Why do almost ALL my pictures come out soft??

Discussion in 'Digital and Video Cameras' started by waterjug, Nov 16, 2012.

  1. jonny13

    jonny13 Senior member

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    I have a 400 5.6L and it's definitely a sharp lens at 5.6. BUT, you really need to nail focus to get a clean shot. At 400mm and 5.6, if you don't focus on the eyes of a bird and hit the neck or back, you'll get a soft image. Also, just because you are on a tripod and don't need to worry about hand shake, that doesn't mean you don't need 1/1500-2000 second to stop the action from the subject.
     
  2. gevorg

    gevorg Diamond Member

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    OP, go to SLRear and find if your lens was tested by them. Checkout their review and then figure out the optimal focal length and apeture for your usage.

    For example, if you have the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L and use it at 300 mm, f/8 is sharper than f/5.6.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Both of these are pretty good but some lens combinations of aperture and focal lens can turn out pretty soft, so know your lens.
     
  3. slashbinslashbash

    slashbinslashbash Golden Member

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    He has the 400 f/5.6L, it is pretty damn sharp from wide open to f/11 on a crop body, according to their review.

    http://slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/167/cat/10
     
  4. waterjug

    waterjug Senior member

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    ok, so I have camera raw & a raw file open...under sharpening there are several options, including:

    amount: 25
    radius: 1.0
    detail: 25
    masking: 0

    I can't find a single stinking tutorial on what any of those mean, everyone wants 50 dollars for online courses...can someone just tell me what I'm supposed to do with these, or what they stand for?
     
  5. randomrogue

    randomrogue Diamond Member

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    I would HIGHLY recommend the Scott Kelby book. Both the photoshop and the lightroom ones are good.
     
  6. waterjug

    waterjug Senior member

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    Ugh. Just tried using photo raw for sharpening....what an awful program. It makes everything look like a grainy mess. I've had it. This is such a royal fucking pain in the ass. I pay all this money for a camera & lens, yet if I want to make the pictures even vaguely usable I need to spend 15-20 minutes on each one? All photo raw did was ruin the pictures and make them look even worse. Besides, I'm taking 200-500 shots trip, out of which I end up liking about 50, so I'm literally going to have to spend about 16 hours of post-processing per trip I take to get them usable? What the hell is the point? I'm out taking pictures 2-3 times per week, so that's between 32 and 48 hours of post processing per week? That's awful. Maybe if I had no job or family I could afford to take that much time, but I don't see how anyone could devote that much time to actually getting their pictures to the point of being usable. If anyone wants the 400mm I'll sell it for 900, and the T2i for 250. PM me if you want either.
     
    #31 waterjug, Nov 17, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2012
  7. waterjug

    waterjug Senior member

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    he has a couple hundred books it looks like, which one did you mean?
     
  8. kbp

    kbp Senior member

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  9. Charles Kozierok

    Charles Kozierok Elite Member

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    Don't give up yet.

    It's frustrating in the beginning. I bought my first DSLR in 2003, the Canon 10D. I was so sure that my macro shots would be way, way better than what I had been getting from my (3 megapixel) Nikon 990.. and then I started shooting, and I was shocked that nothing looked that hot. I had to learn about technique, processing, lenses, focusing and much more.

    There's a learning curve, but it's worth it.

    Do you have Photoshop? If so, what version?
     
  10. finbarqs

    finbarqs Diamond Member

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    still take that pic I was asking about. I nail the focus on a tripod, on a completely still, highly detailed, properly exposed shot. Then post the image here. I want to see if there still is some kind of motion issue going on...
     
  11. Smoove910

    Smoove910 Golden Member

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    <--- still thinks OP needs to use a higher F-stop (F8 sounds like the area to start)... If shutter speed is slow, raise the ISO to compensate. I suggested this a yesterday and haven't heard if this has been experimented with.
     
  12. waterjug

    waterjug Senior member

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    I have CS5, the thing is my 2 megapixel canon A20, which is about 13 years old at this point, takes equally good pictures, just smaller in size. I've spent thousands of dollars and the pictures I take suck ass. I've been using SLRs now for 4 years almost with no improvement.
     
  13. waterjug

    waterjug Senior member

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    The thing is, everything I've read, literally everything, states that it's tack sharp at 5.6. I also can't drop it much further because at ISO 800 I start to get heavy noise in my images. And right now in broad daylight at say f/8 or 9 I need to be at 400 to even get close to 1/500th or so for shutter speed
     
  14. waterjug

    waterjug Senior member

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    a small part of the issue I have is this: Say I'm adjusting the horizontal and vertical direction that my camera is pointing in on the tripod. So I tighten up the switches or whatever you call them, with the center focus point directly on a bird's eye....the lens sags about a half inch, which is huge when you're aiming at 400mm...sometimes it dips down and to the left or right. So I have to aim above & to the right or left of the subject, and hope when everything's tightened up that the lens sags the amount I need it to in order to get perfect aim. Usually I just use it to get pretty close to where I need it, and then sort of hold the lens down or up or in whatever direction I need to nudge it to get the center spot on my subject.
     
  15. waterjug

    waterjug Senior member

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  16. randomrogue

    randomrogue Diamond Member

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    The Photoshop CS6 book for Digital Photographers.

    Personally I started there and then moved on to lightroom. Lightroom can do just about everything and for specific tasks like stitching I open up Photoshop. So check out his Lightroom book for Digital Photographers as well.
     
  17. Charles Kozierok

    Charles Kozierok Elite Member

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    Yeah I doubt that Canon A20 would take shots anywhere near as good as what you posted here. Don't get too discouraged. :)

    You don't need to spend money. You need to focus on improving your technique and processing.

    1. I strongly recommend joining a dedicated photo forum where you can get specific advice on the types of photos you like to take. I've been a member of Fred Miranda's forums for almost a decade. Great people there, including tons of birders if that's your thing (which it seems to be).

    2. If you think you are having issues with sharpness and focus, practice. Set up a "still life" and a tripod and try different things to see what you can do to improve. Experiment with various shutter speeds, focal lengths and f-stops.

    3. If you suspect a focus issue, the best way to test is to use a ruler on an angle. Focus on a specific spot and then see how it comes out.

    4. In terms of RAW -- are you using the Canon software? Because it stinks, I haven't touched it in years. Use Adobe Camera RAW, it is built into Photoshop.
     
  18. Charles Kozierok

    Charles Kozierok Elite Member

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    This is a sign that your support system isn't up to the job.

    Are you using a collar on the 400mm?
     
  19. waterjug

    waterjug Senior member

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    yeah, the collar and then the collar mounted to the tripod

    I'll join up at that forum; I also have to take some test shots today, going to try that battery test that was suggested, I'll also try the ruler. I was using Adobe, but maybe the shot I was using was just trash.
     
  20. Charles Kozierok

    Charles Kozierok Elite Member

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    If you want, send me the RAW by email (send me a PM) and I'll see what I can do with it. Then at least you'll know what is possible via software.
     
  21. waterjug

    waterjug Senior member

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    Alright, took my test shots, at 200, 400, and 800, with f/5.6-f/11. Going to go through them today. One thing I noticed, even when aiming at still life, my tripod still jiggles & quakes. Here's how it went:

    I lined up the batteries, each off set by a few mm. Using center point focusing try lining up on a specific spot on one of the batteries. I have to aim above where I want since the lens always sags down, so I aimed above where I wanted several times until I got it just right so that when it sags down it's pointing to the spot I want. Then I use back-button focusing, but even doing that, it makes the center point move, and the camera vibrates. I wait for that to stop, then I hit the shutter button; I have it on a 2 second delay. Hitting the shutter button causes the camera to shake & vibrate some more. It's still slightly vibrating when the shot is taken. Again, I'm not sure if this matters that much; even with different lenses that aren't as long, weigh less, and are not as sensitive to vibration I still have the same issue.
     
  22. waterjug

    waterjug Senior member

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    I think I may crop them, upload them to imgur in a slide show for people to look at. Frankly none of them really look that sharp. They're OK, but not really tack sharp. I see no different in 200, 400, 800 iso, and no difference between f/5.6-f/11 on any of the ISOs,and no different with shutter speed. If you looked at them you'd think I was showing you 25 identical pictures.

    I also took some test shots with the 50mm 1.8; WOW what an abysmally shitty lens. I know it was cheap but people talk about it being the 'nifty fifty'....I call it a flaming piece of dog shit. Images at 1.8 were completely fuzzy and unusable. Not like slightly...I mean they were completely unusable. They got clearer and clearer until I hit about 2.8-3.2; honestly 50mm @ 3.2 isn't that impressive. That's barely above kit-lens for quality.
     
  23. Smoove910

    Smoove910 Golden Member

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    almost sounds to me like your tripod is the flaming piece of dogshit in this equation. Doesn't your camera offer a mirror lock-up option? If so, that could help things some. I notice when I used mirror lock-up with my Pentax K7, I get a substantial improvement in my moon shots at 300mm. YMMV though.
     
  24. waterjug

    waterjug Senior member

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    I honestly had never heard of mirror lock-up. If my camera is always vibrating though how is that going to help any?
     
  25. kbp

    kbp Senior member

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    What kind of tripod are we dealing with here?
    And...do look in the menu for a mirror lock up funtion. If you indeed have that option you may even be able to asingn it to a funtion button for fast access.
     
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