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Old Saturday 14th April 2012, 17:46   #1
Des!
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How can I make these better?

How can I make these Pics better?

I like them, but I'd like them to be sharper / better than what they appear.

I've just cut & cropped these pics to get them onto here.

I'm looking at getting Lightroom 4 - Will that help?

Any help / Advice appreciated!

Cheers!

Des
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Old Saturday 14th April 2012, 17:54   #2
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Des
What set up are you using, for some reason they are all slightly soft. It would help to know camera, lens and exposure details. Also how much you have cropped them.

Cheers

Phil
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Old Saturday 14th April 2012, 18:05   #3
Des!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hampers View Post
Des
What set up are you using, for some reason they are all slightly soft. It would help to know camera, lens and exposure details. Also how much you have cropped them.

Cheers

Phil
Using D300, 1.4converter + AF-s300mm lens

Spot metering, P 1/500 F11 Iso 1250 420mm White balance Auto - This is the info I got off the camera.

Cropped down to 3x5 (587kb)

How can I sharpen them? - Is it camera set up? or Processing on Microsoft Offfice Picture Manager?

Cheers!
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Old Saturday 14th April 2012, 18:30   #4
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They are all really soft, you could sharpen them abit using photoshop or lightroom or anyother software similar, but all you are going to do is introduce artifacts into the picture and still have soft photos (if a little less than before).

F11 is over kill, try dropping it down F5.6-6.3'ish and your shutter speed will increase.

Also your ISO is quite high, especially if your gettin 1/500th at F11, decrease you ISO and F stops when the weather allows and increase your shutter speed and you shall get sharper photos.

The 1.4 converter will not help with sharpness, i don't know how good the one your using is but it will almost certainly reduce the sharpness of the subject.

Is there any chance you could post the original to see how big the crop was, i can't make it out from 3x5, i apologise.

Other ways to increase the sharpness are try using a tripod or some form of support, get closer aswell so that you don't have to crop down.

Finally i wouldn't have used spot metering in these scenarios, try using evaluative metering, or nikons answer to evaluative metering.

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Old Monday 16th April 2012, 17:05   #5
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I would suggest that it is better to get the shot right when the shutter button is pressed, rather than rely on PP to rectify any shortcomings.

I suspect camera shake is at least a contributory factor, due to nothing in any of the pictures being sharp (in focus), and suggest checking that you are holding the camera correctly. With a total reach equivalent to about 630mm, assuming hand held, this would magnify any shake. A heavy crop (assuming you shot at max. resolution of 12MP) down to the 300 odd KB will only enhance any shortcomings of the shots.

Try getting closer (move slowly, or even wait and see whether the bird will come towards you). I tried a pied wagtail the other day with a Fuji HS20 (720mm reach), just could not get close enough, once cropped worse than yours and promptly binned.

For added support, try a monopod - easier to carry and set up. You can have it attatched to your camera or lens retracted and set up in seconds. no issue you sometimes get with a tripod in a crowd

As mentioned, I don't know what teleconverter you are using, take it from someone who has tried and only proved that to get the reach and the quality you'll have to spend money on decent glass
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Old Monday 23rd April 2012, 09:08   #6
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I agree that without some form of optical stabilisation a monopod or tripod is essential with your combination. I use a Nikon D7000 / Sigma 300mm f2.8 with a 1.4x extender attached most of the time and even with the monopod, camera shake is present if I'm forced to lower shutter speeds. I usually aim for 1/1000sec or faster and limit the speed to 1/500sec at the lowest end if I'm shooting in Aperture Priority mode. For BIF shots I now use shutter priority set at 1/1250.
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Old Monday 23rd April 2012, 09:26   #7
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Des

my personal observations:

I have a D300 and AFS 300mm f4 plus LR
The 300 f4 is a really sharp lens

The 300mm is really great at f4 especially if you are cropping the centre of the image
I never venture above f8, there is really no need and as I said I use f4 most of the time to bring in as much light as possible
I use spot focus, (single), and spot exposure most of the time, (on the object/bird), when shooting birds
Focus lock can also be useful
Keep your ISO as low as possible, 200 or 400, (especially when you expect to crop), and Shutter speed high
depending on the conditions I usually over expose by one third of a stop and then if necessary "bring it back" in LR3 - but that's just me with most cams
Also I use the "continuous" focus setting most of the time
The nearer the bird is the more I focus on the head - rather than the body as f4 has a shallow DOF - but it's good to blur the background which the wider stops give you

I would never use ISO1250 or f11 with "bird shots"

LR will only help with minor sharpening - but, noise and sharpening are trade offs, (the more you sharpen the more "noise" you introduce and vica versa - looked at very simply) - and one will be emphasised, (become worse), the more if you adjust for the other.

A tripod/monopod will always help but they are a bind and with practice you will get really good hand help shots - 90% of my shots are hand held - it's just more fun!

Maybe slow down a little on technique and just keep at it.

I'm not in any way a good photographer, but here are a few (different), shots from last week, when it was raining and the light wasn't too good, all at f4 and ISO200/400, all handheld, and all crops, which show you how good your combo is, (the quality is in the lens not my photography!)
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Last edited by BillN : Monday 23rd April 2012 at 10:51.
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Old Tuesday 1st May 2012, 09:49   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kennethwfd View Post
I would suggest that it is better to get the shot right when the shutter button is pressed, rather than rely on PP to rectify any shortcomings.

I suspect camera shake is at least a contributory factor, due to nothing in any of the pictures being sharp (in focus), and suggest checking that you are holding the camera correctly. With a total reach equivalent to about 630mm, assuming hand held, this would magnify any shake. A heavy crop (assuming you shot at max. resolution of 12MP) down to the 300 odd KB will only enhance any shortcomings of the shots.

Try getting closer (move slowly, or even wait and see whether the bird will come towards you). I tried a pied wagtail the other day with a Fuji HS20 (720mm reach), just could not get close enough, once cropped worse than yours and promptly binned.

For added support, try a monopod - easier to carry and set up. You can have it attatched to your camera or lens retracted and set up in seconds. no issue you sometimes get with a tripod in a crowd

As mentioned, I don't know what teleconverter you are using, take it from someone who has tried and only proved that to get the reach and the quality you'll have to spend money on decent glass
Almost everything in this post is spot-on.

1. Nothing is in sharp focus in any of your shots so this is not a case of missed focus or your lens front/back focusing. Looks like user-induced shake to me.

2. You don't say which TC you are using .. there are some awful ones out there that will soften even the sharpest glass.

3. I use a large carbon fibre Fancier monopod with a Wimberley gimbal look-a-like for almost all my bird shots. It makes it so much easier than hand-held (especially when trekking/shooting for long periods of time) despite the additional near 1.5 kgs of weight !

I use 2xK5s with Pentax DA*300/4 and Tokina 300/2.8 plus x1.4 and x1.7 TCs and that monopod rig. Believe me that monopod is a life-saver

Last edited by Frogfish : Tuesday 1st May 2012 at 20:08.
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Old Tuesday 1st May 2012, 13:20   #9
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Hello,

another suggestion, in addition to the tips you already got, would be shooting in RAW format. It is often possible to get that extra bit of sharpness you want without losing as much detail as you would when sharpening a JPG in post-processing. Unless you are already shooting raw..? If so, ignore my comment :)

Stefanie
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Old Wednesday 2nd May 2012, 18:25   #10
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here is a comparison. The first pic. I posted on this forum (gave it similar treatment to the second to level the playing field). Taken with an old Practikar 2X teleconverter as well as the lens, and the second with Fuji S2pro. Manual focus lenses used in both cases.

The issue is that my pics too suffered from camera shake and the improvement is due to eliminating bad habits which crept in resulting in sloppy camera holding.
Got away with simple P&S with only 3x zoom, then go to 500mm plus.....

Perhaps a sticky on camera shake and how to avoid it?
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