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Newer Camera- Sharper Image?  
User currently offlineCheshire From Australia, joined Aug 2001, 112 posts, RR: 0
Posted (3 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 3658 times:

I have a Canon 350D with a Sigma 50-500 lens. I'm not about to get a sharper lens (no matter how much I'd love to get my hands on the Canon 100-400), so I'm wondering if the more affordable alternative is to upgrade to a 40D or 50D. Will that give me the crispness of images I'm after? Or should I just hang in there til I can afford a better, Canon lens?

thanks in advance....

12 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineNZ107 From New Zealand, joined Jul 2005, 6418 posts, RR: 38
Reply 1, posted (3 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 3633 times:

It's all in the lens. If the pictures aren't coming out sharp now, it's extremely unlikely that it'll be any sharper with a new body unless for some reason the micro focusing is set much better than on the old body or something like that..


It's all about the destination AND the journey.
User currently offlineJakTrax From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2005, 4936 posts, RR: 7
Reply 2, posted (3 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 3597 times:

Always evaluate the atmospheric conditions you're shooting in, as more often than not they are the cause of soft images when shooting at long focal lengths. Even the most expensive lens won't help you if poor air quality is a factor.

I've not used the 50-500, however I believe it is a pretty good lens. Apparently not in quite the same league as the 100-400 though.

Karl


User currently offlineckw From UK - England, joined Aug 2010, 732 posts, RR: 16
Reply 3, posted (3 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 3576 times:

There is nothing that a new body will give you that can't just as easily be acheived in post-processing with your current body. Some cameras may give the illusion of being sharper than others, but this is really down to the in-camera sharpening settings, which of course you can change or replicate in post.

As has been said, its all in the glass - or put another way, you can't make a silk purse from a sows ear!

But perhaps the lens is not at fault here. As well as atmospheric conditions, you may want to re-visit your technique. The 50-500mm is a bit of a handful and will certainly pick up on any flaws in your technique - the most likely being camera shake, or more specifically what I call 'micro shake'. This does not manifest itself as an obviously blurry image, but rather in the loss of crispness that you seek.

Before spending money, try this - firmly secure your camera to a tripod or clamp it to something, and take a range of shots of a static subject using your common settings (esp. shutter speed). Compare these shots to some you have taken 'in the field'. If there is no difference, then perhaps you do need a sharper lens. If there is a difference, then some refinement of your technique may get you the results you want at no cost.

Cheers,

Colin



Colin K. Work, Pixstel
User currently offlineJakTrax From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2005, 4936 posts, RR: 7
Reply 4, posted (3 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 3568 times:

I fully agree with Colin (with such consistently faultless advice it's hard not to!), however I wouldn't eliminate the possibility of a poor copy of the lens. Having had some very poor examples of very expensive glass recently I have lost a little faith in manufacturers' ability to properly quality control their products.

Having said that, I think the reasons Colin outlines are much more likely. As he says, even the fastest shutter will leave miniscule traces of what he calls 'micro-blur'. It's just the laws of physics and to be honest I've seen the wrong technique used with a 'Bigma' before (super-soft images, bordering on blurry). With that sort of weight it only takes a bit of a wind to make it a whole lot different to shooting with a 70-200!

Karl


User currently offlinedazbo5 From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2005, 2910 posts, RR: 2
Reply 5, posted (3 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 3540 times:

Cheshire,

I've been using a 50-500 for over 5 years and given it's versitility at 10x zoom, it's a pretty sharp lens (assuming you have a good copy). What would be useful is if you posted an example or two of your photos, full size before any processing so we can take a look. I used the 50-500 on a 350D before upgrading to the 50D as it's better balanced on an XXD body. As pointed out above, changing body won't give you any extra sharpness as it's all in the glasss. If anything, you'll probably see a slight reduction in sharpness straight from the camera as many high resolution sensors are now approaching the resolution limits of some lenses. I'd say the 350D, if anything, is slightly sharper when used with the 50-500 than say a 50D, although the 50D performs a lot better, is better with noise control and is more detailed due to the extra pixels. But for pure crispness, the lower resolution sensor on the 350D is probably slightly better.

As Colin mentions, using a 50-500 requires a steady hand and good technique in order to avoid motion blur. Tiny movements at the longer focal lengths can result in big movements due to the magnification. As Karl mentions, atmospheric conditions can play a big role, even in cooler weather. Even when you think the air is clean with no heat haze, you can be surprised at the results at 400 or 500mm. I use the 50-500 quite a lot at these focal lengths and on some days, it's simply not usable due to conditions. Humidity and minor heat haze can ruin shots at the longer focal lengths. The 50-500 is best used in winter in that respect, and at the shorter focal lengths when it's warm and humid but it all depends on the conditions on the day. A 100-400 L won't perform any different in poor atmospheric conditions. That's where the skill of being a photographer comes in, knowing how to use your equipment and it's limitations. With it being a bulky lens, it's even more of a handful in wind. I tend to remove the lens hood when it's windy, particularly if it's gusty as it acts like a kite!

Darren



Equipment: 2x Canon EOS 50D; Sigma 10-20 EX DC HSM, 50-500 EX APO DG, Canon 24-105 f/4 L, Speedlite 430EX
User currently offlineSilver1SWA From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 4783 posts, RR: 26
Reply 6, posted (3 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 3518 times:
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We hear all the time of good or poor technique. What exactly is good technique to avoid camera shake? If someone is prone to camera shake, we often say they have poor technique. I don't think I've ever heard someone explain what's so poor about the technique (other than their results) and what can be improved to help steady the hand.

"Poor technique" is such a blanket statement. Just identifying it isn't enough. How to we help that?



ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
User currently offlinedazbo5 From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2005, 2910 posts, RR: 2
Reply 7, posted (3 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 3507 times:

Good technique comes in two areas; having the correct settings for the indended shot and smooth panning / tracking of the subject. Trying to get a sharp shot at long focal lengths needs one or the other of the above, or both. For example, shooting props at slow shutters needs a smooth panning technique in order to get a sharp subject. Conversely, if you know your panning technique isn't quite there or the conditions don't allow it, the technique might be to use a faster shutter. If heat haze makes conditions diffucult, I've found using slow shutters and good panning can give adequate results whereas shooting with fast shutters may give poor results. Good technique is therefore knowing your equipment, how to use it and how to shoot under the conditions in order to get the desired result. There isn't a given correct or incorrect way as such, but certain priciples apply and the photagrapher should develop their own ways through practice and experience.

Darren



Equipment: 2x Canon EOS 50D; Sigma 10-20 EX DC HSM, 50-500 EX APO DG, Canon 24-105 f/4 L, Speedlite 430EX
User currently offlineJakTrax From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2005, 4936 posts, RR: 7
Reply 8, posted (3 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 3495 times:

My 100-400L stays mostly in the cupboard at home during the summer. It just doesn't offer the type of shots I want in warmer weather. Using a lens to its strengths is always best, and seeing as there's not a lot I can do about heat-haze and/or poor air quality, I only tend to use it in summer if I want close-ups of objects very near to me.

There is a heck of a difference between shooting a 747 at 400mm from a mile away and shooting a close-up of a cockpit at 400mm from 40m away. It's all about the amount of air you're shooting through.

Karl


User currently offlineckw From UK - England, joined Aug 2010, 732 posts, RR: 16
Reply 9, posted (3 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 3467 times:

Quoting Silver1SWA (Reply 6):

"Poor technique" is such a blanket statement. Just identifying it isn't enough. How to we help that?

A very fair comment - I tend to use (over use it) simply to cover anything which is not lens, camera or post processing related, and I accept its not very helpful except perhaps to warn against spending money to find a solution.

However to say what is 'poor technique' without writing a book is tough - if I see a photographer in action, there may be something obvious I can pick up on, but to list all the possible things that could go wrong is a bit of a challenge!

But some of the more obvious ones which might lead to camera shake include

1- choice of settings. Many people fall victim to that rule of thumb of using the recipricol shutter speed to the lens focal length (eg. if you're using a 50mm lens shoot at 1/50th or faster). This rule of thumb is, frankly, almost meaningless as so many factors come into play. Yet I know photographers who adhere to it as if it were a law. The only way to know how slow a shutter speed you can get away with is to experiment in varying conditions. How cold, tired and cafine infested you are will have an effect. Wind will have an effect. The balance of a particular lens and body ... and so on.

2 - How you hold the camera and your stance. Next time you are at an event with many photographers, just observe how many different ways people stand and hold their cameras. Some are patently stupid, but ruling those out there are all manner of variations - some work for one photographer, not for others. Trial and error is the secret, but the object is to stablise the camera as best you can. Generally this means feet apart, arms close to body, one hand on the camera and the other on the lens at best point of balance. One thing I see more and more is both hands on the camera - I suspect this is largely people who have graduated from small point 'n' shoots which don't have a lens to grab on to.

I'm also seeing people shooting with live view - which means holding the camera away from the face, which does nothing to improve stability

3 - Shooting technique - smoothness is the key, but many people 'stab' at the shutter release - esp. with fast moving subjects ... I guess there is a natural tendency to move quickly in reaction to a fast moving object, but this does not help in any way. Yes, you must time the shutter release precisely, but this requires anticipation of the moment, not cat like reactions. Similarly with panning - the trick to a good pan is to start well before the shutter release and finish well after, the whole thing being a smooth, fluid moment, not a quick turn and snap.

4 - Poor tripod/monopod technique. A tripod can be the answer to camera shake, but only if the tripod is suitable for the equipment and of good quality. Ball heads which offer genuinely smooth movement are very expensive, but anything else can be prone to almost imperceptible, but critical, jerks. The tripod must also be rated for the weight of camera and lens - you'll often see people using heavy lenses (like the 100-400) on tripods which are really only suitable for standard camera and lens. An unsuitable tripod will lend a false sense of security - in many cases you would be better off hand holding.

You get the idea - everything about the way you shoot needs to be examined - and then periodically re-examined, and of course practiced. I find that if I go for an extended period (a few weeks) without shooting, it takes me quite a while to get back in the zone. Given the nature of the subject, many aviation photographers are shooting near the limits of both their equipment and ability - there's not a lot of margin for error. Small things can make a huge difference.

Cheers,

Colin



Colin K. Work, Pixstel
User currently offlineJakTrax From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2005, 4936 posts, RR: 7
Reply 10, posted (3 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 3463 times:

Quoting ckw (Reply 9):
Many people fall victim to that rule of thumb of using the recipricol shutter speed to the lens focal length (eg. if you're using a 50mm lens shoot at 1/50th or faster). This rule of thumb is, frankly, almost meaningless as so many factors come into play

Couldn't agree more. I've never payed much attention to this rule but I rarely find 1/400th suitable when typically shooting at 400mm. It's just not fast enough to safeguard against movements of the camera. I have stated my opinions regarding relying on this method a couple of times in this forum, and have been almost immediately flamed by 'the believers'. If it works for you, fine; but I certainly wouldn't recommend this method of calculating shutter speeds. The higher the shutter speed the better, in my opinion.

Quoting ckw (Reply 9):
One thing I see more and more is both hands on the camera

That is odd! I certainly wouldn't like to try it!


User currently offlineckw From UK - England, joined Aug 2010, 732 posts, RR: 16
Reply 11, posted (3 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 3453 times:

Quoting JakTrax (Reply 10):
That is odd! I certainly wouldn't like to try it!

Not strictly a handling issue, but another thing I don't understand is the 'reversed lenshood syndrome' ie. people out shooting with the lens hood mounted on the camera in the stored position.

I can understand not having a lens hood (doesn't fit in the bag, lost it, etc.) but to actually have it on the lens and not use it seems a bit bizarre - esp. as it gets in the way of the controls in many cases.

Before I get flamed, yes, there are particular circumstances where a lens hood is not appropriate, but I'm talking about general 'out and about photography'.

Bottom line, I suspect the majority of camera owners could improve their images significantly, at little or no cost, by getting the basics right. Of course there's no money for the industry in promoting this.

BTW - my comments are general in nature, and not aimed at the OP or any other individual in particular.

Cheers,

Colin



Colin K. Work, Pixstel
User currently offlinedazbo5 From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2005, 2910 posts, RR: 2
Reply 12, posted (3 years 3 months 3 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 3365 times:

Quoting JakTrax (Reply 10):
Quoting ckw (Reply 9):One thing I see more and more is both hands on the camera
That is odd! I certainly wouldn't like to try it!

Me either, especially with the 50-500. You'd need wrists like Arnie to support the weight and hope the lens mount didn't shear off in the process!!

Quoting ckw (Reply 11):
I can understand not having a lens hood (doesn't fit in the bag, lost it, etc.) but to actually have it on the lens and not use it seems a bit bizarre - esp. as it gets in the way of the controls in many cases.

It depends on the conditions As I mentioned above, on a windy day, the lens hood on some lenses can really catch the wind and act like a kite making smooth panning difficult. This is especially so in gusty conditions. On something like the 50-500, that's a big lens and catches the wind even without the lens hood on, it's a handful to use. On a smaller lens with a smaller lens hood, I would agree with you but it's not the case with big lenses.

Quoting ckw (Reply 11):
Bottom line, I suspect the majority of camera owners could improve their images significantly, at little or no cost, by getting the basics right.

  

Darren



Equipment: 2x Canon EOS 50D; Sigma 10-20 EX DC HSM, 50-500 EX APO DG, Canon 24-105 f/4 L, Speedlite 430EX
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