Lens Focusing Tips

While trying to learn how to use my Canon 5Ds, especially in regards to capturing the the best picture quality this camera has to offer, I learned a few things.

I set out for my favorite learning area at the beaver pond at Session Woods. I brought my carbon fiber three section Gitzo tripod, my 100-400mm IS lens, my 1.4 extender which would represent the furthest reach I might have, set my camera to manual, using ISO 50 for the least noise, f/8 for the best resolution, mirror lockup with a 2 second delay to minimize shutter shake, my cable release, and then adjusted my shutter speed accordingly.

I had configured a custom function to allow image playback to instantly go to 100 percent zoom by hitting the set button. This way I could tell if what I wanted in the picture was in sharp focus. The first few pictures were fuzzy and I had to know why.

I turned on live view. When I zoomed to 100 percent, before I even snapped a picture, I found to my horror that the camera was shaking! I took the camera off the tripod and positioned it on a railing. Now, using live view again, the result was a sharp image!

Possible solutions

  • Get a bigger ballhead. The one I am using is a mid level ReallyRightSuff ballhead BH-30 so move up to their biggest BH-55.
  • Buying a heavier tripod is not an option right now due to the expense and extra weight, especially with my back issues. However, where possible, I can leave the third part of the tripod legs, the smallest diameter, not extended.
  • I will set my camera to silent shutter mode which further dampens the shutter release.
  • I can also set the lens focusing to manual which would prevent the lens from moving to set focus. The problem with this is that my eyes are not as sharp as they used to be. Age will do that to you!
  • Image stabilization offered very little help at those distances. Better to keep it off to prevent possible additional shake.
  • Where possible, don’t use the longest reach of the lens zoom, since most lenses are soft at their furthest or shortest magnification.

Hope these tips help.