Advice: I want my pictures SHARP!

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Lorti, Jun 10, 2009.

  1. Lorti

    Lorti TPF Noob!

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    I began shooting a little over a year ago and have seen the quality and character of my photographs progress since then. However, lately as my skill has plateaued with no formal education or apprenticeships, I am feeling very down about one particular aspect of my photographs, the sharpness.

    Everywhere I turn my eye is struck with visually crisp surroundings that nearly miss the translation through my lens. I'm wondering, are the "blow your mind sharp as broken glass" images that turn up from photographers the product of a setting, or a manipulation? How can I achieve these crisp, sharp, perfect moments?
     
  2. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    first lets have a few examples from you of your work- its hard to determin if the problem is a real one or not. I say this as fullsized shots are often not sharp at all and that you rarly see an image online that large - most are only 1/3 of their original size - and if you sharpen after resizing (to restore sharpness lost due to resizing) then you can get a little bit more out of your shots.
    If you post up some examples of your work, the gear you used, the settings (aperture, ISO and shutter speed) as well as adding a 100% crop from each (that is a crop taken from the fullsized image so that you can show us the detail at fullsize without having to upload a massive image) then we can work from there.
     
  3. bigtwinky

    bigtwinky No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Listing the gear you use as well might help in giving an indication if its your lens or your not knowing how to get it sharp.

    Do you do any post processing on the images?
     
  4. Lorti

    Lorti TPF Noob!

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    XxArizonaxX on deviantART

    Here is a link to my gallery, it's easiest for me to just post the link to them. Bare in mind some photos are film, just disregard those, it's the digital work I'm concerned with.


    For example,

    Ups and Down by =XxArizonaxX on deviantART

    File Size: 3.7 MB
    Image Size: 123 KB
    Resolution: 600×896
    I believe the ISO on this was 800
    Body Canon XTi
    Lens Canon 28-105mm
    No flash
    Natural window lighting
     
  5. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    if you want to find photo settings check you photo EXIF data ( to find that go to the original file, right click and go to properties, then select the details tab, from there scroll down to find aperture, shutter speed and ISO).

    If you were working at ISO 800 chances are your losing some detail to noise from a higher ISO - I would try getting more ambient lighting into the scene - flash control and/or reflectors can help get more light onto your subject. Then you can use a lower ISO and thus help to preserve details.
     
  6. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    But it's not easiest for us, the people you are asking for help. Just an observation.

    I won't be sorting through your images to find the digital ones. Just being honest.

    Good luck with your quest.
     
  7. dxqcanada

    dxqcanada Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    First there is the quality of the lens.
    All lenses have optical aberrations that will affect the image quality ... including sharpness and contrast. The higher quality (and priced) lenses are designed to minimize these aberrations.
    Zoom lenses have more variable groups of lens elements ... and thus are more complicated (and thus more costly) to correct than prime lenses.

    Focus ... can't say much more than that (and usage of depth of field).

    Shutter speed will affect the image if it is too low to remove motion blur.

    Over/Under exposure will affect the image quality also.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2009
  8. kundalini

    kundalini Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    :D

    I'm guessing much like Overread, that your high ISO setting is not your friend. With a shot such as you linked to, even with natural lighting, I see no reason to increase your base ISO. What seems to have happened is that you have lost detail... notice the left cheek, forearm, tummy, etc... no detail, only blow out. There is also a fair amount of noise in the background.

    BTW, beauty of a model. Love the hair color, tatts and innocent look.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2009
  9. manaheim

    manaheim Jedi Bunnywabbit Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Also the aperature size and focal length can have quite a bit of effect... generally most lenses are sharpest 2-3 stops down from max, and zoomed in 1/3 of the way from totally wide. (these are very broad approximations)

    It's a very good idea to research your lenses to understand where their sweet spots are.
     
  10. dxqcanada

    dxqcanada Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    How are you setting focus when you are doing self portraits ?
     
  11. kundalini

    kundalini Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    ^^ (manaheim) I couldn't read the EXIF data, but you're right. A shot like ***Arizona*** something would probably be best from f/4 to f/5.6. However, a lot of lenses are sharpest at f/8 (rather f/7.1 to f/11).
     
  12. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Guys guys calm yourselves. When asking about sharpness have a look at the size of images we have to work with.

    Yes lenses are not sharpest when shot wide open, and good lenses are sharper than cheap lenses. However the photos we have seen are only 900x600 pixels. At this resolution my sister's $100 camera can take tac sharp photos even when you up the iso. This leads me to believe the problem is not the equipment, but either it's use, or the handling of the images.

    I think the problem is in a few of these images are simply out of focus like Let Photographers Argue by =XxArizonaxX on deviantART. Others like The Feeling Is Mutual by =XxArizonaxX on deviantART are about as sharp as they will get. Take a look at that eye! Same here: When I Was Surrounded by =XxArizonaxX on deviantART this image could not be sharper, each pixel is distinct. The original may not be sharp but these small versions definitely are.

    These "blow your mind" sharp images from other photographers, can you give us an example? Sharpness of the eye is a function of contrast. In many of these so called sharp photos the sharpness is a result of artificial sharpening. By hallowing the surrounding pixels of an edge, perceived sharpness is increased. Much of what I have seen is oversharpened, but if you can hit the point where sharpening is done just enough so as to not be visibly fake then you end up with "blow your mind" images.
     

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