How do I get sharper, crisper photos?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by TiCoyote, Feb 5, 2010.

  1. TiCoyote

    TiCoyote TPF Noob!

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    I went to the reservoir, and I ended up with a lot of shots like this:
    [​IMG]


    See how the trees look blurry? I'm using auto focus and a pretty fast shutter speed, so it shouldn't be shake or OOF. I'm also using a good camera (50D) and a good lens (Tamron 28-70 f/2.8) so I'm guessing the problem must be me. So how do I improve the "me" part? What can I do differently and better to make my photos come out sharper.

    Shutter speed 1/400. F 11.4. ISO 400. Focal length 57mm.

    Thank you.
     
  2. mdruziak

    mdruziak TPF Noob!

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    Hard to tell from that photo. What are you focusing on? Did you do any sharpening during processing? Also probably not the best idea to judge focus on some trees that are 1/2 mile away on a drab day!

    Try to photograph something a little closer and see how it goes.

    Landscapes can be difficult to photograph and require some different techniques. Your composition can use some help. See this site for some good info on landscapes: The Luminous Landscape. Also this BOOK is pretty decent.
     
  3. Stamp

    Stamp TPF Noob!

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    Close the aperture to around f/22 keep shutter speed as fast as possible, and adjust your iso accordingly, but try to keep the lowest iso possible.
     
  4. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I try to avoid letting the aperture on my lenses going smaller than f13 (that means bigger f numbers) and f16 is the complete limit. This is because diffraction will start to take place after around f13* and that will result in softer images no matter what you try.

    I suspect when you say you used AF that you might have let the camera pick the AF point it wanted from the whole range - aimed at the scene and shot. The problem with this approach is that AF tends to go for the closest most contrasty thing it can lock onto which is not always what you want to be focused on (which is why many shooters use the middle point only so they can define what they want in focus).

    In addition for a landscape shot you don't need to keep closing down (bigger f numbers) the aperture; instead read up about hyperfocal focusing. Its a method I know of but don't use myself (not much of a landscape shooter) but it allows you to get an in focus shot with a very big depth of field even if you are not using a very small aperture. I'll leave a more indepth description to others here or to what you can find with google - but hyperfocal is what you are wanting to aim for (that and a nice good tripod ;))

    *actual point varies depending on the camera body, sensor size and the lens used
     
  5. Dao

    Dao No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I really do not think you need that fast shutter speed since the lens you use is 28-70mm. If you do 1/200, you can lower your ISO to 200. And if you take the photo at F/8, you can even do ISO100 and still have the same exposure.

    As mentioned by Overread, you may want to focus at the hyperfocal distance.

    Take a look at this Dof calculator.
    Online Depth of Field Calculator

    For example, set the focal length at 28mm with aperture at F/8. If you focus at the 17 ft from the camera, then anything from 13 ft to infinity should be in focus. (based on the DoF calculator)



    Also, did you crop the photo? Or you just resize the original? Did you post process the photo such as sharpening?
     
  6. TiCoyote

    TiCoyote TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the feedback, and I will keep reading this if I get more useful feedback.

    mdruziak: I appreciate your comments, but my question did not pertain to composition.


    Overread: I'm setting the camera so that it focuses on the center AF point only. Then I aim that point at the trees. When I view the photo on my computer at "original size," the trees look blurry.

    I understand that apertures at both ends of the scale can be soft, so I try to use a critical aperture on something like this between 8 and 16.

    I'm wondering if the fact that there is little contrast here inhibits the camera's ability to focus. I notice that I have sharper images when there is more contrast and tonal variety in the shot.

    The lens has a distance scale but no DOF scale.

    As I understand the concept of hyperfocal distance, I don't need to focus on the trees. I just focus the camera at twice the length of the nearest thing I want to be in focus, and then everything from that to infinity will be in focus, depending upon the f stop.

    Here's the thing, the trees are at infinity. And the focal ring on the camera is reading infinity. So why aren't the trees in focus?

    If the trees are 300 feet away, and the aperture is f/16, the hyperfocal distance should be 46.3 feet. I'm pretty sure that 46 feet is infinity. Right?
     
  7. TiCoyote

    TiCoyote TPF Noob!

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    The photo is not cropped. Flickr resized it. I didn't do any PP. I want to get the best images I can before I PP. It's like building a wall. You want the plaster to be as smooth as possible before you paint it. You don't want to use the paint to cover up bad plastering.
     
  8. mdruziak

    mdruziak TPF Noob!

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    Do you have any other photos from your outing? It's really tough to say what's wrong by looking at one photo.

    Does the lens focus ok in different situations or did all of your photos look like this?
     
  9. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    1. Use a good, steady tripod/head combo.
    2. Use a remote shutter release, or use the camera's self timer
    3. If your camera has it, lock the mirror up.
    4. Turn off IS/VR on the lens, if it has it.
    5. Use the sharpest aperture for that lens (usually about 2 stops smaller than wide open)
    6. Use the highest qquality lens you can afford.
    7. Use the lowest ISO possible
    8. Once focused, zoom in on the LCD to double check focus is sharp at the focus point you selected.
    9. Sharpen in post processing
     
  10. TiCoyote

    TiCoyote TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the tips.
     
  11. TiCoyote

    TiCoyote TPF Noob!

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    I think I might try the same shoot next week. I'm not sure that hyperfocus will make a difference, because the infinity mark on the lens is just beyond the 7 feet, so whether I focus at 20 feet or infinity, it's the same. Also, that would only account for poor focus in the foreground, not the trees.

    I'm wondering if I really just need a lower ISO. I guess 400 is pretty fast.

    I don't think it's a problem with the lens. I really just think I need more practice.
     
  12. Dao

    Dao No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I will use a lower ISO. As I mentioned from the earlier post, if you take that shot with 1/200 and F/8, you can use ISO 100 and still have the same exposure. And the shot should be cleaner.
     

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