The camera, the lens, or me?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by FergusonK, Mar 11, 2016.

  1. FergusonK

    FergusonK TPF Noob!

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    Recently I have branched out from things I am familiar with. Playing with settings on my camera, trying to figure out how things work. In doing so I have found a lot of noise in my pictures. When I blow them up to touch them up, they're not as sharp as I would hope they would be on a larger scale. Now with this particular lens I do most of my photography. It's a 55-200mm lens that came with the camera (reminder, the camera was used.)

    When doing close ups, i.e. on flowers or things of that nature, I'm having a hard time finding focus. It takes a minute or two to get my lens focused in and then sometimes I can repeatedly hit the shutter button and nothing. No click, no picture. My camera refuses to take it. I have to take a step or two back and try again. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

    Using this picture as an example. I was about four feet away and my camera still didn't want to take the picture. I hit the shutter button several times and nothing. Stepped back, and voila? Is it me? My camera? My settings? Do I need to replace this lens? Typically when these things happen which is it?

    I've read the manual several times and there are things I'm still not grasping. In this particular photo it was very BRIGHT outside, and I had to tone down my ISO. My camera kept trying to focus on other things ( I was in auto focus mode ) and finally managed to get on the same page and get a few pictures shot. Maybe my ISO was still to high? This is the raw image, unedited. As you can see the edges of the flower I was focused on are almost over focused and the area of focus is very bright still.

    Can I get some input?

    DSC_0487.JPG


     
  2. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    In this shot, the DOF is going to be very thin due in large part because of how close you are to the subject. If you are trying to exceed the close-foci capability of the lens, it will not achieve focus. I presume you are holding the focus point in the close flowers, but there can be a tiny misalignment between where you think you are attempting to focus and where the camera actually does its edge sampling. Doing this close-focus photography, shows you just how sensitive the focus is. Moving just a tiny fraction of an inch will often make the difference.

    In your other thread we discussed the UV filter. It could be affecting what the lens "sees" in trying to focus, so try this shot without the UV filter to see if you can tell any difference.
     
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  3. dennybeall

    dennybeall No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    A number of aspects of photography for you to brush up on, including your camera manual. The camera is waiting for a focus lock in order to fire and in this case you have a shallow DOF and objects close, middle and far with the camera trying to get set so it must pick one.
    Try setting the camera on manual focus or going with a spot focus mode so you can pick what the camera focuses on.
     
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  4. beachrat

    beachrat No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    From what you're describing,and what it seems to me like you're attempting to do,I would say ,YOU'RE TOO DARN CLOSE!!
    Honestly
    ,it's your lens,your camera has nothing to do with it.

    edit : didnt think the filter would let my real new york phony english through
     
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  5. table1349

    table1349 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    At 200mm with that lens you need to be at least 1 meter away from the subject. At 1 meter you have approximately a 2" depth of field. to work with. Not much on a small target that is hard for the AF to lock onto.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2016
  6. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    In AF-S , or autofocus, single-shot focus, there is a focus priority over and above shooting priority. AF-S is for situations where the user wants the camera to lock focus, and then to hold that focus point as long as the shutter button is held halfway depressed. AF-S is helpful at avoiding shots with missed focus. YOUR Camera was in AF-A, Autofocus-automatic switching, which can change automatically between AF-S and AF-C performance characteristics; this is why you has such a PITA time.

    AF-S is best for a stationary camera and a stationary subject. Some people consider AF-S to mean autofocusing, Stationary target, and AF-C to stand for autofocus, continuously moving target. AF-A is autofocusing , automatic switching

    AF-C is Continuous focusing, and in AF-C, at any time you want, you can mash on the shutter button fully and the camera will shoot, even if the focusing is off, by a little, or by a lot, whatever.

    My experience is that AF-A can be fooled at times. When the focus target is small, or difficult, such as these new blossoms, and the AF-A system is functioning with what is called focus priority enabled (AF-S type behavior), it will not shoot until the area under the active AF square is in dead-on focus. If the branches were moving a bit, and the camera were held steady, and the camera detected that the branches were moving, its AF-A system would switch its focusing and firing priorities a bit. (I am not a fan of AF-A focusing because it uses the best of, and the worst of, two different systems....I think it;'s a dumb idea, kind of like a combination, three-in-one gas pedal-brake pedal-clutch pedal...all fine, on their own, but realllllllly not good things to combine into automatic a self-selecting and self-switching mechanism... like a combo TV remote with mute/channel change/last channel, all combined in to one automatic button that can switch whenever "it decides to switch".

    In general...I think AF-A is not the best system for macro photography of things like this. And by the way, I shot some in-bloom trees this week myself--at high magnification like this, determining exactly WHERE, and I mean EXACTLY where the focusing point is, can be difficult for a computer brain! This type of blossom with tiny green leaves presents large numbers of very crisp-edged, high-contrast micro-targets. Move back to 30 feet, and the AF system will immediate get lock-on after lock-on on whatever specific branch the camera's active AF square is aimed at; move in to this close, high magnification zone, and the depth of field band is a couple of inches in total depth, and getting a precise focus is challenging. I would switch away from AF-A focusing for this type of macro/close-up subject.
     
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  7. FergusonK

    FergusonK TPF Noob!

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    This is very helpful! I have a smaller lens, but haven't used it much because most of what I shoot is wildlife. Deer, birds, buffalo, etc. This is helpful. Either step back ooor invest in a macro for what I attempted in this? I don't do much in the way of macro photography but it does fascinate me.

    The only issue I have with the manual focus is actually getting it IN focus. I ahbemt quite figured that out yet. Practice practice practice.

    Y'all have been very helpful!
     
  8. FergusonK

    FergusonK TPF Noob!

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    Haven't*
     
  9. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    A good-quality, screw-in, two-element close-up lens, one made by Nikon like the Nikon 6T, or by Canon, something like the Canon 500D close-up lens, would be a low-cost, easy way to get closer images. I am talking about a close-up lens, a two-element type, which gives very good optical quality, especially on a crop-sensor camera. These two element types are achromats, made with two different types of optical glass, and they are VERY good lenses...they look similar to close-up filters...simple magnifying lenses, reading glasses for your lens, as it were.
    EOS magazine article: Canon close-up lenses

    One of the classic solutions is to focus manually, with the lens set to is closest focusing distance. Move the camera and lens back and forth until the focus is sharp, then shoot. This is literally a method of positioning your tripod, or your own two feet, at the precise distance, and shooting photos only when the focus is dead-on. Instead of composing a shot, the focusing it, you first FOCUS by getting to the right distance, and then compose the shot and shoot it.

    At times, I find myself gently swaying a little bit forward and backward at the waist, and shooting when the focus looks good. Of course, this is when shooting with flash or at high shutter speeds, and mostly on very close-in work done hand-held. As you can see, at CLOSE distances, the depth of field band is only an inch or two, even stopped down to f/8. Tree blooming time only lasts a few weeks, so you just gotta' get out there and shoot,shoot,shoot.

    Shooting from a bit farther away than minimum focusing distance and cropping later is sometimes a good option, especially with newer, higher-Megapixel sensors cameras.
     
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  10. Ihatemymoney

    Ihatemymoney No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Two of lenses I use for product photography don't have AF, TSE 17mm and TSE 24mm.

    Straight up you want extremely sharp images and a way to train yourself to get sharp images without using AF is to shoot tethered.

    On a tripod. tethered or use live view .
     
  11. dennybeall

    dennybeall No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The 6T is good glass but the least expensive I could find was $89. Most were $99 to $120.
     
  12. soufiej

    soufiej No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I believe we have solved the issue of why your shutter would not release. The issue is the minimum focusing distance of your lens and the situations of the shot.

    However, the shot you have provided is by no means a "macro" shot. Given the limitations of your current lens, it is not even a "close in" shot.

    Dedicated macro lenses can get expensive if this is not a reasonable amount of the photography you shoot. However, with your DSLR, you have several options.

    The first spec you need to consider (for this style of photography) when shopping for a new lens is the "minimum focusing distance" of the lens.

    That spec needs to be as "close in" as is possible. A lens that offers nothing closer than, say, 1.5' is not ideal for this style of photography.

    Canon produces a few "superzoom" bridge cameras that are spec'd at 0.0 mm minimum focus distance. You can often times pick up one of these products (refurbished) at Canon's on line retail outlet for under $200. That's way less than you would spend for for a dedicated macro lens for your existing camera.



    Being a superzoom, they would also be ideal for your birding; Favorite Canon SX50 HS Photographs - Tony Britton

    Pick the correct superzoom for your needs and you have the photographic equivalent to a Swiss Army knife with tools to suit many needs. As an adjunct to a DSLR, IMO, the superzooms are all but a no brainer for anyone interested in nature photography but not the funds spent by the big guys.



    Derrel has suggested a screw on lens adapter for close in work which is another less expensive way to achieve decent close in photography. I would say do not concern yourself with the word "decent". When you are using a modern DSLR or bridge camera, your processing software can make the difference between "decent" and "wow" a very fine line of distinction.

    The only problem I see with such a lens adapter is the "screw in" part of the equation. And, I have to stop here and say, a screw type lens adapter is very secure and there's very little hassle to installation and removal of such adapters.

    However, there is also the Raynox adpater; DCR-250 Super Macro conversion lens for D-SLR camera

    The Raynox system is suited to a wide range of lenses where as the screw type adapter Derrel has mentioned is typically going to fit on one or maybe two of your lenses since it has specific threads which must match your lens size. This means, if you have several lenses, or even cameras, that you use for this type of photography, you might need several screw in type adapters to fit those several lenses.

    The Raynox system has a "universal" adapter which suits most common lens sizes with a simple pinch on the adapter. It offers very high quality images as you can see through a simple Google search. It is a frequently paired accessory to the superzooms also.

    And, given its level of performance, it is dirt cheap.

    If you prefer a screw type fitting for your adapters, there are also adapter rings which allow the Raynox to be screwed onto your lens. B&H sells the entire system and they can advise you on just which part of the Raynox system might work best for your needs.

    I'm guessing you are shooting with Canon equipment.

    If so, the newest prime lenses from Canon (24, 40 and 50 mm) are all suitable for close in photography as they all (now) have minimum focusing distances measured in inches, rather than in feet, away from your subject. The latest version of the 50 mm is a great lens for very minimal money. Pair it with a close in adapter and you'll have a respectable package for not much cost.

    Manual focus on any of these lenses is quick, easy and accurate.

    Even when using a lens with minimal focus distances, as Derrel suggests, manual focus is going to get you the sharpest images for shooting close in once you become accustomed to using the system.

    As lens to subject distance reduces, the affects of any subject movement due to the slightest breeze or your own camera's movement becomes even more problematic.

    Learning the options your camera offers for locking focus when using AF or knowing how to achieve best results from manual focus is your key IMO. If your camera offers the option for "back button focus", you might find that to be a useful feature when doing this style of photography; Canon DLC: Article: Back-Button Auto Focus Explained

    Just how much you wish to enlarge your prints is a consideration also and one you should, IMO, have in your mind as you assess your potential subject.

    If you have megapixels to spare on your camera, most of us won't need expensive lenses and adapters IMO for good results.

    With even a 12 mp digital camera, you probably have more than enough resolution in your camera's sensor to use your editing processor as an aid in bringing the image closer in.

    And remember, with a smaller sensor, the lens is providing an "equivalent" to a zoom lens on a full frame camera; Digital Camera Sensor Sizes: How it Influences Your Photography

    At 18 mp or higher, no matter the sensor size really, you can safely enlarge your image through cropping in the post production stage. Your (300-600 dpi) printer will typically be your limitation to just how much you can crop and enlarge in your computer rather than depending your camera's lens or sensor. Therefore, even a "close in" shot doesn't absolutely need to be taken from that close in.

    Give the many options now available to the budget oriented photographer, close in photography and even true macro styles are well within your reach. This style of photography opens up another entirely new avenue to explore and enjoy. As with your birding, you will be challenged in ways you can't imagine until you try.
     

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