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Could my Lens be an issue

Debbiee 14 136 6 United Kingdom
21 Mar 2010 2:33PM
Just after a bit of advice again, I know Camercat suggested to me that I need a better lens, but could my soft images be down to me being rubbish or could my lens be contributing to the factor? I have been using my Sigma 70-300mm lens for taking outdoor portraits of my kids and they seem a little soft (if you look at my recent uploads, before today), but today I decided to use my 18-55mm kit lens which I very rarely ever used and all the photos that I took seem a lot sharper, then the ones taken with the sigma lens.

Thanks Debbie
ade_mcfade 17 15.2k 216 England
21 Mar 2010 2:40PM
what was the shutter speed with the 70/300 and at what focal length were you using it?
Debbiee 14 136 6 United Kingdom
21 Mar 2010 2:43PM
I have used it at various, but for the one of my daughter which I uploaded yesterday the focal length was 133mm, shutter speed 1/200, f4.5 taken in aperture priority

keith selmes 17 7.4k 1 United Kingdom
21 Mar 2010 2:46PM
some thoughts

the telephoto zoom probably isn't all that great


the telephoto lens will need a faster shutter speed, if its a bit slow pictures will be less sharp due to the hands shaking effect (which I think is what Ade is asking)
the shorter zoom will be easier to hold steady and can be used at slower shutter speeds and still get a sharper picture


the telephoto lens will tend to have less in sharp focus (sometimes desirable), shorter lenses tend to have more (sometimes too much) depth of field, and sharp all through
keith selmes 17 7.4k 1 United Kingdom
21 Mar 2010 2:52PM

Quote:focal length was 133mm, shutter speed 1/200, f4.5
shutter speed should be OK, but I think thats fairly wide open for that lens, might not be very sharp at that aperture. Unless they are top of range lenses, they often need stopping down a bit, say to f/8 or f/11 to get sharpest results. But I haven't ever used that lens so its just an educated guess.
ade_mcfade 17 15.2k 216 England
21 Mar 2010 2:53PM
133mm @ 1/200th is around the bordedrline for hand held shots on a crop camera for most people - you're maybe best trying to get a faster shutter speed by upping the ISO a little - see if that makes a difference

if it doens't then it's probably down to the lens quality

you could also try it on a tripod - do a shot with the 10 second timer or a cable release so you avoid touching the camera when taking the shot
BigRick 15 2.1k 3 United Kingdom
21 Mar 2010 5:53PM
I had the sigma 70-300 lens and found it to give me great shots.... but.... it had to be a bright day.

I would say that the shutter speed you used was to slow.... 133mm would want at least 250th as i found that under that gave me shots which sort of looked soft too.

And as said above, you could do with it on f8 to get better results, although this will slow down your shutter speed further.

Bright sunny days and the lens is good.... dull days never gave me much joy. Sad
cats_123 Plus
17 5.1k 30 Northern Ireland
21 Mar 2010 6:39PM
my best results with this lens seem to be at f/5.6. and shutter speeds anything from /1250 upwards...but I haven't really tried portrait shots with it. You can see some of my wildlife shots in my pf. I still find there is room for sharpening post camera
thewilliam 12 6.1k
21 Mar 2010 6:55PM
Invest in a monopod for when you use longer focal lengths.

If you need to be convinced of the wisdom of this advice, do some test shots using shutter-speeds from 1/30 to 1/500 sec, handheld, on a monopod and then on a sturdy tripod.
LensYews 12 1.3k 1 United Kingdom
21 Mar 2010 7:32PM

Quote:Invest in a monopod for when you use longer focal lengths.

A monopod and kids, that could leading to some interesting compositions/framing. Grin
Nick_w 14 4.3k 99 England
22 Mar 2010 7:57AM
Some good advice above. Don't be affraid to crank up the iso too many are affraid of noise, it's always a trade off but slight noise is infinately better than a soft image.

Also with consumer lenses they nearly all work better closed down at least 1 stop to F5.6 to F8. Try it in conjunction with increasing iso and aim for shutter speed of faster than 1/200 sec. You can go lower but needs practice a steady hand and be prepared for a lot of unusable images.

Alternatively try the monopod or tripod
Debbiee 14 136 6 United Kingdom
22 Mar 2010 8:48AM
Thank you all, so after all your advice I took it to ISO 400 outside in sunlight and got a few sharp images but again mostly soft I then went up to ISO 800 and bingo mostly sharp images, my upload today was taken at ISO 800 again in aperture priority f5, but shutter speed went right upto 1/3200, I did keep the ISO down to try not to get noise in my images but I don't think its that bad at ISO800, going to dig my tripod out today as suggested and try to get sharp images at lower ISO's. Thanks again for all your help, I now know my lens doesn't yet need to go to lens heaven.
wasper 15 533 1 Ireland
22 Mar 2010 2:29PM
I 'v had that lens & it was a bad lens. i got rid of it.
Nick_w 14 4.3k 99 England
22 Mar 2010 4:08PM
As you do a lot of monos noise shouldn't really be an issue, it can aid the atmosphere. I used an old D80 at over ISO 1000 with success, and the D300 over 1600. With longer lenses you can use smaller aperture as dof is a lot less than shorter lenses, this also has an affect on soft images as you are not always getting the right focal point with F5.6 - 8 you will get moreif the image sharp. As you were up at 1/3200 you have some room to play with.
psiman 17 574 Wales
22 Mar 2010 4:38PM

Quote:With longer lenses you can use smaller aperture as dof is a lot less than shorter lenses
Yes but with cropped sensors what you gain from increased depth of field you'll probably lose due to diffraction from apertures smaller than f11 or so Sad

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