Cannot Get a6100/GM 70-200 to Focus

1 year 7 months ago #746558 by Embeeous
I use a Sony a6100 with a G Master 70-200 lens, for kids and sports but primarily to shoot wildlife, mostly stationary and moving birds in natural settings like lakes and refuges. I have tried every possible combination of auto focus modes and areas available but just cannot get this camera/lens combo to consistently produce focused images. It just doesn’t seem to lock on to what I focus on, whether I use center, wide, zone, expandable spot, etc. I think that I have back button focus set up correctly, whatever zone I choose will light up to show in focus and it looks good on the viewfinder but the end result is blurry or focused on anything and everything but the intended subject. I’m bringing the camera and lens into the retailer this week, to double check that there isn’t a hardware or firmware issue, or one or more of my settings are off. Barring user error, I’m kind of at my wit’s end after tons of reading, prep, setup and practice in the field. I just finished up back to back shoots of about 1000 pictures using every possible setting, and maybe 5% are in focus and/or focused on the intended subject. Is it possible that the G Master lens just doesn’t play well with an a6100 and I should be looking into a a7 or the like? Either I get this all sorted out and soon or I am seriously considering going back to a Nikon (thinking about D500), never had auto focus issues with Nikon. Help. Any input is welcome.


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1 year 7 months ago #746583 by Razky

Embeeous wrote: I use a Sony a6100 with a G Master 70-200 lens, for kids and sports but primarily to shoot wildlife, mostly stationary and moving birds in natural settings like lakes and refuges. I have tried every possible combination of auto focus modes and areas available but just cannot get this camera/lens combo to consistently produce focused images. It just doesn’t seem to lock on to what I focus on, whether I use center, wide, zone, expandable spot, etc. I think that I have back button focus set up correctly, whatever zone I choose will light up to show in focus and it looks good on the viewfinder but the end result is blurry or focused on anything and everything but the intended subject. I’m bringing the camera and lens into the retailer this week, to double check that there isn’t a hardware or firmware issue, or one or more of my settings are off. Barring user error, I’m kind of at my wit’s end after tons of reading, prep, setup and practice in the field. I just finished up back to back shoots of about 1000 pictures using every possible setting, and maybe 5% are in focus and/or focused on the intended subject. Is it possible that the G Master lens just doesn’t play well with an a6100 and I should be looking into a a7 or the like? Either I get this all sorted out and soon or I am seriously considering going back to a Nikon (thinking about D500), never had auto focus issues with Nikon. Help. Any input is welcome.

I would wait and see what the retailer says before jumping to any conclusions here. I assume the staff are well versed on the equipment they sell?


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1 year 7 months ago #746588 by Embeeous
Thank you for the quick response.  I love my a6100 and the last thing that I want to do is move to Nikon, but accurate and consistent focus capabilities are very important.  I'm hopeful and somewhat confident that the retailer will be able to troubleshoot what's going on.  And yes, they are probably the biggest and most technically adept retailer with a fleet of technical support in my area. 


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1 year 7 months ago #746593 by Razky

Embeeous wrote: Thank you for the quick response. I love my a6100 and the last thing that I want to do is move to Nikon, but accurate and consistent focus capabilities are very important. I'm hopeful and somewhat confident that the retailer will be able to troubleshoot what's going on. And yes, they are probably the biggest and most technically adept retailer with a fleet of technical support in my area.

Be sure to keep us up to date.


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1 year 7 months ago #746640 by Embeeous
I spent a solid hour at the Sony kiosk at this retailer's flagship store today, with a pair of very knowledgeable technical resources.  We went through everything - the camera, the lens, the combination of the camera and the lens, all of my focus settings, firmware version, focus mode and area settings that I was using for specific conditions especially groups of small moving birds, and we looked through a ton of pictures that I had taken and uploaded.  And we could not come up with a thing.  Everything is working fine, everything is set up fine, I am doing everything correctly.  There really is no explanation so we had to take an educated guess and came to the conclusion that I have simply outgrown the a6100 for this kind of photography.  Someone recently said to me "you date your camera bodies but you marry your lenses", I thought that that was pretty clever and poignant.  I like the Sony ecosystem, I actually like the menus and I really like their glass, especially the pair of GM 24-70 and GM 70-200 lenses that I paid a small fortune for.  And despite being the third big name in the industry with limited base at least where I am located, the support that I have received on Sony products has been terrific. The last thing that I want to do is leave Sony and start all over again with Nikon or Canon.  So knowing that this was all a possibility, I did my research ahead of time, had some very serious upfront discussions with my better half, and purchased a Sony a7IV today.  I am optimistic and somewhat confident that based upon my research, the combo of the a7IV and those GM lenses will provide a solution that should offer better autofocusing capabilities compared to the a6100. There are some newer AF technology features on the a7IV that the a6100 simply doesn't have.  Moreover, because it's the holiday season, this particular retailer offers returns on items purchased now until February.  So I have a lot of time to test things out thoroughly, obviously if it's not an improvement, it gets returned, but I suspect that it will be a dramatic improvement.  Again, I want to thank everyone who posted responses to my initial request, looks like I'm all set for now.  I will post another update when I have something more to share :)  Thank you. 


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1 year 6 months ago #747172 by Embeeous
So I’m still using an A7IV with GM 70-200 to shoot birds. I’m a week away from purchasing the GM 200-600 but for now that’s my setup. No matter what shutter speed, aperture, focus mode, focus area or any other setting I use (I keep ISO on auto and capped at like [url=tel:2000-2500]2000-2500[/url]), the pictures look great on the camera’s monitor, even when I zoom in to check out sharpness and details. But as soon as I go to share to my iPhone via Imaging Edge, or the big culprit - cropping to bring the bird more into view and prominence in the shot - I wind up with a blurry, noisy bird. Pretty much every time.  I’m guessing that I am simply not using enough lens to shoot birds. No one that I know shoots birds with less than 300mm. I’m guessing that a 200-600 will help me crop a lot less and result in clearer images post processing but I’d like to be sure before making the investment. Thank you in advance for any additional input that you can provide.


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1 year 6 months ago #747179 by Razky

Embeeous wrote: So I’m still using an A7IV with GM 70-200 to shoot birds. I’m a week away from purchasing the GM 200-600 but for now that’s my setup. No matter what shutter speed, aperture, focus mode, focus area or any other setting I use (I keep ISO on auto and capped at like [url=tel:2000-2500]2000-2500[/url]), the pictures look great on the camera’s monitor, even when I zoom in to check out sharpness and details. But as soon as I go to share to my iPhone via Imaging Edge, or the big culprit - cropping to bring the bird more into view and prominence in the shot - I wind up with a blurry, noisy bird. Pretty much every time. I’m guessing that I am simply not using enough lens to shoot birds. No one that I know shoots birds with less than 300mm. I’m guessing that a 200-600 will help me crop a lot less and result in clearer images post processing but I’d like to be sure before making the investment. Thank you in advance for any additional input that you can provide.

No question but that the less cropping, the better. If you cannot get close enough with what you have, the only alternatives are a longer lens, more megapixels, or crop. I suggest that you photograph a detailed subject under the same lighting at various apertures with the camera in a fixed position, preferably on a tripod with flash and/or a remote release. Then experiment with cropping and see the results. This will tell you what the camera is capable of and eliminate any user-input that may affect the image.


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