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Image quality help

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Old Friday 23rd June 2006, 19:15   #1
FrankD
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Image quality help

I was not sure exactly which forum to post this in..one of digiscoping forums (as this is what method was used) or possibly the photo critique (as that is what I am looking for).

I recently purchased a Casio Exilim EX Z1000 10.1 Megapixel digital camera to begin digiscoping with my Pentax 65 mm ED Angled spotting scope. I am using a Knight Owl 20 mm EWA eyepiece with the scope.

I started taking some pictures this morning and, overall, I admit to being fairly pleased with the results. About one in five pictures turns out as good as I would like but the other four turn out a bit grainy and dim. What I would like to know is the reason for this. Which one of the following could be the result?

1. The 3x optical zoom utilized on the digital camera (without the zoom the images look brighter and clearer)
2. The quality of the camera itself (fairly inexpensive for a 10 mp)
3. The fact that I am using a 65 mm spotting scope instead of an 80 mm
4. The camera's settings (I am running full auto)
5. The distance (45-60 feet on average)
6. The quality of the eyepieces on the scope
7. Something else I am not thinking of

Below is a typical representation of what I am referring to. I had to downsize it by about 1/4 in order to upload it into the forum. I can, ofcourse, used some imaging software to make it brighter and crisper but I do not know if I want to go that route every time I try to take a pic.

Thank you ahead of time for the help.
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Old Friday 23rd June 2006, 21:06   #2
Andy Bright
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Hi Frank,
Looks like the camera's auto functions are making for inconsistant results, the metering section maybe telling the camera different things from shot ot shot despite almost identical scenario in front of it... I'd guess that it's increasing the ISO setting in the camera to get the exposure to what it thinks is correct, resulting in more grainy photo.

It would be interesting to see the exif data in these two shots (which seems to have been squeezed out when combining/processing these).

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Old Saturday 24th June 2006, 01:43   #3
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Andy,

Thank you for the suggestion. I was hoping you would chime in. I should have been more clear in my original post. The top half of the picture was the raw image, unedited except to downsize for uploading to this forum. The bottom image is the same picture after I brightened and sharpened it with MGI Photosuite II SE.

I must apologize as the only data I remember seeing on the screen during the shot was an ISO 800. There was other info but it escapes me at the moment. Would I have better luck with an ISO 400 or 200?

Here is another shot under the same conditions at approximately the same location.
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Old Saturday 24th June 2006, 14:49   #4
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I do believe I have one problem solved. It does certainly help to fully understand your camera's capabilities. Here is a shot I took this morning (again unedited except to reduce size for uploading) with the camera's "Best Shot-High Sensitivity setting" under the same conditions as before.
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Old Saturday 24th June 2006, 22:35   #5
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Frank, it looks good, But try to do a bit of experimenting on a static subject, using verious settings, you may find you need to set some exposure compensation. If the camera has a bracket seting use it. Ernie
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Old Sunday 25th June 2006, 00:39   #6
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Ernie,

A suggestion based on experience. Thank you I will try a static subject now that I have the "gotta have a bird to take a picture of" out of my system. I will take several pics of the same object under various settings to see what is most appropriate. I have to admit that this digital photography, especially with the scope, is alot of fun. More than I had initially anticipated.

I feel a bit at a loss though. What is a "bracket setting"?

Thank you Ernie.
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Old Monday 26th June 2006, 01:10   #7
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Hi Frank,
Bracketing is a system whereby you set the focus etc. and the camera takes usually three images, and amount below and above the original, the amount can be set, this is a good method of determining how accurate you cameras exposure settings are. All cameras do not have this setting. Another thing to try, set you cameras focus on either infinity or macro, and focus with the scope. Ernie
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Old Monday 26th June 2006, 01:27   #8
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Ernie,

Again, thank you for the suggestions. I will try them. I spent a good deal of time taking static shots with the camera as you suggested earlier. What I found was that the higher ISO setting of 1600 produced a brighter image but when I zoomed in the image became much grainier faster. An ISO of 400 produced a slightly dimmer image but the zoom yielded a much more detailed image. I am going to play with a few more of the camera's functions as I do not think I have even begun to scratch the surface.
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Old Monday 26th June 2006, 08:59   #9
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Way to go Frank, lets know what you come up with. Good luck Ernie
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Old Monday 26th June 2006, 23:53   #10
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Frank I am wondering if your scope was focussed acurately?

I am a glasses wearer and have to take great care to focus the scope sharply - at max camera zoom. Before zooming out to take the photo. Sharper pictures will often have better colour.

Attached below is a bird I photographed 2 days ago, using a Fuji F10 and a 65mm Opticron scope at 20x magnification, bird about 30 - 40 feet away. I took great care to focus it as sharp as possible. I have found the slightest bit off produces very poor results. So use an Eagle Eyepiece magnifier to help me see clearly.

Hope this helps

Adrian
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Old Tuesday 27th June 2006, 21:47   #11
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Adrian,

That picture is superb. The color and detail are what I would try to strive for.

I am a bit at a loss though in terms of your question regarding my scope focusing accurately. Were you referring to a particular picture or a specific reference to one of my earlier posts?

I recently started a thread in the Digiscoping cameras subforum titled "Casio Exilim EX Z1000". Some of my latest attempts at digiscoping are included there. The last few turned out fairly well though still not at the level of what you just posted. I have played with focusing somewhat in the sense of focusing from "near to far" and then "far to near" (my eyepiece/scope combo has a fairly large sweet spot in focusing) to see which gives me the clearer picture. Is there some other method I am missing out on?

Your help is always appreciated.

Frank
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Old Wednesday 28th June 2006, 15:58   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankD
Adrian,

...I recently started a thread in the Digiscoping cameras subforum titled "Casio Exilim EX Z1000". Some of my latest attempts at digiscoping are included there. ... ... Is there some other method I am missing out on?

Frank
Hi Frank having just read that thread and seen the photos I think I can offer some helpful suggestions towards improved photos.

* Your camera looks set to bright and is burning out much of the photos detail. Use the exposure compensation and select at least -1/3 from what it is at the moment (I often use -2/3 or even -1 on my camera.)

* I thought the photos looked slightly 'smudgy/blurred', and thought this may have been due to the scope not being focussed correctly (and this could still be a part of the problem - how accurate are your eyes? ).

Four things that can cause soft non detailed photos:
1) Poor camera or scope lenses - but that shouldnt be a problem here.
2) Scope not focussed properly.
3) Not having a rock steady scope/camera combination - therefore camera shake causing the detail to blur due to movement.
4) Slow shutter speed also causing the detail to blur due to movement.

Having read your other thread I see that you are hand holding the camera to the scope - this could well be causing the majority of the problems. If you need to do this, then set your shutter speed to be as fast as you can get away with.

I hope this helps and look forward to your future posts.

Adrian
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Old Thursday 29th June 2006, 22:52   #13
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Adrian,

Thank you for the suggestions. I appreciate the thoughtful response.

I plan on ordering a Universal Digiscoping Adaptor tomorrow to see how much it improves the images

In regard to your comments about exposure compensation, I am at a bit of a loss. What function would this be listed at on my camera? Is there another name for it possibly? I did attempt to touch up the photos a bit first in a graphics program prior to posting them. I guess it is possible I that I used the brighten feature too much. The originals looked so dark though.

I think my eyes are fairly good. I do not wear glasses and have no trouble with my vision to speak of.

As for shutter speed, if I go the faster route then isn't it possible I will get more noise in my photos?

Thanks again.
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Old Friday 30th June 2006, 20:13   #14
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I took some time this afternoon to digiscope a few pics of one of my hummingbird feeders at various ISO settings. All pictures were taken with the previously mentioned setup at a distance of about 15 yards. All shots were handheld (you will notice some blur in a few of the photos). Each picture is labeled based on the ISO setting(50, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600). The post below this will have the 1600 ISO pic as you can only upload 5 pics per post. Any thoughts/comments would be appreciated.
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Old Friday 30th June 2006, 20:16   #15
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1600 Iso
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Old Saturday 1st July 2006, 23:04   #16
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Hi Frank - yes interesting. As the ISO goes higher the edge sharpness of the images improves greatly. ISO400 seems about the best compromise - noise V sharpness. But all the images are slightly over exposed, thus burning out detail in certain strong coloured areas. This is due to the camera circuits/sesnor being saturated.

Turning down the camera exposure compensation (or maybe it has a 'brightness' setting) would work wonders. I do not know what it may be called on your camera. Do you have a manual for it - thats the best place to start looking.
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Old Sunday 2nd July 2006, 10:31   #17
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Adrian,

I will see if I can find the function you are referring to. The brightness setting may very well be the answer. There is also a color saturation function that might do the trick based on your comments. The digiscoping adaptor is coming tomorrow so we will have to see if that makes a noticeable difference as well.

Thank you again for the help.
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Old Sunday 2nd July 2006, 22:41   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankD
Adrian,

I will see if I can find the function you are referring to. The brightness setting may very well be the answer. There is also a color saturation function that might do the trick based on your comments. The digiscoping adaptor is coming tomorrow so we will have to see if that makes a noticeable difference as well.

Thank you again for the help.
G-day Frank, Some of the images show signs of camera shake, rig yourself a release bracket. Ernie.
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Old Tuesday 4th July 2006, 11:28   #19
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Ernie,

Thank you for the suggestion. That may be the next step. Those pics were all handheld. Now I have the adaptor and have been using the self timer with moderate success. I need to work on the lighting, saturation and EV compensation (which I finally found) to now get more realistic pictures (higher quality). I am wondering though how much the use of a 65 mm scope (versus an 80 mm) and inexpensive, non-ED, eyepiece is affecting the quality of the final image. I am going to do some more playing after I get off work today as the new adaptor finally came in. The sad part though is the tripod head I ordered with it is now on back-order so I have to use a less than perfect alternative tripod for the time being.

Thank you again.
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Old Wednesday 5th July 2006, 00:51   #20
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Frank regarding how much does a non ED eyepiece affect the final image. Well if you are using high magnification - the answer is probably lots. But for 10x and 20x non ED should be fine - certainly to start with.

Below is a photo I took with a very, very cheap pair of binoculars. The camera was clamped to the eyepiece, but the whole lot was handheld as steady as I could and not using a timer or cable release (but these do improve photos a lot when used well).

I forced the shutter speed as high as I could by using ISO400. The full size original looks much more impressive. But the Robin was only about 25 feet away.

http://www.t1000.co.uk/camera/robin2...rp1_600tes.jpg
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Old Thursday 6th July 2006, 19:02   #21
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Adrian,

Excellent pic!..and with a pair of binoculars to boot! I hope to get something like that with my scope setup.

I do believe I am getting more of a handle on my digiscoping setup. I have learned how to read a histogram and how to correct it if it is unbalanced. My pictures are looking a bit better in that regard. I am still waiting for the tripod head to arrive (called and changed to the more conventional 3130 as they had it in stock) and I am going to look at one of the other graphic manipulation programs that is popular for digiscoping. I am at work at the moment but when I get a chance this evening I am going to upload my latest pics and post them here for suggestions.

Thank you all again. This has been a great experience so far.
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Old Thursday 6th July 2006, 19:36   #22
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Quote:
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... I am at work at the moment but when I get a chance this evening I am going to upload my latest pics and post them here for suggestions.....
Hi Frank, I am really looking forward to seeing your next posts.

You will find that they'll keep improving in leaps and bounds - well hopefully ;o)

Its strange how things go really. I am 'almost' happy with many of mine newer photos. But when I look back at what I was achieving a few months back, I think ouch they were terrible. Yet I was 'almost' happy with them at the time!!

I think what I am saying is, its too easy to end up in a catch 22 situation. Where although the photos get better, - ones expectations also require far better photos, and the standards keep going up - but in ones own mind - may never achieve nervana!

Anyway enough of that talk, the bottom line is as you practice and experiment, your photos will improve enormously. - I was going to say 'beyond recognition', but then thought it was not an apropriate comment regarding photos ;o)
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Old Friday 7th July 2006, 12:23   #23
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Adrian,

Here are some shots from July 4th. I think I have the lighting/exposure at a better level than in previous posts but I believe the images are somewhat out of focus. First the "original" and then a cropped closeup. I do believe I know one of the reasons I am not getting the best of picture quality. Almost all of the shots I have posted have been taken from my backyard feeders. The feeders are 20 yards from the back of my house and under a treeline. The sun does not get directly onto the subject matter except for early in the morning. I am going to try to get out a bit and take some pics of birds in better lighting.

Shots were taken at 19.5x and no zoom on the digital camera.

Camera settings for the house finch picture were as follows:

No EV compensation
ISO 200
F2.8
1/30
Histogram shows a relatively wide spike in the middle of the graph with little on either end.

Camera settings for the dove picture were as follows:

+ .3 EV compensation
ISO 200
F2.8
1/13
Histogram again shows a relatively wide spike in the middle of the graph with some area under the overexposed right hand side. Nothing under the underexposed section of the graph.

Both were shot with Auto White Balance which the camera seems to have chosen the "sun" setting.

Any comments on the pics would be appreciated. Oh, and I finally have my setup all together.
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Old Friday 7th July 2006, 13:06   #24
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Frank, I've come into to this discussion a bit late but here are my thoughts. My first impression seeing your gear was that the eyepiece would be the weak link (I don't know this eyepiece ). Your camera looks good and the scope is a good one. You may have too many megapixels for your setup though so I would try a lower resolution setting. If you get a high quality eyepiece you would get more value out of the 10 megs. Also back off the camera zoom as much as you can (2/3 zoom is usually good), dial in -0.7 exposure comp and only use iso 100 . Keep practicing as it takes a while to get consistently good results as you've seen posted by others here but you'll probably have to upgrade the eyepiece. Neil.
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Old Friday 7th July 2006, 14:24   #25
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Hi Frank

If i could add my couple of cents worth on this -

The last of pics you have taken qouting the speed is rather low, did you use the timer or did you hand hold the camera?

If hand held, you really need a cable release at those low speeds,in some cirumstances i manage to get speeds down to a quarter or eigth of a second, ( dont you just love the british weather! ) by hand would result in blurred pics for most people, there is plenty of advice on this forum to gain one that is suitable for you, either hand made or a manufactured unit

If you used the timer, one tip i give when teaching digiscoping, if people are experiencing focus problems is focus the scope on a static object, take time to do this, then ask family/friend to see if the image is sharp or blurred to them, using just the scope only, sometimes this can highlight problems, its a trial and error thing but the main concern here is to try different things until you start to see the images get sharper on the computer not the back of the camera

There are two ways to focus for people, either focus the scope, then connect the camera then take the pic, OR focus the scope, connect the camera, press the button down 50% to lock the focus, adjust scope focus slightly by looking at the LCD screen on the back of the camera, then take the pic, an eyeshade connected to to the LCD screen does help with this method because you can see more detail and you dont have any light glaring on the LCD screen

just trying to show you ways of dealing with it and you will work out which one is the best for you!

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