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Photography Question 
Tom Sacchet
 

Help in Purchasing Lenses


I am struggling with sharpness and clarity of my photos and need advice on lenses. I have a canon 20d that came with a standard 3.5f 28-55mm lens and purchased a Quantaray 4.5f 70-300mm zoom lens. My pictures are OK, but do not seem to be crystal clear like some of the ones I see on websites. I am willing to spend some money to make a good investment to replace these. What is it that I should be looking for in respect to "specs" to replace these two lenses so that I too can get great sharpness and clarity in my photos? I can either send or post some examples. Your advice will be greatly appreciated.
Thanks,
Sacchet


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2/20/2005 4:45:08 AM

 
Jessica 
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/12/2004
 
 
  E at Home
E at Home
F/4.5
46mm

© Jessica
Nikon D70 Digital ...
 
 
Tom, I hate to do this to you, but I would like to ask the same question!! I am using the standard kit lens (18-70 mm) for the D70 and I, too, am frustrated by the lack of precise focus you are describing EXACTLY!

My usual victims - I mean subjects - are my kids, and I am usually at F/4.5-6.0 with them. I want to purchase the 50mm lens, and I'm wondering if that will give me that clarity at 35-65 mm I would like to see. So ... advice for me too, please!


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2/20/2005 5:22:42 AM

 
Jessica 
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/12/2004
 
 
 
Yet- Here's one more thing... for some reason this one came out more clear. BUT- would a different lens make it even better? This one was 65mm. Thanks to anyone who can help us!


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2/20/2005 5:32:03 AM

 
Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
  Whenever someone asks for advice about which lenses to buy, I give them this advice:
Get the best glass you can afford, in a size which will best handle the subject matter you shoot most often.
I've always preferred the sharpness and clarity of prime lenses over zooms but with today's technology, a high-quality zoom in the hands of a skilled photographer will yield excellent results.
Many "package deals" include an off-brand lens, or an inexpensive "consumer version".
Ideally, you should buy the camera body and your preferred len(s) separately. If you opt for getting the combo, sell the lens for whatever you can get for it and put the money into an upgrade.

As far as "specs", I am not familiar with the Canon line but I'm sure that any prime lens with their name on it will yield better results than the Quantaray. (I had one on my first camera, and unloaded it after the first roll of film.)
For telephotos, look for the faster ones. You will see the price jump when the maximum aperture of a given focal length goes from f-4 to f-2.8. While aperture change may seem insignificant, the faster lenses were built for a more demanding clientele and will have better optics and color rendition.
Of course, it goes without saying that better lenses will only help achieve improved clarity if all "human factors" have been addressed. Improper focusing techniques and camera-shake are the main causes for un-sharp photos.


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2/20/2005 5:38:40 AM

 
Andrew Laverghetta
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/13/2004
  I'm not sure about the Nikon lenses, but I know that I have a rather inexpensive Canon lens that I use probably around 75% of the time. It's the Canon EF 50mm f1.8. It'll usually cost less than $90, but it's pretty sharp and is very good with low-light photography. Since it'd be on your 20D, though, it would be more like 80mm, which is going to look like you were using your 28-55mm lens at full zoom all the time.


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2/21/2005 9:59:55 AM

 
Mark O'Brien   Without knowing about what you are shooting and your shutter speed, etc., it's hard to blame it on the lens. Do you use a tripod? Try shooting using manual focus. Try shooting a brick wall hand held, and using a tripod. Your technique may have more to do with thing being soft than the lenses. Compare the images. Generally, lenses today are pretty darn good, even cheaper brands. Also, be aware that a lot of shots online have been subjected to sharpening and curves adjustment.


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2/22/2005 9:15:39 AM

 
Michael McCullough   The 28-55 by Canon I've heard is really not that great a
lens I believe the 17-85 is far superior,also they have an 80-200mm.f4 L lens that I've heard good things about.For nikon you can't beat the 50mm.f1.8 lens for sharpness it is one of the best 50's around and reasonably priced as well,it would be a great portrait lens for your D70 when you factor in the coversion,IMHO!!!!


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2/22/2005 11:50:20 AM

 
Emmanuel Panagiotakis
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/22/2005
  Hi my name is Emmanuel
And I use a Canon 20D also
if you want to use your lens for a portrait photography The Canon EF 70-200mm f/4.0 L USM about $560.00
The best lens in the market this is my opinion for the money
Plus The Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L USM but they cost about $1,400.00
Now if you want to buy something you can use every day and all the time ?
is the Canon EF 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 L IS USM Zoom Lens you will spent about $2,300.00
One more lens I do use allot is my Canon EF 35-3500mm L f\3.5-5.6
whoever this lens have been replace buy the EF 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 L IS USM Zoom Lens
you can find this lens in ebay for about $900.00-$1,100.00
Thanks and good luck


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2/22/2005 1:42:13 PM

 
Robert N. Valine
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/3/2003
  Hi Tom, I have a friend who had some trouble with a Canon lens recently and he sent the camera and lens set up to Canon. This was not a cheap lens. They did some kind of calibration adjustment and it solved the problem. Maybe it's your sensor.I think I'll stick with film a while. Apparently there's still a few bugs that need to be worked out with digital. I just need to get sharp scans from my scanner.


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2/22/2005 3:41:05 PM

 
Robert M. Thompson  
 
 
Tom- before you shell out all that money for a new lens, I think Mark might've hit the nail on the head when he mentioned that some pics are subjected to sharpening. Programs like Photoshop are great for that.
I hope I didn't overstep my boundaries, but I dragged your image to my computer and applied some sharpening to it to see how focused your shot really was. And I think you can see for yourself that this liitle bit of post-processing improved the sharpness of your stunning portrait enough so that you might want to try it on your other photos.
They probably cover these techniques in BP's photoshop courses. Or, if you have any questions abouth the settings I used for your pic, I would be glad to help out.
Again, I hope I didn't violate any privacy issues with you, but I was just trying to help out and maybe save you a bit of cash.
Bob T.


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2/22/2005 8:39:52 PM

 
Robert M. Thompson  
 
 
Here is the sharpened version.


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2/22/2005 8:43:00 PM

 
timmy mathers   The larger aperture (f/2.8 vs. f/4) also has an additional advantage. The image is "brighter" (as far as the camera is concerned - auto-focus or manual). For fast moving subjects (children, pets, animals, sports, etc.) this "slight edge" can be invaluable.


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2/23/2005 3:35:09 AM

 
Jessica 
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/12/2004
  Wow Robert! Thanks! I sometimes do tweak stuff w/PS, I just am wanting it to come out well first.... but this is a vast improvement. That was really nice of you to take the time to manipulate for me :)

Also- to all: you would suggest the 50mm lest in the end, right? Thanks for all you feedback!

Jessi


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2/23/2005 6:39:36 AM

 
Robert M. Thompson   Thanks Jessica. I guess my point was that your photograph was perfect to begin with!

Bob


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2/23/2005 7:49:25 AM

 
Kerry L. Walker   The picture was perfect and the child is adorable!


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2/23/2005 7:53:48 AM

 
Luis Curran   Tom,
A good place for discussing lenses is the dp review forum at http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/forum.asp?forum=1029


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2/23/2005 12:02:37 PM

 
Tom Sacchet   Robert,

Can you explain step by step how you sharpened the image?

thanks
Tom


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2/23/2005 12:07:27 PM

 
Michael McCullough   In response to oh well you can sharpen it in photoshop,if I spent money on a D20 I expect performance,from the camera and lenses I'd buy,not oh well it dosen't perform so I'll just use photoshop what a really lame excuse,IMHO!!!!


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2/23/2005 12:08:56 PM

 
Andrew Laverghetta
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/13/2004
  Isn't there a menu where you can change the sharpness directly on the image when it's captured? Maybe this was just some other Canon but I figured the 20D would have one as well.


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2/23/2005 12:53:08 PM

 
Tom Sacchet  
 
 
Here is an example of what I am talking about when it comes to clairity and sharpness. This was taken with my canon 20d and 18-55mm lens 3.5f. The focus points were right on the boys face. I know the lighting is a bit dark, but their faces are just not sharp. They seem dull. Is this a lens issue, or something with my camera? Is this the best I should expect?


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2/23/2005 1:31:29 PM

 
Mellanie    A good article on sharpening is here:
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/digitalphotography/learnmore/sharpening.mspx

Digital cameras contain low pass filters which will improve certain aspects of images, but it ends up causing 'blurry' and soft photos. I sharpen all my digital photos to some degree.

And in response to: "In response to oh well you can sharpen it in photoshop,if I spent money on a D20 I expect performance,from the camera and lenses I'd buy,not oh well it dosen't perform so I'll just use photoshop what a really lame excuse,IMHO!!!!"-----My lenses aren't top of the line, I can't afford it right now and I own a digital rebel......If I'm not shooting a quick child or shooting in low light, my images come out nice (IMO....but visit my gallery and see for yourself), but they are a lot nicer after using the unsharpening mask in PS 7.0. Just because you have a high dollar camera and lenses doesn't mean your pictures are always going to be perfect!! Of course that's just my cents.....and not my 'lame excuse'!


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2/23/2005 1:35:09 PM

 
Tom Sacchet  
 
 
Here is an example of what I am talking about when it comes to clairity and sharpness. This was taken with my canon 20d and 18-55mm lens 3.5f. The focus points were right on the boys face. I know the lighting is a bit dark, but their faces are just not sharp. They seem dull. Is this a lens issue, or something with my camera? Is this the best I should expect?


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2/23/2005 1:35:14 PM

 
Tom Sacchet  
 
 
trying to add image.


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2/23/2005 1:41:22 PM

 
Tom Sacchet  
 
  kids
kids
© Tom Sacchet
Canon EOS 20D Digi...
 
 
kids


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2/23/2005 1:51:26 PM

 
Mellanie   
 
 
Tom, I'm at work and don't have access to PS, but I lifted the image and used Microsoft photo editor and sharpened the image. Here is the result


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2/23/2005 2:11:22 PM

 
Mellanie   
 
 
trying again!


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2/23/2005 2:13:38 PM

 
Wendy Ellis
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/9/2005
  Is it too lengthy for someone to explain how to use the Unsharp Mask in Photoshop 7 or Photoshop Elements?


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2/23/2005 2:53:28 PM

 
Robert M. Thompson   Tom and Wendie, I'd be glad to tell you what settings I used to sharpen the picture. But first, I'd like to say that I use a 20D and the sharpness setting, along with some others, are defaulted to "Parameter 2", which according to the manual is a "0" setting. I'm not sure what that means, but I know that you can adjust it plus or minus either way, which means its not at optimal sharpness out of the box. I believe Canon expects many of its end-users to apply some sort of sharpening after the final print or web display size is determined.
As far Jessi's photo, I used Unsharp Masking with these settings: Amount 500, Radius 0.8, Tolerance 3. But I find that those numbers change with each photo regardless of size. I can go on about what those numbers mean, but if you really want to know how to handle your digital photographs, I'd suggest taking one of these courses at BP.
Hope this was helpful.

Bob T.


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2/23/2005 8:04:23 PM

 
Robert M. Thompson  
 
 
Mellanie, that's a very good article that you recommended. Probably a must read for anyone using a "DIGITAL" workflow. I think curves or levels, contrast and saturation could also be included if you so wish. That, to me, is the beauty of shooting digital images. Here is a re-work of Tom's "kids" image with some sharpening and slight curves adjustment.

Bob


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2/24/2005 1:06:38 PM

 
Robert M. Thompson  
 
 
Here is Tom's pic.


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2/24/2005 1:09:11 PM

 
Mellanie    Bob, I try to recommend that article to everyone who wants to know if they should buy a new lens because they have 'blurry' results!!!! And you're right abouth the levels, contrast, saturation of Tom's photo....the levels looked good on my monitor at work, but when I got home and looked at the image on my monitor it was too dark!

What you have done looks great!


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2/24/2005 2:54:01 PM

 
Wayne Smith   I have Canon 10D, similar problem. Canons do not do much internal sharpening according to their own admission, believing software sharpening is better. You can go into the menue and increase sharpening internally but it doesn't help much. I find Canon brand lens was much better than Quantaray or even Tamron. PS sharpening will help up to a point then it starts degrading the image, so be careful.


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2/25/2005 5:48:14 AM

 
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