Back Modifications (2)

Angel

By Rose73
Hi,

I have been having a problem with most of my images being soft. I was advised that using too small an aperture can cause this, and I have certainly been in the habit of choosing smaller apertures to get more DOF, not realizing that it caused image softness.

So I went out the other evening with my 70-300mm lens to experiment with various focal lengths and apertures as you suggested, to see if I could improve on the sharpness and take note of the best settings. I went from 300mm down to 100mm at stages, going through successive f/stops. At all focal lengths and distances, f/8 and f/11 were the sharpest as you pointed out. However, I noticed there was a marked difference due to the focal length I chose. 300mm was decidedly softer than say even 225mm. I used the tripod and remote for all images.

I went from 30ft down to 9ft for camera to subject distance (out with my ruler!) and found comparing all images that 160mm focal length and about 13ft distance gave me the sharpest pictures (at f/8 and f/11) and the most DOF as well for this particular shot. Do lenses have optimum focal lengths as well for sharpness, in addition to f/stops? I feel I need to understand this better to become more consistent in my picture taking.

The image I have posted is not great because of the shadow on the face of the statue. This was due to the sun rapidly dropping below the high trees. I wanted to complete the exercise so just carried on. I kept her wings in the picture to test for the maximum DOF I could get.

Can I ask you for your feedback on how sharp the image is to your eyes? I donít seem to notice softness unless its quite evident. I suppose thatís down to lack of practice and examining photos properly. Apart from cropping slightly and increasing the exposure +1.5, I havenít done anything with the picture. I wanted you just to see it purely based on the settings I used and get your opinion.
I used manual focusing because wanting to focus on the eyes, I found only having nine AF points to choose from, often they turned out to be in the wrong position when I had the camera set up on the tripod.

I look forward as always to your valuable feedback and comments. Thanks.Smile


Tags: General Angel Statue Cemetery

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Comments


banehawi Plus
17 2.5k 4263 Canada
23 Apr 2021 1:59PM
A zoom lens indeed does have some focal lengths that are sharper than others. This is particularly the at the long end, 300mm here. s youve found, 200 - 250 can be sharper, and its great you done so much work to be able to prove this yourself.

Thats why prime lenses are favoured by professionals and very serious shooters. A 300mm prime, non zoom is very sharp, usually have a wide aperture, and is very expensive also!

So, - get a bit closer and use 225 or so!

If the lens you have is the older 70-300mm, the very latest one, I think its the IS ii USM is a bit sharper overall, less expensive than a prime. It would be great if you could borrow one to try it out.

Just remembered that Canon do have a 70-300mm L lens thats much sharper. Its an older lens that might be available used.

Regards


Willie

Quote:get a bit closer and use 225 or so. Just remembered that Canon do have a 70-300mm L lens thats much sharper. Its an older lens that might be available used.

Thanks Willie for your feedback and also for the tip on the Canon lens. Cheers. Smile
dudler Plus
18 1.7k 1877 England
23 Apr 2021 10:50PM
70mm is a mild telephoto on your camera, 300mm is long.

If you have - or decide to get - a shorter lens, that may provide more sharpness, more easily. Camera shake is more of a problem with longer lenses, as I think we've discussed. I'm a great fan of 85mm on full frame, and a 50mm is close to that on your camera - if you have a friend with a Canon 50mm f/1.8, borrow it for a day, and see just how sharp things can get.

You're right - performance varies with focal length, and not necessarily in the same way for all lenses. It's worth looking up individual reviews to check, and also doing exactly what you're doing to see for yourself.

One warning - unless your tripod is amazingly solid you may still get some variations, some occasions when things don't work as you had hoped.
Thanks John. I’ve learned a good bit about choosing the best apertures for sharpness since chatting with you all here and see some improvement now. The main problem is with the long lens as you say. I had it on a tripod the other night with all the things you suggested – mirror lock-up, cable release and timer, also didn’t extend the vertical column because there was a slight breeze. I just wondered if you thought the image looked reasonably sharp this time at 160mm and f/11. Most of my images have been soft previously. I can’t always tell unless they are very soft.

I’ve got shorter lenses, a 17-55mm and the 50mm f/4, though I haven’t used them a great deal yet. It was mainly the long lens for magnification that I was more concerned with right now. Saying that, Willie said to stick between 200-250mm if this was sharper on my lens, and I also realize now that shooting in RAW I can always crop the image to get closer in if needbe. I don’t need to shoot at 300mm.

I appreciate your feedback John…thank you. Smile

Willie: thanks for your modification. Cheers Smile
dudler Plus
18 1.7k 1877 England
24 Apr 2021 9:43AM
I think it's partly about finding out just how good images can be, so that you have your own internal standards to judge by.

You begin to train for Everest by walking up a hill, then a mountain. Going straight for the end point can be done, but it can make success seem more difficult to achieve than it really is. 50mm f/4 sounds odd - is it f/1.4 mistyped, or is it some sort of specialist lens - maybe a macro? They tend to be very sharp indeed, on any subject.
24 Apr 2021 10:02AM

Quote: 50mm f/4 sounds odd - is it f/1.4 mistyped, or is it some sort of specialist lens - maybe a macro?


Sorry...its a 50mm f/1.4...too early in the morning! Smile
dark_lord Plus
17 2.8k 784 England
24 Apr 2021 8:16PM
You've been very busy and thorough.
I must say that you'd make an excellent lens tester!
The fact you've found out so much about your lens is to be commended. It's something everyone should do to know the limits of their equipment.
Your mrthodology is good, and using manual focus is good too as you focus axactly where you need and the camera has no chance of adjusting it between shots which could affect results.
Your findings are consistent with the general rule and while lenses follow that pattern of performance it's more marked in some than others, and some people will have different levels of what they'll tolerate. For example, some may never shoot at the 300 mm end.
It's interesting about best performing focus distance too, that doesn't very often appear in lens reviews.

This image lookls fine.
I've just borrowed Willioes mod and made the sky more blue (using the Hue/Saturation dialog on the cyans) as it looks unnaturally cyan.
dudler Plus
18 1.7k 1877 England
24 Apr 2021 9:18PM
50mm lenses are often among the very best designed and developed in a manufacturer's range.

I'd give that a bit of camera time, myself.
Thanks very much Keith for your feedback Ė its really appreciated. I just needed to know if this image looked Ďsharp enoughí to your eyes. As I said, I canít always detect softness that easily unless its glaringly obvious! Its probably just lack of experience and practice. So thatís good to know it looks acceptable using these settings. That's given me a bar to work with now - thank you. Smile
Hi John,
Yes, its a dinky wee lens! I'm looking forward to using that a lot more now for different shots and being able to get close in...that's next on my 'to do' list!
Cheers Smile
dudler Plus
18 1.7k 1877 England
25 Apr 2021 4:47PM
A couple more thoughts on sharpness.

Light and subject make a difference to perceived sharpness: bright light casting strong shadows and a contrasty subject will appear sharper than diffuse light and gentler contrasts.

Quote:A couple more thoughts on sharpness.

Light and subject make a difference to perceived sharpness: bright light casting strong shadows and a contrasty subject will appear sharper than diffuse light and gentler contrasts.


Thanks John. Smile
Chinga Plus
10 3 2 United Kingdom
6 May 2021 2:04PM
The light was caught beautifully highlighting the facial features.
Isabel

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