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Old Nov 24, 2004, 1:10 PM   #1
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Hi there,

I just recently bought a Canon S1 IS ( I needed a super-zoom for pictures of performers on stage at shows...had to settle for the 3.2 megapixels). At home, however, I tend to take more close up shots (we just got a new puppy, Ella, a mini dachshund) and I'm having a lot of trouble with the auto-focus on Macro, indoorpictures with I suppose what the camera reads as low light. I was wondering if anyone could give me some tips on manual adjustments I couldmake to the settings that might help sharpen my photos. I've lost some really beautiful shots of Ella and anyone who's had a puppy knows that the same shot doesn't often come around twice.

Thanks in advance,

usra

p.s. I've been thinking of returning the Canon and getting the Panasonic DMC- FZ20 instead, even though it more expensive. Would the focus issue be resolved if I did this?
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Old Nov 24, 2004, 9:08 PM   #2
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I just got my S1 IS recently so I can't give any solid tips... but one of S1's major flaws is its horrible focus problems in low-light. I think the Panasonic Lumix line (FZ series) performs better in low-light than the Canon S1 IS but I'm not sure how much better. You might want to read some reviews or ask someone how has tested both (not many of these people around)... although do keep in mind that the Panasonic has an AF-assist lamp (if I'm not mistaken) and that will help immensely for the close-up low-light photos. So you will probably see some positive difference if you swap the S1 IS for the FZ20... You will lose your movie mode (not sure if you use it) if you give up the S1 IS...

(On a side note, I don't think taking close up shots of puppies counts as macro. My impression is that macro pics are taking extremely close pics (eg. coins, text on a label, etc). I think your puppies are close but not close enough to be counted as a macro pic)...
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Old Nov 25, 2004, 10:03 PM   #3
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Sivaram brings up an interesting point -- are you really taking macro pics, such as a pic of your dog's nostril or something? Even a small puppy as a mini-dachel (we have two of the little buggers) wouldn't need the macro setting....

At any rate -- I will assume that your pics are exposed for light correctly. Are they blurry from movement or just not focused at the right distance? Some people will think that their problems are because of incorrect focus, but are actually caused by too low of a shutter speed, which is common w/indoor shots. Your camera should easily focus in normal to low room lighting. Are you taking pics in near darkness? If the pics are not exposed correctly, are you using the flash, orambient light? Perhaps you could elaborate a bit more about the lighting conditions and camera settings that you have recently used, and whether or not the backround or foreground is out of focus as well as the puppy.

PhilR.
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Old Nov 29, 2004, 12:03 PM   #4
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Thanks for the feedback, guys. My mistake on the whole Macro setting thing. I have only used one other digitial camera before my own and, with that camera, in order to get properly focused close-ups (not the equivalent of say, a dog's nostril, but a nice, tight shot of its face), I needed to have the camera set to macro.

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At any rate -- I will assume that your pics are exposed for light correctly.

Oh, I wouldn't assume anything PhilR . I'm just using whatever shutter speed the camera has set itself to automatically for the shot. This could be my problem.

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Are they blurry from movement or just not focused at the right distance?
No, they're not blurry from movement. They just seem to be out of focus. The camera has a double-beep and a focus indicator in the vewfinder that turns green when the camera is properly focused and often, even when these indicators are positive for correct focus, the shot is out of focus and I don't mean it's just not sharp - you can't make out any features.

Quote:
Your camera should easily focus in normal to low room lighting. Are you taking pics in near darkness? If the pics are not exposed correctly, are you using the flash, or ambient light? Perhaps you could elaborate a bit more about the lighting conditions and camera settings that you have recently used, and whether or not the backround or foreground is out of focus as well as the puppy.
I've tested it in normal (daytime, inside) and low lighting (not near darkness, just inside my house, in the evening, with all the lights on) with the same results:the whole picture is out of focus, foreground and background. I haven't taken any outdoor shots. I assume these would be fine but I'll rarely be taking outdoor shots so thisdoesn't really matter all that much to me; indoor is my concern. I'vealso tested these lighting conditions on a subject other than the puppy (my husband) and I got the same results. The problem seems to be with light - as you suggest - because the camera always - and I mean always - wants to automatically turn the flash on inside, even in the middle of the day, so I always turnthe flash off (the pictures look completely washed out with the flash on). I've taken several shots that have, seemingly by fluke, turned out well in the same conditions when I've turned off the flash. It just seems very unpredictable. Any thoughts?

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Old Nov 30, 2004, 12:58 AM   #5
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Sounds really strange. I played with an S1 in a Circuit City, which isn't the best-lit place in the world, and the pics I tried w/o flash turned out fine. I think that your cameramight befaulty, as the conditions you stated should not have presented a problem. You didn't mention if your out-of-focus shots are exposed correctly for light. If not, then you probably have two separate problems, assuming you are using the correct settings on the mode dial. You might have an autofocus problem, and possibly a flash exposure since the flash pictures are washed out.

I will say however that it is more likely that the situation or the photographer (you) is at fault, rather than the camera. Please do the following: make sure that the autofocus is not in "spot" mode (if the camera has spot mode). Also make sure that if the camera has an adjustable flash compensation mode, that it is set to neutral or 0, rather than at the + or - ends of the scale. Also make sure that the exposure compensation mode is set to 0 too, again if this feature is present. If you don't understand these, just look in the instruction manual. If it's capable of being adjusted, then it will be in the book.

Once you have done these, go outside during the daytime and take a bunch of pics of objectsat distances of 4-5 feet to infinity, in automatic mode. This should really determine if you camera is functioning correctly. If you aren't sure what dial setting is auto, then check the book (dumb as this seems, it happens...). Come back tomorrow evening and let us know how these outdoor pics come out. It wouldn't surprise me to hear that your outdoor daylight pics come out just fine....

Phil

p.s. it would help us if you posted a few of the problem pics....
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Old Nov 30, 2004, 7:46 AM   #6
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usra, I think you are going to have to learn the manual mode. With experience, you'll be able to use the AV, TV and M modes effectively. You may also want to use the MF function, instead of AF. If you want to keep it in AF mode you should provide a bright (giving good contrast) light to give the camera the contrast it needs to focus. Other cameras have a built-in AF assist lamp which does the job. There must be sufficient contrast because the camera uses contrast detection to focus. To a camera the world is darker than to the human eye, which is why low light levels are one of the most challenging.

With time and effort (and a lot of no-good pictures) you will get better at adjusting the camera correctly.
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Old Nov 30, 2004, 10:03 AM   #7
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Try taking the pic at wide-angle (i.e. lowest zoom). The minimum distance for telephoto is something like 1 meter. So if you are zoomed in, you have to be at least 1 meter back. With wide-angle, you can take closer pics. See if that helps...

If that doesn't fix, it is possible that the camera is defective... although this sort of problem seems unlikely since Canon would likely have tested this (I assume)...

Oh yeah, as PhilR suggests, attach a pic to your msg with all the EXIF settings...
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Old Nov 30, 2004, 10:05 AM   #8
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PvB wrote:
Quote:
usra, I think you are going to have to learn the manual mode. With experience, you'll be able to use the AV, TV and M modes effectively. You may also want to use the MF function, instead of AF.
I'm going to have to disagree with your PvB... this problem seems soooo basic that manual control likely won't help that much. He should be able to take close-up pics but he can't...

One possibility is motion blur due to puppy movement...but the original poster's description sounds more like focusing problem than motion blur...
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