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question about cameras/ lenses
Ok I have asked silly questions on here before and gotten bashed by them (they werent purposefully silly, accidentally!).

Here is my question...I use a Canon Xt to take all of my pictures, and when I browse through other photographer's pics their pictures pop out of the picture. I cant describe it, but it's almost like they are more in focus, but I feel like my pictures are in the best focus they can be..

I use a tamron f/2.8 zoom lens. So is it the lens or the camera? Im guessing it's the camera, and I will just need to upgrade soon!.

Here 2 pictures of what I am talking about!.

Http://www.evanbaines.com/weddings/weddings.php#.

Http://web.mac.com/landonjacob/LandonJacobProductions/egagement.html#3.

I dont think the actual pictures are showing up (im not sure how to do that) It is taking you to the photographer's pics. The first photographer's pics seem to pop, the second set of pics are my own and they just seem to NOT pop, can someone explain this please..

Comments (24)

"Engagement Portraits" are yours? Nice photos! They are soft and don't have the "pop" you're looking for but I do like your composition..

Disclaimer: I'm just an amateur..

It's hard to say although my first inclination would be to say it's the lens. You may have a bad copy of the lens and it might need repair or calibration to your camera. If you can get hold of a lens you know performs well and try it on your camera then you'll know whether or not to eliminate the lens as the problem or not..

Most digital photos require sharpening in post-processing, are you adding any sharpening? Do you shoot jpegs or do you shoot RAW? These things can make a difference but your shots definitely are soft and kind of "flat". You can always adjust the color but if the lens is faulty as you think, all the adjustment you can possibly make won't give you the quality shot you should get out of that camera.My humble photo gallery: http://ntotrr.smugmug.com.

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Comment #1

Thanks so much for your reply... I dont do much sharpening! Maybe thats it... Ive self taught myself photoshop... so as you know I havent figured everything out yet! (Theres sooo much to figure out!) So can I take my lens to a camera shop and have them test it out for me?.

If I need to get a new lens because it is a bad copy, what do you suggest?..

Comment #2

I don't know if any camera shop can do that but Tamron should be able to. I use a Sigma DSLR and I know that they will test and calibrate a lens to a specific camera if you send them both. Since you have a Tamron lens, Tamron might have to do it for you. There are a lot of sharp lenses. I'm not very familiar with Canon but a good start might be to find what the "standard" 50mm lens is that the Canon shooters use. Nikon has one that's an f2.8 and runs around $120.00 or so.

I use among other lenses, a Sigma 50mm EX lens that is as sharp as a tack.

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..

You can bring you r camera to a shop and ask to test some lenses before you buy. If you can't get results with any of the high-quality lenses you test, the problem may well lie in the camera..

There are a vast number of sharp lenses available. Which Tamron lens are you using? The 28-75mm, if that's the one you have, is supposed to be an great performer..

My humble photo gallery: http://ntotrr.smugmug.com.

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Comment #3

Yes I am using the Tameron 28- 75.

And my husband uses the 50mm 1.8 canon lens, and we get just about the same sharpnes... so maybe it's just a matter of putting a sharpening layer over the picture or something?.

I guess if we are both getting the same picture from two lenses, (one being a great portrait lens) maybe it's just a matter of editing....

I am still going to go to a store and do what you suggested!.

Thanks so much for all your help! you are so kind!..

Comment #4

I would try sharpening in PP. Very nice pics by the way..

For people, you would start with something like:.

Ratio=1, 1.5strength=100threshold=0, 1.

These are not set in stone, but just as a starting point. You have to see what looks good to your taste and of course what the image lends itself to..

For a little more aggressive sharpening, not really meant for people as edges are made not as soft, but I think works great for flowers, other objects, objects/landscapes, etc... is:.

Ratio:5strength:50threshold 4..

Again, these are just intended as guide settings to start with, so adjust as necessary..

Albert-OPlease visit me athttp://www.berto.zenfolio.com.

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Comment #5

Jojo13king wrote:.

I dont think the actual pictures are showing up (im not sure how todo that) It is taking you to the photographer's pics. The firstphotographer's pics seem to pop, the second set of pics are my ownand they just seem to NOT pop, can someone explain this please.

All but one of your pictures seem to be back lit. Notice how the light is on the back of your subject. For back lit pictures you need to use a reflector or flash..

Everything happens for a reason. #1 reason: poor planning..

Comment #6

In addition to sharpening you might want to experiment with defogging. It's actually a special case of unsharp mask, not an actual command. Use amount= 10% to 20%, Radius=60, threshold=0 to begin and play around with it, varying the radius and amount. It's also called "local contrast enhancement". Try doing it first, then levels, curves, cropping, etc, then sharpen (with the ususal higher amount and much lower radius) if needed..

WillWill PrattBarrick Museum, UNLV..

Comment #7

Honestly I'm not the least bit impressed with the wedding photos. I think you can aspire to better things. To me they don't pop or grab my attention. They don't suck... but I don't think a wedding photographer's motto should be "We don't suck"..

As for your photos, I think you just need to concentrate more on lighting. Case in point, image html#3 - the girl piggyback on the guy - back lit, blown highlights, faces in shadow and a generally over-contrasty scene. It's a fun picture, but the lighting kills it. I can see why you composed it the way you did, but the angle of the sun at the time you shot it renders it ineffective IMO..

Do you have an external flash? Reflectors? Do you use a tripod? All sorts of things can affect the sharpness and pop of a photo..

Jojo13king wrote:.

Ok I have asked silly questions on here before and gotten bashed bythem (they werent purposefully silly, accidentally!).

Here is my question...I use a Canon Xt to take all of my pictures,and when I browse through other photographer's pics their picturespop out of the picture. I cant describe it, but it's almost like theyare more in focus, but I feel like my pictures are in the best focusthey can be..

I use a tamron f/2.8 zoom lens. So is it the lens or the camera? Imguessing it's the camera, and I will just need to upgrade soon!.

Here 2 pictures of what I am talking about!.

Http://www.evanbaines.com/weddings/weddings.php#.

Http://web.mac.com/landonjacob/LandonJacobProductions/egagement.html#3.

I dont think the actual pictures are showing up (im not sure how todo that) It is taking you to the photographer's pics. The firstphotographer's pics seem to pop, the second set of pics are my ownand they just seem to NOT pop, can someone explain this please.

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Even if you can't donate, please help spread the word...

Comment #8

Thank you for your imput, but I DID not ask for your opinion whatsoever on what you thought about my pictures. Just so you know you broke Dpreviews rules, and it will be reported. I asked for help and what you said was not nessesary...

Comment #9

.. to make them pop. I told you. Lighting. And I offered the opinion that you can do better than the sample wedding pictures from another photographer that you provided in comparison to yours. What I said was not in violation of and DPreview rules - unless they've outlawed honest opinions/advice.



Jojo13king wrote:.

Thank you for your imput, but I DID not ask for your opinionwhatsoever on what you thought about my pictures. Just so you knowyou broke Dpreviews rules, and it will be reported. I asked for helpand what you said was not nessesary..

Some cool cats that can use your helphttp://www.wildlife-sanctuary.org.

Even if you can't donate, please help spread the word...

Comment #10

Please allow me to appologize. I may have misunderstood what you previously said on here. I thought you were coming out saying that my pictures were not very good, but after reading it I guess it could have been taken two ways: either that my pictures werent that good, or that the other photographers werent that great- asuming maybe you didnt understand that I was making a comparison with my own pictures ( the site with the black background)..

Please understand that I have bee majorly slammed on here several times now, and I just asked for help and then I get a response (thinking) that someone is saying my pics arent impressive... It just made me mad, but I think I stand corrected, because you are saying it wasnt about my pics?.

That makes me feel better... and I'm so sorry! Make sure you let me know if you understand where I was coming from... I thought you were criticising my pics when I didnt ask for critisism (as in whether or not you thought they were impresive or not) but now if I'm understanding correctly thats not what you said at all???.

OHHH goodness I am so confusing!!!!.

Once again... so sorry!..

Comment #11

Sorry for the confusion. I went back and saw your own wedding gallery and could understand how you thought I was referring to that. If anything, what I said was a compliment - ie, I see more potential in your work than the person you compared yourself too - more interesting shots IMO. I think you have a good eye for composition which in and of itself can make a shot. Best of luck with your ventures - I mean that sincerely...

Comment #12

I am SO glad you understood where I was coming from! I hate the internet because you can never understand what people are truly saying ( my husband says, "No, it's just you!") Sorry, and I know I shouldnt have immediately got on to you.. I should have asked you first! By the way we work off of macs too!!!..

Comment #13

Jojo13king wrote:.

I am SO glad you understood where I was coming from! I hate theinternet because you can never understand what people are trulysaying ( my husband says, "No, it's just you!") Sorry, and I know ishouldnt have immediately got on to you.. I should have asked youfirst! By the way we work off of macs too!!!.

There's the root of the problem.....you are Mac people! .

Seriously, the Tamron 28-75/2.8 is an outstanding lens and you should be able to get sharp images from the lens. I've owned one almost since the day there released the lens. Mine has always had ample sharpness, excellent color and contrast. Your issues may just be technique and processing, or it is possible you have a copy of the lens that is not up to snuff. There were some copies of this lens that were released that did have some focus issues that affected the overall sharpness of the image..

JohnPentax *ist-D, K100D, Fuji F20/31fd, Oly Stylushttp://www.pbase.com/jglover..

Comment #14

Gee... not I'm afraid to asy anything..

Most of the kissing shots are not exposed properly..

It's amazing how a little thing like setting the camera properly can affact the end result..

Why in the world anyone would deliverately shoot into the shadows is beyond me, but for those that insist, god invented fill flash and reflectors..

There are lots of ways to convert from color pictures to black and white pictures, and your method is not one of the good ones..

The more info you provide, the more help we can be, but we're stabbing in the dark here..

If you have software such as Photoshop Elements, you can adjust the contrast and brightness in images converted to B&W, and get rid of a lot of the greyness that's in your shots but it would have helped if they were exposed properly..

Look at the contrast of your sunny shots. The two sitting on the grass, crosslit, just screams out for a reflector on the shady side, bouncing light back into the shot. This would allow a smaller aperture, cutting the overexposure of the bright side..

Nothing can make the sandles photo "pop".

Do you understand the controls inside your camera?.

You seem to think a grand and a half is fair recompense for your pictures did you ever shoot a wedding on film? Real wedding photographers used a variety of films, depending on the lighting, throughout a wedding. And they used professional lighting equipment, professionally. Their pictures popped..

So, what films would have made your sample shots turn out to be at least OK? And what lighting should have been combined with those films?.

Real wedding photographers spent years with a flash mounted over top of the camera, to add what I call "snap" and you may call "pop.".

WHAT TO DO;.

Buy a good flash gun; top of the line from your camera maker will be fine. Buy a flash bracket and/or a GAry Fong Lightsphere..

Buy a hand held incident light meter..

Buy a three foot diameter or bigger white / silver (two-dided) reflector like a Lite-Disk. There are lots of brands..

Start paying at least a little attention to the light. Look at the direction it is coming from, look at where it is putting shadows, look at how dense those shadows are. Shot after shot looks as if you did not even bother looking to see if the faces were lit properly. Just looking is a good step, and then you can adjust the exposure or move the people or change the lighting..

Pop works best when a camera is held properly but if you think tiulted ios good, get an off camera extension cord, so at least your flash is level. These cables allow full flash exposure automation..

In return for hundreds of dollars that people pay for their pictures,.

Your clients should get the services of someone who can use a light meter and set the camera manually. For the tilted strapless dress black mass of faces shot, a quick hand-held meter reading would have been easier that trying to use the camera's narrowest metering pattern, and would have either told you the shot was hopelss as you had it set up, or required two stops more exposure, which would have blown the background but at lest show the people. And perhaps the well exposed faces would have popped from the bright surroundings..

There are no camera problems in these shots, and no lense problems in these shots. Which is the good news no money needs to be spent, other than on a meter, perhaps, and some books for sure, and some test prints, for sure..

Good luck. Photography is hard. That's why pros go to school for years, and then apprentice..

BAK..

Comment #15

I couldn't get anything out of your site on Safari, Firefox or Explorer on a Mac. What am I supposed to use to see it?Leonard Migliore..

Comment #16

Thanks for the tips BaK. I am more along the lines of a photojournalist. I really dont like traditional posed pictures. Im not traditional, and neither are most of our brides. The brides these days love the different angels. I try to catch brides in the moment, so alot of our photos arent going to have perfect lighting, but I truly will use your advice.

Thank you for being honest, and you were very helpful!..

Comment #17

Jojo,.

For starters on exposure, get a copy of Bryan Peterson's book _Understanding exposure_, Revised edition (Amphoto, NY, 2004.) It's perhaps the best introduction to the subject currently out there, and certainly a good one. You might also want to search the Professional forum here for books on wedding photography. You might not be interested in the poses they talk about, but they also talk about the lighting situations you have to deal with..

Seriously look into getting a few reflector disks. They fold down into a very compact size and can work wonders for fill. Flash doesn't have to be intrusive, though, used for fill at low levels..

WillWill PrattBarrick Museum, UNLV..

Comment #18

Jojo13king wrote:.

Ok I have asked silly questions on here before and gotten bashed bythem (they werent purposefully silly, accidentally!).

Here is my question...I use a Canon Xt to take all of my pictures,and when I browse through other photographer's pics their picturespop out of the picture. I cant describe it, but it's almost like theyare more in focus, but I feel like my pictures are in the best focusthey can be..

I am guessing that many of Evans pics pop quite nicely (especially that balding guy on the bottom left of the first page) because he used fast prime lenses and not a zoom lenses as you were/are using?.

Http://www.evanbaines.com/weddings/weddings.php#.

I use a tamron f/2.8 zoom lens. So is it the lens or the camera? Imguessing it's the camera, and I will just need to upgrade soon!.

Although your camera has'nt got an inherrantly sharp sensor to work with I think the problem is more likely down to your choice of lens than your choice of camera..

Lets face it, zooms are generally always going to give softer results than using primes and while I can fully understand how you might prefer the greater flexability offered by using a zoom over using several more bulky fixed FL primes, using a zoom is always going to be a compromise of flexabilty over image sharpness...So if the latter is what you seek the solution is obvious...Use prime lenses instead..

However picking exactly which primes to use is the tricky bit...I would go for lenses offering good bokeh quality as well as sharpness, and ones that are fast enough to make your subjects stand out clearly from the background..

I would suggest carrying at least three decent primes, like say a fast WA, something between 20-28mm (f1.4 to f1.8 preferably), a fast 50-55mm (an f1.4 model at the very least but preferably an f1.2) and a fast 85mm (an f1.4 model would be great but an f1.2 is better if your budget runs to it (Carl Zeiss or Canon...I use a Carl Zeiss))...You could carry a few more as well (If your back is up to it!) but it's unlikely that you will need anything greater than an 85mm for most shots...Though I might be tempted to lug my Zeiss 180mm f2.8 around as well just in case for the odd long shot with good subject isolation..

Here 2 pictures of what I am talking about!.

Http://web.mac.com/landonjacob/LandonJacobProductions/egagement.html#3.

I dont think the actual pictures are showing up (im not sure how todo that) It is taking you to the photographer's pics. The firstphotographer's pics seem to pop, the second set of pics are my ownand they just seem to NOT pop, can someone explain this please.

The aperture you were using for most of those could also be part of the problem...If you were shooting with the lens WO (f2.8) all the time then it would not be supprising that they are soft...Stopping down a bit would almost certainly help increase the sharpness of the lens but then you would probably lose any pop you might gain from the extra sharpness because more of the background would come into focus and therefore you would fail to adequately isolate the subject from the background...This is why fast prime lenses are so prized for occasions such as this and in why they can be essential tools for such work..

DSG.

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Comment #19

Pavi1 wrote:.

All but one of your pictures seem to be back lit. Notice how thelight is on the back of your subject. For back lit pictures you needto use a reflector or flash..

I very much agree that you need to get a good deal more light into the shadow sides of your subjects, either with a reflector...(easier, because you can see the improvement as it happens)..

.... or with a carefully adjusted fill-flash..... (more difficult, because you canNOT pre-view, therefore needs more practise)..

Remember......

When you concentrate attention on shadow side of your subject you are using very soft light (flat, lacking in contrast) which is not good for showing the textures that make pictures look snappy. Also, shooting the shadow side makes the camera work hard to get best focus in that dim flat light, so the chance of mis-focus is increased..

In that regard, I suggest you do some FOCUS TESTS....

1) With the camera set up on a tripod, shoot a double page of a newspaper from a 45 degree angle nothing fancy just stick it FLAT on a wall and view obliquely..

2) On the paper's surface draw a thin vertical line RIGHT THROUGH some of the actual typescript, and use this as your precision target. [A ballpoint pen is good for this.] Ensure the camera back is similarly plumbed vertical before you start shooting..

3) Do tests with Auto Focus at maximum aperture, and repeat with manual focus. If you have one, use a remote release. Alternatively, avoid camera shake by lifting the mirror, or using a short delay....[??].

20 minutes spent examining the enlarged on-screen images will tell you how your lens/focus performs and, because of the 45 degree angle, which DIRECTION[nearer/further] any focus errors are occurring.Regards,Baz..

Comment #20

THIS explains why my site meters showed a random spike in referrals from this site!.

Jojo,.

If you would email me, I'd be thrilled to answer any questions about my work regarding technique. I took a look at your site and liked much of what I saw..

Mr. Portaro,.

I am thrilled by your pronouncement that my work "doesn't suck.".

Cheers everyone and thanks for visiting my site!  ..

Comment #21

Hi Jo Jo,Some simple suggestions and thoughts..

1) Shoot with a wider aperture, narrower depth of field. You may notice that the backgrounds of the competitors images you admire are softer requiring the viewers eye to snap to the sharper areas, the subjects..

2) Chose simpler backgrounds (less distracting), examine the compertitors and you'll see the advantages of simple backgrounds to complex ones..

3) Using the light: I don't care if it is behind YOU, them or directed across the scene, it can be used advantageously. But, you have some very harsh side light (move under an overhang or trees) some harsh back light (move in and place the subject's skin tones in the 65-80% white range of tones). Notice the softness of the light in the images you admire. The light still has direction and contrast, but is within the sensors dynamic range. Window light, under overhangs, etc..

4) Composition: get closer and tighter. This eliminates disturbing backgrounds and demands subject attention. The exception is for images like the couple in the grass lawn with NO other elements in the compositon. Lear more about "power points" of composition and place the subjects there..

5) Exposure comments: learning to place the tonal values where you want them to be takes time and practice. Camera meters DO NOT DO IT. They try to make everyting 18% gray. European skin is one tone about 1.5 - 2 EVs above gray, white is lighter, gray is darker, so be careful. The eye will go to the brightest spot in the images. That is another reason to get in tight, especially with backlit images.



6) Ignore all comments about the lens you own, it is fine..

7) You may want to look up "www.roberthughes.net" and buy his videos (Perfect outdoor portraiture without lighting accessories and the other about determining the print quality before you print) Both are EXCELLENT..

8) You are very close to achieving what you are looking for in your images. Control of the extraneous, positioning yourself to use the light advantageously and simplifying your scenes will get it done. You have style, approach the subjects without intimidation, have an emotional response to the stories and those are missing in many photographers work.Van..

Comment #22

Evanbaines wrote:.

THIS explains why my site meters showed a random spike in referralsfrom this site!.

Evan, I suppose I should welcome you to dpreview being as that was your first post here.Was I right about you using fast lenses BTW?DSG.

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Comment #23

Thank you!.

Yes, I use primes whenever possible. Many of the shots on my wedding site are from my beloved 135 f/2...

Comment #24

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