Looking for some advice

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by wot_fan, Oct 5, 2008.

  1. wot_fan

    wot_fan TPF Noob!

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    I recently took up photography. I bought myself a Canon Digital Rebel XSi with an EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS telephoto and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM. For support I bought a Velbon 540 CF tripod with a cheap ballhead.

    Overall I have been happy with the results I have been getting with my setup. I plan on upgrading parts and adding more lens when I can afford to. In fact, I have a RRS BH-55 ballhead on the way.

    Sorry to be so long winded. Here is my question, all of the shots I have taken with the telephoto seem a little soft to me. What can I do to improve the sharpness? Do I need to buy better glass?

    Below are a few samples from my visit to Brookfield Zoo yesterday. C&C would be appreciated.

    1. This picture was taken with a tripod and remote switch.
    f/5.6, 1/10sec, ISO 800, FL:250mm
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    2. This picture was taken with a tripod and remote switch.
    f/5.6, 1/13sec, ISO 800, FL:187mm
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    The next two shots were taken with my macro lens on tripod with remote switch. Considering that they were taken through protective glass, I am pretty happy with the results.
    3. f/8, 1/4sec, ISO 100, FL:100
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    4. f/8, 1/6sec, ISO 100, FL:100
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  2. sarah1up

    sarah1up TPF Noob!

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    What you are seeing as "softness" might be noise from shooting at a higher film speed. But, when you are shooting with a telephoto lens, the pictures won't be as crisp as the shorter focal length lenses. You are right about a better lens, it would give you better results. But your composition is good, so I wouldn't worry about a little softness right now.
     
  3. wot_fan

    wot_fan TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the feedback.

    Below are fullsize crops of the pictures I posted. I can't tell if the softness I am seeing is caused by the high ISO, being slightly out of focus, shutter speed or something else. Am I just expecting to much out of my equipment? What do you think?

    I have been eying Canon's EF 100-400mm L lens. Maybe this will help me justify spending the money on it ;).

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  4. beaminge36

    beaminge36 TPF Noob!

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    I agree, the images look pretty soft. Although, the last two lizard shots looked better. The lens itself isn't a sharp lens but most lenses have their peak sharpness in the middle aperatures (f/8 to f/11) and medium zoom (100-150 for a 70-200 lens). keep within those parameters and you should be getting the most of your lens. Of course shooting conditions must be optimal to be able to use those aperatures without blurring subjects.

    The RRS BH-55 looks amazing and I would love one but I can't justify that price, just too much for just the ballhead for a non-profit hobby.

    Hope you can make the most out of your setup,

    Nick
     
  5. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Forget any notions of switching film, blowing $$$ on a new lens, or blaming the tripod.

    Your shutter speeds are slow... any subject movement (even slight) will introduce blur. Even if you shot with $10k worth of equipment, the shot would still be blurry at those chosen settings.
     
  6. wot_fan

    wot_fan TPF Noob!

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    @beaminge36
    Thanks for the info. I think the lizard shots are sharper because my macro lens is a little better quality than the zoom and because the subjects remained so still.

    Using the cheap ballhead that I have now is very frustrating. I put up with it until I could afford something better. I figure that buying an L lens is pointless until I have a quality support system. Every review I have read has rated the rrs bh-55 extremely high so I decided to make it my first step towards a rightous setup. I am really looking forward to breaking it in :mrgreen:.

    @usayit
    Thanks. I wasn't sure how fast the shutter speed needed to be to "freeze" the subject. When taking these pictures I was more concerned with depth of field than shutter speed :blushing:. Thanks to your help, I will do better next time ;).
     
  7. Resin42

    Resin42 TPF Noob!

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    Just a thought but are you sharpening these in photoshop at all? All the images posted with the exception of the first seem to sharpen up pretty well at least at this size. Your shutter speeds are obviously going to cause some problems in this area but most of these seem entirely savable.
     
  8. manaheim

    manaheim Jedi Bunnywabbit Staff Member Supporting Member

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    A good general guideline is never have a shutter time of less than 1/NNth of a second where NN is the focal length of your lens at the time of capture. Never go lower than 1/60th of a second handheld for a slow moving object and never go less than 1/30th of a second handheld for a stationary one.
     
  9. mrodgers

    mrodgers No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    He stated he was using a tripod.

    Thus, is there any rule of thumb with using a tripod similar to what you posted?
     
  10. manaheim

    manaheim Jedi Bunnywabbit Staff Member Supporting Member

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    ^^^ Well, honestly, not that much different. A tripod doesn't do you too much good if the thing you are taking a picture of is moving. Sure, it gives you some stability, but if you go down to even 1/30th of a second you may have motion blur.
     
  11. wot_fan

    wot_fan TPF Noob!

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    @Resin42
    No I haven't done anything to these images in photoshop yet. They all have had some exposure compensation applied in Aperture though. I wanted to get some feedback before I played around with them too much.

    @manaheim
    Thanks for the info. I will keep it in mind the next time I get out. Hopefully that will be this weekend to try out my new ballhead :).
     
  12. manaheim

    manaheim Jedi Bunnywabbit Staff Member Supporting Member

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    ^^^ can't stress enough the speed thing.

    By and large, if you're taking pictures of animals or anything moving you should be shooting at speeds that would basically make a tripod a waste of time and effort.
     

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