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Canon EF 28 - 80

Discussion in 'General Equipment Chat & Advice' started by woody, Jan 24, 2001.

  1. woody

    woody Active Member

    I purchased a Canon EOS 300 6 months ago. I have enjoyed my first few months in photography, and find the camera to be excellent, however, I am dissapointed with some of the results.

    The camera came with a Canon 28 - 80 II (non USM) lense. Some of the images are sharp, with what I think is good contrast and colour, but many are fuzzy. I know that I am focusing properly, as the camera is very good in that respect. I have used various film types, but usually Fuji Superia 200, and I have used various processors, but usually Jessops.

    I read early on to ensure the shutter speed is equal to or above the focal length to prevent camera shake, but I don't know if this may be the problem, or if the lense is a dud. Close up images appear sharper than middle distance.

    I have used a tripod with remote shutter release, but these images were not as sharp as I would like.

    Has anyone else had similar problems with an EF 28 - 80 II lense?

  2. BigWill

    BigWill Gorgeous oversensitive Nikon-loving cream puff

    I am guessing here Woody, but when you say the image is "fuzzy" are you referring to all of the image or just part of it? It is possible that what you are experiencing is shallow depth of field as the camera may be setting a wide aperture due to the low or dull lighting conditions you were shooting in. To avoid this put the camera on a sturdy tripod and set the camera to aperture-priority (Av) mode. Choose a small aperture (f11 0r f16) and take your shot with a remote release.Be prepared for a long exposure if you are shooting in dull lighting as the shutter will have to stay open longer to compensate for the small aperture. This should ensure front to back sharpness because depth of field has been maximized. If your photos are still unsharp then it is likely you have a faulty lens. I have a 28/80 USM and it is as sharp as a pin and so should yours be.
  3. Glenn Harper

    Glenn Harper Well-Known Member


    If you want optimum sharpness you are bound to be disappointed by a low-end Canon zoom. An expensive camera body is a luxury, but if you want premium quality pictures you have to choose your glassware very carefully. The lens is always the business end. I owned a Canon 28-80mm USM lens, but I ditched it because I found the results disappointing compared to those from my other lenses. You will improve matters by closing the aperture down to f8 or f11, but any more is unneccessary. Most lenses are at their optimum when closed down just one or two stops. With 200 ISO film you are unlikely to need a tripod to test sharpness - you should get plenty of speed at most apertures.

    If you are really keen to test your lens , try putting a top slide film like Fuji Velvia through your camera. You will know then that potential is being tested to the full. Believe me, you would see a difference between your zoom and most prime (fixed focal length) lenses. You might also try using a slower and sharper print film.

    Another way forward would be to treat yourself to a Canon EF 50mm f1.8 lens. These can be picked up for around £50, and you would have to spend at least six times that amount (second-hand prices) to achieve the same level of sharpness with a zoom. It would also be equal in sharpness to almost any other lens Canon produce of any form, so it's a good purchase. Plus it would have a wide maximum aperture, which has the obvious advantage of enabling photography in low light (very low light with 200 or 400 speed film loaded).

    Finally, remember that lens quality is very discernible on slide film, but the advantages will be less obvious on a 6 x 4 print. Choose your weapons according to your needs.
  4. David Stout

    David Stout Well-Known Member

    I have a 28-80 Mk1 USM and I find it very acceptable. It's strange that some shots are sharp and others aren't. I suspect that it is the EOS300 focussing mechanism - it picks one of three points and it could be that it doesn't pick the one you want and modern focussing screen aren't really focussing screens so you don't see this through the viewfinder until you get your prints. This will explain why your close-up shots are usually sharp - in close-up work, you tend to fill the frame with the subject and thus all the focussing points will be on the subject.

    Look at the focus point indicator at the bottom of the viewfinder. Does the indicated focus point match what you want every time? If not, manually select the focus point - see your user manual.

    David Stout
  5. Glenn Harper

    Glenn Harper Well-Known Member

    Perhaps my enthusing over the ultimate lenses was drifting slightly from Woody's predicament. I totally concede that acceptable images should be possible from the 28-80mm zoom (I would still advocate the purchase of a 50mm lens though Woody, it will be sharper and will increase your versatility, and it will be relatively inexpensive).

    One possible cause of 'fuzzy' pictures (with any lens) is haze. That would also explain why close-up pictures might appear to be more consistently sharp.

    It might help if we were to know exactly which subjects have rendered disappointing pictures, and the conditions of shooting.
  6. woody

    woody Active Member

    Thanks Guys for the advice.

    I have looked through my photos again, bearing in mind what you have written.

    In some of my earlier pictures, narrow depth of field was definately a problem, as I was using auto mode a lot as I got used to the camera. The EOS 300 seems to set the widest aperture it can in auto, but at the time I had no understanding of what that meant. Looking back, I can see that where I focused is sharper than I first thought.

    The focusing point selection in auto mode is a little haphazard, causing a couple of out of focus shots. I now work in Manual or Aperture Priority mode, and I pre select the focusing point manually.

    Most of my shots are portrait, and indoors, so the built in flash is used a lot. Having looked through the images again, I can see that it is the skin tone that appears less sharp, probably due to the flash. I know that covering the flash with something white is supposed to help diffuse the flash and prevent bleaching the image. Do you have any other suggestions? (My budget doesn't run to buying a dedicated speedlite, or any other for that matter!)

    Thanks, Woody
  7. BigWill

    BigWill Gorgeous oversensitive Nikon-loving cream puff

    Dear Woody, you have got me, David, and Glenn running around in circles trying to find the answer to your question! Well, by golly, we will make a photographer of you yet, even if it kills us! It would appear from your latest revelation, that the problem seems to be washed out (overexposed) faces (resulting in a lack of detail in the face) on your flash portraits. This is in no small part due to the fact that you are using the built in flash on your camera. The sad fact of the matter is, that although the pop-up flash on your camera is OK for occasional non-portrait emergency use, it is almost completely useless for serious portrait work! For a start, the guide number (power) of the flash is woefully weak, meaning that close up shots will appear washed out (your problem it seems with un-diffused direct flash), while far away shots will be too dark (underexposed). You may also find that you have a common problem with “pop-up” units, the dreaded “redeye” in portraits. This is caused by the flash tube being too close to the axis of the lens. The only real answer to your problem, sadly, is to bite the bullet and buy a proper hotshoe flashgun for your camera. This would immediately remedy the redeye problem and help with the overexposure problem in that you would be able to attach some kind of diffuser (see my posting to “squiblette”) to the flashgun. The underexposure problem would also be alleviated due to the higher power (guide number) of the external unit. You have an excellent camera in the Canon EOS300 and it would be an absolute shame and a crime in my opinion to not buy a proper flashgun for it. Save those pennies and get one as soon as you can!

  8. Glenn Harper

    Glenn Harper Well-Known Member

    Before you rip the pop-up flash from your camera in disgust Woody, you can use it to take great portraits outside. Choose a sunny day, set your subject with their back to the sun, and then shoot some nice head and shoulder portraits using your camera's unit as a subtle fill-in. Remember that the subtlety of flash will depend largely on how much ambient light you mix with it. Indoors it is a harsh light source, because there is very little or no ambient light. A cheap and yet great way of achieving portraits indoors is simply to use window light. If you've got a projector screen you can set it up on the opposite side of your subject to the window as a means of filling in shadow (by reflecting light on to your subject). Or you can forget that idea and go for a more contrasty portrait. Have fun !

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