Go Back   Steve's Digicams Forums > Digicam Help > Newbie Help

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old Apr 13, 2010, 8:11 PM   #1
Senior Member
 
penolta's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: California USA
Posts: 5,206
Default What if my new equipment doesn't work right?

There are (and have been) many discussions in our various forums regarding new cameras and lenses that do not meet expectations. What should you do if yours doesn't perform as you think it should?

First read the manual. No matter what your level of experience, the designers didn't consult you before sending their product to market, and they may have had different ideas about how things should function. Most problems are traceable to "operator error."

Second visit the forum that deals with your brand of camera be it P&S or DSLR (these will be in separate forums). Look over the posts and read those that deal with your model or performance issue, and don't hesitate to ask questions - the members and moderators in Steve's forums are friendlier and more helpful than those in some forums elsewhere, where newbies are not made to feel welcome. Like as not, someone will be able to solve any problems that remain for you.

Presumably you have read Steve's and other reviews before buying. These most often are helpful, but sometimes can be misleading. Defective equipment sometimes does get sent out. We always tend assume (or at least expect) that every piece of equipment will be exactly on spec. Remember that one camera body and/or one example of a lens used in a test may be subject to variations in construction or performance that are not typical of others - tolerances are acceptable within a range, and in one scenario a camera and lens may vary in opposite directions. For example, there may be some degree of back or front focus which could affect apparent sharpness (if the focus is only slightly off it would be noticeable only at wider apertures or longer focal lengths where DOF is shallowest, and not recognized as a consistent problem); if the body has minor front focus and the lens minor back focus, the combined errors may be significant. If a piece of equipment is obviously off spec, a magazine or website reviewer may (but does not always) request another sample from the manufacturer, but a user does not always have this option, short of going through the hassle of exchanging it for another. This is where discussions such as those in these forums can be valuable either in helping to spot defective purchased examples, or to avoid unnecessary returns. Some users on these forums have had to exchange two or even three lenses before getting a "good" example (or, and I suspect with telephotos as in the above scenario, a matching focus variation), but have been willing to do so because of other users' favorable experiences.

So don't throw up your hands in frustration assuming a defect and rush to return a camera or lens (or even look for another model or brand) until you have exhausted your options for determining if you really do have a problem on your hands, or else have made a selection that really doesn't meet your needs.
__________________
.
.
If life brings you lemons, you can make lemonade.

Last edited by penolta; Apr 13, 2010 at 10:37 PM.
penolta is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Old Apr 13, 2010, 8:51 PM   #2
Senior Member
 
mtclimber's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Oregon, USA
Posts: 18,143
Default

That is a very important posting, Penolta-

Thanks for a very well written post. It should have a "stickie" applied to it
.

Sarah Joyce
mtclimber is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Apr 13, 2010, 9:13 PM   #3
Administrator
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Savannah, GA (USA)
Posts: 22,378
Default

We are probably going to see more and more new dSLR owners as time passes (given price drops for them over the past few years), and someone accustomed to a point and shoot model may not realize some of the differences (especially where depth of field is concerned and the need to be more careful of your focus point). So, I'll make a few comments towards users that are just buying their first one:

In addition to differences in depth of field, you also have very different image processing with many dSLR models as compared to most point and shoot models.

By default, you'll usually have lower levels of sharpening, contrast, and saturation to maximize "real" retained detail. Some users confuse perceived sharpness and real detail. You can increase sharpening, contrast and saturation in most cameras if you want a "punchier" image straight from the camera. Or, use an editor to sharpen them and add contrast instead. But, increasing sharpness is mostly an optical illusion that works by increasing contrast at edge transitions (which can destroy real detail if set too high).

Likewise, bumping up your Contrast settings can reduce Dynamic Range, resulting in loss of detail in shadow and highlights (because it makes brighter areas brighter and darker areas darker). Also, you can more easily blow individual color channels by bumping up your Saturation settings too high.

So, you'll find that most dSLR models use a more conservative approach to image processing compared to point and shoot models. Increase some of the defaults for Contrast, Saturation and Sharpening if you want a punchier image; or use an editor for more controlled results (so that you can vary the processing as needed for an individual image, taking viewing/print size into consideration, as you may want different levels of sharpening for different viewing/print sizes).

If you're trying to judge quality by how an image looks at 100% viewing size, without taking processing differences into consideration (which can take a trained eye with an understanding of the conditions and settings used for a specific photo and how the result may be effected), my advise is don't. Compare them at the size you're going to use more often. For example, compare an 8x10" print from camera A with an 8x10" print from camera B, especially with cameras that have different resolutions (so that you're not comparing smaller versus larger images when trying to view them at 100% on screen). Then, tweak camera settings or post process to suit your preferences. Also, if you're not comparing images taken in the same conditions, with the same camera settings, same subjects, similar lenses, optical zoom settings and more, you can easily jump to the wrong conclusions about a given camera model.

This article by Petteri Sulonen makes a good read if you're a new dSLR owner.

Don't Be A Bozo

Then, after you've followed the advise in the article and you still think it's the camera, start a new thread in one of our dSLR forums with a downsized sample (or link to a larger photo stored elsewhere) if you want some comments on what you're getting from your new dSLR with a given lens and camera settings.

Chances are, it's something you can change to improve it (for example, you're stopping down the aperture too much resulting in softer photos from diffraction limitations, or seeing blur from shutter speeds that are too slow, or you have problems with lighting, other camera settings, etc. There are many reasons photos may not look like you want them to. Usually, it's not the camera.
JimC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Apr 13, 2010, 9:44 PM   #4
Administrator
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Savannah, GA (USA)
Posts: 22,378
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by mtclimber View Post
That is a very important posting, Penolta-

Thanks for a very well written post. It should have a "stickie" applied to it
.

Sarah Joyce
Done.
JimC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Apr 13, 2010, 10:30 PM   #5
Senior Member
 
penolta's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: California USA
Posts: 5,206
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by mtclimber View Post
That is a very important posting, Penolta-

Thanks for a very well written post. It should have a "stickie" applied to it
.

Sarah Joyce
Thank you, Sarah. Coming from you, that is a complement, as is Jim's sticking it at the top.
__________________
.
.
If life brings you lemons, you can make lemonade.

Last edited by penolta; Apr 13, 2010 at 10:38 PM.
penolta is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jul 22, 2010, 8:55 PM   #6
Junior Member
 
lgbtrain's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: North Carolina, USA
Posts: 28
Default

What is a "sticky"?
Thanks,
Terry

Quote:
Originally Posted by JimC View Post
Done.
lgbtrain is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jul 22, 2010, 10:11 PM   #7
Senior Member
 
penolta's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: California USA
Posts: 5,206
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by lgbtrain View Post
What is a "sticky"?
Thanks,
Terry
It is a permanent thread that "sticks" at the top of the list and doesn't move down when newer threads are added below it. That way it doesn't get buried and is always where it can be noticed.
__________________
.
.
If life brings you lemons, you can make lemonade.

Last edited by penolta; Jul 23, 2010 at 1:25 PM.
penolta is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jul 22, 2010, 10:33 PM   #8
Senior Member
 
BillDrew's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Hay River Township, WI
Posts: 2,512
Default

Well done.
Quote:
Originally Posted by penolta View Post
...
Most problems are traceable to "operator error.
...
Is there a photographic equivalent to the computer help line problem diagonostic of PEBCAK?

(Problem Exists Between Chair And Keyboard)
BillDrew is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jul 26, 2010, 7:17 PM   #9
Junior Member
 
lgbtrain's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: North Carolina, USA
Posts: 28
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by penolta View Post
It is a permanent thread that "sticks" at the top of the list and doesn't move down when newer threads are added below it. That way it doesn't get buried and is always where it can be noticed.

Thanks for the info.
Terry
lgbtrain is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jul 26, 2010, 8:07 PM   #10
Senior Member
 
dr_spock's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 879
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by BillDrew View Post
Well done.


Is there a photographic equivalent to the computer help line problem diagonostic of PEBCAK?

(Problem Exists Between Chair And Keyboard)
I'm in IT support and we call it an I/O error. (Idiotic Operator).

Since digital cameras are basically a dedicated computer that does I/O--input (light) / output (image file), I/O error can apply.
dr_spock is offline   Reply With Quote
 
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 6:44 PM.