We Simplify The Technical!

Peggy Farren interviews camera repair specialist Isaac Hadid from Southern Photo Technical Service. Isaac relates common problems that can cause focus issues with your camera. Thanks for tuning into episode #77 of The Understand Photography Show!

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Episode 77 Isaac Hadid – Tips for Super Sharp Photos


Southern Photo – Technical Service (SP-TS.com)
Florida’s only authorized service center for all makes of cameras and equipment

Focus Problems and Common Causes
– Normal wear and tear and usage of Digital SLR’s can create problems with focus.
– Problems are seen frequently with professional photographers and those that have a high volume of still shots.
– Why?
– the 45 degree reflex mirror has to raise up and flip back down for each shot – the more it’s used, the more apt it is to wear out and become misaligned- bring it in for servicing
– long, heavy lenses create a lot of weight that pulls on the front of the camera and starts to distort the mount
– 1 pound of force on the front of the lens (if bumped) creates 10 pounds of force on the mount where it meets the camera
– leaving the lens on the camera and trying to stuff it into a snug-fitting gear bag can put stress on the camera
– pulling and stretching created on the front of the camera body will distort the accuracy of the focus

– How often should I bring in my camera for maintenance?
– the more it is used, the more it will require maintenance – at least once per year
usually have sensors cleaned 1-2 times per year
–  while the camera is there for sensor cleaning, SP-TS checks auto-focus accuracy
–  there are tools online to check your auto-focus, but they are not sized for
accurate home use
–  the best way to check is with factory-tested tools and charts
Zoom lenses
– switching back and forth from wide to tele and back again puts wear on the rollers and bushings within the barrel
– rollers and bushings (usually made of plastic) can crack or break if the lens is dropped
– the channels that the rollers move through can also be crushed, causing tightness when the lens is twisted
– forcing the lens through the tight spots causes the screws to break out of the barrel and become loose
– normal wear and tear causes rollers and bushings to become loose, enough that the glass will not stay optically aligned
– normal servicing should be done every 7-10 years, or as little as every 5 years with heavy use

AF Fine Tuning
– the focus motor starts to fail due to motor torque
– if its is too tight, it will stop too soon; if it is too loose, it will extend farther than anticipated
– his doesn’t mean every lens needs repair!
EX:  Back Focus – where the true focus point is behind the subject
– AF Fine Tune will show an image of the camera and subject and a scale to allow you to    move the focus point closer to the camera
– Take test shots and make adjustments to be more precise
– Limited to 20 micrometers
– when calibrating your lenses, the camera will record the serial number and settings created for that lens
– every time you add that lens to your camera, it will adjust to those settings automatically
– AutoFocus is VERY sensitive:  camera manufacturers had to create these steps to get the best quality possible
– Technicians at SP-TS check the camera body first for any problems, then will AF fine tune each of their customer’s lenses separately

Focus Modes

AF Area mode – default auto-area focus
– AF Auto (Canon) or AI Focus (Nikon)
– sensors are looking for a sharp edge/contrast
– if you see 5 lights or areas that the sensors have locked on you need to check
“Is this what I want it to focus on?”  This is an AMATEUR mode.  You can’t control what is being focused on.  The camera will create an AVERAGE point of focus to give the best result, but it’s usually not what you’re after.

Continuous Focus mode – TRICKY – used when trying to shoot a moving subject
– AFC (Nikon and Sony) or AI Servo (Canon)
– camera automatically calculates the speed of the subject and determines where it will be next
– downside – the camera will take the picture whether the subject is in focus or not
– you can change from spot focus to focus area and move the focus area away from the center of the viewfinder to one side or the other
– professional grade cameras will have more options available than entry level cameras

Single Focus mode
– AFS (Nikon and Sony) or Single Shot (Canon)
– camera won’t allow shutter movement until it confirms focus on the subject
– for portraits in the vertical position, start with the camera in horizontal position – change the focus point from the center to the right side – when you turn the camera vertical, your focus point should be on the subject’s face instead of on their chest

Features and Functions
–   all options are located within the camera menu systems
–  so much technology you need to take lessons
–  if you don’t utilize and understand the tech built into these cameras you won’t use the power the camera has available
–  the camera is capable of taking pictures that don’t require much, if any, post processing – it can ALL be done through menus and settings in the field

Depth of Field focus control
– the maximum aperture of your lens determines how much light enters the lens, even if your camera is not set at that aperture
– low light makes it more difficult to focus and takes the camera longer
– max aperture lets in more light and lets the sensors “see” better, determine the point of focus faster, and respond faster for the photographer
See you next week for episode 78!

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