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Hi Brian. First you have to narrow the problem down. Is it your camera or the lens that's producing the problems. Can you try a friends' lens on your camera to see if it still malfunctions? if it does then it's your camera body. Alternatively you could try your lens on a friends' camera to see if he gets the same problem.
Are you using all the focussing points? If you are then this might be the problem because the focus points are spread across the viewfinder and if one of the points sees an object that is nearest to the camera, it will focus on that.
Try usng only the centre focus point and use the focus lock to try and get good focus. Hope this helps.
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.
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)