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Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Solarian, Jan 7, 2010.

  1. Solarian

    Solarian TPF Noob!

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    I bought my camera used as a set from someone about 3 months ago, and I've been having a lot of fun with it since. Prior to that, I played around with my Mom's Nikon D40, which had a similar config to mine (a cheap 18-55 and a cheap 75-300)
    Overall, I'd say I'm pretty happy with the abilities of the XTi body, but I'm finding that all of my pictures are really.. soft. To the point that it's really frustrating to me.
    My friend that has been doing photography for far longer than I have, said that it's because my lenses are bad, but I read a thread on here saying that you can take great pics with a kit zoom lens.
    I wanted to get the Canon 24-70 f/2.8 L, but it's a ton of money, and if it's my own lack of skill that's causing my photos to be soft, I'll feel like such a clown after dropping that kind of coin.
    I've decided that I will take a bit of a leap and buy some new glass though, but something really different, I'm looking at a Canon 50mm f/1.4 prime lens. All the reviews say that it's just as good optically as the 24-70 L, but at a quarter of the cost. And if it means saving over $1000, then I guess I'll just move around a lot more than I'm used to :D

    I'm really curious if anyone can help me address "softness" though. I'd like to know that I'm in fact hitting the limit of the lens, as opposed to missing some crucial step that can make my photographs sharper. It's really frustrating to spend a week travelling through Japan, take 560 shots, and then when you're going through the raws, to have the only thought in your head be "it's too damn soft... I'm embarrassed to post this pic up"
    BTW, I'm using the kit 18-55 f/3.5-5.6 and the 75-300 4-5.6 USM
     
  2. suki

    suki TPF Noob!

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    Welcome!

    I've been having the same problem with my Rebel Xs, it was clear up until about 6 months ago and is getting worse, to the point where when I select my AF point and focus it on my subject, it's still soft. I was told by a few photog buddies it might be time to get the camera calibrated, or the sensor cleaned? So maybe look into that as well since it was used.

    Hope that helps. :)
     
  3. Incognito

    Incognito TPF Noob!

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    How is your focus set? I have mine at single point and once I did that I was able to get rid of softness even with my crappy Nikkor 55-200.... I mostly use my prime tho and it does make a difference. You CAN get great photos from a kit lens but you will get better sharpness with nicer glass.

    What do you photograph? Do you use manual settings? Can you post an example of a soft photo with your settings?
     
  4. Solarian

    Solarian TPF Noob!

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    Well, I did lots of reading here today, and I learned a bit about my problems with softness. I'm sure some of it has to do with the focus, and that's a great idea on single point vs. multi point auto acquisition.
    The other thing I noticed, is my aperture settings. There was a funny bit on Ken Rockwell's site that said something like "What idiot shoots on a bright sunny day?" I laughed and thought "This one right here." I never knew that was a bad thing haha. I literally just found out today, that it's a bad idea. I also found out that shooting at really high values, also makes the image soft due to dispersion.

    Anyway, here is a sample image of the softness that gets on my nerves. I shrunk it down to 1600x1200, and it has no post processing whatsoever, to give you a better idea of the often frustrating results I get. It did end up looking a bit better after being tweaked a bit.
    http://img222.imageshack.us/img222/3401/sample.jpg

    To contrast that one, here is one shot I am pretty proud of, taken several minutes later. This one is processed.
    http://img222.imageshack.us/img222/403/img4184d.jpg

    I noticed one more thing... the really wide ones, shot at 18mm, are the worst ones. Generally speaking, when I zoom in a bit, they are sharper.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2010
  5. SpdDmn

    SpdDmn TPF Noob!

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    Glad to know I'm not the only one out there that can't get a sharp image out of my XSi! I know my own shots are compounded by poor lighting, but I also read that the "stock" sharpness settings under Picture Style are set too low. Look at the Standard style, the sharpness is 3. I made a User Defined setting and cranked up the sharpness setting (to 6) and it appears to be better, but I haven't had much chance to shoot since.

    I've also read/ watched a few tutorials on adding a bit of sharpness in post... I assume most of the really great pro photos kick it up in PP.
     
  6. Solarian

    Solarian TPF Noob!

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    Oh wow, I totally thought you were someone else, I know another Spd-dmn from many auto forums, so I was expecting him :D
    I looked at the picture styles, but I don't think that's the route I want to take. That simply adds contrast digitally, I'd like it to come about optically, so that it does not ruin any other colors or details.
    I took a few steps since I made this post, and I'll be testing the results.
    The first thing I did, was I pulled off the UV filter from my lens. I was using it mainly as a lens protector, rather than in situations where I actually need UV light to be filtered, and that was messing with my IQ to some extent.
    Second, I'm going to try shooting at f/8, as well as playing with f stops around that range.
    Third, I'm going to give up on the lazy auto-acquire focus mode, and always have my camera on manual focus point selection, and choose my own focus point each time, and shoot like that. Incognito pointed it out, and I think it's a great idea. Because with the auto-acquire, the camera may have a different idea than I do of what I want to be in perfect focus.
    Nice WRX by the way, here's a few shots of my baby :)
    http://img39.imageshack.us/img39/2900/dsc0877p.jpg
    http://img51.imageshack.us/img51/2186/img2478av1.jpg
     

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