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Basic Advice Please

XxPaulxX 12 265 England
31 May 2007 3:25AM
I have attended a couple of events with my new 400d, and I am dissappointed with how many pics I am getting just off focus or completely out of focus.

I have relied on the autofocus and attempted to focus manually, both having the majority of pics taken not sharp I have been pretty close to my subject on each occasion. I attempted to use my Canon 50mm 1.8 lense, but after a short period of use indoors, I kept getting an error 99 message and couldn't take any more pics at all with that particular lens.

The kit I have is, Canon 400d with 18-55, 55-200 and the 50mm prime lense. I plan to make another trip this weekend, and I am desperate to get a much higher % of decent pics.

Please can you guys give me basic advice on which lens or lenses to use close up out side in daylight, also what setting is best for a novice user like me to achieve the best results. I have used full auto and still got many pictures off and just off focus! I am standing still and keeping the camera still, whilst I shoot, and never had any problems with camera shake with my compact.

Could you also please tell me what I am doing wrong(if you know) as when I focus the subject in my viewfinder the image appears extremely sharp, only for me to have a part or completely blurred image. Would using the sports mode solve this problem?

Absolutely any very basic help and advice gratefully received, because at the moment, I could do a whole lot better with my previous compact than I am able to do with my 400d, and I know that certainly shouldn't be the case

Thanks in advance, Paul.

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jakabout 13 1.7k 1 United Kingdom
31 May 2007 7:05AM
Sports mode would definately be a step in the right direction as the shutter speed is usually around 1/500 sec in that mode. That's enough to stop most action. I would imagine that the shutter speed will remain constant and the aperture and / or ISO will change automatically to compensate for any light loss.

You can use any of your lenses in this mode but it would be better to have something with a large aperture - like your 50mm.

I'm sure there'll be more knowledgable responses from others Smile Good luck.
cameracat 14 8.6k 61 Norfolk Island
31 May 2007 8:09AM
As Judi has said, Blurring is mainly caused by 2 things, Not enough Shutter speed, & camera shake.
I'm not sure how Canon set thier auto modes, But sometimes these will dictate such things as ISO speed as well.

Try using Aperture mode, Set your ISO to 200 or 400, Use your controls to alter the aperture that gives you the best shutter speed.

It sounds like you are using the wrong combination of settings, Which is odd because on Auto the camera should make a half reasonable job of it.

Try doing some tests, And posting the results with details of the camera setting used, Post this to the Critique gallery, So that we can better advise you further.

sherlob Plus
12 2.9k 129 United Kingdom
31 May 2007 10:05AM
Hi Paul,

I note the sound advice already given, but it would be useful if we had some more information.

You mention a couple of trips, but what subjects are you photographing and under what conditions? E.g. are the objects moving? Is the light bright? Is it inside, or outside? I assume you are not using flash (even the pop up flash on your camera)?

Can you upload a sample photo to your portfolio? Remember this can be deleted later.


sherlob Plus
12 2.9k 129 United Kingdom
31 May 2007 10:14AM
Hi Paul,

Just realised that you mention an Error 99. This a general error code and could represent a multitude of problems (although incompatible lenses is one). You don't mention if your lenses are Canon or not - or their age. Older non Canon lenses can lead to this error code, however I believe it can also indicate a camera fault. Do a forum search on Error 99 for more info.


collywobles 14 4.0k 10 United Kingdom
31 May 2007 11:00AM
I had error 99 code after I switched lenses one day. Re-did it and it was OK after that. I think ERR 99 is a general error code that covers a multitude of problems.
FatHandedChap 12 1.3k England
31 May 2007 12:25PM
Does the 50mm lens have an aperture ring? I know on my nikon 50mm if the aperture ring is moved from f22 then I get an error and can't take any pics.

XxPaulxX 12 265 England
31 May 2007 2:51PM
Thanks for the advice so far Smile

My camera and lenses are all brand new and are all Canon.

I was a a music gig in Chicago Rock Cafe when I had the problem with the 50mm prime, but when I switched to my 55-200 I was able to resume picture taking.

The biggest problem is when the subject is just off focus. Whether I use auto or manual focus, it's just a lottery as to whether I get a sharp subject or not. I am ensuring the subject is sharply focused in the eyepiece, particularly when I use manual focus, but I seem to get 2 out of three that focus on the mic instead of the person. I am thinking DOF might be my problem. Perhaps if I switched to landscape mode I may concur a lot of what is happening. I would still like to get portrait style pics though, with blurred backgrounds, and I won't get this with landscape mode.

I will keep trying, and hopefully I can develop at least a little skill in order to get a good % of pics sharp. The problem is, when you only have 5 minutes at a stage door, as it will be again this Saturday, with lots of other people milling around, it's hard to get enough chances to experiment with settings.

Will upload a photo from the CRC gig to illustrate.

blueistari 11 9 United Kingdom
31 May 2007 2:59PM

Quote: Could you also please tell me what I am doing wrong(if you know) as when I focus the subject in my viewfinder the image appears extremely sharp, only for me to have a part or completely blurred image. Would using the sports mode solve this problem?

Could this be because the dioptric correction isn't set right for your own eyesight? There's a tiny little dial next to the viewfinder - I had to alter that on my 400D a fair bit to compensate for my poor eyesight. If yours is set wrong, what appears clear to you in the viewfinder might not appear clear in the end photo. I think you need to set it so that the auto-focus points look clear.

To be honest, this is only a guess as I'm not sure how much difference altering the dioptric correction will make (or whether you've already done this). Maybe someone else around here knows more about it than I do?
GlennH 12 1.9k 1 France
31 May 2007 3:01PM
I couldn't use the 50mm f1.8 on my 10D. I tried two versions of the same lens, and got the error 99 message every time (although occasionally I managed to grab a picture).

I seem to remember contacting Canon about it, and they advised sending the camera in for repair, but I didn't - just managed without the lens. I've certainly seen the same problem with the same lens elsewhere on the net.
GPTek 12 454 1 England
31 May 2007 7:44PM

Quote:but I seem to get 2 out of three that focus on the mic instead of the person.

Just a thought - are you using all the focussing points or selecting the one that's right for the composition? From your comment, it would seem that you're focussed on the wrong part, and the limited dof is pushing the subject out of focus

Are you just getting the Err 99 with the 50mm? Have you tried cleaning the contacts of the lens?

HTH Geoff
sherlob Plus
12 2.9k 129 United Kingdom
31 May 2007 7:45PM
I'd be concerned that a new lens was giving this error code. Perhaps you should try cleaning the contacts and see if the error returns - if so - you ought to have your kit looked at professionally. Given this problem it is difficult to be certian whether your problem is hardware or technique related (e.g. is the problem in camera and not in lens?).

Blueistari makes an interesting point above - however this should not really effect the autofocus only manual focus. That said is definately worth a check periodically (I had moved mine accidently some time ago).

I think the problem you are experiencing is likely to be related to depth of field (as you suggest). It may be worth cranking up the ISO rating to allow a smaller aperture to be used. Having never had the opportunity to experiment with stage photography I can not advise as to settings, but I am sure there are numerous forum threads on this. Check also the current crop of photomags (I'll wait for the hate mail), I'm sure I saw one recently advertising a feature on stage photography. Also check out the following link from the technique section on stage photography: [link=null]https://www.ephotozine.com/article/Snappin-the-stage[/link]

It may also be worth inspecting your images for any sharp point of focus. If there is no focus point I would suspect camera movement as the problem. Again here increasing the ISO would enable a higher shutter speed to remidy this.
XxPaulxX 12 265 England
1 Jun 2007 4:33AM
Thanks again for you help folks!

Error 99 only occurs with the 50mm. Lense was brand new, so no point cleaning(don't know how anyway) the contacts. Think I will nip and get advise from the shop I bought the camera from(but not this problem lens)

Focus wise, I may change it so that only the centre focus point is selected, that way I should manage to focus on my intended subject and not something in front or to the side.

I will try increasing the iso, though I am pretty sure it was quite high on some of the pics that have failed.

Just to say, after editing my sample pic to fit on here, the mic that was in focus and the face of the artist both appear to be slightly off focus, so I won't bother uploading it.

Right, my next trip is this saturday. I will be at a stage door outside and there will be daylight, though obviously not sure if it will be rain or shine. Can you guys please list a general picture taking setting in full manual mode for me to try.

I will probably only take one lens with me, and given that I will be able to stand within a few feet of the artist, I am going with my 18-55. Can you please give me a combination of settings, for use with this lens. Obviously I will also use the full auto to see what kind of results I am able to get with that too, but would like to try and be a little creative if at all possible.

Please list

Shutter speed, iso rating, aperture value and anything else I might need to change, if you could :O)

Thanks for your patience too. It must seem like I am totally thick!

Regards Paul
1 Jun 2007 5:01PM
I might get shot down in flames here but if your outside in good sunlight try aperture priority and get your back to the sun, loads of people use it and it tends to give good metered shots on the whole, this means you can experiment with shutter speed and Ap at will.

Just a thought on the error code it might just be the camera telling you that there is simply not enough light when you are trying to take the shot? (im assuming these gigs are dark as per).
collywobles 14 4.0k 10 United Kingdom
1 Jun 2007 5:03PM
My only thought on the 18-55 is that its only a mediocre lens and is a little soft so keep it around the f8/f11 if you intend to get the best from it.

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