Can't quite get my photos pin sharp - advice appreciated!

Discussion in 'Photography Advice & Discussion' started by gazthomas, 25 May 2018.

  1. gazthomas

    gazthomas Established Member

    Messages:
    2,843
    Joined:
    5 Jun 2011
    Location:
    St. Albans
    Hi

    I've got a Canon SLR which I've used for the last few years (well recently upgraded but still Canon).

    Last weekend I was at the Severn Valley Railway diesel festival but I noticed my photos are a bit fuzzy in places. Likewise at the Swanage diesel gala the weekend before.

    These are the settings I used:
    • TV
    • 1/640 shutter speed (increased from 1/500 recently)
    • AI-Servo auto-focus
    • ISO ranging from 100-400
    • Lens on auto-focus
    In the past my photos have been pin sharp, but not this time. By pin sharp, I can zoom into the electricity warning stickers on the front and they're legible.

    I've read about changing the point of focus but in AI-Servo it seems pretty complicated!

    Advice appreciated :)

    Gary
     
    Last edited: 28 May 2018
  2. Registered users do not see these banners - join or log in today!

    Rail Forums

     
  3. Peter Mugridge

    Peter Mugridge Established Member

    Messages:
    10,705
    Joined:
    8 Apr 2010
    Location:
    Epsom
    Silly question, but the lens hasn't had a knock recently has it?
     
  4. gazthomas

    gazthomas Established Member

    Messages:
    2,843
    Joined:
    5 Jun 2011
    Location:
    St. Albans
    Not to my knowledge. I have tried another lens too and much the same
     
  5. Bill EWS

    Bill EWS Member

    Messages:
    621
    Joined:
    10 Feb 2006
    Location:
    Didcot
    I am having the same trouble with my Canon D600. I have a Tamron 18mm-200mm lens and it often just wont jump straight into focus on Auto focusing, especially at full 200mm. I generally have the camera set on Av but it doesn't seem to matter what settings I use. I am finding the focusing misses it's mark either by falling just short of target or just not focusing at all. I have tried changing speeds and/or ASA but it doesn't help.
     
  6. eastwestdivide

    eastwestdivide Established Member

    Messages:
    1,833
    Joined:
    17 Aug 2009
    Are the results out of focus (fuzzy in all directions) or blurred (from motion in one direction)?
    Depending on the light conditions, it's just possible that the shutter speed set isn't achievable with 400 ISO plus whatever aperture your lens opens up to. Have a look at the shutter speeds actually achieved on the unsatisfactory photos (in the EXIF data) - that should rule out too slow a shutter speed.

    Also try some test shots with the camera on a tripod, and photo of a stationary subject with autofocus, then see if things are still pin-sharp - that way you can rule out shaky hands/inadvertent movement of the camera when pressing the shutter button (always press gently, don't jab at it!). It's possible with a moving subject that the autofocus isn't quick enough to adjust, but a testing with stationary subject would help rule that out.

    If you can rule that out, then try pre-focusing instead of auto-focus (there must be a setting for that), so you pick the point of pin-sharp focus before pressing the shutter.
    It's entirely possible the autofocus isn't doing what you expect.
     
  7. gazthomas

    gazthomas Established Member

    Messages:
    2,843
    Joined:
    5 Jun 2011
    Location:
    St. Albans
    I would say blurred. Thanks for the advice, I will give it a go today!
     
  8. gazthomas

    gazthomas Established Member

    Messages:
    2,843
    Joined:
    5 Jun 2011
    Location:
    St. Albans
    My conclusion is shutter speed. I have been experimenting with moving objects albiet not trains and my usual shutter speed (as above) was not adequate. Ramping up to 1/1000th/sec made things much clearer. Puzzling
     
  9. Bertie the bus

    Bertie the bus Established Member

    Messages:
    1,493
    Joined:
    15 Aug 2014
    It isn't shutter speed. 1/640 will 'stop' anything travelling at 25 mph which is the speed limit on most preserved lines.
     
  10. gazthomas

    gazthomas Established Member

    Messages:
    2,843
    Joined:
    5 Jun 2011
    Location:
    St. Albans
    That's what I originally thought. So if I ramp up the shutter speed and it's clearer what is the possible culprit? wrong autofocus? Something I failed to mention is that I tend to use continuous high speed. Could this be a factor?
     
  11. Bertie the bus

    Bertie the bus Established Member

    Messages:
    1,493
    Joined:
    15 Aug 2014
    I'm no camera expert but I don't trust auto-focus. When I have tried it it sometimes focuses on something I don't want it to focus on.

    So, as rail photography is extremely predicable, i.e. you know exactly where the train is coming from and its position where you want to photograph it, I stick it on auto-focus, focus, put it back to manual and then take the photo.
     
  12. Shaw S Hunter

    Shaw S Hunter Established Member

    Messages:
    2,233
    Joined:
    21 Apr 2016
    Location:
    Sunny South Lancs
    Have another read through the instructions for using AI-Servo auto focus. This does need you to select an appropriate single focusing point to work effectively. Works like a treat on my 30D.
     
  13. cactustwirly

    cactustwirly Established Member

    Messages:
    5,408
    Joined:
    10 Apr 2013
    Location:
    UK
    What aperture value are you using?
    I agree that it isn't shutter speed as 1/640 shouldn't give much motion blur.

    However it could also be the ISO value being to high?

    Do you have an example we can look at to further diagnose the problem?
     
  14. gazthomas

    gazthomas Established Member

    Messages:
    2,843
    Joined:
    5 Jun 2011
    Location:
    St. Albans
    Thanks, will do!
     
  15. gazthomas

    gazthomas Established Member

    Messages:
    2,843
    Joined:
    5 Jun 2011
    Location:
    St. Albans
    I've uploaded two full size images into my OneDrive account, in a public folder. The link is here:

    https://1drv.ms/f/s!AsIYEl1HoP9Q-E3_eKVpxnF3AV-s

    The one of 47 is ISO 400 and f/9. The one of the Warship again ISO 400 but this time f/8. Shutter speed of both was 1/640.

    Thanks again
     
  16. gazthomas

    gazthomas Established Member

    Messages:
    2,843
    Joined:
    5 Jun 2011
    Location:
    St. Albans
    Hi, has anyone been able to study the two pictures I uploaded above and have a better understanding of what I'm doing wrong? Thank you
     
  17. cactustwirly

    cactustwirly Established Member

    Messages:
    5,408
    Joined:
    10 Apr 2013
    Location:
    UK
    Hi, it looks to me like the ISO is too high.
    I usually use ISO 100 during the daytime.
     
  18. gazthomas

    gazthomas Established Member

    Messages:
    2,843
    Joined:
    5 Jun 2011
    Location:
    St. Albans
    Thanks for that. I took plenty of other photos at ISO 100 but they too suffer the same problem
     
  19. cactustwirly

    cactustwirly Established Member

    Messages:
    5,408
    Joined:
    10 Apr 2013
    Location:
    UK
    Could also be the Auto Focus.
    Try using single point mode, and make sure it focusses on the train.
     
  20. gazthomas

    gazthomas Established Member

    Messages:
    2,843
    Joined:
    5 Jun 2011
    Location:
    St. Albans
    That's my suspicion. I should be out and about on Friday so I'll give it a go. Thank you
     
    Last edited: 30 May 2018
  21. Dennis

    Dennis Established Member

    Messages:
    2,676
    Joined:
    8 Aug 2005
    Location:
    Trowbridge
    Just a couple of observations that might or might not be of use...looking at the shot of 47712, there is a lot of fringing around the numbers and logo, possible result of over-sharpening / JPEG compression effects? The same is evident around the numbering and lettering on D832. Doesn't look like a focussing motion blur issue to me - the edges are too sharp if anything.

    Another thing to bear in mind is that when the weather is very hot, heat haze / air turbulence can be a problem, especially when zooming in from a distance - this will certainly cause distortion with longer exposures and even with these relatively short exposures, it is evident above the exhaust ports.

    Another thought....https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purple_fringing
     
  22. Shaw S Hunter

    Shaw S Hunter Established Member

    Messages:
    2,233
    Joined:
    21 Apr 2016
    Location:
    Sunny South Lancs
    A very good point. As per the article the fix could be as simple as the use of a UV filter.
     
  23. Islineclear3_1

    Islineclear3_1 Established Member

    Messages:
    2,860
    Joined:
    24 Apr 2014
    Location:
    PTSO or platform depending on the weather
    Nice photos.

    What camera/lens are you using?

    Are you using single-point centre-point focusing or is the camera focusing off-centre?
     
  24. gazthomas

    gazthomas Established Member

    Messages:
    2,843
    Joined:
    5 Jun 2011
    Location:
    St. Albans
    Thank you :) A Canon EOS 6D Mark 2, but looking at my photos from the last few years with different cameras this is a commonish problem! I have two lens es a Canon EF 28-105 STM and a Tamron 28-300 when I want a superzoom (I know it suffers from vignetting at the extremes). I have been using the default focussing so I think this is the problem - I really should have read the manual!
     
  25. gazthomas

    gazthomas Established Member

    Messages:
    2,843
    Joined:
    5 Jun 2011
    Location:
    St. Albans
    Thanks for the advice - I took the photos in JPEG only rather than RAW or RAW + JPEG so maybe the camera is over processing? It was hot on the day and I was zooming a little so maybe that was a factor
     
  26. Islineclear3_1

    Islineclear3_1 Established Member

    Messages:
    2,860
    Joined:
    24 Apr 2014
    Location:
    PTSO or platform depending on the weather
    I haven't any experience of either of your lenses but superzooms are known for being soft sometimes.

    You're obviously quite experienced and used cameras for a long time - why don't you shoot RAW? At least you have more degree of control especially when post-processing?
     
  27. gazthomas

    gazthomas Established Member

    Messages:
    2,843
    Joined:
    5 Jun 2011
    Location:
    St. Albans
    It's possible they could be a bit soft - they are new lens which I got when I stepped up from a 70D to the 6D Mark 5. I only tend to shoot raw for night shots, but will give it a go to see if it helps
     
  28. Sankey Wire

    Sankey Wire Member

    Messages:
    49
    Joined:
    21 Aug 2016
    I went out with my camera on Saturday for what was, regrettably, the first time in a few years. Needless to say, I have now caught the bug again!

    I had similar problems to the OP and syspect that a lot of it was down to dodgy light and me being a bit rusty, or could the camera have been affected by sitting idle?
     
  29. gazthomas

    gazthomas Established Member

    Messages:
    2,843
    Joined:
    5 Jun 2011
    Location:
    St. Albans
    Welcome back to the hobby

    I went out to the West Somerset Railway this weekend. Single point focus definitely helped. I do like to take lots of shots on high speed continuous mode and I think this was a factor in the past with the camera hunting for focus
     
  30. Sankey Wire

    Sankey Wire Member

    Messages:
    49
    Joined:
    21 Aug 2016
    Thanks, Gaz. I lost my way with it when I was at university and I suppose that I kept making excuses after that. After biting the bullet, I really enjoyed myself and I’m looking forward to getting out more often.

    My reprise has timed nicely for the ELR Diesel Gala, hopefully the weather will be on form.

    Here’s one from the weekend, in hindsight I probably overdid it with photoshop! https://flic.kr/p/26XzoPw
     
  31. gazthomas

    gazthomas Established Member

    Messages:
    2,843
    Joined:
    5 Jun 2011
    Location:
    St. Albans
    I don't think you overdid it!
     

Share This Page