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07-15-2011, 01:45 PM - 1 Like   #1
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Why is this handheld picture so sharp?

This is a serious question. I'm used to assuming that if you want a sharp landscape image with excellent DOF, take it with a tripod. Yesterday evening, i took this picture just before sunset and I was surprised at the sharpness. I think the K5 is a game changer because of its ability to provide this kind of sharpness in many conditions not available previously.

The parameters for this shot were:
a. handheld and standing, SR on, no bracing or special equipment
b. 1/500 sec
c. F8
d. 65 mm FL
e. Lens: DA 50-135
f. ISO 3200




100% crop:




This kind of sharpness at a 100% is going to cause me to change my mind about carrying a tripod. Its not that i won't use it in the future, its that i will be using it more selectively. Of course, without the ability to go to ISO 3200 cleanly with the K5, i would not have had the option to use 1/500s and F8. thats why i think K5 is a game changer.

07-15-2011, 01:51 PM   #2
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philbaum, it is nice stuff, but using 1/500s speed will never necessitate a tripod !

Moreover, you choose one of the best Pentax lenses in the present production, with it's best resolution performances at f/8.

So good, so normal, including an excellent exposure and dynamic range.
07-15-2011, 01:54 PM   #3
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Let your camera do the work. Try the (similar ?) shot with the same HH set-up, but SR=OFF... I bet it will be just as sharp.

Nice pic, BTW ... The K-5 paired to the DA 55-135 is a capable combo.

Cheers...
07-15-2011, 01:55 PM   #4
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The loss of detail at iso3200 would mask any movement blur in a static scene at 1/500", especially with SR.

07-15-2011, 01:58 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Zygonyx Quote
philbaum, it is nice stuff, but using 1/500s speed will never necessitate a tripod !

Moreover, you choose one of the best Pentax lenses in the present production, with it's best resolution performances at f/8.

So good, so normal, including an excellent exposure and dynamic range.
Well, i've been a doubter in the past, but of course, the SR doesn't hurt either.
07-15-2011, 02:06 PM   #6
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A relatively heavy lens will also not move as easily as a light one, which helps.
07-15-2011, 02:16 PM   #7
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I think the bigger question is, why would you shoot this at ISO 3200?

As others have pointed out, unless you are shooting a long focal length, 1/500s will result in a sharp image even without SR. You could have shot this 4 stops slower and still gotten just as sharp of an image.
07-15-2011, 02:20 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Zygonyx Quote
philbaum, it is nice stuff, but using 1/500s speed will never necessitate a tripod !

Moreover, you choose one of the best Pentax lenses in the present production, with it's best resolution performances at f/8.

So good, so normal, including an excellent exposure and dynamic range.
I think you are allowing the K-5's reputation influence your thinking... the dynamic range in this shot is pedestrian. It would have been greater had he shot at ISO 200. It probably doesn't need more than 8 or 9 EV, anyway.

07-15-2011, 02:29 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by civiletti Quote
The loss of detail at iso3200 would mask any movement blur in a static scene at 1/500", especially with SR.
I don't think so. Motion blur is generally linear with shorter exposures (e.g., 500mm lens@ 1/100th), whereas noise and noise reduction are non-directional. The loss of detail might be equivalent, but it looks different.
07-15-2011, 02:37 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Zygonyx Quote
philbaum, it is nice stuff, but using 1/500s speed will never necessitate a tripod !
Unless you're using a 600mm lens!

The rule of thumb being 1/fl for acceptably sharp images, this one could have been shot at 1/100th of a second, easily.

Furthermore, it's not a "given" that your images will be motion-blurred if you handhold. I frequently shoot well beyond the 1/fl rule and get sharp images; there's a technique to it.

Feet shoulder width apart, elbows in tight, camera pressed against your forehead or whatever portion of your hard cranial anatomy that touches it when you hold it normally. Take two deep breaths; on the second one, breathe out halfway, pause, squeeze the shutter, wait a heartbeat or two. Then do it again, twice. I usually can get a sharp image at 1/4 sec with my 50mm lens once out of four tries this way, at 1/8th one out of three times, at 1/15 three out of five times.

I shoot macro the same way (it's not strictly focal length; it's magnification that matters) quite often.

But if you shot this at ISO3200, f8, 1/500, 65mm, you probably could have gone ISO800, f8, 1/125, 65mm and gotten better IQ.
07-15-2011, 02:38 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by luftfluss Quote
I think you are allowing the K-5's reputation influence your thinking... the dynamic range in this shot is pedestrian. It would have been greater had he shot at ISO 200. It probably doesn't need more than 8 or 9 EV, anyway.
I think "typical" more than "pedestrian". The blown out clouds mean he didn't expose for highlights, which technically limits dynamic range. Still, the K-5 has better dynamic range than previous Pentax machines at every sensitivity setting.

But yeah, this could have been done at a much lower ISO *and* handheld.
07-15-2011, 02:46 PM   #12
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A couple of things cooperated I think. As already mentioned, 1/500 shutter speed with anything from 50 to 135 mm can easily be done hand held with no problems. I'll shoot my 135mm Lentar hand held at 1/90 without thinking twice about it.

f8 has enough depth of field to help out at that range, if you miss your focus a tad it probably wouldn't show. Shake Reduction probably helped a little too, but even with it turned off it would still be just as good, since 1/500 is plenty fast to shoot up to a 400mm lens and probably a 500mm hand held. Your depth of field was probably pretty wide, so everything would probably be fairly sharp unless your focus was 30 or 40 feet off.

I don't know what your shutter speed would be at ISO 200, but it would definitely reduce any noise, and if I could get at least 1/125 at f8, I would shoot that shot with a 135mm lens at ISO 200 without hesitation. And I'm sure it would be good, shake reduction or not.

I rarely use a tripod due to my primary style of photography. Shooting birds, jumping spiders, mayflies, damselflies and such I don't have time to set up a tripod, if I even try my subject is long gone. I also shoot almost exclusively ISO 200, to reduce noise as much as possible, so almost every shot I've ever posted has been hand held. I watch my shutter speed, as long as it's more than the focal length I don't worry about it, and I rarely get any motion blur. Flowers on windy days do present problems, but the motion is the flower itself, not the cameraman.

So I think the combination of shutter speed and depth of field teamed up to get you a nice shot. Judging by the picture your hands are probably pretty steady too. By the way, since I almost never use a tripod, and rarely even think about it, I shoot most of my landscapes and sunsets hand held. Those are usually with either a 50mm or a 28mm (both Pentax) if I can get 1/60 shutter speed or better I'm good to go.
07-15-2011, 06:09 PM   #13
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Thank you for all the comments - i appreciate the suggestions (even if i'm beginning to think there is a vague similarity between those that shoot photos and those that fish)

I went back and looked at another photo taken from the same position and time, and the bridge was not as sharp. In fact the lower right brush was heavily blurred because of gusty wind effects. That photo was done with 1/125s and iso 560. So I probably could have done better than iso 3200, even without going to iso 560, i'll give you all that . But even with my inexperience, it was an aha moment. (I think its good to talk about stuff like this because thats how i learn)

(And there are no blown areas, my laziness in not pulling out more.)
07-15-2011, 08:55 PM   #14
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I used to religiously use my tripod with my K20 now I find that with the K5 I get consistantly sharp results hand held. Plus the fact that you can use LR sharpening up to nearly 100% without articacts. This camera is amazing, the DR and top end for PP still astounds me!
07-15-2011, 09:05 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by ozlizard Quote
I used to religiously use my tripod with my K20 now I find that with the K5 I get consistantly sharp results hand held. Plus the fact that you can use LR sharpening up to nearly 100% without articacts. This camera is amazing, the DR and top end for PP still astounds me!
I've also noticed you can sharpen the daylights out of the K-5 files without edges aliasing. Amazing stuff.
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