Clarity and Sharpness with 30D

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by mbwakali, Oct 5, 2006.

  1. I've only been taking photographs for the last two years and it was not until a
    year ago that I bought my first DSLR. Since then I've been rapidly trying to
    learn and understand the various nuances of photography, especially manual
    settings. I feel I have a grasp on what all the terms mean, how to use my
    camera, etc... However, I'm running into two problems. The first is that many of
    the shots I take feel flat and unsharp, and in my opinion poor quality and
    clarity. I look around on this forum and see all these photos that just jump off
    the page, regardless of subject matter, but simply from the technical side. I
    want to achieve that affect and I'm wondering if I'm doing something wrong or
    missing something. I've shot a variety of subjects from landscapes to cityscapes
    to sports to portraits, and very rarely does a photo jump out at me. How can I
    fix this problem, and does what I'm asking even make sense?

    Secondly, I've started to shoot mostly raw because I really enjoy the control
    after the fact. However, those files are large. Is there any reason to keep them
    after I have converted them to Tiffs or jpegs? Do people keep most of the photos
    they shoot or just specific ones?

    I appreciate any help or advice anyone has to offer on one or both of these

    I'm shooting on a 30D, primarily using an efs 17-85is 4-5.6 if that helps, I
    also have a 50/1.8 and a 75-300/4-5.6 is. Unfortunately I don't make any money
    volunteering to teach at a school so what I have is what I have :)
  2. do you get the same sharpness/ clarity issues with all of your lenses or just some?
  3. I would also try a 50mm/F1.8 stopped down to F/4-5.6 lens and use a tripod and a fast shutter speed 1/500s just to check if the camera is capable of taking sharp pics
  4. I believe - and others may disagree - that images have to be processed before they're any good. Personally, I haven't gotten a single usable from the camera. Not one.
    Here's a great place to start with photoshop and camera raw:

    Otherwise, you can use the camera raw pluggin and a program like Picassa - play with shadows, contrast, black and white conversions...ect....That should completely change your photography.
  5. yeah, but if the image comes out blurry there is not much PS can do
  6. Personally, I always save the RAW files, simply because that gives me the freedom to come back and reinterpret the original RAW in another way.

    Yes, it eats up a lot of space; I put 'em on DVD for now, although practically speaking, the archival quality of various media is still very much open for debate.
  7. A tripod goes a long way towards sharp images. That 50mm of yours is about as sharp a lens as you can get, stopped down. I am not familiar with the other lenses. I would say technique is the biggest key to sharp pictures. Even so, I always post-process my images, sharpening using unsharp mask in PS, and this always makes a satisfying improvement.
  8. It seems to me that they are usually just slightly blurry and not in focus. I've been reading about something called front focusing and I'm wondering if that is a problem I'm having. Also, my other thought is the viewfinder and adjusting that so that the picture through there is clear. I have better than perfect eyesight and suffer from minor color dificiency resulting in an inability to see navy blues, otherwise I'm fine. So...not sure what to do with it all...

    I'm just getting into PS and learning about the unsharp mask but I'm kind of clueless as how to best use it, any suggestions on that one?
  9. I have similar problems. I have a 30-D also (I have 4 lenses a 10-22 EFS, 17-85 EFS IS, 70-300 EF IS, and a 60 EFS Macro) and I use a tripod 90% of the time, with slow shutter speed I always use the time delay and often the lock up mirror functions, I also have the in camera sharpness set to 7, I shoot RAW 100% of the time. With all this I still find that my pictures need sharpening during processing. They come out fine after sharpening in PS but I always wonder whether the camera focusing system is off just a hair (this happens when I use manual focus as well).
  10. Michel, I know what you mean. I feel like every picture is just drives me crazy, and also makes me wonder if it is the camera. I know I've only been shooting for a few years, but I have a decent eye for composition, most of my issues come with settings then post-processing. But I don't get why most of my pictures are just soft or unsharp...maybe I'll try different in camera settings and see, cause even with the 50/1.8 I still see a bit of it...
  11. you cant have front/back focusing issues with all of your lenses. It might be the camera that needs calibration or you just shake to much. Try what I said in my first response and then we will see what to suggest next. And I think it shouldnt matter if your sharpening setting is at 7 or 3, the image should come out sharp regardless of this.
  12. "The first is that many of the shots I take feel flat and unsharp, and in my opinion poor quality and clarity... How can I fix this problem, and does what I'm asking even make sense?"

    What do you do with your images after you move them from the camera to the computer? Using the Canon software to tweak exposure (usually +/- 0.3) and color temperature is a good place to begin. Then save those changes as a TIFF file. Use photoshop to open the TIFF file. Adjust contrast and color as necessary (there are many ways to do this, this is how I do it). Or, if creating a black-and-white image, convert to greyscale, then adjust contrast and brightness, again many ways to do this...). Do any necessary dodging, burning or other image clean-up. Resize the file to your desired specification (for web application 72 DPI is what you should use, for inkjet prints 300 dpi is a fairly-well agreed upon standard). After resizing, use the Unsharp Mask function to sharpen images (good starting points are Amount/75%, Radius/1.0, Threshold/0). Save the post-processed image to an appropriately labelled folder ("Street Photography, 2006" or "Christmas, 2005", etc.).

    "Secondly, I've started to shoot mostly raw because I really enjoy the control after the fact. However, those files are large. Is there any reason to keep them after I have converted them to Tiffs or jpegs? Do people keep most of the photos they shoot or just specific ones?"

    I keep all my RAW files. I relate RAW files to negatives, and archive them accordingly. That is, I save every raw image onto a duplicate set of CD's monthly, these are saved in little, disc-sized, black, 2-ring binders. I do this monthly. One set stays on site, the other is stored at work in a locked filing cabinet. At the end of the year I save in duplicate any very special post-processed images to their own CD's. These CD's also go in the binders and I start a new set of binders each year. I started this system in 2004, and one hard drive crash later it has prooved to be a life saver, photographically. I am sure to have all my "negatives" ready to post-process, and all my post-processed "enlargements" ready to print. My file folders on my hard drive are labelled by year then by month (this month's folder label is 06.10). I save only RAW files in these folders.
    Hope this helps.

    Michael J Hoffman
  13. Paul, when shooting in JPG with your DSLR, the camera will perform the post processing automatically just after the shot is taken. The camera will post process per the way that you set up the in-camera parameters for contrast, saturation, white balance, sharpening, and other values as well. If you're shooting JPG, then you need to change these parameters to get the effect you require. In JPG mode, you rely on the camera to make post processing give this up. Bare in mind that even when shooting jpg, the camera creates a raw file, which is post processed and the result is an 8 bit/channel jpg...the raw is disgarded by the camera. By the way, a raw image provides 12 bits/channel (4,096 graduations per color vs 256 for jpg which is 8 bits/ channel).

    Now for shooting RAW, when you place the camera in this mode, you're asking the camera to ONLY capture the image, and nothing more. In-camera post processing is NOT performed. In this mode, you're telling the camera that YOU will be the one to control post processing, and to leave those steps to you. Consequently, the raws will look flat, drab, unsharp, lacking contrast, saturation, often just plain aweful, but this is okay, to be expected, and nothing to get upset about...this is what you want...a RAW file, having NO post processing at all. By the way, raw images will often look unsharp, fuzzy at times....this too is okay....the raw image is not sharpened in camera like jpgs, so the effect of the anti-alias filter is evident...this filter sits over the sensor and depending upon the camera model is very aggressive or not...the more aggressive it is, the less moire you'll find, noise will not look as bad, but at the price of precious image detail. But this effect is mitigated by either shooting jpg and relying on the camera to sharpen the image, or shooting raw and relying on YOU to apply sharpening routines during post processing.

    Then of course once you upload the images to your PC, you can perform the post processing in exactly the way you want, you have all the control.

    Be mindful that raw provides the highest image quality over jpg, for many reasons: Control is given to you, the photographer, 68.7 BILLION color graduations vs jpg's 16.7 million, 12 bits/channel vs. 8 bits, wider dynamic range, and raw is lossless...jpg's are compressed and compression often means loss of precious image detail, raw is better for enlargements.

    As for sharpness, make sure your shutter speed is no slower then the reciprical of the lens focal range....for example if your lens is set at 24mm, then your shutter speed should be at least 1/25 second.

    Keep your raws! They are the foundation of your image....if you lose the post processed what? As long as your have the raw you can create it again.

    In post processing work in 16 is much kinder to the pixels when processing them...less pixel and general digital artifacts get introduced.

    This is just a start....hope it helps.
  14. Why don't you post a couple of representative images, for more specific comments? What equipment are you using? Also, perhaps consider taking a photo course at a local junior college so that you get one-to-one advice? FWIW, there are books that can help generate photos that "leap off the page" -- e.g., Bryan Peterson, Learning to See Creatively. However, your posted shots of the coliseum and Tour d'Eiffel don't seem to suffer in that department.
  15. I have the same problem with you Paul. I am using Sigma 17-70mm / 2.8 - 4.0 and EF 50mm /1.4 lens. I had take over 500 photos and found that at least 50% of them with a little out of focus problem or blurry. I had try stop down the lens, it was better but not what I prefer to had. I took photo with my Canon G6 and 30D at the same situation and shutter and aperture settings. G6 got a very sharp photo but not by 30D !

    I don't think PS or stop down the lens are solutions, and I believe that 30D MUST better then G6. I start to re-setting my 30D body, and found that the problem is come from focus mode of 30D. When I set to "AI focus" mode, nearly all photos were correctly focus even in a relatively dim environment. Of course I got all sharp and clear photos. But I don't know why "One shot" focus mode cannot get a accurate focus. It was my experience, you may try it and verify the result.
  16. Tony, your changing the focus method and getting sharper images is probably a coincidence.

    Perhaps the reason your 30D images are worse then from your point & shoot is that your skills and/or methods of use are very wrong.

    You need to educate yourself on the proper use of a DSLR, how to handle it, how it works, then you can step back and compare it with a P&S.

    Stop blaming the equipment and start educating yourself.
  17. The 30D like any other DSLR will produce soft images when shoot Raw. Part of this is due to anti-moire filters and aliasing.

    With my 30D I shoot with no sharpening - I decide what sharpening to apply as the very last step of my workflow. This is because different output mediums require different amounts of sharpening. i.e. a 300 dpi print will require more sharpening than a resized JPEG for uploading to the net.

    Unless you shoot JPEG and fettle the picture styles to suit your tastes. Post processing is a part of DSLR photography.

    P&S cameras such as the G6 apply very aggresive sharpening straight out of the box - this is because the people using them are going to be less inclined to spend time tweaking the photos to get the best out of them.
  18. All the above advice is good. One thing however is not emphasized enough. I used to have the problem of getting good focus with my 20D. Now I have learned to select and use a red point (focus point) on the subject. If you do not make sure that the focus point is on the subject, the camera will focus anywhere. You really have to be careful to control the focus and not just hope that the camera will select the right focus distance. It takes some practice to control the focus point when you are composing the picture. Under right conditions, I just press the trigger halfway, set the center point for focus, focus on subject by putting the center point on the subject while the trigger is still half pressed, recompose the image and press the trigger fully to take picture. Your camera should be focusing where you want it to. Sandy
  19. yeah, you're right Sandy, I think he focuses correctly, it's obvious you have to point at the object to be in focus. I think hes got some diff problems here. Could you please post the image made with your 50mm lens?
  20. You guys are amazing first off. I pretty much only shoot in raw as I spent a lot of time reading to see which would be better. I liked the idea of all the control, a "better" looking image out of the camera, etc... However, it seems that a few people are saying that RAW images will come out of the camera looking flat, sorta blahish, and unsharp, as there is no processing done in the camera (correct me if I'm wrong on this). My financee often takes my camera and shoots random photos with it, all under automatic setting as she has no idea what to do with the manual controls (despite my trying to teach :) Anyways, I am looking at those photos versus the ones I take and see a difference. Today I will do the test with the 50, one in jpeg and one in raw and post both of those for review.

    Thanks again everyone for the replies, this is very helpful. Oh, and someone mentioned learning about DSLR use, which I have been trying to do as much as possible, are there any online resources that would be good for this? Unfortunately, in some ways, right now I live in Kyrgyzstan which has little to nothing to offer in the way of photographic educational materials, add to the fact that my internet connection is that of a modem, so...I am reliant on the internet for any learning I do. However I am awaiting a shipment of books - camera raw, ps for digital photographers, and one more, all of which will help but do not specifically cover DSLR, so any suggestions on that would be appreciated.
  21. I have 2 of the same lenses Paul speaks of, the 17-85mm and the

    As Paul writes I feel like I am looking in a mirror. I started with a Rebel XT 05/05/06 and was soooo pissed with the performance I went out and bought a 20D in July. I am not satisfied and I think the whole yarn about adding sharpening is the most illogical pile of crud brought fourth on the photography industry. Imagine $1000.00+ pieces of equipment only working at 95%.

    I dont think I have never heard anyone register this type of concern in the Nikon community.

    My faith in the Canon system has been rocked.
  22. Tony,

    If you lock focus and then pause you can easily have the subject move. Sometime when I am shooting musicians I switch to AI servo and in the brief moments between lifting the camera and the composition coming together you can hear the lens changing focus. Since I shoot at f1.8 the DOF is shallow enough for this to make a difference.


    When shooting wide open with fast lenses using focus and recompose can be a disaster. Unless you are scrupulous about only moving the camera parallel to the film plane then you change the subject to camera distance. With fast lenses even the small change produced by moving the camera can be critical.


    and my personal favourite

    where he switched from a D200 to a 20D to solve his focus problems.

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