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04-13-2009, 12:53 AM   #1
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How much detail should I expect


Being a beginner in digital photography and with the ability to blow up my pictures on the screen I find that I'm becoming obsessed with detail and sharpness. I'm sure that I've now lost any sense of proportion as to what to expect from a lens at varying distances from a target.

As an example at the moment I'm playing with a Sigma 50-500 APO EX, using 500mm F11, on a K200D at what maximum distance can I expect to see the very fine detail of a birds feathers.

Here is an example of what I would like to achieve, not my photo.

Jacana Portrait - OutdoorPhoto Gallery

Please set me on the straight and narrow.


04-13-2009, 01:15 AM   #2
Damn Brit

Moved to lens discussion.
04-13-2009, 01:20 AM   #3
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Thanks :<)
04-13-2009, 01:36 AM   #4
Damn Brit

I think that's a tough question to answer. I'm sure a lot of those shots from the link you posted are crops.
As a general rule of thumb for zooms, you should avoid the extreme wide and long ends of the lens. So in the case of the Sigma 50-500, 100-400mm might be the sharpest range for the lens. The widest aperture will also probably not be the sharpest (again, this is a general rule of thumb). F/8 - F/16 will probably be the best range of apertures to use for sharpness.
Using a tripod will also help with focusing, remember, the longer the lens, the less forgiving the focusing will be. The slightest vibration will be magnified by a long lens.

Another thing to take into account is, the larger the size you display, the further away the ideal viewing distance will be.

I hope this goes some way to answering your question.

Welcome to the forum.

04-13-2009, 03:02 AM   #5
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Thanks, I've gone out to lawn and collected a number of feathers, I will do a test at various focal lengths, distances and F stops against a black background to see the results. This should keep me out of mischief for a while,
04-13-2009, 09:49 AM   #6
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If you're not using a tripod, chances are pretty good you'll start losing detail to camera shake, even with SR, before you actually run into any limitations of the lens itself.
04-13-2009, 09:54 AM   #7
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take a shot that you doubt, and print it 12X8.

if you are satisfied with the print, you will create a mental link in your head and stop being so obsessive about sharpness and detail.

think about it, a 10 MP image is around 3600 X 2700,

most monitors are 1240X1024, those upgrading or dedicated professionals are going to see 1640 X 1024 or 1920x1200, and if you are really a hotshot and got yourself an Ezio CG301W, 2560 1600

which is STILL not close to showing you the full image, imagine how large a monitor you would need to show the entire image while pixel peeping?

12X8 is already a large picture, and its about half the size of a regular 19" monitor...

dont stress, print your photos and your concern will go away.

Last edited by Gooshin; 04-13-2009 at 10:02 AM.
04-13-2009, 02:54 PM   #8
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Thanks for all the feedback, I've posted to Flickr, some of the pictures I took yesterday and which prompted my question. I do use a tripod and a cable release.

You can see them at Pentax - a set on Flickr



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