Wednesday, March 04, 2015

View from my window

I was (again) experimenting with the camera and took some photos from the den window on Tuesday morning. This is part of the view; it's a long shot with the zoom lens. The vineyard team had just arrived and were getting ready to start the day's pruning. Ken and Callie were out there somewhere (but they're not in the picture).

Details: f/20, 1/15sec., ISO-200, focal length 260mm. I used a tripod with a 2sec shutter delay.

I'm thinking about a new camera. I've had the T3i for almost three years, and now I'm itching to upgrade to a full-sensor camera (the current Canon is a cropped-sensor camera). I'm still in the research stage at this point and not yet ready to buy. If any of you out there have experience with full- vs. cropped-sensor DSLRs, I'd appreciate hearing what you think.

My issue with the camera is image quality. I've never been completely satisfied with the clarity of my shots with this camera. I expected better when I upgraded from the bridge camera to the SLR. Now, I know it could be me and not the camera, but I've worked for nearly three years on this problem (shooting technique, upgraded lenses, and post-processing) and can't seem to lick it. I normally shoot in full manual mode and occasionally use automatic or shutter/aperture priority modes for comparison. I don't shoot in RAW mode, but that shouldn't be necessary since I don't normally enlarge or print my photos.

I'm not trying for high-end professional quality, but I do look at a lot of photo blogs on the internet and am often envious of the beautifully crisp and tack-sharp images I see on many of them. My photos often seem fuzzy to my eye. So I have to wonder, is it me or is it the camera?

17 comments:

  1. Simon says much the same things about his current Fuji Finepix and often talks about reverting to his old Minolta.

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  2. There are three things that might be a problem...
    firstly, and most likely, is that the sensor isn't quite in the sweet spot for the lens...
    the later Pentax and top end Canons allow adjustment....
    but on my K7 the bottom end is still not quite there for my Tamron lens....
    and I've got it racked down as far as it will go...
    so I am like you... shooting entirely on "Manuel" ... as of old!
    And am fine if the camera is at f10... and at f10 you need the light!!
    At f20 you need even more... but, many lenses drop off in quality after f16...
    what do the graphs give for the lenses you use?
    I am using f10 because it is at the flattest point on the graphs for BOTH the lenses I use the most...
    others, on the Pentax forums seem to be doing the same.

    Pentax, and I think Canon have specific alogrithms for various lenses...
    but always their own!!
    Note, I don't mention Nikons...I know zilch about them!!

    Lens quality is always assumed to be the problem...
    but when people with expensive glass make similar comments to yours above...
    you just have to wonder??
    All these cameras are mass produced...
    mass production can lead to errors that repeat over a large number of cameras...
    until spotted...
    and then that little mote of dust that stopped the delicate screwdriver going right home is cleaned off.
    But do the cameras that have passed get corrected...
    possibly the ones still on that section of the line do...
    the others go into boxes... to be sold... and corrected when returned.

    Secondly....
    Tack sharp may not always be what it seems, either...
    I often find that I sharpen my pictures three times as I reduce them to "upload size"...
    to get them how I want to see them...
    and then there are the allo's that the sites themselves use...
    eg: "Flika"... or Fumblr as I prefer to call it...
    they regularly change their method of sharpening...
    for reasons that are beyond me...
    but probably aimed at people with all-singing all-dancing 'phones....
    or, of course, tablets....
    and, at present, the pictures come up ever so slightly fuzzy...
    unless you click on them... then they become larger and sharp...
    well, as sharp as I put them up there!!

    Also some methods of sharpening use a "nearest as" approach...
    which means that the image itself, after uploading, is altered beyond what you posted...
    that is something that we have zilch control over.
    The Pentax User site is often moaned at by posters for darkness of image, lack of colour, etc.
    This is often down to the monitor settings at theirs...
    but I have never seen a complaint about their pictures altering in sharpness!!

    Thirdly, and it is linked to the above...
    what blog, where, and what are you comparing....
    your post-processing posted pic....
    or the pic that you see after posting to site...
    when you talk about others looking sharper on their site...
    and how did they put the picture up there...
    and... most importantly...
    just how much PP have they done, what sort, and with which programme!

    On Blodga we have three sizes and original to chose from...
    the first three are all compressions from your posted picture...
    I always use Extra Large.... it compresses least...
    people can click to view larger...
    the picture above, to ME, on THIS monitor appears sharper than the posted version...
    BUT.... not in the same places that appear sharp on the big one!!
    Viz: round the vans... sharp on screen... halo'ed in white on the bigun...
    the chequered jacket of the person on the right seems fuzzy in the picture above...
    as does the red and white tape...
    but both of those are much clearer on the as-posted-original....
    Have you tried downloading one of the pix that you think seems sharper....
    and seeing in PottyShop exactly what dimensions are involved in theirs...
    and what a zoom to 100% looks like....
    so it could be a perception issue/monitor resolution issue....
    and they could be thinking the selfsame thing as you!!

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    Replies
    1. What I perhaps should say is that my bro' shoots in Raw all the time...
      and uses Lightbox for processing...
      mainly because of the Canon's Jpeg compression....
      he has FULL control over his pictures from the Raw version because every single pixel is there...
      and he's been re-visiting some of his earlier stuff using updated software and getting, in many cases according to him, better results.
      He sells large size prints and always says that what he has on screen never really matches what he prints out on his twelve-different-ink, A3 Canon printer on HQ gloss paper....
      so much so that he's almost stopped putting pix on Fumblr!! Just family and record shots....

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  3. A blog mate who is a more than adequate photographer with good cameras told me that her photos showed much better on her blog if she uploaded them to Picassa first and then added them to her blog via the link. I don't know, but just something to consider. Some of my photos which I didn't think were too bad have not showed so well in my posts via direct upload.

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  4. Treat yourself, since you do so many photos of wonderful quality :)

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  5. I second what Tim said - he's worded it far better than I could've (in English anyway).
    There's one thing I didn't see mentioned and that's diffraction, the phenomenon where you lose sharpness when photographing with (very) small apertures: http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/diffraction.htm

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    Replies
    1. elgee,
      that is the tail off that I mention in the bit about the resolution graphs...
      f8 to f18 have always been recognised as the good area of a lens...
      f2.8 up to f8 is really only for when you are in a low light situation....
      and the better the lens, the steeper the graph will be from its lowest f-stop...
      usually meaning you'll get good, but not cracking, shots at around the top third of that rise.
      At the other end, f20 to f32.... and beyond... are really only for extremely bright situations....
      where you've forgotten your neutral density filters....
      or are working in absolute close-up and need a greater DoF to compensate...
      if you look at the graphs for high quality Macro lenses, you will see that they try to get a wide flat summit to the graph...
      a summit that takes you beyond f20 and f22 and where optically possible, as slow a tail off as possible.
      That is why lenses like my Tamron zoom, with macro capability...
      isn't anywhere near as good as a purpose made macro lens...
      it is a compromise...
      and, at the same time it isn't as good as three fixed focus lenses of the same spread...
      say 90mm, 200mm and 300mm... all would be way superior to my Tamron!!

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    2. Agreed, Tim. I think I confused what you wrote with what is called the 'sweet spot' of a lens.

      I have the Tamron 90mm and I like it a lot. BTW, have you found a 100mm Pentax yet? You were looking for one, weren't you?

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    3. Agreed, Tim. I think I confused what you wrote with what is called the 'sweet spot' of a lens.

      I have the Tamron 90mm and I like it a lot. BTW, have you found a 100mm Pentax yet? You were looking for one, weren't you?

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    4. elgee, either would do...
      but probably the Pentax as the K7 can adjust for differences in the sensor's focal plane...
      with the Tamron I'd have to do it manually...
      but, because they are real glass, I have got to win the Euromillions Lottery!!

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  6. I wish I could take photos that looked as good as yours do. The feeling you get when you compare your photographs to professionals' photos is the same feeling I get when compare my truly fuzzy photos to yours.

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  7. You've a real eye for a picture, Walt. Go for what will do them justice. Pauline

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  8. Maybe it's your computer monitor that is the problem. I have two computers and photos always look better on one than the other and I believe it is the monitor's fault.

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  9. In my opinion it will be better shortly in the spring

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  10. WCS - My photographer wife recently bought the new Sony A7II and our cropped sensor Nikon (D7000) hasn't seen the light of day since. Enjoyed your blog!

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  11. I'm just a fan and I always enjoy your view of your environment - whatever it is! Keep up the good work, and as Judy said, "Treat yourself, Walt" We'll all benefit and it will undoubtedly put a bigger smile on your face!

    Mary in Oregon

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