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What do you mean by close range? All lenses have range within which objects can be focussed. Objects within the "closest focussing distance" cannot be focussed. The maximum is usually infinity. Yours lens specification should tell you what the "closest focussing distance" is.
Many sources (reviews) of this specific model suggest that the camera has focussing issues, not just at close range. It does seem to be subject dependant though. Many cameras need a good degree of contrast around a centre point of the subject to focus properly. Bear in mind that this model was released in 2008, and technology (i.e. later models) has improved since then.
With autofocus digital cameras, blurred photos are almost always a result of camera shake. You need to hold the camera still even after pressing the button, as there is often a short delay before the shutter fires.
Many digital cameras have a two-stage shutter press- first pressure causes the camera to focus, then the follow through pressure takes the picture. If you are rushing this, you may get unfocussed shots.
If you take lots of action pictures, you will have to work on a technique of partially pressing the shutter to get focus in anticipation of the shot (perhaps focussing on where the action will occur), then holding it part-pressed until the moment you want to capture. This is really no more of a problem than setting an anticipatory focus on a manual focussing film camera use to be. Some more complex digital cameras will allow you to turn off auto focus and focus manually.
Your camera is primarily an autofocus model: manual focussing is very much a secondary feature and is always very free moving. If it were any other way then it would cause the AF motor to work much harder and dramatically shorten the battery life.
As a result, accurate and fast manual focussing is harder to achieve and is not helped by the lack of a any focussing aids such as a split circle and microprism collar. It's not impossible though, and the increased depth of field when shooting at anything other than maximum aperture allows a bit of leeway for any errors. Just make sure on your camera to switch off the AF if you do wish to manually focus.
Yes, I do have the same experience but it happens to be solved using the AI focus mode instead the single shot one. We also have to know that the AA of this camera is stronger than the previous generations of XXD cameras.
For the ones saying about not being as sharp as the point an shot, take into account that you can set the sharpening to be as strong as you want with a limit of 7 degrees of sharpening in camera. (but it only works with jpegs)