E510 Poor Quality shots

Discussion in 'Olympus' started by william_white|8, Jul 24, 2008.

  1. first some background.

    I've been using an OM4ti for years, getting excellent results - superb sharpness from 4000dpi transparency scans and 24" prints. (Am a
    published photographer - not a novice)

    Recently bought an E510 with a 12-60mm Zuiko lens.

    Impressions are very bad. Have not managed to get one single shot that gets anywhere close to the quality I was expecting (which was
    something approaching the results from my OM4ti)

    The best shots, which are very very few, are soft. Most are of low "real" resolution; indistinct. Many are downright unusable.

    I shoot raw. Maximum resolution. With a tripod. IS off.

    Take the photos into Photoshop or Lightroom for processing. Initial RAW images look awful, needing severe sharpening, which results in
    a horrible plastic look, reminiscent of the painterly effect filters people pollute their photos with. (which are horrid).

    I persevered and have taken hundreds and hundreds of shots. Maybe one or two are decent. Vast majority are blurry. I can get them to
    look okay on a computer screen by reducing dimensions below 50% and applying sharpening. (this is what tends to happen with photos
    that people post proclaiming decent quality).

    However, at 100% resolution - unusable.

    So I sent the camera and lens off to Olympus who have just told me that the camera and lens are perfectly okay - and that the quality I
    should be getting is "comparable" to the quality I was getting from my OM4ti and Velvia. (!!!!?????!!!!!).

    Well, that has snookered me - I am heading off to Europe on holiday and wanted to take a digital camera, but can't trust it. It has been a
    VERY expensive (failed) experiment.

    Any thoughts?
  2. My E-510 with the Zuiko 14-54 give me excellent shots, as good or better than those I got with my older Leica and Pentax glass. All I can suggest is to read the manual and set the camera up the way you want it to work.
  3. Suggest you post example photos for review, along with exif data and any other relevant information you can think of.

    I have a 510 and 12-60, and it's a cracking combination. That you're finding the "vast majority" blurry implies flawed equipment or technique, or perhaps your eye is simply tuned to analog image characteristics. Is the 12-60 your only lens? If so, it might be helpful to go to a shop and demo other lenses to isloate whether the body or lens is the culprit.

    Best of luck,

  4. Rick - the equipment is not faulty - at least that is Olympus' consideration. Flawed technique? Well, I can get pin sharp
    shots with my OM4ti and my cybershot point and shoot (better results than my E510!).

    I'll post some images - of course, they will need to be just sections of the photo - otherwise we are talking about 10mb

    Intrigued to know what you mean by "tuned to analogue images"?

    Jim - read the manual? Why? Surely I should be able to set the aperture, set the shutter speed and press fire? Or even
    set it to full auto and press fire. And get a sharp shot - every time, all the time. Why on earth do I need to read a manual
    to take a sharp photo?

    Is there something inherently complex about the E510 that requires a photographer to read a manual before he gets
    sharp shots? This is a serious question
  5. An example image would be so much more helpful than text, but, just shooting in the dark here, it is possible that
    autofocus is changing just as the shutter is tripped. If focus is locked and kept locked by keeping the shutter release half
    pressed, can you then obtain a sharp image when you depress fully. Of better yet, turn auto focus off, manual focus the
    lens and then trip the shutter...
  6. yes, I use manual focus - I have some examples - how do I post them here?
  7. Another 2 shots in the dark from an E-510 user.

    1. If you're using LiveView, the manual focus assist may be helpful for detail focusing. I use that a lot for small studio work.

    2. If you're using the viewfinder, it has been my experience that the diopter does not stay adjusted reliably. Either that or my big paws move it around in handling.

    Okay, make that 3 ...

    3. The addition of a Cat's Eye focusing screen to replace the default one helped me a lot.
  8. William, I was not being impolite in suggesting you read the manual. It has been my experience that DSLRs are much more complex, with many more variables, than even expensive film cameras. It is easy to get trapped in the complexity. Just this morning I shot a series of pictures and did not realize, until I sat down to examine the images and data, that I had done it all in "A" mode, with the aperture fixed at f/4.5. I had used this setup the last time I had the camera out, while using a manual lens on an adapter.

    I have tried manual focus on my Zuiko 14-54 and have not found a case where I could improve on the autofocus provided by the camera when using the center focus point.
  9. I've had my e510 for almost a year and I haven't experience any such problems. Do use the IS1 setting and auto focus most of the time. No problem with sharpness, and most of my photos are hand held. I just don't understand. See my Spain and Mexico photos, they were all shot with the e510.
  10. to post an image, add a text in the Contribute answer section, and submit, and then confirm, the following screen will allow
    you to browse and attach an image file.
  11. [[and my cybershot point and shoot (better results than my E510!)]]

    And therein hides the real source of your problems: education (aka: the learning curve). You're expecting
    results based on a very different system. Digital SLR photography is /not/ the same as film (scanning included)
    and is not the same as a digital point and shoot (who's extremely wide-angle lenses and very strong in-camera
    sharpening are sledge hammers to photographic images).

    [[ Initial RAW images look awful]]

    RAW images can't "look" awful because a RAW "image" cannot be viewed. A RAW file is exactly that: the RAW data.
    An image is not RAW data. Ergo, an image you view on the screen that was developed from a RAW file is the
    product of your development choices. If you choose to accept the defaults of whatever RAW conversion program you
    use as representative of your images then it should not surprise you that your images don't look like you think
    they should.

    Hopefully this response doesn't sound harsh and critical (it's not meant to). You just need to understand that
    digital photography is not a drop-in replacement to film. It's a different system with different responses and
    different requirements for creating images. The more you learn about these differences the better you will be at
    producing images you are happy with in a proficient manner.
  12. I've been using a 510 for almost a year now. I've had no problem with image sharpness. First of all turn the IS on even with a tripod, get a cable release so you don't have to touch the camera while making an exposure, do your framing with live view, then turn it off to focus manually and expose the shot.
  13. Hi William. Why not look at some sample images from the E510 review on dpreview.com. I think you'll agree there's nothing wrong with the model.
  14. Rob - I have been dealing with RAW files for years - I understand digital processing having been a contributor to several best selling photoshop books (Photoshop WOW for example). When I open a RAW file, my default is no sharpening and colour balance as shot. I DO know that there will be contrast variables that need adjusting. However, I would expect the shot to be sharp, straight out of the camera. (and your explanation is not quite correct - ALL image files are just data. This has been past experience when processing RAW files for other photographers. The initial image was sharp. Glenn - using IS and a tripod is discouraged in the manual (I did read it!). And to be fair, it does make the photos worse. Anyway, here is a section of a photo with no sharpening: Hugh - I have seen many images on the net. Not seen (m)any that are full 10 mega-pixel resolution. Mostly they are reduced to well below 50% which of course gives the impression of sharpness. My photos look great, pin sharp, at smaller sizes. That, however, is pointless to me! Tim - I don't understand why the focus has to be ultra critical (for the vast majority of shots). Taking a street scene, at say F11 and 12mm, should render almost the entire scene, from just a few metres away to infinity, sharply.
  15. one small clarification, is it true to say that the unprocessed RAW file will not require sharpening? I had the understanding
    that without some degree of sharpening ALL RAW files will be soft, due to the filtering required to make digital color from
    RGB sensors...
  16. of course, but there is a difference between "soft" and blurred. I've done a bit of googling and it seems I am not the only one with the
    problem. (I did look at the dp review examples, and yes, there is an intrinsic softness to the files at 100%)

    Finally got through to a technician at Olympus this morning who told me, "of course the quality of the 4/3rds system is not as good as the
    OM4ti and a good Zuiko lens - the OM4ti was a top of the range SLR."

    This 510 and 12-60 lens is getting sold. :(
  17. [[- the OM4ti was a top of the range SLR." ]]

    Can you explain how a film camera body would affect sharpness?

    [[there is an intrinsic softness to the files at 100%) ]]

    And how do they look printed? If you've had experience with RAW files, what are you comparing these results with?
  18. better dampening. Do you think the section of photograph above is sharp? That was taken with a decent Manfrotto tripod, and anti-shock of 4 seconds. F11 at 1/60th second. Do you think it is acceptably sharp? I must say, the questioning of my technical ability is somewhat surprising - I have been in the design and print industry for 25 years - I know what a sharp photo looks like and how to print one! This is a straight scan from a 35mm velvia slide (4000dpi scan). Do you think it is sharper than the above image (which was one of the sharper photos I've managed to get from the e510)?
  19. and the photo from which it is a section - to show how much detail is there:
  20. and the digital file showing which section.

    Honestly - I thought I would come here and find some answers as to why these images were softer than I was expecting.
    Instead it seems that my technique is at fault. Which is obviously not true.

    Thanks anyway.
  21. and the digital file showing which section. Don't mention the blown whites. I can live with that. Honestly - I thought I would come here and find some answers as to why these images were softer than I was expecting. Instead it seems that my technique is at fault. Which is obviously not true. Thanks anyway.
  22. [[nstead it seems that my technique is at fault. Which is obviously not true ]]

    I don't think you've proven anything about your technical abilities. No one here is a mind reader and no one here knows what you do and do not understand about digital imaging.

    [[I know what a sharp photo looks like and how to print one! ]]

    Yet again, what does the image from the RAW file look like printeD?
  23. I think I have. I've shown that I can take a photograph that is at least sharp and in focus. Maybe you could point out
    what it technically faulty with the scan above? That has been litho printed on a double page spread in the Evening
    Standard magazine, and is pin sharp at that size)

    I've also said that I am in the print industry and have contributed to best-selling books on digitial imaging (photoshop
    WOW). I know how to prepare and print files for optimum output. (okay RAW is not optimum, but sharpness needs to be
    there to begin with)

    How do the RAW files from my e510 look printed? At full-size, 300dpi, (A4) they are soft. I have output them from a
    Indigo Digital Press at work to check. I did this before I sent the camera to Olympus.
  24. [[Maybe you could point out what it technically faulty with the scan above? ]]

    Maybe you could stand up a few more straw men? I never said anything about the quality your film work or your
    film scans.

    [[However, I would expect the shot to be sharp, straight out of the camera. ]]

    [[okay RAW is not optimum, but sharpness needs to be there to begin with]]

    I would not, especially not at 100% views. The anti-alias filter in front of the sensor, as you are well aware,
    would affect sharpness in order to combat morié. Try shooting with a camera without a anti-alias filter for

    There's a ton of information on the web and in print about various sharpening techniques for digital files.
    Perhaps the connection is non-obvious?
  25. [[the quality your film]]

    ...the quality of your film...
  26. Rob, I can't understand your angle? - I posted a sharp photo, which you then responded to by saying I haven't proven
    that I can take a sharp photo - now you are saying you have said nothing about the quality of my photos?

    Are you just picking an argument? Or are you always like this?

    Any file that has an intrinsic softness cannot be successfully sharpened.

    That is a fact.

    Maybe you could post an example of a sharp file from an e510 at 100% size?

    Maybe you could post an example
  27. I just ran across a article in Shutterbug, November 2007, and discusses the noise reduction seting for the e510. Seems that the nominal setting is too agressive and they recommend using the low setting. See like for the complete article. http://shutterbug.com/equipmentreviews/amateur_digital_slrs/1107olympus/
  28. William,

    maybe you need to purchase a 21 megapixel Canon or the Mamiya with ZD digital back.

    The velvia shot contains lots of grain. Start reducing noise with some algorithms and I bet you loose quite a bit of detail.

    Your RAW image looks like what can be achieved with a typical 10MP DSLR. You should invest in the Canon with about 4k in the very best L glass also. Get that checkbook out because without a large investment you are not going to achieve what you are looking for.

    and BTW: its not your glass either. Its the sensor. The new Zuiko pro zooms are pretty sweet and hold up quite well when compared against primes.
  29. The "digital section" and the "window" detail seem equally sharp to me, absent of noise. The addition of random noise can
    make an image appear sharper than one without. Perceptually, the first detail is "smoother" in appearance than the second.
    If printing the larger image of "digital detail" seems soft, perhaps adding noise, or having less aggressive noise reduction in
    the initial image, when printed, might look sharper.
  30. i too shoot RAW with an E510 in manual mode. i use Lightroom to develop the RAW files. i also have used an OM-3 for
    almost 20 years as well. i would have to agree that images are soft out of the E510, but i find it depends on the lens.
    when i use some of my better zuiko legacy glass i get superb images with the 510 so i don't think your issue William is the
    body, but the glass. i also use a Nikon Coolscan VED for my fujichromes at 14bit and get fantastic results with my older
  31. "Glenn - using IS and a tripod is discouraged in the manual (I did read it!). And to be fair, it does make the photos worse."

    William, I know what the manual says, but I also know from experience the shots are sharper with IS on. You're using a new camera. the instructions are nice guide lines, but you have to adapt to the camera not try and force into an mode of operation you used previously with a different model.
  32. It's not really fair to compare the small 4/3 sensor to a piece of 35mm Velvia film. Velvia is one of the highest
    resolution color films available. Comparing the 4/3 sensor to 35mm Velvia is like comparing 35mm Kodak Gold
    to 645 Velvia. It just isn't a fair comparison.

    You may wish to investigate a DSLR with a larger sensor... APS-C or full frame, perhaps. Or stick with film for a
    while longer, which you do seem to be very comfortable with. The bridge shot on Velvia is beautiful, by the way.
  33. JK & RT

    It is nice to hear that maybe my concerns about the camera are correct (rather than my technique).

    To be honest, I held off from going digital for a long time (other than my P&S). I thought now was the time to jump.
    Maybe it isn't, because my OM4ti and Zuiko lenses (50mm F1.2; 24mm F2.4; 135mm f3.5) and the Nikon scanner are
    giving me better results than the e510 with a zuiko 12-60.

    I was comparing the 4/3 sensor to 35mm velvia. I was led to believe they are comparable.

    I am disappointed.


    For those here that are convinced it is my technique; I would love to know what settings to start with in the RAW

    Seriously. Any pointers would be appreciated.
  34. After reading all this, my only suggestion would be for you to return the E510 and try another one instead of continuing this process, which obviously isn't working....I've been using my E510 now for a little while with nothing but excellent results. Lemon examples do exist in all models produced by any company. Get one that WORKS. I've been nothing but pleased with mine..







    Every one of the images on those files were shot RAW and processed with in either Olympus Studio 2.0, or I converted the file via the DNG converter and I subsequently processed them in Camera RAW with Photoshop CS2.
  35. I see no reason why now isn't as good a time as any to switch from film to digital, but you just need to bear in mind that in order to match the results you're accustomed to with 4000 DPI Velvia scans, you're going to need something more along the lines of a Canon 5D or a Nikon D3 or D700. It is amazing how good the 4/3 sensor is, considering its size, but it just isn't a match for a bigger sensor (or a bigger piece of film). Also worth noting, as others have mentioned, is that Olympus chose to put a fairly strong anti-aliasing filter in front of the sensor on the 510, which further softens things. The Panasonic L10, which also uses a 4/3 sensor, has a less aggressive AA filter, and as a result, the images are indeed sharper than those from the 510, even though the sensors themselves are otherwise nearly identical.

    If you like film, by all means, keep using it! I was amazed that Fuji brought Velvia 50 back from the dead, but next time they decide to discontinue it, we probably won't see it brought back again. So... enjoy it while you can!
  36. "... what settings to start with in the RAW conversion."

    Take a look at the RawTherapee (http://www.rawtherapee.com) converter. The software is free (the authors asks for $10 or $15 donations) but is an excellent RAW converter. Choose the EAHD demosaicing algorithm. Use the deconvolution based sharpener rather than USM.

    As for film, give Kodak Gold 100 and 100 TMAX a try. Both are sharper and higher resolving than Velvia.
  37. You are both right and wrong, E510 is entry level kit with an AA filter to hide the sensor problems.E3 not much better, compare by relative price and you are in full frame territory , mega bucks, mega bulk.
    You may like to google for "max max" they remove the "toilet window", D200 results impressive but not for small sensors me thinks.
  38. Greg, my camera does WORK. At least according to Olympus. They tested it, and the lens. :(

    I really didn't want to get a huge camera like the full frame Canons - lugging that around all day would be a pain. Plus the
    cost - spending that sort of money, I'd demand that the quality was a step UP from the OM line and decent film.

    After reading endless web sites I came to the conclusion (erroneously it seems) that the 4/3rds sensor could give as
    good results.

    I get the feeling that there is a bias by those that have invested money in a system not to can it. I can understand that
    to a degree, but honesty is better.

    I suppose, one day, hopefully, we will see medium (or large format quality) on these digital sensors, at decent prices.

    Robert - yes I am very familiar with those films. And use them. My scanner seems happiest with Velvia but I use
    negative films for ease when people require prints - family occasions, weddings etc.
  39. William, you bought a camera that was designed for casual photography and are demanding that it perform like a specialized piece of equipment. I am completely unsurprised that you are not getting the same perceived sharpness from an E-510 RAW file and a properly scanned piece of Velvia shot on a tripod. I don't think it has anything to do with your technique, just an unrealistic expectation. Film plus good lenses resolves an astonishing amount. The 4/3 sensor has limitations. With good technique and judicious sharpening you can get very nice prints, no question. But it does not reach as far as a well-scanned piece of film. What you may want for your needs is the Canon 5D, which seems universally to have the highest image quality of the non-medium format digitals out there. With some rebates going on now, I think you can get one for $1600 or so.
    Before getting flamed, let me add that I love the small Oly DSLR's. My E-400 is wonderful for street photography. I wouldn't expect it to be quite so good for landscapes, though.
    I'm also an OM-4Ti shooter, and the resolution with modern negative films is still wonderful. Here is a shot from last week on Kodak Portra 160 NC taken with the Zuiko 40/2 at f2.8, scanned with a Konica-Minolta scanner at 5400DPI:
  40. turn the ISO down to 100, turn the AA filter down, and you'll see better results. you just can't compare 4000dpi scans of
    high quality film to 300ppi 10mp digital images. its like comparing apples to oranges. if you look at all the mid-range digital
    cameras, the 510 is a great camera, and the 12-60 is an outstanding lens.
  41. Re your last comment--
    "I get the feeling that there is a bias by those that have invested money in a system not to can it. I can understand that to a degree, but honesty is better.
    I suppose, one day, hopefully, we will see medium (or large format quality) on these digital sensors, at decent prices. "

    I don't think there is strong evidence to support that conclusion, but that is ok if you believe it. Others in the forum have used top line film gear and medium format. Digital is moving along. And Olympus is not standing still. One day as you say is not far off. Wishing you well with your next digital foray. aloha
  42. Mathew - I have obviously tried that! The picture posted earlier is ISO 100, with the NR off. With a tripid and anti-shock.

    I do understand that you cannot compare the quality of the e510 with film.


    But I didn't THEN!

    Anybody want the camera and lens?
  43. I do not own an Olympus E510 but I find it pretty hard to believe that this camera cannot produce a sharp photo in an A4 size print comparable to your OMs.

    I shoot with an OM4Ti and mostly fixed focal length primes (24mm f2.8, 50mm F3.5, 90mm F2 etc) scanned with a Canon 4000dpi dedicated film scanner and printed with and Epson R1800 printer. Generally I'm pretty happy with the results I get from my OMs and scanned slide film.

    Last year I brought a Nikon D40x with the standard the cheap 18-55 kit lens. The printed results I get from this camera lens combination are easily comparable (if not better in terms of sharpness) than the results I have had from scanned film images. And this is using a cheap kit lens. I can't imagine what kind of results I will get when I start using some decent Nikon Glass.

    I would imagine that the image quality of the Nikon D40x and Olympus E510 should be comparable at low ISOs. The Olympus E system lens you use, is reputed to be top notch.

    (BTW I am not a novice also shoot 4x5 Large format so I have a pretty good idea on what constitutes a sharp image)

    Some guesses to what may be causing your softness. You may have a dud lense (I understand some of the 12-60mms had focusing problems), your focusing is off, the in camera noise reduction settings and/or sharpness settings are contributing to a soft image or maybe your RAW conversion software is not up to scratch. Lastly 100% screen shots can be deceiving. What looks slightly soft at this size can often look very sharp in print, and all digital files weather they are scans or digital require some post production sharpening before printing. The sharpness in the digital crop you posted is about what I would expect straight out of the camera from such a low contrast area.
  44. William...let me know if you're still selling your E-510.
  45. William, While sweating through a garage sale yesterday something clicked as I was getting cash for our old OM-PC. Every film lens you mentioned is a prime fixed focal length. You cannot ever expect a zoom lens, no matter how good, to perform at the same level of sharpness as a fixed focal length lens.

    I've used a couple of our old Zuiko prime OM lenses on my 510. The images are as sharp as anything I ever got from film. With the current zooms, I always have to use some sharpening techniques in post processing. I also have software that allows me to get razor sharp A size prints.

    When you submit something for publication, is it a print or an image file? You are aware that any publication has their own editing staff to make their product press ready including additional PP, so you know that they will be manipulating what you provide in some way.
  46. Hi William, You probably already took this into consideration, but anyway... Could it just be the small aperture? I notice the picture you have shown is taken at f/11, which is great for 35mm, but not so great for a 4/3 sensor, due to diffraction. Or is sharpness disappointing at any f value?
  47. I think Paul has a point... f/11 on a 4/3's "normal" range lens will basically be similar to f/22 on a 135 film
    normal lens. This is one of the downsides of a smaller sensor, requiring shorter optics and there-fore
    physically smaller aperture sizes. This problem becomes compounded considering that most of the 4/3's lenses are
    pretty slow, meaning that many of them probably begin losing sharpness due to diffraction when only mildly
    stopped down.

    Considering the DOF effects of the smaller sensor, the old photojournalist's motto "f/8 and forget it" or "f/8
    and be there" probably needs to be adjusted to "f/4 and forget it" for 4/3's.... which translates into shooting
    wide-open with many of the lenses. Group f.64 preached stopping an 8x10 lens down to f/64.... however when you
    scale that down to a 25mm lens for 4/3's you are looking at f/5.6! (Calculated assuming a normal lens for 8x10
    of 300mm, resulting in an aperture 4.69mm in diameter... the exact aperture diameter being the primary function
    of the diffraction effect).

    However, even at f/5.6 you are looking at the same amount of diffraction across the 4/3's sensor as on the same
    sized rectangle on an 8x10 negative... and then you are talking about blowing that toe-nail sized sensor image up
    to 8x10, so any diffraction at-all becomes magnified something like 300 X before being viewed. Your first image
    is from a section of the sensor probably 1.5mm square.

    So considering all of that, try dialing back on the aperture and seeing what happens. Shoot some stuff at f/4
    and f/5.6 and see if your results don't look a little better. I would even try shooting the same architectural
    scene at all apertures. MTF tests from this lens show it to be sharper across the field at the wide end than the
    long end, and conveniently, you have a little more play in terms of stops at that end since it is a variable
    aperture lens.
  48. funny

    £500 lens that is useless at small apertures.

    Don't know whether to laugh or cry.

    (how come my old Zuiko primes were pin sharp across the aperture range? My 135 F3.5 was sharp at f22 and that cost

    How am I supposed to get long exposures? Invest in a range of neutral density filters because a £500 semi-pro lens is
    rubbish closed down.

  49. William

    Clearly you have little experience with Digital Cameras. The lens is fine. Its one of the highest rated digital zooms available. I geuss the millions of photographers who are working with this type of equipment professionally and achieving stunning results dont know what they are talking about.

    I think your velvia snippet looks grainy and lacks smoothness. Anyone who mulls out to take a photograph of an old bridge on a tripod with a 35mm film camera (why would you not use a medium format for this type of shot?) using oversaturated mickey mouse colors film is probably a little out of touch regardless. Not fine art and not professional in my book but we all have our opinions. Its what photo.net is about. We all get to indulge in our opions about gear. Sometimes the "photography" takes a back seat. I am often guilty of this myself.

    You are a major whiner.
  50. I clearly do have little experience with digital cameras, which is what this is about.

    But 20 years experience with digital imaging - what about you? How many design awards have you won?

    Why did I not use my Bronica for that shot? Didn't want to lump a big camera around all day - that is the point of 35mm
    isn't it? Size and weight vs quality?

    Whether you like the the bridge photo is immaterial to the issue - it was posted because it shows the detail in the photo.
    Detail that I expected but did not get with the e510. If you can take a shot with the e510 with that amount of detail then
    please go ahead and post it. (and when that photo is reduced to 10megapixels (it is 22) then it is utterly smooth and
    razor sharp.

    But, please feel free to continue to post whining diatribes about others' whining!
  51. "f/11 on a 4/3's "normal" range lens will basically be similar to f/22 on a 135 film normal lens"

    Patrick, f/11 is f/11 no matter what kind of lens or format. It has to do with the amount of light arriving at the film plane or sensor. It has no relation to the physical size of the opening from one lens to the next. Light meters wouldn't work without the constant.

    William, As I said before don't compare a zoom to a prime. They are not equal, ever. You're going to have to adjust to the new environment, especially the PP. I know it's not the way you have worked before. Experiment with what you have and try a variety of sharpening techniques. You might be pleasantly surprised with the results.

    Your "Henry Heath shot isn't soft." There is actually a lot that can be achieved with that raw file. I could get an image that would rival your bridge shot without much difficulty, and I'm not a master of PP. You came here for answers, and I'm making every effort to provide you with options short of selling your gear.
  52. William,

    No I have not won any design awards. Its also doubtful you won anything with that shot. Reminds me of the type of pictures you used to see in camera catalogs or winning photos at camera club/county fair competitions that novices often submit. Technically well excuted boring photographs with oversaturated mickey mouse colors. About as original as your standard Golden Gate bridge photo at the "magic hour" and one that requires the artistic vision of a rock.

    Fortunately, this type of shot has become such a cliche that even most camera companies wont use this type of rubbish for their catalogs anymore.
  53. Funny how the folks with the harshest words are always the ones who hide behind a fake name...
  54. so this is now an argument about the aesthetic qualities of a photo of Tower Bridge (which, sadly, did win an award in
    the Evening Standard...meh.) Thanks for saying it is technically well executed though - which was the damned point in
    the first place....

    but getting away from the trolling (if you can't, please leave) and back to the subject at hand.....please feel free to post a
    comparable image with the same sharpness - along with how you did it.

    Glenn, as I have said, I am quite comfortable with PP. I am quite comfortable preparing images for print (it is my job); I
    was just uncomfortable with the less than sharp images straight out of the camera. Because I am quite aware that it is
    impossible to introduce real sharpness to a "unsharp" image.
  55. I would say its not I who has the harshest words.

    I am anonymous because photo.net is a gear forum.

    There is some excellent work on photo.net but its founding members place emphasis on "shutterbug" type
    photography. This is great. Room for everything. Just a little different than browsing Photo District News where one sees original artistic vision. Its all personal opinion anyways. I am a gear head and admit it. But I see being a gear head as a little bit contradictory to being an artist.

    BTW what is your name R.T? you choose not share part of your name with us? mine is John FYI
  56. Hi William,

    Returning to the original subject...

    > £500 lens that is useless at small apertures.
    >(how come my old Zuiko primes were pin sharp across the aperture range? My 135 F3.5 was sharp at f22 and that cost £20)

    Your old Zuiko primes (and all my Zuiko primes as well!) are not really pin sharp up to f/22: at f/16 or so resolution starts visibly going down due to diffraction. As a result of physics, not lens quality. On a small sensor, this effect becomes obvious at larger apertures compared to using 24x36mm: 50 lines/mm means 1200x1800 lines resolution for film. It means 650x900 on a 4/3 sensor, simply because the sensor is so much smaller. So you need about twice the resolution in lines/mm on a 4/3 sensor to get the same sharpness in the final picture. It also means that diffraction is limiting the sharpness of the final picture much earlier.

    > How am I supposed to get long exposures? Invest in a range of neutral density filters because a £500 semi-pro lens is rubbish closed down.

    Yes, an ND filter would help. You already set the iso to its lowest value, so there is no room in that area. But before buying the filters, I would check if the results are indeed better if you set the aperture to f/8 or 5.6 or so.

    If you want hard numbers on the maximum resolution you can get depending on aperture and sensor/film size, look at table 3 on the following web page: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutorials/resolution.shtml

    As you can see there, Patrick's comment that "f/11 on a 4/3's "normal" range lens will basically be similar to f/22 on a 135 film normal lens" is true, when the detail that can be captured is concerned (I suppose he was referring to that, and not the amount of light reaching the film).

    Hope this helps,

  57. Glenn... f/11 is f/11 in terms of exposure on any lens and any format, but is different in terms of depth of
    field and diffraction in different formats. You cannot honestly tell me that you have not noticed that 4/3's
    lenses have a wider DOF at the same apertures as the equivalent focal length lenses in 35mm or medium format.
    There are reasons that 35mm and 4/3's normal lenses don't go down to f/64 like large format lenses, and it's
    because they don't have to to attain the same DOF and if they did, they would suffer greatly from diffraction as
    the aperture sizes approach pin-holes. And f/stop has everything to do with the physical size of the lens
    aperture opening.... f/stops are specifically measured as focal length divided by aperture diameter. A fixed
    f/2.8 lens on a cell-phone camera basically has infinite DOF because of the changing ratio of sensor size to
    aperture in terms of DOF. I would guess that the aperture of the cell-phone camera is specifically matched to
    the focal length of the lens to help reduce diffraction... similar to the way pinhole cameras are designed around
    aperture and focal length... something that is more difficult with wide-angle lens design on SLR's.
  58. William, an OM 135mm lens at f/22 is not the same as the 50mm lens at f/22 or a wide angle 24mm lens at f/22 in terms of DOF or diffraction... if you can even find a 24mm lens for OM that will stop down to f/22! Your lens isn't useless, but it very well could be that the extra f/stops are probably superfluous and are more marketing than useful stops. Any lens that I have looked at tests for seems to operate best in the middle of it's aperture range... with the highest f/stop being a little fuzzy. I would suspect that f/22 on your lens is intended more for the 60mm end than the 12mm end of the zoom range. In terms of the difference between film and digital, this is one difference that isn't related to the media itself but the format. A 4/3's sensor is the same as a 110 negative, so you cannot expect the lenses to follow the same optical rules you remember from 35mm... just like you would not expect to use those same rules shooting medium format. The problem here is that Olympus marketing has been attempting to downplay the differences between "full-frame" and 4/3s sensors instead of educating their users that there ARE differences and how to use them.
  59. What Patrick said. Took the words right out of my head.

    If you look at the lens tests on photozone.de, none of the lenses tested -- regardless of make, model, or format -- perform particularly well at the smaller apertures, due to diffraction. This issue just happens to be more apparent on smaller formats, and since 4/3 is the smallest format among DSLRs, the effects of diffraction will be more noticeable on 4/3 DSLRs than on APS-C or 35mm DSLRs.

    There is also the very real possibility that your lens has a centering defect or some other defect, and that it's not quite as sharp as it should be. I know Olympus said the lens was fine, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's perfect... it just means that it falls within their spectrum of acceptable variances. Quality control isn't what it used to be, regardless of manufacturer.
  60. I have a E500 and E510 and I'm very satisfied with both. Check the result

  61. Patrick, Since I have used every film format from 11x14 to 110, I think I have a good idea of how different format cameras perform with their respective lenses. I now shoot 4/3, E-500 & E-510, because I find Olympus ergonomics to be better for me then any other make of camera. I've managed to shoot excellent images with an appropriate amount of DOF for the shot at whatever f/stop I chose. I use whatever accessories necessary to achieve the results I want. Hell, I even use a tripod from time to time at f/22. Guess what? Sharp images. They even sell when I get the urge to show them.

    I don't look at lens tests on websites. I physically test the camera and lens combinations to make my decisions after talking personally to professionals; sports, news and commercial; I know for their opinions. I don't care about whether there is diffraction, if I can get edge to edge sharpness when I want it.
  62. Pierre, very nice shots, but I can't check the results because they are not there! Any examples at 100%. Files with
    reduced dimensions show nothing.

    Glenn, that is interesting, and what I want to hear! Care to share an example (in it's RAW state) showing such
    sharpness; and, if required, a sharpened final version? Along with instructions?

    This would really help me.

  63. Glenn... an interesting page with both DOF calculators and diffraction limit calculator. It uses simplified calculations that don't take into account all factors, but gives a good idea of what's going on.


    Here is another page with a chart showing basically the same information:


    According to both pages, for best performance on 4/3's cameras, apertures should be f/8 and above regardless of the focal length of the lens. I don't doubt your ability to get sharp images, but this is the mathematical truth and a very logical reasoning to why William might be getting soft images at f/11 without character assassination. This is a REAL physical issue and something Olympus needs to consider in their lens designs more carefully... like not have apertures going all the way to f/22 that might be reducing sharpness while not appreciably adding DOF.

    Also be aware that diffraction effects are worse with higher resolution cameras than lower resolution cameras... very low resolution cameras are not effected as much by diffraction because the sensor pixel size is larger than the airy disk, whereas higher and higher resolution cameras will be rendering more of the airy disks causing increasingly soft images. So as 4/3's camera bodies get higher and higher in resolution, more and more people will notice sharpness issues in magnification at f/22. With that in mind, Olympus should probably consider limiting lenses to f/8 for wides and f/11 for longs to reduce the complaints of fuzzy images which will likely increase. A more appropriate solution than using smaller apertures would be selecting slower ISO's, which will probably increase in performance with time, whereas diffraction is a physical limit set by the wavelengths of light and will never be overcome technologically.
  64. Patrick - that is some excellent information.

    It seems an ideal solution for Olympus would be to produce faster lenses with smaller maximum apertures - say F1.2
    through to F11; and reduce the minimum ISO to 12 or 25 to allow longer exposures.
  65. Yes William, I think that is probably their best option. It will also mean continued development of noise reduction but that's just a matter of time. We probably won't see any f/1.2 wide lenses, but in the portrait focal lengths, a 50mm f/1.2 is certainly a possibility.
  66. Through out this thread I have read nothing about the noise filter setting. Note this is not to be confused with noise reduction. I get the best results with the noise filter off. Noise reduction and noise filter are very different functions in the E510. The noise reduction is only applied during long exposures. The noise filter is applied at all exposure settings. The appearance of shots with the noise filter set at normal or high results in a noticeable reduction in detail. Here is a review that contains more information on optimizing the E510 setup:
  67. William is shooting in RAW, so the noise filter settings are a moot point -- they only apply to JPEG shooting.
  68. Take a minute to look at Pierre Villeneuve's winter wonderland shots of Quebec and Prince Edward Island. I care not what lens was used so much as how fine the results look on my Dell computer screen. And they look pretty darn good...what more need one say than to see examples like this. I will place my money that they would also enlarge well also. I could be less discerning than others, yet I doubt it. Enjoy whatever you can afford and put aside invidious comparison now and then. Be well, gs
  69. In going back and reading some of the earlier posts, I see (maybe late in the case of this post) that Williams is using manual focus, and I have to say, if I were to use manual focussing on my E510, most of my images would probably turn out, out of focus too. I don't find the E510 screen good for manual focus at all. I've tried it from time to time, with little to no success. It might help to just....(gulp)....use the AF mechanism and see how it works. Amazingly, my images do turn out to be in focus when I use autofocus. It is no sin to use the technology provided if it means the difference in images being in focus vs. out of focus.

    If I bought my E510 and planned to use it in manual focus, I would definitely invest in one of these third-party company screens made to enhance the manual focus ability. The Digital Zuiko lenses I've tried have relatively short travel distances from infinity to the minimum focus distance. You don't need to be off by much in your manual settings to be out of focus.
  70. Greg, that doesn't make much sense! For example, shooting at the wide-end (say 12mm) with an aperture of f11 (like the
    photo above) the depth of field is enormous! Everything from a few metres from the lens to infinity would be in focus!

    (btw I shoot manual AND auto focus).

    It seems the problem is probably what Patrick described = the lens quality degrading after F8 or so.

    Which is infuriating considering the e510 manual encourages you to close the aperture fully for some shots!
  71. In many cases it makes perfect sense.

    No, it wouldn't make sense in a situation like that, but you can't tell me the screen on the E510 is as easy to work with as what you have on the OM4 either. Screens on consumer DSLR's are simply not good enough for manually focusing much of the time. With no focus aids, overall lower contrast screens and slower/darker zooms vs. the faster primes...not to mention (but I did above) the extremely short travel from infinity to closest focus distance, it is not easy to manually focus with these type cameras.
  72. If the lens quality degrades after F8 on 4/3rds lenses why is this a problem? After all F8 on 4/3rds = F16 on full frame.

    The only problem I can see of having a lens that is not critcally sharp at apertures below F8, is you may not be able to utilise the slow shutter speeds used for artistic movement blur effects (such as water flowing over rocks etc). You can always resort to ND filters or polarisers I suppose.

    When I use my OM4 with 24mm I rarely use F16. This is because F8 and F11 seem to give enough depth of field with this focal length if the lens is focused properly. I'm aware of diffraction and try to limit my use of the smallest apertures where ever possible.
  73. Jim- I was given as a birthday gift, one of the new E520s with 14-45mm f/3.5 kit lenses. Took it out west to Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons and the Badlands. The images I got back were totally flat. Lacked contrast, sharpness and just plain awfull. I also took along my Nikon D80 which produced super images. I set up the E520 just like my Nikon but to no avail. The Oly images loo.kalmost surreal and artificial, however it was my first card with a 4/3's camera. I'm sure I'm doing something wrong. The camera has some great features. Perhaps I'm using the IS wrong. I'm totally perplexed. Anyone out there had this experience?
  74. I shoot weddings with my oly e510, have for a while now, no complaints. I do know that if one tries to shoot a photo by using live view, it slows things down.

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