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01-10-2011, 02:41 PM   #46
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newarts, not sure if I understand the technical issues, but I'm learning.
Correction: sorry, I had forgotten that I had used USM, so your criticism is valid if you mean that, in fact, the image doesn't allow a conclusion because of that. Otherwise, what was there was what the camera saw/recorded. And that was the question in the OP... given this subject under these conditions, is this as much as I can expect from this equipment,
Brian


Last edited by FHPhotographer; 01-10-2011 at 03:08 PM. Reason: sorry, my mistake
01-10-2011, 02:43 PM   #47
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Wordslinger, thanks for the reasonable and well reasoned response. That's what I was what I was hoping for,
Brian
01-10-2011, 02:57 PM   #48
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QuoteOriginally posted by FHPhotographer Quote
newarts, not sure if I understand the technical issues, but I'm learning. Also, this was taken from a RAW image without any sharpening applied. The only change I made was a 100% crop and conversion to jpeg 8 bit from ACR 16 bit. Otherwise, what was there was what the camera saw/recorded. And that was the question in the OP... given this subject under these conditions, is this as much as I can expect from this equipment,
Brian

The op specified USM, 100%.

The technical issue is that 100% crop is demanding of lens sharpness and the image looks ok from that standpoint. There is a good chance the flatness (ie lack of contrast) is a real representation of that part of the overall scene.

I think the result is not unexpected. A simple contrast boost would make it look good as it is not out-of-focus.
01-10-2011, 02:58 PM   #49
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Steve, we can exchange PMs if you want to consider the context and criticism we both used and find a common ground, but I can't agree with your comment that "it probably makes more sense to post one of the best photos you have taken with the gear, not some random shot you took in passing".

There are a plethora of "good" photographs with this gear, carefully considered and post processed that say a great deal about the photographer but a lot less about the equipment. And this, at the heart of it, I posed an equipment question. I know what I can do with post processing etc, but that is like the camera jpeg, already amended and frequently very different from the RAW "negative" but I wanted input on that specific issue. On what Wordslinger described above, it was intended to be a technical issue and "...a question of detail."
Brian

01-10-2011, 03:01 PM   #50
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johnflores, good point and well taken about RAW. Perhaps I need to go back to basics and take another look at RAW from the ground up. Thanks for the feedback,
Brian
01-10-2011, 03:22 PM   #51
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newarts, sorry about that, I had forgotten using USM so I stand corrected.

Also, you have answered the question I originally asked. If I follow you (and correct me if I'm wrong), this is a fair representation of what the equipment can deliver, so what I got is as good as the equipment can give (under these conditions). Now I have to decide if that's good enough, or if I should invest in equipment that will give me more. Thank you,
Brian
01-10-2011, 06:02 PM   #52
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QuoteOriginally posted by FHPhotographer Quote
newarts, sorry about that, I had forgotten using USM so I stand corrected.

Also, you have answered the question I originally asked. If I follow you (and correct me if I'm wrong), this is a fair representation of what the equipment can deliver, so what I got is as good as the equipment can give (under these conditions). Now I have to decide if that's good enough, or if I should invest in equipment that will give me more. Thank you,
Brian
I think even perfect equipment would not record the scene much different from what you got. The picture looks flat because the detail in it was all clustered around the same average brightness.

I checked the distribution of brightnesses on the photo posted. The brightest brights were not overexposed but were about twice as bright as the photo's average brightness. Similarly, there were a small number of really black blacks, and they too were faithfully captured by the camera.

The camera did a good job of capturing the entire range of brightnesses from maximum to minimum, but that resulted in not much range for the remaining 99% of the image brightness clustered in the middle to be recorded, hence the image looked flat as your brain ignores the small fraction that's too white or too dark.

However, the camera did not do what your brain does, it did not ignore the whitest spot nor the darkest spot and expand the detail around the average. In the following, I did that for you. I added no sharpening and did nothing to artifically enhance anything.

Here's the photo and a histogram graph of the brightness distribution; notice that almost all the data is clustered around the middle with almost nothing at the high & low ends. The broad hump is the gray wall and the sharper peak is mostly the twigs and leaves.

A perfect camera set up to capture the brightest and dimmest parts of the scene would give about the same result.

I subtracted about 10% of the brightness to get rid of the useless "too black" blacks then increased the contrast to expand the detail of the remainder (this also made a few of the whites "too white" - the spike at the very right hand side of the graph.) I think you'll agree this is a much better looking photo.

But it is not much different from what the camera recorded.

Your camera might be set up to get as broad a range of brightnesses (Dynamic Range) as possible - while this sounds cool, it can have the effect of decreasing contrast. Perhaps that contributed to your result?

In summary, I'd want to see more examples and know how your camera is adjusted before I'd tell you you'd do better with new equipment (by "better" I mean recording more perfectly what's actually there.)

Lord knows there are many cameras out there that seriously distort reality with too much contrast, sharpening to "punch up" edges, and saturating colors to make clown-like images.

You are best off to start with grabbing what's actually in the scene THEN adding enhancements. I think your camera got close to what was actually there.

Dave

Last edited by newarts; 01-10-2011 at 06:43 PM.
01-10-2011, 07:06 PM   #53
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I am so lost reading this thread.

For all intent and purpose of RAW(with neutral setting) is to accurately portray the scene so pp can be applied as needed and seen fit to the photographer. When you shoot RAW, contrast/saturation/color accuracy is the only thing that matters and it is the promise of RAW, not a more vivid image, but a more accurate image.

With my limited experience with k-x, I think it have an pretty accurate raw files with kit lens.

Ultimately you have to ask yourself: Is the sample you took properly portray the given condition of the scene? This is a question only you can answer as none of us are there when you took the samples. (regardless you like or think the image is flat or not) If the answer is yes, its an accurate portrayal, then the camera have does what it should and delivered a good RAW file .

If u want a more vivid capture in all conditions, well, use in camera setting(they are in the camera to save time from pp but with less freedom) or pp.

Now with sharpness, it is a kit lens, and I do find I need to at least stop it down 1-2 stop(5.6-8) at all zoom range to get some sharp(er) images. This ain't no L/ziess lens.


Last edited by OmegaKulu; 01-10-2011 at 07:12 PM.
01-11-2011, 12:58 AM   #54
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QuoteOriginally posted by OmegaKulu Quote
For all intent and purpose of RAW(with neutral setting) is to accurately portray the scene ...
'Accuracy' isn't necessarily part of the program. What you want to see, what you do see, what the camera sees, and what is actually there (if anything), are not the same. That's just how optical and visual systems work. Your RAW files only contain what the camera saw through your lens system at the moment of exposure. Your JPG settings are included in a RAW file -- think of them as the default parameters for development. But they are easily over-ridden, which is the power of RAW.

Your visual system discards a tremendous amount of input when displaying images in your brain, and your imagination may throw in stuff that's not really there. Similarly, a rendering engine throws away a huge amount of data when building a usable image (whether JPG, TIF, PNG, PCD, GIF, TGA, whatever) from a RAW dataset, and may include processing artifacts (argh). Much is excluded. If you want something approaching accuracy, use multispectral forensic gear. Otherwise, use PP to make an image look the way you want it.

I've shot some images that I've tweaked in dozens of ways in RAW development, none of the products being any more or less 'real' or 'accurate' than the others. That doesn't count any further PP. I think I have valid reasons to tweak all the various factors, to (de)emphasize some aspect of color temperature and saturation and shadow and highlight, and especially when converting to B&W using various filtrations. In further PP I'm free to make more adjustments, emphasizing some details and hiding others, cropping and re-proportioning and re-lighting.

There is no perfect picture. There is only a picture you have stopped working on.
01-11-2011, 04:11 AM   #55
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QuoteOriginally posted by bsamcash Quote
Wow. I was mostly reading this for the entertainment factor, but I actually learned something. Thanks.

I hope the same for the OP.
Glad someone took something useful away from that novel I wrote.

QuoteOriginally posted by FHPhotographer Quote
Wordslinger, thanks for the reasonable and well reasoned response. That's what I was what I was hoping for,
Brian
You're welcome. I know it wasn't really a cut and dry answer. Also, just a thought... did you apply 'usm' after the jpeg conversion? That can really cause problems.

Last edited by Wordslinger; 01-11-2011 at 04:33 AM.
01-11-2011, 06:30 AM   #56
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What I think of all of this, where it just went from simple question from you, is that maybe you are not waiting too much from your equipmetnt and you see what you want to see. I can assure to you that better optics gives to you more(if you nail it right)"mojo", but basic things around photography is not going to change that much for you.

These things are strongly depending on our personal taste. I'm dreaming for better optics constantly, and there is so much you can find with nice primes from old days(smc K,M,A...), and it is not SO big investment. Try them and you'll see, it is easy to sell them if you don't like results. After that you can maybe ask this question again

But for me learning manual lenses limits and rules(where is still al lot to be revealed) gave a lot of understanding for what I can do and what I'm waiting for from lenses...I'm still just amateur my self, but trying it yout.
01-11-2011, 06:47 AM   #57
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Let me say this clearly without technical detail (some of which I've already given.)

In my opinion, a perfect lens with the same scene & camera parameters, with the same exposure, and treated as you treated it in post processing may not give an image much different from what you posted.

To give an answer with more certainty would require more info and tests, but what you posted is certainly consistent with good equipment.
01-11-2011, 09:09 AM   #58
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As a 100% crop, the image looked sharp enough to me...
01-11-2011, 10:10 AM   #59
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That's a 100% crop? How could you possibly wish it was sharper? How could it be? Stunning resolution IMO.
01-11-2011, 07:50 PM   #60
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Dave, thanks again. I think you hit the nail on the head with your analysis, examples and the summary comments of "in summary, I'd want to see more examples and know how your camera is adjusted before I'd tell you you'd do better with new equipment (by "better" I mean recording more perfectly what's actually there.) I think your camera got close to what was actually there." After all is said and done, I think this all helps me answer the OP question of "...am I expecting too much?" And the answer seems to be, yes, I was expecting too much. I need to look closer at my criteria rather than my equipment. And perhaps I need to spend more time just taking photographs than talking about the process. ; it's a lesson I may have to relearn. Thanks one and all for the input, even those I had dust-ups with,
Brian
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