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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Critique Corner 
Thread started 24 Dec 2017 (Sunday) 10:33
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Need some help and Advice (soft photos)

 
i-G12
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Dec 24, 2017 10:33 |  #1

I'm not sure what's going on but I'm having a heck of a time getting sharp photos of "people". Not sure if it's my advanced age, poor technique or what. Maybe some of you can point me in the right direction.

Most of my issues are with people! Especially my wife who is very fair completed and I wonder if it has some to do with that where the camera/lens isn't able to figure out what to do. I suspect it's more about me and my technique. I've tried to get shutter speeds up and most of the time the images are still soft. In fact I'd say more OOF than anything.

Here are two photos that are soft or maybe just felt out OOF. I'm just not sure.

Any help would be most appreciated.


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MalVeauX
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Dec 24, 2017 10:49 |  #2

Heya,

It's not a focus issue.

First photo is 1/50s at 135mm on APS-C, it's not out of focus, it's just motion blur due to really slow shutter speed relative to your effective focal length.

Second photo seems to be in focus and lacks motion blur, individual hair strands are razor thin, at least at this scale, so its probably focused, just underexposed a little maybe. And you have a 1/200s shutter at 64mm on APS-C which is sufficient to reduce potential motion blur from the effective focal length. Don't see any issue here on this one. But again at this scale, can't be certain without seeing a 100% crop of it.

My suggestion to you is to take a step back, look at your exposure triangle relative to shutter speed for your effective focal length usage and go for a faster shutter (like in your 2nd image). Don't be wary of ISO 1600~3200 on that 80D. It can handle that fine. Keep that shutter around 1/200s~1/400s for that lens via higher ISO and you'll have much less potential motion blur. I don't think focus is the issue at all here.

Very best,


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Jethr0
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Dec 24, 2017 10:55 |  #3

+1 to what MalVeaux said.

Maybe try program mode to see what the camera thinks of the subject and what settings you could use base on the conditions. I learned a bunch from that personally.


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saea501
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Dec 24, 2017 10:59 |  #4

I think Martin is right. Picture one is certainly motion.

Picture two, when enlarged, is in fact soft but I think, in this case, I'm just seeing the small file size as when I enlarge it it starts getting the jaggies.


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i-G12
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Dec 24, 2017 11:07 |  #5

Thans for the feedback.

Still a little confused.

When we use the term "motion blur" we're talking abut slow shutter speed? Or are we talking about a user who can't hold the darn camera steady? :cry:

Also, Bob pointed out when you view the images at 100% ... ugh. Awful. Again I notice this a lot with my images on people.

I'm trying to apple the 2X focus length formula for shutter speed and trying to improve my technique but am really struggling. On the other hand I'm wondering if I'm too much of a pixel peeper. :(




  
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Jethr0
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Dec 24, 2017 11:11 as a reply to  @ i-G12's post |  #6

1/50 is very slow to handhold. Unless perhaps Camera is on a tripod.


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saea501
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Dec 24, 2017 11:11 |  #7

i-G12 wrote in post #18525413 (external link)
Thans for the feedback.

Still a little confused.

When we use the term "motion blur" we're talking abut slow shutter speed? Or are we talking about a user who can't hold the darn camera steady? :cry:

Also, Bob pointed out when you view the images at 100% ... ugh. Awful. Again I notice this a lot with my images on people.

Both. You're moving, to some degree, when the shutter is open, and/ or, your subject moved to some degree while the shutter was open.

Something else that I think about all the time is how much our movement is amplified as focal length and distance increases. A one millimeter movement at the end of our lens is amplified greatly by the time that distance ends at the end of our subject's nose.


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Jethr0
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Dec 24, 2017 11:12 |  #8

Curious to know what focus mode you’re using, and where the focus point was for these.


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i-G12
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Post edited 3 months ago by i-G12. (3 edits in all)
     
Dec 24, 2017 11:19 |  #9

Jethr0 wrote in post #18525418 (external link)
1/50 is very slow to handhold. Unless perhaps Camera is on a tripod.

I know but then I see people shooting birds with their 100-400 lens at 1/80 of a sec and they are tack sharp. (I think I'm old).

saea501 wrote in post #18525420 (external link)
Both. You're moving, to some degree, when the shutter is open, and/ or, your subject moved to some degree while the shutter was open.

Something else that I think about all the time is how much our movement is amplified as focal length and distance increases. A one millimeter movement at the end of our lens is amplified greatly by the time that distance ends at the end of our subject's nose.

So I'm thinking I have to improve my technique in addition to getting the shutter speed up. Thank you for the input.

Jethr0 wrote in post #18525421 (external link)
Curious to know what focus mode you’re using, and where the focus point was for these.

I usually use center focus point and in these shots 'thought' I was focusing on her face. Maybe not. :oops:

I better get my act together soon. We're traveling to Africa in May and I absolutely have to have better results there.




  
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Jethr0
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Dec 24, 2017 11:22 |  #10

I can get tack sharp images of race cars travelling at 100mph+ while panning at 1/50. (Took craploads of practice)
Totally different thing for portraits.

I imagine the bird shots that are stationary have the camera on a tripod.

Get out and shoot more pics. Play around with the exposure settings. Your wife is wonderful subject matter. :-)


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i-G12
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Dec 24, 2017 11:32 |  #11

I was so shocked at some images a guy took of some stationary birds at 1/80 I even calified if they were taken hand held and he said yes.

Yeah I'm gonna have to practice had with my new 100-400 for my Africa trip.




  
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Dec 24, 2017 13:08 |  #12

#2 the focus could have locked onto her hands/phone thus throwing the face a bit OOF.

As far as #1 is concerned, in the future, if time allows, shoot another 3 or 5 for a test, this time drastically changing the exposure triangle in favor of a very fast shutter speed, even at the expense of a very high iso. Study the results and see if, despite more noise, you're getting sharper pics. Sharp/noisy beats blurry clear any day. I would think the 80D could handle iso 1600 with no big noise issues.

Also, explore vertical framing.




  
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Dec 25, 2017 19:06 |  #13

i-G12 wrote in post #18525442 (external link)
I was so shocked at some images a guy took of some stationary birds at 1/80 I even calified if they were taken hand held and he said yes.

Yeah I'm gonna have to practice had with my new 100-400 for my Africa trip.

The new 100-400 with the improved IS should give you excellent results even at slower shutter speeds. I still have the older model 100-400 and have often used it at less than ideal shutter speeds with acceptable results. Here are a couple of images I copied off my archives drive, that were taken about 10 years ago with a 30D that didn't handle high ISO settings very well. The chipmunk was taken with a shutter speed of 1/80s and the red-bellied woodpecker at 1/25S. These were shot hand-held when I was in my mid-sixties so age shouldn't be that much of a factor. I don't use my 100-400 as much as I used to, but still get excellent results with it, although I don't normally shoot with shutter speeds quite this low. My 7D allows me to increase the ISO when needed to boost the shutter speed high enough to get consistent results and your 80D should work even better.


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Dec 25, 2017 21:00 |  #14

There is obvious motion blur at least on the woodpecker. Not sure if that was the point being made or not though?


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Dec 26, 2017 15:00 |  #15

i-G12 wrote in post #18525442 (external link)
I was so shocked at some images a guy took of some stationary birds at 1/80 I even calified if they were taken hand held and he said yes.

Yeah I'm gonna have to practice had with my new 100-400 for my Africa trip.


Practice, practice.

Proper holding technique can go a long way: Put the weight of the camera and lens in your left hand, support the left elbow with your tummy and ribcage, - et voilà! your body is now a monopod. Lean your back against a wall or tree for even more stability. Use the right hand just for aiming and control, not for supporting any weight of the camera.

Proper breathing techniques, as if you were in a sharpshooting competition.
Gently squeeze the shutter button, don't mash it with enough force to cause the camera to jiggle.

In a pinch, do a five-shot burst while gently exhaling, and the 3rd and 4th shots will be the best.


This matters more with a longer focal length - pardon a little bit of math here.

On a full-frame camera in landscape/horizontal orientation, a 35mm lens will give you a 54-degree field of view. If your unsteady and jiggly hands cause the camera to rotate by half a degree during the time the shutter was open, that's less than a 1% shift in the image. Image might be a tad blurry but still usable.

On the same camera, a 14mm wide-angle lens will give you a 104-degree field of view. If your unsteady hands cause the camera to rotate by half a degree, that's less than 1/2% movement in the image. Almost insignificant ... ok, maybe not among the pixel-peepers on this site.

On the same camera, a 400mm lens will give you a 5-degree field of view. That half-degree rotation is a whopping 10% shift in the image! It'll be absolutely unusable.


If you don't want to do the math, a good rule of thumb is that the minimum shutter speed should be the inverse of the focal length - so, a 400mm lens needs a 1/400 shutter speed; any slower will result in a blurry photo in the hands of an inexperienced or shakey-hands photographer.


Proper holding and breathing techniques will compensate for this a LOT. Image stabilization will also help a ton, and selecting a proper shutter speed will make up the rest. You'll be hand-holding that 400mm shot in no time.

handheld one-second exposure, with pretty good holding/breathing techniques, good image stabilization, and burst mode:

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Need some help and Advice (soft photos)
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