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Macro lens not focusing

Peter_West 6 247 United Kingdom
4 Sep 2012 12:18PM
Hi All. Please can you help, I use a Canon 600d, a friend is selling his Canon EF-S 60mm f2.8 Macro USM what it is, he's let me try it out with a view to buying it, but just can't use it and not sure what Iím doing wrong, for instance in garden a spiders web with a spider in middle of it, try to take a shot and camera wouldn't focus on spider, it tried to focus on fence panel behind it, tried different settings 'P' 'Macro' 'Auto' it's same with everything I try flowers, leaf, you can hear the camera trying to focus back and forward, I know it's me doing something wrong but not sure what it is, so please if anyone can advise me Iíd be very grateful. Many Thanks Peter

P.S. I do hope Iíve explained myself

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Hi Peter,

It would help to either use manual focus or to use single point focussing. I normally use the centre point for it and then adjust my composition.

Hope this helps.
NEWMANP 10 1.6k 574 United Kingdom
4 Sep 2012 12:43PM
heres a start, put your camera on AV or aperature priority and select around f11 to start with. assume iso around 400 to give you some flexibility just for a test. that should give you enough speed to try it out hand held. set the camera for single focus not continuous and make sure the lens is switched to autofocus not manual.

im not a Canon user so this may not apply but make sure the lens is set to the right setting, some have a switch to limit the use use to close range and alternatively, full range so its not flying around back and forward full stroke in the focusing.

check the position of your focusing spot inside your viewfinder and toggle it to the centre.

find something well defined, and reasonably flat, say a flower head. start around 12 inches away and see if it focuses. if it does, try closer until you find the closest point you can get and still focus because they wont focus right up to touching the subject.

it could be that you are looking at something in the centre of frame but your focusing screen is set for somewhere else so its like looking at a face but the screens focusing spot being to the side of the head and focusing on the background. it may be you are just too close. it may be there is not enough edge definition for the lens to grab hold of the focus and engage. if it sounds like its hunting i think its the latter or a combination of the two.

another check would be to switch off auto focus and have a go at manual focusing to test the lens.

ask your friend to show you it working on his camera and see if it is the same. maybe its not 100% and thats why its for sale.

hope this helps
Peter_West 6 247 United Kingdom
4 Sep 2012 12:59PM
Hmmm Thanks will try and see if i can do this, might be a bit to over my head. Pete
adrian_w Plus
10 3.7k 4 England
4 Sep 2012 2:55PM
Sounds to me that you're too close to the subject if it focusses on the fence behind but not the web. Try stepping back a few inches & see if the focus point shifts. I have the 100mm macro & that has a minimum focus of 45cm.
mikehit 8 8.0k 13 United Kingdom
4 Sep 2012 2:57PM
The AF tries to identify an area of contrast and it is best if this contrast covers a significant part of the focussing point. The web itself is translucent so will not provide enough contrast so the mechanism hunts backwards and forwards until it finds one - even the grain in the fence panels my offer more contrast than the web. If you are focussing on the spider it depends on how large the spider is in the frame, but the same may apply if the spider is in shade (low contrast) or is well camoflaged (again, low contrast).
As Christopher and Phil suggest, ise single point focussing and start off with larger objects until you get used to how it works.
cheddar-caveman 14 1.1k England
4 Sep 2012 4:21PM
As has been said, you are probably too close to the spider (subject) if the lens "hunts". Look on the lens (manual) and it will indicate the minimum focal distance. Your focus should be set to "spot" and then make sure the focal spot is on the spider. If there are things just behind the spider the lens may be trying to focus on that. How steady are you holding the camera?
cambirder 14 7.2k England
4 Sep 2012 4:45PM
Just forget AF, switch to MF and if you really want to get close set the lens to its closest focal distance and just move the camera back and forth until you achieve sharp focus. Practice with some inanimate objects before moving onto live stuff.
Peter_West 6 247 United Kingdom
4 Sep 2012 5:09PM
Right thanks all, will try all these things when i get home from work, cheers everyone. Pete
Peter_West 6 247 United Kingdom
5 Sep 2012 10:09AM
Hi All. Tried a few things you all suggested and to be honest a lot better results, not perfect but better, put camera on macro and set to spot and switched to MF, took some pictures of inanimate objects and ok i suppose for a beginner so many thanks everyone. Pete
NEWMANP 10 1.6k 574 United Kingdom
5 Sep 2012 11:14AM
well now you got there, you need to check your shutter speed is fast enough because that close you are highly likely to get camera shake as you sway back and forth in and out of focus because the depth of field will be very restricted. to be truthful a macro without a tripod is very hard work.

Peter_West 6 247 United Kingdom
5 Sep 2012 12:11PM
Ahhh right ok Phil, will try later with tripod also. Thanks all, don't know what i'd do without this site and you people, even aftyer doing 2 sets of night shool courses. Pete
cheddar-caveman 14 1.1k England
5 Sep 2012 12:43PM
The other big problem with macro is depth-of-field, or lack of it! If your subject is stationary then use a tripod and cable release so that you can give it longer exposure with smaller aperture. Remember, the smaller the aperture the greater the depth of field BUT you will need to reduce shutter speed to achieve correct exposure! Have fun experimenting, it doesn't cost anything! Wink
NEWMANP 10 1.6k 574 United Kingdom
5 Sep 2012 1:04PM
but remember that if your exposure is longer, the subject may sway around and create movement too Grin Grin its a bit like catch 22 isnt it this macro work.

Peter_West 6 247 United Kingdom
5 Sep 2012 1:13PM
right going to ask a question about this, if i'm on Macro I thought I couldn't alter speed or aperature, i thought it would set everything itself, or if i manualy alter them both then switch back to Macro, or deosnt it make any differance, cause iv'e switched back to Macro. at work so can't get my hands on camera, pete

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