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Old Mar 21, 2007, 6:29 PM   #1
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My Kodak Z612, after being indispensably awsome for about 9 months, has started taking predominantly blurry pictures. I didn't change any settings, haven't dropped it, it's just... stopped cooperating.

The few times it does come up with a somewhat acceptable picture are in outdoor light, no telephoto, and even then the shots are no longer sharp and detailed. The further we deviate from that standard, by taking it inside, with or without flash, or use any telephoto, the shots get blurrier and blurrier.

I've done some research on settings and possible issues, and taken pictures across a plethora of settings - Normal, Macro or Infinity AF; single vs. continuous AF; ]image stabilization (set to on); even reset the camera,and nothing resolved the issue.

Could it be that the image stabilizer function - which IS set to "on" - is maybe no longer working?

I've attached a typical blurry picture taken since the problem - taken indoors, in high, arena lighting, without flash. Camera was set to Auto, Continuous AF. I've cropped and resized it down from 3MP to 640x480 in photoshop but otherwise not altered it.
While the camera is still under warranty, I highly doubt I can find the receipt - painful lesson learned.

Any ideas would be welcome!

Jeri

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Old Mar 21, 2007, 8:53 PM   #2
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I just looked at the exif data, f3.6, 1/8 sec. shutter, 128.5 equiv. focal length. What you looking at is motion blur. For motionless subjects you need a shutter speed of 1/125thsec. minus the stabilization factor of two stop which yields a minimum shutter speed of 1/30th sec. You're two stops slower than that. The absolute give away that motion blur is the problem in this photo is the reflection of the light in the dog's which zig-zags all around. I also suspect the dog was not perfectly still.

The exif viewerI'm using at this moment doesn't show the ISO you were using, I'll check when I get home) but if you were using the default ISO of 80 you need to kick it up to 400 when shooting in these conditions which would get you at least 1/30th sec. shutter speed.

Based on the size of the dog in the image you may have also needed to be in macro mode. I can't tell with this data viewer whether you were or not.

If you have a fuzzy shot of some object that was for sure motionless (statue, wall, etc.) you might want to post that as well.
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Old Mar 22, 2007, 9:54 AM   #3
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Agree, that shutter speed is very slow. If you see anything, regardless of the focal length under 1/100th you're getting into blur range. It's kind of personal but I view everything slower to be a crapshoot, you might get it but you might not. I couldn't get 1 in 1000 pictures @ 1/8 to be sharp :-)(I think once....just once...I gota clear shot @ 1/25th).

Anyway..........

It might be the IS, you've been relying on it & now it's not working = you're not getting the same results. It could also be the AF. Some tests -

#1 - Outside in bright sunlight take a picture of a stationary object. Get at least a shutter speed of 1/400th & make sure the object is in focus range (not infinity).......picture clear? AF is working.

#2 - Take a picture of the same object in moderate light (near dusk or dawn). Get a shutter speed less than the focal length. Something around 1/80th to 1/40th. Take a few shots.......picture clear? IS is likely working.
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Old Mar 22, 2007, 3:41 PM   #4
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I've now taken a look at the exif data with a better viewer and the actual equivalent focal length is 154mm moving the rule-of-thumb minimum shutter speed up about 1/3d stop to 1/38th sec. The rule of thumb assumes a truly stationary subject which the dog probably was not.

The other factor that may be affecting this particular photo is focus. At 154mm focal length the minimum focusing distance will be about 28.3" (2.36') in normal mode. Judging from the size of the dog's head in the photo you may well have been closer than camera will focus in normal mode at that focal length. If you can remember the details of that shot you can judge whether that was the case or not.

While I would still like to see another blurry photo to see how many of these same factors are present I think you should do the formal tests suggested by Bailey59 and post the results.
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Old Mar 22, 2007, 3:58 PM   #5
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Bright sunlight? I live in SEATTLE.

I may be able to find one from archives that meets those criteria though. Thanks much for the analysis. I have a lot to learn!
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Old Mar 22, 2007, 4:38 PM   #6
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If you can get to "hazy bright" you should be able to do the test shots Bailey59 suggested. You really need to follow his test protocol but can get away with a little less than bright sunlight.

As far as another blurry picture that I asked for, out of your archives is fine.
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Old Mar 22, 2007, 6:32 PM   #7
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Here's a less blurry - but still not sharp - pic I took of non-moving items. Sadly, this is about as good as it gets now with this camera.

I DLed a Firefox plugin exif viewer - I didn't know such things existed - very, very cool!


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Old Mar 22, 2007, 9:53 PM   #8
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This exposure: aperture f2.8, shutter 1/320, ISO 80, focal length 35mm equiv.

This photo does appear a bit soft to me, I'd like some other Z612 users or users of other Kodak super-zooms to jump in on this.The shutter speed and wide-angle focal length probably rules out camera shake as a contributer. The aperture is f2.8 which is wide open and probably less than optimal. Most lenses clean up considerably at one stop down from wide-open and are closing in on optimal at 2 stops down.

It appears to me that the focal plane was near front edge of the triangular box and back corner was getting to the outer limits of the depth of field which contributes some to the softness.

I applied the IrfanView sharpening filter and it increased the appearance of sharpness in the picture (without adding any detail of course.) When I did this with Steve's wide angle test shot (shot at f4) it had no apparent effect.

If you're really sure it was taking better pictures whenthe camerawas new (and especially if you have a shot similar to this taken in that time frame) it might be appropriate to contact Kodak. They can probably get an idea about the warranty by the serial number.

The dog photo was clearly one that nobody could reasonably expect to be sharp. This one is so much closer that I'm much less sure what reasonable expectation should be so I hope others will jump in to help. I also would still recommend doing Bailey59's test sequence.

Maybe RonBaird can jump into this thread.
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Old Mar 22, 2007, 11:19 PM   #9
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At 2.8mm, this really narrows the depth of field and where you focus becomes more important.

You might want to remember what the AF setting was and if you composed the camera with the camera center lower than when you took the shot. If you half-pressed the shutter to fix the focus then moved the camera to change the composition, this could have an effect on clarity in certain areas of the photo.

Try a high f-stop setting in good sunlight to increase the depth of field. Half press the shutter release and remember where the focusing guide is. Take the shot and then view the photo on your computer and check if the area where the focus guide was is sharp or not.

Gary
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Old Mar 23, 2007, 1:09 AM   #10
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Those all sound like excellent testing protocols. Unfortunately, there is no sunshine - only rain, rain, rain - predicted any time in the next week.

I'm not in a huge hurry, and will try the tests suggested whenwe do see the sun again! Please be patient with me on those test results, and thanks again for the help.
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