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Old Jan 17, 2011, 6:05 PM   #11
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Here I've done much the same as Frank, again using IrfanView. Looking at the EXIF on the 1st photo the aperture was not closed down to best performance & the ISO was 100. You might find that bumping the ISO up to 200 or 400 might actually give better results as the lens can be stopped down to near optimal. Even with the 50 in the second photo f/2.5 might not be were it's happiest (f/4).

Based on what I did with IrfanView (increase saturation, contrast, and sharpness) you might want to bump up those settings in camera if you don't want to post process.

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Old Jan 17, 2011, 8:21 PM   #12
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Based on what I am seeing, and opening your pics in Image Analyzer, I would say that (with these photos, anyway) you need to be using the camera's autfocus, rather than trying to focus manually. The viewfinder on this camera is smaller than a 35mm film SLR, and not disposed as well to manual focus. (this is true of all the crop cameras)
If you insist on focusing manually, try one of the split prism type focus screens, such as a Katzeye.

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Old Jan 17, 2011, 9:30 PM   #13
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stopping down to 5.6 and bumping up our iso might give you better dr and sharpness. The focus is off, I would really use the AF instead. The xsi does not let you change focus screens easily like the 40d, 50d, or 60d. So you might want to think twice about the split prism screen if you don't have the time to break out the tools to swap it. It will affect your AF when you want to use it.
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Old Jan 17, 2011, 10:17 PM   #14
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Thanks for the comments folks. Appreciate it. I tried using just the AF tonight for a series of shots and found it a bit better than the manual focus.
What this boils down to is using the camera alot more and experimenting with different settings.
One more question: How much influence does the brand and type of card you use have on the quality of your shots.
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Old Jan 17, 2011, 10:22 PM   #15
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nada, just get a reliable one, so you don't loose any of the shots you took.
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Old Jan 17, 2011, 10:49 PM   #16
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If you are taking pics just in jpeg, then adjusting sharpness and contrast settings up will probably help some. If shooting Raw, then you can easily make the changes in your Raw developing s/w.

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Old Jan 18, 2011, 2:14 AM   #17
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Modern DSLR cameras are optimised for AF. At anything less than pro level the viewfinders are much too small and dim for accurate MF, also the lenses are all optimised for fast AF, which means that they are incredibly hard to focus manually.

If you are using MF I would strongly recommend using the live view feature and zooming in to 5x or 10x. Also you would do best to use MF lenses like the Zeiss ZE mount lenses.

For 99% of people in 99% of situations the camera AF will outperform the operator's MF. I gave up even trying to beat it long ago. On a tripod, with live view - okay, otherwise forget it.

Also - are those images you posted crops or resized? The problem could very easily be with the software you are using. Poor software will mess up your images when it resizes them, and if those are 100% crops then you are not comparing to your film days unless you were in the habit of looking at your prints under a 25x loupe or printing 35mm frames to poster size.

How are you viewing/printing your images?
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Old Jan 19, 2011, 6:23 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peripatetic View Post
Modern DSLR cameras are optimised for AF. At anything less than pro level the viewfinders are much too small and dim for accurate MF, also the lenses are all optimised for fast AF, which means that they are incredibly hard to focus manually.

If you are using MF I would strongly recommend using the live view feature and zooming in to 5x or 10x. Also you would do best to use MF lenses like the Zeiss ZE mount lenses.

For 99% of people in 99% of situations the camera AF will outperform the operator's MF. I gave up even trying to beat it long ago. On a tripod, with live view - okay, otherwise forget it.

Also - are those images you posted crops or resized? The problem could very easily be with the software you are using. Poor software will mess up your images when it resizes them, and if those are 100% crops then you are not comparing to your film days unless you were in the habit of looking at your prints under a 25x loupe or printing 35mm frames to poster size.

How are you viewing/printing your images?
I am viewing them in Adobe Photoshop or Microsoft Office Picture manager
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Old Jan 20, 2011, 8:21 PM   #19
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As a new guy to digital world, I thank you all for your comments. I will probably start looking for a better quality general purpose lens. I will hold on to the nifty fifty and look for zoom that goes up to at least 250 mm. I think about the most I will be able to spend is $400.00. Not a lot of money whne it comes to good lenses. Any hints on what to buy.
Thanks in advance
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Old Jan 20, 2011, 8:31 PM   #20
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adorama, bh, amazon are all good shops on line.

ef-s 55-250mm is a very sharp lens for a bargain price of 250, I would go with this over the sigma or tamron non IS lenses without a second thought if low price is important. Though it is a bit more expensive then the other 2.

ef 70-300 IS USM is about 450 dollars with a faster AF and longer reach.

Tamron 70-300 VC USD is another good one for about 400 in the same class as the canon ef 70-300 IS USM.
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