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Help with "soft or lacking definition" QC criteria

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Hello all,


I am just another one from many people failing the first's submission QC due to soft or lacking definition.


The first time I tried to submit I used the following three images







I checked the images at 100% crop and indeed all of them were out of focus slightly, all of them captured using Canon 600D and the kit lens 18-55)


So I tried again with a new set of images captured with the CANON EF 70-200MM F2.8 L IS III USM.








Only the first image (the horse) got accepted.


I agree that if I go to 100% crop on the coffee there are some regions that are slightly out of focus. But my question is that how to prevent this?

I captured the coffee image with a very good lens, at 1/200 shutter speed at 88mm thinking that no shake will be captured but no luck.


Do you have any advice? Should I try to edit the failed ones or try with other images?

Is there any program to check the focus quality before submitting the images?



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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi There,


Would you be able to pop this into an email and send to contributors@alamy.com, as we can then query this with our QC Team and ask them for more information as to why the images failed. 




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On 29/12/2023 at 12:41, 0xDEADBEEF said:

Should I try to edit the failed ones or try with other images?

No, don't try to re-edit failed images.


On 29/12/2023 at 12:41, 0xDEADBEEF said:

Is there any program to check the focus quality before submitting the images?


Not that I'm aware of.



You should check all of your images at 100% before you submit - Alamy will be:



See also:



Alamy wants a demonstration that you can submit 3 images that meet their QC guidelines. You've picked 3 images for the 2nd submission which all have a very shallow depth of field - don't push the boundaries for your initial submission! Take 3 simple images in good light.


Soft images? Use a higher shutter speed, use a good stance, lean against something, hold your breath when you're about to push the shutter, use a small moveable spot for selecting focus (if your camera has the function).


Good luck,




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Do as Alamy say and submit to contributors@alamy.com.


But my take on this is that some part of the image should be sharp and in focus... a focal point. In the first set of 3 images, the second image with the blue sky, I don't see what is sharp and in focus. There is no part of that image that jumps out and shouts , "I'm the main subject".


With the second set of 3, the horse is good, the coffee cup is maybe a little border line and the walking sign is definitely not in sharp focus.


You mention shutter speed and focal length.. what is your aperture though? You might need to concentrate more on where your camera is focusing.

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Good advice from Alamy.


I once had a QC fail reversed when I queried it with CR.




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I'm wondering if there isn't a problem with your camera's AF system. Perhaps you should try taking a few pictures using manual focus and comparing. Kit lens shouldn't make a difference. I use mainly kit lenses (Sony) and haven't had any trouble passing QC for a long time (five-star rating). Downsizing can help a lot if a particular lens can't quite deliver the resolution at full file size. You can go down to 17MB (uncompressed) if necessary. That's about 3000 pixels on the long side, which is fine for most editorial uses (3600-4000 pixels is probably better, though). Best of luck.

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Yes Rebecca, Capture One has a feature called "Focus Mask" that displays areas that are in and out of focus. It's really great when you have to cull a large number of macro or still life shots. On my version, you find it under the drop-down "view" menu.


Once you get used to it, you'll start noticing that all of your lenses have slightly different curved plains of focus. I have come to see that when I use selective focus - which is almost always - I have to be extra careful because the center and edges of the plane of focus don't really line up. I don't think many of my selective focus images could pass QC without this feature. Seeing what Alamy QC is looking for before they start looking is really important.

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In the 1st set I see particular problems with the first image (pipe), the 2nd is better although still a bit soft, and the 3rd (canyon) is sharp but dark. In the second set I see problems with the last image (sign). It appears to me that neither of the lenses you used makes sharp corner wide open, that's why in the very first and the very last images the only focused place, image corner/side, is not sharp. IMHO.


As other said, you could downsample ~50% which would not only improve sharpness but also reduce noise which is quite strong in the coffee cup.

You also can check your ACR or Lightroom settings when you convert your RW files to JPG (I suppose so? unless you get JPG from camera), slightly increasing sharpness and reducing noise. But this would not rescue the 1st and last images that I mentioned above.

Edited by IKuzmin
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