5

I am shooting a lot of low light sports up in the north and I have noticed a lot of back focusing issues that I mostly blamed on myself with a 5D Mark IV and EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS II.

But yesterday I was shooting some horses in the fall colors and I am getting weird blurry image even though I had IS on and shutter speed of 1/1000. Have you seen that type of blur before? Is that an IS issue, an AF issue or just something else? The camera took a huge fall last year but not sure if it is related.

It seems to happen mostly when I focus near infinity. Here is a 1:3 zoom and a 1:1 from LR

1:3 Export from Lightroom:

1:1 Export from LR

EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS II at 400mm, 1/1000, f/6.3, and ISO 200.

I always save raw files. Metadata indicates that AF had been achieved on the riders.

I have no noise reduction setup.

The weird thing is that I can't seem to reproduce the issue, it just happens once in a while so that makes it hard to identify. The back focusing issue is clearly different but that could indicate that the lens or camera are not as fast focusing as they should be.

  • 2
    What were the camera settings? ISO? Aperture? Raw or JPEG? – Caleb Sep 18 '18 at 22:14
  • 100-400 mk2 at 400mm 1/1000 F6.3 and 200 ISO. RAW always and metadata indicates that Focus has been achieved on the riders – User18981898198119 Sep 18 '18 at 22:50
  • I have no noise reduction setup, the weird thing is that I can't seem to reproduce the issue, it just happens once in a while so that makes it hard to identify. The back focusing issue is clearly different but that could indicate that the lens or camera are not as fast focusing as they should be... I was just throwing that in the equation in case it was relevant. I will try to reproduce the issue on a tripod THanks for the tips – User18981898198119 Sep 18 '18 at 23:02
  • Also I always have IS on which I realize is a mistake so I will do tests to evaluate if that might be the issue, for the 1:3 zoom it is the setting in LR when you zoom in it probably means 33% zoom – User18981898198119 Sep 18 '18 at 23:08
  • I shoot only Raw but the preview on the camra, which I believe is a small jpeg, shows the blurriness as well – User18981898198119 Sep 18 '18 at 23:19
2

With only the information included in the original question, it could be any number of things.

The only way to know for sure whether this is a motion problem (camera/lens in general or IS unit in particular) or not is to put the camera on a rock solid mount, turn off IS, focus manually using Live View at 10X magnification, and compare to results when changing only one of those variables (AF, IS) at a time.

If your results are the same with manual focus from a rock solid mount then you need to start looking at lens alignment issues or atmospheric conditions. In summer heat I've seen worse than this just from heat turbulence in the air at the distance you were apparently shooting.

The back focusing issue is clearly different but that could indicate that the lens or camera are not as fast focusing as they should be... I was just throwing that in the equation in case it was relevant.

In the example image, nothing in front of or behind the intended subjects seems to be any more in focus. Although Canon AF systems can sometimes jitter a bit between frames, particularly when using 'AI Servo AF', there is normally something in front of or behind the target that is sharp.

I can't seem to reproduce the issue, it just happens once in a while so that makes it hard to identify.

If it only happens occasionally, you can probably rule out lens misalignment. That typically shows up in every shot at the same focal length and aperture.

I've seen similar random frames using various Canon cameras with long focal length lenses and IS turned on. I highly suspect it is a movement of the IS unit that doesn't perfectly match the movement of the lens. Perhaps the frame is triggered just as the IS unit reaches the limit of its travel and is recentering itself? Maybe the camera motion changes direction at the wrong moment and the IS system takes a few milliseconds to respond?

I've never really researched the issue that carefully because I've found a pretty easy solution: turn off the IS when the shutter time is short enough that it should not be needed when using good camera stabilization techniques. At the lens' longest 400mm focal length, you're still well within that range when using a shutter time of 1/1000 seconds.

| improve this answer | |
  • Thank you so much, I will make some tests! That is an interesting theory about the Canon IS system which definitely would explain that kind of weird geometric blur. – User18981898198119 Sep 19 '18 at 19:33
-1

Here are some other things that can obscure detail.

  1. ISO too high. Try shooting similar scenarios at 800 or below.
  2. Aperture TOO SMALL - this can lead to diffraction limited images. I used to think shooting at f/22 would produce very sharp images, but not so especially on new sensors with high resolution. Try shooting at f/5.6 to f/8.
  3. Something is dirty - lens or sensor. I know, this is obvious, but sometimes it happens.
  4. Camera shake - not all that likely at 1/1000 but sometimes with long lenses and long distances 1/1000 is not enough. When I shoot @ moving eagles it takes about 1/4000 to get a consistent shot.
  5. The other poster mentioned this but it bears repeating because it isn't talked about often enough. Something called "seeing" in astronomy can affect long distance shots. The air can actually distort an image. It happens more on hot days and it is usually not a super strong effect unless you are shooting over water but sometimes it crops up.
| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.