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07-04-2010, 11:58 AM   #1
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Getting seemingly soft images.

Hey all, I'm using a Pentax K-7 w/DA* 50-135 and I can't seem to get my pictures anywhere near as sharp as I would like.

I've got a sample below. Is there some kind of post processing I need to do or certain settings I need to focus on? Now, this shot was taken at relatively high ISO (1600), and I have considered that, but despite the ISO, I would expect better.

Perhaps I just can't expect anything else, unless there's a way I can clean up the RAW?

Thanks for the help,
MP

Details:
Exposure Time: 1/40s
f/2.8
ISO-1600




Last edited by Marc Sabatella; 07-05-2010 at 08:53 AM. Reason: added IMGWIDE tags
07-04-2010, 12:05 PM   #2
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That looks relatively sharp considering it was shot at 1/40th of a second at 75mm, wide-open, at ISO 1600.

All things considered just how sharp are you expecting an unmodified image to be?

In post to sharpen things up for web viewing I usually apply an unsharp mask or edge-sharpen after all other modifications are done.
07-04-2010, 12:21 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by noahpurdy Quote
That looks relatively sharp considering it was shot at 1/40th of a second at 75mm, wide-open, at ISO 1600.

All things considered just how sharp are you expecting an unmodified image to be?

In post to sharpen things up for web viewing I usually apply an unsharp mask or edge-sharpen after all other modifications are done.
Perhaps you're right. I'm not sure exactly how sharp I expect it to be. It just seems soft compared to other results I've seen, in my mind. I generally sharpen edges using a high-pass filter when I find images a bit soft, but that just wasn't doing it for me.
07-04-2010, 12:25 PM   #4
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Hard to judge at the posted size - a crop of the in-focus area would be more useful. But given the relatively shallow DOF from shooting at close range and large aperture, plus shooting wide open where almost no lens is at it sharpest, plus the high ISO, plus shooting at too slow a shutter speed, I can't say that what I see at the posted size surprises me at all.

07-04-2010, 12:42 PM   #5
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I have uploaded the full size image.

Given a relatively low light situation, is my only solution a flash in such a case?
07-04-2010, 01:44 PM   #6
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For the settings, I think it looks fine. Little fill flash might do it.
07-04-2010, 05:17 PM   #7
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Check the whiskers - it's sharp. 3 things though. It's dark/underxposed, so there's not a whole lot of shadow detail. It's iso 1600, so there's a lot of noise. Lens is wide open, so only the eye/muzzle are in focus - everything in front and behind that point are not. It almost looks like the focus is in front of the muzzle. Did the dog turn her head between when you focused and when you took the shot?
07-04-2010, 06:18 PM   #8
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Apart from the noise, it seems like great quality for the moment you caught.

Looking at the full-size image, I feel that I can almost count the hairs on the little ones chin. Tack-sharp, no. Nicely detailed, yes, imo. And the over-all softness otherwise seems to work: the fur of her (his?) ear looks simply luxurious, not blurred. .

I wonder if your impression of softness might be due to the noise somehow subjectively obscuring the detail, competing with it in a sense? I'm very inexperienced, and this might be ludicrous, but I wonder if with some fairly heavy NR, even though you'd lose some detail, it might paradoxically come out seeming more "focused" even if it's soft. Does that make any sense?

07-04-2010, 06:36 PM   #9
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I wouldn't expect this kind of picture taken under typical circumstances to be perfectly sharp. You should put the camera on a tripod, focus carefully on a non-moving object, and try various ISOs and apertures. You'll probably find that the pictures are very sharp, meaning something went wrong technique-wise when your pictures aren't sharp.

You have to remember that a couple of years ago ISO 1600 was way, way out there, and the best you could hope for was very clumpy grain. If you really, really demand outstanding high iso performance you might need one of the very newest, full-frame cameras. Higher ISO would translate to smaller apertures and higher shutter speeds, solving a lot of problems.

Paul
07-04-2010, 07:24 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by ManhattanProject Quote
Perhaps I just can't expect anything else, unless there's a way I can clean up the RAW?
I'd say it's definitely worth cleaning up the RAW. What do you use for PP? I just had some fun with your full-size jpeg in LIghtroom 3, which I'm just beginning to learn how to use, and I think the improvement is marked, even with the exported file, which was compressed again. I think with the RAW file you could get very good results.

The noise, especially in the area of the body to the left of the face, was really stubborn, and when I nuked it with the NR sliders, of course I lost too much detail. The texture of the fur was lost, etc. But with other tweaking I got nice detail back -- and I think the face actually looks sharper now. (Look at the detail on the nose.) The most help for the image, I think, came from setting the "clarity" slider in the "presence" tool to +75. Exposure seems improved also.

Here's a link to the processed image --
http://img708.imageshack.us/img708/1038/pentaxdoggie.jpg

(I can't get that to link directly for some reason, alas.)
07-04-2010, 07:40 PM   #11
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oops

Well, I was concentrating so much on the dog, that I neglected other parts of the image. (notably in the upper left) I did way too much sharpening, I think, and made the character of the noise different, and worse. I still think the subject looks better defined, though.

This is a tough one!
07-04-2010, 09:14 PM   #12
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Looks decent to my eyes!

You will have to crank the aperture if you want more of your doggie in focus.
07-04-2010, 10:33 PM   #13
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One more factor to look at - what RAW processing software are you using ?
Some RAW conversion software such as the PDCU4 (from the box) and Silkypix tend to be soft by default. Just crank up the sharpness during processing, and you can see tons of detail come alive.

You should find the K-7 and DA*50-135mm combo a superb combination, capturing rich, detailed shots.

Just need to learn how to get the best out of the camera + lens + software.
07-05-2010, 06:45 AM   #14
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I didnt' read all the other responses, so this may have already been posted. But noise in an image taken with a higher ISO is always going to show up more in the dark parts of an image. I think that is what you are mostly seeing, not necessarily a soft image, but just an image with noise in the dark parts...unfortunately, the dark parts is your subject. Also, at a SS of 1/40 is tough when you are hand holding your camera.
07-05-2010, 08:53 AM   #15
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For future reference, don't upload full size images - at least not directly (links to images on other sites - so one has the choice of whether to click or not - are fine). In the rare cases where posting a large image is appropriate, please enclose it in IMGWIDE or IMGTALL tags as aoppropriate (I'm editing your post above to do that).

But better would be to simply post an unresized crop of the area you are concerned with. Just the face in this case would have worked great. One can see that the nsoe and hiskers are are sharp as anyone has any right to expect given the slow shutter speed, high ISO, general underexpose, and wide open aperture. If you want that nose sharper, then you need more light so you can both lower ISO, decrease aperture, and/or increase shutter speed. That can be done via flash, or simply turning up the lights in the room. If you want more than just the nose in focus, then the same sapplies, except you have less choice in the matter as to which parameters you alter - you have to decrease aperture (being able to reduce ISO and icnrease shutter speed *also* never hurts, of course).
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