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depth of field problem...camera or me????
Old 11-01-2003, 05:26 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Recently I have noticed that quite a few of the pics that I take are not crisp in focus. I usually shoot with a Canon AE1 Program, 70-210 zoom, f4 or f5.6 at 1/60 sec. I always focus on the eyes of the model and thru the viewfinder everything looks great. When I get my proofs back the eyes are slightly out of focus with the focal point seeming to being in front of the face. Can a camera get wacked enough that this is a problem internally in the camera or has my eyesight totally gone wacko?? Any insight would be of great assistance. Thanks!!

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Re: depth of field problem...camera or me????
Old 11-02-2003, 01:58 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I would get your eyes checked.

The same thing happened to me with pretty much the same rig back in the early 80's. My AE1 still takes tack sharp images to this day, but my Mk1 Optical sensors need corrective lenses. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/frown.gif[/img]
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Re: depth of field problem...camera or me????
Old 11-02-2003, 02:09 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Have you tried manual focus, or are you always using automatic? Is it possible the auto-focus shifts as you re-frame your shot? For that, you should hold down the auto-focus lock while you re-frame.

If you are consistently out of focus, and always focusing on the nose instead of eyes, it is possible that your camera's body focus is off, possibly from getting hit on the front, depressing the lens mount area of the camera. You can have any competent repair place check this. I have had it happen a few times and its not usually too expensive to have fixed. You could try a couple temporary fixes: use more depth of field (smaller f-stop) and focus on the ears (which in your case might shift the focus to the eyes). Bear in mind the 1/3-2/3 depth-of-field rule: When you focus on something, the depth of field (or focus) is approximately twice as deep behind whatever you focus on, as in front. So if you are getting noses in focus when you're focusing on eyes, you're really off.

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Re: depth of field problem...camera or me????
Old 11-02-2003, 12:00 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Heh, the AE1 Program is an ooold camera. Circa 1976-9 if I remember correctly. Auto focus wasn't around at the time (that I know of, but I do know the AE1 didn't have AF). Unless he purchased a later f-mount self contained autofocus lens he's using good old eyeball power.

There isn't even a corrective dial available on the eye piece. You have to buy a corrective lens for the view finder. Great cameras, not overburdened with a million useless auto settings, but hard to find parts for short of butchering another camera for parts.

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Re: depth of field problem...camera or me????
Old 11-02-2003, 02:06 PM   #5 (permalink)
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it is possible that your camera's body focus is off, possibly from getting hit on the front, depressing the lens mount area of the camera.

A more likely cause of a focusing problem with the body would be misalignment of the focusing screen or the reflex mirror.

Bear in mind the 1/3-2/3 depth-of-field rule: When you focus on something, the depth of field (or focus) is approximately twice as deep behind whatever you focus on, as in front.

This is a frequently-repeated myth, but it only holds true for a small range of subject distances (a focus distance around 2 meters). At closer focus, the ratio gets closer to 1:1, and at further distances, DOF behind the plane of focus gradually becomes infinitely greater than that in front of the plane of focus.
 
 
part of the problem????
Old 11-03-2003, 12:44 AM   #6 (permalink)
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you stated you are shooting a 70-200 at 1/60th on the wider range of the aperture.

part of the problem is camera shake. at 60th of a second at those focal lengths you are going to get soft images if you are handholding with ambient light. not as bad with flash but that depends on a couple of other factors.

use a tripod or use a faster shutter speed.

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DOF addendum
Old 11-03-2003, 11:23 PM   #7 (permalink)
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A clarification: only "normal" focal-length lenses have 1/3 DOF in front and 2/3 DOF behind the focal plane at 2 meters. For wider angle lenses, the focal distance at which this is true is closer, and for longer lenses, the distance is farther.
 
 
I had precisely the same problem ...
Old 11-04-2003, 11:39 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I had precisely the same problem with my trusty old AE1, but also with a couple of old F1 and an A1. The problem coincided with my need to go to a higher rated set of reading glasses. I found I just could not rely on eyeball focusing that small 35mm viewfinder, but had no real problem with the slightly larger medium format viwfinder.
Going to an auto focus camera and more powerful reading glasses solved both problems.

BTW, the focusing concept of focusing 1/3 into the scene is well established and is in fact valid, at least until you get into the macro range. While a smaller aperture will extend that range, it could also change your composition by rendering the background sharper, so may not be the ideal solution.

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Re: depth of field problem...camera or me????
Old 11-04-2003, 01:58 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Hard to say. The eyes tend to start to go around age 40-45, and then diopters are advised. If your camera has built in diopter adjustment, and you haven't used it, you might try that.

However, I did have an element, in a zoom, come completely loose, in a Nikon lens, and had to return it for rework. So, yes, it is possible to have a physical problem with a lens, especially a zoom.
 
 
Re: depth of field problem...camera or me????
Old 11-04-2003, 02:59 PM   #10 (permalink)
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My eyes went south on me at around 21 and then settled into their new configuration. They're only now starting to adjust again. Twenty two years later.

The AE1 has no diopter adjustment. You had to buy corrective lenses for the viewfinder. I doubt you'd find any now.

Unless he's dropped the camera or it's been in constant use where the mirror might be slightly out of alignment I'm going to stick to my original post and say it's the eyes that are going.

Of course a 10 minute checkup at an optomitrist will answer the question pretty darn quick.
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