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Old Sep 7, 2003, 10:08 AM   #1
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Default Canon = Blurry?

I bought the Powershot S200 for my first digital camera awhile back now, and as I've become more 'camera savvy', I've become more and more angry with the quality of the S200. I love the case on this device, extremely small, I dropped it four times on cement and it stills works, heats of up to 104 degrees - it's great! But on the topic of quality pictures, now, I have nothing against the outdoor pictures this takes - I took some beautiful ones over a trip to Memphis just recently, about 400 of them, but when this thing goes indoors, it's quality, in my eyes, stops there.

I don't know what the problem with this is, if I'm doing something wrong, or if I'm just too expecting of a camera..but I seriously think there has to be something more capable out there. Here's my issues:

When indoors, or low light;
When using the flash: Pictures appear to have blacked out backgrounds/corners and extremely brightened subjects, this also affects colors which appear horrible because of the brightness.
When not using the flash: Images appear to have correct colors and lighting, but are 99% of the time extremely blurred at the slightest movement of an OBJECT or the CAMERA.

Is there some way I can make this camera WORK, because the flash for some reason is unsatisfactory for me, I don't feel a flash should look that bad(a picture using a flash should look natural, what's the point of a flash otherwise?) and it doesn't seem to be capable of taking indoor images without a flash, or even outdoors when the sun's setting - yeesh! I've tried everything - are ALL Canon cameras like this? I was considering a G, or, people seem to be raving about the S##'s, or maybe even a Sony CD Mavica, what should I get to tend to my needs - anybody have any input on anything I've said or considered above? Thank you!

maki
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Old Sep 11, 2003, 1:14 AM   #2
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Maki, dropping it on concrete ain't good!!!! However, you say your outdoor shots are satisfactory.

It's late, and I'm too lazy to check Steve's reviews of your camera to determine whether you can adjust your flash output. Flash doesn't guarantee 'natural' results. I use a G2 and sometimes lower the flash output indoors.

Do you have AEB (Auto Exposure Bracketing)? You can set the AEB to take three pictures of the same subject/image at lower, middle and over exposure.

I shoot plant/flower shots outdoors, and get great results using AEB. You need to use a tripod. The first shot is often shaky, but the second and third shots display much sharpness because there is no shake on the camera. I press the button than stand back and leave the camera alone.

Alternatively, you might contact Canon and ask if dropping it on concrete might affect the controls. (^J^)
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Old Sep 11, 2003, 11:00 AM   #3
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It sounds to me light the shutter speed was too low.

What settings do you use when you shoot in doors with no flash? Indoor photography can be hard because that wonderful natural light source (the sun) isn't there!

The blackened out backgrounds when using flash is a side effect of the flash in some situations. Were the backgrounds far away from the subject (more than 10 feet?) If so, then this will happen. The camera fires flashes and it lights the subject (2 people, say) but the flash isn't powerful enough to reach the background (because it's too far away.) Since the camera is exposing the picture for the properly flash-lit people, the background (which isn't getting any extra light from the flash) is underexposed (i.e. dark.) The only solution to this is to get more light into the background. One way is to use a more powerful flash or take the picture near a window (or other light) so the sunlight can light the background and the flash can light the people.

Why it's black around the corners... maybe because the flash isn't that powerful? So it concentrates its power towards the center of the picture? This is really just a guess. Most flashes built into cameras (including the one I have) are very weak. They get the job done for simple things, but they really can't effectively reach out beyond... 10 feet or so.

What were the settings when you took pictures without the flash? Specifically the shutter speed, aperture (f-stop) and ISO (if that camera supports that.) Most image viewing software can get this info out of the pictures you took (the camera stores the settings in the origional picture.) It sounds like the shutter speed is too low, which would make sense because the camera is making up for the lack of light by keeping the shutter open longer... the side effect of this is that it causes the camera to be more suseptable to shake or subject movement.

I hate to say it, but I don't have a lot of experience with flash. What you read above is just from my readings on this forum and other areas about the basics of flash use.

Quote:
Originally Posted by maki
Is there some way I can make this camera WORK, because the flash for some reason is unsatisfactory for me, I don't feel a flash should look that bad(a picture using a flash should look natural, what's the point of a flash otherwise?) and it doesn't seem to be capable of taking indoor images without a flash, or even outdoors when the sun's setting - yeesh!
But most of these question I can answer. The answer is that a camera does not work as well as the human eye. Not only does the human eye focus faster (which you know) it also can see a wider range of light intensities and can see well in low light. A camera isn't as sensitive to light. So all cameras have trouble taking pictures a sunset or in low light. That is just the way it is.

What you can do is make adjustments to try to give it more light. You can use a flash (i.e. generate more light) or set it to capture more of the light that is there. That means using a longer shutter speed, a larger aperture (lower fstop number) or a higher ISO setting. Each of these has its problems.
1) A longer shutter speed means you are more susceptable to motion blur. But the nice thing is that any camera can do it with any lens. All cameras have a max and min shutter speed, but its usually good enough for 90% of all photography ever done. How often do you need a shot which takes longer than 15 seconds? That is what the S200 can do

2) A larger aperture. Lenses have a maximum aperture. It's a physical property of the lens. You can't make it bigger than it's built to be. The win is that if you can make it bigger, then you will get less motion blur (because you can keep the shutter speed faster.) This is why lenses (and cameras with built in lenses) that have a lower fstop rating are more expensive and desireable. They allow you to take pictures in lower light situations. The S200 has a 35-70mm f/2.8-4.0 zoom lens. f2.8 isn't bad. I use a f1.8 in low light, and wish I had something even better! Note also that f2.8 is at 35mm. As you zoom in, the max aperture goes out to f4.

3) higher ISO. Not all cameras let you change this setting, but the S200 does. (Some also call it an ASA setting, don't know why.) The higher the ISO (100, 200,400,800,... keep doubling) the more sensitive the camera's sensor is to light. Exactly the same way with film. A trade off is that the camera has a built-in limit as to what ISO settings it can support (The S200 can do 50,100,200,400, and maybe some settings inbetween, I don't know.) Another trade off is the quality of the picture will drop with the higher fstop. There will be more noise in the picture. Noise is hard to describe but easy to see. Take the same picture each with a different ISO setting. Then look at them. It looks like someone covered the picture with little odd colored dots. That is noise. Film has the same problem, but there it's called "grain" and is a physical attribute of the film.

This is why when I take pictures at sunset, I take them at ISO 800. The picture quality is lower than at ISO 100... but I wouldn't have gotten the picture at 100, so that is life. (Note that my camera costs over $1,500 with out a lens... so is at attribute of photography, not cheaper cameras.)

I hope that helps.

Eric
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Old Sep 11, 2003, 9:26 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JanetKP
Maki, dropping it on concrete ain't good!!!!
Haha, indeed, however, maybe I didn't make it clear, but the camera has done this since the day I got it(dropped it only recently, in fact, the concrete one wasn't much of a fall, but the carpet incident which I didn't mention was about ten feet in the air. ) I don't believe I have AEB, as I've tried about every possible feature. I can't adjust the flash, either. Thanks for the input.

Eric - what a great, full response! I'm rather good at playing around with things to make them work - and believe me, after having this for almost a year or so, I've tried everything. And what's more, everything, every setting, has it's issue, which I attempted to symbolize in my initial post. First off, to my knowledge, there's not much control over the shutter speed directly on the S200, and I haven't recently looked at the shutter speeds on any of my no-flash images, but based on the clicking sounds of the shutter, it usually sounds extremely slow. The ISO I'm familiar with, this helps somewhat, the maximum however is 400, and even on such speed, I still tend to get some blurriness. From what I've heard, it seems to be a trend with Canon that high ISO speeds usually consist of unbearable noise(at least in comparison to other cameras), and I tend to have that problem with the high ISO speeds.

I think I understand quite well all the aspects of a camera and it's taking a photo. The shutter speed, aperture, ISO etc., maybe I just don't know how to make the S200 work. But, like I've said, it takes beautiful outdoor pictures, I'm perfectly happy with those, but I can't stand taking indoor pictures.

Ah, to have sun light indoors.

maki
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Old Sep 11, 2003, 9:47 PM   #5
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Actually, come to think of it, I believe the camera does have the AEB feature. Ok - so one feature I haven't figured out since I've gotten the thing..

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Old Sep 11, 2003, 10:52 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maki
First off, to my knowledge, there's not much control over the shutter speed directly on the S200
The review that Steve did of this camera says that you have a manual mode. That gives you complete control over the shutter speed, aperture and ISO. But you might be shooting in Auto (which removes all control expect for exposure compensation.) It's a pity this camera doesn't have an Aperture or Shutter Priority mode. Those are very handy.

If you have a slow shutter speed, then you will get motion blur. That is a fact of life. If the camera displays the shutter speed in the display while you are taking the picture, check what it is and use exposure comp to increase it. You'll have to fix the picture in photoshop (to brighten it) but at least you'll have gotten it.

I wouldn't be surprised if this camera has high noise at high ISO. Personally, on my camera it has annoying noise at ISO800 and above. So I wouldn't say that it is a trend with Canon that high ISO speeds usually consist of unbearable noise. Then again, my Canon costs $1,500. So I expect to be able to take higher ISO pictures with it that are good. You get something for the extra money.

Quote:
Originally Posted by maki
I think I understand quite well all the aspects of a camera and it's taking a photo. The shutter speed, aperture, ISO etc., maybe I just don't know how to make the S200 work. But, like I've said, it takes beautiful outdoor pictures, I'm perfectly happy with those, but I can't stand taking indoor pictures.
Ok, this is going to sound harsh. I'm sure you understand the concepts of shutter speed, aperture and ISO. But if you really knew how to apply them then you'd have realize the problem with motion blur and/or camera shake was shutter speed. So now that you understand you camera, the hard part comes. Applying that knowledge to get good pictures. The flash stuff is subtle and something you learn by doing and reading. I certainly don't claim to understand a lot about good flash technique. And I often don't apply what I know of good technique in general (I'm too exciting and having fun taking the pictures.)

To do good indoor photography you need lots of light. A lot more than normal lamp lighting provides. So you need a good flash. But that camera doesn't seem to come with a good one (at least, to your standards. I have the same problem with the flash in my camera.) It looks like you can't attach another flash to that camera, though. Maybe a slave flash synced to the built in flash would be the way to go. It would be annoying (because you'd have to carry the external flash with you, manage its batteries and stuff) but it should yield better results (and it could solve the dark backgrounds as well.) Just a thought.

But when doing indoor photography, if you are using Auto then check the settings the camera is picking for you. If the shutter speed is too slow, then either go manual and override it. Use exposure compensation to make it faster (assuming Exposure Comp alters shutter speed on that camera) or add light (flash, more lights, move to a window.) Or get a better camera (one with a lower fstop than 2.8.) Those are about your only choices.

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Old Sep 13, 2003, 1:05 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eric s
Quote:
Originally Posted by maki
First off, to my knowledge, there's not much control over the shutter speed directly on the S200
The review that Steve did of this camera says that you have a manual mode. That gives you complete control over the shutter speed, aperture and ISO. It's a pity this camera doesn't have an Aperture or Shutter Priority mode. Those are very handy.
Yes, and I've used manual mode ever since I learned how to use it. That's when I started playing with all of the features, and this helped me take better outdoor pictures. You say this gives you complete control over the shutter speed, aperture etc., but I must just be stupid, because I've never noticed any other options relating to this other than ISO speed and white balance(exposure). Have you ever used this camera? I don't doubt that there's something I missed, but I'm really convinced I've tried everything.

Quote:
Originally Posted by eric s
Quote:
Originally Posted by maki
I think I understand quite well all the aspects of a camera and it's taking a photo. The shutter speed, aperture, ISO etc., maybe I just don't know how to make the S200 work. But, like I've said, it takes beautiful outdoor pictures, I'm perfectly happy with those, but I can't stand taking indoor pictures.
Ok, this is going to sound harsh. I'm sure you understand the concepts of shutter speed, aperture and ISO. But if you really knew how to apply them then you'd have realize the problem with motion blur and/or camera shake was shutter speed. So now that you understand you camera, the hard part comes. Applying that knowledge to get good pictures.
Ok, this is going to sound like I'm trying to be a whiney know-it-all. I do apply the things I understand with the camera. As far as I know, I try everything possible, sometimes it results in better pictures, but like I've said, it always seems that every picture with every setting has flaws. Shutter speed, I've understood that for some time that it dramatically affects the blur and such, but I apparently have issues setting any shutter speed or aperture settings. Or as you said, priorities even, as the S200 doesn't have those features. Other than ISO and controlling the exposure, I guess I really don't know how to work this camera, or maybe any camera for that matter.

I guess I shouldn't be going on like this when I obviously don't have a clue.

maki
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Old Sep 13, 2003, 9:57 AM   #8
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Good, at least I didn't offend you with my comment. I was trying to be honest, but not insulting. Its quite possible you didn't miss anything. Its possible you've outgrown the camera. It isn't the most advanced one on the market (not having AV and TV modes is a clear feature you'll want in your next one.)

I'd say that you have a clue, but maybe not the right one. Or maybe you've outgrown this camera. Heck, I'm not sure I have the right one either, but it's in my nature to help find clues... so lets see what we can do together.

I have to admit that I have not used the S200. I'm going by the standard definiton of "manual" which in the camera world means that you have to set everything. shutter, aperture, ISO, exposure comp (flash comp, but I don't think it has that)... everything manually. Now, that doesn't mean that is what it means on this camera. Let me see if I can download a manual (the internet is wonderful, isn't it?)

Quite honestly, I find manual mode to be too... slow in setting up? If I'm doing flash photography I almost always use program because I don't know enough to do a good job with a flash. And good E-TTL flash photography is possible now adays. The rest of the time I use Aperture priority. (Just so you get an idea where I'm coming from.)

Ok, I found a manual. There is some interesting stuff in there.

First, have you tried the "slow-sync" mode on the flash? The manual clames:
Quote:
Slow-Synchro
The flash timing is adjusted to slow shutter speeds. This
reduces the chance that the background will be dark
when shots are taken at night or in rooms with artificial
lighting. The red-eye reduction lamp fires with each
shot. Use of a tripod is recommended.
Personally, I've never even heard of a slow sync mode (maybe it has another name else where?) so I don't know what this does or if it works. But it sounds worth trying. It only works in Manual mode.

Page 65 of the manual talks about how to set "long shutter speeds". I don't fully understand what they are talking about, because I don't have the camera. I don't get why they would have a separate way to set "long shutter speed"... what about short ones? Maybe this is an offshoot of its minimal interface (fewer buttons/dials/whatever) making the camera cheaper to make? Wait a sec. It sounds like this isn't what you want, though, as it seems to control shutter speeds over 1 second (more detail on the next page.)

If this is what they mean by giving you shutter control in manual, then I'd be annoyed. This is rather crippled functionality. In "manual" mode, you should be able to set these things manually and completely. It might be annoying to do so (having to press many buttons) but it should be possible. The manual doesn't say how you set and then shoot at 1/250th of a second.

If no one here has more info (I'm out of guesses, this is just weird) then I'd email canon and ask them. I hate to say it, but it sounds like you've outgrown this camera if these settings are unavailable.

Eric
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Old Sep 14, 2003, 1:28 AM   #9
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We're making sense here now. Like I said, I'm sure there's something I could have missed(slow synchro being something like that), but I indeed feel I've tried everything possible. There is a long shutter option, it's in menu on the very bottom, it lets you choose from the following wonderful options:

On Off

Isn't that dandy? Otherwise, I see no signs of shutter speed settings or priorities or any such anywhere else, and I really don't see a need for slow shutter speed on this camera when it is regardless of whether that option is on or off. I've personally felt all along that this camera just doesn't offer what I'm looking for and is rather limited on the manual settings, but with responses from other people I'd been doubting that lately.

Whether it's just me, or really this camera that's just not right for me, I've been planning to upgrade. Not advanced, not $1500 advanced, just some sort of mid range. I'm considering a Canon G5, in hopes that Canon will live up to what they say they are, as they haven't proved anything other than satisfactory well-lit images for me so far. You have any insight upon this camera? Possibly the G3, as I've read reviews that the G5 has considerable CA, but haven't seen this so much with the G3. Or maybe another alltogether, would you have any ideas or suggestions for me? My price range would probably have to be around $700-$800.

maki
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Old Sep 14, 2003, 6:30 AM   #10
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Quote:
We're making sense here now. Like I said, I'm sure there's something I could have missed(slow synchro being something like that), but I indeed feel I've tried everything possible. There is a long shutter option, it's in menu on the very bottom, it lets you choose from the following wonderful options:

On Off

Isn't that dandy? Otherwise, I see no signs of shutter speed settings or priorities or any such anywhere else, and I really don't see a need for slow shutter speed on this camera when it is regardless of whether that option is on or off...
The slow sync mode is useful when you want to factor in the background as well... especially when the background is far away and can't be reached by the flash (ie a large dining hall or outdoor).

Try this outdoor in late afternoon sunset with slow sync ON with a subject up close. The foreground subject will be covered by the flash, but the camera will still meter for the semi dark background properly by using a slower shutter speed automatically! Of course if your sunset is turning into night then the shutter will be too long such as camera shake will occur (ie the need a tripod!)

Do it again with the slow sync OFF and the foreground subject will still be OK, but now the background is all blackened since the camera only needs to sync with a faster flash speed. How many times have you seen pictures of flash with bright faces and black background/surroundings? :P

A G3/G5 or even a Rebel/10D will do the same under similar circumstances... you just have more control of the background that's all, ie brighter or darker instead of setbautomatically by the camera (even though they can be done automatically too if left @ default just like the S200!)
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