Is it photographers error or lens quality that's affecting this photo

Discussion in 'Specific Technical Assistance' started by rskopek, Jul 26, 2007.

  1. rskopek

    rskopek TPF Noob!

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    I recently purchased a new canon EF 100-300mm f4.5/5.6 USM zoom lens which I found myself using a lot in my travels. In the images below and with many others taken, I was very disappointed in the sharpness of the images at high zoom, as they turned out looking somewhat soft. This shot is a condor in Peru at f5.6 at about 300mm zoom at between 1/1000th and 1/2000th shutter speed. Because of the high contrast between the dark condor and the blue skies at times, I experimented with several exposure metering controls, trying spot metering, evaluative, partial, and center-weighted. Over 400 photos were taken, and none exhibited a crisp, sharp image, and these two are the absolute best from those. My question is, is there another adjustment I should have used or perhaps is there a trick to bird photography, or is it the limit of the lenses affecting the image? The condors were often hovering, so I figured movement at this shutter speed shouldn't be a huge concern. Also, focus mode was set to All Focus AF. How can I improve my telephoto photography?

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  2. LaFoto

    LaFoto Just Corinna in real life Staff Member Supporting Member

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    While I don't know anything about the Canon telezoom lens you are describing, I sure know that my Sigma lens does not give me all sharp and clear photos when extended to its longest zoom, either. That is when it begins to show that it wasn't the dearest of lenses to buy (since I work on a fairly limited budget) ... and when you check out the photos of our member Raymond Barlow (look for him via "Members" -> Search Member -> View Profile -> Find all threads started by ...."), and you see all his very, very sharp bird photos, his really good (expensive) lens qualities begin to show.

    This is not a very scientific answer but it is the only one I can give you...
     
  3. The_Traveler

    The_Traveler Completely Counter-dependent Supporting Member

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    I wouldn't expect to get really sharp images in the hot sun over a long distance for a couple of reasons:

    1) there isn't any real defining light from the side that will highlight details
    2) the top, sunlit surface is almost blown out while there is not that much light in the shade.
    3) there are probably air currents that cause shimmer and loss of detail across the open space.


    I would look at pictures taken closer to the end of day when the cross-light actually defines detail and the air is cooler.
     
  4. jstuedle

    jstuedle No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Shutter speed might have also been a contributing factor along with hold/panning technique. What was the shutter speed?
     
  5. The_Traveler

    The_Traveler Completely Counter-dependent Supporting Member

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    ll
     
  6. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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  7. jstuedle

    jstuedle No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Wops, sorry. I probably should read more before punch'in keys. :blushing:
     
  8. cigrainger

    cigrainger TPF Noob!

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    It's a fairly inexpensive long telephoto zoom lens. USM doesn't make the glass better, just means you exhibit less camera shake at less than the shutter speed rule of thumb. Zoom lenses are typically inherently softer than prime lenses.
     
  9. rskopek

    rskopek TPF Noob!

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    Thanks everyone for your insight. Sounds like the culprit is the lens, combined with les than ideal lightinng conditions. Is there a way to produce sharper images from such a lens, higher aperture, tripod, etc.? Or, do I have purchase a canon L-series lens to get fantastic results at high zoom?
     
  10. LaFoto

    LaFoto Just Corinna in real life Staff Member Supporting Member

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    My fear is that at a certain point the need to work on a tight budget (which applies to myself) ends in getting less quality as the end result. While I keep saying that it is not the camera that takes the photo (or the lens, as it were) but the person behind the camera, there is a point when top-notch equipment comes into play and REALLY helps to get the better photos. I will have to make do with what I have and live with it, and all I can do is admiringly look up to someone like Raymond J Barlow (check him out on here, it is highly recommended) and his wildlife (mostly bird) photography!
     
  11. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    huh I think you may be getting IS confused with USM. USM is a different motor technology which makes lenses much faster in focusing, but once that is done it has no effect on photography what so ever.
     
  12. meotter

    meotter TPF Noob!

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