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Old Jan 5, 2010, 10:10 PM   #1
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Default My camera is pissing me off!

I took a shortcut while doing the trek home today (I was looking at 12 hours drive in total). This shortcut is 140km through the woods on a snow/ice pack road. It had snowed in previous days and the temps would be below zero, thus the pictures of snow covered trees should be good.

So, in preparation, I put on my 70-300 on my E-620, set ISO to 100, on "P", get the lens cap off, on and on the passenger seat. I'm off.

Somewhere in the middle of the trek, I see this fox sitting on the snow bank. I slow down and approach the fox slowly. I take my camera and shoot it through the windshield. The picture looks good in the viewfinder (I just figured out that contrary to my point and shoot, this has NO bearing on the final product). I had 1/100 on an object that was standing still!!

Here's what I ended up with:



I am SO mad for missing this high quality shot... I was smiling all the way home thinking I had gotten a good one and well, it isn't. I even managed to cut off his tail and mess up composition... ugh!

Last edited by TekiusFanatikus; Jan 5, 2010 at 10:18 PM.
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Old Jan 5, 2010, 10:19 PM   #2
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well the exif data is gone.

but judging from the lighting and the long telephoto, ISO 100 wasn't high enough to give you high enough shutter speed.
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Old Jan 5, 2010, 10:29 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Hards80 View Post
well the exif data is gone.

but judging from the lighting and the long telephoto, ISO 100 wasn't high enough to give you high enough shutter speed.
I have to agree with Hards80, there is no way that ISO 100 was going to work. With the 70-300, a more likely choice would be between 400-800.

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Old Jan 5, 2010, 10:31 PM   #4
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I saved the image to my computer and opened it in Photoshop to look at the EXIF data and see it's all been stripped out. Can you tell us what the settings were as far as exposure, whether image stabilization was turned on, etc.?

The image looked sharp on the E620's LCD, even zoomed out to 10x or 14x, right after you took the picture, or are you saying it looked sharp in the finder as you focussed and shot?

Knowing how private these guys are, I figure you took this from quite a distance, probably close to, if not at the 300mm setting on the lens, so the danger of camera shake due to a slow shutter speed from using ISO 100 was probably very real since f5.6 is the widest aperture available. I'm guessing something on the order of ISO 500-800 would probably have been a better choice, using f8 and checking the shutter speed before you shot, hoping it was up to at least 1/400 or 1/500 second, setting whatever ISO was necessary if it wasn't, and shooting RAW+JPEG to give yourself the best possibility of a good result.

Since the E620 only shows 95% of the image you actually record, his tail would have been cut off even more in your finder. What you see here is actually more than you would have seen when you shot it, but you definitely are not the first person who didn't check the entire screen before pressing the shutter release!

Last edited by Greg Chappell; Jan 5, 2010 at 10:36 PM.
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Old Jan 5, 2010, 10:39 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hards80 View Post
well the exif data is gone.

but judging from the lighting and the long telephoto, ISO 100 wasn't high enough to give you high enough shutter speed.
I'd agree......My first reaction after looking at your photo is that it's somewhat underexposed and the ISO100 is too low for a fast enough shutter speed to avoid a little motion blur.

Also, I'm not sure how you've got the 7point AF set. But I typically set my AF to single point-center. I would then train the center point right between the eyes of the subject. That way, you're sure that you'll have the face and eyes of the fox in focus. If you use all 7 points, you're not sure where the lens will focus.

That was a heck of an opportunity for a truly special shot. If it were me, I'd be angry too.

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Old Jan 6, 2010, 12:22 AM   #6
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I hate to kick someone when they're down, but in this case the camera was not the limitation, and certainly didn't deserve swearing in an open forum.

There's a lot in this image that's salvageable, including the poor exposure (I confess I copied the image and pasted it into my photo editing program and played with it for a few minutes, but didn't save anything).

In that type of weather setting the camera to a higher ISO, even at the cost of noise, would have saved a few things in the image...you could have achieved a faster shutter speed and a smaller aperture (for more DOF).

When I was a child (in the days of film) I've had my share of misses that were far worse than this one, and worth this level of anger...especially back in the film days borrowing someone else's camera and not realizing there was no film in it AFTER taking the pictures...once when I had a raccoon at my feet, and once when the shuttle Enterprise was flying over Toronto. Now THOSE shots were worth swearing (but I still wouldn't do it in an open forum). At least here you have something to work with.

Personally I'd try to save it, play with curves (at the least try the automatic exposure correction, and you'll see there's a lot there). Clone some snow below the fox's feet to give some more space. Air brush some dark snow at the tip of the fox's tail to give the illusion of being behind a mound of snow.

There are focus plug-ins that could probably save some of the out of focus areas (fox's back).

The last thing I would try is turning it into a "painting"...that way the out of focus portions would be "artistic".
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Old Jan 6, 2010, 8:25 AM   #7
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Yep, it wasn't the camera; the results were predictable. The rule for minimum shutter speed is 1/(focal length) and would give 1/300sec. A standard Sunny 16 ISO 100 exposure would have been 1/400th at f8.0 and would just meet that criteria. It would appear to me that your shot was made on an dreary overcast day which would require 2 - 3 stops more exposure ( 1/100th - 1/200th at F5.6). You used the "P" mode so lacking the EXIF data we don't know what the camera actually set. Had you selected the "Auto ISO" mode that may have kept you out of trouble but I'm not sure. As a general rule I normally shoot in the AV mode and set my ISO manually. My rule is ISO = 2X(focal length) even on a Sunny 16 day. If I am shooting with the 70 - 300mm I use an ISO = 640, with the 12 - 60mm I use ISO 100. On a gloomy day I may increase the factor to 3x. This keeps me out of trouble a most of the time.

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Last edited by turbines; Jan 6, 2010 at 8:30 AM.
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Old Jan 6, 2010, 9:33 AM   #8
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Tekius,

Here's the biggest takeaway lesson: a DSLR is NOT a magic point-and-shoot camera. I think your frustration mirrors that of a number of people entering the DSLR realm. Unfortunately, it's simply not the case. The way to capture these once-in-a-lifetime shots is to learn photography and learn your gear. When you do that, you'll find your camera is capable of some amazing things. But unfortunately technology isn't advanced enough yet for cameras to do all the thinking.

Now, some specifics (most of which are already mentioned) to keep in mind for next time:
  • I suggest selecting a single focus point for animals - you don't want to risk the camera choosing a focus point on a branch or ground in front of your subject instead of the subject
  • Realize that with snow your camera is going to try and expose the snow as grey - you often need about +2/3 to +1 Exposure Compensation when shooting in the snow
  • Get those shutter speeds up - even with anti-shake or tripod - the wind blows hair/feathers so you want to get 1/500 if you can get it. Without doubt, go up to ISO 800 if needed.
  • To minimize the risk of focus error tak several shots, re-aquiring focus in between.
  • place your single focus point in the eye area of your subject - that's what has to be sharpest.
  • Learn to use your LCD to review shots quickly to verify exposure and focus.
There are infinitely more tips. But these are some basic ones. Above all else, you need to practice and gain an understanding of exposure, depth of field, and the focus characteristics of your camera. But don't get down, every person on the board has stories of "the one that got away". Hone your skills and learn / practice your craft and you'll find that fewer and fewer shots get away.
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Old Jan 6, 2010, 6:41 PM   #9
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Hi Tekius !

Well the guys have covered nearlyeverything that you need to know about why the pic didn;t come out the way you expected it too. There's some really good pointers made esp:

"The rule for minimum shutter speed is 1/(focal length) and would give 1/300sec"

"Get those shutter speeds up - even with anti-shake or tripod - the wind blows hair/feathers so you want to get 1/500 if you can get it. Without doubt, go up to ISO 800 if needed."

"To minimize the risk of focus error take several shots, re-aquiring focus in between."

I'd like to add - shoot RAW + LSF Jpegs - even if you mess up exposure, etc you might still be able to recover that little bit more from the RAW files to give you something that you want.

Like Mike's stated in his reply.. you have a good pic that with the right amount of PP can give you something that you'll like.

Cheers

Harj

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Old Jan 6, 2010, 9:11 PM   #10
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Here's the Exif data:

-- EXIF Summary -(long)----
File Name: P1052668.JPG
File Size: 4462k
File Date: 05/01/2010
Photo Date: 2010:01:05 10:33:45
Make (Model): OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. (E-620 )
Dimensions: 4032 x 3024
Exposure Time: 1/100 sec
Focal Length: 252.00 mm
FNumber: F5.5
ISO: 100
Flash: No

@HarjTT: I didn't know about this rule for evaluating shutter speed, I'll take it into consideration next time. I also took several shots thus re-acquiring focus, but they all turned out like this. Do you see focal length in the viewfinder?

@JohnG: I always shoot using a specific AF point. I find it helps me with composition (rule of thirds).

@Mikefellh: I tend not to modify the pictures taken - more due to lack of time in general. However, thanks for the advice as I'll try to investigate them in the future - one never knows

@Zig: I'm usually one at the left or right of center. In this case, I was in the center.

@GregChappell: he was only a few feet from the passenger front fender, he was pretty close... just sitting there, looking at me and saying: "take a picture if you want, I'll wait for you"... LOL It looked nice in the LCD prior to taking the shot (no magnification, only while it displayed after the shot).

@Everyone: I was merely venting and know that I was at fault here I'd like to note that I probably worry way too much about noise, but the 100 ISO selection was due to this.

Plus, I had used ISO 100 which had given me 1/230, 1/320 a few moments beforehand... the light probably changed considerably (or focal length) thus affecting the shutter speed and making it go lower to 1/100.
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