How can I get razor sharp detail?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by fishing4sanity, Oct 13, 2009.

  1. fishing4sanity

    fishing4sanity No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I enjoy photographing wildlife and I'm always trying to get more detail. I've got a Canon XTi with a 100-400 L series lens, I've used apeture priority most, but also shutter priority, manual and the camera's auto settings. Some handheld and some tripod, but still trying to get more detail/sharpness. I've wondered at times if the camera has an issue, I've cosidered upgrading to another camera, or if it's just me. Any suggestions?
     
  2. hulk

    hulk TPF Noob!

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    Well, using the tripod will always give you maximum sharpness. For extra shake protection, use a timer/cable. Also, since you're shooting wildlife, use autofocus when you can.

    If you're REALLY anal, you can use the mirror lock to make sure that nothing moves when the mirror slaps. Not sure if the XTi has that feature however.
     
  3. Rekd

    Rekd TPF Noob!

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    Post samples. It will be easier to see what your interpretation of "sharp" is. Might just be your monitor.
     
  4. ErectedGryphon

    ErectedGryphon TPF Noob!

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    Its my understanding that prime lenses are also sharper than zooms, though you do have a really nice zoom lens.
     
  5. fishing4sanity

    fishing4sanity No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I'm new to this photo forum so I'm not sure how to post pics here, but I do have some photos on flickr if seeing those helps with suggestions.
    Flickr: fishing4sanity's Photostream
    Not sure if the above link will work or not, but here goes.
     
  6. den9

    den9 TPF Noob!

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    i think they are pretty sharp, certainly not soft. i love your elk picture, thats really an awesome shot. those snow blasted signs are pretty interesting too.
     
  7. Rekd

    Rekd TPF Noob!

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    Link worked fine. The shots are very nice. I see what you mean about the sharpness, the inside area of the front-facing stop sign for example; the snow is slightly blurred, in the flying ducks (great shot, BTW) they are not as sharp as they might be. I have the same problem and don't know what to do so I can't offer advice.

    Using the sharpen function in Irfanview is a quick way to add a bit of sharpness to the hi-res images. Looks really good when it's sized down for the web. Haven't tried to print one yet. Might try on one of the FMX shots I did last week.

    I really like the YZ shot too, the close-up of the knee.
     
  8. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    I loved the frosty, frozen fog-covered road signs! Wayyyy cool! I looked at the ducks and the elk shots,and other shots. I see what looks like a very slight bit of subject motion blur on the elk shot as he's moving through the timber, and I think I also see a bit of digital noise in the shadows. My feeling is that what's happening is you're bumping against the limitations of your camera's sensor, and the 100-400's maximum aperture,which is merely f/5.6.

    You seem to have good, full command of the camera and lens, so I think maybe it's time for you to pour yourself a glass full of the Canon L-series Kool-Aid, or move up to a camera that can deliver lower noise levels and MUCH higher ISO performance. F/5.6 at 300 to 400mm is simply too slow, unless you can use a camera like a Nikon D3 or D700 that can deliver "superb" ISO 1000-1600 performance. Or, unless you buy a top-quality lens like a 300mm f/4 or the 400mm f/5.6, which is noticeably better than the 100-400 is at 400mm.

    When I look at your shots, I see noise in the shadows, and I agree, the shots as seen on the web are not really as crisp and clear enough to be called razor sharp. I'd consider the 300mm f/4 prime lens as a good starting point. You don't seem to be having the same,basic newbie troubles as so many people have: I think you're actually way beyond those kinds of newbie problems, and you are genuinely at crossroads where better equipment will allow you to push the boundaries, which in your case seem to be ISO 800 and f/5.6. L-glass Kool-Aid tastes good over ice, BTW.
     
  9. benlonghair

    benlonghair TPF Noob!

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    Looking at the wood duck photos because they're at the top of your stream, do you use any sharpening in PP?

    For example, this shot didn't look anywhere near this sharp coming from the camera. A little bit of unsharp mask works wonders sometimes.
     
  10. Village Idiot

    Village Idiot No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    This guy works for Nikon apparently.

    You can get decent shots all the way up to 1600 ISO as long as you expose properly. I have a 30D which basically has the same sensor as your xti and I was getting some very good photos at 1600 ISO before I moved on to my new monster.

    Another good technique for dealing with high ISO noise is shooting to the right. If you're shooting RAW and slightly over exposing the image, you can effectively bring the exposure back down in post, without losing any highlights, and killing a bit of noise in the process. You have very capable equipment and short of spending more on a lens, upgrading your camera or "drinking the koolaid" and switching to Nikon, there's not going to be another cheap option other than learning how to control noise to get a faster shutter speed.

    Good photo stream BTW.
     
  11. Gaerek

    Gaerek TPF Noob!

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    Derrel, I find it ironic that you're commenting on someone drinking the Canon 'L' Glass Kool-Aid. Sounds to me like the Nikon cult leader has drawn you in, hook, line and sinker.

    OP, there's nothing wrong with your equipment. As others have suggested, unsharp mask can do wonders. And as Village Idiot suggested, try exposing right. It's a technique I've been experimenting with some pretty good results lately.
     
  12. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    The OP isn't striving for decent. He is striving for RAZOR SHARP.
     

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