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DSLR-age n00b needs some advice

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Jan 17, 2007
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So my wife bought me a DSLR for xmas. I did not expect that. It's my first time with a DSLR and man am I lost!

For reference, I got the Canon Rebel XSI. So it's more of an entry level camera.

So I've got some questions that need answering:

Taking the lens off and on the body is a bit of a hassle. Is it okay for me to leave the lens on the body when I store it in the bag? Or will that cause harm to it? How do I store it? Facing up? Facing down? Level?

The package deal my wife got also comes with a battery grip. Though it feels clunky to me, it seems that pros swear by it. Is it really that great? Or should I sell it on ebay for a macro lens instead?

I know the different modes are for different priorities when letting the camera handle the work. Mine has:

P - Program AE
Tv - Shutter Priority
Av - Aperture Priority
M - Manual Exposure
A-DEP - Auto Depth of Field

What are they for and when should I use them? I'm guessing M is basically "have at it!"

Are there any good tips on when I want to start getting into manually playing with the camera?
 

giga

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radiantdreamer said:
Taking the lens off and on the body is a bit of a hassle. Is it okay for me to leave the lens on the body when I store it in the bag? Or will that cause harm to it? How do I store it? Facing up? Facing down? Level?

The package deal my wife got also comes with a battery grip. Though it feels clunky to me, it seems that pros swear by it. Is it really that great? Or should I sell it on ebay for a macro lens instead?

I know the different modes are for different priorities when letting the camera handle the work. Mine has:

P - Program AE
Tv - Shutter Priority
Av - Aperture Priority
M - Manual Exposure
A-DEP - Auto Depth of Field

What are they for and when should I use them? I'm guessing M is basically "have at it!"

Are there any good tips on when I want to start getting into manually playing with the camera?
1. lens is fine with the body. doesn't matter how you store it.
2. use the battery grip for portrait mode. but if you want a lens, then ok--but good luck buying a good macro lens for under $300.
3. http://digital-photography-school.com/blog/digital-camera-modes/
 

mrkgoo

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radiantdreamer said:
So my wife bought me a DSLR for xmas. I did not expect that. It's my first time with a DSLR and man am I lost!

For reference, I got the Canon Rebel XSI. So it's more of an entry level camera.

So I've got some questions that need answering:

Taking the lens off and on the body is a bit of a hassle. Is it okay for me to leave the lens on the body when I store it in the bag? Or will that cause harm to it? How do I store it? Facing up? Facing down? Level?

The package deal my wife got also comes with a battery grip. Though it feels clunky to me, it seems that pros swear by it. Is it really that great? Or should I sell it on ebay for a macro lens instead?

I know the different modes are for different priorities when letting the camera handle the work. Mine has:

P - Program AE
Tv - Shutter Priority
Av - Aperture Priority
M - Manual Exposure
A-DEP - Auto Depth of Field

What are they for and when should I use them? I'm guessing M is basically "have at it!"

Are there any good tips on when I want to start getting into manually playing with the camera?
By the time it takes me to type this, I'm sure I'll be beaten by, like 10 replies:

The exposure of any shot is governed by 3 main parts - shutterspeed, aperture, and ISO. Traditionally, a camera ISO was determined by the film in use, so the modes were typically as you see above. I'm going to leave out ISO in this discussion.

So basically the 'correct' exposure is a balance between these things. If one goes up, another can be adjusted down to give the same exposure.

In all of these modes, except 'M', the camera uses it's built-in light meter to determine what would be the correct exposure. In 'P', the camera will choose both the aperture and the shutterspeed.

In Shutter priority, you choose the shutterspeed, and the camera chooses the aperture (when you press the trigger button).
In Aperture priority, you choose the aperture, and the camera will choose the appropriate shutterspeed.

In 'M', you choose both, and the camera has no say, though it will still give you a light meter reading so you can have a guide.

'A-DEP' is automatic depth of field. YOu see, changing the aperture has an effect on the depth of field (DOF), which determines how 'thick' the plane of focus is - in effect, determining what is in focus and what is out of focus (in the foreground and background). In this mode, the camera will adjust both aperture and shutterspeed, but prioritise the aperture so that all active focus points in the viewfinder will be in focus.
 

SnakeXs

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Taking the lens off and on the body is a bit of a hassle. Is it okay for me to leave the lens on the body when I store it in the bag? Or will that cause harm to it? How do I store it? Facing up? Facing down? Level?
Yes it's fine to keep the lens on. Recommended even, since the fewer times you swap, the fewer opportunities for any dust to get in.

Keep the lens/camera facing down when you can, since dust will move with gravity downward. Neither of these is a huge issue, though. Your have a filter to try and keep dust away, so just be smart about when you swap your lens (if you get another) and you'll be fine. No need to worry, really.

P - Program AE
Sort of like auto, but with more flexibility and control. Flash won't pop up automatically, you have control over ISO and WB settings.

Tv - Shutter Priority
Usually used when you are shooting something fast moving, and need to set a fast enough shutter speed to "freeze" the action. The camera will set whatever aperture is needed to get a proper exposure.

Av - Aperture Priority
Commonly used instead of auto. Set your aperture for what you're shooting/needs are, and the camera will set the shutter speed to whatever it needs to for a proper exposure. You can usually set a "slowest usable" shutter speed, if you know you don't want to hand hold below, say, 1/30th.

M - Manual Exposure
You set everything yourself. Read your camera's meter, and change the aperture and shutter speed at your whim.

A-DEP - Auto Depth of Field
No clue. What's your manual say? That or someone who's used yoru camera/more modern Canons can explain it for you.

As for the grip, if you don't like it, don't use it. If you shoot vertical a lot, or shoot a ton and need the battery life, then hold on to it, but if you find it clunky and not worth the weight then ditch it. A grip is to make things more convenient, not get in your way. A new lens will open more "opportunities" to you than a grip, too. That all said, I use one and love it. :p

As for tips, how much about the technical side of photography do you know? Do you understand how shutter speed, ISO, and sperture work and affect each other, and how that comes together for a final image? If you don't, then that's a start, if you do then you're set to get going.
 

giga

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canon 100mm macro, tamron 90mm macro, sigma 105mm macro are upwards of $400.

100mm is ideal for macro so you can keep your distance on insects/etc.

otherwise, consider the canon 60mm macro: http://www.amazon.com/Canon-EF-S-Macro-Digital-Cameras/dp/B0007WK8KS/ref=pd_bbs_sr_2?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1230686386&sr=8-2

there's also the really cheap 50mm macro, but I don't recommend it since it's so slow (focus) and clunky (build) : http://www.amazon.com/Canon-50mm-Compact-Macro-Lens/dp/B00006I53V/ref=pd_bbs_sr_3?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1230686386&sr=8-3
 

mrkgoo

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radiantdreamer said:
Hmmm... I guess I can at least put it TOWARDS a macro lens... How much does one cost?

I've got a lot to learn -_-;
The usefulness of a battery grip is dependent on how you use your camera. Like to take lots of portrait orientation photos (and you should)? For most people this is the main use. The battery itself is secondary (you can always carry a second battery).

True macro lenses can be very expensive (US$500 and upwards). They simply allow you to focus closer than other lenses, until a 1:1 ratio between subject size and image on the sensor is reached.

Before getting any other gear, take photos for a while. This will help you get familiar with it and let you know what you are missing.

To use 'M' mode as a first outing is ok, but only if you understand exposure, and how a camera comes to what it believes is 'correct' exposure. If you don't then, then you just end up twiddling knobs and dials without knowing what they mean, and you will end up hating your camera.
 

mrkgoo

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giga said:
canon 100mm macro, tamron 90mm macro, sigma 105mm macro are upwards of $400.

100mm is ideal for macro so you can keep your distance on insects/etc.

otherwise, consider the canon 60mm macro: http://www.amazon.com/Canon-EF-S-Macro-Digital-Cameras/dp/B0007WK8KS/ref=pd_bbs_sr_2?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1230686386&sr=8-2

there's also the really cheap 50mm macro, but I don't recommend it since it's so slow (focus) and clunky (build) : http://www.amazon.com/Canon-50mm-Compact-Macro-Lens/dp/B00006I53V/ref=pd_bbs_sr_3?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1230686386&sr=8-3
The Canon ef-s 60mm Macro is a great lens. It is deadly sharp, with great images. If and when I go full frame, one reason holding me back will be this lens (as it is not compatible with the big boy cameras).
 
Jan 17, 2007
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oooh this is most helpful! Thanks for the tips everyone! I didn't know that there was so much involved! So it seems to be all about the exposure and how to get the best exposure for the best looking photos. I'll definitely look into the workings between shutter speed, ISO, and aperture.

This is very different from standard point and shoots. :p I'm glad there is a full auto mode to start. Definitely will be playing around with this a lot before buying new gear. No point in investing in something I know nothing about. :)
 

ianp622

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The Rebel manual is actually very helpful, I would recommend reading through it.

I took this picture in Sri Lanka with a Rebel and Canon 400mm f5.6 lens.



I can post a higher res version later.

So even though it's a "starter" camera, it's a VERY GOOD camera.

Also, since the others left out ISO, I'll explain it. You can usually leave it at the default and forget about it, unless you're shooting in low-light conditions. A low ISO gives the best quality, but images will be darker. A high ISO introduces grain and noise into the image, but can capture more light. In film, ISO is the number of photo-sensitive crystals on the film. In digital photography, it is the "gain" of the photo-optic sensor.
 

mrkgoo

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radiantdreamer said:
oooh this is most helpful! Thanks for the tips everyone! I didn't know that there was so much involved! So it seems to be all about the exposure and how to get the best exposure for the best looking photos. I'll definitely look into the workings between shutter speed, ISO, and aperture.

This is very different from standard point and shoots. :p I'm glad there is a full auto mode to start. Definitely will be playing around with this a lot before buying new gear. No point in investing in something I know nothing about. :)
Yup, exactly!

You CAN use the camera like a point and shoot, but you will like it more when you understand things - THEN you can really get creative! (The full auto is th green box mode - the 'P' mode is kind of like an auto - stick with 'P' if 'M/Tv/Av' are intimidating).

Oh, be sure to drop by the quarterly thread:
http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=337187

And participate in the periodic assignment threads:
http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=346540

The single BEST way to improve your photography is to go out and take pictures!
 

mrkgoo

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golem said:
tbh i think nikon's cameras are slightly more featured than canon's at this time.. EXCEPT for the entry level ones. XS/XSi > D40,D60
TO be fair, I believe all the Nikon cameras kind of insert themselves between Canon cameras - so they have more features, but cost more too.
 

ianp622

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golem said:
tbh i think nikon's cameras are slightly more featured than canon's at this time.. EXCEPT for the entry level ones. XS/XSi > D40,D60
From what I've heard, Canon lenses are better though.
 

nitewulf

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ianp622 said:
I took this picture in Sri Lanka with a Rebel and Canon 400mm f5.6 lens.
is that the 400mm L lens? that's pretty sharp, do you remember the aperture setting? the L telephoto primes are some of best in the world though, so the sharpness isnt surprising.
 

ianp622

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nitewulf said:
is that the 400mm L lens? that's pretty sharp, do you remember the aperture setting? the L telephoto primes are some of best in the world though, so the sharpness isnt surprising.
Yeah. I took it at f/5.6, 1/1000 s, ISO-400. It was a little overexposed so I edited it in Photoshop. But it gave it that National Geographic kind of look, so I'm happy with it.

Later I read that you shouldn't set the aperture to the maximum of the lens, but it still turned out well I think.

Here's the larger version (although still not the max resolution from the Rebel):

 

mrkgoo

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ianp622 said:
Yeah. I took it at f/5.6, 1/1000 s, ISO-400. It was a little overexposed so I edited it in Photoshop. But it gave it that National Geographic kind of look, so I'm happy with it.

Later I read that you shouldn't set the aperture to the maximum of the lens, but it still turned out well I think.
Why not use it at max aperture? Sure it may not be the lens' optimum, but the 'L' series are renowned for being useable wide open.
 
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Given you're just starting out, you should consider the Canon 50mm f/1.8 II, which can be had for around $90. You can still take very close shots with this lens (it's not a 'macro'), and it's a great learning lens. Takes great portraits too. I recently bought the XSi and, as you can tell, got this inexpensive lens along with the kit lens. It's so much sharper and faster than the kit lens, while the kit lens has the 18-55mm range to it (18mm is actually 29mm on the wide end on our camera, but still pretty wide).

My next purchases will be a reliable but portable tripod and a 430EX II flash. And then the relatively inexpensive Canon 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS. Then the Canon 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM. And then... and then... *sigh*

(Here's a cheap, but sturdy camera backpack too. My laptop even fits in the front pocket, so I often take it on business trips.)
 
Jan 17, 2007
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I'm definitely considering getting that $90 lens. It's a small price for a good upgrade, it seems.

On another note, I've tried to test this camera out and see exactly how clear an image it can get. So here it is, kit lens. 800 ISO, 1/8, 5.6, max resolution, 3.4 megs, AI Servo AF. IS turned on.


cropped image.

http://dandan.gamers-fix.com/temp/focustest.jpg

Can someone tell me if my camera is doing it's job? Is it normal for it to be a little blurry even at the center focus point?

I'm obviously taking a picture of a really close subject, but I've found this problem happen when I'm taking regular pictures of people too. AF doesn't seem to focus very well and the overall image seems blurry.

edit: ISO 200, not 800. ;)
 

joshschw

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At 1/8th of a second, even with the IS, and at ISO 800, with the lens wide open, I can;t imagine you getting much sharper than that.

That was at 55mm?

The $90 50mm you referred to is MUCH sharper.

edit: your EXIF says ISO 200, but it was still 1/8th of a second.

Try in nice bright outdoor light and see what happens
 

mrkgoo

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radiantdreamer said:
Oh dear...

For reference, I decided to pull out my old Panasonic FX-9 point and shoot camera. The overall image isn't nearly as pretty of course, but man is it sharp!

ISO 400, can't remember the shutter speed, but PAS don't have very good speed to begin with.


cropped image.

http://dandan.gamers-fix.com/temp/lumix_focustest.jpg
95% if the time with dslrs, any perceived lack of quality with the equipment is from atypical useage (or misuseage). This even goes for experienced users, particularly when they get new lenses and try to test them objectively (I knwo, because that's me every time!).

Before you can say whether your equipment is working right, be aware of a few things that can cause your 'test' to to awkward:

Ensure your shutterspeed us sufficiently fast enough to not introduce blur. This will depend on your ability to be a sniper, but for the average user, this is 1/x where x is the focal length of the lens you are using (in your case multiply by 1.6 to take into account the cropping factor). At 55mm you're looking at around 1/80 seconds at least.

Try and keep your lens at optimum. This means avoiding the maximum aperture setting, where lenses tend to perform at their limits. Try f8.0. Also keep away from the minimal focus distance, which is also using your lens at its limits. Off hand, I think your lens is just over 30cm.

Keep sensor at optimum by sticking to 'whole' ISO values preferably at it's native 100.

Also keep in mind that these things don't matter all that much in reality, but are points to keep I'm mind - know the limits of your equipment so that you know best how to handle it!

Oh, and the suggestion of getting a 50mm f1,8 is a great one. With that lens you will learn a lot. Don't consider it an upgrade though. It's just another tool to go with your current gear.
 

navii

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Though I am also new to dslr world. I too think that the my Canon EOS450D could be sharper.

I even considered posting images to see what the more experienced users thought.
 

nitewulf

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keep the focal length around the middle, not the edges (ie, not 18 or 55), keep your aperture around 2 stops down from the maximum, meaning....if the maximum at 55mm is f/5.6, you wanna make it f/11. and definitely keep the shutter speed way higher than what you have used. also switch the AF to one shot, servo+plus your handshake at the slow shutter speed is what's causing the blur, most likely.

servo AF tracks your hand shake...so your AF position will switch due to those minute shakes, specially at slow shutter.

my suggestion:
keep the focal length around 35mm
speed: 1/125+
aperture: f/5.6
ISO: 200
AF: one shot
turn on all lights, open all windows...make sure there's a lot of ambient light

focus with the center point on the eye and take the shots.
 

mrkgoo

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nitewulf said:
keep the focal length around the middle, not the edges (ie, not 18 or 55), keep your aperture around 2 stops down from the maximum, meaning....if the maximum at 55mm is f/5.6, you wanna make it f/11. and definitely keep the shutter speed way higher than what you have used. also switch the AF to one shot, servo+plus your handshake at the slow shutter speed is what's causing the blur, most likely.

servo AF tracks your hand shake...so your AF position will switch due to those minute shakes, specially at slow shutter.

my suggestion:
keep the focal length around 35mm
speed: 1/125+
aperture: f/5.6
ISO: 200
AF: one shot
turn on all lights, open all windows...make sure there's a lot of ambient light

focus with the center point on the eye and take the shots.
Yep. In addition to what I posted above and this, you can always use a tripod to lower the shutterspeed for correct exposure. Switch to timer mode.

i know this sounds daunting - and you may feel like it's too much work to 'take a photograph', but believe me, it's very rewarding when you start getting the hang of it.
 

mrkgoo

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navii said:
Though I am also new to dslr world. I too think that the my Canon EOS450D could be sharper.

I even considered posting images to see what the more experienced users thought.
I'll just repeat my above comment: 95% of supposed lack of quality with gear is just inexperience with the equipment. Even for very experienced users, getting a new lens or body comes with a learning curve to know the limits and maximise your output.

On top of that some argue that images form a dSLR require further sharpening and post-processing to get to the level of post-processing a point and shoot does. I somewhat agree, but I also think that sharpness is a tad overrated. I do little post-processing, mostly because I'm not pro-enough to worry about microsharpness. I guess the most I ever do with my shots are post them on Flickr to post here :/ In which case, I don't need to worry so much.

I do enjoy the technical aspects, and one day hope to get my photography to the level where I can actually go out and purchase some decent software and move into RAW realm. But I'm content with where I'm at, pretending that gear is important. :D
 

cloudwalking

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in addition to what others have said:

while it's very important to know how to achieve optimal sharpness when you need it, keep in mind that your camera has a 12.2 megapixel image sensor which means REALLY BIG photos that you'll pretty much always resize for optimal viewing. making images smaller, even just a little smaller = more sharpness, so sometimes even if you're photo's looking less than sharp at full size, once you resize it it'll look like a million bucks.

sure, a lot of point-and-shoots are pretty sharp across the board but you're trading a hell of a lot of image quality for it. a tiny bit of camera shake that is barely visible at 20% of original size is worth it, in my opinion, to get that special, once-in-a-lifetime shot that has the image quality and eye-catching depth that only an SLR can provide.
 

DarkAngelYuna

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navii said:
Though I am also new to dslr world. I too think that the my Canon EOS450D could be sharper.

I even considered posting images to see what the more experienced users thought.
It's the user not the camera.
 

mrkgoo

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For the record, the same kind of effect can be done by applying an unsharp mask. Now I'm no master at this, having had very little experience with image processing (this is a bit overdone to show my point), but here is a quick go:

Before:


After:


Compare this to the panasonic one, and you'll see how the panasonic does things in camera. Also note the much better noise on the dSLR image.

Panasonic:

 
Jun 23, 2006
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DarkAngelYuna said:
It's the user not the camera.
Have to quote this. DSLRs are complex pieces of engineering, and there is a lot to learn. After several months with my XSi, I get far, far fewer off-focus and soft-focus shots. Which is to say, I'm finally getting close to the actual mis-focus rate of the XSi and lenses that I'm using and reducing the user error.

One of the most important things to learn about your camera is how the focus system works. What affects it? How many AF zones are there and are they activated? What kind of AF sensor do you have (e.g., the XSi has a cross-type center)? As you start to better understand how the AF system works, you'll see your shots get sharper. The best advice I got when I first got my XSi was to stop worrying about whether the camera was defective and just shoot.
 

cloudwalking

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oh, i also just wanted to back up the recommendation of the canon EF 50mm f1.8 II lens.

i have the same camera as the OP (XSi/450D) and i received this lens for christmas. i probably wouldn't have bought it for myself because i had that typical mindset that "expensive = better" but man was i wrong. this is a great lens and is still reasonably sharp wide open as long as there's no camera shake. it's amazingly fun to play around with and if you're a fan of messing around with depth of field then you'll totally love it.

here's an example of a resized shot taken at wide open aperture (1.8) i actually took this shot the day i got the lens. the point of focus was the bear's face, and as you can see it looks pretty sharp (i didn't sharpen it any in photoshop afterwards).



Exposure: 0.004 sec (1/250)
Aperture: f/1.8
Focal Length: 50 mm
ISO Speed: 200

the image was originally taken in RAW and then converted to JPG.
 
Jan 17, 2007
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My previous shots were at f5.6. The limits of my lens are f4.5 to f29. So I'm well within my limits, I think. The particular kit lens I have is EFS 18-55mm. I think the previous photos I took was pushed to 55mm. I've found ISO to be nothing more than "gain" as ianp622 pointed, so I just set the ISO to 800 for the hell of it.

So here's another test I did with better indoor lighting conditions.
f5.6
1/125
ISO 800
AF One Shot
35mm zoom
Canon Rebel XSi


Panasonic FX-9


Again, these are photoshop cropped images for quick display. The uncropped full res images are here:

http://dandan.gamers-fix.com/temp/canontest2.jpg

http://dandan.gamers-fix.com/temp/lumixtest2.jpg

-_-; this is the best I could do.

But so far, I'm loving this camera. SLRs are absolutely amazing with the way they can capture such beautiful lighting, and incredible depth of field. :D
Once you resize the image, a lot of this detail becomes superfluous.

mrkgoo, you're right, it looks like the FX-9 is processing the jpg, cuz there's this weird fluffy edge around stuff.
 
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cloudwalking said:
the minimum aperture of that lens is actually 3.5 at 18mm.

give it a try wide open, they improved the sharpness of the EF-S 18-55mm IS at 3.5 over the EF-S 18-55 I/II. :D
Oh cool!

Well, I tried that, but obviously couldn't get as close to the subject, so I kinda threw that out. But It's good to know that the aperture is actually 3.5
 

mrkgoo

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radiantdreamer said:
My previous shots were at f5.6. The limits of my lens are f4.5 to f29. So I'm well within my limits, I think. The particular kit lens I have is EFS 18-55mm. I think the previous photos I took was pushed to 55mm. I've found ISO to be nothing more than "gain" as ianp622 pointed, so I just set the ISO to 800 for the hell of it.

So here's another test I did with better indoor lighting conditions.
f5.6
1/125
ISO 800
AF One Shot
35mm zoom
Canon Rebel XSi


Again, these are photoshop cropped images for quick display. The uncropped full res images are here:

http://dandan.gamers-fix.com/temp/canontest2.jpg

http://dandan.gamers-fix.com/temp/lumixtest2.jpg

-_-; this is the best I could do.

But so far, I'm loving this camera. SLRs are absolutely amazing with the way they can capture such beautiful lighting, and incredible depth of field. :D
Once you resize the image, a lot of this detail becomes superfluous.

mrkgoo, you're right, it looks like the FX-9 is processing the jpg, cuz there's this weird fluffy edge around stuff.
Iso is just gain, but at lower iso you get less noise and possible more detail. This is because ALL digital cameras process the jpeg output.

For a bit more technical information, a sensor only reads in 'how much light' falls on each pixel. Each pixel has a coloured filter over it, of red, green, or blue varieties. The raw data that is recorded for each pixel is basically how much light falls per pixel (the data that is captured in a so-called RAW 'format'). So how does a JPEG image come about? The camera processor essentially cross references the red, green, blue pixels and reincorporates the image so each pixel is given a colour. How it does this depends on the camera, the processor, and the software inside. This affects the JPEG output. P&S cameras prioritise images to be sharp and vibrant - because most users will never adjust the output from these cameras.

dSLRS often tend to be on the little bit less processed side, but you can often adjust how it processes images in camera. The hardcore (Well, more inclined, I should say), take the RAW data and process themselves using higher level software to achieve the results themselves.
 

mrkgoo

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radiantdreamer said:
Oh cool!

Well, I tried that, but obviously couldn't get as close to the subject, so I kinda threw that out. But It's good to know that the aperture is actually 3.5
It's 3.5 only at the 18mm end. The aperture value is actually a reciprocal ratio of the focal length, so as you zoom in, the 'ratio' gets smaller.
 
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mrkgoo said:
Iso is just gain, but at lower iso you get less noise and possible more detail. This is because ALL digital cameras process the jpeg output.

For a bit more technical information, a sensor only reads in 'how much light' falls on each pixel. Each pixel has a coloured filter over it, of red, green, or blue varieties. The raw data that is recorded for each pixel is basically how much light falls per pixel (the data that is captured in a so-called RAW 'format'). So how does a JPEG image come about? The camera processor essentially cross references the red, green, blue pixels and reincorporates the image so each pixel is given a colour. How it does this depends on the camera, the processor, and the software inside. This affects the JPEG output. P&S cameras prioritise images to be sharp and vibrant - because most users will never adjust the output from these cameras.

dSLRS often tend to be on the little bit less processed side, but you can often adjust how it processes images in camera. The hardcore (Well, more inclined, I should say), take the RAW data and process themselves using higher level software to achieve the results themselves.
Yeah, I haven't gone to taking RAW images yet, as I'm not as "inclined" with my photographs at the moment. My biggest complaint with my old camera was definitely how much noise was introduced at high ISOs. Taking RAW and then post processing it will definitely help. As I recall, you can generate HDR processed images using a single RAW as opposed to a bracket of JPGs.

And my second biggest complaint with my PAS was it had no manual focus, and did a terrible job at focusing on subjects. I could literally see it get to the best focus, and then out of focus, and complain that it could not focus. I'm like "Cmon! You're capable of that focus level!"

I've noticed that my Canon does have two levels of output though... it could be a processing function. The one I have set at shows a icon of a curve, while there's also a setting that shows "steps" or "jaggy" version.


It's the one to the left of the "L".

L is obviously "Large" as there's a Medium and Small. But the little curve icon is only available at L. I'm going to try another shot with the "stepped" icon to see if there is any processing change.
 

Rentahamster

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Good luck with the new camera, OP.

If I remember correctly, you're the guy who like to take pics of his anime figure collections and composite them onto real life backgrounds, right?

Since your subjects aren't alive and moving around (like bugs), you can probably get by with the Canon 60mm 2.8 lens (about $350).

Also, since your subjects are still, you can use a long shutter speed to increase your exposure rather than using a wide aperture or a high ISO. Remember now, there are advantages and drawbacks to using low or high values for the three things that affect exposure: shutter speed, aperture, and ISO.

For example:

Photo A: 1/8 second, f8, ISO 100

Photo B: 1/250, f4, ISO 800

(let's assume that both shots were taken with a tripod)

These two settings will give you pretty much the same exposure, i.e. they will have nearly identical brightness values. The differences is that Photo A will look better (in the sense that it has better detail, less noise, and more stuff in focus).

Why?

Lower ISO produces photos with less noise and allows the camera to capture more detail. Shoot at the lowest ISO you can get away with. Higher ISO increases the camera's sensitivity to light, but at the cost of more noise.


A smaller aperture (larger f-stop value) ensures that more of your subject will be in focus, and that it will be sharper too. In general, lenses are sharper if you shoot them at a smaller aperture (up until f11 or f13 or so on 1.5 digital crop sensors).

Now we come to shutter speed. A slower shutter speed lets in more light and gives you a brighter picture. Simple enough. However, when photographing moving subjects handheld, a slow shutter speed gets you blurry pis since the subject or your shakey hands were moving around during the exposure.

Since you are gonna be taking pictures of motionless anime figures, that eliminates the factor of motion blur due to subject movement. Now, to eliminate the factor of motion blur due to camera shake, you just need to mount your camera onto a tripod.

Since the negatives of a slow shutter speed are negated due to the tripod and motionless subject, we are free to make the shutter speed as slow as we want without consequence. Therefore, we can adjust the aperture (small aperture/high f-stop value) and ISO (low ISO) to make for a nicer (but darker) picture and slow down the shutter speed to brighten the photo back up again.

When you are comfortable with these principles, then you may want to get more complex with macro boxes and small flashes.

http://strobist.blogspot.com/2006/07/how-to-diy-10-macro-photo-studio.html

Don't try to digest this all at once. It's very complicated.

My advice is that for now, you go out and buy the Canon 50mm f1.8 lens right now for like 90 bucks and take a lot of pictures. There's no zoom, but like I said before, photography is about sacrificing in some areas for gains in others. The lack of zoom will give you a really sharp lens, a lens that has a large maximum aperture (f 1.8), and a cheap price.
 

mrkgoo

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radiantdreamer said:
Yeah, I haven't gone to taking RAW images yet, as I'm not as "inclined" with my photographs at the moment. My biggest complaint with my old camera was definitely how much noise was introduced at high ISOs. Taking RAW and then post processing it will definitely help. As I recall, you can generate HDR processed images using a single RAW as opposed to a bracket of JPGs.

And my second biggest complaint with my PAS was it had no manual focus, and did a terrible job at focusing on subjects. I could literally see it get to the best focus, and then out of focus, and complain that it could not focus. I'm like "Cmon! You're capable of that focus level!"

I've noticed that my Canon does have two levels of output though... it could be a processing function. The one I have set at shows a icon of a curve, while there's also a setting that shows "steps" or "jaggy" version.


It's the one to the left of the "L".

L is obviously "Large" as there's a Medium and Small. But the little curve icon is only available at L. I'm going to try another shot with the "stepped" icon to see if there is any processing change.
That steps isn't processing level - it's compression. With more 'steps' the compression becomes greater. It's just image 'quality'. Unless you're strapped for disk space, I'd stick with teh highest image quality you can get.

For processing, the options are normally in the 'Picture Styles". I'm not sure how to acces it on the Xsi (I lose track of the crazy US naming system for the Rebels). The picture styles are kind of like presets that change colours, sharpness and stuff. For example, what Canon call 'Standard' (the default), uses a +3 level sharpness, and 0 for contrast, brightness and saturation. Other modes change, you can edit the existing ones or make your own. If you want to do some image processing before output, you can tamper here. Try a +7 sharpness to see the effect.
 

SnakeXs

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radiantdreamer said:
Yeah, I haven't gone to taking RAW images yet, as I'm not as "inclined" with my photographs at the moment. My biggest complaint with my old camera was definitely how much noise was introduced at high ISOs. Taking RAW and then post processing it will definitely help. As I recall, you can generate HDR processed images using a single RAW as opposed to a bracket of JPGs.

And my second biggest complaint with my PAS was it had no manual focus, and did a terrible job at focusing on subjects. I could literally see it get to the best focus, and then out of focus, and complain that it could not focus. I'm like "Cmon! You're capable of that focus level!"

I've noticed that my Canon does have two levels of output though... it could be a processing function. The one I have set at shows a icon of a curve, while there's also a setting that shows "steps" or "jaggy" version.

http://a.img-dpreview.com/reviews/CanonEOS450D/Images/settingsdisplay.gif
It's the one to the left of the "L".

L is obviously "Large" as there's a Medium and Small. But the little curve icon is only available at L. I'm going to try another shot with the "stepped" icon to see if there is any processing change.
1) While you can pseudo HDR with 1 RAW, it's still a much different look than is possible by combining many actually bracketed exposures, plus when you push RAWs too far you introduce noise.

2) That's the image size/detail thing. S, M, and L should just be image sizes, L being your sensor's max resolution, M and S stepping down from there. The curve is detail. I'd almost never recommend anything but the finest setting.
 
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In my initial experiences with RAW format and the Adobe RAW plugin, I've found that the best advantage is helping me salvage bad exposures. The XSi has a tendency to over-exposre at default exposure settings (I often shoot at -2/3 EV, esp. in bright lighting), so the ability to bring out detail in overexposed areas is utterly magical (coming from someone who has battled the poor dynamic range of P&S digicams for almost 9 years).

Curious what other tips and workflows you guys have for post-processing RAW images...
 

MilesWebber

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I'm also sporting a Canon Rebel XSi. I"m in love with it but learning about the correct iso/shutter speed is a bit overwhelming. I've had the camera for about six months. All i can say is USE IT A LOT. practice makes perfect as they say. Also its a good idea to familiarize yourself with Adobe Camera Raw, that way when you shoot in RAW (And you always should) it's easier to correct lighting/wb/shadows etc than it would be shooting in Jpeg mode. Also if you're interested in HDR the XSi has some great auto bracketing features. I would recommend buying a cable release and a sturdy tripod, however.

If you're interested here's a few samples of what i've been doing with the XSI

HDR

HDR

AV mode with hot lights and correction in camera raw
 

mrkgoo

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TheWiicast said:
I'm also sporting a Canon Rebel XSi. I"m in love with it but learning about the correct iso/shutter speed is a bit overwhelming. I've had the camera for about six months. All i can say is USE IT A LOT. practice makes perfect as they say. Also its a good idea to familiarize yourself with Adobe Camera Raw, that way when you shoot in RAW (And you always should) it's easier to correct lighting/wb/shadows etc than it would be shooting in Jpeg mode. Also if you're interested in HDR the XSi has some great auto bracketing features. I would recommend buying a cable release and a sturdy tripod, however.

If you're interested here's a few samples of what i've been doing with the XSI
I've very seldom shot in RAW and I don't see why it's such a necessity as many claim. I understand the advantages, but I just don't like the workflow. I may get into it a bit more properly when (if?) I get some better software. I'm leaning towards Aperture, just because I'm an Apple geek, but was not convinced it was giving me anything more in my JPEGS. On top of that, I don't actually like post-processing my shots, so I'm not sure I'd like to sit there pre-processing them. I guess it's partly that I have little experience at it, but also because I am indecisive - with so many options, I just spend a lot of time microadjusting.

As for HDR, I've seen some really nice artsy stuff using HDR, but I tend to hate the look of heavy HDR, especially when it gets to the point of making halos around objects. I guess a skilled processor can tease that out, but again, I don't have the patience (nor the software) to play with my images like that. I have dabbled a bit, but the way I see it, photography is an ever expanding art/science, so I can always get to it when I'm bored with what I'm doing now!
 
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mrkgoo said:
That steps isn't processing level - it's compression. With more 'steps' the compression becomes greater. It's just image 'quality'. Unless you're strapped for disk space, I'd stick with teh highest image quality you can get.

For processing, the options are normally in the 'Picture Styles". I'm not sure how to acces it on the Xsi (I lose track of the crazy US naming system for the Rebels). The picture styles are kind of like presets that change colours, sharpness and stuff. For example, what Canon call 'Standard' (the default), uses a +3 level sharpness, and 0 for contrast, brightness and saturation. Other modes change, you can edit the existing ones or make your own. If you want to do some image processing before output, you can tamper here. Try a +7 sharpness to see the effect.
I just checked the manual, and you're right. It's compression. :p

It's probably "picture styles" The "Rebel XSi" is actually the 450D, on dpreviews.com there's a comprehensive review of all its functions, including the stuff you mentioned about sharpness and color. I'll take a look through the manual on how to set this and take some more shots. As I recall reading on dpreview, the default sharpness level is pretty lame. lol. It could very well be the problem.

edit: dang. My Photoshop CS2 doesn't support the current RAW for my camera... looks like I'll have to get the 5.2 plugin, but the plugin doesn't support CS3 and below. :(
 

MilesWebber

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mrkgoo said:
I've very seldom shot in RAW and I don't see why it's such a necessity as many claim. I understand the advantages, but I just don't like the workflow. I may get into it a bit more properly when (if?) I get some better software. I'm leaning towards Aperture, just because I'm an Apple geek, but was not convinced it was giving me anything more in my JPEGS. On top of that, I don't actually like post-processing my shots, so I'm not sure I'd like to sit there pre-processing them. I guess it's partly that I have little experience at it, but also because I am indecisive - with so many options, I just spend a lot of time microadjusting.

As for HDR, I've seen some really nice artsy stuff using HDR, but I tend to hate the look of heavy HDR, especially when it gets to the point of making halos around objects. I guess a skilled processor can tease that out, but again, I don't have the patience (nor the software) to play with my images like that. I have dabbled a bit, but the way I see it, photography is an ever expanding art/science, so I can always get to it when I'm bored with what I'm doing now!

Post processing can be described as a labor of love. It's intensive and sometime it makes my eyes bleed but overall i think it's worth it. As for HDR I like being able to capture the entire tonal range of an image but I'm not so into "cranking all the sliders up until it looks creepy" kind of HDR. The first two pics in my last post are HDR but not super processed like some I've seen.
 

mrkgoo

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TheWiicast said:
Post processing can be described as a labor of love. It's intensive and sometime it makes my eyes bleed but overall i think it's worth it. As for HDR I like being able to capture the entire tonal range of an image but I'm not so into "cranking all the sliders up until it looks creepy" kind of HDR. The first two pics in my last post are HDR but not super processed like some I've seen.
In my opinion, your shots posted above seem a little 'unnatural' to me. I realise my hypocrisy in saying that, as photography is not about capturing things naturally (and certainly, a standard JPEG is nowhere near what would be considered natural - just what is considered 'accepted').

I concede that your first shot may be aiming for something more artistic. The second shots is nice, and I like it. Both, though seem a bit oversaturated for my liking. Admittedly, noone ever sees the same pictures on the internet. Calibration of my panel and yours, viewing conditions might be exacerbating any issues.

I may yet get into it all one day, however. (When my photography is up to snuff!)

Radiantdreamer: On that note, I wouldn't worry so much about RAW at the moment - use it when you think you are ready. Learn about your camera, and above all, have fun! If you ever find it overwhelming, pull back a bit - taking pictures should be the first priority.
 
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