what am I doing wrong with this pic? (1 image)
I am a big newbie when it comes to dslr. I have got canon 450d and I have been "messing" on with some photos. I took this close up of my son using the P mode and Autofocus. It is not as sharp as I would like, it seems to have a sort of softness and I would like it crisp. Does anyone know what I have done wrong. You can see the photo here (sorry I cant work out how to put it in this post).


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Comments (16)

It was shot at 1/40 second at at focal length of 41mm. So, although the image was taken under the general rule of shutter speed = 1/focal length, even in the steadiest of hands it's very difficult to avoid camera shake at that low a shutter speed...

Comment #1

So to make it better I need to increase shutter speed on "P" or change to a different setting like shutter speed priority and on a tripod?..

Comment #2

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Comment #3

I don't think there's anything wrong with the picture. It needs to be lightened a little and maybe sharpened a little..


Comment #4

To obtain faster shutter speeds when you cannot control the light, options are to increase ISO, open up aperture, use a flash or a faster lens. However, depending on the camera, boosting ISO can also result in image noise and fast lenses require spot-on focusing because wide open, they have a thin depth of field..

If you chose shutter priority and select a specific speed, then your camera will adjust aperture and ISO (if auto-ISO is a feature) accordingly, or you can dial in a set ISO. If the ISO cannot be boosted sufficiently or is not set high enough and/or the aperture cannot be opened up enough, the image will be dark and again, possibly not sharp..

You can probably shoot in P mode and override the camera's settings, but the shot will only be successful if the camera can increase ISO and/or open the lens aperture. These are dependent on, as stated above, auto-ISO capability or the dialed in ISO setting and the limit of the len's inherent aperture..

A tripod is the better answer for shooting a low shutter speed, but the subject must remain perfectly still..

You would do better with this type of shot and would probably obtain sufficient shutter speed for hand holding if the subject were not back/side lit. Try repositioning the subject so they are facing the light, avoiding shadows under his eyes, and try again on P mode..

It's also possible that the lens you're using doesn't produce particularly sharp images...

Comment #5

Shel1 wrote:.

I don't think there's anything wrong with the picture. It needs to belightened a little and maybe sharpened a little..

And vertical framing would have excluded all that burned out stuff at the edges..

As is the picture is not really large enough to check properly for sharpness. The left eye (his right) looks okay to me, but might not be.Regards,Baz..

Comment #6


I took this photo at the same time but I used the flash on this one and it seems to be sharper. not sure if that is because it is further away.

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Comment #7

OK... first, the image you provide is so reduced in size that it is difficult for me to gauge how sharp the image actually is. (I can't intuit what the original looks like)..

Given that, the only thing I can tell you is how to edit the image that you have provided so that the foreground subject looks sharper..

Looking just at that foreground subject, the image is flat (lacks local contrast) and uses only the lower 50% of the available dynamic range. Isolate that subject and use a levels adjustment to bring up the midtones and highlights. Then, again just on the isolated subject, increase contrast (curves adjustment). The background will remain unchanged, but the subject will look a lot less vague. Now use something like an unsharp mask filter to sharpen the whole image..

See if the result is nearer to what you wanted from this shot.Regards, John...

Comment #8

The flash, used sparingly as fill, would have been helpful in minimizing the problems you saw in the first photo, too. In fact, you could say that what I am suggesting you do in post-processing is to add in a fill flash effect..

The subject and background are well exposed in this second shot. As usual with on-camera flash however, the lighting is flat and the boy looks a bit two-dimensional. I prefer the soft side lighting in the first photo you posted..

Regards, John...

Comment #9

Iggier wrote:.

It was shot at 1/40 second at at focal length of 41mm. So, althoughthe image was taken under the general rule of shutter speed = 1/focallength, even in the steadiest of hands it's very difficult to avoidcamera shake at that low a shutter speed..

The 1/f-length rule for avoiding camera shake applies ONLY to full frame 35mm cameras and digital equivelants with 24 x 36mm sensors. With crop cameras the shutter speed must be multiplied by the crop factor of the sensor... in this case 1.6..

1.6 x 40 = 64.

... so 1/64th second [or faster] would have been preferred for the sample shot..

Note 1: It happens that 1/64 sec is the speed that is actually delivered when 1/60 is dialled in. This is because ALL the fractional speeds are merely nominal, are rounded up in display, but delivered at optimum accuracy by the quartz clock of the camera's chip..


1/60th = 1/64th actual delivered1/125 = 1/128th actual delivered1/250 = 1/256th actual delivered ...... etc, etc, etc,.

Not a lot of people know this about shutter speeds... but hey, you are now one that does. Be happy! .

Note 2: When the 1/f-length rule is followed... (or the 1/f-length x crop-factor one, if appropriate).

..... there are NO speeds *so slow they fall out of the rule*. Indeed, be assured that the rule works down to speeds MUCH slower than 1/40th if all the f-length/format criteria are correctly met ..

Note 3: Even so, the rule is only a guide, and assumes the person holding the camera is at least averagely good at holding cameras still. Although most find the rule is good for them, some others can beat the rule by substantial margins, and do so consistently just as some OTHERS can't achieve it at all..

In the final analysis, it is up to us all to determine how much/little we can rely on the 1/f-length... {x crop-factor}... rule in our day to day shooting..

I have tried to make this clear, and hope I have succeeded. If anything needs clarifying, please get back here. Regards,Baz..

Comment #10

Obie1 wrote:.

The flash, used sparingly as fill, would have been helpful inminimizing the problems you saw in the first photo, too. In fact, youcould say that what I am suggesting you do in post-processing is toadd in a fill flash effect..

Yes. I agree very much. .

It takes only a surprisingly small dab of fill flash to "sharpen up" a shot that would otherwise have been a little marginal..... that is, blurred by either a bit of camera shake, or a bit of subject movement..

The trick is to use only *so much* fill flash as will enhance the lighting, and enhance the sharpness at the same time. Rather less than we see in the OP's second shot would be nice, I think.Regards,Baz..

Comment #11

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Probably overdone a bit to show change in apparent sharpness.Regards, John...

Comment #12

John, what program did you use to make thoes changes? Lady Bug..

Comment #13

I used Adobe Photoshop CS2, and performed the 4 steps described in my post:.

1) Select foreground subject, 2) Levels adjustment on selected area to brighten highlights and midtones, 3) Curves adjustment on selected area to increase contrast, 4) mild Unsharp Mask filter on entire image to bring up detail. I didn't spend any time to speak of on the selection step; the slight halo effect around the boy's head is a consequence..

Could have done the same thing using many different programs, like Paint Shop Pro, or Picture Window Pro, or Photoshop Elements.Regards, John...

Comment #14

You expect a sharp picture for hand held photo of a living person at 1/40 s and 41 mm (equivalent 66 mm) and ISO 800?.

You would have got a sharp picture at ISO400, 1/80 s and f/5.6 or even f/8 (depending on the lens). Bad luck you don't have that much light.There are a few rules..

To avoid hand shaking use the rule 1/EFL in your case you should have used a 1/66 s for shutter speed. 1/80 s is better. EFL is the equivalent focal length in 35 mm film cameras. You simply multiply the crop factor with the actual focal length. In your case the crop factor is 1.6..

To avoid blur from the living people that are sitting still you need about 1/50 s. Some say even 1/60 s.Too get the cleanest picture use the lowest ISO speed possible..

If your lens has IS the first rule become 4/EFL or 8/EFL. Still the second and third rules would apply.VictorBucuresti, Romania

Comment #15

You've received great technical advice of the sharpness. lighting aspects. Composition wise you've placed the boy dead center of both pictures, which gives that "snapshot" effect. Get your subject a bit off center more often, google up the 'rule of thirds', and closer to some natural light rather than on camera flash. Have fun!.

Best Regards,.


Comment #16

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This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.


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