"

 

IMHO, neither of the two sample are sharp. They both show camera movement.  That isn't a lens problem.  The 100-400mm is getting good reviews about how sharp it is. I would expect better.  You can fasten it to a good heavy duty tripod and still get camera movement.  You can imagine hand holding can be a real challenge.

 

Keep in mind looking in the wrong place for the problem will not lead to a solution.

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV, along with less other stuff.
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Posts: 9
Registered: ‎12-14-2018

Re: Can't get sharp shot with EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II

Waddizzle, thanks again!

 

You've given me so much useful information. I am going to need to reread through your posts to try to incorporate your tips. I did go out today and try pushing the iso up a bit to try and get the shutter speed up a bit like you had suggested. I missed a lot of shots of kingfishers (still not sure exactly why they are soft) but i got the below two shots which look better to me, would you agree...?

 

The dragonfly shot was focussed manually; the heron shot was auto-focussed to get it mostly there and then tweaked with manual focus.

 

If I was to use the centre autofocus point as you suggested, does that mean focusing and then recomposing? Wouldn't that throw the focus off slighty (eg if you were trying to get a bird's eye completely sharp for instance)?

 

Thanks

Jeremy

 

IMG_3175.jpgIMG_3247.jpg

Occasional Contributor
Posts: 9
Registered: ‎12-14-2018

Re: Can't get sharp shot with EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II

Hi ebiggs1,

 

Thanks for your comments. I was surprised that you said the moon shot isn't sharp(?). The fact that you say you'd 'expect better' makes me think I'm way off because I really thought that one was good.

 

I don't think I'm looking in the wrong place at all - I'm trying everything I can to improve my results. As I noted in my original post the first thing I tried was actually to improve my technique. Unfortunately because of the subjects I am most interested in shooting (birds, dragonflies etc) I really need the mobility of handholding the lens. I'll just keep working on it.

 

Thanks  

Honored Contributor
Posts: 7,335
Registered: ‎08-13-2015

Re: Can't get sharp shot with EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II

Those shots are better than the Moon and the pigeon.  The Moon photo was a one off, so I paid more attention to the bird.

 

Even though the 100-400mm has an usually short Minimum focusing Distance, I would suggest a macro lens for the dragonfly shots.  I think a macro lens would give the detail you might be looking, and they are light and easier to hold.  I think you may find less need to manually focus the lens.  Trust the hardware, it is very good at auto focusing.

 

https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/54820520

 

Most of the AF settings in the 7D2 also apply to your 80D.  

 

The most significant difference between the AF systems in the 7D2 and the 80D is that the 7D2 has “AF Case Settings”, which are preset AF settings.  These same settings are available in the 80D, except you do not have the luxury to have six presets AF shooting modes to call up.  You set AF shooting modes manually in th 80D, or you save them as a Custom Shooting Mode.  I save two AF action shooting modes as Custom Shooting modes in my 6D and 6D2 bodies.

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"I don't rent software. I use Photoshop CS6, ACR 9.8 and Lightroom 6.8 ."
Honored Contributor
Posts: 7,335
Registered: ‎08-13-2015

Re: Can't get sharp shot with EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II


@jgro002 wrote:

Waddizzle, thanks again!

 

You've given me so much useful information. I am going to need to reread through your posts to try to incorporate your tips. I did go out today and try pushing the iso up a bit to try and get the shutter speed up a bit like you had suggested. I missed a lot of shots of kingfishers (still not sure exactly why they are soft) but i got the below two shots which look better to me, would you agree...?

 

The dragonfly shot was focussed manually; the heron shot was auto-focussed to get it mostly there and then tweaked with manual focus.

 

If I was to use the centre autofocus point as you suggested, does that mean focusing and then recomposing? Wouldn't that throw the focus off slighty (eg if you were trying to get a bird's eye completely sharp for instance)?

 

Thanks

Jeremy

 

 


Using the center AF point as a starting point in AI servo mode does not mean recomposing the shot.  

 

This what AF tracking is all about.  The AF system will track focus on the subject within the frame, for as long as you have the subject covered by enabled AF points.  Use the center AF point as the initial starting point with AF Assist Points enabled.

 

EOS 6D2017_10_221791.jpg

 

EOS 6D2017_10_221791-2.jpg

 

You should be able to capture shots as sharp as these.  The first image is a cropped version of the second.

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"I don't rent software. I use Photoshop CS6, ACR 9.8 and Lightroom 6.8 ."
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