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Old 25-07-2009, 21:00   #1 (permalink)
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Canon 40d auto Focus speed

Hi All
It could be me not having enough practice (most likely) or the auto focus speed on the 40d not up to my shooting technique. Out today at a horse show, 40d to a canon 300 f4 L series lens. Some shots good. Trying to catch horse and rider over the jump - rapid fire - about 4 frames - takes about 2 seconds. Riders face is not entirely sharp. Do you think the 40d/lens should auto focus in that time? Am I now starting to see the difference between the mid price range and the 1d variants? Your comments and experience much appreciated. All the pro's i saw there today where using 1d's or the Nikon equivalents. Maybe that explains everything! I would try and add the images, but I haven't worked out how yet.
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Old 25-07-2009, 21:05   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Canon 40d auto Focus speed

What focus mode and focus points were you using?
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Old 25-07-2009, 21:38   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Canon 40d auto Focus speed

Have u got it set to high speed capture cos it has 2 fast n super fast. I was shooting moto x today and it was ok for me
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Old 25-07-2009, 23:04   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Canon 40d auto Focus speed

Of the nine points available, using the centre point, always trying to focus on the head or body of the subject. Also using 'A1 Servo', moving objects, continues to re focus. Try to use f5.6 or f8 and if hand held speed in excess of 320, normally 400 or 500. If I get in the right positions I can normally get good blurr/out of focus backgrounds, but thats difficult in a public arena.
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Old 25-07-2009, 23:09   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Canon 40d auto Focus speed

hmm i was out with mine today and getting photos of moto x coming over jumps and being focused straight away, i have the 75-300 f4 lens so... i also had it on A1 focus with all nine points of focus being used and also just the centre one.. so not sure about this one sorry.
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Old 26-07-2009, 07:40   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Canon 40d auto Focus speed

If you can manage to figure out how to post some examples Beefi please make sure the images include the exif
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Old 26-07-2009, 08:09   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Canon 40d auto Focus speed

Generally speaking it is acknowledged that the 40d AF speed is about 30% faster than the 30D. I certainly don't seem to have any problems with mine and using a variety of focus points and modes.

However, there have been instances of some 40Ds having autofocus problems but the problem is that of not autofocusing at all, not slow AF. Also, have you considered that the problem might be with your lens rather than with the camera or even just a cleaning of the lens points may help.
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Old 26-07-2009, 08:32   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Canon 40d auto Focus speed

As Stepheno has said, there have been some instances where autofocus fails on the 40D, I unfortunately had one. Test the camera on a tripod with different lenses and check the focus, if it's out on all, it may be the camera, out on one, could be the lens and if it's not out, you'll need to check your settings for the shots you are taking.
You mentioned that the riders face was not clear, have you tried setting the focus point to where the riders head will be? I do that with my cycling shots, that way I get the part of the shot sharpest where I want it.
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Old 26-07-2009, 08:57   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Canon 40d auto Focus speed

Thanks for all your help and pointers so far. I have a weekend ticket, so off again today. I will try using all nine focus points and also using my Sigma 70-200 f2.8. I had retired the Sigma in lieu of updating to a Canon L 70-200 f2.8. My 300 is quite old (July 1992) and I wonder if that's having trouble answering the 40d's instructions quick enough, the Sigma is newer so we shall see. When focus is correct the 300 gave me some cracking shots, but they tended to be on slower moving examples, hence my question. Doe's anyone else always have trouble with all the white tents they put around the outside of the ring at these events, it makes trying to get a good (or not blown out) background very difficult?
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Old 26-07-2009, 09:01   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Canon 40d auto Focus speed

I use both the 30D and 40D with that lens and can't say I've found probs - but I prefer single shot, anticipating when to hit the shutter, as I get a much better resulting image (placement in frame rather anything to do with AF). Try single shots to see if it's the AI servo tracking. Do tend to find only the centre AF point is reliable in mediocre light
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Old 26-07-2009, 10:34   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Canon 40d auto Focus speed

For what it is worth, I have a Sigma 70-200 f2.8 that stopped autofocusing alltogether. It had a new motor fitted and all is well again, but the AF speed now is super fast. I guess that before it packed up completely it was slowing down gradually and I never noticed.

I never used it for action shots then so using single frame mode it was getting focus, but since the repair it is noticeably faster.
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Old 26-07-2009, 22:49   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Canon 40d auto Focus speed

Hi All
An update after today's trials. Initially with the Sigma I was getting similar results, faces of riders not sharp. I found a sympathetic pro using a 5d as her main and a 40d as her second camera. showed her an image with the problems and she suggested I try at least 500, maybe slightly faster on the shutter. Tried this and along with either a single or all of the AF points achieved some acceptable results - just. I should point out that my tests in the field on an image are as follows:- using zoom on the screen image I push it to maximum and then navigate around the image checking detail and focus, thats how I noticed the problem. does anyone else do this?
I am wondering now if i am pushing my equipment to its maximum, the resolution of the 40d's screen, the quality of the Sigma and older 300L. I also accept air quality etc between my lens and the subject can also play a part. If you think horse and rider are jumping a fence in the centre of an arena about 300m away from me and I am expecting pin sharp focus of a face (about 200mm diameter) I am now achieving clear focus (I can see in detail an ear stud one of the lady riders was wearing) but probably a little on the soft side. I would still appreciate any comments.
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Old 27-07-2009, 07:48   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Canon 40d auto Focus speed

Any more comments would be difficult without a sample image to look at showing the problem.
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Old 27-07-2009, 08:11   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Canon 40d auto Focus speed

Quote:
Originally Posted by Beefi View Post
...I should point out that my tests in the field on an image are as follows:- using zoom on the screen image I push it to maximum and then navigate around the image checking detail and focus, thats how I noticed the problem. does anyone else do this?...
That's not the way to do it. You need to veiw the image on your PC at 100%

Quote:
Originally Posted by Beefi View Post
....I am wondering now if i am pushing my equipment to its maximum....
I doubt it. What you need to do is practice your technigue. It's all about planning and preparation. Lets face it you'r photographing a horse doing about 20mph. If you trawl the internet you'll find plenty of stunning images taken with 40D's of F1 cars doing 160mph.
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Old 27-07-2009, 09:35   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Canon 40d auto Focus speed

That's not the way to do it. You need to veiw the image on your PC at 100%

OK, I joined Pixalo to learn. Are you suggesting that I should have a PC in the field, download and view images as I go?


I doubt it. What you need to do is practice your technigue. It's all about planning and preparation.

Again wishing to learn. Planning I see as selecting a good spot to achieve a good image, having gear in tip top condition and most importantly knowing your way around all the settings. Please give me more content for planning and preparation?

I would load an image or two in question, but I can't just drag and drop an image (JPG) in to a posting, I think I need a flickr account or similar. Help on this would be appreciated if there is another way?
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Old 27-07-2009, 09:50   #16 (permalink)
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Re: Canon 40d auto Focus speed

Quote:
Originally Posted by Beefi View Post
I would load an image or two in question, but I can't just drag and drop an image (JPG) in to a posting, I think I need a flickr account or similar. Help on this would be appreciated if there is another way?
You need to host your pictures either here at Pixalo in your gallery, or elsewhere on one of the many hosting sites on the internet.

To post a picture hosted at Pixalo, just copy the top line of code under the full size picture and paste it into a thread. If you host elsewhere, you can post a link to a picture, or use IMG tags to display it in the thread.

However, bear in mind that we have a size linit for images displayed in the Pixalo forums and galleries of no longer than 1000 pixels on the longest side and no more than 300kb file size. Links to images hosted off site can link to higher res images, but be aware that many members will not follow links so that might reduce any feedback.
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Old 27-07-2009, 13:57   #17 (permalink)
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Re: Canon 40d auto Focus speed

When your target is moving on a very predictable course and you have an ideal point to focus on ie a red and white pole my choice would be to go manual. Focus in the centre of the pole and hit the shutter just a small fraction of a second before the hoofs get to the pole and with a bit of luck it will be spot on.
It avoids the lens hunting just at the wrong moment
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Old 27-07-2009, 14:48   #18 (permalink)
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Re: Canon 40d auto Focus speed

I struggled with 40D at a horseshow with AF, in comparison to what I was used to with Nikon D200 before hand. Can't offer anymore advice as I went & bought a 1D MKII instead at the time
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Old 27-07-2009, 20:31   #19 (permalink)
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Re: Canon 40d auto Focus speed

There, I have managed to upload two images to my gallery. The 4 wheel scurry I am reasonably happy with, the rider over the jump is the problem - look at his face. I couldn't work out how to include the 'exif' data, but be patient I'll get there in the end! Your comments on both images very much appreciated.
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Old 27-07-2009, 20:40   #20 (permalink)
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Re: Canon 40d auto Focus speed

With the horse & rider going over the jump I would want to have a faster shutter speed than 1/320 sec to capture a sharp image unless I was panning.
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Old 27-07-2009, 21:15   #21 (permalink)
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Re: Canon 40d auto Focus speed

As the signwriting on the jump looks to be in focus it looks like P-E is right and you either need to pan with the horse (I assume you were not as the static gate is sharp) or use a higher shutter speed.

Although in this instance I don't think it applies, I wonder if you are using the old adage of 1/100th second for every 100mm of focal length? So with your 300mm lens you are using 1/320th sec.

Due the crop factor your 300mm lens is actually around 450mm so using that formula you would need at least 1/500th.
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Old 28-07-2009, 09:52   #22 (permalink)
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Re: Canon 40d auto Focus speed

Is this the sort of picture you are looking for:



This shot was with my old 20D and 24-105mm lens. The focal length was 45mm so I was very close to the jump (almost under it). I used 200 ISO but this still needed f4 at 1/400 which was the slowest speed I wished to use. The exposure was set manually. The focus was also manual and I would normally always use manual in this type of situation as I know exactly where the subject will be.

Having set the exposure for the horse and rider, the sky would be too light and you cannot use multiple exposures for a moving subject. However, this Raw image is tone mapped in Photomatix to get the most from the captured dynamic range. Try using manual settings.
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Old 28-07-2009, 11:04   #23 (permalink)
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Re: Canon 40d auto Focus speed

Spot on. Thats exactly what I want to achieve. The more I look I think I have a speed issue. I also can't get that close to the jumps thats why I am having to use zooms or telephoto's. I haven't yet ventured into photoshop or its equivalents yet, preferring to get to a competent level capturing the image before I use a computer.
I do try and use a speed faster than the lens size, ie 320 for an f300 but I feel 500 is probably better, just need more practice.

What do you think of the scurry? Reasonable or just ordinary?
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Old 28-07-2009, 11:23   #24 (permalink)
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Re: Canon 40d auto Focus speed

The scurry looks fine - if anything I think focus is on the horse's heads rather than the persons's heads - but that may have been your intention.

A word to the wise....may I suggest inserting an image (or a link) in the thread in future, you can't assume people will want to go looking for it
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Old 28-07-2009, 15:50   #25 (permalink)
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Re: Canon 40d auto Focus speed

The scurry seems fine but the other pic has sharp focus on still objects either side of the horse so clearly any lack of definition is due to movement. In view of the fact that you are using a long telephoto, I would certainly use at least 1/500 Sec. I think panning might also help as well.

The day I took my photos at Badmington last year was the first time I had tackled this subject. I did have my share of failures as well. Also although we do not want any falls, there were four that afternoon and I missed every one of them (wrong place, changing a lens etc.).
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Old 28-07-2009, 23:04   #26 (permalink)
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Re: Canon 40d auto Focus speed

As you know, went back on Sunday, tried to put everything into practice. Think I may have cracked it. (Look out for the digital rain!)Hickstead International 2009 - Pixalo Photo Gallery
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