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The Dark Room -- Photo Editing and Picture Taking. Advice, tutorials, questions on all things photoshop, photo editing, and taking pictures of beads or glass.

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  #1  
Old 2013-10-24, 1:56pm
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julieann1674 julieann1674 is offline
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Default Struggling to Focus

I have a Coolpix L110 and am upgrading really soon. I have been trying to take pictures with my camera on a tripod, using a light box.

My camera has trouble getting focused (automatically)...it seems to focus then unfocus...like it's searching to find a good spot while steady on the tripod

Is it my light set up making it do this? Is it the camera? Any thoughts?

Currently I have the camera set on an ISO of 200 and the built in Macro setting.
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  #2  
Old 2013-10-24, 2:40pm
Doug Baldwin Doug Baldwin is offline
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My initial question would be, how far are you from the subject you're trying to focus on?

Here's my answer which was a part of my comment (#5) on the post of "What kind of camera do you use" currently in the Darkroom section of LE: An additional observation about PAS cameras. During the first year I taught classes at the Bead & Button Show, the Glass Craft Show, the ISGB Gathering and the Tucson Bead Show, I noticed a curious anomaly among almost all the PAS cameras brought to class. Most of the these cameras would focus from 18" to infinity without a problem. Many of them had what was termed "macro" or "super-macro" focus. What this generally turned out to be was the ability to focus very close to the lens, may 1-2 inches, which was great if you wanted super close detailed shots. What the cameras didn't reliably do was to focus in the 2 inch to 18 inch range. This meant that beads, marbles, earrings, and necklaces were very hard to get in focus with a PAS camera. Don't ask me why the cameras didn't want to easily focus in this range, talk to the manufacturers. Some cameras might focus in the 2-18 inch range, but only at the most wide angle lens setting, resulting in curvature distortion of the piece being photographed. And since you couldn't grab a ring on the built-in zoom lens and twist it to facilitate focusing, but had to rely on either a wheel built-in to the camera or move a dial in the rear touch-screen, focusing was difficult at best at close up distances. None of this is an issue with a DSLR since those lenses have a manual focus ring you can use to adjust the focus easily to your liking.

I suspect Julieann, that you're in this "gray zone of focusing" and your camera just can't stay focused on the subject. So yes, it's the camera, not the lights nor the ISO setting.
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  #3  
Old 2013-10-24, 2:54pm
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julieann1674 julieann1674 is offline
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Hi Doug,

Thank you so much. I am anticipating my new DSLR. But it really frustrates me that I can't seem to get a simple picture. The farther I moved from my subject...like FAR, it focused; the detail isn't there at all though. I can't even see what I am photographing!! Even when I go into Photoshop or illustrator, I just don't have enough knowledge to manipulate it enough. Must learn, must have time.

I am looking forward to your class in February at the Carlisle School of Art....I will be armed and ready with a DSLR, macro lens, laptop etc.

Can't wait!

Thank you again for your detailed explanation.
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Old 2013-10-24, 3:49pm
Mike Jordan Mike Jordan is offline
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It could be your lights or your subject. Cameras (even expensive SLR and DSLR cameras) need contrast to focus on. If the area isn't contrasty, they can go into hunt mode as they try to find focus. If your bead or object has a spot that has two contrasting colors, focus on that area. If you have to, put a focusing card next to the object and use it to focus. Most cameras give you the ability to lock focus, usually by half pressing the shutter button down. This lets you focus on one spot and then re-position the camera so the image is in the frame the way you want it. As long as the focus point is in the same plane (same distance between camera and object) it will be in focus.

You also could have some settings that will make the focus less sensitive or react differently. Also check that you are using a single center focus point if your camera has multiple focus points. Some cameras will move between focus points as it tries to find focus and pick a spot that is not the best place to get you into correct focus.

Mike
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  #5  
Old 2013-10-25, 5:31am
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Dale M. Dale M. is offline
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How about for experiment put "something" into light box or what ever the camera "likes" and see if it focuses ok..... It may be the definition of the bead makes camera struggle to find proper range, maybe something with a good crosshatch pattern or such will allow camera to "lock on" so to speak, then you can cutoff autofocus and camera will stay at focal range it liked.... Also the is always manual focus (well on some cameras)...

Dale
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Old 2013-10-25, 5:50am
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Thank you all so much, I will try to experiment with the suggestions and also with the focus point.....will try today.
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