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Old Dec 4, 2003, 10:15 PM   #1
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Default Is Canon s400 right for me? Your opinions needed!

First of all, I've been reading through your posts and I have to say I am a camera MORON. You guys are using lingo that I don't even know! Anyway, I have an olympus d-510 2.1 MP camera. I'm just not satisfied with my 5 X 7 or 8 X 10 prints (obviously). They are "grainy" and unnatural looking. I am a stay at home mom and I love photographing my children. I would like to get prints as close as possible to 35mm (color & clarity, as well as the actual "feel" of the paper). How is this achieved? Is it mp? Printers? Paper? Editing software? A combination of all this and more?

I bought a new canon i960 printer today. I did print out some 5 X 7's at the highest resolution of this camera (1600 X 1200, is that right?). While they are fine, they still don't look or feel like the 35 mm film prints (i used canon photo paper plus glossy). I have been thinking for quite some time about getting a new camera. I have read tons of online reviews and think the s400 is right up my alley. I don't need or want a lot of manual controls. One of the reasons I thought of this camera is the size. Even my olympus feels much too bulky in my pockets. I would welcome any other suggestions, though (budget of under $500, please). I will wait to hear from you guys until I go test them out at a local store. Mostly, I print out 4 X 6, 5 X 7, and sometimes 8 X 10. Right now, I have Microsoft Picture It for my editing software. Thanks in advance for taking the time to read this and respond.

Amy
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Old Dec 4, 2003, 10:37 PM   #2
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Default Re: Is Canon s400 right for me? Your opinions needed!

Quote:
Originally Posted by amytude
Anyway, I have an olympus d-510 2.1 MP camera. I'm just not satisfied with my 5 X 7 or 8 X 10 prints (obviously). They are "grainy" and unnatural looking.
Chances are, you're just seeing some noise in your photos. Take a look at this thread titled "Pictures are grainy and unnatural". Sound familiar?

http://www.stevesforums.com/phpBB2/v...ic.php?t=17594

I'll repeat part of my response here (with the lens section edited slighty for your Olympus). BTW, make sure you're shooting in a better quality JPEG compression mode with your camera (SHQ is the best, without using TIFF). Also, if you edit an image, make sure you are saving it in the highest quality, too (and each time a JPEG image is edited and saved, you degrade quality some, so keep editing steps to a minimum).

Here is part of my previous post (see above link):

Most cameras automatically adjust ISO speed indoors.

This increases the senstivity of the CCD sensor, but the downside is more noise (similiar to film grain using higher ASA Film).

Some suggestions:

* Set your Camera to ISO 100

* Make sure your subjects are within the flash range of your camera. This is most important, to insure adequate illumination to prevent noise.

* Shoot at wide angle. If you look at the flash range of your camera, it's range is far less using zoom. The lens on your camera is rated at F2.8/F4.4. This is typical for a compact digital camera. Basically, the lens is more than twice as bright at wide angle, versus full zoom.

As a result, the camera is probably increasing ISO speed to insure faster shutter speeds are used to prevent blur when you use zoom.

This causes noise, which is the grainy appearance you can see in photos. Noise is much more obvious in underexposed areas of a photo, too.
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Old Dec 4, 2003, 10:42 PM   #3
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To answer your original question, the Canon S400 is a fine little camera (keeping in mind, that a subcompact model does have it's drawbacks -- for example: flash range). However, I don't think your problem is related to resolution. It sounds like noise!

If you have a way to post some sample images online, we can take a look, and let you know what's probably wrong.
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Old Dec 5, 2003, 12:12 PM   #4
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Default how do I save to highest quality?

Jim,
Thanks for your tips. I'm now more confused than ever...lol. Really though, when in Microsoft picture it, I just save as a jpeg file. Is this OK? Also, I was using the "HQ" not the "SHQ", so I will try that. I just use the SQ to email my family pics. Thanks...

Amy
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Old Dec 5, 2003, 1:05 PM   #5
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Amy:

I don't have a copy of Microsoft PictureIt on my PC. The closest thing I've got is an older version of Microsoft Photo Editor.

It probably works in about the same way when saving photos.

If you use the "File, Save As" menu choices, you should see a "more" button underneath the file name and file type. If not, there should be a similiar button (perhaps labeled advanced, or some other way to get to the JPEG Quality options).

Image editing packages also let you select the quality (compression used), when saving a file.

If you use too much compression, this results in loss of detail, color, and unwanted image artifacts; and can really make your photos look bad at larger print sizes.

That's why for the best quality, you'll want to use SHQ, instead of HQ.

Looking at the specs for your camera, it appears that you can get about 3 times as many photos in the same memory card space in HQ, versus SHQ. There is a reason for that. The smaller files used in HQ mode are more compressed. JPEG is a "lossy" file format format.

The more compression used, the less color range, and detail you'll have, and it can introduce unwanted "digital junk" (a.k.a. artifacts) into an image.

Chances are, the HQ mode is good enough for most prints, though. It sounds like your main problem is noise (as I explained in my first post).

Although, you do have to be careful about editing images, to make sure you aren't compressing files (that were already pretty compressed to begin with), since this results in even more loss of detail and color.

I'd advise always saving a copy of the original photo, too (never save over it). Then, if you do need to edit it, make sure you do all of your editing steps at once, and use the Save As menu choice, giving it a new name.

Each time you edit a photo, you reduce the quality (especially if you aren't careful to use a high quality JPEG Compression when saving it).

Again, you should see a JPEG Quality "slide bar" in your Microsoft software, when you press a "more" button from the screen that pops up when you use the "Save As" menu choice. Although I don't have your exact software, this is the way Microsoft has implemented it in the past (so it should be similiar).

I'd suggest posting some of the full size images for us to look at. That way, we could see if the grain you are mentioning is noise (I strongly suspect that this is your main problem).

If you don't have a way to do this, I'd suggest opening a trial account at http://www.pbase.com

You'll be limited to 10mb of storage, and a 30 free trial. But, this will allow us to look at your full size original images, to let you know what we think is wrong.

You can create an album, then upload a full sized photo or two (that you see the grain in), and then give us a link to the album page (by simply copying the information shown in your browser's address bar when you're on your album page, and pasting it into the forum here).

You'll see a Create Your Account link on the pbase.com main page. Simply follow the instructions.

It will automatically use your selected username as part of the link to the album. For example: my username on pbase.com is jcockfield (short for Jim Cockfield).

So, the link to my main pbase.com album page becomes http://www.pbase.com/jcockfield

Then, I have a few individual albums under it. When you create a new album folllowing the menus, it creates new subdirectories. For example: I created an album called konica_kd510z

So, the link to it is now http://www.pbase.com/jcockfield/konica_kd510z

It's really pretty easy to do -- you just have to follow the instructions, and fill in the blanks.

But, I'm pretty sure your primary problem is only noise (as in the thread I gave you the link to in my first response). Your secondary problem is likely overly compressed images. To be sure, I'd need to look at some photos.

Or, you could simply follow the suggestions, and see if your problem is eliminated (as the other poster did, in the other thread, discovering that his problem went away after setting his camera to ISO 100).
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Old Dec 5, 2003, 1:18 PM   #6
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P.S.

To get a better idea of the quality your camera is capable of (with the right settings for the conditions you'll use it in, and desired print sizes), download and print one of the images from it's review here at steves-digicams.com

Here is the sample images page (note that Steve took all photos in SHQ mode):

http://www.steves-digicams.com/2001_...0_samples.html

To get to the full size image, click on a smaller one. Then, you can download the original by "right clicking" on the full size image, and selecting "save as", giving it a file name on your local PC.

Although, the flash photos do appear to be at ISO 200 (which will have more noise). Again, this is something you can set to a lower value in the camera (with a slight decrease in flash range as a result, but with less noise for larger prints).

The photos in good light should be at ISO 100. I'd download and print one of those to better judge the quality the camera/printer combination is capable of.
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Old Dec 5, 2003, 3:10 PM   #7
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Jim,
Thanks again. OK, I figured out why most of my past photos look none too great. I thought I took them in "hq", but really most everything was "sq". I also looked up my editing software and there is a button for options. I can click on it and it gives me a level from 1-100 for jpeg compression? It defaults at 10 and I changed it to 1, so that should help. I also set my iso at 100, although the problem with this camera is that I have to do this each and every time I turn it on. I read the manual and it appears that I can't "set" these preferences (i.e., SHQ, ISO 100, etc.). If I have time this weekend, (HA!) I'll try to take some pics and post them. You can give me feedback if you have time.

Also, another problem I'm having is shutter speed (I don't know if that's the right terminology or not). I'd love to take several photographs in a row, but it takes several seconds before I can take another one. Is this a problem of all digital cameras? Again, I appreciate all the help you've given me so far. Thanks.

Amy
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Old Dec 5, 2003, 3:15 PM   #8
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Default LOL..someone posted on a question I just asked you! n/t

n/t
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Old Dec 5, 2003, 3:56 PM   #9
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Amy:

Yes, shooting in SQ mode would definitely be a BIG problem at the larger print sizes you're attempting.

You'll want to make sure you're shooting in 1600x1200 resolution using HQ, or SHQ (for best quality JPEG's). I'd try it both ways. You may be happy enough with 1600x1200 resolution at HQ (which will take up less memory card space).

Also, keep in mind that you will not have any room for cropping your photo, if you still want to print larger prints (you'll need the full 1600x1200 resolution for good 8x10's). When you crop a photo (removing the outside, and leaving the middle), you reduce the resolution of the photo. I don't know what kind of editing you are doing, but for larger prints, don't crop a 1600 x 1200 image.

As far as ISO settings, I'd need to look at your images to see if any noise was compounding your problems. Judging from the ISO 200 flash shot in Steve's samples, it's relatively clean (but I'd have to see what your photos looked like to be sure you don't have a noise issue, too). Chances are, it was only the image resolution selected (you really need 1600x1200 minimum for the print sizes you were trying).

To answer your questions about cycle times. Yes, most Digital Cameras do take some time to write the photo you've just taken to the memory card, before you can take another one.

Some cameras are faster than others.

Your Olympus D-510z is actually pretty good. From what I've found, it's autofocus lag is well under a second (faster than most); and it's shot to shot time is 2 seconds.

This is very good for this class of camera. The Canon you are considering will most likely be slightly slower in the autofocus lag department (time it takes the camera to focus when you press the shutter button), and about the same in the cycle times (time between photos). Although, the Canon does offer some faster "continuous mode" options.

However, for indoor shooting, you must wait for the flash to recharge between flash photos, so this slows all of them down some.

The Canon would give you a higher resolution photo (which will look a little better at 8x10" size), as well as some room for cropping.

In any event, I'd see how it works in higher resolution modes first (which was definitely your biggest problem), before rushing out to buy a new camera.

Keep us posted on your results!
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Old Dec 5, 2003, 5:47 PM   #10
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Amytude,
JimC gave you very good advices. I have only two small tinghs to add.
I use for editing my images Paint Shop Pro V8. This software has a very good feature called "Enanche photo". It is easy to use and give good results in most of the situations. In addition you can use NeatImage program to rmove the noise.
Finally try to print your photo ata a online laboratory where you can send your photo directli via internet. They print on photografic paper like Kodak and the result is better than a inkjet print and more durable in the time.
However the Canon S400 is a very good camera.
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