/ How to take really sharp images - Canon DSLR

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handofgod on 05 Jan 2017
Hi there,
I recently bought a Canon 100d as my point and shoot had reached its end of life.
Over the new year break I took lots of landscape photos while up in the Highlands with the standard 18-55mm kit lens.
The quality of the photos taken looked OK on the camera screen but when upload onto my laptop,they look very poor and in particular the sharpness was really soft and they just looked really washed out.
I used a tripod where possible and used the AV setting with the aperture set to around f11 with low ISO approx. 100.
One thing which I wasn't sure about was, when looking through the viewfinder the a series of red dots come up. Where are you supposed to aim these dots?
Annoyingly, my point and shoot actually took better photos.
Am I doing something stupidly obviously wrong? Any tips or guidance much appreciated.

Thanks


poppydog on 05 Jan 2017
In reply to handofgod:

I take lots of photos but am really not an expert - that's my disclaimer. Anyhoo, could it be that you need to use manual focus to middle distance infinity and underexpose a bit? I've never used Canon so don't really understand the metering, but if it's reading from the land it may be overexposing. Like I said though, my own pic taking is done via a big memory card and lots of experimental shots!
The Lemming - on 05 Jan 2017
In reply to handofgod:

I know nothing about canon cameras, but I did have a similar problem with a Nikon d3000 many years ago.

I tried and tried for two days to get a sharp image. I only got one or two sharp images in about 500 test shots.

I took the camera back and got something else. The images were pin sharp out of the box.

Maybe you have either a duff camera or lens or both?
The Lemming - on 05 Jan 2017
In reply to handofgod:

Don't know if you have had an SLR camera before but the settings may have the sharpness way way down low to give you the option to sharpen later in software like Lightroom.

My money is still on a faulty camera though.
malk - on 05 Jan 2017
In reply to The Lemming:

got any full res samples with your expensive new zoom to show what sharp is?
The Lemming - on 05 Jan 2017
In reply to malk:

Bit confused, is that a request to the OP or myself?
Chris Craggs - on 05 Jan 2017
In reply to handofgod:

Put the camera on 'auto everything', single shot and try again to see if it is you or the camera,


Chris
Adam Long - on 05 Jan 2017
In reply to handofgod:

I suspect the softness is due to camera shake. At f/ll and ISO 100 in Scotland this time if year you'll be struggling to get a fast enough shutter speed to stop camera shake. If they look washed out they are probably over-exposed too, which in AV mode means an even longer shutter speed than normal. The washed-out look should be recoverable in software if not extreme.

Look at the exif - what was the shutter speed? You'd need 1/60 or shorter with that lens.
Zoom in to the images - is the blur even or like short streaks?

The cure is to either use a tripod - to hold the camera steady, or a higher ISO to get a faster shutter speed.

No idea what your red dots are, sorry.
malk - on 05 Jan 2017
In reply to The Lemming:

your panny 12-35 2.8...
The Lemming - on 05 Jan 2017
In reply to malk:

> your panny 12-35 2.8...

Here are some I took at Bridestones a few days after getting my new toy.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/the1lemming/albums/72157673129174514
biped - on 05 Jan 2017
In reply to handofgod:

Buy a manual for the camera and learn about its use, red dots and all. I am a Canon user but not the 100d. Agree with what Chris and Adam say.
ChrisJD on 05 Jan 2017
In reply to handofgod:

The red dots are what the camera has chosen to (auto) focus the lens on. You don't 'aim' them (unless you deliberately set up the focus system to do that, read the manual).

Soft and washed out images - could be a combination of:

- Not understanding where the camera is focusing
- Camera shake (what shutter speed have you shot at), f11 at ISO100 will probably result in a slow shutter if a dull day.
- Shooting jpgs (which I'm guessing is what you've taken)
- Not looking at histogram/images to optimise exposure (you'd need to take test shots a a DSLR as you won't have a 'live' histogram)
- The kit lens wont' win any sharpness awards
- Not doing any post-processing
- Your laptop screen may not be doing the images justice
- The light was crap to start with

chris fox on 05 Jan 2017
In reply to handofgod:

put your lens to MF (manual focus), put the screen onto live view, zoom in 10x (usually twice on the screens zoom in feature) then manually focus in on what you want as the main focal point, be it a tree or a house, etc then take a shot. (even though the live view screen shows a zoomed in image you camera will take the normal view finder shot.

Chris
DreadyCraig - on 05 Jan 2017
In reply to handofgod:

I will bet my bottom dollar it is because the pictures are jpegs, I found the same with my 450D. Switch on RAW and try again.
wintertree - on 05 Jan 2017
In reply to handofgod:

f/11 is a bit low for most lenses; the optimal sharpness is normally somewhere around f/8. f/6 is reasonable on the kit lens for most.

Critically I suspect you need to read the manual on the focus system and master those little red dots. Basically if a dot flashes when you half depress the shutter button then the camera thinks that part of the image is in focus, and there are various ways to constrain the camera as to which dots to try and put into focus.

You don't state what exposure the camera has picked. You probably want nothing longer than 1/50 s or thereabouts. If it's setting an exposure longer than that I'd probably take the ISO up to 200, then open the aperture a bit from f/8 if needed. I've a suspicion f/11 and ISO 100 means unreasonably long exposures, even for a tripod assuming you're using the shutter button on the camera and not a remote button.
Post edited at 22:25
Mal Grey - on 05 Jan 2017
In reply to DreadyCraig:
>"I will bet my bottom dollar it is because the pictures are jpegs, I found the same with my 450D. Switch on RAW and try again."


Genuine question. Why would this affect how sharp the images are? I get it might affect exposure, colour capture, shadows/highlights etc better, but surely if its in focus it will still be in focus on JPEGs? Though I know I should shoot RAW more (Canon 700D), I still mostly shoot JPEGs due to memory and PC capability issues, and never have any problem with the sharpness.

To the OP: definitely check your shutter speed isn't too low. I rarely use ISO100 hand held, especially with winter light, as the shutter speed needed makes it hard to hold still enough. (Not helped by the fact that much of my photography is from a bobbing canoe!)
Post edited at 22:33
Big Ger - on 05 Jan 2017
In reply to handofgod:

I'm betting it's the camera being on the bog standard settings.

I was so disappointed with sharpness on my 5DIII when I first got it, it took a while to set it up as I like it, and I think photoshop/lightroom is essential with a DSLR.
Big Ger - on 05 Jan 2017
In reply to The Lemming:

> Here are some I took at Bridestones a few days after getting my new toy.


Nice shots mate, I prefer those "informal" ones to posed shots.
aln - on 05 Jan 2017
In reply to handofgod:

Funny all this. Weren't digital cameras supposed to be the product to make everyone's photo's incredible?
benmason - on 05 Jan 2017
In reply to handofgod:

Shoot in a RAW format and perhaps increase shutter speed slightly (Manual mode is KING) you may have to up your ISO a touch to compensate for less light entering
The Lemming - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to handofgod:

Any chance of seeing one of your images that you think is out of focus?

At the moment we're all just guessing without actually seeing the problem.
Marek - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to aln:

> Funny all this. Weren't digital cameras supposed to be the product to make everyone's photo's incredible?

Yes and no. But the road to incredible photos is through learning the skills, techniques and creative judgement of good photographers and that learning is a lot easier with digital due to the quick and plentiful results/feedback. Give a poor photographer a digital DSLR and you'll still get poor photos. Just more and quicker. There's no substitute for learning.

Unless for course by 'incredible' you meant unbelievable/obviously-faked, in which case you are sadly right.

wintertree - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to Mal Grey:

> ... RAW ... Genuine question. Why would this affect how sharp the images are?

Basically JPEG compression works by throwing away some fine detail. Fine detail is required to make sharpness.

That being said you'd have to have all the other settings spot on and be taking a demanding shot, or significantly adjusting levels in post processing before you'd notice the difference at a casual glance with any dSLR camera from the last decade.
FactorXXX - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to wintertree:

Basically JPEG compression works by throwing away some fine detail. Fine detail is required to make sharpness.

A JPEG is a processed version of the RAW file and might well be sharper and 'look better' than the corresponding unprocessed RAW image.
However, if the RAW file is properly edited, then in theory it will produce better results than a JPEG image that has been produced using a standard algorithm, etc.
One thing in particular with RAW files is that they are deliberately 'soft' to counteract Moire and they therefore need sharpening to correct that.
ChrisJD on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to FactorXXX:

> However, if the RAW file is properly edited, then in theory it will produce better results than a JPEG image that has been produced using a standard algorithm, etc.

A manually well processed RAW image will always be better than any jpeg processed in-camera.


wintertree - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to FactorXXX:

> A JPEG is a processed version of the RAW file

Processed and *compressed* with the compression throwing away fine detail.

> and might well be sharper and 'look better' than the corresponding unprocessed RAW image.

Although any such additional sharpness is not "real" in that it does not derive from information captured by the sensor, but uses information made up by the processing.

That is the images may look sharper, but the additional sharpness is most decidedly fake and is more or less obviously so depending on the nature of the scene.

> However, if the RAW file is properly edited, then in theory it will produce better results than a JPEG image that has been produced using a standard algorithm, etc.

Indeed. Most of the processing is around colours and not sharpness however.

One caveat to what I say - post processig that uses prior knowledge of the optics and/or sensor can add information to an image - that is make a genuine improvement to sharpness. Some Canon devices do this to correct chromatic aberration in the optics; I don't know if this is done for in camera JPEGs on the 100d but suspect it isn't don't on the RAW (which is still processed from the numbers actually leaving the ADCs).
Post edited at 08:49
ChrisJD on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to FactorXXX:
> One thing in particular with RAW files is that they are deliberately 'soft' to counteract Moire and they therefore need sharpening to correct that.

They are not 'deliberately' soft, they are what they are. They just have not been sharpened like an in-camera jpeg file has from the RAW (which is then usually discarded by camera). Though I seem to remember reading that some manufacturers were cheekily adding a bit of sharpening to their 'RAW' files, somehow (by black magic), but memory could be wrong on that.

Most digital cameras have an AA (anti-aliasing) filter bonded to the front of the sensor, which does soften the image to counteract possible moire effects. Many cameras now come without an AA filter, to provide the 'unfiltered' 'sharp' image.
Post edited at 09:07
ChrisJD on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to wintertree:

> Processed and *compressed* with the compression throwing away fine detail.

Crude noise reduction by the in-camera jpg conversion will also remove (smear) a lot of detail as well.
handofgod on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to handofgod:
Firstly, thanks for all the useful info and advice.

Just to clear up a few points;

I was shooting in Jpeg mode
I used a tripod
I used the 2 second delay button
I'm new to DSLR and not sure what RAW is. Are there free software you can use to edit pics as cant afford lightroom.
Should I save up and buy a better lens?
Is there a way to upload a pic to show you onto UKC?

Thanks
Post edited at 09:07
FactorXXX - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to ChrisJD:

A manually well processed RAW image will always be better than any jpeg processed in-camera.

Totally agree.
wintertree - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to handofgod:

> ... few points ...

Thanks; can you look up the exposure of your images and share that?

> ... free software ...

Mac or Windows? "Photos" on Mac is a free start.
ChrisJD on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to handofgod:

>Are there free software you can use to edit pics as cant afford lightroom.

Did the 100D not come with Canon's 'Digital Photo Professional' software?

> Is there a way to upload a pic to show you onto UKC?

Get a free Flickr account - 1 TB free on-line storage
FactorXXX - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to ChrisJD:

They are not 'deliberately' soft, they are what they are. They just have not been sharpened like an in-camera jpeg file has from the RAW (which is then usually discarded by camera).
Most digital cameras will may have an AA (anti-aliasing) filter bonded to the front of the sensor, which does soften the image to counteract possible moire effects.


Not wanting to derail the thread, but you seem to be both agreeing and disagreeing that RAW images are 'softened' to counteract moire...
I know that the 'softening' is done by an anti-aliasing filter and that newer cameras are now removing them. However, the pertinent point is that RAW images need sharpening to achieve their full potential, etc.
handofgod on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to wintertree:

how do i look up the exposure please?
FactorXXX - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to wintertree:

That is the images may look sharper, but the additional sharpness is most decidedly fake and is more or less obviously so depending on the nature of the scene.
Indeed. Most of the processing is around colours and not sharpness however.


Yes, but you still have to sharpen a RAW file.
wintertree - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to handofgod:

> how do i look up the exposure please?

Try the "info" button on the camera or is it "display"? One of those will pop loads of stuff up overlaid on the images when your browse them.
biped - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to aln:

> Funny all this. Weren't digital cameras supposed to be the product to make everyone's photo's incredible?

Conversely, it could be argued that they have made using a camera to take lazily considered images vastly more popular (and I've been as guilty as anyone) as you can use the shutter like a machine gun without having to consider the cost of another roll of film and the nuisance of changing it after only 36 shots.

handofgod on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to ChrisJD:

Thanks for your reply Chris.

Please can you elaborate further on this point;

Not understanding where the camera is focusing

Adam Long - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to handofgod:

> I used a tripod
> I used the 2 second delay button

Okay, good start. That should have eliminated shake, so the next step is to work out if you were out of focus for some reason. That is more likely than a dud lens. Use your tripod and original settings of AV, f/11 and iso 100 but focus manually using the magnified live view. Make sure the exposure compensation is at 0. Any better?


handofgod on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to Adam Long:

Hi Adam,
So turn the lens from AF to MF and manually focus the lens until looks sharp on the screen?
Does it make any difference if the lens is zoomed in or out?
ChrisJD on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to handofgod:

> Please can you elaborate further on this point;
> Not understanding where the camera is focusing

If you don't know what the red dots are, then you won't know what the camera has decided to focus on.

Adam Long - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to handofgod:

Yes, that's right. You should be able to magnify the view on screen to get it perfect. Focus may shift slightly as you zoom so do any zooming before you focus.
handofgod on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to Adam Long:

a few people have refereed to focusing into infinity. What does this mean?
handofgod on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to ChrisJD:

Thanks Chris.

Most helpful.
wintertree - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to FactorXXX:
> Yes, but you still have to sharpen a RAW file.


You don't have to do anything.

Any (1) "sharpening" in post processing - be it in-camera JPEG or a RAW program - is creating false sharpness that may or may not improve the human perception of the image.

Either way, JPEG throws away *real* detail and *real* sharpness, any sort of processing creates *fake* sharpness. Spend enough time working with images and you can spot all these things by eye.

(1) with the exception of the chromatic aberration stuff I mentioned.

Edit: ChrisJD's point about noise reduction is a good one as well.
Post edited at 10:21
wintertree - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to handofgod:

> a few people have refereed to focusing into infinity. What does this mean?

Things that are far away.
Adam Long - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to handofgod:

For infinity focus something like a tree on the horizon 100m or more away will do. With older lenses, the focus ring would stop at infinity; modern lenses generally focus past infinity to allow for temperature and manufacturing tolerances. So the only reliable way to check focus is on live view as above.
Fredt on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to Adam Long:

> modern lenses generally focus past infinity to allow for temperature and manufacturing tolerances. So the only reliable way to check focus is on live view as above.

Is that why the moon is not in focus when I set to infinity?
FactorXXX - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to handofgod:

This is what I would do: -

1. As suggested by Chris Craggs above, put your camera on full Auto.
2. Take a load of photo's with that camera and your 'Point and Shoot'. Include flash if both cameras have them.
3. Compare and contrast the two sets of photo's on your computer.
4. Because the 100d is in full Auto, it is in effect a 'Point and Shoot' and therefore should produce similar results. If they are indeed the same, then you know that you did something wrong on your Highlands trip. If they are noticeably different, then there might well be a fault with the camera or lens.
5. If you believe there is a fault with the camera or lens, then try and ask a mate who knows a bit about photography to do some sample shots to confirm it and then do whatever it takes to get it repaired/replaced, etc.
6. If your mates photo's are OK, ask them to look at the EXIF data of your shots to see if they can find anything obvious. (The EXIF data is such things as Aperture, Shutter Speed, etc. and can be found in a variety of ways. Left clicking with your mouse and navigating to: Properties/Details will give you the basics).
7. If you haven't got anyone into photography, post them onto Flickr and put a link on here if you want them looked at by us lot at UKC. I believe the EXIF data will be automatically included.
8. Download the Photo Editing Software for the camera - it's free!
9. If all works in Full Auto, all is good! However, learn how to fully use the camera, as you'll get so much more out of it.
10. Ignore people derailing the thread with other stuff...
handofgod on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to FactorXXX:

awesome post. thanks.
I will experiment further.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Climbing Pieman on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to handofgod:
Lots of good point made already, so nothing really to add except some random thoughts (I don't know specifically your camera):

As camera new to you, check firmware and update if necesssary. If an update does not effectively do a factory reset as part of the update, then do that to eliminate any manually altered settings.
Set all to auto and compare as best you can with what you already have taken.
If your set up has image stabilisation, disable it as your using a tripod.
If you have a digital zoom, disable that.

Marek - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to Fredt:

> Is that why the moon is not in focus when I set to infinity?

Actually, it is. Almost by definition. The issue is what you mean by 'set to infinity'. If you mean using the focus scale (assuming you even have one) on the lens, then you should be aware that on most lenses they are not very accurate - they're largely cosmetic. You if want to make use of the scales (e.g., for UV/IR photography) then you had better calibrate them against objects at known distances.
The Lemming - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to wintertree:

> Things that are far away.

Who else though of Farther Ted?
FactorXXX - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to wintertree:

You don't have to do anything.
Any (1) "sharpening" in post processing - be it in-camera JPEG or a RAW program - is creating false sharpness that may or may not improve the human perception of the image.
Either way, JPEG throws away *real* detail and *real* sharpness, any sort of processing creates *fake* sharpness. Spend enough time working with images and you can spot all these things by eye.


Of course you don't have to do anything, but you'll probably end up with a 'softer' image than you should/could get with the correct use of Capture Sharpening.

http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/image-sharpening.htm
Robert Durran - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to The Lemming:
> Who else though of Farther Ted?

Me!
Focussing on cows is always a nightmare when there is no way of knowing whether they are small cows or just far away cows.
Post edited at 13:54
Robert Durran - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to ChrisJD:

> A manually well processed RAW image will always be better than any jpeg processed in-camera.

Although presumably the in-camera RAW processing must (or at least could) be optimal for some photos to somebody's taste.
Robert Durran - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to FactorXXX:

> The pertinent point is that RAW images need sharpening to achieve their full potential, etc.

But there is no such thing as a RAW image. The potential sharpness (setting aside "fake" sharpening) of a jpeg (produced from a RAW file) must be entirely a function of the lens, sensor, focusing and camera shake. Or am I missing something?

wintertree - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to FactorXXX:

> Of course you don't have to do anything, but you'll probably end up with a 'softer' image than you should/could get with the correct use of Capture Sharpening.


Debatable. Almost all processed "sharpening" degrades the information level in the image, and the achieved improvements are largely subjective and qualitative, and it's exceedingly hard to post-sharpen the whole frame without introducing artefacts or degradations to some areas of the image.

I prefer to think of it as "edge enhancement" rather than sharpening, as it's the former.

On the other hand it's normally possible these days even with a kit lens to get to the intrinsic sharpness of the sensor using only chromatic abortion post correction and careful control of the settings - given enough light.
Post edited at 15:36
wintertree - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:

> But there is no such thing as a RAW image. The potential sharpness (setting aside "fake" sharpening) of a jpeg (produced from a RAW file) must be entirely a function of the lens, sensor, focusing and camera shake. Or am I missing something?

I agree, with the addition that the JPEG process also throws away high spatial frequencies to compress the image, which further eroded the contrast of features - i.e. less sharpness.
FactorXXX - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to wintertree:

Debatable. Almost all processed "sharpening" degrades the information level in the image, and the achieved improvements are largely subjective and qualitative, and it's exceedingly hard to post-sharpen the whole frame without introducing artefacts or degradations to some areas of the image.
I prefer to think of it as "edge enhancement" rather than sharpening, as it's the former.
On the other hand it's normally possible these days even with a kit lens to get to the intrinsic sharpness of the sensor using only chromatic abortion post correction and careful control of the settings - given enough light.


So you don't agree with the article and also don't believe that RAW images are deliberately 'softened'?
I assume that you don't do any sharpening as part of your processing of RAW images? If so, you are probably missing a vital part of getting the most out of an image.
You seem to be quite happy to accept that colour, etc. can be improved and in so doing so realise that RAW images need some processing to get the most out of them. The same applies to sharpening.
FactorXXX - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:

But there is no such thing as a RAW image. The potential sharpness (setting aside "fake" sharpening) of a jpeg (produced from a RAW file) must be entirely a function of the lens, sensor, focusing and camera shake. Or am I missing something?

The thing that you're missing, is that digital cameras use an anti-alias filter to 'soften' the image. A JPEG will apply sharpening to try and rectify that in the camera and before you download onto your PC, etc.
A RAW image will still have that softness, but the user can choose how much sharpening to apply via editing.
wintertree - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to FactorXXX:

> So you don't agree with the article

I'm not going to get drawn into discussing the article.

> and also don't believe that RAW images are deliberately 'softened'?

That sounds like nonsense to me. Optically many camera sensors are low pass filtered to the Nyquist limit of the lower resolution components of the Bayer array. For *some* scenes this could be interpreted as softening the images acquired. This is in no way the same as deliberately softening the RAW images for which I have never seen any evidence.

> I assume that you don't do any sharpening as part of your processing of RAW images?

I almost never perform edge enhancement - what you call sharpening. I prefer to take an image that doesn't need it. On the rare occasion I've messed up on a particular shot I need I have used edge enhancement and been unsatisifed with it.

> If so, you are probably missing a vital part of getting the most out of an image.

The beauty of photography however is that it's all subjective and it takes more than pixel sharp lines to make a good photo.

> You seem to be quite happy to accept that colour, etc. can be improved and in so doing so realise that RAW images need some processing to get the most out of them. The same applies to sharpening.

Tone mapping is a necessary evil caused by having lower dynamic range displays than the raw image, and it is far less destructive to the information in the images than post-sharpening.
Post edited at 16:15
FactorXXX - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to wintertree:

That sounds like nonsense to me. Optically many camera sensors are low pass filtered to the Nyquist limit of the lower resolution components of the Bayer array. For *some* scenes this could be interpreted as softening the images acquired. This is in no way the same as deliberately softening the RAW images for which I have never seen any evidence.

Why not Google it?
You might be surprised at the results...
wintertree - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to FactorXXX:

> Why not Google it?

> You might be surprised at the results...

If you have any proof of any manufacturer deliberately and systematically softening raw images - as you have repeatedly insisted - please do share it here.

The onus is on you to prove this outlandish claim.
Post edited at 16:39
The Lemming - on 06 Jan 2017
FactorXXX - on 06 Jan 2017
FactorXXX - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to wintertree:

It's actually described in the original article that I posted a link to: -

http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/image-sharpening.htm
wintertree - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to FactorXXX:

> [links]

None of that is evidence for your claim.

It is what I said earlier, and what you disputed, namely that some cameras low pass filter the image sensor to the Nyquist limit of the lowest resolution components of the Bayer array.

It in no way equates to softening the raw image. For some scenes, but by no means all, it will soften the image taken. In almost all real world cases other factors limit the sharpness and often the filter improves the image.

Using edge enhancement to try and undo the limitations of an AA filter + Bayer array combination degrades the information content of an image and subjectively improves it in a viewer dependant way at the expense of degradation and artefacts.

Nobody deliberately softens raw images as you claim. Some cameras do deliberately low pass filter the image optically to the resolution limit of the individual colour channels of the sensor. These are not the same thing.

I'm sorry but I start to feel you don't really understand the stuff you are saying, and that you are not prepared to spend the time and effort to understand what I am saying, otherwise you would not be repeating the same mistakes. I very rarely flat out say this to people as it is quite arrogant and rude, but I do know what I am talking about.
Post edited at 16:49
Robert Durran - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to FactorXXX:

> The thing that you're missing, is that digital cameras use an anti-alias filter to 'soften' the image. A JPEG will apply sharpening to try and rectify that in the camera and before you download onto your PC, etc.

I think I'm OK then because the array on the sensors in Fuji X cameras does away with the need for the filter

FactorXXX - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to wintertree:

None of that is evidence for your claim.

Have you honestly read all of those links and not seen the word 'Soften'?
Have you honestly read all of those links and seen why the images are 'Softened'?

Really?

I very rarely flat out say this to people as it is quite arrogant and rude, but I do know what I am talking about.

Really?







wintertree - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to FactorXXX:

> Really

Really.

You have been saying that raw images are deliberately softened. I have been saying that the image sensor (not the raw image) is low pass filtered to the intrinsic resolution limit of the lowest ressoluton colour channels.

These are not the same things at all. I can't help you if you aren't prepared to read what I have written repeatedly and clearly and take the time to understand the differences.

There are a specific subset of images where - due to the AA filter and the Bayer array - the in-camera sharpening of in-camera JPEGs will make the images sharper than the RAWs. This is a very small class of images (lens at optimum aperture, perfect focus across the subject, low ISO, lots of light, short exposure and/or tripod, pixel sharp, high contrast, strongly monochrome scene) where the two statements become broadly equivalent but in the real world it's vanishingly small.

I still stand by my original point that you have ignored, which is that JPEGs throw away high spatial frequencies - sharpness. Doing so is literally their whole reason to exist.
Post edited at 17:11
FactorXXX - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to wintertree:

You have been saying that raw images are deliberately softened. I have been saying that the image sensor (not the raw image) is low pass filtered to the intrinsic resolution limit of the lowest ressoluton colour channels.

Lets clarify something: Are you trying to say that the anti-alias filter is there for something other than reducing moiré and it does so by softening the image?
wintertree - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to FactorXXX:

> Lets clarify something: Are you trying to say that the anti-alias filter is there for something other than reducing moiré

I have never said that.

> and it does so by softening the image?

I have, repeatedly, said that it lowers the resolution of the image cast on the sensor to the Nyquist limit of the lowest resolution colour channels on the sensor. This by definition does not soften the image - it can't as its throwing away detail that wouldn't be captured anyway. Do you understand the Nyquist sampling theorem? If not do some reading.

That does not "soften the image" under most circumstances and it is not "deliberately softening the raw" as you have claimed.

On the very rare occasion a scene is suitable and the image is good enough for the AA filter to degrade things, in-camera or post-processing sharpening is as much about the Bayer array's limitations as the AA filter.



FactorXXX - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to wintertree:

I have, repeatedly, said that it lowers the resolution of the image cast on the sensor to the Nyquist limit of the lowest resolution colour channels on the sensor. This by definition does not soften the image - it can't as its throwing away detail that wouldn't be captured anyway. Do you understand the Nyquist sampling theorem? If not do some reading

Are we talking about electronic or optical filters?
wintertree - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to FactorXXX:

> Are we talking about electronic or optical filters?

I have been talking about the low pass filter on the image sensor. To the best of my knowledge this has always been optical.
FactorXXX - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to wintertree:

Do you understand the Nyquist sampling theorem? If not do some reading.

I've read up on the Nudist sampling theorem in respect to photography, etc. I don't understand all of the sciencey stuff, but they do seem to have replaced 'soften' with 'blur' when they talk about what happens to the image sent to the sensor.
Is 'blur' an acceptable and better term?
wintertree - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to FactorXXX:

Blur and soften are similar, blur is probably more specific. The key point is that detail blurred by the low pass filter is higher frequency than the sensors Nyquist limit when used with a Bayer colour array, so the filter does not blur the image recorded as the resolution wasn't there in the first place.

Except... when intensity changes sharply per pixel and colour is fixed over many pixels, then the low pass filter limits your ability to recover that intensity pattern. This is quite specialist stuff and not representative of most photos; certainly not the OPs case.

FactorXXX - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to wintertree:

Blur and soften are similar, blur is probably more specific. The key point is that detail blurred by the low pass filter is higher frequency than the sensors Nyquist limit when used with a Bayer colour array, so the filter does not blur the image recorded as the resolution wasn't there in the first place.
Except... when intensity changes sharply per pixel and colour is fixed over many pixels, then the low pass filter limits your ability to recover that intensity pattern.


Every single article I've read about the anti-aliasing filter says that it's for reducing moiré and it does that by softening/blurring the image.
Every single article I've read about rectifying the above, says it's is either done by the JPEG algorithm, or by using Sharpening tools on the RAW image.
All those articles also say that all digital images are similarly affected irrespective of certain conditions, etc.

The only source that says any different is you.
That means that you're right and everyone else is wrong.
You're arguing just for the sake of it.
Or, you're trying to impress people with your knowledge about sciencey things.

I've got a niggling suspicion that it isn't the first one...

Tell you what, I'll carry on with what I'm doing and have nice crisp images to look at. You can carry on without sharpening and spend the time wondering if you need glasses or not...

zimpara - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to FactorXXX:

Some good posts here. Now I know what sort of standard my writing needs to be at to win internet arguments :O
wintertree - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to FactorXXX:

> Every single article I've read about the anti-aliasing filter says that it's for reducing moiré and it does that by softening/blurring the image.

That is what I have been saying from the start - low pass filtering the image cast on to the sensor.

Whilst I have consistently said this you have gradually drifted from saying that cameras "deliberately blur the raw" to saying this. I have been arguing against your factually incorrect statement that raws are deliberately blurred compared to JPEGs. They are not.

> Every single article I've read about rectifying the above, says it's is either done by the JPEG algorithm, or by using Sharpening tools on the RAW image.

The JPEG algorithm does not sharpen images, ever. It throws away detail. End of story. The camera may do sharpening on raw data before saving to to either a raw file or a JPEG file. Either you are reading badly written articles or are not understanding them very well.

> All those articles also say that all digital images are similarly affected irrespective of certain conditions, etc.

Then they're all talking out of their arse. Monochrome cameras aren't, cameras without low pass filters aren't, cameras with Foveon sensor aren't, 3-chip cameras aren't, cameras with non-Bayer colour filter arrays are affected differently.

Further, it's clearly conditions dependant. The low pass filter is on the order of a pixel in effect. If the image from your lens cast into the sensor isn't pixel sharp, or if the pixel sharp detail is lower contrast than your noise, you're not going to see any difference. Only a fool would claim otherwise.

> You're arguing just for the sake of it.

You're one to talk. I have not been arguing, I have been sticking to a consistent line since you jumped on my comment about JPEGs with your factually incorrect statements about "blurring raws". You have gradually drifted over to what I have been saying all along.

> Or, you're trying to impress people with your knowledge about sciencey things.

No, just sticking to my guns and trying to help you understand rather than just repeating myself.

> Tell you what, I'll carry on with what I'm doing and have nice crisp images to look at. You can carry on without sharpening and spend the time wondering if you need glasses or not...

Or I can just keep taking images that I like. Quite often parts of them are sharp because I set the camera up properly and want them to be sharp. You can carry on fixing your camera setup errors in post processing with post-sharpening and deluding yourself into thinking you're fixing the effects of the low pass filter
Post edited at 19:51
ChrisJD on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to wintertree:

So Wiki is wrong to call an AA (optical low pass) filter a 'Blur Filter':

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-aliasing_filter


So Tech Radar is wrong to say: "This filter had the effect of softening the image very slightly"

http://www.techradar.com/news/photography-video-capture/cameras/non-low-pass-filters-explained-goodb...


So outdoorphotgrpaher is wrong to say: "This blurs the image's high frequencies (fine detail) at the pixel level, reducing moiré and artifacts. But it also reduces sharpness at the pixel level."

And: "the AA-filterless cameras should be valuable tools, delivering fine definition and lots of landscape detail."

http://www.outdoorphotographer.com/photography-gear/cameras/can-you-go-no-low-pass/


So NikonUSA are wrong to say: "The trade-off to using an OLPF is slight softening of the image."

http://www.nikonusa.com/en/learn-and-explore/article/gy43mjgu/moir%C3%A9-false-color.html


Digtial Camera.net are wrong to say: 'its drawback is that this affects negatively the general sharpness of the photographs making it lose detail":

http://thedigitalcamera.net/what-are-the-optical-low-pass-filter-aa-filters-and-how-do-they-affect-y...


I'm just curious why every article I've looked at says that a OPLF will slightly reduce the general sharpness of an image (or however you want to phrase it).

handofgod on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to wintertree:

My post has well and truly been hijacked
So wintertree, are you basically saying; you are opposed to post editing of any pics you've taken and that the camera should be set correctly initially thus taken the pic correctly in the first place ?
Also any ideas what HDR is? I keep reading it everywhere but no idea what it means.
ChrisJD on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to handofgod:

> Also any ideas what HDR is? I keep reading it everywhere but no idea what it means.

I'm thinking that you're trolling us all here. The 'aiming the red dots' got me suspicious!



handofgod on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to ChrisJD:
Total and utter rubbish.
This is a genuine post which of no blame of my own has digressed onto a total different topic.
I'm new to photography and just trying to pick up some tips.
Don't worry though, I've ordered a book off amazon.
Enjoy your weekend ChrisJD!!!
Post edited at 20:29
wintertree - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to ChrisJD:

> So Wiki is wrong to call an AA (optical low pass) filter a 'Blur Filter':

No. As I have said the blur limits the resolution of the image to the nyquist limit of the sensor.

> So Tech Radar is wrong to say: "This filter had the effect of softening the image very slightly"

No. But the softening is only perceptible on a limited class of images. Very limited. The loss of resolution is intrinsic in the Bayer array. It is only when the image is such that the loss by the Bayer array can be recovered that the AA filter then limits you.

> So outdoorphotgrpaher is wrong to say: "This blurs the image's high frequencies (fine detail) at the pixel level, reducing moiré and artifacts. But it also reduces sharpness at the pixel level."

Somewhat, yes, as the pixel level sharpness is lost anyhow to the Bayer array.

> And: "the AA-filterless cameras should be valuable tools, delivering fine definition and lots of landscape detail."

Yes, as I have said very clearly and consistently before, when everything else is set up perfectly and when the the brightness varies with pixel level sharpness but the colour does not, then there is a difference.

> So NikonUSA are wrong to say: "The trade-off to using an OLPF is slight softening of the image."

No and I have never said otherwise although it's a gross over simplification. Just that under almost all conditions it's not perceptible.

> Digtial Camera.net are wrong to say: 'its drawback is that this affects negatively the general sharpness of the photographs making it lose detail":

Yes, this is a gross over simplification

> I'm just curious why every article I've looked at says that a OPLF will slightly reduce the general sharpness of an image (or however you want to phrase it).

Probably because most people just repeat what they've read and call it journalism, and because photographic journalism is filled with pixel level obsessive testing that is so divorced from the real world as to be approaching HiFi journalism.

The low pass filter mixes the light over a single Bayer quad. It is not Gaussian unlike many filters but is limited to that quad with high precision. If you have a monochrome (red for res etc) image in the red or blue channels the sensor sees the exact same thing with or without a low pass filter. With a green image there is potential for slight bluring depending on the structure of the subject.

When you reconstruct the two thirds of the image thrown away by the Bayer array, if you have something visible in all colour channels over many pixels and can assume the colour to be fixed then the luminance reconstructed from the Bayer data is blurred. So under the right conditions the filter reduces fine detail.

I've been clear and consistent on this.

Most in camera and post sharpening is fixing the sins of acquisition and not to do with the low pass filter.
Post edited at 20:42
wintertree - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to handofgod:

> My post has well and truly been hijacked

Sorry... still waiting to see your exposure...

> So wintertree, are you basically saying; you are opposed to post editing of any pics you've taken and that the camera should be set correctly initially thus taken the pic correctly in the first place ?

No. just that raws are not deliberately blurred and that most sharpening is driven by the persons taste in images and fixing mistakes in setup, and nothing to do with this low pass filter propel mention.

I regularly crop images and adjust colour levels for my tastes.

> Also any ideas what HDR is? I keep reading it everywhere but no idea what it means.

Different things to different people! Basically seeing contrast on light and dark objects at the same time.
Post edited at 20:33
handofgod on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to wintertree:

1/160 sec. f/7.1 39mm
ISO 100
wintertree - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to handofgod:

> 1/160 sec. f/7.1 39mm

> ISO 100

Thanks . That should be sharp assuming it wasn't blowing a gale onto the tripod. I'd wager money on problems focusing correctly. Experimenting with the red dots is the way to go.
The Lemming - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to handofgod:

> Total and utter rubbish.

> This is a genuine post which of no blame of my own has digressed onto a total different topic.

>

Yes this subject has turned into a naval gazing contest between two contributors and I don't have a clue what they are blithering about and I've switched off.

However Chris is a dang fine photographer, and one who's opinions and views on the subject of photography, like many other posters on this discussion, can be relied upon and trusted to keep you on the right path.

As yet, we are all just guessing about your focusing problems as we have not seen any images that you consider out of focus.

As somebody mentioned above, set your camera to full-on auto, so that it acts like a point-and-click camera. Then take some test shots to see if you still have focus problems. Take the same test shots with your phone so you have something to compare and contrast between both cameras.

If your dslr produces images in focus while on auto, then it's a good bet that you have a learning curve ahead of you.

If the shots are out of focus after being taken using Auto, then the problem is most probably the kit and not you.

I have two further tips to help you improve, and one of those will probably get me accused of blasphemy.

The first suggestion is, when you clamp your camera to a tripod, turn off any image stabilization on the camera or lens. They will freak out on a tripod trying to compensate for non-existent movement from the user.

The second tip, and the one that many on here will scream, burn him, is don't get too hung up on shooting RAW. I have had a dslr since 2005. I only ever used RAW for the first 6 months. I gave up on using RAW for my own sanity and captured straight to JPEG. I found myself spending too much time at a computer processing the RAW images into JPEGs and it put me off taking photos for a while because of the dread of converting.

Admittedly, this was in the days before Lightroom, but it put me right off the learning curve of dslr cameras.

I just cut out the middle man and got the camera to convert to JPEGs. Did this ruin my images?

No. I am not a professional or pixel peeper. I'm a punter, and if the focus and exposure is done right in camera then the JPEGs will be fine too.

Quite a lot of professionals shoot JPEG too when time is of the essence.

Saying all that, I now have a new camera but this time I mix and match between shooting JPEG and RAW. It depends on the subject and situation as to which I choose. But that decision was made with 10 years of getting used to playing with a dslr first.

telemark - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to The Lemming:

> The first suggestion is, when you clamp your camera to a tripod, turn off any image stabilization on the camera or lens. They will freak out on a tripod trying to compensate for non-existent movement from the user.

Assuming the OP has the 18-55 lens, there's no need to worry about switching off image stabilisation on a tripod. Most of Canons recent IS lenses have something called tripod sensing which means if you're anything like me, you don't need to worry about keeping IS on all the time. I can't begin to tell you how happy I was to discover this a few days ago - one less thing to remember!





benmason - on 07 Jan 2017
In reply to handofgod:

Where are you based? If you are in the North West feel free to drop me a message and bring your camera to my workshop (South Liverpool) a check over.

As many have pointed out above it could be a number of different variables but a quick bench check and sensor clean would not do any harm.
FactorXXX - on 07 Jan 2017
In reply to benmason:

Where are you based? If you are in the North West feel free to drop me a message and bring your camera to my workshop (South Liverpool) a check over.
As many have pointed out above it could be a number of different variables but a quick bench check and sensor clean would not do any harm.


UKC at it's best!
shaun walby - on 07 Jan 2017
In reply to handofgod:

Hyperfocal distance focusing...

No time to read all replys, apologies if already mentioned.
Might wants to play with focus stacking when with tripod
The Lemming - on 07 Jan 2017
In reply to shaun walby:

How would you do this with a modern lens that has no markings for focal distances?
telemark - on 07 Jan 2017
In reply to The Lemming:

> How would you do this with a modern lens that has no markings for focal distances?

Use the rear screen (Liveview in Canon speak) to help you to focus on the closest part of the image, press the button then shift the focus away from you a bit(tm) and take another. And so on until you can't focus any further away. Then find some software to align then merge the pictures together - Google "focus stacking" for free software and tutorials.

a bit(tm) is the now trademarked term for the quanta involved in sucking and seeing ....
The Lemming - on 07 Jan 2017
In reply to telemark:

Bit of a faff.

I'll pass on that one.
telemark - on 07 Jan 2017
In reply to The Lemming:

> Bit of a faff.

I wouldn't disagree! With smaller sensors creating increasingly better results at high ISO settings there's less need for this sort of technique. However its handy when trying to take close up or macro images especially with larger DSLR sensors. And its still a faff even when your lens has all the focus markings in the world.

ChrisJD on 07 Jan 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Although presumably the in-camera RAW processing must (or at least could) be optimal for some photos to somebody's taste.

Any 'optimal' in-camera jpg could be bettered by a manually processed RAW taken as a jpg/RAW combo. By bettered I mean in terms of improved (by varying degree) sharpness, noise levels, colour reproduction, shadow detail, highlight control etc. But there's no accounting for some people's taste, lol.
FactorXXX - on 07 Jan 2017
In reply to ChrisJD:

Any 'optimal' in-camera jpg could be bettered by a manually processed RAW taken as a jpg/RAW combo. By bettered I mean in terms of improved (by varying degree) sharpness, noise levels, colour reproduction, shadow detail, highlight control etc. But there's no accounting for some people's taste, lol.

Apart from sharpness obviously...
ChrisJD on 07 Jan 2017
In reply to FactorXXX:

Leave it!
ads.ukclimbing.com
ChrisJD on 07 Jan 2017
In reply to wintertree:

> I almost never perform edge enhancement - what you call sharpening. I prefer to take an image that doesn't need it. On the rare occasion I've messed up on a particular shot I need I have used edge enhancement and been unsatisifed with it.

> The beauty of photography however is that it's all subjective and it takes more than pixel sharp lines to make a good photo.

> Tone mapping is a necessary evil caused by having lower dynamic range displays than the raw image, and it is far less destructive to the information in the images than post-sharpening.


Any links to your photographs so we can see your approach in action?
keith-ratcliffe on 07 Jan 2017
In reply to The Lemming:
One solution is to choose a point to focus on that equates to the hyperfocal distance. So in a scenic shot that has stuff in the far distance, some in middle distance and some close in, first choose an aperture that gives you reasonable depth of field say f5.6 minimum - f8 better - then focus on the middle distance or nearer - that way there is a good chance that nearly all your scene is in focus. Obviously the shutter speeds may be quite slow so a tripod may be required. This is a useful site for understanding DOF http://www.dofmaster.com/doftable.html
wintertree - on 07 Jan 2017
In reply to ChrisJD:

> Any links to your photographs so we can see your approach in action?

Nacht. They're all either large prints on walls or jpegs on Facebook so compressed and downsized enough that the kind of pixel peeping needed to obsess over post-sharpening isn't going to tell you anything except that it's a JPEG decompressed by favebook...

The shame.
Post edited at 20:16
ChrisJD on 07 Jan 2017

Not interested in pixel peeping, just interested to see your work and how your technical knowledge translates into image making.

wintertree - on 07 Jan 2017
In reply to ChrisJD:

> Not interested in pixel peeping, just interested to see your work and how your technical knowledge translates into image making.

I wouldn't claim that it does otherwise I'd be Ansel Adams crossed with Picasso on speed. I most definitely am not! Unless you're trying for a particular demanding and unusual shots I think technical knowledge falls far, far down the list of things that make a good image.

My dSLRs have barely even been out in the last two years, although I have taken about 100,000 photos with them before then. Perhaps it's high time I went through them and put some of the better ones online.



ChrisJD on 07 Jan 2017
In reply to wintertree:

That's a real shame, 100K plus of images not shared, with a few prints and Low Res FB to show for all that effort!

Get yourself on Flickr!

I'm currently at c. 10,000 images shared (not all public), about 10% of total stock. Lots of back catolog still to upload.

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