Random Thoughts... [Photographic Edition]

Ramseus

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Don't wait until night, that's how. :p Best time is while there's still blue light after sunset.
 

Hbriz

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Low ISO, high f number (around f/11) and long exposure are best. That way you get a nice star effect on the lights and not too much noise.
 

Shawn

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Recommend me good resources to read about photography. Books, websites, whatever. Looking for "rules" (eg of 3rds), general tips, as well as post processing. GO!

Uh, Wikipedia? :p

No, seriously. Wikipedia'll give you the basics and then provide a bibliography and external links for more in depth material elsewhere.
 

KaJuN

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http://pic.armedcats.net/k/ka/kajun/2010/12/20/004.JPG
http://pic.armedcats.net/k/ka/kajun/2010/12/20/005.JPG
http://pic.armedcats.net/k/ka/kajun/2010/12/20/007.JPG

:D
 

Ramseus

Have you been high today?
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What's this? My camera fell apart? Oh, yeah, that's right, I converted it to visible+IR. It was actually pretty damn easy, only part that I had difficulty with was desoldering some bits, I didn't want to use the high setting on my iron and as a result it was only barely hot enough, took like two seconds to resolder when putting it back together though. [edit] oh, yeah, and sanding glass is a pain in the ass and takes forever, I cut the glass slighty too big (but nice and cleanly, and obviously better than cutting it too small) [/edit] Also, ISO 12800.
http://pic.armedcats.net/r/ra/ramseus/2010/12/21/IMG_2360.jpg

blah, halfassed bad shot out the back door. It's cloudy today and it's winter so... uhh... nevermind
http://pic.armedcats.net/r/ra/ramseus/2010/12/21/CRW_9503.jpg


edit edit: hmm, not sure why I never bothered to do it for my 300D (actually yes I am sure, I just never knew) but I just set camera raw defaults per iso speed for my 7D. All it involved was different sharpening and noise reduction settings, but yeah.
 
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nomix

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Recommend me good resources to read about photography. Books, websites, whatever. Looking for "rules" (eg of 3rds), general tips, as well as post processing. GO!

There's compendiums all over the web. A decent google search should do the job. After you learn the basics, I recommend reading a bit on Kirk Tucks blog. He talks about something that's more important than the tech, the philosophy of photography. What a good photo is. That's what's really difficult, not to mention, most interesting.
 

LeVeL

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There's compendiums all over the web. A decent google search should do the job. After you learn the basics, I recommend reading a bit on Kirk Tucks blog. He talks about something that's more important than the tech, the philosophy of photography. What a good photo is. That's what's really difficult, not to mention, most interesting.
I've been frustrated with myself for a while now. I try to follow the rule of thirds; I watch my composition and background; I do need to clean my lenses/sensor because my shots aren't nearly as sharp as I'd like them to be; I play around with exposure to try and get the best result. And yet... I wouldn't say that my shots are p&s-n00b material but they are far from actually being good. What's worse is that although I am tempted to just get new gear, I keep thinking that others have gone pro with equipment similar to what I already have. UGH
 

nomix

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For dust on a lens or a sensor to play a part in reducing sharpness, the lens would have to be black with dust. Dust on the sensor will make spots, not degrade sharpness.

It might be a question of bad autofocus. In that case, you should try placing your camera on a tripod against something with good contrast (a well lit bunch of books, dvds, that sort of thing), and first use AF and take a photo. Then use liveview and manuel focus to place focus spot on. Then compare the two images.

The most normal reasons of degraded sharpness are:

1. Too long shutter speed. The most common by a far stretch. Take your crop factor (1.5 with Pentax, Sony, Nikon, 1.6 with Canon (except 1D-series) and 2.0 with Olympus/Panasonic), multiply it with your focal length. That's the shutter speed you should have to get a sharp image. Let's say you're using a Canon 1000D with a 18-55 kit lens, zoomed out all the way to 18mm. Multiply with 1.6, which gives you 28.8. So, to get a sharp image at that focal length, you should have a shutter speed of 1/30s or faster. Image stabilization will be useful, I can handhold images at four times the recommended shutter speed with some combinations of E-3 and lenses.

2. Too long shutter speed. Yeah, I did it, but this is different. Trying to freeze motion? If you're photographing soccer, handball, hockey or any other fast sport, you should have at longest a shutter spead of 1/640s. It's basicly a industry standard among the sports photographers I have had the pleasure to discuss the matter with. For someone walking, 1/200s should be enough, but I'd be more comfy at 1/400s.

3. Bad focus. Getting precise focus is hard, especially in bad light and where there's low contrast. It's about training, but it's also about tech. Good cameras have good AF, less good cameras have less good AF. some AF systems are hard to use for a beginner, while they provide superb performance for the pro. Using following focus in bad light with a slow lens will almost allways end in tears.

4. Too large an aperture. Large apertures aren't optimised for sharpness. The best sharpness will usually be had once you've stopped down a few stops, most lenses are sharpest between f/4.0 and f/8.0. Exceptions exist. Don't use larger apertures than f/2.8-4 unless you want the effect the shallow DOF give, or if there's so little light it makes sense to save on ISO-level.

5. Too small an aperture. Stop down too much, and image sharpness will degrade because of defraction in many cases. Don't use smaller apertures than f/11 unless you need the extra DOF.

6. Not enough DOF. This is linked to three before. Short DOF (large aperture) will leave less of the frame actually in focus. This means there's less chance for the focus to hit accuratly, not to mention that people standing outside the area of sharpness will definatly be unsharp.

7. The least likely. Faulty gear. An unsharp lens, malfunctioning sensor or malfunctioning AF system.
 

LeVeL

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Ok, tried what you suggested and took some shots of a bunch of bottle caps. Set up my tripod about a meter and a half (maybe a bit less) from the caps (they are glued onto another surface and leaned up against the wall). Tightened everything on the tripod up, weighed it down; manual settings (below) and a remote.

Digital Rebel XT (350D) with something like 25k shots on it.
Tried two lenses: 18-55mm IS and a 50mm prime. Tried to set the former to 50mm but didn't quite get it so it was at 47mm.
f/5.6 1/10th ISO-400

100% crops can be seen here.

They are, in order:

18-55mm
IS on; AF; multi-point focus
IS on; AF; single-point focus
IS off; AF; multi-point focus
IS off; AF; single-point focus
IS on; MF
IS off; MF


50mm
AF; multi-point focus
AF; single-point focus
MF

*single-point was center every time.


Btw, my camera doesn't let you use the LCD screen as a viewfinder, making manual focus a little trickier.

None of the shots were tack-sharp. With the 18-55mm, turning IS off when shooting AF helped a little bit. MF was better still. With the 50mm, AF and single-point focus were best but by a VERY slim margin.
 

Ramseus

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A) you're using the 18-55 IS wide open on the long end. It gets a bit soft there.
B) you seriously can't read too much into 100% crops because the AA filter reduces captured resolution by 12 or 15%

Are you shooting RAW? If so, increase the sharpness during conversion. If jpg then you're losing a bit of detail from the noise reduction.

In any case those aren't soft, you've just got pixelitus.

edit: And like (I think it was) Nomix says (or was it BCS?), if you want and can attain new gear, go for it, don't stop yourself because you somehow think you're not worthy of a piece of glass/plastic/silicone. Who cares what other people are able to do with old equipment, if you want something new that's your right, it's all just stuff, man.
 
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nomix

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Agreed. And about jpeg, earlier Canons were notorious for having the worst OOC JPEGs of any camera since the Canon cameras that came before them. They are useless, especially at rendering sharpness in images.

Use RAW, and don't be so picky.

:p
 

LeVeL

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Are you shooting RAW? If so, increase the sharpness during conversion. If jpg then you're losing a bit of detail from the noise reduction.
Good point. I really do need to start shooting RAW.


In any case those aren't soft, you've just got pixelitus.
Seriously?? You think those are sharp??


edit: And like (I think it was) Nomix says (or was it BCS?), if you want and can attain new gear, go for it, don't stop yourself because you somehow think you're not worthy of a piece of glass/plastic/silicone. Who cares what other people are able to do with old equipment, if you want something new that's your right, it's all just stuff, man.
It just seems like buying new gear is just temporarily masking the real problem - the man behind the camera.


Agreed. And about jpeg, earlier Canons were notorious for having the worst OOC JPEGs of any camera since the Canon cameras that came before them. They are useless, especially at rendering sharpness in images.
:( Maybe it really is time for a new body


Thanks gents :)
 

Ramseus

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Seriously?? You think those are sharp??

Unsharp masked and shrunk by 10%, why don't you tell me?

http://pic.armedcats.net/r/ra/ramseus/2010/12/22/Untitled-1.jpg

It's a bit low on contrast, not the absolutely sharpest thing in the world, but not as soft as you think. Shooting RAW would only improve the image quality.
 

Dr_Q

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100% crops are always bad news, a good shot that can be sharpened will always shit all over a bad shot in perfect focus. Even if you do everything just right, it will end up the AA filter so what you end up with probably isn't an accurate reflection of your gear anyway.
 

hansvonaxion

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Random question: what kit settings, weather conditions et al could lead to a regular DSLR photo clearly showing landscape features that are around 150-170 km away from the photographer? One detail: the photographer is standing on a hill side, probably 100 m above the general terrain level of the area.

I'm just asking because I've seen a particular photo, and the photographer claims to have seen a landscape feature (i.e. a mountain ridge) which would be more than 150 km away from the place where the photo was shot.

What kind of detail are we talking? I checked on Google maps and Mt. Fuji is a 125km walk from where I live. I can see it from the 33rd floor on a clear day. Should I take a picture for you?

I took a shot this morn.

Kiss X4/550D(?)
70-200mm f4L @ 200mm.
ISO400 (hence the noise)
1/1000 I think
f11

100% crop straight out of camera.

Fairly clear day but through the haze above Tokyo, hardly perfect conditions. About 125km away the peak is 3776m, shot from the 33rd floor/approx 100m.

http://pic.armedcats.net/h/ha/hansvonaxion/2010/12/23/fuji.jpg

Does that help at all?

And what happened to the option of uploading files when posting?
 

Labcoatguy

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Old rangefinder lenses hold their value way better than manual-focus SLR lenses. I snagged a Pentax 50mm prime for $25 shipped, but I'm seeing Leica-mount Minoltas and Olympus Pen F lenses at over $150 at minimum.
 
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