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11-10-2009, 01:06 AM   #1
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Why do I ALWAYS miss?

I admit I'm blind as a bat...but I do wear corrective lenses...

but how do I ALWAYS miss focus? I've been going through some older stuff to clear some of it out, and I haven't seen a single shot (ok, maybe one or two...) taken up close and at a wide aperture that is actually in focus in exactly the right place. What's more, it seems that what is in focus is almost always just to the bottom and right of what I intended to be in focus.

I am assuming this has to be some kind of user error...it can be seen in photos from 2 separate film and 2 separate digital SLRs...also, whether shooting AF or MF...

How can I fix it...start shooting everything at f22? I've been taking photos a long time, but am obviously still an idiot when it comes to some things...enlighten me?

Here's a couple that demonstrate the problem...







11-10-2009, 02:13 AM   #2
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The 3rd photo is pretty much in focus and my guess is that you need to set your aperture to about F8 or F11 to get that crisp sharpness. Looking at the Bokeh on the first two photos tells me you had your aperture at about F2.8. Hope this helps.
11-10-2009, 06:13 AM   #3
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First, can you answer some questions for us? Do you use the Auto focus, the center-spot focus, or the "user-selectable" focus points? If you use center, do you focus-recompose?
11-10-2009, 06:19 AM   #4
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Pentax needs to use a mirror like this:



That way you always know when your focus point is on target. The Pentax viewfinder setup is a constant guessing game as to is one moves the camera a tad while pressing the buttons needed to take a shot. Having use the camera above for a while I have to wonder if a lot of the OOF complaints are simply do to people moving the camera and not realizing they have. I found that after years of a split prism in the viewfinder that the visible squares that line up exactly where the focus points are helps a TON in staying on target. It is especially significant when shooting wide open or from distance where the DOF means a few MM of camera movement during the shot can make all the difference. Plus I found having the squares helped me pay more attention to staying on target.

I would also ask others if their center focus point is actually dead center of their view finder when it lights up? Mine is NOT, it is shifted slightly upwards by at least 1/3 the size of the focus point. Until I began allowing for that I was seeing results like the OP's more than I thought was reasonable.

11-10-2009, 06:26 AM   #5
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K McCall asked the right questions. Tell us how you are doing it now and it will be easier to direct you on how to correct your mistakes. BTW #3 looks right to me! Keep in mind, the larger the aperture (smaller f number) the more narrow the depth of field. On the picture of the dog, for instance, only a small portion of the dog would be in perfect focus.
11-10-2009, 06:39 AM   #6
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Focus is often a tough thing. I think your last photo is a great photo! The hard thing with kids and animals is that they are moving. This often makes it look like you didn't focus well, but the reality is they just moved out of your plane of focus. The problem with your idea of shooting at f22 is that then your shutter speed goes down to the place that you will have a lot of motion blur.

I don't see a list of your lenses, but I would suggest getting a DA 40, it is a great lens for fast focusing. It is small as well, which adds to its appeal. Learn to pick your photo points. Using center point and recomposing can add another element of chance to your focus preciseness. Finally, remember that the focus points are much bigger than they look in the viewfinder. They will pick out the point of contrast closest to them and lock onto it. This is why when you are at the zoo, your camera will try to focus on the bars outside, rather than on the animals.
11-10-2009, 08:35 AM   #7
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Assuming MF: know the viewfinder lies to you about the DOF at very large apertures. It shows too much in focus below about f/2.8. So it will always be the case that some things will look into focus but turn out not to be. I recommend practicing focusing on a printed page, learning how to anticipate which parts of what appears to be in focus will really turn out to be.

Assuming AF: the focus points are much larger than the red dots in the viewfinder. So it's impossible to place the focus *exactly* where you want. When that level of precision is required, you may need to switch to MF - but then, see above.
11-10-2009, 10:08 AM   #8
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Thank you so much to those who have responded. I very much appreciate the help!

QuoteOriginally posted by K McCall Quote
First, can you answer some questions for us? Do you use the Auto focus, the center-spot focus, or the "user-selectable" focus points? If you use center, do you focus-recompose?
I generally tend, when using an AF setting, to use a center focus, and then focus recompose. As of late, I've been using a manual 50mm pretty regularly, so I am focusing manually quite regularly as well.

In fact, I primarily prefer shooting in manual everything lately, as it gets me what I want more often than letting the camera have any control.

QuoteOriginally posted by clmonk Quote
K McCall asked the right questions. Tell us how you are doing it now and it will be easier to direct you on how to correct your mistakes. BTW #3 looks right to me! Keep in mind, the larger the aperture (smaller f number) the more narrow the depth of field. On the picture of the dog, for instance, only a small portion of the dog would be in perfect focus.
Thank you. #3 is actually not as good SOOC as it appears. I thought I had posted the SOOC, but that one has had an unsharp mask layer applied to the eyes--you can see the lashes are pretty soft--it seems the focus really hit near the collar of her coat.

QuoteOriginally posted by Rondec Quote
Focus is often a tough thing. I think your last photo is a great photo! The hard thing with kids and animals is that they are moving. This often makes it look like you didn't focus well, but the reality is they just moved out of your plane of focus. The problem with your idea of shooting at f22 is that then your shutter speed goes down to the place that you will have a lot of motion blur.
Yes, I don't think I could ever *really* shoot in f22. The loss of bokeh would make me batty. And since my entire photographic portfolio consists almost entirely of pets and my own kids, I know all too well how fast they are. Maybe I'll just have to resort to f16 and the dreaded on camera flash...or just buy a P&S Thank you for the compliment on the last photo as well. It's one of my faves, but mostly because of the subject.


QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
Assuming MF: know the viewfinder lies to you about the DOF at very large apertures. It shows too much in focus below about f/2.8. So it will always be the case that some things will look into focus but turn out not to be. I recommend practicing focusing on a printed page, learning how to anticipate which parts of what appears to be in focus will really turn out to be.

Assuming AF: the focus points are much larger than the red dots in the viewfinder. So it's impossible to place the focus *exactly* where you want. When that level of precision is required, you may need to switch to MF - but then, see above.
Thank you...this makes some definite sense, though I do tend to have problems past 2.8. The first and 3rd photos were taken at ~100 and 300mm respectively, and so....I think about f5.6--am I going to run into the same problem at higher f-stops if I am also shooting at longer focal lengths?

I've also been practicing a lot lately in MF on still things (like sleeping babies instead of waking ones) because I have noticed the problem and I do wonder if it isn't just my eyesight worsening. It gives me hope to know that I really am seeing more in focus on the viewfinder than is actually there. BEcause it often seems that the focus is a little below and to the right of my actual desired point of focus...should I assume that there is some sort of "sweet spot" there? Will print tests show a consistent spot where the actual focus plane is correct?

11-10-2009, 10:33 AM   #9
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Well, I was going to suggest that it might be a mirror box issue or a misaligned viewfinder (two things that I know nothing about besides having read about them in passing) but since you said this happens to you on two digital bodies and two film bodies, it seems the chances of all four cameras having the exact same issue are....remote, to say the least.

Since you're going full-manual here, it seems like it almost has to be user error. I know this is basic, but have you adjusted the diopter on the viewfinder? I have to change it every time I go from contacts to glasses, and sometimes I forget and get photos that I thought were in focus when I looked through the viewfinder to be out-of-focus, especially when I manually focus.

The only other idea is to get an 0-me53 eyecup magnifier, another thing about which I nothing but I've seen rave reviews for, especially if you're doing a lot of manual-focusing.

Good luck, and let us know what - if anything - works!
11-10-2009, 10:57 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by K McCall Quote
Well, I was going to suggest that it might be a mirror box issue or a misaligned viewfinder (two things that I know nothing about besides having read about them in passing) but since you said this happens to you on two digital bodies and two film bodies, it seems the chances of all four cameras having the exact same issue are....remote, to say the least.

Since you're going full-manual here, it seems like it almost has to be user error. I know this is basic, but have you adjusted the diopter on the viewfinder? I have to change it every time I go from contacts to glasses, and sometimes I forget and get photos that I thought were in focus when I looked through the viewfinder to be out-of-focus, especially when I manually focus.

The only other idea is to get an 0-me53 eyecup magnifier, another thing about which I nothing but I've seen rave reviews for, especially if you're doing a lot of manual-focusing.

Good luck, and let us know what - if anything - works!
Thanks, Keitha--I will try fiddling with the diopter. I've not ever really messed with it while wearing glasses or contacts. And I've never even heard of an eyecup magnifier. I will have to check it out!

I should say that the problem with the focus hitting just down and to the right of where I *want* it to be is specific to my K10D. The others were always hitting a little soft, but in different spots.
11-10-2009, 11:07 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by KierraElizabeth Quote
Thanks, Keitha--I will try fiddling with the diopter. I've not ever really messed with it while wearing glasses or contacts. And I've never even heard of an eyecup magnifier. I will have to check it out!

I should say that the problem with the focus hitting just down and to the right of where I *want* it to be is specific to my K10D. The others were always hitting a little soft, but in different spots.

I shoot a lot of old manual lenses and have a magnifying eyecup. It's a great help. For my K10D (now deceased ) I also have a Kats Eye split prism focusing screen which is a HUGE help. I haven't gotten one for my K-7 yet as I'm waiting for more reviews on how it affects metering and it's accuracy and stuff (but planning to).
11-10-2009, 11:27 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by mel Quote
I shoot a lot of old manual lenses and have a magnifying eyecup. It's a great help. For my K10D (now deceased ) I also have a Kats Eye split prism focusing screen which is a HUGE help. I haven't gotten one for my K-7 yet as I'm waiting for more reviews on how it affects metering and it's accuracy and stuff (but planning to).
Thanks, Mel...where can I find some good info about these?
11-10-2009, 11:30 AM   #13
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Coupla points.
  1. Adjusting the diopter won't make any difference to auto-focus. While manual focus is a great idea and very helpful, I think you should be able to use autofocus effectively, too. I leave my diopter set for my contacts, which I wear whenever I'm working. If I pick up the camera at home to take a snapshot while wearing my glasses, the diopter isn't set quite right, but it doesn't matter: I just watch for the focus indicators in the finder and everything is fine.
  2. Keep shutter speed fast enough to offset possible subject movement. If you're having trouble with focus, I'd try taking some photos with shutter speeds of at least 1/250th sec.
  3. The closer you are to the subject, the narrower your depth of field. There's nothing at all wrong with using f/2.8 from close up. Just be careful to focus on the eyes or whatever you like carefully.
  4. Remember also that the closer you are to the subject (well, technically, to the focal plane), the more dangerous focus and recompose becomes, especially if your using a wide aperture.
  5. Know your lens's minimum focusing distance and don't get closer than that.
  6. Do your testing in good light, and with a low ISO. Most of the time, the lens is more important than the camera, and the light is more important than the lens.
  7. I agree that the third shot is not bad at all. Doesn't matter to me if it's gotten some help in post-processing. If you can help the shot, it was pretty good to start with. You can't take a badly out of focus shot and fix it in post - not really. If the shot is badly out of focus, all you can do in post is make it less bad.

Will
11-10-2009, 01:14 PM   #14
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Check here for info on 3rd party focus screens:

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/camera-studio-accessories/77151-focusing-screen-reviews.html
11-10-2009, 01:45 PM   #15
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I don't know whether this is relevant, but I used (still do) have the same problem, and after some (a lot) of troubleshooting, I found that at the moment of depressing the shutter my hand would move a little, to the right and down, and thus rarely had any precisely focused pictures. I would suggest that you use some sort of a brace (tripod, monopod, bean bag on a fence post, etc) to see if it helps cure this issue. If it does help, then try to practice on a static object, with poor light and slow shutter speed, till to get into the habit of not moving the camera when taking a photograph. I have still not mastered it, but since I have started to do this at home, my keeper rate has gone up.

Hope this helps!
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