Baptism Photos - Disappointed with my new 50mm f/1.8

electrolyte

Well-known Member
I was the official photographer at the baptism of my best friend's youngest son yesterday. It was the first time I'd used my new 50mm f/1.8 in anger. And I have to say compared to the previous 2 50mm f/1.8 lenses I've owned (and worn out!) the performance of this lens was very disappointing.

My old lenses before they died were pin sharp all out to f/1.8. This new one is awful at f/1.8 and not much better at f/2.2. In fact I got so desperate I was going to mess up the baptism itself I closed the aperture down to f/3.2 in an effort to get the bloomin thing to focus properly.

So, do I have a dud lens? Is this what 50mm f/1.8 lenses are really like and was I just lucky with my previous 2 lenses? I am not happy at all :(. Or am I totally over reacting?

First off I'll post a few photos that I am happy-ish with:

1. The suits (I focused on the eyes of the man on the left yet the man on the right is much sharper. They were both stationary and so was I)

| 50mm | f/2.2 | 1/1250 | ISO 100 |

2. The main man (I focused on his eyes, yet his feet are sharp and his eyes soft)

| 50mm | f/2.2 | 1/125 | ISO 800 |

3. Father and son (this one almost came out how I wanted)

| 50mm | f/2.2 | 1/400 | ISO 800 |

4. As the vicar said to me...(am happy with this)

| 50mm | f/2.2 | 1/400 | ISO 800 |

5. Candle (notice that even though I focused on his eye how un-sharp this is at f/3.2! He was standing still too)

| 50mm | f/3.2 | 1/50 | ISO 400 |

6. Whoops almost dropped him there...(pretty happy with this one)

| 50mm | f/3.2 | 1/50 | ISO 400 |

7. Splash (and pretty happy with this one too)

| 50mm | f/3.2 | 1/50 | ISO 400 |

But here are the shockers:

8. Focused on his left eye but almost everything is out of focus. This would never have happened with my old lens.

| 50mm | f/2.2 | 1/80 | ISO 200 |

9. Again, I focused on the boy's eyes. He stayed still, I stayed still. With my old lens this would have been sharp. here it is a complete out of focus mess...

| 50mm | f/2.2 | 1/125 | ISO 200 |

10. Another out of focus mess. I focused on her eyes, she stayed still and so did I.

| 50mm | f/2.2 | 1/500 | ISO 800 |

11. And a final out of focus mess. Again eyes were focused on and the subject was still.

| 50mm | f/2.2 | 1/4000 | ISO 100 |
 

Liquid101

Distinguished Member
Interesting.

If the AF is out, then it would point at the camera being at fault. After all, the lens only does what the camera tells it to.

Assuming you've tried other lenses, and they focus OK, then I guess the lens is at fault. I certainly wouldn't put up with anything close to the results you've got there. Did you try manual focus at all?
 

senu

Distinguished Member
Could be a dodgy one.. Why haven t you got a 1.4?.. Better build, better AF and Bokeh if not more sharp.. I think the 1.4 ( though not perfect) has Q.C
 

electrolyte

Well-known Member
Interesting.

If the AF is out, then it would point at the camera being at fault. After all, the lens only does what the camera tells it to.

Assuming you've tried other lenses, and they focus OK, then I guess the lens is at fault. I certainly wouldn't put up with anything close to the results you've got there. Did you try manual focus at all?

Thanks Scott - I'm glad you can see that I have a problem here.

I'm not glad that you suspect it may be to do with the camera. I hope it's not as I can't afford to replace it.

I must admit I haven't tried any other lenses so I can't be sure. Although my only two other lenses are the 18-55 kit lens and my Sigma 70-300 APO DG - neither of these is particularly sharp. I will give it a go tomorrow - am too tired tonight to play about with them.
 

electrolyte

Well-known Member
Could be a dodgy one.. Why haven t you got a 1.4?.. Better build, better AF and Bokeh if not more sharp.. I think the 1.4 ( though not perfect) has Q.C

Because I had an expensive and unexpected car service to pay for. I decided to economise and buy the 1.8 instead. After all the last 2 I'd had were fantastic so I assumed this would be as well.

To make matters worse I bought this lens from One Stop so I'll have to send it back to HK. Will probably cost me more in postage than I saved not buying it in the UK.
 

electrolyte

Well-known Member
And just to prove how good my old 50mm 1.8 was here are a couple of shots taken with it at f/1.8 (and also to prove that I know how to take a good photo). In the 1st one I focused on the baby's eyes and the second on the eye of my son:

12. photo from another baptism in April 2008


13. some of you may recognise this one...
 

jonnypb

Well-known Member
try your other lenses tomorrow and see how they do. #11 is particulary bad. in that light and settings the picture should be sharp. you've maybe got a front/back focusing lens. be worth trying this test with all your lenses and post the results

i was never too impressed with my 1.8. it was a bit soft and the AF was always hunting in lower light. my 1.4 beats the pants off it
 

electrolyte

Well-known Member
try your other lenses tomorrow and see how they do. #11 is particulary bad. in that light and settings the picture should be sharp. you've maybe got a front/back focusing lens. be worth trying this test with all your lenses and post the results

i was never too impressed with my 1.8. it was a bit soft and the AF was always hunting in lower light. my 1.4 beats the pants off it

Thanks Jonny. I will print that chart out and give it a go later. I just hope it shows up a problem with my 50mm only and not all 3 lenses..

thats a choker. :(

This looks endemic of the issues I have seen on the 40D and Mark III cameras.

I hope this means it's not my camera at fault.
 

mark800

Distinguished Member
How are you focusing? If you focus with the central point then move the camera, you'll get back focussing, which is more apparent with larger apertures.

The 1.8 is quite soft at high apertures, and I notice that your pics look much sharper once you stop the lens down a bit.

Having said all that, it still doesn't seem quite right.
 
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stevegreen

Distinguished Member
Looks to be front focussing to me Simon. In photo one the person in focus is infront of the one behind, in #2 the feet are in focus not the face (as you said) and in #3 the babys hand is in focus which is closer to the lens than the subject on which you focussed. Send it back and get it replaced. Chocker that you had to deal with that on the day! :(
 

milkmanchris

Active Member
Does this lens not have manual focus?

Sometimes to only way to go is old skool
 

electrolyte

Well-known Member
How are you focusing? If you focus with the central point then move the camera, you'll get back focussing, which is more apparent with larger apertures.

The 1.8 is quite soft at high apertures, and I notice that your pics look much sharper once you stop the lens down a bit.

Having said all that, it still doesn't seem quite right.

Thanks mark. Yes, I do use the centre point and then recompose but I have always done this and never had problems with stationary subjects in the past. The two black and white images I posted using my old 50mm 1.8 were both taken using centre point focus and recompose. The focus is spot on where I prefocused using the centre point (the eyes of the baby in the 1st one and the eye of my son). I have probably 20-30 other examples of photos I took at f/1.8 using my old 50mm 1.8 where the focus is spot on.

I must admit I did think this might be the problem so at the baptism I did try taking some of the photos using some of the other AF points so I wouldn't have to recompose as much - I only have 7 AF points on my 350D - but they were just as bad.

If you think you are having problems have a look here :

http://focustestchart.com/focus21.pdf

It is a PDF document exaplining how to check for front/back focusing. It mentions the D70 in it, but the instructions and chart on the last few pages are generic for every camera

Try that

Thanks Spaced_K. jonnypb had posted this chart earlier and I have already printed it out ready to give it a try tonight.

Looks to be front focussing to me Simon. In photo one the person in focus is infront of the one behind, in #2 the feet are in focus not the face (as you said) and in #3 the babys hand is in focus which is closer to the lens than the subject on which you focussed. Send it back and get it replaced. Chocker that you had to deal with that on the day! :(

Thanks Steve. I hope you are right and this is a lens issue and not a camera issue.

It was embarrassing to be having problems because there were a lot of people I haven't seen for about 4-5 years at the baptism and they'd heard that I was a keen photographer. They obviously were interested in how my photos were looking on the day and I didn't really want to show them off. luckily the screen on my 350D is so tiny they couldn't tell that everything was so out. And thankfully some of the shots were usable so all was not lost.

Does this lens not have manual focus?

Sometimes to only way to go is old skool

Yes, it does have manual focus. But I have never got on with MF. I don't know whether it is the view finder on my 350D or the fact that I wear glasses but I don't seem to get the focus right in MF using wide open apertures. It looks fine to me in the viewfinder and on the screen but out when I view it on my PC. However, I did try MF on Sunday but I couldn't get this to work either but this one is down to operator error rather than the camera. I would be totally lost without AF!
 

springtide

Distinguished Member
It does sound like a front/back focus issue as others have said.

I feel for you on this one, what an terrible way of finding out about a duff lens :(
 

tdodd

Novice Member
It does look like your lens is playing you up. If you see what I've written about the Canon Nifty in the past you will know that I have no love for that lens. It's OK for an intro to shallow DOF at low cost, but really is not the lens to use when you need reliable AF during once in a lifetime events.

Anyway, I do believe you should try some controlled AF testing, using a solid tripod, mirror lockup and remote release or self timer to eliminate vibration as an issue. You should ideally have good lighting so that the AF has something to work with and to keep your shutter speeds high. The focus test chart in the link above is all well and good, and I used something like that when I first tested my lenses, but the procedure I've seen recommended by manufacturers involves shooting at a target that is 40X or 50X as far away as the focal length of the lens under test. e.g. if you are testing your 50mm lens you should set the focus target at 40X50mm away, which is 2m exactly. This is probably more representative of a realistic typical shooting distance than 45cm or whatever the minimum focus distance is.
 
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Tobers

Well-known Member
Darn - what a bummer. I agree with the front-focus diagnosis and think it is lens specific not body specific (otherwise all your shots would be the same).

Chuck the lens back and ask for another one.

I sold my 50 1.8 and got a 50 1.4 instead as I didn't think I could trust the build quality of the 1.8 in a paid-for situation.
 

tdodd

Novice Member
I agree, although you should try a few repeats of the shots, manually de-focusing between each AF attempt, just to eliminate any one-off quirks.
 

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