I sold my working, good condition 5D Mark II to another photographer in a facebook group. Paid by paypal, and mailed via UPS with insurance and tracking. The camera was in a good working condition when sent.

A few days after receiving, the buyer said: "...there's something wrong. None of the pictures are in focus. I tried multiple lenses and even calibrating them. I believe the cameras autofocus is broken."

This was not an issue when the camera was sent, and I do not know what could cause this, perhaps something the buyer wittingly or unwittingly did to damage the camera.

Attached are two images sent to me by the buyer, one is of the National Park Forest sticker and one of a car.

Any ideas on how to fix or resolve this? Or thoughts on what could be happening?

*Secondary question: Though the box was not damaged, does anyone have experience filing a claim through UPS for something like this?enter image description here

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    \$\begingroup\$ Is it possible you left the camera in a strange focusing mode, which the new owner is not savvy enough to recognize? \$\endgroup\$ Nov 11, 2016 at 22:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ As to filing a claim: Shipping insurance wrt. a damaged item requires that the item had been adequately packaged. What constitutes adequate packaging will probably be defined in the fine print of the insurance contract. Without knowing and intentional compliance with such packaging requirements, it is unlikely that you have done so. Without significant damage to the actual shipping package, it unlikely that you will receive any insurance settlement. If there was significant damage, the recipient should open the package in the presence of the delivery person. \$\endgroup\$
    – Makyen
    Nov 11, 2016 at 23:28

4 Answers 4


I can not imagine damage that would impact focusing without visible damage to the packaging or the camera. These things are pretty sturdy. you would have to damage the mirror or shutter box to really have an impact. So I suspect user error.

These images appear to be in focus, but perhaps not where the photographer expected. I see areas in focus in both. However, they appear to be at a very wide aperture. Perhaps unfamiliarity with camera has misled your buyer. I would get the original images, load them into DPP and check the focal points against whether it appears in focus. I would also check the EXIF to find camera settings.

One suggestion is to have the buyer take a photo in full daylight, ask them to be sure that they have the camera set to a single focusing point, place that point on an object in the center of the photo, and take a picture. This will confirm focus.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Right and also square up said object with the focal plane. both those pics are on an angle. The receiver sounds like he/she may be inexperienced; taking focus test shots in dingy lighting lol. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 11, 2016 at 17:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ Both pictures appear to have near perfect focus in the center of the field. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 11, 2016 at 23:58

The most possible reason is that the buyer tries to trick you (and he has all means for that).

  • Maybe he wants to return the camera because of better option.
  • Maybe he wants a refund.
  • Maybe he wants to return a broken camera of same model (a bit paranoid but possible).

The first image is fine.

The camera might have picked the light reflected by the hood on the second image because it has bigger local contrast (autofocus cameras tend to prefer the contrasting subject, not something what human sees).

  • \$\begingroup\$ The second image (that of the car) is fine, too. Look toward the center right in the image, around the reflection on the hood, and you will see that there are details that are in focus (to within as much as can be judged at that image size) and that focus tapers off as one would expect with a short depth of field given the angle the photo is taken from. Whatever the problem is, it's clearly not that images are completely out of focus. \$\endgroup\$
    – user
    Nov 12, 2016 at 18:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ This. I have had buyers on eBay do this on multiple occasions. eBay does not usually help sellers when this happens, so I hope you have ample evidence. Good luck. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 12, 2016 at 22:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MichaelKjörling: this is more or less what I mean when I say "camera picked the light reflected by the hood". The second image is certainly NOT fine because it is not what photographer intended. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 13, 2016 at 8:36

ask them to check diopter setting on the viewfinder - most often its very small wheel-button ,right next to it, usually marked with +/- ... they could be unaware of changing the setting and therefore focusing in wrong distance

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    \$\begingroup\$ The customer suggested that autofocus is broken. The diopter adjustment only affects the viewfinder (and therefore potentially judgement of manual focus) \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Nov 12, 2016 at 14:08

I think Rob Crowe gets it right, that there is not enough light in the pictures.

I do think the second photo is shot in low light, leading to it being out of focus.

But wait you say - there appears to be lots of light in the first photo. Firstly, I would say that the first photo is in good focus.

Let's however for the sake of discussion say that it isn't in focus. What could be the cause? There is a large dark area (the monitor) behind the subject (the sticker).

In my experience, shooting large areas of "dark" can cause the camera to think that there is not enough light. Hence it will keep the lens open longer during the shot which could lead to an out of focus shot due to camera shake.

I was able to reproduce this using my monitor and a green piece of paper.

Photo 1 - Too much dark area, Out of Focus

Set 1 - Actual Photo

Photo 2 - Lesser dark area, In Focus

Set 2 - Actual Photo

My apologies for the bad photos that follow, but I also want to show what the camera sees.

Photo 1 - When there is too much dark area, the camera wants to expose at 1/8 second (lower left "8") and warns about camera shake (top center red camera shake icon)

Set 1 - Meta Photo

Photo 2 - When there is lesser dark area, the camera wants to expose at 1/40 second (lower left "40"); there is not a camera shake warning here.

Set 2 - Meta Photo

  • \$\begingroup\$ Camera shake normally does not lead to out of focus images. "Out of focus" means that the focal plane (which is at exactly some given distance from the sensor or film) is somewhere other than the photographer intended or wanted. The only way that I can see camera shake leading to out of focus images is if the photographer acquires a focus lock, locks focus, and then the camera moves forward or backward (along an imaginary line from behind the camera, through the lens, and to beyond the object being focused upon) by a significant fraction of the depth of field as the picture is taken. \$\endgroup\$
    – user
    Nov 12, 2016 at 18:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ I guess I'm using "out of focus" here to mean an unclear image. I'm trying to imply in my answer that camera shake will lead to that result. \$\endgroup\$
    – chue x
    Nov 12, 2016 at 20:35

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