Photos not sharp

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by jessica_lynn|2, Oct 27, 2013.

  1. Hi There,
    Photography has been a hobby of mine for a couple years now. I've shot a couple weddings as a second shooter, but next month I will be the primary photographer for a friend's wedding. Naturally, I'm a little nervous. I have noticed that often times a shot will look perfectly sharp on the LCD screen, but when I get it on my computer, it looks like this shot. Is this just due to camera shake? I'm not always shooting this wide open, but it still happens more than I 'd like. I love this depth of field and I have a a fairly steady hand so this scares me!
    Yes, I'm a bit of an amateur, so please don't be too harsh....
    Shooting with: Canon 7D, 50mm f/1.4 lens
    Settings for this shot: f/1.8, ISO 100, 1/8000
    ANY and all help is IMMENSELY appreciated!
    Thanks,
    Jessica[​IMG]
     
  2. Well, camera shake is one thing we can pretty much rule out. Shooting at 1/8000th sec (really?) with a 50mm lens, camera shake is not going to be a worry. The fast speed of the shutter will get the picture before you have a chance to move the camera much. You could of course trying shooting on a tripod to see if it makes a difference. But it won't — not while you keep the shutter speed that fast.
    Why did you shoot this at f/1.8? This produced very shallow depth of field — which leaves very little room for error in the focusing.
    Really wide aperture like that should be used with a purpose. If you were closer to the subjects and trying to get their eyes in focus and blur their ears, well, that would be one reason to use f/1.8. Another might be because it's dark and you need to take in more light. But you'd have been MUCH better off in this pic stopping the aperture down 4 stops (say, to f/5.6) and slowing down the aperture to 1/500th sec.
    Beyond that it isn't obvious to me what you might have done wrong. It might be conventional in replying to a question such as yours to bring up the image quality of the lens, but most 50 f/1.4 lenses are pretty decent (or better than that) so I doubt that was a factor.
    Last question: autofocus or manual focus? If autofocus, what was the focal point here? Were you using center-spot autofocus triggered when you pressed the shutter button? Or had you perhaps used selective spot focus and forgotten that the focusing spot was off to the right or left somewhere and not landing on the subjects at all? Back focusing is a possibility. One relatively easy way to test for potential back or front focusing is to turn autofocus off completely and focus manually (and carefully). If you can take a nice sharp, well focused photo when you're focusing manually, but the photos get very soft like this one when you use autofocus, well, you need to look into the possibility that you're doing something wrong or the lens/camera combination is back or front focusing.
    Good luck. And at the wedding, don't let your shutter get over 1/1000th sec!
    Will
     
  3. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    There are a few points to consider:
    I have noticed that often times a shot will look perfectly sharp on the LCD screen, but when I get it on my computer, it looks like this shot.​
    If you are looking at the screen outside in daylight, the LCD Screen is a guide not always a good guide. You can zoom in and shade yourself/camera from direct sun and glare: these are good procedures.
    ***
    Settings for this shot: f/1.8, ISO 100, 1/8000 - Is this just due to camera shake?
    At a shutter speed of 1/8000s – NO.
    ***
    I'm not always shooting this wide open, but it still happens more than I 'd like. I love this depth of field and I have a fairly steady hand so this scares me! Shooting with: Canon 7D, 50mm f/1.4 lens
    Consider the following as the main ingredients (either all or some) of why your shot is not appearing tack sharp. Note also that not being tack sharp can be an ACCUMULATION of the issues listed and also an “APPEARANCE” of sharp as opposed to ACTUAL sharpness.
    (A) These three points go to the image NOT having a good mid-tone contrast range because of VEILING FLARE.
    Veiling Flare will create a “soft looking image” because of the loss of contrast and also acutance (edge sharpness) – this is often mistaken for the image being Out of Focus, or the lens being “soft” :
    1. Maybe you had a filter on the lens
    2. Maybe you did not have a lens hood on the lens
    3. You were shooting at F/1.8
    (B) This point is related to the optics of the EF50 F/1.8 Lens:
    1. The lens (typically) is really sharp at F/2.2 – any wider aperture it loses a bit of “TACK SHARP”.
    (C) This point is related to the position of the Key Light (the Sun) and its relationship to the TYPE OF LIGHTING on the SUBJECTS:
    1. The Sun is directly overhead – there is very little MODELLING on the Subjects. Modelling creates the illusion of DEPTH. Depth (of the in focus bits) creates the illusion of those bits being sharper.
    (D) This point is related to your Post Production:
    1. Maybe you are not using the Post Production Sharpening the best you might: ALL digital images need to be sharpened.
    (E) This point relates to Shooting Technique:
    1. Maybe you just missed getting AF ON the Subjects – did you use ONLY the Centre Point AF?
    ***


    Two points consider in that shooting scenario, in the future:
    RE the lens:
    I never use my EF 50 at wider than F/2.2 unless absolutely necessary: for your shot it was not necessary to use F/1.8. For most portraiture F/2.2 will attain a very adequate Shallow DoF, even when using an APS-C camera.
    RE the lighting:
    For a midday Portrait Shot outdoors I would be seeking OPEN SHADE and employing Flash as Fill for some modelling on the faces.
    If I could not get Open Shade and the Sun was overhead and or I could not / did not want to use Flash as Fill then I would opt to shoot tighter and allow the correct exposure for the SHADOW side of the face - such that the subjects did not SQUINT.
    A bit more on Post Production:
    Note how a little mid tone contrast enhancement; dodging and burning to create a bit of modelling on the two Subjects and also a bit of PP sharpening and also a border around the picture creates the ILLUSION of sharpness and make the two subjects ‘pop out’ just a bit more.
    Below is a 2 minute rough Post Production:
    WW
    00c6dl-543270084.jpg
     
  4. I agree with the above about shooting at f/1.8 and 1/8000, and that the available light is a classic situation that calls for the use of fill flash. As to the lack of sharpness, I often don't mind somewhat soft portraits, depending on the subject, but this image is clearly too soft.
    It can be sharpened significantly in post-production. For an example of what might be a little more than what you want, I used the Nik collection's pre-sharpener, resized to photo.net's 700 pixels on the larger side with the "sharper" option, and applied a small amount of output sharpening. No local sharpening was applied, and I did nothing to attempt to correct the deep shadows brought about by overhead lighting and no fill.
    I should add that nearly all digital images can use some sharpening in post.
    00c6fq-543273084.jpg
     
  5. Just one sentence! That's all it takes!

    The lower the number is (F 2) the background goes blurry and the higher number (F 32), well everthing is sharp!

    It's that easy!

    Email me if needed. Hope this helps and if you really enjoy photography take one of those night classes.
     
  6. William P, William W and Hector, thank you all so very much! Wow, so helpful.
    So obviously, shooting so wide was my number 1 mistake.
    This was the first snap I took after switching from manual to aperture priority (something I wish I were more comfortable with). When I looked back at my settings for this post, I couldn't believe how fast the shutter speed was. Glad to know it WAS ridiculously fast. I really liked certain aspects of this photo (depth of field and lighting), so I'm really glad to have gotten your input on how to improve it.
    I didn't have a lens hood on. Also, it was definitely on autofocus. I don't quite have the guts to trust my own eye to focus perfectly. Do you all generally shoot in manual focus?
    Bob, thank you for explaining to me what the "F numbers" mean. I think I'll just shoot everything at F 32 until I can find time for one of those night time classes.
     
  7. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    I don't think that shooting at F/1.8 was "a mistake" - but I do think it contributed to the soft image - especially because of the Veiling Flare. But as I mentioned that lens is not its sharpest at F/1.8, but it is still very sharp.
    The point is - if you made that shot at F/2.2, it would have been "sharper" but without a lens hood and shooting in that strong light you probably still would have had Flare and that would have made for a slightly softer appearance of the image.
    I think that there are many elements as to why your image is a bit soft - I don't think that it is one thing only.
    I don't think that you should shoot everything at F/32 - I am not speaking for Bob, but I think he was just explaining that as you stop down the lens, there will be more of the scene that will appear sharp.
    Also I don't think many Wedding Photographers use Manual Focus as their main method of focussing - I was just making the point that maybe the AF slightly missed locking onto the Subjects - AND I was only suggesting that might be one of the elements which could have contributed to the image being soft. I was also asking which AF point you used.
    WW
    ASIDE:
    Hector: Thanks for that. Your ""sharpening only" redo is really useful to make an A/B/C comparison with the original and my redo where I wanted to explain the "illusion" of sharpness.
     
  8. Jessica,
    Some comments on your last reply.
    So obviously, shooting so wide was my number 1 mistake.​
    I don't think any of us said that exactly. You should absolutely be able to take a photo at f/1.8 that is tack sharp — at least sharp where you want it to be. But as I explained earlier, when you shoot so wide, you get shallow depth of field, and that means that the focus needs to be right on the money. If your autofocus point was not properly selected so it was landing on the faces of the subjects, or if your camera/lens combination has front or back focus issues, then the shallow depth of field might case the focal plane to be somewhere other than where you want it.

    And from where we're sitting, we can't tell which of those problems it was: wrong autofocus point selected or an autofocusing error. You'll have to do some testing yourself.
    .
    This was the first snap I took after switching from manual to aperture priority (something I wish I were more comfortable with).​
    Not sure I understand this as an explanation. Using Aperture priority is simply easier than using full Manual exposure mode, because you only have to set the aperture and the camera sorts out the shutter speed. But if you know how to set the aperture properly in manual, you know how to do it in Aperture priority, as well, and vice versa.
    .
    I didn't have a lens hood on.​
    Well, the hood doesn't directly contribute to sharpness. Rather, a hood can enhance the contrast in the scene. And a little better contrast can make for sharper pictures as well as overall better exposures. Always use a hood.
    .
    Also, it was definitely on autofocus. I don't quite have the guts to trust my own eye to focus perfectly. Do you all generally shoot in manual focus?​
    Really, it's up to you. Manual focus has a couple advantages: First, there are no front or back focus problems. And second, with manual focus, you don't have to fiddle with autofocus points if you want the focal point to be off-center and you don't have to worry about parallax problems if you focus and recompose. I manual focus a lot but on my full-frame Sony A99 I can use focus magnfication in the viewfinder to make sure that the subject's eyes are tack sharp. This is harder to do with an optical viewfinder. In general, if you know how to use autofocus it can do a great job and very possible a more reliable job than manual focusing.
    .

    Bob, thank you for explaining to me what the "F numbers" mean. I think I'll just shoot everything at F 32 until I can find time for one of those night time classes.​
    Heavens, don't do that!! As you stop down your lens, you eventually reach a point where you degrade image quality. For many lenses that occurs around f/16. I almost never stop down past f/11. For normal shooting I live between f/4 and f/11. I'll go to f/2.8 or wider, or to f/16 or smaller if I have a good reason to do so, but only then. It's just a matter of really knowing the effects of the different apertures.

    Good luck,

    Will
     
  9. My advice: learn photography. Perhaps that sounds cheeky, but there really aren't any shortcuts. A photographer should know that shooting f/1.8 is shooting a lens wide open and that gives you a very shallow DoF. Conversely, trying to shoot everything at f/32 isn't really an option, at least at a wedding. Two reasons: one, you need a LOT of light to shoot f/32. Weddings usually don't provide that much light. Two, the 50mm f/1.4 only goes to f/22. You need to understand that the shutter controls motion (so at 1/8000th of a second there isn't going to be any blur due to hand holding the camera) and the aperture controls DoF (depth of field). With your friends wedding a month away, you need to read,practice, read some more, practice some more. You can't learn it all in one month, but you want to be comfortable with your camera and shooting choices because during a wedding you don't have the luxury of learning as you go. You either know what to do or you don't. If you want to shoot aperture priority, shoot aperture priority. But you need to use something that is going to give you a bit more DoF (such f/2.8 for couples, f/5.6 for groups). And you have to learn to keep an eye on your shutter so that if it dips to slow you change something, ISO, aperture (then keeping an eye on DoF), use flash, but something.
     
  10. +1 to everything John D just said.
    The only thing I'd add (since we're talking about image quality here) is that, at some point, just about all lenses produce less perfect images as you stop down further, due to diffraction. The range of usable f-stops no doubt varies from lens to lens and the range of used f-stops varies from photographer to photographer. Me personally, I live between f/2.8 and f/11. Even with my fast primes, I go wider than f/2.8 only when I really know why I'm doing so, and when I have time to make sure I nail the focus. Conversely, I use f/16 only when I'm shooting in bright sun and have no choice. I didn't bother to search my Lightroom library but I'd be surprised if I've ever taken a photo at f/32. I'm not sure I have any lenses that can stop down that far.
    As for shutter speeds, I pretty much live between 1/30th sec and 1/1000th sec. I know that there are very good reasons to use faster shutter speeds. I just don't seem to run into those situations personally.
    About diffraction:
    http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/50-comparison/f-stops.htm
    http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutorials/understanding-series/u-diffraction.shtml
    Will
     
  11. Yes, first step ... learn more about photography.
    Regarding this image ... nothing is in focus except maybe the front edge of the blue bag and the very tip of the bare armed girl's elbow.
    1/8000th shutter speed pretty much rules out camera shake.
    Most Likely Possible Causes: (as someone already mentioned, it can be a combination of factors that leads to soft images).
    1) Camera is set to auto select the AF point(s) ... sometimes the auto select AF will unpredictably grab the closest subject area displaying the most contrast ... like the elbow and shadow just below it. At f/1.8 depth-of-field, that may be the problem. However, it not as likely to be this bad when shot at this distance to subject ... the closer you get the more narrow the DOF will appear, the further away the less shallow the DOF will appear.
    Solution: set the camera AF points to be user selected ... place the AF point on the eye of the subject. I use the center AF point which is ALWAYS the most sensitive. I use that center AF point 90% of the time ... the remaining times I select the AF point for off-center subjects. (read your manual on how to set this).
    2) Photographer sway. While 1/8000 shutter speed will freeze most subjects and negate camera shake, once the AF locks on, the photographer can sway back and forth just enough before firing the shutter. At f/1.8 it doesn't take much.
    Solution: learn to shoot from a steady stance and watch that you are not slightly swaying back and forth. People don't think they are doing this, but many actually are.
    3) Most likely cause: The lens is out of calibration and is front focusing. This is more common than most people think it is ... they don't encounter it often because their f stop selection is providing enough Depth-of-Field to mask it ... or they are using f/2.8 or f/4 Zooms. At f/1.2, f/1.4 and even f/1.8 there isn't enough DOF to mask a poorly calibrated lens.
    Solution: read your camera manual to determine if your Nikon includes lens calibration functions in the menu. Once you set a calibration for any given lens, the camera remembers it and adjust for it when that lens is mounted on the camera. You only have to do it once.
    I simply do not trust ANY lens to be calibrate correctly from the factory ... cameras and lenses are made separately to certain tolerances, if a camera is at one end of the tolerance scale and the lens at the other end, it can combine to be out of whack. As the resolution of digital sensors has steadily increased, the issue has become more pronounced.
    If you do not believe this, consider why the camera makers now include user employed lens calibration functions in most decent cameras these days.
    When I shot Nikon, I bench tested each fast aperture Nikon AF prime lens wide open and found that everyone one of them was off to one degree or another. If they were way off, I sent the lens back for a new one. If they were all off by a lot in the same direction, I sent the camera back for re-calibration.
    Did the same for my Sony A900 and A99 wedding cameras and fast aperture primes ... I found a brand new Zeiss ZA 24/2 lens to need a calibration correction of +8 and sent it back for a new one which calibrated at +2.
    Note: setting a lens to minimum f-stop (f/22, or f/32 on some macro lenses), will not improve sharpness, it will decrease sharpness because of de-fraction limits of optical designs. Usually a 35mm lens is at maximum performance at f/5.6 or f/8 and is tolerable at f/11.
    - Marc
     
  12. Marc,
    I've never thought before about what you call "photographer sway." Are you talking about a slight movement either in the sensor plane (photographer sway) or the focal plane (subject sway) that would occur between focus lock and the capture of the image?
    When I am not focusing manually, I generally use the AF button to focus deliberately. Autofocus on my bodies is unlinked from the shutter. But if this really is a problem, it sounds like a reason to keep autofocus linked to the shutter button. I'd think the amount of sway between the half-press and the full-press of the shutter button would be pretty small.
    Will
     
  13. Well F-32 is an example. The need to photograph at F-32 is an example but kind of unnecessary You can
    set the camera to or around F-8 to F-11 and still get some very good focused shots. F-16, F-22, and F-32
    are great for nature, Almost all of my outdoor wedding photo's are around F-8 to F-11.

    Email me if you need a bit more understanding.
     
  14. I think you nailed it Marc. I think the DOF suits the photograph here....but the subject is OOF.
     
  15. Photographer sway is the bane of my shooting life: DoF at 1.8 on a 7D with a 50mm lens and shooting distance of 200cm will be about 10cm, leaving very little room for focusing errors, subject sway or photographer sway. f2.8 would have given you about 15cm. A monopod might help here - not to reduce shake, but to help reduce sway and increase focus accuracy.
     
  16. Further inspection of the image and playing around with 'Barnack' suggests a shooting distance of nearer 4m, giving a DoF of nearer 40cm. So 'sway' may have been less of an issue than focusing accuracy.
     
  17. Let me get this straight--some of you are saying that the photographer swaying slightly while shooting at 1/8000 of a second can cause motion blur? That certainly doesn't sound right. At 1/8000 there's very little motion of any kind that is going to have any effect at all--maybe a speeding bullet. Am I misunderstanding?
     
  18. I think what they are saying is that when you press down on the shutter button you are moving the camera just a little bit prior to taking the picture. And, at f/1.8, your fraction for focusing error is thin: move of your focus point just a bit and your subject loses focus. This is usually more of a concern in hand held macro photography. At the shooting distance of this image, I don't think it would really play much of a role. Likely suspects have already been discussed.
     
  19. Thank you all so much for your help.
    Just wanted to say, before anything else, that my shooting at f/32 comment was 100% sarcastic as I thought Bob B. was being a tad condescending. My fault for being a jerk. Sorry. I just thought my initial post made it pretty clear that I have some understand of the "F numbers".
     
  20. There's so much to know and understand. It's great to hear your responses. I think I tend to avoid talking to professionals, as I find it a little intimidating, but I 'm so glad I reached out. Forgive me if I start blowing up this thread with questions and photos after this. :)
    I'll be checking out my manual for a few things. I had no idea the calibration could be off.
    I have only really shot in manual before, just to have control over everything. I'd like to get more comfortable with aperture mode, as I know it's supposed to be easier. I guess it's just something I need to play around with.
    I was ruling out the need for a tripod, but this camera sway stuff is scaring me...
     
  21. [[Let me get this straight--some of you are saying that the photographer swaying slightly while shooting at 1/8000 of a second can cause motion blur? That certainly doesn't sound right. At 1/8000 there's very little motion of any kind that is going to have any effect at all--maybe a speeding bullet. Am I misunderstanding?]]
    You are misunderstanding. This is not motion blur, this is the movement of the body moving the plane of focus. If you focus and your depth of field is a few inches and you move forward or backward you are moving the plane of focus forward and backward. Subjects previous "in focus" will not be if your body movement allows the plane of focus to drift from its original spot. However, as John points out, this very much depends on subject distance and available DoF.
    [[I had no idea the calibration could be off.]]
    This should be the last thing you need to be concerned with. A careful study and clear understanding of the fundamentals of photography is in order.
     
  22. When you are dealing with 1/4 to 1/2 inch of dof, spot metering on the eye then recomposing significantly can make the distance measured a hypotenuse of the right triangle which is longer than either leg. If I am shooting a series of shots in portrait modes, where I am 60-70%, I move the spot focus point so I don't need to move the camera to recompose. If you are half clicking and recomposing, you can take pressure off your finger and loose that focus as well. Here, if it was center spot, you probably moved the spot down, created a low hypotenuse, recomposed up to a shorter leg. You did a pretty good job getting both subjects eyes on the same plane, but possibly not close enough. I agree with the other poster, I would have stopped down a bit say, 2.8 or 3.2. It shouldn't make a significant difference in the background out of focus, but gives you more room for error. In studio, I know what aperture I need to get both eyes tack sharp at my usual distances with the head turned away from the camera say 30 degrees. Below those apertures, my client better not want both eyes sharp. Then spot on the eye you want sharp. This is one of the reasons I shoot tethered in studio to be sure I am nailing eye sharpness. I zoom into the eyes to be sure. Going back to your shot, a scrim or shoot through umbrella can be used to knock down the overhead light here and/or a reflector on the ground angled on your camera bag for low fill. A good assistant can hold 2 one handers accomplishing both. Or knock down everything with a nd to get you down to your sync speed, about 4 stops plus the approx 1.5 stops lost from going to 3.2. Darken bg to taste then Bang in a light on a stick through a shoot through and you will have your subjects brighter than the bg with flattering loop lighting if light so positioned, and the shadows created will be thinning for your subjects. Here's an example after lugging a 25 lb camera bag 8 hrs around Yosemite Valley, sunburned and tired, one of the group wanted to see the Aspen glow from Tunnel View. I was the only photographer not on tripod at this wall taking the 3 billionth shot from this location. I knew at that time the cliff behind us would throw that low wall she's sitting on into shadow with flat light, The tree lower right foreground is in the same shadow. Like a scrim. Dialed in shutter speed for back ground density I wanted at f7.1 to keep some detail in the bg and added light on a stick from 45 left somewhat matching angle of shadows in the valley. The zumbrella (thank you, David) added a round catch light and made her eyes sparkle, slimmed, shaped and brought her slightly brighter than the bg so she popped out of the slightly out of focus bg even more. I use this technique at weddings with an assistant. Here, I just handed it to another member of the group. I was the only one there with off camera flash in a line of 40 tripods. It only took 5 minutes to set up. Less time than was spent by those setting up on tripod for one of the most clichéd shots ever taken. Mine is an original, never been taken. Also, for your wedding shoot, getting the expression is the photographers job as well. Think she was enjoying the photo experience? The chiaroscuro between her shadowed hair camera r and the bright cliff as well as the lit hair camera L against the shadowed cliff area was also part of the basis for me claiming that part of the wall. It also helps with the separation and contributes to a third dimension to the image.
    00c7FR-543321884.jpg
     
  23. Remember folks, it may not be a single cause, but a combination that gangs up to produce a soft image. That is why both shooting technique including AF point selection and steady stance, AND awareness of technical aspects such as lens calibration have to be attended to in tandem ... which is especially true when using fast aperture lenses wide open. So, while body sway may not contribute greatly at this distance, if it combines with a slightly out of calibration lens the effect then becomes magnified.
    While veiling flair may contribute to the issue, it is an indiscriminate effect of lowering contrast ... it wouldn't make part of the image look softer than another part. The elbow and front edge of the bag are in, or almost in, the plane of focus, but the sunglasses on top of the woman's head are clearly OOF. If the focus point was placed on the subject's face, then this image is front focused.
    I know that checking lens calibration is a big PITA, but I will repeat that IF you use fast aperture primes wide open a lot, (I do), then it is well worth the effort if for no other reason than to eliminate that possible flaw. Again, if it were not a possibility, the camera makers would not have started including lens calibration firmware in their cameras ... with most every lens they make in the selection menu.
    In fact, this technical article speaks to just how common this issue is with wide aperture lenses, (it also provides a test method):
    http://www.ehow.com/info_7863253_frontfocusing-lens.html
    And another:
    http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/39501762
    Now, after a little bit of research, I found discussions regarding front/back focusing with the Canon 7D that the OP uses. Evidently you have to turn on the camera profiles which identify the lens attached.
    http://photography-on-the.net/forum/archive/index.php/t-788287.html
    The good news is that the OPs 7D does have the ability to custom fine tune lens calibrations for up to 20 different lenses!
    - Marc
     
  24. I don't have a helpful response - I'm a fellow beginner having the same troubles with getting sharp images. This thread has some good info and I wanted to be able to refer back to it.
    I will however say that a tripod, study of the basics, and practice are proving to be quite helpful to me.
     
  25. Renee, you have the secret. Learn and practice the craft. Something tells me you won't be a beginner long. Shoot as much as you can, look for ways to improve each shot being your toughest critic. Burn that in your memory and eventually, when you stand there, whatever is in front of you will speak to you and you will not only know what you want, but how to achieve it. There are some wonderful photographers on this site who are glad to help. Get into a club or meet up group and at least occasionally, if you can, watch a great photographer shoot. Getting not only critique of your work but critique of others will be an immense help. Most clubs have competitions or print nights. Common mistakes will come up so often, when you look through the viewfinder, a warning will go off in your head. Things that enhance an image will come up often. You will then see those in your viewfinder. After you have made the journey to accomplished photographer, don't forget to take the time to give some back to those coming after you.
     
  26. Jessica said:
    . . . but this camera sway stuff is scaring me.
    Switching your camera's focus mode to AF-C (auto-focus continuous mode) largely eliminates this problem. AF-C mode automatically compensates for any "body sway," or any other subject-distance variance from the intended focus-plane, subsequent to your initial focus acquisition. Also, using the AF-ON button (which activates auto-focus, independently of shutter-release) is really just a matter of preference, but I find I focus more accurately using AF-ON in tandem with AF-C mode.

    I used to shoot in AF-S mode, using the the center-AF point to acquire focus, then re-composing my frame to accommodate my desired composition (commonly referred to as "focus-recompose"). But I found that the recompose often induced noticeable focus error when shooting fast lenses wide-open. During that slight framing adjustment, the subject-to-image plane distance can change enough to throw your focus-plane either too far forward, or too far rearward of where intended, especially when your depth-of-field is razor-thin.

    Now, I shoot in AF-C mode 95% of the time. I use the AF-ON button, single-point focus-area mode (where I select the active AF-point), and AF-C mode as my standard AF set-up. Also, make sure that any "dynamic" focusing modes are turned off in your camera's AF menu. If focus is really critical, I'll hover an active AF-point over my subject's eye to be sure to nail it. Shooting this way, 95% of my wide-open images are now in-focus.
     

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