Canon's CarePAK PLUS promotion – with protection from kids, pets, and life including accidental damage such as drops, spills, power surges and other unforeseen events – is coming back. The new promotion period will run from May 1, 2016 to July 31, 2016.
How do we know the promotion is coming? Yesterday Canon USA released a CarePAK PLUS promo video on their YouTube channel with the dates "05/01/16 - 07/31/2016" appearing at the end of it. However, after originally embedding that video into this post, its permission level was suddenly set to Private (and therefore unviewable).
So which products will be eligible for the CarePAK PLUS coverage? Well, we're not 100% sure yet (the marketing representative I spoke to at Canon did not have that information yet). Below you'll find the cameras and lenses which qualified for the previous CarePAK PLUS program, and it's probably a safe bet that they'll be covered in the new program as well. We assume the EOS-1D X Mark II and 80D will also be included in this promotion, but that's just speculation for now.
Previously Eligible Camera Bodies/Kits
Previously Eligible Lenses
In addition, lenses included with eligible body were covered. For example, if a customer purchased the Canon EOS 5D Mark III and EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens kit, the lens will was covered since it is included in the box with the body (also known as a “hard bundle”).
For more information, check out Canon USA's CarePAK PLUS Promo page.
Aspen trees do not all change color at the same time in the fall. This can be good or bad news. Good is that there is some flexibility in the timing of fall photo trips to aspen areas. Potentially bad is that there will likely be green or bare aspen trees in your targeted area.
In addition to leaf color, sky cover is a concern for aspen tree photography. While blue skies are beautiful, I much prefer to have photogenic clouds decorating a blue sky (with abundant amounts of sunshine coming through). My reasoning for this preference is probably obvious for images that include those clouds and the sky. But, clouds cast shadows and shadows can greatly contribute to imagery.
On the return hike from Crater Lake on this day, clouds blocked the sun just enough to shade Sievers Mountain while the foreground aspen trees glowed brightly in the sunlight. In the mid-ground was a patch of aspens with only their top-most leaves remaining (these are the last to fall). Also in the sun, these leaves appear as a flame over the trees. While it is not in the limelight, Sievers Mountain, full of character and framed in blue sky with white clouds further separating the sharpest peaks, makes this shot for me.
While a telephoto lens may not have been your first choice for a hike primarily focused on landscape photography, telephoto focal lengths are an integral part of my landscape kit. I often find composing landscape images with a telephoto zoom lens to be easier than a wide angle lens. The next time you head out to photograph the great outdoors, especially in big mountain areas, make sure that a telephoto zoom lens is in your bag.
From the Canon Professional Network:
Liz Kreutz is a photographer with a big reputation for capturing the essence of her subjects. CPN writer Mark Alexander finds out how the latest Canon technology is helping the documentary sports photographer develop her unique style...Read the entire article and see the image gallery on the Canon Professional Network.
Liz Kreutz loves the sport of boxing. The emotional accessibility of it and the action inside the ring gives her a buzz. Throw in some frenetic action and tricky lighting and the US-based photographer is in her element.
“My heart is in my throat the entire time,” says Liz. “It’s an experience unlike any other. That’s why I like it. You’re anticipating that moment. You’re waiting; you’re ready for it. That’s the kind of photography I like to do. I love the unpredictability of that. I have a knot in my stomach the whole time.”
From the Advancing Your Photography YouTube Channel:
In this video, National Geographic photographer Bob Holmes gives us his lighting tips and the secrets for controlling light in your photographs. You'll learn about the 3 types of light and how to control each.
Bob explains how to capture the shot using natural light without lots of equipment. He shares his decades of experience, knowledge and travels with you in this video.
Lightroom CC 2015.5.1 & Lightroom 6.5.1
Lightroom CC 2015.5.1 and Lightroom 6.5.1 are now available. Our focus with this release was to add support for new cameras and also fix reported customer issues.
Please note that on first launch of Lightroom CC 2015.5.1 / 6.5.1, you will need to log in to continue syncing images and metadata between desktop and your mobile devices. To sign in, click on the Activity Center in the upper-left corner and select the “Sign In” button. For more info see these detailed instructions.
Lightroom for iOS v2.3 is now live as well. Check it out here!
Bugs Fixed in Lightroom CC 2015.5.1 / 6.5.1
New Camera Support in Lightroom CC 2015.5.1 / 6.5.1
Installation InstructionsPlease select Help > Updates to install the update. See Keeping Lightroom up-to-date.
Lightroom for iOS 2.3 is now available, bringing with it a few important improvements and bug fixes. Most notably, we’ve taken steps to reduce the amount of steps that it takes to edit a photo from your camera roll. We heard from a number of users that editing and sharing a single photo was really important, so we made it possible to start editing immediately with a single photo. Importing multiple photos was also made easier by being able to swipe across a series of photos directly. By making it possible to start editing directly, you no longer have to find a photo, import it, find it again, and then start editing, so common workflows should be improved considerably.
We’re of course constantly working on ways to improve the many different workflows in Lightroom for iOS, and have a number of improvements in the pipeline. Let us know in the comments here what you think about this update as we all as what improvements you’d like to see in future builds of Lightroom for iOS.
The Creative Cloud Photography Plan (Photoshop CC & Lightroom CC) is an excellent value at only $9.99/month.
Camera Raw 9.5.1 is now available through the update mechanism in Photoshop CC and the Creative Cloud application. Our focus with this release was to add support for new cameras and also fix reported customer issues.
Please note that this is the final version of Camera Raw that will work using Mac OSX 10.7 and OSX 10.8. Upcoming releases, starting with Camera Raw 9.6, will require the use of OSX 10.9 or later.
Thank you for all your feedback and passion for Camera Raw.
Bugs Fixed in Camera Raw 9.5.1
New Camera Support in Camera Raw 9.5.1
Please select Help>Updates to install the update. See Keeping Photoshop & Camera Raw up-to-date.
Please note – If you have trouble updating to the latest ACR update via the Creative Cloud application, please refer to the following plugin installation:
While exploring Middle Caicos, I came across this great little old boat on Bambarra Beach. I opted to go wide and move in close, emphasizing the boat relative to the rest of the landscape. As I worked the scene, I continued to move in closer and lower until ... cue the pelican ... I settled on this shot.
The Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM Lens is a great beach and seascape lens option, with or without a tripod.
Whether or not to use a circular polarizer filter when using the widest angles of this lens on a full frame body (and similar angle-of-view-equivalent focal lengths on APS-C format bodies) is a question that one must ask themselves. At very wide angles, a CPL filter can create an unevenly-darkened sky and tastes for such vary widely. One strategy is to shoot in the middle of the day. A high sun places the most-darkened portion of the sky evenly over the horizon. This provides a more-evenly darkened sky within the frame, as seen in this image.
While there is some gradient in this sky, I much prefer the CPL look and the high sky-to-boat contrast over the lighter sky (which naturally has some gradient even without the filter).
From the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom YouTube Channel:
Lightroom tips and tricks in 60 seconds or less from longtime Lightroom team member Benjamin Warde.
The Creative Cloud Photography Plan (Photoshop CC & Lightroom CC) is an excellent value at only $9.99/month.
by Sean Setters
lf you're like me, you keep a catalogue (either mentally or on paper/electronically) of locations you'd like to photograph "...when the time is right." For many locations, timing is everything.
Yet the opportunities for some types of photography are remarkably fleeting and/or rare. One such photographic endeavor where time is really of the essence is lightning photography. Typically speaking, lightning photography is optimally captured at night and the circumstances which make it ideal for capture sometimes catch you by surprise (for example, when you're sleeping).
For instance, I've been awoken in the early morning hours by the distant sounds of thunder and immediately thought, "Now would be great time to capture a lightning strike featuring downtown Savannah, GA." Unfortunately, the last time this happened I was unprepared to rush out the door quickly. It took me about 15 minutes to gather all the items I thought I'd need to capture lightning, including double-checking battery and memory card capacities. As I was driving downtown, I saw the last lightning strike that the storm had to offer. The opportunity had slipped through my fingers.
That got me thinking. What I really needed to do is prepare a "go-bag" that's ready at a moment's notice. So for the last two evenings where thunderstorms have been forecast, I've packed a bag before going to bed so that I can bolt (pun intended) out the door when necessary.
My lightning oriented go-bag includes:
For what it's worth, I carry the Canon TC-80N3 for redundancy; if the MIOPS trigger's internal battery becomes exhausted, or I'm photographing in a location that's too bright for the trigger to sense faint lightning, I'll use the Canon Remote Timer and simply fire the camera continuously using the intervalometer.
When packing the bag, I always check to ensure my camera's batteries have a sufficient charge and that its memory cards are in place. After that, I place my Induro CT-314 tripod (similar to this) on top of the bag so that I don't forget to take it as well.
Preparing your go-bag well ahead of the time you actually need it has two very tangible benefits. The first is that you're able to get out of the door as quickly as possible. The second is that you're less likely to forget a vital piece of equipment because you aren't frantically rushing to get everything packed.
Cloud and/or sunset photography are other endeavors that may benefit from a prepacked go-bag including a circular polarizing filter, step-up rings (if needed), and possibly a strong ND for longer exposures. If the sky is filled with interesting clouds or a beautifully warm, hazy sunset, just grab your bag and head out to your favorite location before conditions change (wherever that may be).
Do you shoot bands in night clubs? Do you ever get calls 15-minutes before show time with requests to shoot a gig? Your go-bag would likely include several wide aperture primes and, maybe most importantly, earplugs.
While having a go-bag prepared isn't necessarily advantageous for all photographic disciplines, it can really come in handy for those all-to-fleeting photographic opportunities where minutes matter.
From the B&H YouTube Channel:
Dance Photographer Lois Greenfield shares with us her insight on how she captures movement and the beauty of dance.
April 28, 2016, Commack, New York – Tamron Co., Ltd., a leading manufacturer of optics for diverse applications, announces that its SP 35mm F/1.8 Di VC USD (Model F012), a fast aperture wide-angle lens, and SP 45mm F/1.8 Di VC USD (Model F013), a fast aperture standard lens, both of which were launched in September 2015 as lenses compatible with full-frame DSLR cameras, have now won the "iF Design Award 2016" and the "Red Dot Award: Product Design 2016."
Design Concepts of the Products that Won These Prestigious Awards
Introducing the First-Ever Filter Replacement Warranty!
Things break. And when they do, the cost to replace them is never pleasant. Heliopan UV and Protection Filters are meant to always be on your lens. They help protect your lens from damage. We want to protect you and your investment.
Heliopan is pleased to offer a one-time replacement warranty for any UV or Protection Filter purchased new from any of our authorized US Resellers. Proof of purchase in the form of a dated bill of sale with the name and address of the reseller is required. If you recently bought a Heliopan UV or Protection filter, this offer will be valid on purchases dating back to January 1, 2016.
Use it. And if it happens to break in the line of duty, replace it. No problem.
While this beautiful bird had its eyes on dinner, I focused on getting a tight headshot with blue sky framing. The bird was in constant motion, so I aligned myself with the sun and held the single selected focus point (one to the right of top center) where I wanted the bird to be in the frame. As soon as the head turned to align with my vision for the shot, I pressed the shutter release. While my timing and/or framing was not successful on every attempt at this image, I really only needed to nail one of them. Persistence paid off.
The sky was clear (late in the day) and that meant the required exposure was not changing quickly. Stable exposure needs combined with a bright white subject shout "Manual Exposure" to me. I selected a manual exposure setting that made the brightest whites nearly blown and reduced brightness by 1/6 stop during post processing.
The sharpness of this image, captured handheld on the pixel-dense 7D Mark II with the 100-400 L II at 400mm, is really impressive. I see a lot of images, including a lot of sharp ones, but what I see here catches my attention. I highly recommend this lens (and camera), especially for birding and wildlife.
From the B&H YouTube Channel:
In this video we share some simple tips and tricks on how to mic talent for video shoots using lav microphones, including some clever ways of hiding or concealing your mics.
There is a bit of a backstory to this post. This is the third copy of this lens we've put through the lab. I was not satisfied with the 50-70mm performance of the first copy, so I brought a second lens in. The results from the second lens were about the same as the first with great wide angle sharpness and not so great long end performance.
What to do next was the dilemma. Was this performance indicative of what you should expect from this lens? Did we get two duds in a row? Was there an issue with the Nikon D3x test camera? Perhaps something was not working well with the camera and lens combination?
Being unsettled, I opted to clean house and try again. I purchased a new Nikon D810 and brought in a third copy of the 24-70 VR. Here are the results of the 3rd lens on the D810 compared to the 2nd lens on the D3x.
Many comparisons can be made. I'll let you decide which of those to make.
Nikon D810 test results from more lenses are planned for the future, though it will take a long time to work all previously-tested lens models through the lab. Remember, all lens aberration correction is turned off for these tests (CA, if present, will be especially noticeable at high resolution). The same sharpness settings being used for the D3x (initially setup to match or perhaps slightly exceed the Canon settings) are being used for the D810. We will be looking more closely at this setting, probably after bringing in a 200 f/2 VR for testing (the original base lens used for sharpness setting selection).
Don't forget: we really need your support to keep the camera and lens tests coming in. Especially when copy quality is questioned, these tests become very expensive to conduct. Please use the site's links to make your purchases! Even buying diapers at Amazon helps.
TIME Magazine is reporting that Getty Images has accused Google of encouraging image piracy through its image search engine, Google Images. Getty has gone so far as to file an official complaint with the European Union Antitrust Commission.
In its complaint, Getty outlines key design features – like full-resolution slideshow previews – available in Google Images which leads to users being unwitting pirates.
Getty argues that since image consumption is immediate, “there is little impetus to view the image on the original source site” once it’s seen in high resolution on Google. By making these images available to download, Google has “also promoted piracy, resulting in widespread copyright infringement, turning users into accidental pirates,” Getty claims.See the rest of the article on Time.com.
Nikon has created a Tips Page for the new D500.
Topics covered include:
TOKYO, April 27, 2016—Canon Inc. announced today that the Company's Powershot G9 X premium digital camera was honored for design excellence, winning the Red Dot Design Award: Product Design 2016. The internationally recognized "Red Dot" is organized by the Design Zentrum Nordrhein, a design institution based in Essen, Germany.
Red Dot Design Award: Product Design 2016 winning product
The Powershot G9 X features a compact, lightweight design, a 28-84 mm (35 mm film equivalent) 3x optical zoom lens and a 1.0 inch image sensor. Its luxury design, characteristic of a premium compact camera, features a touch-panel LCD and a control ring for intuitive operability that makes possible the effortless capture of high-quality images and video.
Encouraged by the recognition of the Company's design excellence, Canon will continue striving to realize products that combine the highest levels of performance and design.
PORTLAND, OR – APRIL 26, 2016 – ON1, Inc. today announced ON1 Photo RAW, the first all-new RAW processor and non-destructive photo editor to be released in more than a decade. With modern code optimized for today’s super-megapixel cameras and high-performance computer graphics systems, Photo RAW will be the world’s fastest, most flexible, and easiest-to-use RAW processor and photo editor on the market when it is released this fall.
The current class of RAW-based photo editors all have their heritage from the early days of digital photography, when most digital cameras had less than 10 megapixels, and computer processing power was a fraction of that found in modern PCs. When used with today’s popular 42- and 50-megapixel cameras, existing programs can often take seconds to render small portions of a RAW image and perform adjustments. Several years in the making, Photo RAW, with its modern RAW processing engine, is tuned for today’s sensors and graphics chips. It will open 50-megapixel images in a fraction of a second on a standard PC or Mac, and perform edits in real-time, without slider lag or frustrating waits for redraw.
Developed over the last several years, ON1 Photo RAW is built around ON1 Browse, the company’s lightning-fast photo browser, and will not require photographers to import and catalog their photos; an often painful and time-consuming process required before editing can begin. ON1 Browse is an integral part of Photo RAW, offering quick and easy ways to tag, rate, make color and tone adjustments, or add effects to their photos. Without catalogs, professionals will be able to make adjustments to photos and fellow colleagues can access and edit where they left off. This combination of a fast photo browser with instantaneous RAW processing will deliver a fluid, streamlined workflow to process any amount of photos all at once. Select one or 101 photos, make a few develop adjustments and all of the photos update automatically in real time.
ON1 Photo RAW’s instruction-based, non-destructive workflow will also surpass today’s RAW processors in other key ways. In addition to customary re-editable adjustments such as exposure, contrast, color, shadows and highlights, Photo RAW will also offer non-destructive effects and portrait retouching, something not present in any photo editor on the market. The complex filters found in ON1 Effects and ON1 Portrait—including Lens Blur, Skin Retouching, Dynamic Contrast, HDR Look and many more—are all available in Photo RAW’s non-destructive workflow. The controls found throughout ON1 Photo RAW will also respond in real-time by leveraging modern video cards, using the latest versions of OpenGL and OpenCL.
ON1 Photo RAW will include built-in layers, brushes, and advanced masking tools, making it a full RAW processor and complete photo editor in a single app. And, unlike any other photo app, Photo RAW will work the way you want, and where you want. For photographers with established workflows, Photo RAW will work seamlessly as a plug-in for Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, and Corel; a standalone host app for Google Nik Collection and other photo editors; or as an extension to Apple Photos. Common file formats—including JPEG, TIF, PSD, PSB, PND, and DNG—will be supported and will benefit from the speed and performance of the app.
Price and Availability
ON1 Photo RAW will be available this fall. You can pre-order ON1 Photo RAW today by becoming an ON1 Plus Pro Member at $149.99/yr. Plus Pro members receive a perpetual license for all ON1 apps (not a subscription) and will be the first to receive the app once it becomes available. If you want to purchase ON1 Photo RAW without becoming an ON1 Plus Pro Member, you can submit your email address on the ON1 Photo RAW web page to get the latest news, videos, beta, and pre-order announcements.
Owners of previous versions of ON1 Photo will have the option to upgrade to ON1 Photo RAW. The upgrade price will be determined at a later date. There will be special pricing for ON1 Photo 10 purchasers. Customers will be notified over the course of the next several months providing their upgrade information.
From Nikon Europe:
Short film contest in partnership with Raindance and chaired by Oscar-winning director Asif Kapadia announces "Not a Pizza Order" as Grand Prix winner.
Nikon is today announcing the winners of its Festival in association with independent film organisation, Raindance and Oscar-winning director, Asif Kapadia. ‘Not A Pizza Order’ by Cécile Ragot, France, takes the Grand Prix prize. Cécile will win a Nikon D810 film kit and a one-week, all-expenses paid networking trip to the Cannes Film Festival in May 2016.
The winners were decided by the jury, chaired by the director of Oscar-winning documentary ‘Amy’, Asif Kapadia. He was joined by Emmy-nominated photographer and filmmaker Pieter ten Hoopen, the founder of independent film festival Raindance, Elliot Grove, and Nikon Europe’s Dirk Jasper.
‘Not A Pizza Order’ by Cécile Ragot, was selected as the Grand Prix winner by the jury during the final judging session at the British Film Institute in London. All jury members were impressed by this powerful film that highlights the struggles of domestic violence. Turning a seemingly routine call into a compelling story on screen, she was praised for her film’s memorable narrative, complemented by her incredible technical skill.
The other category winners selected by the jury were:
The winner of the People’s Choice award, based on individual likes and shares received on the Nikon Film Festival website, went to ‘At Night They Work’ by Ad van Brunschot from the Netherlands.
Asif Kapadia, Chair of the Jury for the Nikon European Film Festival, commented: “The standout films had a really strong idea and story; ones which took me on a mini journey. I felt, personally, that ‘Not a Pizza Order’ was an incredibly powerful short film. You think it’s a comedy film, but actually it’s a really serious piece of work about something very important. I’m always looking for films that stay with me; whether it’s an image or moment, or something that when I walk away, I remember that film. I think the prizewinners are all brilliant movies.”
Elliot Grove, Founder of Raindance and member of the Nikon European Film Festival Jury, added: “We were amazed by the high standard of films submitted and particularly the diversity of how the theme ‘Everyday Moments’ was interpreted. As a fellow director and general advocate of independent film, I’m delighted that Nikon is encouraging aspiring filmmakers across Europe and around the world to develop their talent and reward them with the technology they need to hone their skills.”
Cécile Ragot, winner of this year’s Grand Prix prize, said: “This award is such a wonderful encouragement to keep trying and keep making films. I am so thankful to the Jury members. I make films hoping they will maybe have an impact on people’s lives or people’s perspectives, and this award means I can maybe turn this hope into a reality.”
Hare are some comparisons that may be of interest:
Canon has released its 1Q 2016 financial results. As usual, the Presentation Material is our preferred method for getting the highlights.
There is no shortage of mountains in Denali National Park. However, a layer of snow adds greatly to how they look. Snow especially contrasts against the darkest-colored mountains.
Bright white snow and very dark rock can potentially be an exposure challenge. When photographing landscape under full sunlight with snow in the frame, setting the ideal exposure usually involves bringing the image brightness level up to the point where the brightest snow has a tiny area of blinkies showing on the LCD (be sure that these are enabled). This insures that detail remains in the snow while shadow/dark areas have as much color information as possible.
You may have noticed that this image is not showing as full-dimensioned for the Canon EOS 5Ds R used to capture it. This image was not cropped (the 100-400mm lens was not set to its longest available focal length), but as is often the problem with long distance photography, heat waves caused enough degradation that I opted to reduce the image size by 66%, using downsampling to improve image sharpness.
Note that I did not use a tripod for this capture. This lens' image stabilization system combined with a solid three-point sitting position (elbows on knees and forehead pressed into eye cup) were very adequate for sharpness in this regard, and a B+W HTC circular polarizer filter blocking less light than a standard filter also contributed to this run-and-gun shot.
by Sean Setters
There are several variables that can have an adverse effect on image sharpness. Therefore, it's important to isolate each variable to try to determine the exact source of the problem in order to help formulate a solution that aids in achieving sharper images.
1. Subject and/or camera movement (Shutter speed is too slow)
Probably one of the most common sources of image softness is motion blur, either caused by subject movement or camera shake. Thankfully, diagnosing and counteracting the problem are fairly straightforward.
If you notice sharp areas of your frame, but moving subjects are blurred, you know that your shutter speed was not fast enough to freeze action. If you notice a fairly uniform blur across the entire frame, but the blur is directional (with sharper contrast lines running in a specific direction), or else your images' EXIF information indicates a relatively slow shutter speed for the focal length was being used, then your images likely suffer from camera shake induced by the photographer.
For more conclusive results, you can conduct a Control Test (found at the bottom of this article) to see what kind of sharpness you should expect when subject and/or camera movement has been eliminated from the equation.
Fortunately, the solution to the problem is also straightforward – use a faster shutter speed. How fast? That's a tricky one, but... "as fast as it takes" is the true (but seemingly unhelpful) answer. Fast action (i.e., sports) may require a shutter speed in the 1/500 - 1/2000 second neighborhood. For more static subjects, a shutter speed of 1/focal length [or with more dense sensor cameras, 1/(focal length * 2)] is a good place to start. Experience is often the best teacher when it comes to determining the optimal shutter speed for obtaining sharp images in any specific situation.
If your subject isn't moving, using a tripod (or some other form of solid stabilization) and 2-second timer (combined with your camera's mirror lock-up feature) can help eliminate the effects of camera shake.
One thing to note is that wider aperture lenses will allow you to use faster shutter speeds while keeping high-ISOs at bay. If you notice that you must use a very high ISO to freeze motion because the maximum aperture of your lens is f/5.6 at the focal length you require, it might be worth considering upgrading to a lens that features a wider maximum aperture at that same focal length (or focal length range).
2. Autofocus not calibrated properly
It only takes a small amount of front or back focus to make your subject(s) look unsharp. If your camera and lens are not calibrated properly to work together at achieve perfect focus, your subjects will be noticeably soft. Keep in mind, even a top-performing AF system may miss focus occasionally. Calibrating your AF will help if your lens is consistently focusing at a point in front of or behind your intended plane of focus.
The easiest way to tell if your lens is front or back focusing involves shooting several image of a distant, high-contrast object in the grass that's roughly the same height off the ground as your camera (shooting propped on a knee and pointed at a yard sign usually works for me). Reviewing the images on the LCD, the blades of grass and/or ground in focus should be on the same optical plane as the object you are trying to focus on. If the grass in focus is noticeably behind or in front of the original plane of focus, then your lens may not be properly calibrated for use with your camera body.
If your DSLR features Autofocus Microadjustment, then a little testing should help you determine the optimal setting in order for your camera and lens to focus properly. If your camera does not feature AFMA, then you'll need to send both your camera and lens to the manufacturer's service department for calibration.
For cameras with the AFMA feature, you can dial in an adjustment to correct for front and back focusing. However, you'll need to figure out what value works best. My suggestion is to read John Reilly's excellent article "AF Microadjustment Tips" and try the setup explained in the section titled "The better DIY approach."
For DSLRs without the ability to adjust focus in-camera, you have a few of options. The first option is to exchange the lens (if it is a recent purchase) and hope that the next lens is better suited for your camera. The second option is to modify the lens firmware yourself if that option is available to you. Both Sigma and Tamron offer optional devices such as the USB Dock (Sigma) or TAP-in Console (Tamron) which allow you to modify focus parameters of compatible lenses. The third option is to send your camera and lens to the lens manufacturer (either OEM or third-party) to have them specifically calibrate your lens to your camera body.
3. Surpassing your camera's DLA (Diffraction Limited Aperture)
If you're not familiar with the concept of DLA, the take a quick look at Bryan's full explanation here. However, a quick explanation of DLA is the approximate aperture at which diffraction begins to negatively impact image sharpness. The DLA value is derived by multiplying a sensor's pixel pitch (in microns) by 1.61. For example, the DLA formula for the EOS 7D Mark II with a pixel pitch of 4.1µm would be 4.1*1.61 = f/6.6.
That means that for the absolute sharpest results at the point of focus with the 7D Mark II, you should limit your aperture to f/6.3 (the next lowest aperture that the camera can be set to) or lower. If you'd like to see an example of the degradation that can occur when using apertures significantly narrower than the camera's DLA, check out these image quality comparisons. That's not to say that you should never use apertures smaller than the DLA; sometimes a small trade-off in overall sharpness is preferable to obtaining an increased depth-of-field.
If you notice that your images are taken with apertures at or above the camera's DLA value, then your images will likely show varying degrees of diffraction (narrower aperture = visibly more diffraction).
Fortunately, this cause of image degradation is easy to correct – use an aperture wider than the camera's DLA (which can be found by referencing the site's Camera Specifications Comparison tool).
4. Heat waves
If you are using a fairly long focal length and focusing on subjects relatively far away, any heat source between you and that subject can cause heat waves which will negatively impact image quality. Common sources of heat waves include hot sand and asphalt, but even flowing water on a cold day can be a culprit.
Many times, heat waves are pretty easy to pick out. They cause your distant subjects to have a rippling look to them. The rippling effect will be especially noticeable when cycling between peview images that were captured in a burst sequence. You can also try photographing nearby subjects that do not have obvious sources of heat between you and that subject. If your nearby subjects are sharper, then heat waves may be contributing to the loss of sharpness visible in your distant subjects (though, this test does not conclusively isolate heat waves as the sole cause, as an incorrectly calibrated AF may lead to similarly unsharp distant objects).
As Bryan says in his Are Heat Waves Destroying Your Image Quality?:
What can you do about this problem? Heat waves are an image quality factor that you generally can't spend money to put behind you. For example, a sharper lens and a better camera are not going to be helpful. Selecting a different location, a different time of day and/or a different day completely or even a different season is often the best solution. A cloudy day with low temperature fluctuation may work for your image.
Many times, the photographer does not have control of the day and time of a shoot and will need to deal with the issue. Sports photographers typically fall into this group. For example, auto racing often takes place mid-day on asphalt tracks and photographers capturing these events will encounter this distortion.
If opting to shoot through the heat waves, move closer if possible (but not dangerously so – referring to the auto racing scenario). The less air that light passes through, the less likely that heat waves will cause strong distortion. Also, capture lots of images to allow selection of the least-influenced and to give your camera opportunity to lock in proper AF distances.
It's no secret that some lenses are simply better than others. If you're using the 18-55mm lens that came bundled with your camera, you probably won't be surprised to learn that a different lens may allow you to get sharper images. That doesn't necessarily mean that you need a more expensive lens (though that may generally be the case). For instance, our tests show that the EF 40mm f/2.8 STM is sharper at f/2.8 than the EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens is at 55mm | f/5.6 (even though the kit zoom lens retails for $50.00 more than the prime).
Some may question my comparing a zoom lens to a prime, but I think it's a relative comparison from an image quality perspective. If you want to maximize sharpness, you may want to consider a set of prime lenses for a few reasons. For one, the low-to-mid range primes are quite affordable. For another, primes typically feature wider maximum apertures than zooms at their comparative focal length (which, as described above, can aid in obtaining sharp images by allowing for faster shutter speeds to be used). And finally, primes are typically sharper than zooms when compared at the zoom's maximum aperture at that specific focal length (because, inevitably, the prime is stopped down).
Perform a Control Test (see below) to see what kind of performance your lens is capable of. Analyzing the images, see how the fine details are resolved compared to our Image Quality Test Results at the same aperture setting (or closest setting if we didn't test that exact aperture). If your results are similar, you know that your lens is performing normally from an image quality perspective. If your results are noticeably less sharp, and you've eliminated the other softness-inducing causes mentioned above, then see cause #6.
If your lens is producing the best image quality that you can expect from it, but the sharpness level is below your satisfaction threshold, the solution is simple – upgrading your lens will be necessary to improve the sharpness of your images. The hardest part, of course, will be choosing which lens will represent the best upgrade for your needs. On that note, here are some helpful resources:
6. Lens malfunction
If you've ruled out all of the other causes of blurry images found above, then a lens malfunction is likely the culprit robbing you of sharp images.
Perform a Control Test. Compare your results to our own Image Quality Test results captured using a similar focal length/aperture/camera body for reference purposes. If your images appear noticeably soft by comparison, or else one side of the image appears significantly softer than the other, then there's a good chance your lens has a misaligned element (or some other design anomaly).
If you suspect your lens is exhibiting signs of malfunction, you'll need to contact the lens manufacturer to arrange for a repair. It may be beneficial to show the manufacturer control images to illustrate your concerns. If the item is under warranty, then the repair costs should be covered by the manufacturer (though shipping your lens securely to the repair facility – and insured – may result in a moderate amount of cost).
After the lens has been serviced and returned, it's a good idea to perform the same Control Test (and compare the new results to the old results) to ensure the repair was completed successfully.
So that's our top 6 reasons why your images may be blurry. Hopefully this list can help you "stay sharp" when capturing photographs on your next outing!
Here's what you do to find out how sharp your lens can be under ideal circumstances: