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Andrew Leigh November 8th, 2004 05:24 AM

Frustrations galore

I am continually not achieving accurate focus, this is now becoming exceedingly frustrating. Additionally I seem to get red eye effect on the odd occasion. I cannot believe it is a fault with the 10D as I have had some remarkably sharp and non red eye results as well.

The problem normally occurs when there is insufficient light. On Sunday I took some shots in a church. Settings as below.

Camera Model Name: Canon EOS 10D
Shooting Mode: Aperture-Priority AE
Tv( Shutter Speed ): 1/200
Av( Aperture Value ): 5.6
Metering Mode: Evaluative
Exposure Compensation: 0
ISO Speed: 400
Lens: 75.0 - 300.0 mm
Focal Length: 300.0 mm
Image Size: 3072x2048
Image Quality: Fine
Flash: On
Flash Type: External E-TTL
Flash Exposure Compensation: 0
Red-eye Reduction: On
Shutter curtain sync: 1st-curtain sync
White Balance: Auto
AF Mode: One-Shot AF
Parameters: Contrast = Normal, Sharpness = Normal, Color saturation = Normal, Color tone = Normal
Color Space: sRGB
Custom Function:
C.Fn:01-0, C.Fn:02-0
C.Fn:04-0, C.Fn:05-0, C.Fn:06-0, C.Fn:07-0, C.Fn:08-0, C.Fn:09-0, C.Fn:10-0
C.Fn:11-0, C.Fn:12-0, C.Fn:13-0, C.Fn:14-0, C.Fn:15-0, C.Fn:16-0, C.Fn:17-0

550EX Flash

A couple of observations. I do not seem to see the focus assist flash working with the 500EX installed? I also don't think the red eye light comes on when the 500EX is installed?

The subject was a girl about 5'5". I was positioned about 20' away shooting from a height of 3'. The shot was almost a full profile of her face showing her one eye only. I know that the red eye reduction almost requires that the subject looks at the light, in this case it was not possible. The red eye in this instance is bad. What am I doing wrong.

Secondly the shot is not at all sharp. Even though I was hand holding with no support I would have have thought that 1/200 of a second flash duration would have frozen the frame.

Any thoughts?


Ken Tanaka November 8th, 2004 12:10 PM

I have some thoughts, but is it possible for you to post a link to one or two of the photos in question?

Andrew Leigh November 8th, 2004 12:51 PM

Hi Ken,

I am at home and the pic for which the data was posted is sitting on my work laptop, at work.

I will ask our IT man if it is possible for me to post the pic on our work website for you to have a look at. This will only be in about 14 hours. Will keep you posted.


25 years ago I owned an old Yashica TL Electro which was fully manual and crude when compared with my 10D. The TTL light meter had broken and I used an el cheapo no name brand lightmeter. It was manual focus using a split screen focus grid. I had a prime of 50mm which I think stopped to F1.9 and an el cheapo Sunpack 226 Auto Flash. With this combo I was able to produce shots that make my current attempts pale into insignificance.

I wonder if shooting with the XL1 has caused me to become lazy with regard to light (or the lack thereof). And the need to be absolutely still when holding the camera. Perhaps the long layoff has caused me to forget the fundamentals.

Jeff Donald November 8th, 2004 03:01 PM

Red eye is exacerbated by the use of telephoto lenses, so the 300mm partially contributed to the red-eye (I doubt your TL Electro had a 300mm attachment.) The flash speed of 1/200 helps, as does the brief flash duration, in minimizing camera movement. But, under ideal conditions, you would use a minimum shutter speed of the reciprocal of the focal length. In other words, 1 over the focal length or 1/300 of a second. I don't recall if the red-eye setting needs to be activated with a Custom Function or not. The AF assist is also controlled by a CF settings, I think. Check your CF settings against the owners manual.

Ken Tanaka November 8th, 2004 03:23 PM

As always, Jeff's observations are sage. Hey, I wish my hands were as steady today as they were 25 years ago!

If your IT people are not willing/able to host the sample photo(s) please email them to me. I'd be glad to host them for a while to better facilitate the discussion.

Andrew Leigh November 10th, 2004 01:57 AM

Hi Ken,

thanks for the offer. after a little research I discovered that my service provider offers me free 20Meg's of web space so I have created a simple web page with a link to the snapshot in question. I have also included what I think is a resonable shot with the same setup but using the 28 ~105mm lens.

I have nor yet learnt how to display the picture in a smaller format so the files are at full resolution.

I think I ask too much from the camera. I am handholding when I should not be. The long lens seems also to be one of the common issues (thanks Jeff). Will start by applying the recipcrocal rule for hand holding.

I am also shooting with the 500EX which has a max zoom of 128mm whilst my lens is zoomed to 300mm. This also has to cause a fall of of light as I don't have an extender attachment for the flash.

Thanks again

Ken Tanaka November 10th, 2004 10:30 AM

Err...and the picture is at: ____________? <g>

Steven Digges November 10th, 2004 11:20 AM


300mm @ 5.6 = a very shallow depth of field. Study your shots carefully, are they out of focus or is the focus point not on the eyes? Also take the 1.6 conversion factor into consideration when using Jeff’s rule of thumb, shutter speed = focal length.

Personally, I hate red eye reduction, I NEVER use it. Bounce the light from your flash whenever possible.


Andrew Leigh November 10th, 2004 12:34 PM


another blonde moment. Must have been so excited at the prospect of hosting pictures on my own website forgot to paste the link. Much embarrassment.



Ken Tanaka November 10th, 2004 01:24 PM

Hey, you and your wife (?) make a dapper couple! Really, though, you should move to a location where the power supply is more reliable. Carrying those flashlights everywhere, especially to parties and receptions, is such an inconvenience!

OK, well regarding the shot of the two young ladies and the lad....

Red-eye aside, it really does not look too bad, especially for such an informal shot. Your lens actually did pull sharp focus, just not where you wanted it to. It looks like it focused near the tip of the center girl's collar, near her left shoulder. As Steven pointed out, f/5.6 doesn't give you much leeway in depth-of-focus. Indeed, by the time we reach the opening in her blouse it's already well softened.

As Jeff noted, red-eye is a problem with longer lenses. Remember that it's caused by the flash being relatively closely on-axis to the lens and, of course, by the subject's iris being wide (as in darker conditions). You may have noticed professional wedding photographers using flash brackets that separate the flash from the lens axis and enable the flash to remain properly oriented in either portrait or landscape camera orientation. Avoiding such problems is essentially why they use these gizmos.

Going forward, when shooting with a long focal length it may be best to simply select a fixed center AF point and pull focus separately from your shutter click. One of the Custom Functions on your 10D enables you to separate the focus lock function from the shutter button. It's a very useful facility, and one that I use most of the time.

Hope this is helpful (particularly the part about the flashlights.)

Andrew Leigh November 11th, 2004 12:15 AM

Hi Ken thanks for taking the time

Yup thats my wife. The reason for the flashlights as a matter of interest is that the camp is in the middle of the african bush and is not perimeter fenced. Lion, Elephant, Hyena and the like stroll in between the tents at will. An Elephant is invisible (believe it or not) at night, the torch helps to pick up the grey mass and to take precautionary measures. On two occasions we passed within about 40' of elephants on the way back to our tents.

Recently I discovered that the Canon File Viewer Utility has a feature that allows one to display the focus point. In this instance it is on her cheek about 3" below her eyes. Now I was of the impression from reading the manual that if one pulls focus, maintains the half depressed status of the shutter button and then recomposes then it keep the origanal focus point. I have been using this as the basis for many of my shots. In this instance I should have been focussed on the eye, my fault. The long lens with shake obviously did not help.

I have had the camera set on the middle focus point since I first got my grubby mits on it.

I will try the focus lock function.

I also think hat I need to use my monopod more and get a new tripod. My existing tripod is very heavy and is used for the XL-1.

By the way my old Sunpack Flash had a bracket which allowed one to attach a small umbrella type thingy, turn the flash 180 deg and bounce over ones shouder. Does any one make anything like this for the 550EX?

Thanks Jeff and Steve for your input.


Jeff Donald November 11th, 2004 06:40 AM

Lumiquest makes various flash diffusers, but I prefer the Omni Bounce.

The AF sensors are larger than the area outlined in your view finder. This can lead to focusing errors.

Tommy Haupfear November 11th, 2004 10:30 PM

Another vote for the Sto-Fen Omni Bounce and they have one especially for the 420ex, 550ex, and the new 580ex.

They can be a little snug at first but definitely worth the effort and the small price.

Or you can get really crazy and make your own like these guys did for the Sony F717 (fixed lens 5MP). They used an end cap from a Pillsbury Cinnamon Roll package!

Click here

Ken Tanaka November 11th, 2004 10:47 PM

Yes, I have a Sto-Fen, too. (This guy's getting wealthy making these $0.29 gizmos and selling them for $25.) They're reasonably effective.

One alternative is to simply cut a piece of white board and gaffer-tape it to the back of the head. Then tilt the head, thereby bouncing a portion of the flash towards your subject. It actually works nearly as well as a Sto-Fen and has the advantages of being really inexpensive and packing flat. (I had to improvise such a gizmo recently.)

Steven Digges November 11th, 2004 10:55 PM

And let’s add the “there is someone in every crowd wearing a white shirt trick”. Their back is a mobile reflector, have them stand anywhere you want and bounce off of it. Of course you can pull a white balance from it first.


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