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Old Apr 14, 2015, 9:24 PM   #1
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Default Please help me get better photos....

My photos appear to be very soft and not sharp like photos I am seeing online. Also, I notice every ones photos fill the frame. What do you do to make them look nice and to look like a close up.

These photos were taken with a Canon 40D and a Tamron 150 - 600 lens. Any advice would be GREATLY appreciated.
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Old Apr 14, 2015, 10:55 PM   #2
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just a couple questions... have these been cropped, or are these the original versions? have you done any post-processing other than resizing?

there are a few things you might try to help get sharper images. first of all, use only the center AF point in your camera... it may take some practice to keep that single point where you want it, but with the 40D, this is the best way to make sure the camera focuses just on your subject, and not on something else nearby. second, in your camera's menu, go to the settings for picture style, and pick the one you want to default to. then increase the sharpness and contrast in that style. if you're using a tripod with your 150-600, be sure to turn off the image stabilizer - it's a big help if you're shooting freehand, but can sometimes cause issues on a tripod because the IS system may try to correct for lens movement that isn't there. and of course, make sure your shutter speed is adequate. image stabilizers help a lot, butespecially with a long lens, it's still a good habit to try for a shutter speed that's the reciprocal of your focal length... in other words, at 400mm, you'd want a shutter speed of at least 1/400; at 600mm, you'd want 1/640, and so on.
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Old Apr 15, 2015, 8:54 PM   #3
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Ok, I will begin using the center autofocus point on my camera and see how that goes this weekend.

What picture style should I be using to get good photos of birds?

I think I really need to use a monopod or tripod. I wonder if that is not one of my problems while using the Tamron lens. I think I'm not able to manage hand holding this lens after hiking thru these trails. I will see how that goes this weekend.

I think perhaps you hit the nail on the head with regards to the shutter speed. I will try using Av mode and increase my shutter speed for shooting these fast moving birds and see if that helps with the sharpness of my photos. It seems I have to use the full zoom on my lens as most of the birds are up high in the tree tops.

I cannot thank you enough for all the valuable information you are providing me. I have always just taken photos in AF hoping they turn out. However, I am ready for the next step to learn how to properly use my camera to get better shots. Thank you for taking the time to provide me with your knowledge. I've started reading as much as I can online and watching as many videos as possible hoping to glean some helpful hints.

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Old Apr 16, 2015, 6:49 PM   #4
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I was able to look at Exif data on image #3 and noticed that your shutter speed was 1/250th of second at a focal length of 500 mm. I suspect that part of the problem is blurriness caused by camera shake. Typically, it is recommended that you use a shutter speed as fast as the inverse of the focal length. Therefore, at 500 mm, you should be using a shutter speed of at least 1/500th of a second in order to prevent camera shake. At long focal lengths, even the slightest motion gets exaggerated resulting in blur. The use of a good sturdy tripod (turn off the vibration reduction) together with a remote shutter release should significantly help in this regard. Also use this lens at the middle of the zoom range (i.e about 300 mm). This lens is not as sharp beyond 500 mm. I tried this lens for about 2 weeks and returned it. It's not a bad lens, but I was looking for a lens with more consistent results for aviation photography. Following is a sample at 250mm and 1/2500th of a sec shutter (hand held). Not bad I think.


This next image however is a 600 mm and a slower shutter speed (1/1250th of a sec & also handheld. There is noticeable blurriness and the image is also not a sharp.



Secondly, I think your subject is too far away to result in a nice clear image. At 500 mm, if you are not filling the frame, then it tells me the subject is far away enough that atmospheric conditions could be degrading the image (i.e. the density and temperature of the air can induce distortion). The solution to this is to get closer to your subject.

Third, the light looks really harsh. The Exif data shows the time of the photograph as 11:22 PM, but that can't be correct. This looks like a picture taken at high noon. Again, the heat of day can degrade an image. I find the best time to photograph is up to about 3 hours after sunrise and about 3 hours before sunset. The quality of the light lends itself to capturing a lot of detail.

I would also try using a lens with a smaller zoom or a non-zoom lens to photograph some items that are closer to you in order to capture some detail. If you get similar results, your camera body may be faulty. If not, it may be a fault in your lens (e.g, out of calibration, or the VR could be faulty).

If you are a novice, I'd try getting more experience with a more manageable lens--a 150-600mm zoom requires expert handling to get good images from it.

Hope this helps.

Jehan

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Old Apr 18, 2015, 8:54 AM   #5
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Wingman,

Thank you for the information. You helped me to understand shutter speed and how I can determine at what shutter speed I should be using in connection with the focal length of the lens.

I do have lenses that are smaller and use them as well. However, I do want to start getting into photography as one of my main hobbies. Therefore, while I might be a novice, I really want to learn how to shoot birds with the Tamron lens.

I'm going to check into taking some of the classes the place I bought my lens from puts on.

I really appreciate the time everyone is taking to give me tips. Thank you all!!!
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Old Apr 18, 2015, 9:05 AM   #6
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One last question, so I see that when some of you cannot fill the frame with the subject...you crop the photo. I took the above photos thinking I could crop them and fill the frame. How much can one crop? Do you try to fill the frame and only have a small leeway with cropping?
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Old Apr 18, 2015, 9:52 AM   #7
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You can crop as much as you like to bring in some detail but remember it will only work if the shot is sharp enough to begin with. Theres some really good advice within the thread and remember to take the focus limiter off of "Full" unless the object is close and fairly stationary or you won't achieve focus. Don't use VC when it's BIF (bird in flight) on fast birds. You may need to MAF your lens if your camera allows it as well.
I also can't stress enough that you have a good tripod and head. I just got a good deal on a Manfrotto and ball head for around $160 and ordered a gimbal head as well, a must for BIF in my opinion.
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Old Apr 22, 2015, 11:53 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lotuslady View Post
One last question, so I see that when some of you cannot fill the frame with the subject...you crop the photo. I took the above photos thinking I could crop them and fill the frame. How much can one crop? Do you try to fill the frame and only have a small leeway with cropping?
Lotuslady: My specialty if aviation photography where I try to fill the frame about 75%. This allows plenty of detail to be captured as well as allows for some correction to the horizontal or vertical alignment of the image. I imagine you can use the same guideline for nature/wildlife photography. Your base image needs to be sharp however. You can check it by viewing it at 100% magnification either on your LCD display on the camera or on a external monitor.

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Old Apr 25, 2015, 7:59 AM   #9
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I'd just like to step in here and say well done to everyone posting in this thread. This is how a critique section should work. Post photos of your work, ask how to get better. Provide examples to help. Take the advice and try it.

A much better example than some others we have seen here of late.
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Old Apr 25, 2015, 10:48 AM   #10
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I cannot thank you guys enough. I did not know the terms used and so when I read all your suggestions I knew they were good ones but had been using my cameras in AF mode for so many years since I was just scared to ask questions. I've spent the last few days taking the terms you all used...Center point of focus...how to increase my sharpness and contrast and spent HOURS viewing youtube videos. I've now got a MUCH better understanding of using my camera in somewhat manual mode. I've learned how to set my camera to continuous burst mode and changed the settings as you all suggested.

I have my tripod on order (cannot wait to get it) and I am ready to get some quality photos.

I thank you all for taking so much of your time to give me suggestions. Please know that your advice has not gone unheard. Once I begin to take photos I will share pictures to show all of you...hopefully improvement.

Thank you!!!
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