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      02-12-2008, 04:21 AM   #1
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Photography: Tips Thread

I'm a total novice when it comes to photography.

Reading through Viv's thread about choosing a DSLR camera and having seen some of the images posted by people on the forum suggests that we have some really knowledgable and talented photographers out there.

So I thought a general discussion about improving ones photo skills might be interesting.

I'll start of with a question or two ...

I have a cheapish 'ultra compact' point and shoot camera, which I bought a couple of years ago:

http://www.cameras.co.uk/details/cas...im-ex-z750.cfm


It can produce some really great images outdoors where light levels are high, but interior shots tend to be less crisp, with a bit to much digital noise in the shadows.

Is that just indicative of the quality of the camera (ie do I need an SLR to do any better) or is there something I can do to improve my shots?

This photo is one of the nicest I have managed to take with the camera, but how could it have been better?
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      02-12-2008, 11:11 AM   #2
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Noise is a function of the capability of the sensor (be it CMOS or CCD) to "collect" light. Basically the smaller the photosite the more noise is produced.

Now a P&S has a 1/4" ~ 2/3" sensor, if you compare that to an APS-C sensor seen in most dSLR's or the full frame sensors in Canon 1 and 5D bodies or the new Nikon D3 and you see why 10 megapixels in the available area is an issue for a P&S.

Bob Atkins has a nice article on this: http://www.bobatkins.com/photography...e_matters.html

A dSLR would of allowed you to add a haze (UV or Skylight) filter to that shot to help reduce some of the softness. Although personally I'd of gone with a circular polariser to give the sea a bit more blueness and bring out the greens in the landscape more.

This is probably a similarly hazy day:

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      02-12-2008, 11:46 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NathanJT View Post
Noise is a function of the capability of the sensor (be it CMOS or CCD) to "collect" light. Basically the smaller the photosite the more noise is produced.

Now a P&S has a 1/4" ~ 2/3" sensor, if you compare that to an APS-C sensor seen in most dSLR's or the full frame sensors in Canon 1 and 5D bodies or the new Nikon D3 and you see why 10 megapixels in the available area is an issue for a P&S.

Bob Atkins has a nice article on this: http://www.bobatkins.com/photography...e_matters.html

A dSLR would of allowed you to add a haze (UV or Skylight) filter to that shot to help reduce some of the softness. Although personally I'd of gone with a circular polariser to give the sea a bit more blueness and bring out the greens in the landscape more.
Thanks Nathan ..

So the 'noise' I struggle with on internal shots is because I am limited by the size of the sensor and lens, regardless of the number of megapixels detected by the sensor?

Is this also why the external shots are better than internal (more light), but not as sharp as with a DSLR?
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      02-12-2008, 11:57 AM   #4
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Well, it's the race for MORE megapixels that's effectively causing increased noise in P&S cameras. If you think about it, the sensor size doesn't increase so cramming 10 million pixels into the space that had 7 million effectively reduces the size of the photo sites dramatically.

You can obviously only get a finite amount of light INTO the lens and the electronics need a certain amount given their sensitivity. Diminishing returns at work really!
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      02-12-2008, 12:10 PM   #5
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Ok, I found the article I was looking for!

This might help: http://www.sphoto.com/techinfo/dslrs...slrsensors.htm

I know the conclusion doesn't ring true with the theory but you'll at least understand why a P&S has so much trouble with noise.
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      02-12-2008, 04:49 PM   #6
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Photography also seems to be easily seperated into two subjects,

1. Taking the photo
2. Post processing

Most of the great pics you see around have probably had some heavy PP done in photoshop etc. in addition to good cameras/technique

For indoor shots a compact is never going to perform well, firstly the amount of light that is let into the lense is small so the onboard flash fires but creates harsh light shadows etc. The first think you can do to improve pictures indoors is to use bounce flash off the roof etc. Or you can invest in a DSLR and use a lense with a very wide apeture called a prime which will allow enough light into the camera without using the flash.

I spent two mins on your photo, do you like this better?
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      02-12-2008, 05:57 PM   #7
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Digital allows you to do three things that film doesn't

1. Get instant feedback from the LCD on the camera.
2. Take as many pictures as you can without worrying about processing cost.
3. Develop your image manipulation skills.

As Garry says, you can spend more time editting a shot after it has been taken than taking it. Once you are more familiar with what you can do in the "digital darkroom" you can get a lot more out of your shots.

My take on your pic, just a bit of levels correction applied just to the upper half of the picture and a little saturtion boost.
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      02-13-2008, 02:28 AM   #8
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This brings up another point actually. A dSLR will let you shoot in RAW format, meaning that you have access to exactly the image the camera recorded as opposed to a processed JPEG. This gives you far mor control over any post processing and allows you to make the most of the image.

This shouldn't be at the expense of getting it right in the camera in my opinion though.
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      02-13-2008, 04:57 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NathanJT View Post
This brings up another point actually. A dSLR will let you shoot in RAW format, meaning that you have access to exactly the image the camera recorded as opposed to a processed JPEG. This gives you far mor control over any post processing and allows you to make the most of the image.
Yes, I shoot in raw wherever possible. The resulting 12 bit images contain a wider dynamic range enabling a slight adjustment of exposure, and also tweaking of contrast etc. before saving out as a standard 8 bit LDR file (Jpeg etc).

Most cameras enable the saving of a RAW file alongside a normal JPEG - at the expense of taking up more space on your memory card (but with cards being so cheap that is hardly worth bothering about).

I bought my 400D to mainly create HDRs ...

D.
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      02-13-2008, 11:34 AM   #10
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Something else to take note of is the ISO setting on the camera. Typically many compacts use an AUTO ISO feature or set it artificially high. ISO is a measure of how sensitive the film/sensor is to light. In brief, a high ISO number (eg 1600) will be very sensitive to light so the shutter speed can be faster but at the expense of noise. A low ISO (100/200) will have less noise but requires a slower shutter speed.

Many of the automatic features of compacts (night-mode, sport mode etc) will adjust the ISO and set the "perferred" priority on either shutter or aperture. Have a look at your camera and see if you can manually overide the ISO and see if that improves the situation

HTH
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      02-13-2008, 01:48 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave_3 View Post
... (but with cards being so cheap that is hardly worth bothering about).
I saw a 1GB compactflash card yesterday that was less than 1/16 what I paid for my 1GB microdrive (5 years ago). Oddly enough, alongside it was an 8GB that was more than half of the microdrive.
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      02-14-2008, 07:59 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NathanJT View Post
This brings up another point actually. A dSLR will let you shoot in RAW format, meaning that you have access to exactly the image the camera recorded as opposed to a processed JPEG. This gives you far mor control over any post processing and allows you to make the most of the image.

This shouldn't be at the expense of getting it right in the camera in my opinion though.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave_3 View Post
Yes, I shoot in raw wherever possible. The resulting 12 bit images contain a wider dynamic range enabling a slight adjustment of exposure, and also tweaking of contrast etc. before saving out as a standard 8 bit LDR file (Jpeg etc).

Most cameras enable the saving of a RAW file alongside a normal JPEG - at the expense of taking up more space on your memory card (but with cards being so cheap that is hardly worth bothering about).

I bought my 400D to mainly create HDRs ...

D.
My camera doesn't fully support RAW, but it has a semi-RAW function, which allows you to make copies of images within the camera using different ISO's etc.

I read about 'bracketing' recently - taking multiple versions of the same shot at different settings - and have been playing about with it a little.

I've also just discovered that my camera has a digital 'flash assist' which enhances the shadows and highlights on flash images, to provide the impression of additional lighting. Activating it has definitely improved the sharpness of indoor shots.

I am also contemplating using the manual settings for shutter speed. Sometimes with the auto settings the selected speed isn't that quick and we have noticed some images with faint blurring that's visible when zooming in.
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      02-14-2008, 08:13 AM   #13
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My hot tip is.............

Always check the lens cap is off!
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      02-14-2008, 08:16 AM   #14
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      02-14-2008, 03:28 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by needforspeed View Post
I am also contemplating using the manual settings for shutter speed. Sometimes with the auto settings the selected speed isn't that quick and we have noticed some images with faint blurring that's visible when zooming in.
The problem you have there is probably a limitation of your camera, it's selecting the largest apeture and then working out the highest shutter speed that will expose correctly, if you manually speed up the shutter all you'll end up with is dark under exposed pictures.

you'll need either a camera with bigger apeture or you need some external light source like a flash
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      02-15-2008, 04:03 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GarryF View Post
The problem you have there is probably a limitation of your camera, it's selecting the largest apeture and then working out the highest shutter speed that will expose correctly, if you manually speed up the shutter all you'll end up with is dark under exposed pictures.

you'll need either a camera with bigger apeture or you need some external light source like a flash
Thanks very much for this. Just read a few articles on this. I had no idea what the 'f' number meant in manual mode.

I think this may be the main reason why the camera is better in bright light.
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      02-15-2008, 04:11 AM   #17
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Yeah, to give you an idea I've only been able to get reasonable indoor photos using available light with my DSLR and a prime lense open to about f1.8, anything smaller and I need fill flash as well.
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      02-16-2008, 08:29 AM   #18
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Here is a wee photo taken with my point and shoot Olympus Miu digital. I have never posted a pic before and just wanted to check how to do it before I get the new e92 as I will be posting pics asap!!!

Edit: okay, so the photo is there - what do I need to do to adjust the size of the photo as this is massive?
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      02-16-2008, 08:50 AM   #19
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Very little work using the unsharp mask will work wonders- I've purposely overdone it, just to show you the difference

Any graphics program will let you reduce the pic size down.

There are some simple & easy-to-follow Photoshop video tutorials available here.

Viv
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      02-16-2008, 02:54 PM   #20
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Thanks Viv
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      02-19-2008, 12:06 AM   #21
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      02-19-2008, 09:23 AM   #22
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Looks interesting - cheers for the link
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