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08-30-2009, 08:14 PM   #1
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Unsharp pictures

I know photography is an art, and as a relative beginner I realize the answer is practice, practice, practice, but it seems an awful lot of my pictures are simply not sharp, even in bright daylight.

Here's a shot I took at close range (please ignore framing, etc., this was a test shot):



Lens is a Tamron 28-75 f2.8. This was 55mm, f3.5, 1/750, autofocus. This is just an example; I took several others with similar results, and I wasn't able to get anything even decent at f2.8.

I'm aware of the balance between aperture, shutter speed and ISO, and I am able to take a sharp picture now and again, so I guess my extremely noobish question is what is likely my biggest problem? It seems like a lot of my bad pictures are a result of focus problems, but with plenty of light and fast shutter speeds, I don't understand why my photos aren't sharper.

Thanks for reading; check out my flickr page for more samples (but that is mostly my better stuff).

Flickr: DennisH2's Photostream

08-30-2009, 09:17 PM   #2
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Google "depth of field"
08-30-2009, 09:26 PM   #3
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"I don't understand why my photos aren't sharper."

What part were you trying to get sharper, the flower or the whole scene?
08-30-2009, 09:31 PM   #4
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Thanks.

I understand DOF, although I'm no expert, and I did figure that was one problem, but is anything in that photo in focus? Or is the DOF so shallow nothing looks in focus?

Also, here's another example of a problem photo:



Sunlight (some clouds), 43 mm, f 9.5, 1/750, ISO 200

08-30-2009, 09:36 PM   #5
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The rose looks pretty sharp to me.
You don't say what camera you have and exif data isn't on the images so we can't tell what settings you have (sharpness, contrast etc.).
If you're not happy, try playing around with them to get a settings you prefer.
08-30-2009, 09:44 PM   #6
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Sorry.

K200D, JPEG, Bright mode, sharpness = +2, contrast = +1.

But if you're saying that rose looks sharp, then maybe my expectations are off.
08-30-2009, 09:50 PM   #7
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What do you want to do, shave with it.

Seriously, what did you want with that picture, did you want everything in focus?
08-31-2009, 01:35 AM   #8
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The red petals of the rose look pretty sharp to me. I'm not sure where you miss sharpness...

08-31-2009, 04:03 AM   #9
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They look OK to me, Dennis. Perhaps you're making comparisons with photos you've seen in magazines or books and wondering why yours aren't like them. If that's the case, well, you're probably looking at the work of pros with multi-thousand dollar lenses and years of experience, who shoot RAW and polish up in Photoshop CS4. Nevertheless, you might be able to get a little closer to your goal by doing what they do - shoot in RAW, then adjust and sharpen in an editing program. I don't have much faith in in-camera sharpening - much rather do it in an editor. Also, I don't know if you're using a tripod, but you'll find a that good quality (and I stress that) pod, with SR off, will help enormously. Lastly, you might want to experiment with manual focusing. Sometimes, especially in low light, autofocus can get confused as to what exactly you're focusing on.
Keep on, you'll get there, and really your pics are quite sharp already, as others have said.
08-31-2009, 04:15 AM   #10
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Having had another look, I'm also wondering if you're confusing sharpness with detail. They're two different things and here you really do come up against lens quality. Good quality glass wil record more detail and will have a better tonal range and better contrast, which will make your photos appear "sharper." If you can, get hold of a really good lens (maybe go down to your nearest camera shop with your camera) and try one or two out. You'll see what I mean. Then go looking for some old M or A or K series lenses and treat yourself.
08-31-2009, 05:19 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by DennisH Quote
Sorry.

K200D, JPEG, Bright mode, sharpness = +2, contrast = +1.

But if you're saying that rose looks sharp, then maybe my expectations are off.
So, what exactly are your expectations then? The rose has some parts, which look fairly sharp to me. But at f/3.5 the depth of field is so shallow at this close distance, that you won't get even the full blossom sharp at once. For such close-ups you need to step down to f/8 or f/11 to get some depth of field - and the background will still be blurred.

Your second image also looks quite sharp. Which problem do you recognize with it?

Ben
08-31-2009, 05:58 AM   #12
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Well, this is strange, but I'm now on my work computer, which is not as good a monitor, and the rose picture actually looks better. Maybe I was tired last night or something.

Anyway, thanks for your comments, everyone; I guess my choice of aperture was too large. I was just comparing it and others I took yesterday to other photos I've taken and thought it wasn't as sharp.

I'll just have to pay closer attention to aperture.
08-31-2009, 08:23 AM   #13
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The petals are pretty sharp, but there isn't a whole lot of detail within each petal, because the highly saturated color has probably clipped the red channel. It's a common problem when photographing bright red objects; see any number of other threads on the subject in these forums. The stems and leaves of the flower are outside the focus zone, however, so they aren't sharp simply because DOF is way too shallow.

In the second picture, it's tough to tell if there is any sort of problem or not at the posted size (and yes, I clicked through to get the larger size). And who knows where the camera even tried to focus? Perhaps if you tell us exactly where th camera focused, and post a link to a larger version of the image, it might be possible to see what you are talking about. But as it is, I don't see a problem offhand. Looks like the camera has focused on the near pole, and it looks acceptably sharp to me at the posted size.
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