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Old 24-06-2008, 19:39   #1 (permalink)
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cant get sharp subject with zoom lense

can anyone help me. ive just started using my new 100-400 canon telephoto lense with is, but ive found that at full zoom i cant quiet get a sharp subject. i take wildlife pics and the subject is normally moving. is there a better setting on my canon 350d that will give better results or is it a case of shutter speed needs to be faster. i can only get a maximum of 500ths at 5.6f or do i need to buy a megger expensive fixed focal lense of low f2 number to get the desired result.

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Old 24-06-2008, 20:04   #2 (permalink)
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Re: cant get sharp subject with zoom lense

I don't know anything about your lens, but I do know that my Nikon 70-300 is a bit soft at 300mm. I imagine that there are many factors at play - perhaps you could post some images to illustrate how bad the problem is.
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Old 24-06-2008, 21:24   #3 (permalink)
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Re: cant get sharp subject with zoom lense

Don't forget you can nudge up the ISO to give you a bit more leeway. 1/500 is probably right on the limit for using 400mm in these conditions.
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Old 24-06-2008, 21:24   #4 (permalink)
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Re: cant get sharp subject with zoom lense

At 400mm the amount of depth-of-field (DOF) you get with a wide aperture is very small. With the 350D being a 'consumer' body the focusing is perhaps not quite accurate enough to guarantee getting the target exactly within the DOF. I actually suffer from this with my 200mm lens at f/2.8.

Try using a smaller aperture to give you a deeper DOF and I reckon you will see an improvement right away.

The only other thing is the lens itself. I have read lots of reports that IS while allowing you to hand-hold at lower shutter speeds does itself result in lower image quality.

Try shooting some pictures on a tripod with IS disabled and an aperture of say f/8 and see how you get on. If you are doing that already and still getting out-of-focus images then
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Old 24-06-2008, 21:39   #5 (permalink)
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Re: cant get sharp subject with zoom lense

I do not have any stabilised lenses, so I have no experience to guide me. I thought the idea of IS was to enable slower shutter speeds in low light situations with static subjects. In other words, it helps to counter camera shake.

I did not think IS would have any value in shooting moving subjects at high shutter speeds when any lack of sharpness is going to be due to the camera movement (not camera shake)/tracking/focusing rather than camera shake.

So does IS give a better result than no IS with high/very high shutter speeds?
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Old 25-06-2008, 02:49   #6 (permalink)
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Re: cant get sharp subject with zoom lense

Before I upgraded to a 40D I used a 350D + 100-400L IS combination quite extensively for about a year. The lens can be a little soft at 400mm wide open but stopping down a little sharpens it up. It does need good light to be at it's best but I have achieved sharp results on static subjects at 400mm with a 1/100th sec shutter, and with moving subjects at 400mm with a 1/125'ish sec shutter.

The camera should be doing the business for you as it's still a great piece of kit. You don't mention what setting you are using when you shoot so it's a bit hard to give any advice on what may be causing your soft results but here's a few things I do that have given me some success.


Focusing - AI Servo and Centre Point only, this'll keep whatever is in the middle of the frame constantly in focus when you have the shutter half pressed.

ISO - Don't be afraid to bump it up to get better shutter speeds, the 350D will still perform well noise wise at 400 and 800 ISO.

Lens IS Mode - Make sure the IS on the lens is switched on (it can easily get turned off in the bag) and in Mode 1 so it compensates for both horizontal and vertical shake.



It'll take a while to get used to the lens, as other's have mentioned the DOF at 400mm f/5.6 is pretty narrow so you need to be accurate with your focusing. Also panning smoothly with a long lens to keep up with moving subjects takes practice, if you keep at it you should find your results improving steadily over time.


A couple of examples, both with 350D + 100-400 at 400mm -


1/80 sec - f/10 - slow moving


1/320 sec - f/6.3 - fast moving
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Old 25-06-2008, 10:11   #7 (permalink)
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Re: cant get sharp subject with zoom lense

Maybe not the answer your looking for but I found on my 100-400l instead of shooting at max zoom pulling it back a tad say 375 makes shots sharper on mine. If I need to get in any further I can do that while PP'ing
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Old 25-06-2008, 10:57   #8 (permalink)
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Re: cant get sharp subject with zoom lense

As has already been mentioned above if using a tripod turn off the IS or if hand holding mode 1. That lens is a hell of a beast to lug around but I think that your problem is more due to a lack of experience with it rather than a technical problem. I have 2 shots taken at the moto gp in the photo sharing section that were taken with this lens and they have no sharpening applied to either of them.
I would say just practice a bit more and if still having problems maybe post up a couple of pics fo us to have a look at.
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Old 27-06-2008, 21:14   #9 (permalink)
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Re: cant get sharp subject with zoom lense

thanks for your advise, i took some pics of barn owls hunting, but my iso speed was set at 200 and f5.6 at 1/500th, is was on vert & horiz and i was using a tripod for extra stability. my 350d is set on ai focus. will definately try what you said.
cheers Dave Home
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Old 27-06-2008, 21:17   #10 (permalink)
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Re: cant get sharp subject with zoom lense

thanks to all for your advise, i will send in some shots so you know what i mean.you will find them in wildlife section. i feel that i have a lot to learn so when the weather gets better ill try some different settings.
regards Dave

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Old 27-06-2008, 23:45   #11 (permalink)
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Re: cant get sharp subject with zoom lense

Here's one I got with 350D, 100-400 @ 400mm + 1.4x TC = 560mm. F/8, 1/100, ISO200, resting on tripod (with IS switched to 1). Even managed to get a couple sharper than this - was first outing with the lens so pretty pleased with results

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Old 28-06-2008, 10:59   #12 (permalink)
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Re: cant get sharp subject with zoom lense

To be honest I would have been quite happy with that shot, although obviously it might look different when zooming in.

I do wonder if a higher shutter speed might have helped? Obviously you don't want it so high that you freeze the background but 1/100 is fairly slow for freezing movement even when panning (at least for me). The IS does allow you to counter shake from hand-holding but it will not counter motion blur in the target if the target moves relative to the lens during the time the shutter is open.

However, I'm not really all that experienced in panning shots, mine are still very much a 'work in progress' so maybe one of the more experienced 'togs will come along and say I am talking rubbish! In lieu of that I would try bumping the ISO up to 400 to allow you to double the shutter speed to 1/200 and see what difference that makes.
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Old 28-06-2008, 11:10   #13 (permalink)
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Re: cant get sharp subject with zoom lense

Nah, I think I didn't quite nail the focus (MF, obviously) but I was still fairly pleased, considering first attempt and 560mm

This is a more recent one with just 300mm IS (f/14, 1/60, ISO100, handheld) so I'm obviously improving!

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Old 28-06-2008, 11:48   #14 (permalink)
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Re: cant get sharp subject with zoom lense

Here are some i took this afternoon with my 20D an 100-400 lens, the 20D is very similar to the 350D as they are both 8mp, i have not had this lens all that long and i am still getting use to using it also-i have noticed that wide open f5.6 @ 400mm it is a little bit soft but is very sharp at f8, although the IS works great and i have had sharp shots hand held @ 400mm i still think there is no substitute for fast shutter speeds to get the sharpest shots from this lens-hope this helps


ISO 100 f8 1/200th IS mode 1


ISO 100 f8 1/200th IS mode 1


ISO 200 f8 1/125th IS mode 1


ISO 200 f8 1/165th IS mode 1
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Old 28-06-2008, 14:15   #15 (permalink)
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Re: cant get sharp subject with zoom lense

just get real close
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Old 28-06-2008, 16:46   #16 (permalink)
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Re: cant get sharp subject with zoom lense

This was taken with the 100-400, it's a crop and was taken at ISO 400 apeture f5.6 and shutter speed of 1/50 at the 400mm end of the lens. No IS was used.

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Old 28-06-2008, 16:46   #17 (permalink)
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Re: cant get sharp subject with zoom lense



Oops - that'll teach me. Due to not paying due care and attention I thought the picture of the bird was from the original poster. If I had realised it was one of yours Markulous I would have kept my mouth shut!

I did think it was a good picture and assumed that it must be really blurry when zoomed in. Luckily I did start the post by saying I would be happy if I had shot the picture.
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Old 28-06-2008, 17:00   #18 (permalink)
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Re: cant get sharp subject with zoom lense

Quote:
Originally Posted by Larne View Post
Oops - that'll teach me. Due to not paying due care and attention I thought the picture of the bird was from the original poster. If I had realised it was one of yours Markulous I would have kept my mouth shut!

I did think it was a good picture and assumed that it must be really blurry when zoomed in. Luckily I did start the post by saying I would be happy if I had shot the picture.
LOL! So shall I recall the tactical airstrike on Warrington? Nah, we're talking Warrington - let the fireworks continue! There again, if you ever catch me being precious about any of my pics you can shoot me - apart from anything else your comments were relevant!
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Old 28-06-2008, 17:53   #19 (permalink)
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Re: cant get sharp subject with zoom lense

I'll see your goose and raise you one...


300mm, 1/400, f/8, ISO 400, IS on.
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Old 29-06-2008, 21:16   #20 (permalink)
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Re: cant get sharp subject with zoom lense

fantastic shots, i have been out today with iso set at 800 to see what is possable and im quiet pleased with the results. i obviously need more practice panning and manual focusing. i will perseveer.

regards Dave
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