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Canon 100-400mm Problems  
User currently offlineSAA738 From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2009, 261 posts, RR: 0
Posted (4 years 3 months 1 week 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 7229 times:

Hello there !

I've been having problems over the past few days with my Canon 100-400mm. Like today when I went to my local airport and took some shots of three arriving aircraft (A319, B734 and a B732). They were all taken at around 250mm. For some reason my Canon 400D wasn't focusing correctly. I used the following settings in what were almost perfect conditions, usually I get good results from them.

Camera settings :
Av mode.
F8.
ISO 100.
Metering mode : Evaluative metering.
White balance : Auto.
AF mode : AI SERVO.
Drive mode : Continuous shooting.
AF point selection : Manual (centre).

Lens settings :
Stabilizer : On.
Stabilizer mode : 2.
1.8m or 6.5m : 6.5m.
AF or MF : AF.

Here's an example of the best shot, please click it for the 1024x version :
http://i879.photobucket.com/albums/ab359/SAA738/015.jpg

As you can see the contrast is low and the image is blurry/out of focus and even slightly grainy.

I am in no way new to Aviation Photography, but I haven't had the 100-400mm IS long, I used to use a very old 100-300mm lens (non IS).

I also shoot in JPEG, should I maybe try RAW ?

Any help would be greatly appreciated. I'm going to the Control Tower tomorrow so I would really like to get it fixed by then.

Thanks in advance  

Daniel P Fretwell


''To fly as fast as thought you must begin by knowing that you have already arrived'' - Richard Bach
20 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineMartas From Czech Republic, joined Aug 2005, 4 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (4 years 3 months 1 week 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 7208 times:

Hi,
from the 1024px picture you posted above is impossible to tell if there is something wrong with your lense. As resized original it seems to be quite normal. Try to link a full size photo or 1:1 crop.

Best regards, Martin.


User currently offlinesovietjet From Bulgaria, joined Mar 2003, 2577 posts, RR: 17
Reply 2, posted (4 years 3 months 1 week 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 7207 times:
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Maybe try posting the original size of the photo. From what you posted it looks fine. I had some much more serious focusing problems with this lens earlier this year. Even though the red light blinks it would generally not be focused. Here's an example of how bad it was. It doesn't look like yours is that bad.

http://xs.to/image-A7B4_4B7B548D.jpg

I sent it to Canon service center and they fixed it.


User currently offlineSAA738 From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2009, 261 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (4 years 3 months 1 week 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 7175 times:

Quoting sovietjet (Reply 2):
Maybe try posting the original size of the photo. From what you posted it looks fine. I had some much more serious focusing problems with this lens earlier this year. Even though the red light blinks it would generally not be focused. Here's an example of how bad it was. It doesn't look like yours is that bad.

http://xs.to/image-A7B4_4B7B548D.jpg

I sent it to Canon service center and they fixed it.

Here's a full version of one taken from the Control Tower on my last visit, even at 220mm the quality is poor. Some how dust had gotten into the camera, could this be one of the reasons ? As for the lens, that shouldn't have any dust in/on it.

http://img249.imageshack.us/img249/6500/038jj.jpg

Compare it with this good quality one taken at a full 400mm two months ago :


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Daniel P Fretwell



I know the 732/Adv and A319 shots don't look as bad as your AA example, but the quality is still not good enough. And the red light did blink, but it didn't focus properly.

My lens has a European Guarantee but I live in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Do you know how much it would cost to get it fixed in this Country (that's if it does need fixing) ?



''To fly as fast as thought you must begin by knowing that you have already arrived'' - Richard Bach
User currently offlinedazbo5 From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2005, 2887 posts, RR: 2
Reply 4, posted (4 years 3 months 1 week 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 7166 times:

What were the shutter speeds on those shots Daniel?

Darren



Equipment: 2x Canon EOS 50D; Sigma 10-20 EX DC HSM, 50-500 EX APO DG, Canon 24-105 f/4 L, Speedlite 430EX
User currently offlineSAA738 From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2009, 261 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (4 years 3 months 1 week 4 days 13 hours ago) and read 7129 times:

Quoting dazbo5 (Reply 4):
What were the shutter speeds on those shots Daniel?

Darren

Hello Darren !

Today (with exposure bias at 0) :

A319 : 1/640
B734 : 1/500
B732 : 1/1250

And from the other day (with exposure bias at -1/3) :

B732 : 1/640



''To fly as fast as thought you must begin by knowing that you have already arrived'' - Richard Bach
User currently offlinedazbo5 From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2005, 2887 posts, RR: 2
Reply 6, posted (4 years 3 months 1 week 4 days 12 hours ago) and read 7086 times:

That rules out any camera shake / motion blur then.

Darren



Equipment: 2x Canon EOS 50D; Sigma 10-20 EX DC HSM, 50-500 EX APO DG, Canon 24-105 f/4 L, Speedlite 430EX
User currently offlineNIKV69 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (4 years 3 months 1 week 4 days 9 hours ago) and read 7036 times:

Clean your sensor! Jesus.

You all have ignored the fact that the shot in reply 3 is shot in perfect lighting and the shot in the original thread starter looks like it's taken at midday in the worst possible light and looks like it has a little heat distortion. Before we condemn the lens let's get some good test shots. Get out at sunrise and get some captures at F8, with no Ex comp and put your WB on direct sunlight. I would also get outo of auto mode and pick your own shutter. Hold it steady and when the sun becomes just right 1/500th or 1/640th should work to get perfect exposure and we can go from there. How can you get good contrast on a white fuselage when it's blown out?


User currently offlineSilver1SWA From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 4770 posts, RR: 26
Reply 8, posted (4 years 3 months 1 week 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 7007 times:
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Quoting sovietjet (Reply 2):
Maybe try posting the original size of the photo. From what you posted it looks fine. I had some much more serious focusing problems with this lens earlier this year. Even though the red light blinks it would generally not be focused. Here's an example of how bad it was. It doesn't look like yours is that bad.

http://xs.to/image-A7B4_4B7B548D.jpg
Quoting SAA738 (Reply 3):
Here's a full version of one taken from the Control Tower on my last visit, even at 220mm the quality is poor. Some how dust had gotten into the camera, could this be one of the reasons ? As for the lens, that shouldn't have any dust in/on it.

http://img249.imageshack.us/img249/6...j.jpg

You know, I have expressed my disappointment with the lens here a few times and I can say that both of your examples are nothing I haven't seen before. They are actually typical from my copy. However, I can get a perfectly sharp photo as well. I can take a series of shots of the same plane landing or departing and in that series, half might appear similar to your examples and the other half...well maybe one or two...will be keepers. Because of that, I just figured it was an issue with technique and just learned to live with it. But I dunno.

Quoting SAA738 (Reply 5):
Quoting dazbo5 (Reply 4):
What were the shutter speeds on those shots Daniel?

Darren

Hello Darren !

Today (with exposure bias at 0) :

A319 : 1/640
B734 : 1/500
B732 : 1/1250

With my lens, I have found some of the worst results coming from images taken at really fast shutter speeds. I can't figure it out...

Some things to consider though. Atmospheric conditions...was it warm and hazy? IS...try shooting without IS to see if that it causing the problem. I have read a lot about the IS system going bad.

Quoting NIKV69 (Reply 7):
You all have ignored the fact that the shot in reply 3 is shot in perfect lighting and the shot in the original thread starter looks like it's taken at midday in the worst possible light and looks like it has a little heat distortion. Before we condemn the lens let's get some good test shots. Get out at sunrise and get some captures at F8, with no Ex comp and put your WB on direct sunlight. I would also get outo of auto mode and pick your own shutter. Hold it steady and when the sun becomes just right 1/500th or 1/640th should work to get perfect exposure and we can go from there. How can you get good contrast on a white fuselage when it's blown out?

Nick, remember last year when I met you and Dave in LAS to try out my new 100-400? The examples here look very similar to my images that day.

I can understand the conditions playing a huge role in color and contrast, but sharpness I dunno. I have seen razor sharp images taken with the 100-400 in all kinds of conditions.



ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
User currently offlinecvervais From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 610 posts, RR: 2
Reply 9, posted (4 years 3 months 1 week 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 6978 times:

Here are some 1600pix shots from my 100-400 so, it's not a design flaw with the lens or anything but, something could be wrong with your copy......


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Chris Vervais
View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Chris Vervais



It's the only lens I've used since I started this hobby. When I first started though I was getting similar results to yours. What I was doing wrong though was I was gripping the lens near or on the focus ring. Since this lens is a full time manual focus lens just tracking the plane was causing me to bump the focus ring enough to put the image out of focus.

It took me awhile to figure this out since I could not explain why with shutter speeds of 1/1200 I was getting any kind of blur. How I figured it out was watching how Ben Wang held his 100-400 when I ran into him at SJC once. I noticed he was holding his lens really close to the end of the lens and then it dawned on me. Once I adjusted my grip I got MUCH sharper images.

Something to think about. If this is not your issue though then I highly recommend sending in the lens to Canon to get serviced.


User currently offlinesovietjet From Bulgaria, joined Mar 2003, 2577 posts, RR: 17
Reply 10, posted (4 years 3 months 1 week 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 6975 times:
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Quoting Silver1SWA (Reply 8):
With my lens, I have found some of the worst results coming from images taken at really fast shutter speeds

I have found out it is not a good idea to be at the extreme of any setting on the 100-400 in particular. For example it is a well known fact that the 100-400 is soft at f5.6. I tend to avoid that aperture unless it's really getting dark. On the other hand shooting at f20 will not get you impressive results either. Someone posted a thread several months ago on the effects of diffraction at high apertures. I also have noticed that excessively large shutter speeds yield poor results. If someone can explain this I'd be glad to hear it. My lens was not focusing right at all and the MD-80 shot I posted shows this. As a comparison here's how sharp it should be. I am posting an MD-80 shot with the lens when it was about half a year old before I had the focusing problem (which is now fixed).

Before: http://xs.to/image-87FF_4B7B548D.jpg
After: http://xs.to/image-A7B4_4B7B548D.jpg

Another example

Before: http://xs.to/image-AEB7_4B7B5F06.jpg
After: http://xs.to/image-C680_4B7B5F06.jpg

Although I don't think yours is as bad you can try sending it to the nearest Canon service center for repair. It cost about $300 to get mine fixed


User currently offlinecpd From Australia, joined Jun 2008, 4879 posts, RR: 38
Reply 11, posted (4 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 6900 times:

This looks like heat distortion, rather than a lens issue. Can you try more photos in later afternoon light that is less severe?

But looking at Sovietjet's examples - it reminds me how good the really high end (and very expensive) lenses are. I can use settings like F/18 or F/22 with no problem. It does show up dust badly, but otherwise, the results are still sharp. I have to do that sometimes as I have no practical way to stack filters (and otherwise reduce the shutter speed).

The difference between the mega-zoom lenses and others that are less extreme I guess.

Quoting sovietjet (Reply 10):
I also have noticed that excessively large shutter speeds yield poor results. If someone can explain this I'd be glad to hear it.

Heat haze or pollution perhaps? I've seen it sometimes with my equipment (mostly top-end stuff, see signature), and that's about all I can suggest. Because other times, the results are superb - especially at 1/2500sec (which I use at very long distances).


User currently offlinedlednicer From United States of America, joined May 2005, 542 posts, RR: 7
Reply 12, posted (4 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 6849 times:
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Quoting cvervais (Reply 9):
It took me awhile to figure this out since I could not explain why with shutter speeds of 1/1200 I was getting any kind of blur. How I figured it out was watching how Ben Wang held his 100-400 when I ran into him at SJC once. I noticed he was holding his lens really close to the end of the lens and then it dawned on me. Once I adjusted my grip I got MUCH sharper images.

I noticed the same thing with mine. Now, I try and remember to support it by the base of the lens hood.

Quoting sovietjet (Reply 10):
I have found out it is not a good idea to be at the extreme of any setting on the 100-400 in particular. For example it is a well known fact that the 100-400 is soft at f5.6. I tend to avoid that aperture unless it's really getting dark. On the other hand shooting at f20 will not get you impressive results either. Someone posted a thread several months ago on the effects of diffraction at high apertures.

Please clarify - I remember that it was Royal (Clickhappy) who made the post and he said that the 100-400L was sharpest at f5.6!


User currently offlineclickhappy From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 9603 posts, RR: 69
Reply 13, posted (4 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 6814 times:
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I've never shot with a Canon 100-400, I think that was someone stating that in a thread I participated in.

Photozone.de is a good resource, but I would have a hard time believing that a large zoom would be sharpest wide open.


User currently offlinedlednicer From United States of America, joined May 2005, 542 posts, RR: 7
Reply 14, posted (4 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 6710 times:
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Quoting clickhappy (Reply 13):
I've never shot with a Canon 100-400, I think that was someone stating that in a thread I participated in.

I found it - it was in the thread Diffraction: F/8 Vs. F/22 (by Clickhappy Dec 4 2009 in Aviation Photography)

Royal said (and I remembered the f-stop incorrectly):

Quote:
Most lenses achieve uniform sharpness (center and corners) at f/8. Take for instance the popular Canon 100-400 - it achieves it's sharpest results at f/8.


User currently offlineRCoulter From United States of America, joined Apr 2007, 545 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (4 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 6706 times:

FWIW, my 1D MKII N/100-400L combo gets the best results around f/9-f/10 YMMV though  

User currently offlinebruce From United States of America, joined May 1999, 5047 posts, RR: 15
Reply 16, posted (4 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 6697 times:

I have had focus issues with my 100-400 also. In fact, in 2009 it was so bad that I sent it to Canon. I shot an air show out west and got very few focused shots. Got the lens back for Airventure and it was a little better, but I'm still not completely convinced.

From the date code on mine, I figured it was manufactured in 2000. I bought it in 2005. Maybe mine isn't a perfect copy? It seemed to be sharper I think, back in 2005, but by last year it had drifted a bit.

I wonder if Nikkor lenses have these issues?

Bruce



Bruce Leibowitz - Jackson, MS (KJAN) - Canon 50D/100-400L IS lens
User currently offlinecpd From Australia, joined Jun 2008, 4879 posts, RR: 38
Reply 17, posted (4 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 6692 times:

Quoting bruce (Reply 16):
I wonder if Nikkor lenses have these issues?

None of mine have. All have been good. Even the cheap 18-135 Zoom-Nikkor (a kit lens) has been very sharp, all the time, even at F/5.6.


User currently offlinesulman From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 2035 posts, RR: 32
Reply 18, posted (4 years 3 months 1 week 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 6658 times:

I think you're just falling foul of the conditions on that particular day. I've seen this before with my 70-200 F4. Hard, overhead sun, poor atmospheric conditions (including haze) and the lens struggles to resolve much detail. You get an effect not unlike very mild camera shake; i.e degraded contrast & resolution. No single frame quite looks right.


I'd try another couple of sessions and see what results you get.


James



It takes a big man to admit they are wrong, and I am not a big man.
User currently offlineArturJarosz From Poland, joined Jun 2005, 2 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (4 years 3 months 1 week 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 6618 times:
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PHOTO SCREENER

Hi All,

I use 100-400/L IS as a back-up lens.

It's obvious that you cannot compare that lens to the prime but you can get really nice results when shooting af f/8.0-f/9.0. As RCoulter said I also get the best results at f/9.0. I like the versatility that this lens adds to my backpack.

Regards.

Artur


User currently offlinecvervais From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 610 posts, RR: 2
Reply 20, posted (4 years 3 months 1 week 1 day 3 hours ago) and read 6486 times:

I should add that the shots I posted were both shot at F/9, in fact I always shoot at F/9 during the day.

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