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Old Nov 16, 2006, 2:05 PM   #1
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I can't get ma Rebel Xt to take Tack Sharp pics. Help:!:Even on a tripod they are not really sharp.
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Old Nov 16, 2006, 2:18 PM   #2
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Are you used to using film? Or maybe a point & shoot camera? Do you shoot in RAW or jpg?
I ask to understand your expectations better.

The generally logic of DSLR makers centers around these points:
- it is easier to add sharpness than remove it.
- Unlike with film, anti-aliasing filters are necessary so that angular lines (like power tables or roof edges) don't come out in a stair step pattern. This causes some slight bluring. Film cameras don't have this.
- Users of DSLRs use their cameras in many different situations.

These lead to a DSLR having a slightly less sharp image directly out-of-camera than a point & shoot.

For example, imagine if you had a portrait (maybe like what you have in your example image. If the image were as sharp as they absolutely could be, then every blemish and wrinkle will be visible on the person's face. I'm quite sure they won't want that. On the other hand, if you're taking a macro shot of a dragonfly you probably want it very sharp (and it isn't.) How do you reconsile those two positions?

This wide range of wants has two solutions:
1) Increase in-camera sharpening.
2) Sharpen on your computer during post-processing.

The problem with answer 1 is if you take an image which shouldn't be that sharp, then you have to blur the image to reduce the sharpness, and that often looks bad. It would be better if you took the photo with a standard amount of sharpening (if any at all) and then add sharpening when necessary when editing the image on the computer.

If you photograph in RAW the situation is slightly different, but I'm not sure you do that. You'd have to tell me, and then I can comment on it.

Eric
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Old Nov 16, 2006, 3:00 PM   #3
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Hi, thanks for the reply. I shoot in JPEG, and I had 35mm cameras years ago. I just got this Rebel xt a few months ago and have been taking sports pictures and vacation pictures with it. I have the canon prime f1.8 and the tamron 18-200 and am not very happy. I tried a Olympus E-500 and liked it but went for the popular rebel xt. I don't have photoshop but I plan to get it. When I try to sharpen with the Canon software I just don't have success. I don't know what to do. I see so many great looking pictures that look very sharp. Do they all get processed with a software program?
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Old Nov 16, 2006, 11:06 PM   #4
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The short answer is that almost every image you see on the web has been edit/processed using some software.

The reality is that when you got film developed, things were done to your photos. You might not have known it, but I bet they sharpend, increased contrast and probably color corrected. This is why some times you'd get back something and it's just completely wrong.... it's probably because their "default" processing was in fact wrong for what you shot.

I would suggest that you not by the full version of photoshop. It's a great program, but its so big as to be scary. It is hard to know what to do when you have so many options infront of you. Instead, I would suggest getting the latest PhotoShop Elements (Version 5?) It has become a very capable program that is much cheaper. It can't do as much, but it can do a lot... most of what you'll need for awhile. And if you ever find you need more, you can always upgrade to the full version of PS at a discount (about 1/2 price.) It's an easier program to learn while still being powerful.

Since you're shooting in JPG, look at your incamera settings for sharpness. If you can, I would suggest you take the same picture 5 times, one at each sharpness setting and then look at them on your computer. Then leave it at a setting that makes you happy. Eventually you'll want to turn it down 'cause adding sharpness via software like PhotoShop will almost certainly provide better results... more work from you, but better results.

But for now, you've got enough to worry about that you should just set the camera to settings that work for you and concentrate on taking good pictures.

Eric
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Old Nov 16, 2006, 11:29 PM   #5
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Hi Eric, thanks for you response. It makes good sense to follow your advice. I've got an old seconic meter from years ago, I'll make sure exposures are right and get Photoshop elements. I'll also try to sharpen in camera. Then when I get acquainted with the elements program I'll do more of sharpening with it. I love the advice available from experienced people on this site, such as yourself.
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Old Nov 17, 2006, 10:16 AM   #6
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I haven't used an Xt before, but I bet its built in metering system is quite good.
I wouldn't be surprised if you find you don't use the seconic meter that much... maybe only in complex situations.

I'm happy to help. I teach photography and photoshop and coming here really keeps me in touch with some of the things I learned years ago. And explaining them is good practice for the classes.

The benefits go both ways.

Eric
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Old Nov 17, 2006, 2:10 PM   #7
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Hi Eric, thanks again. Very helpful stuff.
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Old Nov 17, 2006, 2:34 PM   #8
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On top of what EricS said, do you have a lens shade on your lens(es)?
I'm asking because it looks like your sample image is suffering from flare.
That multisided circle on her shirt looks to be a flare induced reflection of the diaphram.
Which would reduce contrast nastilly.

Even a lens shade won't help if you are shooting directly into a bright light source.
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Old Nov 17, 2006, 9:13 PM   #9
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Hi PeterP, Yes I did have a lens shade on the lens when pic was taken. It was one of those new typescalloped cutout ones. I like the old style that completely wrapped around. Thanks
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