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Canon 5D mark II and soft focus

dsegrevedsegreve Member
edited March 2015 in Canon
I use a Canon 5D Mark II and a Canon 5D Mark II. I use all L series lenses. Mostly, 24-70 2.8 and 70-200 2.8. I photograph weddings.

I notice a lot of times that my images appear soft. Soft either from Motion Blur or not correct exposure. I never shoot under 250th of a second and my exposure appears correct. 
I can't for the life of my figure out why my images are soft. 

I select my focus with my af points. My shutter speed is usually over 250 - I'm very confused!  

Thank you for any an all feedback.


  • Here is how I would approach this from a trouble shooting standpoint.

    So I think you need to clarify whether is is camera shake or soft focus. Eliminate the possibility of camera shake.  Do a test, mount the camera on a tripod, focus on a stationary target. Try a range of shutter speeds, focus should be dead on. If focus is not, your camera may need some focus adjustments.

    Also are you shooting a moving target (bride walking down the aisle), with the camera set to Single Servo Focus (vs. Continuous Servo Focus)? Sorry don't know the Canon lingo. This can cause you to miss focus too. 

    Did this just start? If so, think back to when it did. Did you bump the camera/lense combo?

    Is is happening with BOTH lenses? If so, then the camera body is the common element. May need adjustments.

    Are you able to try a friend's lense on your body and visa versa? 

    Hope these help.
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    edited March 2015
    My experience with Canon and focus issues and soft lenses is the reason I moved over to Nikon.


    I'd say about 80% of my problems went away! switching from the Canon 1D mk3 to the Nikon D3. The biggest culprit though was the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 .... it's a notorious lens for going out of calibration.

    So the good news here is that it most likely isn't you ... it's probably gear related.

    Your problem can be addressed if you send in your equipment to CPS to be calibrated. The best option though is to use Toshio - the best Canon repair tech.

  • Your camera could be back or front focusing. That's when it focuses slightly in front of or behind where your focus point is. There are gadgets you can buy that look sort of like big rulers or planes with ruler-like markings on them. You set it up and put camera on tripod and focus on an identifiable line and take a photo with very shallow depth of field.Then look at it on computer to see where the focus really was. Or, you can save money by setting up food cans (like soup cans) in a vertical line, each one behind the next and slightly out so you can see them all. Focus on a word on a can in the middle (set up maybe six or eight cans). Shoot. Then look at it in computer and see if the wording you focused on is in focus or other wording on a can in front or behind.

    If your camera is front or back focusing hopefully you have a camera that has a fine tune focusing feature. You go there from the menu (not sure where) and it is a grid and you can adjust the focus system + or - up and down and maybe sideways to compensate for back or front focusing. If you have this too, you'll have to read about how it works. I think it's called fine tune focus. If you don't have this you'd have to send it somewhere for repair.
  • I am going to guess that he means the Mk II and the Mk III? If so, the MK III has the AFMA but the MK II does not. I prefer to AFMA my lenses with people since that is what I shoot :)

    Use LIVE VIEW focus and take a picture of your subject. This will establish a benchmark for comparison.
    Then use VF and AF points and be sure to focus in the same area as you did for the LIVE VIEW. 
    Compare the photos. If they are the same, there is nothing to calibrate. Repeat for all corners of the lens and center.
    If LIVE VIEW is better, adjust AFMA a few steps forward or back and test again. It is very easy and you can't! break your gear this way.

    Adjust until you get the same sharpness as LIVE VIEW. 

    If LIVE VIEW is soft, then it is your lens. 
  • MichaelVMichaelV Member
    edited March 2015
    This post from LensRentals.com describes the problems with the Canon 24-70 2.8 I.  

    The Canon 24-70 2.8 II is also prone to bad focusing if you get a bad copy.  My first copy of the II had to be sent back to the repair depot.  Once it was fixed, the focus issues were resolved.  

    Sigma recently saw there were problems with their new 24-105 F4 which I own and feel is a wonderful lens.  Something was wrong with the mount and so they stopped producing it until they could find a solution.  Canon just keeps churning the copies out and hopes the 1 year warranty will expire before people figure it out.  Oh Canon!

    Another solution is to buy Sigma lenses.  All of the newest Sigmas are blazingly sharp.  The focus of the Sigma is a lot better although not as fast as the Canon.  Ive had no issues with sharpness in any of the Sigmas I own although there are more practical matters.  I.e. the Sigma 105-300 is a beast looking more like a mortar tube than a lens.  The Sigma primes are also a pretty good size when compared to their Canon counterparts almost looking like a zoom.  I suspect if they produce a 24-70 2.8 its going to be larger than Canons version.  I guess I will have to do some more pushups and focus on wheeled bags.  

  • I made the switch to Nikon too, several years ago. Very happy I did. I got a lot of money for my used Canon gear which made it easier financially. It was still an uphill climb financially and took a while but worth it. Canon is fine. Nikon is better. I will say though that the official Canon service department is way way way better than Nikon's.
  • We shall see with the new line of Canon bodies coming out soon.  Once the bodies are out we can revisit the Canon vs Nikon debate. 
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    Michael .. excellent link there. Roger Cicala is in a league of his own. 

    Now, if you read further down in the comments, Roger Cicala writes:

    "We've tested about 80 of the24-105s now and they are one of the most accurate zooms at both ends, no change with age, etc. Perhaps because it's a much lighter weight, or perhaps because it's a newer design, it has none of the symptoms of the 24-70."

    And in my experience the 24-105mm was a much more reliable lens in terms of sharpness, than the 1st generation 24-70
  • Hi Everyone - Thank you so much for all the advice. 

    I've been testing my camera as noted to see if it's camera shake and it appears to be soft focus.  I've been talking to other Canon photographers also who have had issues with the Mark II.  Apparently, it IS a common issue.  I'm really frustrated with Canon.  Honestly, I liked my 5D better than the 5D Mark II.  

    Some other professionals told me that any focal point outside of the center focal point can cause soft focus.  I guess it's a flaw with the 5D Mark II.  One other professional told me they went to the 1D and it was better, but $$$.  

    I'm so tempted to transition to Nikon, but all of my L lenses, I fell like I would be starting from scratch.  I'm going to start renting the 1D and see what I think of the 1D. 

    Thank you so much!!  Truly appreciate the feedback. 

    Best ! 

  • MichaelVMichaelV Member
    edited March 2015
    Canon is coming out with new bodies. The 5DS and 5DSR are two coming out in June. Im expecting an event/sports oriented body to be introduced in the fall which will replace the 5D Mark III. Its up to you if you want to wait and see. If Canon comes out with new bodies, Nikon should come out with new ones. Ive had a similar experience as Neil but Im not going to make the switch.

    Neil is a very active photographer. I remember reading that he switched to Nikon because of the number of repair issues he had with Canon even posting a picture of the infamous Canon repair depot slips.

    Interestingly enough I have had zero issues with the Sigma lenses in their newest series. I did not see any issues with the 120-300 or the 150-600. No issues with the 35mm or the 50mm. Any issues were cured with firmware updates which I installed myself with the usb docking cable. The only issue Ive had is the Sigma lenses tend to be larger than Canon, much larger and heavier in some cases. Lets say you are older with back problems than the 120-300 may not be a good pick. If Sigma came out with a 24-70 I would most likely sell my Canon 24-70 II. The huge plus about Sigma lenses is you can send them back in to get remounted for the Nikon. Again, that is the new Sigma line of lenses...NOT the older variety. When looking at Sigma make sure to look at the newer versions. The Sigmas also have a longer warranty and they listen to the customers. There was a focus issue with the 120-300 and there was a blogger who documented it. The focus issue was soon addressed by firmware update. So totally impressed with Sigma and I would go with them over Canon lenses.
  • MichaelV - 
    I wanted to see if you had any thoughts on canon 6D vs 5D MarkIII - 

    I'm going to purchase a new camera for my wedding photography business.  I was sold on the Mark III, until another photographer recommended the 6D. 

    I was wondering if you have any thoughts? 

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