Canon Lenses and sharp Photographs

Discussion in 'Photography' started by No_Duff, Mar 13, 2011.

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  1. I use (learning to) a Canon 7d and have the following lenses:

    Canon ef s 55-250mm 4:5.6
    Canon ef 50mm Macro 2.5
    Canon ef s 18-55mm 3.5:5.6
    Canon ef 28-105mm 3.5:4.5
    Canon ef 50mm 1.8
    Sigma APO DG 70-300mm 4:5.6

    I want to produce Photos that are as clear and sharp as those taken by chieftiff here

    At the moment I cannot come anywhere near to the sharpness of chieftiff's Photos. Am I being deluded in thinking I can with any of the lenses I have.

    I'm taking, in my opinion at least :) , OK Photo's and the odd 1 or 2 look sharpish. I know that the L series are really I have to buy L series don't I.

    End of waffle.
  2. Are you trying to convince us, yourself or the wife :)

    I've learnt quite a bit about sharpening recently and here are some top tips.

    1. All digital photographs need sharpening, it's due to the discreet nature of how a digital sensor works, if you shoot in jpg some of that sharpening is done by the camera's software, if you shoot in RAW no sharpening is applied at all. Both can be made much sharper using your photo editing software, always shoot RAW that way you control all of the sharpening.
    2. There are no absolute settings for sharpening in photoshop or elements however these settings generally work well for me: in unsharp mask set the radius between 0.6 and 0.9 (I generally use 0.7) and set the threshold to 1, adjust the amount between about 80% and 120% depending on the image.
    3. It's very easy to over sharpen an image and it begins to look too..... digital.
    4. If the image is already nice and sharp but lacking definition then create a new duplicate layer, apply a high pass filter set between 15 and 22 to that layer and then blend that layer using the 'soft light' blend mode. This adds sharpness to the image without creating any pixelation.
    5. The obvious one's - High shutter speed, tripod, good lenses.........................
  3. Well, they say you never stop learning .
    I'm a compleat biff when it comes to photography and never knew that I need to use photoshop on all the images I take with my Cannon SLR.
    My wife has a Cannon ixuss and often the pics are sharper on that than with my 450D with Cannon lenses.
  4. Many compact cameras produce very rich and sharp images straight out of the box because the inbuilt software fiddles with the image at the point of capture, the only real reason to use an SLR with all the fiddling it entails is control, creativity and capturing the most data (compacts just ditch the data they don't think you need), the flip side of that is it's more work! If you want to do the least fiddling with your 450D's images shoot in large JPG and use the appropriate settings of: portrait, landscape etc because that will give the software the most opportunity to fix the picture.

    This was taken with a handheld 400D some time ago as a JPG with the camera set in landscape mode; which sets the fastest shutter it can with a smallish aperture (f11 to f16 if I remember correctly for front to back focus) and enriches the greens and earthy colours. I blended a soft light layer as described above to accentuate the contrast between the tree trunks and greenery and add some clarity to the mist - it was a foggy day. i don't remember doing any actual sharpening but it was a few years ago.

    Morkery Woods
  5. Thanks chieftiff, for the info.

    Once I have bought the new Lens, I shall inform my wife that a big boy made me buy it and ran away.

    You're going to be in deep do do ;-P
  6. Tbh you have a lot of focal length overlap going on there and the sensors today dont forgive cheap glass.
    In your situation i would be having a little selling session on one of the photo websites (talk photography, POTN etc) and looking at some shiny glass.

    L glass is good but some of the EX sigma glass is very close, I used to use a 30mm 1.4 & a 70-200 2.8, both sima EX.
    They gave some very good results.

    Obviously your mileage may vary
  7. Yes, you need L series glass to get results that will make your balls tingle. Its all about the f/ stop, innit. My personal collection until recently was
    16-35mm f/2.8
    24-70mm f/2.8
    50mm f/1.4
    70-200mm f/2.8 IS
    and because you can shoot with such a fast aperture you will be able to create a bokeh (blur behind the subject in focus) that will make your photos stand out from those lenses that can only go down to f/3.5.

    Bite the bullet and tell the missus she isn't getting a birthday/christmas present this year. If you're careful, you can get these lenses on ebay in great condition for 2/3rds the price of them new.

    I'll agree with point 5, but not the rest. You don't need to post process images if you use the correct equipment and think through the image prior to taking it. Photoshop, masks, high pass filters and other minor tools are noticeable once you know what you're looking for, and (on a personal level) I hate seeing good photographs that have been manipulated to make them better. If you're looking to work as a photojournalist, you have to submit images in .dng to prove they haven't been tampered with.
    Buy L lenses, compose the photo rather than just snapping away (this means using manual mode rather than P) and your results will improve.
  8. Well it's lucky I'm not looking at being a photo journalist and that sort of photography is far removed from whta most of us do for a hobby. I think you are a bit confused about what Adobe's digital negative format will and won't prove with regards to tampering, it is simply a bloated Tiff file format and doesn't retain half the data associated with an exif file, I see it used more and more and it illustrates one thing - Adobe's grip on the imagery industry nothing more.! With the greatest respect the guy who showed me most of that at a (not cheap) processing in photoshop workshop is in my humble opinion one of the greatest landscape photographers in this fine land, so I'm quite happy to take Joe Cornish's advice on sharpening and pass it on, I'm sure he isn't too concerned that others might think he is somehow cheating! A simple internet search will reveal that actually these thoughts are shared by many other photographers so I don't think he sold me a pup with these techniques.

    I'm also not sure if composing a shot requires the use of the big scary M button, for starters composition is about aesthetics. I often use manual because I like to take landscapes when I have all the time in the world and can get the shot exactly how I want it however I certainly don't balk at the thought of reverting to either of my pre-programmed (C1 and C2) settings or AV/ TV for that matter. I think it's important that people understand all of their camera settings and what the different modes are there for, it's far better to get out and take photographs rather than p!ss about fiddling with settings and missing some great shots - attaching some sort of kudos to calculating aperture AND shutter speed is daft, for starters it is hardly rocket science with an in built light meter! If there was one thing that all photographers should know and understand rather than pointing and relying on autofocus I think it's hyperfocal length and I carry a set of cards around in my camera bag to help with that because I can't be arsed to sit and work it out in the field. - I got that tip from Joe too........
  9. Not forgetting all zoom lenses, whatever the glass, are a compromise, and can never match the equivalent fixed focal length in quality.
  10. This pic was taken on my new lens and this is the sharpness etc I've been looking for.


    Uploaded with
  11. Nice one No_Duff, I'm heading out today for the first time in months with my camera and I will be looking forward to taking Chieftiff's sharpening tip advice when I get back.
    I have always blamed my kit lens for the soft look on my images.
  12. ND - what lense did you eventually buy? And, if you don't mind telling, where did you get and how much?
  13. I bought the Canon 70-200mm F2.8 L Series Lens, I got it from Amazon and it cost £948. You could get it a bit cheaper from other places but I think they were "Grey Imports"

    @bomb_mac, The kit and other lenses never seemed to give a sharp photo, which may very well be my lack in photography skills. Chieftiff's advice seems good to me.

    Once I've paid off this lens I shall be looking for another L series lens. Something like a EF 28-70mm f/2.8L USM.
  14. I was with Junglism up until recently. I'm now siding with the Chief. I used the Canon 18-55 3.5-5.6 IS dust-cover most of the time, and usually had to sharpen (140-160%, 1.9pixels) on my EOS 400D (and more recently, 500D). I started to use my 60mm F2.8 Macro for portraiture, and no longer see much if any reason to sharpen. I now have to Photoshop to get rid of the models' facial "features" like blackheads, pimples etc.

    I guess it is down to glass quality as to whether you NEED to sharpen or not. YMMV.