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Old Jul 30, 2007, 9:40 PM   #1
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Till recently I've been one of those people who bought a 3x zoom camera from Best Buy or Circuit City, but my camera was getting old (5yrs) and had marks in the inner lens, so I replaced it with a Canon S31S.

I think I've been taking better pictures with it (I can get closer to the action visually and frame my subjects better), but I seem to be having a couple of problems. When I take pictures sometimes, the subject shilfts right (not virtically ever, just a little to the right). I get that this is due to the fact that longer lensesare more sensitive to hand movements, but is there anything I can do to stop it (other than take a bunch of pictures and hope it works itself out with time).

The second thing is that I've spent the last few days in the Grand Canyon, and I spent theevening looking at my pictures. They look sort of hazy and the color contrast isn't great. Is that down to me too? If it is, is there anything I can do to counteract it?
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Old Jul 30, 2007, 11:14 PM   #2
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Congratulations on your new camera.

I think the problem that you're seeing when you say the subject "shifts" to the right is probably due to shake that occurs when pushing the shutter button. First I would suggest that you get used to the idea of squeezing the button rather than pushing it. You want to grip the camera tightly with your right hand and when you snap the photo, squeeze your entire grip.

Next, make sure your anti-shake is on! Read the manual on that subject. I believe the camera will have two anti-shake modes, one that is always on, and one that only activates when you shoot. The second one is the one you want to use. Although your viewfinder will look shakier, it's usually much better for the photos themselves, and also conserves battery power.

The most obvious way to avoid shake is to use a tripod, though that isn't always practical. You could get a monopod, they can be very handy because they are small and lightweight and can double as a walking stick (if you get a sturdy one).

Another way to improve the chances of getting a sharper photo is to either use a 2-second timer or to use a burst or exposure bracket. The timer will delay the shot so there won't be any shake from pushing the button. Using a burst or bracketing will produce multiple shots, and the ones after the first shouldn't be affected by the initial shake. Also, taking more shots in general improves the odds that you'll get a good one.

As for your photos looking hazy, I can't say much without seeing the images. My guess is that you're shooting into the distance, in which case it's just distance haze which would be expected. That of course would be low contrast as well. If it seems to happen with most of your images you could turn up the contrast in the camera settings. You might also try using exposure compensation and turning it down a notch or two. That may help if the problem is that your images are too bright.

Good luck.
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Old Jul 31, 2007, 12:18 AM   #3
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I don't know what's going on with the image shifting, Jim. If it were being caused by camera shake, why would the shift be only in one direction? I've never used a camera with image stabilization, but if the IS was causing it -- again -- why only in the one direction?

You could try a few experiments to narrow down the cause by turning off the IS and taking some shots under similar conditions that give you the subject shift, both hand-held and using a tripod. If you get the shift on the hand-held shots but not the tripod shots, then IS isn't to blame and you can chalk it up to camera shake. If you get no shift, turn the IS back on and repeat the hand-held shots to see if that gives you the shift. Some IS systems don't work well with a rock-steady camera, so you might want to check your IS use guidelines before shooting on the tripod with the IS on. If the trouble seems to be excess camera shake that the IS can't handle, there are less cumbersome products than a tripod that would help. Monopods, beanbags, flexible clamps...You're sure to find something to your liking.

The haziness might be natural -- unless it occurs in pix where the subject is fairly close. Direct sunlight hitting the lens at extreme angles can cause ghosting and and overall reduction in image contrast. That's one reason they make lens hoods. Don't know whether they make one for your camera. You can also adjust the color saturation and contrast to a certain extent in your camera's menu before you start shooting.

Shots that lack good contrast and color can also be tweaked with any image editor.

If your editor has an Unsharp Mask feature, you can do a "defogging" by applying a large Radius with a small Amount. Just do a web search on USM defogging and you'll come up with numerous tutorials on the method.

Have fun!


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Old Jul 31, 2007, 12:43 PM   #4
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Your problems at the Grand Canyon are fairly common. Colors are muted and there is often haze in the summer months. In addition to the defogging USM (an excellent suggestion), do some googling for Velvia Affect actions. Velvia is a type of film that super-saturates colors and gives a warming affect. I have an action I programmed from a book or magazine (I forget which) and it worked great for my canyon pictures. Of course, if you don't have a sophisitcated editing tool it will be a little tricky. If you don't, then simply bump up your saturation and contrast a bit.
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Old Jul 31, 2007, 2:34 PM   #5
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Another suggestion is to shoot from a half-press of the shutter whenever possible. The response is almost instant after the camera has adjusted everything in the half-press. There is less movement to throw the picture off and it is easier to learn to squeeze from a half-press rather than punch.

I think you will find that many members here regularly use a half-press when possible.

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Old Aug 4, 2007, 8:53 AM   #6
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Thanks for the advice folks.
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