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Thread: Can't get sharp photos...

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    Member AKRoadkill's Avatar
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    Default Can't get sharp photos...

    I got a Canon 20D, and indoors with flash, it does really well as far as focus, sharpness, etc. My outdoor photos don't have the sharp, crisp lines I want. The fuzziness id ther regardless of focal length and aperture. I checked the info for the offending photos, and they're fuzzy even at F/22, and with fast shutter speeds. both lenses I use show similar results. I've used one AF point or all of them...and have tried manual focus as well. Happens with wildlife "portrait" attempts, and with landscapes. I dunno...

    Any thoughts?

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    Using F22 has nothing to do with how "sharp" a photo is. The higher the F stop the more depth of field you will have in the photo. High F stop's will also result in lower shutter speeds which can compound the issue. Some people also feel that going beyond F16 gives you diminishing returns as far as overall quaility of photos.
    What is your camera's ISO set on? Are you using good quality glass? Tripod? etc. Lots of issues to address before we can be of assistance.
    Since you are pleased with your indoor photos it muct be technique over equipment that is giving you fits.
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    Member Stogey's Avatar
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    Default Assumption

    For a full manual experiment, try 'sunny 16' settings.

    On a sunny day, set your camera at ISO 100, f16, 1/100 exposure.

    Not real creative, but these are tried and true 'safe' exposures.

    Next... Best thing to do now -- bracket.
    Try shooting as you did previously... then go up one stop, and back one stop.

    See what results that gives you.

    As posted before me... need more info; maybe post a couple of examples with the data (shutter, aperture, film, lens, etc.)

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    Member Majik Imaje's Avatar
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    If your focus point is not correct - no aperature will produce a sharp crisp image.

    Since you tend to get nice sharp images indoors with flash. That tells me that everything is ok. but why are your images blurry or fuzzy outside? The only way to tell is to mount your camera on a tripod or use a self timer outside (with camera resting on a solid object) to check what is wrong.

    Good Luck, I hope you figure out what is wrong soon.

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Condensation?

    If it is being done this time of year, pehaps you are getting some condensation on the lenses when you walk outside. Room temperature lens, zero or below outside??
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

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    Member AKRoadkill's Avatar
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    I've tried apertures from 4 to 22, focus on a close object, and on the mountain top where it meets the sky (hoping to get that part sharp)

    even with fast shutter speeds, it's fuzzy...not blurry like it's way out of focus, just fuzzy.

    The glass isn't the best, but not complete junk, either...Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM. and a Canon EF 75-300...same other info.


    I'll try to post a couple examples. I don't think it's condensation.

    More to follow.

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    I don't know about the 20D, but on the XT series as well as the 40D (the one I have), you can switch to 9-focus points for outdoors shots. I switch to 1 focus point when I want the camera to completely ignore everything else but a certain spot on the subject. For example, if taking a portrait of my son, I use 1 spot to focus on the eyes with the lens set around f/2.8 to f/4 or so. But with the 40D, I can still use multi-point. I just make sure that some the points flash on the face instead of the background, just before I take the photo.

    Take the camera outside on a clear day (daylight), and take a photo of one subject (kid, wife, dog, etc.) with the camera set the same way you do inside. If this one is sharp enough, than try the backyard of the house (trees, and whatever is there), but with the lens at f/11, 100-200 ISO, multi-focus points.

    See how the photos look. Also, take RAW photos, which you can easily sharpen a little with PS Elements. A final note: on my 40D, I can adjust the sharpness of the camera/lens on the menu. However, the factory setting for the Portrait Mode is for it to take slightly soft images of people's faces.

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    An off chance, but have you recently cleaned the lens with something different? This applies to both ends of the lens of course. It would not take much wrong doing to make "fuzzy" images with improper cleaning or using an unsuitable solution. I would at a minimum clean the lenses thoroughly to eliminate the possibility of this.

    Second thought, are you downloading and viewing on the computer, or are you seeing the fuzzy images on the lcd. If just the lcd, you may have an lcd screen problem. But I assume you are putting these on the PC, just had to ask.

    Another thought, go to www.photo.net and put this in the Canon forum. You will get lots of insights there for sure. Very active photography forum. Nicer people here, but more users there.
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

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    Member AKRoadkill's Avatar
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    Now I'm wondering...the resolution is 72 dpi...I think the ones I look at that seem really sharp are at 180 dpi. Is there any way I can change that?

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    How did you get some at 72 and some at 180 in the first place. You must have changed something.

    What kind of software are you using?
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AKRoadkill View Post
    Now I'm wondering...the resolution is 72 dpi...I think the ones I look at that seem really sharp are at 180 dpi. Is there any way I can change that?
    Hmmm...it may not be the camera, but the software of your computer. For example, this is what I do: I only take RAW images, and download them to the computer with PSE6 (PSE7 for the PC, 6 for the Mac), then I post process the photos with PSE6, and save the photo to 16-bitt TIFF format. This leaves the original RAW photo untouched. If I want to post a photo here, then I take the TIFF image, change it to 8-bitt TIFF format, make it look as good as I want it to be, crop, etc., and then "Save As" (JPG format) on the desktop or on a new folder or something. This leaves the 8-bitt TIFF image untouched. Save all the TIFF images to a DVD, or to an external hard drive.

    To post in here, I scale the photo down to around 765 pixels (long side), but "Proportional" so the photo keeps its proportions. Then I select "Save For Web," select image quality to maximum, then click on "Customize File Size, and set the image size to 100KB, and finally click on SAVE.

    The outcome is a photo of approximately 7" x 5" of at least high image quality, at 72 dpi.

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    Member AKRoadkill's Avatar
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    The sharp 180 dpi are from a different camera. I'm just opeing them in a viewer now, not editing at all. Here's an eagle I took yesterday at 300mm, f/9, 1/250, ISO 200. IS was on, and it was -20 F, so it's possible I was a little shaky.


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    Member AKRoadkill's Avatar
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    And here's a mountain today (not going for a good composition, just trying to get sharp).

    ISO 200. 59mm, 1/800 f/5.6


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    Quote Originally Posted by AKRoadkill View Post
    The sharp 180 dpi are from a different camera. I'm just opeing them in a viewer now, not editing at all. Here's an eagle I took yesterday at 300mm, f/9, 1/250, ISO 200. IS was on, and it was -20 F, so it's possible I was a little shaky.
    It is virtually impossible to make valid judgements on sharpness from an image that was taken at 3504x2336 and then reduced to 800x533 pixels. There are only two things that I could see looking at your image. One is that the focus does appear to be centered on the bird (some of the branches that are closer to the camera are clearly fuzzy). The other is that for the reduced size image it clearly made a huge difference when software sharpening was applied.

    Looking at the Exif data from the camera was interesting but there isn't anything obviously wrong. A few points that may interest you though, are useful for discussion.

    Don't shoot that lense at 300mm! Back off a bit, to say 250mm. It is a typical consumer grade lens, and I've never heard of a (consumer grade) 75-300mm that was not soft at 300mm.

    Canon says the IS on that lens will allow shooting hand held at 1/75 seconds for a shutter speed. Hence I suspect that 1/250 is indeed adaquate. However, you might assume the IS is faulty (try with it on and with it off) and shoot a few using the old rule of thumb for 35mm with a shutter speed of 1/focal_length. Use the full frame equivalent to calculate that, so at 250mm it would be 1/375 seconds.

    Oh, and use a tripod!

    Your choice of Aperture Priority and f/9 was good. At about f/11 that lens on that camera will begin to show the effects of diffusion, which causes softness when the aperture size is too small.

    The Exif data said that "Sharpness" was set to 1. Try setting it higher, or post process your images and add sharpness (use an Unsharp Mask tool) as appropriate. Note that how much is appropriate depends on how large the display is, so post processing is best. (This is one of the huge advantages of digital over film, because with film the "sharpening" is done by agitation during development, and then cannot be adjusted ever again.)

    And last (and least too!) ignore the DPI values. That only tells you how large a print will be, and then only if the print software actually uses it. It has nothing to do with an image displayed by a
    computer.
    Last edited by Floyd_Davidson; 01-04-2009 at 19:04. Reason: Added comment about tripod.

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    Those photos look fine to me, although you can sharpen the eagle just a little with software. The mountain is very sharp because the camera focuses the most near the center of the frame, or any point in the frame that offers the most contrast. In this case, the mountain against the sky offers the most contrast. The foreground is a little soft, probably because of the lack of contrast offered by the branches (you already said that you used at least f/11. right?). For this image, use multi-point focusing, and at least f/8.0.

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    I am a beginner myself, but the images look soft to me. Wish I could be more helpful. All I could suggest is to start changing variables and identify the culprit. I would suggest borrowing someone else's lens/camera and see if your camera and their lens or your lens on their camera makes a difference. Be sure to check all your camera settings carefully too. If in doubt, restore factory defaults. Be sure everything is cleaned properly.
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

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    Member AKRoadkill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Floyd_Davidson View Post

    The Exif data said that "Sharpness" was set to 1. Try setting it higher, or post process your images and add sharpness (use an Unsharp Mask tool) as appropriate. Note that how much is appropriate depends on how large the display is, so post processing is best. (This is one of the huge advantages of digital over film, because with film the "sharpening" is done by agitation during development, and then cannot be adjusted ever again.)

    Okay...how do I set the sharpness higher? Never mind... I think I found it. will have to try it out and see if that worked. Thanks for all the assistance.

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    Member Floyd_Davidson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AKRoadkill View Post
    And here's a mountain today (not going for a good composition, just trying to get sharp).

    ISO 200. 59mm, 1/800 f/5.6
    This one again cannot really be evaluated by viewing the image.

    However, the image was shot with the lens wide open (f/5.6) and a shutter speed that far exceeded what would be necessary (1/800). Even without IS that shot could have been done hand held with a shutter speed of 1/100, which means stopping the lens down to get the sharpest image (both in terms of depth of field and for the best optical image from the lens) would have been possible. Shooting at f/11 and 1/200 would probably be the best, though opening up to f/10 or even f/8 and using a faster shutter speed might help. (Setting the focus point manually to something just short of infinity would help keep the trees in the foreground in focus too, without affecting the top of the mountain.)

    On the other hand... for effect, one might want the mountain to be sharp and the foreground fairly soft. For that, focus on infinity, and open the lens up to at least f/8, maybe even another 1/2 an fstop.

    The key to all of this is experimentation. Read about f/stops, shutter speeds, etc... but go try it multiple ways on the same subject and see what you get. Find software that will show you the Exif data so that you can compare what you see to the settings you used to get the image.

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    Member Floyd_Davidson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AKRoadkill View Post
    Okay...how do I set the sharpness higher?
    RTFM !!!

    (Computer programmers have been using that acronym for decades. It means something fairly close to "Read The Fine Manual"! :-)

    I'd look it up for you, but I don't have a manual for a Canon 20D, so I'll assume that you do. If in fact you don't... say so and I'll try to find one on the web for you.

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    Member AKRoadkill's Avatar
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    yeah, that mountain one I was going for the fastest shutter speed possible, to completely rule out camera shake.

    These are learning pictures. Once I get things figured out a bit more, I'll try to post some for evaluation and input on image quality.

    Oh, and I found it in the fine manual...prolly shoulda looked there first, no?

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