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| Re: Newbie focusing help before I get too disheartened. |
Hello & Welcome,
You've certainly got the kit to achieve excellent results, so unless there is something fundamentally wrong with the lens or camera its probably just down to technique.
Can you post up a couple of images, say a couple of the worst ones and one which is spot on.
We can then take a look at the exif (or choose to include this with the upload and it will stick the data under the photo for us to see).
As Hawkan above suggets, it could just be a case of shooting too wide open (f1.2 / f1.4) resulting in a very narrow depth of field or a just shutter speed slightly too slow which is giving the image a slight blur (assume these are handheld) which appears as out of focus.
If your target is moving,as I'm guessing at your sons birthday, you stand a small chance of nailing focus with the lens wide open potentially.
In terms of exposure, my suggestion would be to learn how to use your cameras histogram to gauge exposure. You can recover alot in post processing, buts much better to get it right in camera.
A couple of thoughts on JPEG / Raw:
Sounds like you have shot the images in both JPEG & Raw. By nature, the JPEGS will appear "better" than the raw images, since the camera will have applied a preset to the images during the conversion - boosting colours and sharpness likely. Whereas, the Raw's are simply the sensor data - no sharpening, no tweaking. Just 1's and 0's from the sensor.
Hence, its fair to say almost every raw image you take will need some element of post processing. JPEGs will likely beat Raw straight out of the camera with no processing.
Only final point is difference between screens. My images on the laptop compared to my desktop screen are fundamentally different - miles apart! Hence, the darkness you could be seeing may be down to your screen.
Definately worth you having a read up. I see your in the UK (same as me), I started by picking up the monthly magazines (Photograher Monthly, Digital Camera etc) - each month they have a "how to" amongst entry level descriptions of shutter speed, aperture, ISO etc. They get a bit repetitive after a while, but certainly useful for getting up to speed on what is what.
Books wise, some people hate them, but the Scott Kelby ones arent bad and are easy to read. ie. They tend to gloss over the physics of photography and just present the "how to get this image" approach.
Finally, practice practice....shoot everything.
Make it easy on yourself to start with ie. Work in good light and just see what settings on the camera has what effect. Importantly, if they are shockingly bad - try to understand why and whats caused them to be bad.