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Old Aug 29, 2011, 9:55 PM   #1
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Default sd4000 focus problems

I am a newbie with limited knowledge of digital photography.

I bought an SD4000is to take pictures of my newborn son. I chose it for the low light performance (my old digital elph wasn't cutting it indoors). after 16 months of trying to get decent pictures out of the 4000 I am close to calling it quits and springing for a Nikon D3100 (and taking a photography class).

But before I do, I thought i'd give it one last try and ask for help.

The problem I'm having is that 90% of the pictures I take are blurry. I think it's a focus problem. the camera just can't seem to find a good focus. I've tried various program modes, and playing around with the priority settings, but nothing works. the best luck i've had is in auto mode where it occasionally seems to understand that I'm taking a picture of a person and it locks in on the face (and displays a magnified box of the area in focus). only then is the intended subject in focus, and it rarely happens, and never at the "right time" for baby pics. even outdoor photos in broad daylight are blurry most of the time. it has been a huge disappointment.

I've read through the user guide a couple dozen times and am no closer to solving this.

does anyone have any advice?
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Old Aug 30, 2011, 2:45 AM   #2
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Hi welcome can you post a couple of examples so we can look at them.
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Old Nov 30, 2011, 7:57 PM   #3
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ok I a bit delayed in following up with sample pictures. I'm now 100% convinced the camera has a focusing problem. I've taken sample pictures with the SD4000, an S95, and an 11 year old S410. all photos taken in Auto mode with flash off. I took several shots with the SD4000 just to make sure I was getting representative photos and not getting any goofy transients or shakes. The SD4000 shots were obviously out of focus despite multiple attempts and mulitple shots. even the S410 was able to find the focus on 1st try (but the exposure was off). here's the S95 vs. SD4000 pics. you be the judge...
S95:



SD4000:
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Old Nov 30, 2011, 8:14 PM   #4
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this is a sample baby picture. this is as good as it gets with the SD4000 without using a flash. I don't have comparative S95 pics for this scene, so I would otherwise chalk it up to indoor lighting or accept it as "good enough for point & shoot" -- but the above comparison of the front door pics shows otherwise.
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Old Dec 1, 2011, 4:36 AM   #5
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It would seem that you do indeed have an issue with your SD4000.
That said,without the use of the flash- the shutter speeds selected will be slower than what would normally be desirable- leading to possible camera shake or subject motion blur.
Although,given the SD4000's cmos sensor and f/2 lens- one would expect better...!
Do you have the exif data for the baby pic....?
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Old Dec 1, 2011, 10:11 PM   #6
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f/2
4.9mm
1/15 sec
0 step
subject distance: [blank]

is that what you were looking for?
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Old Dec 1, 2011, 10:24 PM   #7
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here's a typical outdoor shot. 95% of the outdoor shots I take turn out like this....
auto mode
f/2
4.9mm
1/1600
0 step
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Old Dec 1, 2011, 10:29 PM   #8
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here's one that I think turned out OK, but open to your critique of it. auto mode. f/2, 4.9mm, 1/2000
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Old Dec 2, 2011, 12:17 AM   #9
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One thing I notice is that the camera is using Face Detect Autofocus. So, it probably couldn't figure out what to focus on for your indoor shots with no people in them. So, you may want to go into your Menu and change Autofocus to something like Center for starters until you get more comfortable using it that way. Then, half press the shutter button until you get a focus lock (steady focus lock light), reframe as desired, and press the shutter button the rest of the way down to take the photo after it's composed the way you want.

Another observation is that it looks like you had the camera set to a 3.9 Megapixel Image size (2204x1704). Also, I get the feeling that even that was cropped versus downsized from what the EXIF is telling me (12% crop of original in that last photo's case, unless it's just misinterpreting it).

You probably don't have enough pixels representing your subject by shooting in a lower resolution mode if you're cropping any, especially since your subject isn't representing a very high percentage of the frame anyway for that shot with the kids in yard. Some cameras produce softer photos if you shoot in lower resolution modes, too. So, I'd do this for starters:

1. Change your resolution (Image Size) to the highest setting of 10 Megapixels (3648x2738) versus 3.9 Megapixels (2,2721,708) where it's set to now.

2. Use a more appropriate Autofocus Setting if no people are in the frame (since it was using Face Detection Autofocus for the photo with no people in it).

3. Zoom in more and/or move closer. so that your primary subject takes up a greater percentage of the frame with more pixels representing your subject.

4. Downsize the images for web posting (so that you have a smaller photo that has everything in it the original did) versus staying at the wide angle zoom position and cropping (removing the outside edges leaving the part you want in place). Cropping is not a substitute for Optical Zoom or moving closer. You lose too much detail when cropping a lot (especially if your subject doesn't take up much of the frame to begin with). For printing, I wouldn't downsize them at all (send a full resolution image to the printer after any cropping for the correct ratio of width to height for your print size, and let the printer handle the downsizing).

Yes, shooting at a higher resolution (10 megapixel image size) takes up more space on your memory card and hard drive. But, cameras don't always downsize photos very well internally, and you'll have more pixels representing your subject to start with if you use the highest resolution setting (10MP in your camera's case). That way, if you find you do need to crop in some cases, you've got more pixels to work with so you'll have more detail left over. Ditto for zooming in more or moving closer. Fill the frame more with your subject. If your subject occupies a small percentage of the frame, you're not going to get as much detail because not as many pixels are representing that subject (especially using lower resolution image size settings and cropping later).

What software are you using? You want to compose the image so that it looks as close as possible to what you want in the end (by zooming in more and/or moving closer to your subject), only leaving enough room for any cropping needed to handle different ratios of width to height for printing (4x6 versus 5x7 versus 8x10, etc., as some cropping will be needed for different print sizes). Then downsize the images for web posting using image editing software for that purpose.

Here's one free software program that does a good job with downsizing. It's cross platform (available for OS X, Windows and Linux), and it's sole feature is resizing images.

http://www.fsoft.it/imaging/en/DownloadPrg.htm

Just make sure to use a different destination folder so that you don't overwrite your originals.

But, most any image editor can resize photos for you. If you want something more full featured in a free image editor and viewer and you're using Windows, you may want to try something like the Faststone Image Viewer:

http://www.faststone.org/FSViewerDetail.htm

Or, in an application that's geared towards just resizing and renaming images, look at their free Photo Resizer Program

http://www.faststone.org/FSResizerDetail.htm

There are many more around, too.
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Old Dec 2, 2011, 3:54 AM   #10
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Well,looking at the exif info for the baby pic 1/15th sec is pushing it a bit for a crisp shot,taking subject movement AND camera shake into account.
The outdoor shot is curious- the near grass seems to be in focus,suggesting a focus area select issue- maybe set in the wrong mode? Also f/2 seems an odd choice here.
The baby/flower shot seems ok- though most that's in the pic has a similar focus distance.
Again though f/2- does this camera have manual modes- are you using aperture priority or manual mode..?
As JimC alludes to- there may be some settings you need to change...
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