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Old Mar 13, 2008, 8:25 PM   #1
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I just got the A200 the other day and am having trouble getting nice shots. I got better shots with my Z6. Here is a link to my photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/silverny99/the first 12 are with the new camera.

Problems by photo name:

Two Year Old(s)-The background either has major color fringing or noise going on in the background and I'm not sure why. (Tokina 100-400mm lens)

Unstoppable Force/Jogger: The background seems blurry, the trees are not crisp

Breeze: This is after taking several shots as they came around and the camera didnt seem to refocus during the snapping. The color also seems washed out. (Sears 70-210mm)

Is this a camera issue or a user issue? Any suggestions are welcomed!






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Old Mar 13, 2008, 10:12 PM   #2
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silverny83 wrote:
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I just got the A200 the other day and am having trouble getting nice shots. I got better shots with my Z6. Here is a link to my photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/silverny99/the first 12 are with the new camera.

Problems by photo name:

Two Year Old(s)-The background either has major color fringing or noise going on in the background and I'm not sure why. (Tokina 100-400mm lens)
What did you do to the photos other than downsizing? It looks a bit like posterization (like you'd get using curves or other image adjustments with an 8 bit image), with some jpeg compression artifacts thrown in (unless that lens just has very busy bokeh). Sometimes you do see odd bokeh (the rendering of the out of focus areas, depending on the aperture, distance from focus point to background, et.).

But, I'm seeing what looks like problems with the downsizing algorithms that were used, too (for example, it looks like I can see a few jaggies in some spots in the railing). I doubt it's a camera problem. That looks more like a software issue (and I see you're using PS CS2). Have you got a straight from the camera original that hasn't been touched you can put online?

Quote:
Unstoppable Force/Jogger: The background seems blurry, the trees are not crisp
That's the way it's supposed to look. ;-) The out of focus areas look quite nice in those.

The horse you're focused on is sharp, and the trees in the background are blurry. That helps your subject stand out from distracting backgrounds, and is one of the primary advantages of a DSLR.

Read up on Depth of Field, and how focal length, aperture and focus distance impact how much of the image is in focus as your get further away from your focus point.

The longer your focal length, and the wider your aperture (smaller f/stop numbers), and the closer your focus dstance, the shallower your depth of field. See this handy online depth of field calculator:

http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html

But, if you use a smaller aperture (higher f/stop number) to get more depth of field, keep in mind that your shutter speeds are going to be slower that way. So, you need to keep shutter speeds in mind, increasing ISO speed if needed.

They're already too slow in a number of those images (I'm seeing shutter speeds of 1/250, 1/320, and 1/500 second in some of those images, and you really need to be faster for a rapidly moving subject like that, unless you can pan with one (which would take some practice). That won't work if they're coming at you though. lol

Quote:
Breeze: This is after taking several shots as they came around and the camera didnt seem to refocus during the snapping. The color also seems washed out. (Sears 70-210mm)
Hmmmm....

That was taken at 1/500 second and you probably needed to be a bit faster than that for rapidly moving subjects. Increase your ISO speed if you can't open the aperture up anymore. That's not all of the issue though. It looks like a lens problem.

The color is probably washed out looking because of the quality of the lens. Sears, huh? I can remember seeing one online for Minolta AF mount in the used department at B&H for ages that nobody bought (and it was dirt cheap, too).

I thought about it, just because you don't see them very often, and it was really cheap ($54 including the original box if memory serves). But, I figured it would be poor optical quality and flare prone and I didn't relish the idea of a Sears brand AF lens that much. You can buy better known consumer grade lenses for prices about that low used anyway (dimmer zooms like that don't fetch much on the used market).

You're probably seeing low contrast and sharpness from the lens with the aperture wide open, and it's probably not going to handle harsher lighting very well without some loss of contrast from flare either. I'd make sure to use a hood with it try to shoot away from any brighter light sources (bright sky, sun, etc.) to minimize it.

But, the entire left side of the frame looks bad (or rather, everything except for the right side of it, including the center). My guess is that the lens has a misaligned optical element (or the optical or construction quality is just that bad with it wide open).

The right side of the frame is sharper in the foreground *and* the background compared to the center and left side of the frame. Follow the railing and see how it looks in various areas and you'll see what I mean.

Ditto for the trees in the background (even though they're not supposed to be in focus, something looks wrong with that lens on one side). That lens looks like it's got a problem, getting worse as you look from the right to left side of the frame. Have you got some kind of filter on it that could be degrading optical quality?

I'd shoot a newspaper, brick wall with visible lines/texture or something similar with the camera on a tripod (making sure it's square to the target) and see if the problem is the lens (sharp on one side and getting softer as you get away from it, if it's the same way that photo appears). It should be equally soft in all four corners (not softer on one side versus the other). I'd test it at various focal lengths and apertures. My guess is that the lens is causing the issues you saw with photos from it.

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Old Mar 14, 2008, 7:58 AM   #3
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Thank you for your help, to reply to some of your questions:

"What did you do to the photos other than downsizing? It looks a bit like posterization (like you'd get using curves or other image adjustments with an 8 bit image), with some jpeg compression artifacts thrown in (unless that lens just has very busy bokeh). Sometimes you do see odd bokeh (the rendering of the out of focus areas, depending on the aperture, distance from focus point to background, et.). "

I didn't do anything to those phots thats right out of the camera, I knew it didn't look right so I wanted to leave it alone to get opinions.

___

"They're already too slow in a number of those images (I'm seeing shutter speeds of 1/250, 1/320, and 1/500 second in some of those images, and you really need to be faster for a rapidly moving subject like that, unless you can pan with one (which would take some practice). That won't work if they're coming at you though. lol"

Rookie mistake of trying to use Auto so i could run down from my office that I wasn't changing the shutter or apertature speeds.

___

"The color is probably washed out looking because of the quality of the lens. Sears, huh? I can remember seeing one online for Minolta AF mount in the used department at B&H for ages that nobody bought (and it was dirt cheap, too)."

I used this lens back when I had my Minolta MAxxum 3 film camera, it was a hand me down, its easily 15-20 years old. I just pulled it out the other day when I got the new camera so its been sitting around at least a year. I had a feeling it may be the lens since my larger zoom had better coloring and not as many issues with staying in focus. Probably time to invest in a new lens. I'd like to find one that is 28-200 or so that way I can eliminate the need for the small lens and just have that and my large.
____

I'll try some of your suggestions today, different lighting out, its cloudy so that will change a lot of things tooI know.





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Old Mar 14, 2008, 9:13 AM   #4
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silverny83 wrote:
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I used this lens back when I had my Minolta MAxxum 3 film camera, it was a hand me down, its easily 15-20 years old. I just pulled it out the other day when I got the new camera so its been sitting around at least a year. I had a feeling it may be the lens since my larger zoom had better coloring and not as many issues with staying in focus.
I'd check it by shooting a a flat target with lots of detail like a newspaper or textured brick wall (making sure the camera is square to it) at different focal lengths and apertures to make sure all 4 corners are equally soft. I've got a feeling something is wrong with it (other than just lower quality than you may find in a higher end lens). IOW, it may have been banged around one too many times somewhere along the way and have some misaligned optical elements.

Or, sometimes you don't notice the difference in lenses as much shooting film, because most users are typically using smaller print sizes (versus looking at the equivalent of a very large print when viewing images at larger sizes on a monitor).

Also, less than optimum lens coatings and flare resistance in a lens design tend to be less forgiving with digital, because of the sensor design, with light reflections between optical elements and the sensor making lens deficiencies more obvious with digital.

Quote:
I'd like to find one that is 28-200 or so that way I can eliminate the need for the small lens and just have that and my large.
28-200mm, huh? Well... in those types of lenses (where you have a lot of range from wide to long), I'd look at the Sony 18-250mm. It's not very bright (down to f/6.3 as the widest available aperture on it's long end). But, neither are your other lenses.

This type of lens design tends to have more optical compromises (distortion, chromatic aberrations, corner softness, etc.). So, you can usually get higher quality using more than one lens to cover that much range. But, the Sony (and equivalent Tamron) 18-250mm is pretty good as those lens types go, and center sharpness is not bad at all.

Stopped down a couple of stops (higher /stop numbers, since most lenses are sharper a couple of stops down from wide open), it probably would't be a bad walk around lens for good light use, if you don't mind some of the compromises in image quality this kind of lens offers, especially at extreme focal lengths on the wide and long end.

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