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Messages - digital paradise

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EOS Bodies / Re: AFMA – Easy or Not
« on: March 22, 2013, 11:25:47 PM »
Sure, it can be done easily. As you say, all you need is a high contrast object to focus on and take a couple of shots. Better yet, any former RPG junkies (aka D&D nerds  ;) ), you probably still have one of those 20-sided dice, so roll a d6 with 1-3 being negative and 4-6 being positive, and the AFMA value from the d20.

Of course, there's doing an AFMA, but then there's doing it correctly...   :P

Seriously, there's a reason Canon sort of discourages doing it in the manual, warning that it may prevent you from achieving proper focus.  AF systems are neither perfectly precise nor perfectly accurate - multiple shots are required, the target must be appropriate, flat where the AF point is (the whole real one, not smaller-than-real little box in the VF), etc.  I really recommend using FoCal or a commercial tool like LensAlign or SpyderLensCal, and take lots of shots.

I am not a big supporter of AFMA. It is different now because back in the day before automated systems like FoCal and now DotTune it was a little to out of control for me. Too many methods out there. There was the old ruler and hold your camera at a 45 degree angle? I'm not putting air in my tires, I'm working with expensive, high precision equipment. I prefer to have trained technicians that have the proper equipment working on my gear. They do multiple measurements. So if I think something is off as much of pain as it is I send it to Canon.

Very seldom does anyone bring up the operator manual. I have many times and am usually ignored.  I'm not sure how many times I have read about people asking questions about other issues and the reply is "read the manual". I jokingly think "but ignore the page and warning about AFMA ;)"  Just saying.         

Also without an automated system I always second guessed myself even using Lens Align. I'd set it one day, go back the next and got different results. I tried my 100L Macro and got different results at 8, 12 and 16 feet which supports the manual. For best results adjust at location. 

One more thing. It is known that phase detect AF can be affected by different light sources. Incandescent and fluorescent will yield different results. Something else to consider.

I know people swear by it and I can see it's value with 3rd party lenses but there are times I think Canon put it in so they can save money on warranty returns. There is variation in every manufacturing and there are tolerances. If your manufacturing process is a little off one week and outside the specs the customers can fix it using AMFA. I know about that. 30+ years in manufacturing and trust me, you don't want to know what goes on.

Currently all my Canon lenses have zero AMFA on both bodies and I can produce tack sharp images on all of them. I don't bother if they are out a few ticks one way. Next day, distance and light changes and it will be out the other way. I really like DotTune as it gives me a good idea on my lenses performance. If out consistently more that 3 to 4 ticks it goes to Canon.

I can been contemplating getting Focal just to see what it is about.                   

I've been using the Gary Fong lightsphere for awhile now. I've had pretty good results with it. I just got the rogue flashbender with softbox attachment. I'll try it out this weekend.

The GF sphere is OK if you are in a room that has objects to bounce off. As a stand alone like outdoors it is useless as it throws light 360 degrees in all directions. The size of the area at the front face of the dome that scatters photons which actually reach your subject is slightly bigger than you bare flash. Waste of light and batteries. You will have better control in that situation with the rogue. Indoors as well if the area is big like a convention centre.

A bounce card style diffuser like a rogue bender is a pretty good choice if you need one. Here is a good DIY you can make for $5.

I stopped looking for the latest and greatest diffuser long ago. I bounce as much as I can. If I can't the flash goes on a bracket, I crank the ISO and make adjustments as required to bring in as much ambient as I can and shoot direct. This has really simplified and made my flash world more fun to use.       

Start in the blue column in the right. 01 -natural looking flash under "flash photography techniques

His book is very good as well. All you will ever need.

Food for thought. Not saying diffusers are a bad purchase as long as a person understands what they can and cannot do. If you used studio lights you know soft light is all about size of light source and distance to subject. Bigger is better.

Two more

You are right and I did say I knew the OP was looking for before PP tips which were addressed by other members. Unfortunately the digital world requires it because of the nature of the beast. The late great photo shop guru Bruce Fraser dedicated a lot of his time to this area so there must have been a reason. There are entire books on sharpening alone.

I do understand your point. Thought we could get the OP to split the effort between the front and back end. Thanks for the reminder.   

Cropped it a bit. Look at the detail in the stamped R. Again click for full size.

dff by Zen1950, on Flickr

Needs better light and post processing. Maybe a little AFMA? Can you post the raw file and we can see what we can do with it?

Yes it was a little dark. 

Canon General / Re: Other websites?
« on: March 20, 2013, 04:07:29 PM »
POTN is the one of the best

DPreview is OK but gets into endless about a sensors performance. It was tough on newbies in the mid 2000's but better now.

Was good when it started but slowed down

My on camera flash guru. His books are good.

Syl Arena. Master of the Canon flash

Two lens review sites.

Here is an example of what I am talking about.  I took this the other day and you can see its not tack sharp.  Yet it was locked off, continuous light but good light, and the 24-105.  So, I am fuzzy on how this looks so fuzzy.  To me it just looks softer than it should.

I applied my sharpening action. Click on it to see actual size.   

d by Zen1950, on Flickr

Shoot 100 ISO with a flash or studio lighting and have the shutter speed high enough to block all ambient light.

I have shot with Hasselblads, Nikons, Canons - both film and digital. The sharpest images come from fast studio lights freezing motion and creating strong contrast (paired with decent camera and lens of course).

Rent a Prophoto or other high end studio rig for a weekend.

That is interesting. I know flash freezes but never thought about it the way you described it. Amazing freezing power flash has. Here is was experimenting and had the shutter at 1/10. Swept the camera while I took the shot. T shirt was about 6 feet away and the christmas tree about 12. The started falling off before the tree. T shirt still overpowered but the flash froze.

Choice of lighting and an aperture of f/4 are working against you here ...

I have the 24-105 and it's best performance is about  f/8.

Perhaps some lighting to reveal the texture of the object too ... There's probably a nice sheen on the metal ....

That is true. Had the 24-105 for about 5 years and always regretted shooting F4 for critical shots. Starts to sharpen up at 5.8 and by 8 you lose Bokeh.   

Sorry if this sounds obvious, but are you applying decent output sharpening when you are finished editing the photo? The AA filter on Canon is strong and sharpening is required for enhancement of the details.

There is another option. If it is critical to the OP can have the AA filter removed. I have contemplated getting a used 20D and trying it just to before destroying any new camera I have but have never gotten around to it. I doubt I ever will.   


HCB ... "Sharpness is a bourgeois concept"

Good one. H. Cartier Bresson.  Although this not the most important part of the photography I want to know that I can achieve a tack sharp image when I want it. Ansel Adams is my hero and mentor but he was not a birder. I worked just as hard learning how to get sharp images in the digital world as I did learning the zone system. 

A well composed interesting shot will trump a boring shot but an interesting OOF bird in flight shot is useless in the bird forums and competitions. Of course I'm excluding intentional blurred wings, etc shots that can make BIF shots very interesting. I think being able to handle all situations is OK as well but I'm not HCB so what do I know.

Only reason I did put all that effort into it was when I started looking at bird images on line they blew me away just like Ansel's work did 40 years ago. I figured if that person could do it, so could I.                       

Thanks Spooky. You are correct. 7D is good camera but has a light hungry sensor. Exposure is key as it is not as forgiving as a FF or other crop sensors. Pack that many megapickles on a crop sensor you get great resolution which I'm grateful for but you pay for elsewhere. As sensor tech gets better that will improve.       

I do OK with my 7D but you can't beat FF. I would not compare my 7D to my 5D3 

My 7D



I have never really been able to achieve what you want either but this has not prevented me from creating tack sharp prints or on line images. There are a lot of factors involved but PP is important as well. Maybe you are looking for this clarity before PP but here are a few PP tips. Every sensor has an AA filter which corrects Moire patterns and all are different strengths. There are 3 phases of sharpening - capture, creative and output.

Capture you sharpen to compensate for the AA filter when you open the RAW file. Creative is selective sharpening. Eyes only, lips. Stuff like that. Output is for media type - paper or screen? Output sharpening is very important as well.

Resizing and sharpening methods are pretty important too. They both work together.

Photoshop Top 40 #3 - Image Size!

This is by far my most favourite sharpening method. It is edge sharpening and I sharpen to 300 because you can feather back at the end. No two images are alike.

I wrote a tutorial which has an action that includes resizing you are welcome to. I used resizing and sharpening methods based on the two videos I posted.

Finally use the masking when you open a raw file. Hold the Option Key (not sure about PC) as you slide to see results. Also edge sharpening. Only the white areas are sharpened so background noise is not.  I'm usually at about at 80.


Good luck

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