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Old Oct 26, 2007, 8:34 PM   #11
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Money is a key issue. I don't have the several tens of thousand of dollars needed to get a really good set of lenses.

Even without hammering to hard on the quality of lenses, fast (low f/numbers) and long (high mm number) lenses that are better than the bottom of an old Coke bottle are never cheap. If you don't have the length and speed in the lens to get a shot, no amount of after-the-fact processing will save you. You might be able to dig out a noisy image extreeme crop image, but that will be a much less convincing picture of Big Foot than if it was taken with a long & fast lens.

Beejygirl: I'd suggest looking for a 50mm lens for your Cannon. With most SLRs, there is a 50mm len, f/2 or a bit better, for about $100. That will give you a feel for the quality of a pretty good lens without getting yelled at by your bank manager.

If you haven't already discovered it, I have one strong recomendation about trial/shareware programs: don't download it until you have the time to work with it. Almost all of them have a fairly short trial time, typically 15 days to 2 months. Once that time runs out, you cannot easily restart it.

Keep on "playing" with your camera. Pay more attention to that play than you do to the ranting/babbling/shouting/learned dissusions/... that you find on the web.




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Old Oct 26, 2007, 9:28 PM   #12
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peripatetic wrote:
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Consider for example two lenses, one has more distortion, CA and vignetting but the two are of similar sharpness, focal length and speed. If you make the output look essentially identical with no adverse effect on your workflow then why choose the more expensive combination?
Although you did not explicitly say so, I'll presume that, in your scenario, the 'more expensive combination' is the lens that has less distortion, chromatic aberration and vignetting.

First, depending on the type and magnitude of the flaws in the less expensive lens, the better lens will probably work better with the camera (autofocus speed and accuracy, autoexposure speed and accuracy, etc.) So before you even get to post processing, the less expensivelens will have had an adverse effect on your workflow.

Second, if you have to do something in post processing to correct for flaws in a less expensive lens that you wouldn't have to do for the more expensive lens, however simple and automatic it might be, the less expensive lens will have had an adverse effect on your workflow.

So there is no way that a lesser lens would not have an adverse effect on your workflow, however miraculous the software.

Now, if you already have a lens that works well in most situations, but under certain circumstances it exhibits flaws, software that can correct or even just lessen the impact of those flaws would probably be a worthwhile investment. But the OP wants to know if she should spend money on a good lens, or on a lesser lens and software to improve the images she might create with it. I say she should spend the money on the better lens.
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Old Oct 26, 2007, 10:00 PM   #13
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Learning to use editing software is not a bad idea for anyone involved in digital photography. If you think you may want to do it even semi-professionally, you will find it to be a necessity.What software you select depends on how serious you plan to get. Some venues, such as magazines and ad agencies will probably insist on Photoshop, not because other s/w can't do the job, but because that is the standard, and is what people in these businesses know.

Software + mediocre lens can equal excellent lens w/o software, at least in many cases, but won't equal excellent lens + software. If you cannot afford (like so many of us) really excellent lenses, you won't suffer too much if you can do the compensations with s/w. It isn't automatic, though, and you will have to spend some time learning how to make the adjustments.

An interesting and useful program for those who shoot RAW, is RAW Therapee. It has built-in CA compensation, sharpening, and other functions, and the ability to save the profile, so you could create a custom function for each lens/camera combination, or, for zoom lenses, for various focal lengths of the lens. It is still in development, though. (free, or you can donate to the author).

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Old Oct 27, 2007, 4:05 AM   #14
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I suppose it all depends on what it is you want. If you're trying to get the absolute highest quality captures possible, getting it right when you shoot it is always the best option. However, this doesn't just depend on the lens. Often times stopping down a cheaper lens will get results as good as what a more expensive lens is capable of, you just need more light to do so effectively. Using a tripod and/or a flash can also enhance the quality of your original shots.

But then there's the issue of what you want to do with the finished photo. If you're just trying to get nice sports captures then you most likely don't need to alter the look of the photo as long as it came out sharp. On the other hand, if you want to get artsy with your photos and try different filters and effects, a lens alone isn't going to help. Sometimes no matter how good your photo equipment is, there just isn't any way to capture a scene the way you see it.

Here's a before and after example of what I'm talking about. This was a shot I took at Watkin's Glen. The captures came out decent, but the dull lighting made for some bland, washed out looking colors. Just turning up the contrast and saturation was not going to cut it. It took a good deal of manipulation to get it to look how I remembered it:











Here's one more example. In this instance not only did I want to tweak the colors, but there were areas of the photo that came out nearly black. I wanted to be able to see the detail in those areas so I had to manually dodge it to brighten up those specific areas:








I consider photo editing software an integral part of the complete photography package. To me trading the editing software for a better lens is like trading all your wrenches for a really nice screwdriver. While it may make some jobs a bit easier, it makes a ton of other jobs impossible.
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Old Oct 27, 2007, 4:16 AM   #15
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Many, many thanks for your replies. I really appreciate them.

I'm also glad that my suspicions about software vs lenses bore out. I've enough to be doing getting to grips with learning about my camera let alone working out how best to improve them with complicated software!!

I work with pro photographers (newspaper photographers) and they use software - but more to crop and adjust basic things (eg framing, exposure etc) rather than playing with layers. After all - their photos don't get blown up to A1 size!

At the moment I'm looking at replacing my 18-55 kit lens. No matter what I did on holiday (great light, stopping down etc) I just didn't get the pin-sharpness I was after. Even compared to my dad's camera (Sony A100) with his kit lens the pics were disappointing. And compared to dad's old OM10 film camera that I hadtried before I made the decision to go SLR rather than P&S they are woeful!

Better get off and read the reviews, I'm rather tempted by Sigma's 17-70mm at the moment - seems to have better reviews than the Canon 17-85 IS....or do I go with the 18-50mm f2.8 macro...I think that's another thread:evil:

Again, many many thanks.
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Old Oct 27, 2007, 2:35 PM   #16
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Beejygirl wrote:
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At the moment I'm looking at replacing my 18-55 kit lens. No matter what I did on holiday (great light, stopping down etc) I just didn't get the pin-sharpness I was after. Even compared to my dad's camera (Sony A100) with his kit lens the pics were disappointing. And compared to dad's old OM10 film camera that I hadtried before I made the decision to go SLR rather than P&S they are woeful!

Better get off and read the reviews, I'm rather tempted by Sigma's 17-70mm at the moment - seems to have better reviews than the Canon 17-85 IS....or do I go with the 18-50mm f2.8 macro...I think that's another thread:evil:
While I am not familiar with Canon cameras, I have seen many very good photos taken with that camera and kit lens. There are in-camera adjustments for contrast and sharpness which could make quite a bit of difference.

What size are you printing, or viewing your pictures? Is your lens and sensor clean? There are quite a number of things to look to before blaming the lens. If you really suspect the lens, try to find someone with another Canon who will let you swap lenses for a trial. It is possible to get a bad instance of a good lens.

The folks in the Canon SLR forum are likely to be your best resource for assistance.

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Old Oct 28, 2007, 6:22 AM   #17
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Editing need not be complicated or expensive. As some have mentioned there are freeware programs out there that work well, and most other entry level programs are under $100 and have auto functions that require only a click or two and do a decent job.

I think software is almost a necessity, and I have rarely seen an image that wouldn't benefit from some post processing. Even before digital, all your prints went through some adjustment and color balancing at the lab, (even the 1 hour photo). You just didn't have to worry about doing it yourself. The average person I think can see where an image has benefited from from being color/levels corrected in prints, whereas differences between lenses are even smaller and less noticeable, unless you're shooting with complete bottom end lenses.

As has been mentioned, I vote for the best combination you can afford.
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