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Canon 20D soft photos

AndyMoore 15 6 United Kingdom
14 Apr 2014 7:09PM
A few years back I had a Canon D60 the second generation DSLR from Canon, can't remember if it was 3 or 6 megapixels but whatever, I thought it was great. It was a bit overboard for what I was using it for which was general family shots and trips to the zoo but the results were brilliant even for this amateur.
Sadly it had an accident and was replaced by the latest model at the time which was a Canon 20D.

The results from the 20D have never been the same as the D60, nowhere near as sharp for a start. It wasn't long before I returned it to Canon for calibration. Ever since it still hasn't been right for me. Photos are soft, focussing is generally out a little and it slowly put me off using it until recently. Now I'm wondering if it's just me or my lenses. So I bought a replacement 75-300, the newest model, I originally had the first film EOS version. There's still not much difference. I tried some outdoor portrait shots this weekend with the 18-55 kit lens, focussing on my daughters eyes. The tip of her nose is sharp and the eyes soft or it's her ears that are sharp.

Now I'm thinking maybe I should just get a new camera, maybe the 100d, as that's about all the budget I have.

Tl;dr - Canon 20d and maybe a new lens or canon 100D

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mikehit 8 8.0k 13 United Kingdom
14 Apr 2014 7:34PM

Quote:The tip of her nose is sharp and the eyes soft or it's her ears that are sharp

Focussing problems are very often user error so if you want to gain confidence in the camera you need to be pretty rigorous about testing it.
If you have a tripod, set it up with the camera to focus on a known point - make it a bold high-contrast one because the focus area is actually bigger than the square you see in the viewfinder and it relies on contrast for the focus accuracy. Focus and fire, then manually shift the focus ring and repeat several times. If all of the images are sharp then you can start more complex focus tests with smaller and less-contrasty subjects. Then try it with more complex scenes where you can see if the focus is off by a repeatable amount (it is usually front or back focussing but, IMO, rarely mixed like you suggest).

if all of these fail then a new camera may be the best option.
AndyMoore 15 6 United Kingdom
14 Apr 2014 7:40PM
It could very easily be me, I haven't ruled it out. Smile
Niknut Plus
8 1.8k 76 United Kingdom
14 Apr 2014 7:49PM
Try photographing a brick wall !!.....there's usually lots of detail in the image, & use different distances & different zoom lengths !

Then just check the images on screen afterwards, & see if there's any consistency ?......you could also compare JPEGs & RAW images
to see if there's any variation there ??

A new camera's always very tempting though 'innit ????Smile
AndyMoore 15 6 United Kingdom
14 Apr 2014 7:56PM
It's very tempting but I'm trying not to let the possibility of a new camera rule my decision Smile

Although I've never been that happy with the 20D, I don't want to buy the 100D and then just have the same issues if it's just down to me not using it properly.

Seems I need to spend some more time on it.
AndyMoore 15 6 United Kingdom
14 Apr 2014 7:57PM
I've put an example on my portfolio but as I'm not currently at home, it's come from my photo stream on my iPad. Quality may not be up to much.
Dave_Canon 11 1.4k United Kingdom
14 Apr 2014 9:06PM
I used 20D for five years before upgrading to a full frame 5D Mkii. Clearly the images from the 5D2 are sharper than the 20D (21M P v 8 M P) but nevertheless the 20D produces good sharp images. In fact I was sufficiently happy with its performance that I paid 300 to convert it to Infrared. I still use the 20D after 9 years and images are still sharp. I mainly use the Canon 10-20mm or the Canon 24-105mm as both have excellent IR performance. It does sound like your 20D may have a problem. It is certainly worth checking the focusing as suggested.

cuffit Plus
11 319 5 England
14 Apr 2014 9:20PM
Hi Andy, I think MikeHit has offered what I would have - make the camera a stable as possible. I would add also to release the shutter using the 2 or 10 second timer so pressing the shutter release doesn't feature - mirror lock up would also help if you have used that before. What I did want offer was that the 20D always had a reputation of being an excellent camera and when I joined this site, a couple of years after you, the stunning shots of the day were all taken with 20Ds - and other brands of course but the 20D was a big hit. I went on holiday last year and met a pro-photographer who still uses his 20D to take brilliant shots - he did use F2.8 lenses but he then created the same shots using my camera and lens at F4!

Your use of the iPhone shows you can get sharp photos. Also, I would have thought that 'sharpness' was more to do with the lens than the camera body and all your lenses are unlikely to be the cause but I am beyond my competence level to comment; try putting the lens and camera on manual as part of your tests.

I have a 30D and it provides sharp pictures but I am more than capable of unintended blur!! It is usually to do with not giving the the camera a chance to focus, or selecting the right focus point but moving the camera as I take the shot.

I recently had to send my 7D camera to the Colchester Camera Repair Centre for a shutter fault and I found them very helpful and they discussed the problem and likely causes over the phone beforehand. You might try them if you want to keep hold of the 20D. The only problem with a new camera, unless you try it first, would be to find that you find you have the same problem!

Good luck with the tests

15 Apr 2014 1:08PM
Autofocus of a modern DSLR is always a bit of hit-and-miss affair. First of all, the camera has a few focusing modes that must be well understood. It may focus anywhere in the visible field if allowed to do it in full auto mode, it may be told to take some area inside which it chooses a subject to focus on, or it may be set to focus at the centre point (my personal favourite).

Yet, strictly speaking, any camera is physically unable to focus at the point - the smallest focusing spot always is considerably more than a few pixels across, which may include an eye and a tip of the nose at the same time. What camera is going to choose may be anybody's guess.

Is there any way out of that? Yes! Use tighter aperture which gives enough depth of focus to include all face.

The other thing to remember - modern multi-megapixel images cannot be seen in full at their original resolution, therefore must be shrunk considerably to fit the monitor screen. This often leads to loss of small detail and softening of the edges thus making an illusion of less sharp image.

This is only an illusion, shrink the image in any professional quality editor to the size equal to old camera's 5 or 6 Mp - and it will be much sharper than anything taken with the cameras of yesteryears.
AndyMoore 15 6 United Kingdom
15 Apr 2014 2:29PM
Aperture is definitely something I think about. I tried apertures between f/4 and f/14. f/4 to blur the background which is what I would want in a portrait shot and f/14 to see if I could get her whole face in focus. All f/14 did for me was show up a bit of dust on my sensor Blush Focus just seems to be trial and error.
16 Apr 2014 12:04AM
Add the lens focal distance into equation. For portrait work the lens from 50 to 85 mm will be a winner. Make it wider (say 28mm) and you will not have aperture open enough to separate the subject from background. Make it longer - and there will not be enough light to keep the aperture closed to keep all face in focus.

Do some experimenting, and I heartily advice cheap 50mm f 1.8 lens with your camera. Despite being cheap, it is a real gem for portrait work on a budget. I use it myself.
AndyMoore 15 6 United Kingdom
18 Apr 2014 12:05AM
So I gave my camera to a friend yesterday, he has a 40D and some L lenses. He set up a tripod and took some shots with both cameras using the same lens. Tonight he told me that he's never had such a frustrating time trying to get a camera to focus, it kept hunting apparently. Anyway, I've got some comparison shots to look through in the morning but he's already told me that my cameras focussing is all to hell. He doesn't think any of the shots he took using my camera are sharp. I'll see for myself in the morning.
18 Apr 2014 10:38AM
That should clarify the issue. Time for a camera upgrade, EOS60D is sold now at very attractive price - and it is a lot more of a camera than old good 20D, not to mention a faulty oneWink.
Steppenwolf 6 1.2k
19 Apr 2014 2:00PM

Quote:So I gave my camera to a friend yesterday, he has a 40D and some L lenses. He set up a tripod and took some shots with both cameras using the same lens. Tonight he told me that he's never had such a frustrating time trying to get a camera to focus, it kept hunting apparently. Anyway, I've got some comparison shots to look through in the morning but he's already told me that my cameras focussing is all to hell. He doesn't think any of the shots he took using my camera are sharp. I'll see for myself in the morning.

That's why I gave up on DSLRs. Basically the focus is calculated using a remote AF sensor. If this sensor is not accurately positioned (i.e. the light path from the lens to the AF sensor is not EXACTLY the same length as the light path from the lens to the image sensor) then the focus will be wrong. Exactly how wrong it is depends on how badly the manufacturing tolerances are out of line and what lens you are using - long lenses are much more demanding than short ones. It's an inherent problem in DSLRs.

You can check your camera's focus fairly simply by printing off a focus calibration chart and trying it out with the various lenses you own. The more expensive DSLRs allow you to then microtune the focus by lens. It's better than nothing but it's a bit hit and miss.

I don't know what lenses you have but, if I were you, I'd ebay the lot (in separate lots) and get a mirrorless CSC. Take a look at the M4/3 range - there'll be something in your budget range for sure. It'll nail the focus (because it focuses at the image sensor) and it'll be give better image quality than the 20D anyway. Basically if an image is out of focus it's useless.
MGJ 9 372 6
19 Apr 2014 2:20PM
I wonder I never had overmuch focus problems. I only had 4 DSLRS, (400, 450 50D and 70D) and the autofocus has been pretty consistent and pretty accurate, though there is a weakness under certain light conditions common to most DSLRS).

Its perfectly obvious - the AF unit in the body is faulty. Its unlikely to be the positioning of the unit - with CNC machining these days positioning will be dead accurate, and they are calibrated in position - unless you are most unlucky. Chances are its the processor that's having a hernia and not recognising when its inputs are in phase properly. Hence the inconsistency. You have tried with different lenses, so unless all the lenses are up the duff - unlikely - the AF unit is out. So as the most economical option you first put your lenses on a different body - check that. they will probalby work fine. so then you will be certain where the problem lies.

Then you get the 400 body repaired, or buy a replacement. I'd guess that for similar money you'd get a pretty tidy 50D body, or similar.

Its like any engineering. There is no magic to electronics.

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