Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Canon 7D Focus Issue

For almost a year, I was trying to convince myself that it was me, not Canon, not my camera that was not focusing correctly. I'd been a loyal Canon fan for over 11 years, why would I question their camera at all?! I tried with different lenses, none could focus consistently.

After much research, after talking to Canon tech support for a long time, I sent in my 7D and my 50mm 1.4 and 1.8 lenses to their Newport News, VA Service Center. They "fixed" my camera within a day, but sent the camera and the lenses to their shipping area and they got lost there after a week. They finally found them and ship them back to me. The letter inside the box said that my 7D's "Imaging Sensor Assembly and the AF Assembly were out of position" which was the cause for front focusing, back focusing, front and back focusing at the same time. They said nothing was wrong with my lenses, everything was set back to factory specification.

Tested my camera and my lenses again with LensAlign with Distance Tool, on a tripod, ONE SHOT, center AF point, mirror lockup enabled, remote shutter release. I did exactly what the Canon tech said to do, which was to take each picture 3 times. So I set the lens to MF, turn the focus ring all the way to the left, switch it back to AF, take 3 shots. Now I set the lens to MF again, turn the focus ring all the way to the right, switch it back to AF, take 3 shots. You'd think all these 6 shots would be exactly the same. They are not, not with both 50mm 1.4 and 50mm 1.8.

Besides the manual, here's an article their tech pointed me to on AF microadjustment:

Frustrated, I sent the 7D and the lenses back to Canon. They asked me to send them to their Newport News, VA location again. I did, and then I found out that my gear was shipped to their Irvine, CA Service Center instead. Asked them why, they said they did not have anyone with the expertise to fix my camera and my lenses in VA. 2 weeks later, got my camera and my lenses back. The 7D letter said:

Your product has been examined and it was found that the adjustment of the AF assembly was incorrect. The auto focus did not operate properly. Electrical adjustments were carried out on the AF assembly and product functions were confirmed. Other electrical adjustments and inspection and CMOS cleaning were carried out.

On the lenses, they said:

Your product has been examined and it was found that the adjustment of the circuit board was incorrect. The auto focus did not operate properly. Electrical adjustments were carried out on the circuit board and product functions were confirmed. Other electrical adjustments, inspection and cleaning and mechanical adjustments were carried out.

So why did they send me back my 7D and the 2 lenses the first time around telling me that the camera was fixed and nothing was wrong with my lenses?!

I was hoping that everything was fixed this time. Excited, I whipped out my LensAlign to test again. I was disappointed again. Called up Canon, they were quick to say to send everything back in again. A tech told me to send him some pictures for him to examine, so I did. The following was what I sent him, tested with 7D and 50mm 1.4, all images zoomed in, like how LensAlign says on how to check the focus. Tripod, mirror lockup enabled, ONE SHOT, center AF point, remote shutter release, everything exactly the same, no change, nothing moved.

I switched the lens to MF, moved the focus ring all the way to the left, switched it back to AF, took this first shot, and then 2 more shots of the same thing. Then I switched the lens to MF, moved the focus ring all the way to the right, switched it back to AF, and took 3 shots also:

Sent the bigger version of these to Canon. They said these were all perfectly normal, all within THEIR margin of error, there's nothing wrong with the AF of the camera or the lenses at all. Seriously? Are they blind or am I blind? How wide can THEIR margin of error be? This is totally unacceptable. They say it's normal for a lens to refocus and have a different DOF every time you focus even though the AF point is exactly the same each time. So they're saying it's normal for the camera and/or lens to front or back focus randomly like my images above, that this is the normal behavior of a perfect camera and lens combination.

Tested with my 50mm 1.8, got similar results.

I can't even get a baseline, how do I do AF microadjustment at all?!

I took out my 85mm 1.8 to test since this was a lens they hadn't touched yet. I got 6 images in each set like how I usually do my LensAlign test, and all 6 images are pretty close, they are slightly different, so slight that sometimes I can't tell that they are different when I look again. So I can accept the margin of error there. However, my 85mm 1.8 is back focusing, so I need to move the focus to the front, I set AF microadjustment to -5. Took 6 shots again, 6 shots were pretty similar, I was okay with that, but the -5 was too much to the front, I needed to set it back a little, so I set the AF microadjustment to -3. This time, not only it did not move back, it moved to the front even more. Frustrated, I continued to test, but this time with -7, also took 6 shots each time. Going from -3 to -7 moved the focus to the back. WHAT?!

Here's the summary of the AF adjustment attempts (with the addition of the +7):
  • 0: focus is at the back of the red 0
  • -5: focus is too much to the front of the red 0
  • -3: focus moves even further front than -5
  • -7: focus moves back closer to the red 0
  • +7: focus moves back a little bit past the red 0

As you can see, -7 and +7 both move the focus back, so which one is it? The camera was not able to decide if - or + should move the focus back or front.

Yeah, I already told them that the AF microadjustment was funky the first time I sent my camera and my lenses in, but nothing was done to address that.

Testing with these 3 lenses, the focus ring would adjust each time I half press the shutter on the 50mm 1.4 and 50mm 1.8, but not so with the 85mm 1.8. On the 85mm 1.8, it would only focus the first time, the second and the third time, since the focus was already there, the ring did not move at all, which I believe is the correct behavior.

I just need Canon to check the AF on my camera, and fix the AF microadjustment, and also both my lenses. I think they were very close to fixing the camera this last time, I just need someone who is competent enough to completely fix it so I don't have to send it in again and again. Or just swap out mine with working units of the 7D and both lenses.

Camera and the 2 50mms just went back to Canon again today, I asked them to send me the label to send the package to New Jersey instead, with a new set of eyes, maybe they can figure out how to actually fix my camera and my lenses correctly this time.

All images were taken with Manual mode, raw, no processing done, just cropping and enlarging that area of the LensAlign tool.

7/17/2011 Update:

Got my 7D and my 2 50mms back on Friday. On the 7D, Canon says:

Your product has been examined and it was found that the adjustment of the AF assembly was incorrect causing inaccurate auto focus from time to time. Electrical adjustments were carried out on the AF assembly and product functions were confirmed. Adjusted exposure & focus with lens, cleaned C-mos and checked all factory specs. Updated firmware.

The last firmware update was released on 4/25/2011 and they said they already updated the firmware the first time I sent it in, but they did it again?! And the adjustment of the AF assembly was incorrect again?! How many times could they have adjusted it wrong so they had to readjust again?!

They gave the same Service Details on both lenses: "Adjusted back focus with body, checked factory specs."

I briefly tested my 7D with the 50mm 1.4. Got some consistent shots as well some inconsistent ones. Since the lighting was inconsistent (light from outside as well as inside), my test results were inconclusive. Of the "consistent" sets of 6 shots, I adjusted the AF back because it was front focusing, and even with a +20, it wasn't quite right.

I will do more LensAlign testing when I have more time in a few weeks. From the little testing I did, I'm not sure if the camera was fixed or if there's something still wrong with the lens. I haven't tested the 50mm 1.8 yet. Am very tired of Canon right now, need a break...

Saturday, June 11, 2011

How to make a Camera Strap

Apparently I cannot even do Project 52, I just don't have the time.

Anyway, I started doing the 2peas 12-week course, and here's an image I took for week 3. 50mm, ISO 3200, SS 1/100, f/2.8, Custom WB:

A couple of peas asked me where I bought it. I didn't buy it, I made it myself, it's one of a kind, you can't find it anywhere. Anyway, this one is for my cousin. There are too many choices, too many straps to buy, too expensive, not sure if they are strong enough, or if the buckle would all of a sudden unbuckle, etc., so I decided to make my own.

I'm not a seamstress, I don't sew for a living, I didn't know what to use, so I went to Joann and ask a store employee what materials to use, what thread, etc. The above fabric is Keepsake Damask from Joann. You can use multiple coupons, including competitors coupons at Joann, and most are 40% or 50% off. Google will help you find those printable coupons. :-)

Okay, here's what you'd need to make the strap:
  • heavy duty thread
  • Universal needle and needle for Leather. Not sure what the difference is, but Joann's employee said to use the Universal one for sewing through webbing, and use the Leather one for sewing through vinyl.
  • micro suede fabric
  • minky fabric (if you like the soft and fluffy back, if not, just use suede)
  • quilting fabric for the front of the strap or 1 1/2-inch ribbon
  • core webbing - you can use cotton or other materials, this 1 1/2-inch one is what I use
  • small straps (3/8") to connect to the camera
  • slides (3/8") for the small straps, you can use metal or plastic, I use metal because they hold up better
  • strap keepers (3/8")
  • home decor vinyl - Joann sells one that's $8/yard, but their employee took me to one that's $34/yard and I didn't know about the $8/yard one until the next visit to Joann, and I already bought the more expensive one at a previous visit. Oh well, at least I used a coupon. The least that you can get is 1/8 of a yard, which can probably make 10 straps or more

I bought my ribbons from etsy, ebay, and Hobby Lobby, and fabrics from Joann and Hancock Fabrics. You can also find them at CheepTrims, The Ribbon Spot, or somewhere else.

Here are the steps to make the strap:
  1. Cut the core webbing to the length you want. Stock straps are about 25", I make mine 36" and some at 40".
  2. Cut small straps to about 14 inches each, make sure you have 2 for each strap
  3. Heat all ends of the straps with a lighter or match/candle and melt the ends to prevent them from fraying. I cut the ends of the small straps to make them have rounded ends before I heat them. Rounded ends are easier to put through the slides.
  4. Now you sew about a little more than an inch of the small strap (not the rounded end) onto the end of the big strap. Instead of doing double or triple stitching, I do it about 15 times. Yeah, I'm paranoid about my camera falling off my strap. Do the same with the other end.
  5. If you're using minky fabric, you cut a few inches of the suede fabric to wrap around the ends and sew it on both ends. Then sew the minky fabric to the middle where there's no suede fabric and overlap with the suede part. If you're using just suede, then cut out the suede fabric to the length of your strap with width of 3 inches so you can wrap around the webbing when you sew.
  6. Now, if you're using fabric front like the above instead of ribbon, you have to cut the fabric to the length of your strap, and also cut about 3 inches wide. Fold the fabric and iron it so it fits perfectly on top of the half sewn strap.
  7. Take the ironed fabric or ribbon and sew it on the front side of the strap to cover the back side of the suede/minky fabric.
  8. Cut out 4 pieces of vinyl to fit the ends of the strap.
  9. Sew the vinyl on, using your current strap as a reference and sew it like how they've sewn theirs.
  10. Cut out the excess on the vinyl.
Put the slides and the slide keepers on and you're done!

The strap above has micro suede back. If you want minky back, you can't use it for the whole strap, you have to stop right before the end because the minky fabric is too thick to go in between the vinyl pieces. Here's a couple more, with minky back:

That's how I make mine. Not sure if this is the right way, but it works, and it's plenty strong, much much stronger than stock straps, and much cheaper than buying ready made straps from etsy or somewhere else.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Night Light Hunting

I guess I'm not good at Project 52, I can't even post a photo a week. Since my camera is sick, I'm going to take a break until it's fixed. It's suffering from some focus issue and I was told that each of the AF point had to be adjusted at the service center since they all would randomly focus or not focus, sometimes they would front focus, sometimes back focus, sometimes not focus at all depending on the camera's mood. I don't have a very well behaved camera.

Anyway, I had to take some night time architecture photos for my class assignment. Went to the park, had to stop to take this picture because the lighting was just so beautiful. This first image was how it looked when I was there. SOOC, 30mm, ISO 100, SS 30s, f/16:

This is me playing with LR:

From a LR preset:

Another LR preset:

ISO 100, 55mm, SS 100s, f/16:

ISO 100, 59mm, SS 100s, f/16, with mirror lockup:

ISO 100, 50mm, SS 35s, f/16, with mirror lockup:

ISO 100, 39mm, SS 10s, f/16, with mirror lockup:

Monday, March 21, 2011

5/52 Afternoon at the Park

Sunny day out, wanted to try out my new 50mm 1.4. Both pictures are SOOC, f/2.8, first one was at SS 1/400, second at SS 1/800. I may have a little back focusing problem with this lens...

Monday, March 7, 2011

4/52 Product Shots

It was a class assignment to do product shots this week. Without a light tent/white box or any lighting equipment, I had to somehow come up with a way to do the shoot.

Inspired by this cheap setup:

According to one of the comments left by a reader, you could find polypropylene sheets at Joann's Fabrics, but the comment was left more than a year ago. I went to Joann's Fabrics anyway, unfortunately they did not have polypropylene. I got a poster board instead, with a 50% off coupon, this poster board cost 30 cents.

All shots were done outdoor at my front porch, no flash, handheld, f/8, SS 200.

Monday, February 21, 2011

3/52 - Water Droplets

Saw so many great water droplet shots, I had to try it myself. Too lazy to setup the tripod, so I handheld it, relying on image stablization... Not very sharp. Will try again next time with the tripod.

Both are at ISO 100, SS 1/250, f/8, flash used. Also used all 3 Kenko extension tubes.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

2/52 - Night Long Exposure Shots

These were supposed to be posted last week, but I just didn't get a chance to yet. Here they are, SOOC, no editing or processing. I'm getting LR soon, so I will soon learn how to process my images...

Tripod, ISO 100, f/16, SS 25s:

Tripod, ISO 100, f/8, SS 46s:

Tripod, ISO 100, f/6.3, SS 41s, you can see the moving clouds:

These were all shot with AWB, what WB should I set my camera at when I do night time long exposure shots?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Cheeky Lime Camera Bag

I was very disappointed at the XcessRize Designs camera bag that I received which is impossible to be a camera bag unless I want all my gear to break upon any kind of impact - a slight bump by someone who makes you run into the wall with your camera bag for instance.

Cheeky Lime was mentioned on one of the boards I frequent, but I had never heard of them before. Went to check them out, me being the visual type, I really liked the look of the bag. I guess my friend Andy was tired of me talking about camera bags all the time, he said I should just make a decision already, so he ordered this bag for me, I guess to shut me up. :-D Thank you Andy!!!!!

So excited to finally receive this bag!! This was the box it came in:

After opening the box, I found a white bag inside the box:

The Cheeky Lime Camera Bag is actually inside a white bag:

Cheeky Lime logo, right in front of the bag:

A little side view:

Cheeky Lime tag:

This is what it looks like right out of the box, and right out of the white bag:

So cute, with a little pink camera charm:

Now, the egg test. What's an egg test? I did this exact same egg test on XcessRize Designs bag, and it failed miserably, let's see how it does with this Cheeky Lime Bag. I take an egg, put it in a plastic ziplock bag, and put that bag inside another ziplock bag to avoid leakage in case if the egg breaks. I put the plastic bags with egg inside the middle compartment of the Cheeky Lime bag, lift it up 4+ feet high, drop it down to my tile floor.

What a loud noise it made, with all the metal pieces hitting the floor, I thought for sure the egg inside was broken. For sure, I thought. Look what I found instead:

The egg was INTACT!! OMIGOD, I could not believe it!!! I inspected the whole egg and also inside and outside my bag, nothing was damaged. There's padding on all sides of the bag including the top, and double padding on the sides and the bottom except for the middle section where the camera goes, not sure why there is only a single layer of padding. The egg actually went to the middle, I didn't realize there was only one layer of padding until after the egg test. So even with only one layer of padding, the egg survived!

Anyway, let's move on. This is one of the side pockets, also padded, magnetic closure:

Magnetic closure for the front padded pocket:

Another side pocket on the other side, also padded, with magnetic closure:

This is what the bag looks like on the inside:

Back zipper pocket, this is the ONLY pocket that is not padded:

Bottom is equipped with 4 metal feet, so the bag doesn't touch the floor/ground:

The bag also comes with a separate padded pouch with magnetic closure, for memory cards I think, and you can tug this into the inside of the bag:

This is the only place that I found some black marks on the side and bottom of the bag. Quality control? Not a big deal considering all the other good things about this bag. Wish they weren't there to begin with though.

Cheeky Lime bag loaded:

Another view of the Cheeky Lime logo:

Front pocket:

Little pink camera charm hanging in the front of the bag next to the front pocket:

A closer look at the charm:

Another look at the charm:

This is the top flap on the inside, there are 3 mesh pockets to put lens caps in, this top flap is also padded:

zipper closure of the top flap:

Another look at the bag from the front:


I LOVE this bag. The actual color is not as bright as the pictures on their website, but I really like this color too. I just wish that there was double padding for the bottom and the sides of the middle of the bag, then this bag is perfect! Okay, I will overlook the black markings on the inside of the bag I mentioned above. I LOVE this bag! It's so efficiently designed, and it's not big, and it's got enough padding to protect my gear. My husband says it looks like a picnic bag! Even better since no one wants to steal a picnic bag, right?! ;-) Thank you so much Andy!!!