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Archive 2012 · Does this image look soft to you?
  
 
mitesh
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p.1 #1 · Does this image look soft to you?


Hi everyone,

Looking for some help in determining what went wrong. I shot a series of about 12-15 pictures of this northern harrier, and another 12-15 of a juvenile bald eagle. All of them look soft and I have no idea why. Please take a look at the picture below and see if you can help me figure out what to correct.

No sharpening done to the photo except whatever LR does in the JPEG conversion. This is a severe crop of the original. Center focus point used. Using Standard picture style. EXIF should be intact. Camera and lens mounted on Gitzo 5-series tripod.




  Canon EOS 5D Mark III    EF600mm f/4L IS USM +1.4x lens    840mm    f/8.0    1/1250s    400 ISO    0.0 EV  




Nov 30, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Grantland
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p.1 #2 · Does this image look soft to you?


yep, soft.

not sure why?


Edited on Nov 30, 2012 at 09:01 PM · View previous versions



Nov 30, 2012 at 08:58 PM
mitesh
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p.1 #3 · Does this image look soft to you?


Thanks- was hoping for some ideas as to why it may be...


Nov 30, 2012 at 09:00 PM
Vivek
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p.1 #4 · Does this image look soft to you?


Yep, soft for sure. How much of a crop is this? Also, was the IS on or off, what mode?


Nov 30, 2012 at 09:16 PM
artsupreme
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p.1 #5 · Does this image look soft to you?


I would suggest a higher SS for that FL, you will get more keepers for sure.


Nov 30, 2012 at 09:17 PM
Imagemaster
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p.1 #6 · Does this image look soft to you?


Probably a combination of shutter speed being too slow and crop too extreme. Extender probably did not help either.


Nov 30, 2012 at 09:21 PM
Monito
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p.1 #7 · Does this image look soft to you?


So many ways it could be a bit soft, but mostly nobody should really be surprised on a severe crop of an 840 mm image.

You have supplied way too little of the necessary info.

How do you get 840 mm? Is that 600 mm with 1.4x teleconverter? Which 600 mm lens (or other combo)?

f/8: Is that 600 mm f/5.6 with 1.4x teleconverter which makes it an 840 mm f/8 lens? Thus, are you shooting wide open?

How severe a crop? You need to be specific. If it is a 2x crop then that is the equivalent of 1700 mm. 3x would be over 2500 mm equivalent. Even at 1/1250 second, you can get mirror slap vibrations on a good tripod.

Did you use a cable release (remote release) in the other hand from the hand moving the camera?

You state the tripod, but not the head, which is just as important. But again, we need to know the lens and head combo to evaluate the tripod issue. Did you use a Wimberly mount or equivalent rather than a simple ballhead? I'm sure you used the lens foot.

Does the tripod have three legs? That's better than four or five legs.

Does the tripod have a center column? Eliminate it. Was the center column raised? Double bad.

What were temperature and humidity conditions there? Heat haze at those kinds of distances can soften photos, even on cold days but worse on hot days. Humidity reduces contrast which has the effect of softening detail.

Did you use the appropriate lens hood? Do so.

Did you remove any UV or so-called 'protectant' filter? Do so and leave it off.

Focus is probably correct. I think you may be expecting too much from whatever state of equipment and technique you are using.

Get closer and don't crop so much.



Nov 30, 2012 at 09:29 PM
mitesh
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p.1 #8 · Does this image look soft to you?


Thanks guys. Vivek, IS was off since mounted on a tripod. I guess looking back, I probably should have expected a less than great series. The distance was pretty far, and I knew I'd be cropping deeply. I was concerned about noise ( ), so I kept ISO low. Of course, that and stopping down meant my SS was lower than what I would have liked.

Do any of you have a general rule of thumb for crop limits, or is it simply letting IQ tell you when it's too much?

Thanks again for the help.



Nov 30, 2012 at 09:37 PM
 

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mitesh
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p.1 #9 · Does this image look soft to you?


Monito,

Thanks for the additional questions. Sorry I didn't get all of those in my original post, but I suspect if I knew all the right questions, I might have figured it out (or come close) myself .

The lens is 600/4 mk. 1 in conjunction with extender 1.4 mk. 2. So, I was stopped down 1 stop to f/8.
The picture is about a 100% crop. Camera and lens mounted on a wimberley sidekick attached to RRS BH-55 ball head. 3-section tripod legs, no center column. Temp was in 50s, little wind, not sure of humidity (east coast near beach). Lens hood deployed, no filters. No cable release.

I understand that cropping is going to have a deleterious effect on IQ, and I generally don't crop so much. I wasn't sure if this was what I should expect from heavy crops, or if i was doing something else wrong.

Thanks again, Monito and everyone else.



Nov 30, 2012 at 09:50 PM
Imagemaster
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p.1 #10 · Does this image look soft to you?


mitesh wrote:
I was concerned about noise ( ), so I kept ISO low.

Do any of you have a general rule of thumb for crop limits, or is it simply letting IQ tell you when it's too much?

Thanks again for the help.


You can eliminate a lot of noise in post-processing, but you can't eliminate any blur, so why gamble with shutter speeds being too slow? Taking ISO from 400 to 800 allows you double your shutter speed.

100% crops are simply too much to expect good results, regardless of gear used. Get closer.






  Canon EOS 7D    EF400mm f/4 DO IS USM lens    400mm    f/4.0    1/2000s    1600 ISO    -1.0 EV  




Nov 30, 2012 at 10:22 PM
mitesh
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p.1 #11 · Does this image look soft to you?


Thanks, Tony. I saw that image of yours in the N/W forum- sweet capture! Do you mind sharing how much that image has been cropped, if at all? I'm just starting out photographing raptors, so finding ways to get close has been challenging. They have an uncanny ability to be where I'm not .




Nov 30, 2012 at 10:30 PM
Imagemaster
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p.1 #12 · Does this image look soft to you?


Shot from blind to get closer.

Full image before post-processing:







Nov 30, 2012 at 10:37 PM
mitesh
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p.1 #13 · Does this image look soft to you?


Thanks!


Nov 30, 2012 at 10:39 PM
Monito
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p.1 #14 · Does this image look soft to you?


mitesh wrote:
I suspect if I knew all the right questions, I might have figured it out (or come close) myself .

The lens is 600/4 mk. 1 in conjunction with extender 1.4 mk. 2. So, I was stopped down 1 stop to f/8.
The picture is about a 100% crop. Camera and lens mounted on a wimberley sidekick attached to RRS BH-55 ball head. 3-section tripod legs, no center column. Temp was in 50s, little wind, not sure of humidity (east coast near beach). Lens hood deployed, no filters. No cable release.

I understand that cropping is going to have a deleterious
...Show more

Looks like you have a good grasp of the fundamentals and especially good camera support.

I would agree with imagemaster that you could easily go a bit higher on ISO. With the 5D Classic, I almost always shot in the range of ISO 100, 200, and 400. With the 5D2, I do 160, 320, and 640 without skipping a beat, and though I might pause a bit for 1250, I use it when I want to, whereas I would think twice for 800 on the old 5Dc.

With the 5D3, I probably wouldn't skip a beat for ISO 1250, though the sensor is rather similar to the 5D2.

If it is anything like the 5D2, ... there is some evidence that the 160, 320, 640 and 1250 series have about 2/3 stops better dynamic range than intermediate values, for the 5D2.

With your image, you could probably have exposed it 1/3 or 2/3 stops higher to get better detail. Undexposure (like on the underside of the bird, hard to avoid in bright sun) can sabotage detail. You might be able to go a full stop higher and recover a bit of highlight detail with Photoshop, or just sacrifice a very little bit. Don't neglect 'Expose to the Right'.



Nov 30, 2012 at 10:53 PM
mitesh
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p.1 #15 · Does this image look soft to you?


Thanks for the follow-on, Monito. I read some of your other posts about the 160, 320, etc. ISO series but I haven't actually tried it. I will head out tomorrow and try some easier targets at different ISO and then make some comparisons.

From the responses, it seems that the results are pretty much what one should expect from 100+% crops. Looks like I need to make myself a blind to sit in...



Nov 30, 2012 at 11:10 PM





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