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Focus issue or pilot error

epdad

Eden Prairie, US
45 posts

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epdad Registered since 23rd Dec 2010
Sun 11-Nov-12 01:05 PM

Had a chance to shoot a benefit last night for assistance dogs, and while I have keepers, I've attached 3 files of an example of a shot that was all too common. Shot details: F3.5 at 1/160; ISO 1600, with center point focus on the girl's left hand. Lens is Nikon 80-200 VRII (VR set to on), at 160mm. As you can see, the backdrop (pumpkin) is much more clear, and that prop is a good 10-15 feet behind her in the third photo. Granted, she is walking, but slowly. Would have thought 1/160 would have captured her a little better. I shot a burst of 5 or 6 shots, and have included 3 showing her walking away from the prop. Is this simply pilot error on my part?

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Attachment#1 (jpg file)
Attachment#2 (jpg file)
Attachment#3 (jpg file)

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JosephK

Seattle, WA, US
7072 posts

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#1. "RE: Focus issue or pilot error" | In response to Reply # 0

JosephK Silver Member Fellow Ribbon awarded for his excellent and frequent contributions and sharing his in-depth knowledge and experience with the community in the Nikonians spirit. Nikonian since 17th Apr 2006
Sun 11-Nov-12 02:52 PM

The camera definitely focused on the backdrop. What were the camera's focus settings?

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Joseph K
Seattle, WA, USA

D700, D200, D70S, 24-70mm f/2.8, VR 70-200mm f/2.8 II,
50mm f/1.4 D, 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR, 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5 DX

epdad

Eden Prairie, US
45 posts

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#2. "RE: Focus issue or pilot error" | In response to Reply # 1

epdad Registered since 23rd Dec 2010
Sun 11-Nov-12 03:27 PM

Sorry, forgot to mention: spot metered, and AF-S, ...which could have been part of the problem, but shooting a burst of shots on slow moving targets should work with AF-S (I would think).

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greenwing

Yorkshire, UK
1304 posts

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#3. "RE: Focus issue or pilot error" | In response to Reply # 2

greenwing Registered since 18th May 2006
Sun 11-Nov-12 06:17 PM | edited Sun 11-Nov-12 06:19 PM by greenwing

If you could post unedited images with the exif data that might help people help you with what's going on. You could throw the unedited jpegs ito your Nikonians gallery and link to them. Spot may not be the best metering choice, but it seems to have done OK.

Chris

epdad

Eden Prairie, US
45 posts

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#4. "RE: Focus issue or pilot error" | In response to Reply # 3

epdad Registered since 23rd Dec 2010
Sun 11-Nov-12 07:38 PM

Not sure I referenced my gallery correctly, but here goes:

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Patrick604

US
85 posts

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#5. "RE: Focus issue or pilot error" | In response to Reply # 4

Patrick604 Silver Member Nikonian since 24th Jun 2012
Sun 11-Nov-12 08:23 PM

You are correct that the pumpkin looks to be in focus. In AF-s the camera should have refocussed between each shot. But given how the lady is left of center, is it possible that you had the focus selector centered, which would explain why the pumpkin in the middle is focussed in each shot and the lady is further out of focus with each step? Also, you didn't mention how you had the focus point selected. Was it manually selected by you, or did the camera select which af point to use?

Next time you might try selecting the af point yourself, and shift it left of center to the lady's face. Put the mode to AF-C and let the camera follow focus on the walking model. I use this method to photo cross country runners who are moving right along, it should work like a charm for a person walking.

Good luck and don't get discouraged. This autofocus voodoo takes some practice to get sorted out.

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epdad

Eden Prairie, US
45 posts

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#6. "RE: Focus issue or pilot error" | In response to Reply # 5

epdad Registered since 23rd Dec 2010
Sun 11-Nov-12 08:35 PM

The center point was selected by me, but if you look at the overlay of the focus points in Aperture, the center point is on her left hand. Anyway, it's always tough to tell if it's a camera/lens issue or me. I've used Lens Align and chose to keep the fine tune set to zero, or no change. Thanks for the help.

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km6xz

St Petersburg, RU
3559 posts

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#7. "RE: Focus issue or pilot error" | In response to Reply # 0

km6xz Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, including Portraits and Urban Photography Nikonian since 22nd Jan 2009
Sun 11-Nov-12 08:48 PM

A few points:
AF-S is for still subjects and she is obviously moving forward, the most difficult to maintain in focus of movement directions.
High ISO reduces detail so it is hard to say if her hand is really out of focus, some of the detail of edges are not seen because of the ISO being high. The leaves appear more detailed because they have distinct edges and give the illusion of sharpness.
Of the 3, only the last has obviously missed focus.
Burst in AF-S means re-acquiring focus lock each time the mirror comes back down. AF-C, has tracking hysteresis which tries to predict where the subject will be during the black out period when no focusing can be accomplished.
The last point I wanted to mention was the focus point, it is larger than the box outline in the VF so you have to be careful to keep a high contrast focus target dominating the box with overlap. Her hand was anything but a high contrast target.
Considering the variables that were in play, 2 of the frames are OK.

Stan
St Petersburg Russia

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N4TVC

Burke, US
109 posts

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#8. "RE: Focus issue or pilot error" | In response to Reply # 7

N4TVC Registered since 15th Jul 2006
Mon 12-Nov-12 11:11 PM

Stan, if the OP was using AF-S and has focus control on the shutter release button, shooting a burst by holding down the shutter release will only focus on the first shot. At least that's how mine works. To get a new focus in AF-S one must release the shutter release all the way. Also, the focus indication in Capture is where the focus bracket was when the shot was taken, not necessarily where it was when focus was acquired. I shoot AF-S lots, but i focus and recompose, and in that case where the focus bracket shows up in Capture is useless.

I wonder if the OP intentionally focused on her left hand, or that's just where it showed up in Capture?

Charles

epdad

Eden Prairie, US
45 posts

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#9. "RE: Focus issue or pilot error" | In response to Reply # 8

epdad Registered since 23rd Dec 2010
Mon 12-Nov-12 11:43 PM

I think you just nailed it. I looked at the 6 shots and they were taken within 2 seconds. I don't remember exactly what I did, but I'm guessing that I held the shutter down and didn't allow it to regain focus. As for where I was focusing, I used the center point, and it happened to line up on her hand. I didn't bother to take time to move the focus point to her face. Lesson learned....

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Tucsonmr2

AU
43 posts

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#10. "RE: Focus issue or pilot error" | In response to Reply # 9

Tucsonmr2 Registered since 08th Nov 2012
Tue 13-Nov-12 01:38 AM

would selecting the AF-C mode have been a better option in this instance? since the lady is moving and not still.
i found that when i was shooting a car drifiting event, i got better pics by switching to AF-C rather than the other two modes.

cheers

epdad

Eden Prairie, US
45 posts

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#11. "RE: Focus issue or pilot error" | In response to Reply # 10

epdad Registered since 23rd Dec 2010
Tue 13-Nov-12 10:26 AM

Most definitely. The issue was that for the prior 2 hours I was shooting small groups of people, so AF-S made sense. Then I just kept on shooting when this runway thing started and never left AF-S.

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G