September 21, 2014, 08:17:14 PM

Author Topic: What could I do better?  (Read 5040 times)

filo64

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Re: What could I do better?
« Reply #30 on: March 17, 2014, 02:31:04 PM »
If you plan to shoot before dusk and mainly in bright light, the 70-200 f4 L non IS is a cheap (ca. 550 Euros in Germany; 700$ in the US) and very good option, because it is fairly fast as in "light effective" and fast focussing, too. It is also more precise when it comes to focussing, so you don't have to stop it down to compensate for focus errors. Moreover, it should be sharper at f4 than the 70-300 non L at much smaller apertures. All in all, that means you can use lower ISO settings and faster shutter speeds, which partly compensates for the lack of IS.

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Re: What could I do better?
« Reply #30 on: March 17, 2014, 02:31:04 PM »

anthonyd

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Re: What could I do better?
« Reply #31 on: March 17, 2014, 02:49:26 PM »
This site is primarily about gear, so I'm going to commit heresy: it's not the gear.  It's not your technique either.  It's everything else (which depending on the point of view could be charged on your technique).

Go to 500px.com and type "deer".  All the pictures you'll get in the first page are nice because of one or more of the following reasons:
a) They have great subject separation.  That's because they are shot with a narrow enough aperture and have a great distance to the background.  In your case the bushes are right behind them.  There is very little you could do about this, even if you had a much better lens.
b) They are shot at a time of the day that the light conditions are great.  Again, you don't get to choose when deer show up in your back yard.
c) They are shot in a "magical" place.  Sorry, your backyard is not magical. Maybe you front yard? :-)
d) The deer are doing something interesting, which means that they are not afraid of the photographer because they are probably not aware of the photographer's presence.

So here is my advice for better deer pictures: Burn down the bushes in your back yard, preferably while the deer are in front of them!  :-)  Ok, for real, a picture like yours is a snapshot that captures a nice memory, but it won't get much better by throwing more expensive equipment at it.  More accurate focus wouldn't have changed things much either.  If you don't believe me, download one of your favorite deer pictures from 500px and blur the deer a little bit.  It will still be a very nice picture.  The way to take better wildlife pictures (and the reason I said it can be charged on your technique) is to go to a national park, spend enough time to identify nice locations and stalk the animals for long enough until you get them to be in a nice location under nice light conditions.  Planning and perseverance will get you much farther than better equipment.

hgraf

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Re: What could I do better?
« Reply #32 on: March 17, 2014, 04:13:51 PM »
Actually, when I bought the lens, I was initially directed to Canon's 50% off sale regarding the 55-25 non STM lens.  Then I found the 70-300 also at 50% off.  So, the 55-250 was $119 and the 70-300 was $259 (plus tax).  I read reviews of both back and forth and the reviews tend to be mixed as to what is better, but in the end I opted for the 70-300 primarily because of FF compatibility. 

Do you have a FF camera? If not, why does FF compatibility matter?

Is it because you MIGHT get FF eventually?

I see this opinion alot. People avoid EF-S lenses because they "might" go full frame one day. As a result, they are paying more for a lens that's heavier and bigger then it needs to be.

Lenses (ESPECIALLY Canon/Nikon lenses) simply don't depreciate in value very much (beyond the new-used transition).

Consider your case, you mention the 55-250 was $120, and the 70-300 was $260. Say you bought the 55-250 instead. Have you checked used prices for the 55-250? It's about $100-120. So, you could sell that lens today, and at worst be back $20-$30.

Yes, selling EF-S lenses when you buy a FF camera (if you ever do) might be a bit of a hassle, and if the future hassle is enough to warrant buying FF lenses so be it.

Personally, I don't see it. I buy the lens that's most appropriate for the body I have today. I don't buy something purely because I MIGHT get gear in the future that isn't compatible.

Note I'm NOT saying to AVOID FF glass. I owned the nifty 50 before I ever needed a full frame lens, mostly due to it's insane cheapest and it's wide aperture. If FF glass serves a need not available in the APS-C space (say a tilt shift lens) then by all mean go for a FF lens.

TTYL

sdsr

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Re: What could I do better?
« Reply #33 on: March 17, 2014, 05:16:15 PM »
If you want some idea of the difference switching to FF and a 70-200 might make, try the comparison tool at The Digital Picture.  Here's a comparison of 60D + 70-300 IS vs 1DS III + 70-200 F4 IS:

http://tinyurl.com/nhtw2g5

plug in the 70-300 L too and compare that.  There's the crop factor to figure in too, of course.

I've never owned a 60D, but I'm pretty sure the results I got with a 70-300 IS were sharper than you got here when I owned a Rebel.  I wonder if you have a bad copy (given the range of reactions to this lens, there seems to be considerable variation among copies).  You may want to take a few shots of various things at 300mm and see if any of them look sharper than this photo.  The problem may have nothing to do with you at all.  What's more, the whole image, viewed closely, looks mushy, though - is this typical of what you get at ISO 400 on your 60D (I would have guessed it was much higher than that)? Do images from your other lenses look like this at ISO 400?  You may want to compare your 15-85 with your 70-300 where they overlap as well.  If they look similarly mushy at ISO 400 maybe there's a problem with your 60D? (One processing tip - it would help a little if you removed the purple fringing along the border of the snow.)

striking_reflections

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Re: What could I do better?
« Reply #34 on: March 17, 2014, 07:46:47 PM »
I believe when all of us start off in photography we end up in these situations...biggest thing i would recommend is to change your focusing method to back button focusing. If you are not familiar with it there are a lot of great articles to read out there about it. It basically will allow you to shoot in servo mode 90% or more. My camera never leaves servo mode at all...it will help a lot with the not recomposing you were talking about. Let me know if you have any questions about it.
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tntwit

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Re: What could I do better?
« Reply #35 on: March 17, 2014, 08:24:17 PM »
This site is primarily about gear, so I'm going to commit heresy: it's not the gear.  It's not your technique either.  It's everything else (which depending on the point of view could be charged on your technique).

Go to 500px.com and type "deer".  All the pictures you'll get in the first page are nice because of one or more of the following reasons:
a) They have great subject separation.  That's because they are shot with a narrow enough aperture and have a great distance to the background.  In your case the bushes are right behind them.  There is very little you could do about this, even if you had a much better lens.
b) They are shot at a time of the day that the light conditions are great.  Again, you don't get to choose when deer show up in your back yard.
c) They are shot in a "magical" place.  Sorry, your backyard is not magical. Maybe you front yard? :-)
d) The deer are doing something interesting, which means that they are not afraid of the photographer because they are probably not aware of the photographer's presence.

So here is my advice for better deer pictures: Burn down the bushes in your back yard, preferably while the deer are in front of them!  :-)  Ok, for real, a picture like yours is a snapshot that captures a nice memory, but it won't get much better by throwing more expensive equipment at it.  More accurate focus wouldn't have changed things much either.  If you don't believe me, download one of your favorite deer pictures from 500px and blur the deer a little bit.  It will still be a very nice picture.  The way to take better wildlife pictures (and the reason I said it can be charged on your technique) is to go to a national park, spend enough time to identify nice locations and stalk the animals for long enough until you get them to be in a nice location under nice light conditions.  Planning and perseverance will get you much farther than better equipment.

When I posted "What can I do better?", I was specifically referring to the sharpness of the image.  I'm aware the picture itself is nothing special.  I realize I may not have been clear on that point.  However, your feedback is appreciated and valuable, so thank you!

Wildlife photos are more of a casual thing, as you can see.  My kids are my primary subject these days.  The next big thing for this lens will be my daughter's soccer games, which likely won't be award winning either.  While I know it's not the ideal lens or body, I'm trying to take opportunities such as this to practice with the equipment to get the best I can out of it.


Actually, when I bought the lens, I was initially directed to Canon's 50% off sale regarding the 55-25 non STM lens.  Then I found the 70-300 also at 50% off.  So, the 55-250 was $119 and the 70-300 was $259 (plus tax).  I read reviews of both back and forth and the reviews tend to be mixed as to what is better, but in the end I opted for the 70-300 primarily because of FF compatibility. 

Do you have a FF camera? If not, why does FF compatibility matter?

Is it because you MIGHT get FF eventually?

I see this opinion alot. People avoid EF-S lenses because they "might" go full frame one day. As a result, they are paying more for a lens that's heavier and bigger then it needs to be.

Lenses (ESPECIALLY Canon/Nikon lenses) simply don't depreciate in value very much (beyond the new-used transition).

Consider your case, you mention the 55-250 was $120, and the 70-300 was $260. Say you bought the 55-250 instead. Have you checked used prices for the 55-250? It's about $100-120. So, you could sell that lens today, and at worst be back $20-$30.

Yes, selling EF-S lenses when you buy a FF camera (if you ever do) might be a bit of a hassle, and if the future hassle is enough to warrant buying FF lenses so be it.

Personally, I don't see it. I buy the lens that's most appropriate for the body I have today. I don't buy something purely because I MIGHT get gear in the future that isn't compatible.

Note I'm NOT saying to AVOID FF glass. I owned the nifty 50 before I ever needed a full frame lens, mostly due to it's insane cheapest and it's wide aperture. If FF glass serves a need not available in the APS-C space (say a tilt shift lens) then by all mean go for a FF lens.

TTYL

This is why I bought the 15-85, but that is more important to me as it is more or less the walk around lens.  I see some people buy one of the 24 to something's and I would never be happy with something that narrow on crop.  I didn't see a huge advantage to the 55-250 in terms of cost savings and the weight doesn't bother me, so I still believe it was the better choice for this part of the focal range.  And yes, I do plan on FF at some point.  With this, I'll have at least 2 lenses to start instead of just the 50.

In practice I'll probably build more lenses first, but I'll stick to EF.
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tntwit

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Re: What could I do better?
« Reply #36 on: March 17, 2014, 08:37:21 PM »
If you want some idea of the difference switching to FF and a 70-200 might make, try the comparison tool at The Digital Picture.  Here's a comparison of 60D + 70-300 IS vs 1DS III + 70-200 F4 IS:

http://tinyurl.com/nhtw2g5

plug in the 70-300 L too and compare that.  There's the crop factor to figure in too, of course.

I've never owned a 60D, but I'm pretty sure the results I got with a 70-300 IS were sharper than you got here when I owned a Rebel.  I wonder if you have a bad copy (given the range of reactions to this lens, there seems to be considerable variation among copies).  You may want to take a few shots of various things at 300mm and see if any of them look sharper than this photo.  The problem may have nothing to do with you at all.  What's more, the whole image, viewed closely, looks mushy, though - is this typical of what you get at ISO 400 on your 60D (I would have guessed it was much higher than that)? Do images from your other lenses look like this at ISO 400?  You may want to compare your 15-85 with your 70-300 where they overlap as well.  If they look similarly mushy at ISO 400 maybe there's a problem with your 60D? (One processing tip - it would help a little if you removed the purple fringing along the border of the snow.)

I've only had the camera a week and the lens came in while I was between the T3i and the 60d, so I'm new to both and haven't had that much time with either.

I'll have to look at some other shots and see how they compare.  I'll also have to do some of the test you suggested.
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Re: What could I do better?
« Reply #36 on: March 17, 2014, 08:37:21 PM »

tntwit

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Re: What could I do better?
« Reply #37 on: March 17, 2014, 08:40:09 PM »
I believe when all of us start off in photography we end up in these situations...biggest thing i would recommend is to change your focusing method to back button focusing. If you are not familiar with it there are a lot of great articles to read out there about it. It basically will allow you to shoot in servo mode 90% or more. My camera never leaves servo mode at all...it will help a lot with the not recomposing you were talking about. Let me know if you have any questions about it.

I definitely want to look more into this.  I am aware of it, but haven't yet tried it.  Thanks for the feedback!
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striking_reflections

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Re: What could I do better?
« Reply #38 on: March 17, 2014, 10:33:49 PM »
I believe when all of us start off in photography we end up in these situations...biggest thing i would recommend is to change your focusing method to back button focusing. If you are not familiar with it there are a lot of great articles to read out there about it. It basically will allow you to shoot in servo mode 90% or more. My camera never leaves servo mode at all...it will help a lot with the not recomposing you were talking about. Let me know if you have any questions about it.

I definitely want to look more into this.  I am aware of it, but haven't yet tried it.  Thanks for the feedback!

No problem...this is a great article even though the pics don't upload it definitely explains in detail why you should use back button focusing.  https://www.clickinmoms.com/blog/how-to-use-back-button-focusing-tutorial/    take a look at it and let me know what you think  ;)
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privatebydesign

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Re: What could I do better?
« Reply #39 on: March 17, 2014, 10:35:36 PM »
Back button focus would have absolutely no impact on this image, as a technique I hate it, I do use back button AF off on occasions, so don't look at it as a panacea.

As for what could you do, well as has been pointed out the 70-300 is a bit limited with regards IQ, but the focus does seem a little off. I believe Magic Lantern has a Micro AF adjustment feature on the 60D so that might be worth looking into. But the other thing that might be worth testing is the IS, at 1/1000 shutter speed the IS might actually be hurting your IQ, certainly it has been tested on Nikon's and found to be counter productive, but I'd test the lens and body to see if it helps or not with your combo at those shutter speeds.
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striking_reflections

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Re: What could I do better?
« Reply #40 on: March 17, 2014, 10:48:33 PM »
Back button focus would have absolutely no impact on this image, as a technique I hate it, I do use back button AF off on occasions, so don't look at it as a panacea.

As for what could you do, well as has been pointed out the 70-300 is a bit limited with regards IQ, but the focus does seem a little off. I believe Magic Lantern has a Micro AF adjustment feature on the 60D so that might be worth looking into. But the other thing that might be worth testing is the IS, at 1/1000 shutter speed the IS might actually be hurting your IQ, certainly it has been tested on Nikon's and found to be counter productive, but I'd test the lens and body to see if it helps or not with your combo at those shutter speeds.

I agree as far as it not impacting overall image. You can't create sharpness you either have the focus locked in or don't. I was just saying it in reference to recomposing for the following shots that he missed because of being in one-shot drive. With him using back button focusing the servo mode would have helped especially with being able to just hold the back button to constantly focus on target and get the image sharp even with the animals moving. As far as him liking the method it is just a matter of preference at that point however i believe going through the learning curve is worth it.
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privatebydesign

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Re: What could I do better?
« Reply #41 on: March 17, 2014, 11:05:10 PM »
I agree, try everything once or twice. I just find the advice and enthusiasm for BBF to be very heavy handed often times, as I said, I actively don't like it but the enthusiasm for it makes me think people sometimes try to push square pegs into round holes. I believe most people would actually rather be committed to one button press for AF and exposure rather than two (though CR posters are not atypical) this is probably why it is like that out of the box, there is nothing more frustrating than thinking you have a good sequence only to realise you never actually activated the AF.

I also got a little frustrated at the lack of actual practical advice when that was all tntwit actually asked about, he didn't ask for the endless critiques he ended up getting, just info on why, specifically, his subjects were not as sharp as he expected.
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Re: What could I do better?
« Reply #42 on: March 17, 2014, 11:35:51 PM »
from my viewing of the image, the camera has focused on the background rather than the deer, i would set your camera to point focus, focus on the deer's eyes and recompose and take the shoot.

i would also suggest a monopod it will give you a hell of a lot of stability for not much outlay.

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Re: What could I do better?
« Reply #42 on: March 17, 2014, 11:35:51 PM »

Lurker

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Re: What could I do better?
« Reply #43 on: March 17, 2014, 11:55:45 PM »
If you have a chance, setup the camera prior to stepping out the door. Even if you can't see the deer through a window if you can see an area with the same lighting that will work.

Due to circumstances similar to what you had, with varying amounts of snow (or water, or deep shade, or . . .) I tend to use spot metering and meter a known tone.  In this case I would have tried to meter off the snow or the white tail.  The meter will under expose this situation so I'll add 1-2/3 to 2 stops.  Again,  you could test this through a window.  Verify exposure with your histogram, expose to the right without clipping anything on the right side of the graph.

It looks like this was close to mid day based on the shadows but there is some back lighting.  This means the side of the deer your seeing is in shadow so set the white balance to shade or cloudy.  In LR take the white balance and run it around some of the whites that aren't over exposed.  Most of the whites will have a blue cast (higher % then the other 2 colors).

How far away were the deer?  I'm guessing about 60 feet.  Check out the depth of field chart:
  http://www.dofmaster.com/doftable.html
At this distance and f/8 your depth of field would be about 3 feet.  Which nose did you focus on?  If you selected the right deer then the left deer would have to be within 1.5 feet of depth to be in focus.  So trade shutter speed for more aperture.  With IS you may be able drop as low as 1/80 second and still not have motion blur.  This depends on your stability and skill which will come with practice.

If you focus and recompose you have to keep the shutter release pressed half way which can be hard to do and even harder to realize if you slipped and re-focused.  I +1 the back button focus idea.  Also the Servo mode, even for stationary subjects.  With narrow depths of field our natural front-to-back swaying can impact the in focus area.  IS will take care of side to side motion or up and down motion but it can't correct for front to back sway.  I don't think any swaying would explain the focus shift from the deer to the bushes behind them, the camera just missed somehow.  In this case, if you're trying to get both faces in focus I'd focus on the shoulder or ribs of the right hand deer.  It looks like that is about 1/2 way between the 2 faces.  f you need to pick one to be in focus I'd usually make the front deer unless there is something more compelling about the one in back.

Not sure if these are country deer or city deer.  City deer are more used to people being around.  Country deer are more used to being shot at by people.  I'm in the city and I've found that I can get really close to the deer.  Move slowly and look away from the deer, act like you're not interested in them.  I also tend to talk as I'm moving around, predators are usually very quiet while hunting.  Sitting down in plain view can also help them relax.

I think the grainy look you mentioned is noise due to the 400 ISO, shade on the deer, and under exposure.  It is pretty easy to deal with post processing and there are lots of tutorials about this.  One tool I'm trying to learn to control noise is to use Canon DPP to read the RAW file and convert it to a TIF file.  DPP does a better job of processing the RAW file and produces finer noise which is easier to correct.  LR can import and work with the TIF files.

Don't worry about hardware, what you have is able to make wonderful images.  The only way hardware would have helped in this case is if the lens is actually back focusing.  With some cameras you can do micro focus adjustments but the 60D doesn't let you do that.

You can also setup exposure bracketing.  This will take 3 photos each time with varying exposures, you set the amount of variance for each image.  If you're not sure about the correct exposure this is a good way to "try it" and learn which one worked best.


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Re: What could I do better?
« Reply #44 on: March 18, 2014, 01:29:13 AM »
Hi TNTWIT, great question.  I'll try to address the two major questions you asked...

1)  Would a 6D and or a 70-200L lens made a big difference?
- Higher quality gear will always produce better images from the pixel-peeping perspective (considering focus and camera shake is controlled.)  However, getting a better image with your current gear should be your concern at the moment. 
- A 6D with 70-200 lens would NOT have provided you with as much zoom as you currently obtained, which means you would have most likely had more window sil and door frame in the image, requiring more cropping and less available pixels. 

Gear-talk aside, I think you can improve your next deer encounter with these steps...

2)  "... I was in a hurry to make settings on the camera."
- Set up the scene before disturbing it.  Get your camera settings nailed, high speed shutter setting, focus point (maybe not center point if you anticipate them moving.)
- It appears you did focus on the brush.  If you aimed for the nose, that's a tight spot to hit.  Next time, try aiming for the rump/tail of the front deer (only because the back deer is blocking the brush too.)
- Once you open the door, start the rapid fire shooting.

Good luck!
~T

+1
I agree that pre-planning may have help you. Also consider single point AF rather than the auto (multizone) AF, since it will very likely focus on something else instead of your subject. Strech your options by shooting in the highest burst in Servo Mode.
Your high end gear will help in better IQ but it will not solve the wrong focus issue.
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Re: What could I do better?
« Reply #44 on: March 18, 2014, 01:29:13 AM »