Shooting problems fixed

In September I picked up an Olympus 14-54mm ƒ2.8 lens for my camera. It’s a nice lens and I like the results I’m getting with it. However, I’ve noticed an interesting problem which I’ve narrowed down to a very simple solution.

What I was noticing is that when I would take my shot. The image would come out slightly blurred. the blur was so slight that you didn’t notice it even when viewed on the preview screen on my DSLR. It was so slight that the only way to see it was when the image was full size. It seemed that no matter what I did I was getting tons of images where the focus point seemed to be about 6-8 inches in the image from where I set it to be. Even though the viewfinder shows me that it’s in perfect focus.

Over the next few shoots I would continue to have this problem. Seeing it in about every third shot taken. One thing I did in order to mitigate the problem was to focus for my shot, then zoom in to check focus, and zoom out to take my shot. Everytime I did this the shots would be out of focus. So I felt as though no matter what I did my shots were out of focus. I took my camera to a friend who looked at it and said the camera and lens were fine. He got sharp images with it without any problems. We talked about it and surmised that it could be due to camera shake but the problem still showed up even when the shutter speed was 1/320th and when I used a tripod. So as you can imagine, it’s quite a frustrating problem when 1 out of every 3 shots you get is blurry and there’s seem to be no rhyme or reason behind it. And the fact that it couldn’t be predicted began to wear on me like nails on a chalkboard for 8 straight hours. Not to mention that I pay my models fairly well and I’ve got tons of shots I can’t use. Arrgh!

So last night I decided to play around to try and figure it out. I set up a light and a porcelain doll that I have in my house. I began taking pictures of the doll, zoomed in, zoomed out with the light on and off. I used reflectors, tripods, and what I found was interesting…

In a college video production course we learned about video camera lenses that have a “Back Focus” adjustment. This is where you set the focus for the front of the lens and then zoom in and then you set the back focus. this ensures perfect focus across the entire focal range of the lens. I’ve never heard of any still camera lenses having this setting or even needing it. So that’s why I never thought of it. but sure enough when I set up my shot, focused then zoomed in the lens was always out of focus. of course when I zoomed back out the shot was in focus. and of course the same is true visa versa. My lens doesn’t have a back focus adjustment on it so the problem now comes down to changing shooting habits.

I just need to trust that my focus is good… or check it using the preview screen after the shot is taken. This weekend I’m shooting with a friend of mine so that I can really try it to make sure that I’ve fixed the problem. Hopefully this is it and now I can relax knowing that I’ll be getting good sharp images from here on out.

Wish me luck!

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