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10-14-2016, 02:40 AM   #1
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Photo sharpness do I have unrealistic expectations

Hi,

I'm trying to get the best results from my Soviet era Industar 26m 50mm/2.8 lens on the Pentax Q. I've really tried to get my subjects in sharp focus, but I still end up with unsharp photos. Am I doing it wrong or do I have unrealistic expectations when viewing them at 100 % in Lightroom.
So far I've only shot hand held as well as resting the camera on the padded back of a chair for support. And I think at 1/60 and 1/80 it should be at least a bit crisper than this. But maybe the crop factor making the 50 mm a +300 mm tele comes into play here.

I'd love to hear your suggestions on how to get sharper photos or tell me that I'm too much of a pixel peeper.

Here's an example, mind you this is shot through a window.

Scaled down it looks kind of sharp.



100 % crop is however is not so sharp:



10-14-2016, 03:15 AM   #2
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Three things spring to mind immediately.
1) I see no exif data so have no idea of what settings were used.
2) The crop looks a little noisy, so I'm guessing the ISO wasn't rock bottom, which will affect sharpness
3) Through a window??? Is that window made of optical quality glass I wonder?
10-14-2016, 03:50 AM   #3
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Visualise this lens on an apsc camera like the K3. Now crop a section out of that image that represents the Q sensor size vs the APSC. So about a quarter of the width and also the height. Now enlarge that image to the size of the original uncropped. Can you see that you have effectively quartered the resolution of that lens. That is pretty well what is happening on the Q. You will find plenty of shots by me on the adapted lens thread and I soon learnt you had to focus on qualities other than sharpness, a move that has enhanced my photography no end. You will see it put another way by plenty - that the Q is very demanding on lens.
10-14-2016, 03:50 AM   #4
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It seems like a wide open shot (from the wooden fence behind) so If I'm right this pic is more than sharp for such a lens (if you know how SS, Aperture and ISO affect your results).

10-14-2016, 04:11 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by victormeldrew Quote
Three things spring to mind immediately.
1) I see no exif data so have no idea of what settings were used.
2) The crop looks a little noisy, so I'm guessing the ISO wasn't rock bottom, which will affect sharpness
3) Through a window??? Is that window made of optical quality glass I wonder?
Geez, sorry I was in a rush to post and didn't factor in the last two points. As for the first I had some very private setting in Lightroom export, it should now have fully visible exif-data.

Here's a shot from today at ISO 125 F2.8 and shutter speed set to 1/1600 s straight from the camera to lightroom for export. So in a sense I could bring up the sharpness with a little PP.



Here's the 100 % crop of the same photo:



QuoteOriginally posted by GUB Quote
Visualise this lens on an apsc camera like the K3. Now crop a section out of that image that represents the Q sensor size vs the APSC. So about a quarter of the width and also the height. Now enlarge that image to the size of the original uncropped. Can you see that you have effectively quartered the resolution of that lens. That is pretty well what is happening on the Q. You will find plenty of shots by me on the adapted lens thread and I soon learnt you had to focus on qualities other than sharpness, a move that has enhanced my photography no end. You will see it put another way by plenty - that the Q is very demanding on lens.
I was kind of thinking that this might be the case. Do you have any tips for getting the most out of adapted lenses?

QuoteOriginally posted by redpit Quote
It seems like a wide open shot (from the wooden fence behind) so If I'm right this pic is more than sharp for such a lens (if you know how SS, Aperture and ISO affect your results).
Yes it's at F2.8. What is SS?
10-14-2016, 04:17 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by makkan Quote
Yes it's at F2.8. What is SS?
It's the Shutter Speed. You shot with very high SS so no motion blurr involved in your photos. Why don't you stop down your lens a bit if sharpness is your aim

If you don't mind upload another version of a photo shot @ f5.6 so we can have an idea of the lens quality...
10-14-2016, 04:47 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by redpit Quote
It's the Shutter Speed. You shot with very high SS so no motion blurr involved in your photos. Why don't you stop down your lens a bit if sharpness is your aim

If you don't mind upload another version of a photo shot @ f5.6 so we can have an idea of the lens quality...
Ah, but of course!

Here's a new batch of 100% crops:
First out with F at 5.6



Next out with F at 2.8 (this got really blurry, it's really hard to find the focus point manually)



And finally with F at around 8, sadly the leaf blew away but looking at the woodgrain still works:

10-14-2016, 05:06 AM   #8
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I think you have the shake reduction on, aren't you? You have to deactivate it, but you see that wide open the lens is quite soft, even when focused properly. Try with SR off...

10-14-2016, 05:34 AM   #9
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All of those photos show that you do not yet have the experience and knowledge on how to take stunningly sharp photos. So yes, you have wrong expectations considering the conditions you are shooting in and the skills that you have. Nothing to worry about, you can build on those. Sharpness is something that does in fact come from skills.

Some pointers:
a) light is king. If you are shooting in low light on an overcast day, the photo will look dim, featureless, with no shadows, no 3D pop, no real detail
b) ISO, shutter speed, aperture. These three settings let you take sharp or blurred photos. High ISO means more noise, which at 100% crop looks terrible. Shutter speed can let you capture motion blur, but it can also capture handshake blur, etc.
c) You need to learn how to achieve focus correctly. No, it is not just "point camera and press button"
d) Learn how to properly hold camera and press shutter, or use a tripod with 2sec timer option. PentaxForums made a blog post about this some time ago: https://www.pentaxforums.com/reviews/long-exposure-handhelds/introduction.html
e) Shake reduction needs a moment to activate. When you half press the shutter, keep holding it for a bit and a little SR icon will light up in the viewfinder.
f) You are taking photos of a leaf. What do you expect to see? If you want to see the closeup texture, then you need a macro lens or microscope. You cannot expect to see results that will not happen at that distance, with that gear. Move closer, make sure you don't violate the minimum focus distance, place the leaf in an attractive way, add a spotlight coming from the side, use fill flash, ISO 100, f5.6, tripod, 2 sec timer, select a good WB, then show us the photo. If you handhold camera, with an ancient lens*, shoot though a window, on a dim day, with slightly off white balance.. well, what did you expect to see?

Test photos should be taken in good natural light, using a tripod and 2sec timer option (or remote trigger), live view with focus peaking and digital zoom for manual focusing, lowest possible ISO and various aperture choices (different f-numbers on a given lens will give you different DoF and resolution, which affects perceived sharpness).

Anyway, keep shooting and learning.


*I like old ancient lenses, but they are not all very sharp. Or sharp at all. You have to really adapt to these lenses to squeeze out what you want. If you want to simply point at something and get decent photos, then you need a modern prime lens. Old lenses are a lot of fun and can give you things modern lenses don't - but they are difficult to use and will only rarely beat new lenses in terms of resolution, flare control. contrasts

Last edited by Na Horuk; 10-14-2016 at 05:46 AM.
10-14-2016, 05:34 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by redpit Quote
I think you have the shake reduction on, aren't you? You have to deactivate it, but you see that wide open the lens is quite soft, even when focused properly. Try with SR off...
Okidoki!

Here's SR off at F2.8



And here's SR off at F5.6

10-14-2016, 06:04 AM   #11
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Re shutter speed (to emphasise was has already been said).

Normal calculation for an adequate speed to hand hold on full frame camera: 1/focal length =1/55 sec

multiply by crop factor = 1/50x5.3 = 1/265 sec

Double it to allow for poor/untutored technique and seeking MAX sharpness= 1/500th

Well you get the idea!! So: use a tripod or bean bag, and the timer on the camera to really test for sharpness.
Also, note that on the Q diffraction kicks in at low f-stops, probably noticeable at f8. So on the industar f5.6 is it really. Wide open is always softest on just about any lens, so always go down at least a stop if pursuing best resolution.
10-14-2016, 06:23 AM   #12
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I think what everyone is saying is to try and reduce variables so you can concentrate on just testing the lens
Use a tripod, a beanbag or a stable surface to eliminate any camera shake
Use self timer to remove any vibration caused by mirror slap, or vibrations set up from touching the shutter button.
Use ISO 100 or thereabouts to reduce the softening caused by noise
as marcusBMG says, f5.6 to minimise softness or diffraction.
SR off as the camera is static, and SR will always slightly soften an image
If possible try and find a subject you can focus square on, even a brick wall. You can then see whether the lens is softer at the edges.
It's good practice to do this sort of thing, it encourages one to think through the act of taking a photograph, and helps one understand how the camera works. Plus it slows you down, and that gives more time for thought.

Hope that helps
10-14-2016, 06:36 AM   #13
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How do your native Q lenses do? I have an old screw mount 135, which I use to demonstrate how bad a really bad lens can be. But this is simple. Use the equivalent native lens. Using the same technique test you old lens

You can see from this poll, no reason an old lens can't be good... many people preferred the image of the screw mount super-tak , but the lens hs to have been super-tac quality, not Vivatar 135 quality. And what is possible on a small sensor like a Q, I can only guess.

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/10-pentax-slr-lens-discussion/312892-your...-images-4.html

Last edited by normhead; 10-14-2016 at 06:46 AM.
10-14-2016, 06:44 AM   #14
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Er, this is an old lens being adapted to the Q? To be fair, it might not ever be sharp. Is it a k-mount lens or a c-mount?
10-14-2016, 06:48 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
How do your native Q lenses do? I have an old screw mount 135, which I use to demonstrate how bad a really bad lens can be. But this is simple. Use the equivalent native lens. Using the same technique test you old lens

You can see from this poll, no reason an old lens can't be good... many people preferred the image of the screw mount super-tak , but the lens hs to have been super-tac quality, not Vivatar 135 quality. And what is possible on a small sensor like a Q, I can only guess.

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/10-pentax-slr-lens-discussion/312892-your...-images-4.html
Much better actually. But I only have the 01 Standard Prime so they're not really comparable.

---------- Post added 10-14-16 at 07:24 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by JinDesu Quote
Er, this is an old lens being adapted to the Q? To be fair, it might not ever be sharp. Is it a k-mount lens or a c-mount?
Actually the FED Industar is apparently some sort of Soviet Leica knockoff so it uses the Leica M39 Screw mount. I.e. I have a M39 to Q adapter. And you're sort of spot on what I'm trying to figure out is this lens even sharp to begin with. Of course it's really dumb of me to not use a tripod and perfect lighting for comparison shots, but I don't intend to use the lens with a tripod. I was hoping to use it for portraits. That fact that I need to use it outside in good lighting conditions is obvious now.
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