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Old Sep 11, 2006, 1:07 PM   #1
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Hi everyone, i've had a passing interest in photography for years - it's always been an ongoing joke amongst family members etc how many pictures i take on holiday and things like that

Up until now, i have only used point and shoot cameras, primarily a Sony T-1 and T-9. I've just treated myself to an EOS350d, but i'm struggling to get results. I've read all the manual, plus posts and stuff on this site, but i struggle to get pictures anywhere near as good as with the Sony cams. Surely, even in full auto, the 350d should take better pics than my T-1? Yet it doesn't - my T-1 pics are much better all round than the 350d pics. What am i doing wrong?

When out of full auto, i struggle to know what effects my changes to the settings have on the pics until they're downloaded to my PC and it's too late to do anything about it. Even trying lots of different settings, i can't get pictures to match the quality of my pictures from the T-1 and T-9. However, i don't want to match the quality, i was expecting to beat it easily...

Does anyone have any pointers, or links to guides for beginners etc?

I enjoy photography and use my camera a lot, and i want to produce nice photo's - not run of the mill holiday snaps. I'm not expecting the best photo's in the world, just ones that i'm pleased with - and better than what i achieved with my point and shoot cameras!

Thanks

Gareth

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Old Sep 11, 2006, 1:43 PM   #2
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Gaz7 wrote:
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Hi everyone, i've had a passing interest in photography for years - it's always been an ongoing joke amongst family members etc how many pictures i take on holiday and things like that

Up until now, i have only used point and shoot cameras, primarily a Sony T-1 and T-9. I've just treated myself to an EOS350d, but i'm struggling to get results. I've read all the manual, plus posts and stuff on this site, but i struggle to get pictures anywhere near as good as with the Sony cams. Surely, even in full auto, the 350d should take better pics than my T-1? Yet it doesn't - my T-1 pics are much better all round than the 350d pics. What am i doing wrong?

When out of full auto, i struggle to know what effects my changes to the settings have on the pics until they're downloaded to my PC and it's too late to do anything about it. Even trying lots of different settings, i can't get pictures to match the quality of my pictures from the T-1 and T-9. However, i don't want to match the quality, i was expecting to beat it easily...

Does anyone have any pointers, or links to guides for beginners etc?

I enjoy photography and use my camera a lot, and i want to produce nice photo's - not run of the mill holiday snaps. I'm not expecting the best photo's in the world, just ones that i'm pleased with - and better than what i achieved with my point and shoot cameras!

Thanks

Gareth
Hey Gareth...how's Wayne!? (Sorry, Wayne's World joke...couldn't resist)

Any how, you say you shoot on "full auto". I'm not sure if you mean "Program AE" or not. I ask because with my camera, a Sony DSC-H1, shooting in it's "full Auto" mode tends to give the colors a slightly washed out look. In certain shots. But if I use "program AE" it's night and day. Colors return and are vibrant. Not sure why.

Plus, you can use "program shift" and do a little adjusting (e.g. of the aperture/shutter together).

I usually leave my camera in Program AE mode unless I want to get a little more creative. In which case i'd use aperture priority, shutter priority and later manual.

My interest in photography would also be descirbed as "passing". I used to shoot a bit in the 80's. Shooting with a Nikon FE SLR and a Nikkormat SLR. Then I lost interest. Didn't even pick up my first digital camera till this past June. So it's been a few years. But now I'm hooked. Almost never leave home without the camera. And will be picking up the odd book to give myself a good foundation (e.g. Understanding Exposure) and asking question on forums.

So far I've been very happy with the pictures I've gotten with my H1. Pictures are sharp and the colors vibrant. Just working on my "framing" and "composition" skills. An ongoing process (for most of us I should think). Trying to remember to make sure there isn't a hand at the edge of the frame for example (though, I have seen the "PROs" do that from time to time in magazines and newspapers). Novice mistakes like that. Not that it happens a lot mind you...

That's my 2 cents...

P.S. And I do plan on investing in a DSLR next. Maybe the replacement of the Canon 30D or EOS 1D Mark II-N.

As happy as I am with my H1 I already do see one of it's limitations. Which is it's ability to let me shoot "bukeh" pictures (infocus foreground/blurred backgrounds). Hard to do.
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Old Sep 11, 2006, 8:20 PM   #3
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Hi Gareth,

Going from a point and shoot to a DSLR is going to be amajor learning curve for you as it was me. Read your manual. Read your manual. Read your manual and when you are through with that read it again. You have the luxury of deleting what you don't like so go out and shoot, shoot, shoot and shoot some more. Keep notes. Read your EXIF data and study what you don't like and what you do like. Your EOS will give you fabulous results when you learn to use it. Post some photos (don't strip out the EXIF data) and open your mind to honest critiquing. Don't worry to much about what they look like as you are trying to learn how to do better. There are real artists on Steves and other forums that will give you great advice. Once you learn how to get photos you like then you can learn composition. Visit all the forums you canand see how othersaredoing it and last of all don't be afraid to ask questions. Probably the best advice will be form camera specific forums.

Good Luck!



Jim
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Old Sep 11, 2006, 11:11 PM   #4
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Most P&S digital cams are made (if we are going to be brutally honest here) to be "idiot proof". A DSLR is a totally different beast...you are expected to have some kind of photographic knowledge going in. They tend to NOT do the in-camera processing to the degree that a P&S will....no matter who makes it. It's like picking up a 35mm SLR with slide film in it...not much room for making mistakes, but tons more choices on how you make the image exactly the way you want it.

You have a good camera. I recommend getting the Magic Lantern book for your camera model. It not only tells you what each setting does, it tells you why (& how to make it work best for you). Also study the "how to" & "tutorial" sections of http://luminous-landscape.com and consider joining the photo.net community....tons of info on both sites, as well as the Canon DSLR Forum here.

A good photo editor is pretty much a must, as your computer has now become a "digital darkroom" (Photoshop is King but Paint Shop Pro X is excellent too, & a third of the price). Once you get the camera (& yourself) dialed in, you'll love it!
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Old Sep 11, 2006, 11:38 PM   #5
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Chances are, it's mostly you not understanding the differences in how a camera like this works. For example, you've have a much shallower depth of field at any given aperture and angle of view compared to a non-DSLR model. That's usually viewed as a good thing (since it can help subjects stand out from distracting subjects).

But, in some conditions, you may need to do things like use a smaller aperture if you want more of a scene in focus.

Some of it is probably processing differences. Most images from consumer models like the Sonys you used are very contrasty (and too much contrast can result in loss of detail in shadows and highlights).

Most DSLR models don't process an image as much, giving you more room for better results later using an editor for doing things like boosting contrast and sharpening.

In addition to the suggestions already made by others, I'll add a link to an article by Petteri Sulonen:

http://www.prime-junta.net/pont/Pontification/ba_Don't_Be_A_Bozo/a_Don't_Be_A_Bozo.html


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Old Sep 12, 2006, 12:24 AM   #6
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I'd have to disagree slightly with Kalypso's comment about how you're expected to have some degree of understanding when shooting with a DSLR. It's not like graduating from using a P&S film camera and picking up a SLR. Most mid to hi-end SLR's of yore were full manual. The odd model with one "auto" mode. So if you began shooting with a good SLR you would definitely need a good foundation.

But, with the DSLRs, they all come equiped with in-camera processing modes. From full-auto (never a good idea), to program AE, to shutter priority, to aperture priority to a full manual mode. Even the flaghisp models from Canon (1Ds Mark II) and Nikon (D2Xs). So, really, provided you have the funding you could pickup a EOS 1Ds to start with. Start shooting in Program AE mode and easy your way towards using the camera in Full Manual mode. Getting mostly acceptable results along the way.

It's just that going from a P&S to a 1Ds directly would be overkill for a novice. As it has features and abilities only an "experienced" user could appreciate. But again if one can foot the bill I say "...all the power to you!".

Any how, I wish you all the best in your quest to shoot those money shots. That's one of the things that makes this hobby so addictive and rewarding IMHO. So, keep shooting and one day you might surprise yourself and us. And find your pictures featured in the pages of National Geographic.


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Old Sep 12, 2006, 10:30 AM   #7
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Gaz7,
You talk about having problems in general, but we need specifics. There has been some good broad info in the answers, but many have had to guess as the solutions because we don't know the problems.

When you say "Better all around" what do you mean?
When you say "I can't get pictures to match the quality..." What do you mean?

Do you mean sharpness? Contrast? Saturation? Composition? Capturing that exciting moment?

What mode are you shooting in? If the problem is related to the settings above, the mode you are shooting in effects our answers.

It might also be helpful if you said what you like to photograph. But this might not matter.

If your problems have to do with sharpness, contrast, or saturation then there are settings within the camera that can change them. It was said that P&S cameras normally do more in these areas. At least in the area of sharpness it is harder to take out sharpness (And make it look good) than put it in. So they would rather you add as much sharpness as you want in your favorite editor (Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro, Picture Window,...) to the level that *that* picture demands, then have the camera add too much.

The comment about depth of field is also right. P&S cameras, at the same settings, have a larger depth of field (more of the image will be in focus, back to front) than with the DSLR. That is just the nature of the beast. So if you were getting the entire face of your son in focus before, but not are only getting the nose and eyes, then this is why. Its physics, and you can't defeat it. You can only work with it and decrease the aperture (smaller f-stop.)

Attaching a few example images would also help us. A picture is worth a thousand words, after all.

Eric
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Old Sep 12, 2006, 11:33 AM   #8
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eric s wrote:
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The comment about depth of field is also right. P&S cameras, at the same settings, have a larger depth of field (more of the image will be in focus, back to front) than with the DSLR. That is just the nature of the beast. So if you were getting the entire face of your son in focus before, but not are only getting the nose and eyes, then this is why. Its physics, and you can't defeat it. You can only work with it and decrease the aperture (smaller f-stop.)

Eric
Hey Eric,

That would probably explain why it's hard to get a bukeh image with my Sony DSC-H1. As it is essentially a P&S camera with some DSLR abilities. And is why I was told that I'd have to step back from the subject a bit more than I should to get somewhat of an infocus foreground and blurred backgrouind.

With a DSLR is it easy to get a bukeh shot? Is it as easy is settting the camera to lets say aperture priority mode and setting the camera to f2.8?

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Old Sep 12, 2006, 1:24 PM   #9
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First off - many thanks for everyone who has taken the time to reply. I shall try to go into detail and make things clearer.

First, i have used the camera 25% in full auto, and 75% in Program AE. In either of these modes, the pictures are less impressive than with my old, lowly T-1. The exposure is wrong, the sharpness is poor, and the depth of field is also poor.



First, the exposure:

Taking pictures of a white car, late afternoon, sun out but going down, car in the shade. The DSLR pics seem under-exposed, and the car has taken on a grey tint. i tried different white balances, but it didn't seem to make much of a difference. The same pics with the T-1 reproduce the colouring of the car much more faithfully.

Taking pictures of my friends car, in bright sunshine (dark blue car), and the pictures are over-exposed. A lot of the background is 'whited' out and indistinguishable. The blue sky looks mostly white. The car doesn't look like it's true colour. Even in bright sunshine, the T-1 does the pictures and keeps the blue sky plus the car's correct colouring.

Sharpness, focus and DOF:

The sharpness and focus has caught me out a few times. Trying to take pictures of my chocolate labrador, (with him sitting, in the centre of the view finder) the camera has decided to auto-focus on the floor behind him, blurring him out completely. I didn't notice this until downloading the pictures onto my PC - it didn't show up clearly on the LCD. I read with interest the comments made about DOF - this is something i have struggled with. Taking pictures of the cars with scenery in the background, the cars are in focus, but the short DOF means distant background isn't. Again, with the old T-1, everything is in focus. Is this effect achievable with the DSLR? It's great having a sharp car and a blurred background if this is what i'm after (and sometimes it will be), but if i want the background in focus too, can you do this? I'm concerned about my hassles with the AF, as taking pics of my dog is okay - i can redo them, but if i lose a picture whilst out because the camera has AF'ed in an odd place, i'd be pretty annoyed. I know it briefly flashes red where it is AF'ing, but once i'm outside in the daylight, i can no longer see this.

My main problems are:

Exposures seem poor, either over or under exposed.

Colouring seems off, not vibrant, and not true to life.

DOF seems really short

AF seems to pick out things i wouldn't expect it to focus on.



I hope with practice i can really pick the quality up - i've seen examples of what the camera can do. I was hoping to use it all the time - is it suitable for this? For example, last year i went on holiday to Boston, i was away for 8 days, and took 1,250 photo's with my T-1, and with very little effort, i'm really pleased with them. If each and every shot must have time spent composing it, can the 350d be used like this - for this level of intense photography? I hoped it would, but now i'm uncertain? I would like some time on holiday to actually look around lol. What happens if you want to take a picture in a hurry? Taking pictures of animals etc, they don't always wait around for you to compose the shot!

I have, and intend to use, Photoshop with the camera. This is okay for editing 'special' pictures, but i'm also looking to take nice photo's with the camera that i can save untouched. I simply wouldn't have the time to edit 1,250 holiday snaps! As with the cars pics, i take a lot, to make sure i have all the angles etc that i want, and i won't have time to edit all of them...

I would like to use this camera as my 'everything' camera - with practise, is this possible? I'd be disapointed to own this, but still have to use my T-1 etc for holiday shots.

Again, thanks for all your help so far, thanks in advance for any further help!

Gareth
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Old Sep 12, 2006, 1:29 PM   #10
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Also - thanks for the book recommendation - i have ordered one, as i'll be able to spend time at work reading this

Gareth
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