Have I reached the limit of my equipment?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by WesVFX, Feb 25, 2012.

  1. WesVFX

    WesVFX TPF Noob!

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    Hey guys/gals... I've been noticing lately that a lot of my photos just aren't all that clear in detail. I'd like to think I've mastered the skills to scratch user error out as the problem, but I could be wrong. Below are a few recent photos I've taken. Take a good look at the foliage and corn husks to see what I'm referring to... My equipment is nothing special, just a Canon T1i and the kit lens (18-55mm) with a UV filter. These were both handheld shots with PP done in Adobe Bridge.

    Anyways, I'd like to know your thoughts. I'm thinking my lens just isn't able to deliver my expectations. Or am I doing something wrong?

    Shutter Speed: 1/60
    F-Stop: 4.5
    ISO: 100
    Focal Length: 32mm

    [​IMG]


    Shutter Speed: 1/160
    F-Stop: 11
    ISO: 100
    Focal Length: 29mm

    [​IMG]


     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2012
  2. o hey tyler

    o hey tyler Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Well, the kit lens isn't going to be a super sharp lens anyway. I can see the softness you're talking about on photo 2 though.

    Have you thought about expanding your lens collection?
     
  3. Mot

    Mot TPF Noob!

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    Yep. What more can we say? If you want sharper shots then you need new lenses. I'll give you the stock response, try the 50mm 1.8. It's a very sharp lens for such a low price point.

    Having said that, your shots are nowhere near as soft as some that I get from my lenses. It always depends on what you want to do with the shots. I need some of my soft shots blowing up to A4, they're far too soft but I have no choice but to do it.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2012
  4. WesVFX

    WesVFX TPF Noob!

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    :lol: of course I have! :)

    Just gotta get the $$$ first. I suppose I should have clarified a bit... Just wondering if the clarity you see in the above is the "norm" for a stock kit lens...?

    Yea... the 50mm is one lens I plan on eventually adding to my arsenal. But I'll probably go ahead and fork out for the 1.4... That and the 70-200mm (EXPENSIVE!)


    Just wanted to see if indeed my lens is what is restricting me from getting a lot of the nice shots I see on here daily... :)



    Thanks for your input guys!
     
  5. Patrice

    Patrice No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Take the UV filter off your lens, it is simply robbing your lens of contrast, introducing reflections, and reducing the overall light transmission. Your lens hood is a much better tool for protecting your lens and controlling stray light sweeping across the front of your lens.
     
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  6. Kerbouchard

    Kerbouchard TPF Noob!

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    Not nearly enough information here to be sure.

    A couple of things are definitely robbing you of sharpness before we even get to what gear you are using.

    First, the UV filter. It is most definitely effecting your outcomes.

    Second, you shot it hand held. While I do not know your shutter speed, for maximum sharpness, a tripod, mirror lock up, and a time delay are the first steps. Any time you are holding the camera, it is moving. Anytime you push a button, it moves. When the mirror slaps up to get out of the way, it introduces vibration. All of this robs sharpness.

    Third, based on the looks of the second shot, how much of the frame is in focus, and how dark the blues are, I would guess you used a relatively small aperture. This can cause diffraction which will also rob you of sharpness.

    So, basically, for the sharpest photos, shoot in your lenses sweet spot of aperture, use a tripod, use mirror lock up, use a time delay, and don't use crappy filters that aren't helping you to achieve an effect you desire. If you are doing all of those, and are still not satisfied with the sharpness, then you are limited by your equipment.
     
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  7. analog.universe

    analog.universe TPF Noob!

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    It is impossible to say "most definitely", because we don't know what kind of UV filter the OP is using. These shots are not typically the scenes that would stress the quality of a UV filter anyway. In my own tests, I took identical shots (some even straight into the sun), with and without my filters. Most of the time, even at 100% crop, there was no visible difference whatsoever.

    The amount of mythology around UV filters is a little silly sometimes. So many people swear them off because of the quality loss, but they've never owned one, so they have no idea of the quality loss. Some UV are horrible, and do all the things you guys complain about. However, if you pay for a half decent one, it will be pretty much undetectable in all but a few shots.

    The filter may not be "simply" robbing you of contrast and increasing reflections and reducing transmission. In fact, it may be altering the image so little that you couldn't tell the difference if you took it off. All depends on precisely which filter you're using.
     
  8. Kerbouchard

    Kerbouchard TPF Noob!

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    It is not impossible to say 'most definitely'. It is adding another piece of glass to the equation that is not necessary and was not taken into account during the design process. Whether, you personally can tell the difference when using a high quality UV filter is not the point. Even you admit that there are some shots where you can tell the difference.

    Taking this out of the hypothetical world and using the info provided, the OP is using an 18-55 kit lens. If he is using a quality UV filter that has minimal impact on image quality, then his filter costs more than his lens. I seriously doubt that is the case.

    In any case, irregardless of the filter, shooting handheld at a diffraction inducing aperture is probably 80% of the issues. The filter may be 5% and the lens and post processing is probably the other 15%.
     
  9. MLeeK

    MLeeK TPF Noob!

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    That lens should be cleaner than that. Get the filter off it. Some of your post processing is causing the fine lines to be a bit larger with the contrast.
     
  10. KmH

    KmH In memoriam Supporting Member

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    I don't think you've reached the limits of your gear. I think you have reached the limits of your photography/editing technical knowledge.

    How do you do PP in Adobe Bridge? It's a browser.
    You can host Camera Raw with Bridge (or Photoshop), and you can batch process in Bridge by going up under Tools > Photoshop and choosing from the options offered there.

    I agree the first step is to take the UV filter off the lens and start using the lens hood instead.

    Second, be mindful that at small lens apertures the effects of diffraction can also soften the focus. Diffraction Limited Photography: Pixel Size, Aperture and Airy Disks

    The first photo is a high frequency image, in so far as it has a lot of edges (the leaves, grass). It looks over sharpened or to 'crispy'.

    #2 is a lower frequency image and looks like you over did it with the Camera Raw - Noise Reduction, Color slider.

    Real World Camera Raw with Adobe Photoshop CS5

    Real World Image Sharpening with Adobe Photoshop, Camera Raw, and Lightroom (2nd Edition)
     
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  11. WesVFX

    WesVFX TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for your input everyone... I wasn't aware that the UV filter can cause issues like that. I'll try doing some test shots without it and compare to see if that helps any.

    I'm at work now (graveyards fun fun fun!), but when I get home I'll try and pull up all the shooting specs/info on these two particular shots. That might help pinpoint the problem a bit more.

    KMH, my workflow with Adobe Bridge is usually nothing more than "opening in camera raw" and adjusting as I see fit, vibrance, clarity exposure, etc... Then if I feel the photo needs additional care, I'll open it in Photoshop and do a little more fine tuning.

    I did no noise reduction at all in either photo... I try and make a habit of shooting with an ISO of 100 when possible just to circumvent that. Color slider/saturation/vibrance... you could be right there. My eye liked the PP in that area, but that doesn't mean my eye is "right" lol.

    Again thanks for your input, every bit helps! :)
     
  12. Buckster

    Buckster In memoriam

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    What was the shutter speed on these?

    What's your sharpening workflow?
     

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