BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
brigitte stahre
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/27/2004

new camera soft images

  diving duck
diving duck
automatic setting 10 x's zoom no way to get closer without actually wading into the pond and scaring my subjet..
© brigitte stahre
Fuji FinePix S9000...
i recently aquired a fuji finepix s9000 and was very exited about finally having a better camera.
so far i'm still using the automatic setting and practicing.. the included picture was taken late in the morning and the light was good.. I really liked the composition and amusing subject but was very disappointed with the soft focus.. at what setting, dof, etc would this have been a good shot?

To love this question, log in above
7/14/2006 7:53:34 AM

Bob Chance
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/19/2006
  Hi Brigitte:

The answer to your question is really up to you. It's your shot, how do you want it to look.
If it wer me, I would use a large aperature for a shallow DOF, so the focus would be on my subject and not the background.
Remember, the smaller the aperature number, the shallower the DOF. The larger the number, the greater the DOF.
Your limitations are going to be the shutter range and the light conditions.
Too small of an aperature might mean too long of a shutter speed for hand holding. Or just too slow for a moving subject. Too large of an aperature may exceed the cameras fastest shutter speed. Generally, in lighting conditions such as your duck, you ususually have six or seven aperatures to choose from and still be in a usuable shutter speed range.

To love this comment, log in above
7/15/2006 4:17:57 AM

brigitte stahre
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/27/2004
thanks for your response
this was the first time I took the camera out.. none of my previous cameras had so many setting choices and buttons and dials.. now that i've read some more of the book, I realize that even on auto there are choices.. there are buttons that you have to push and use a dial to choose from what the button brought up..
so I sat there last evening, read the manual, changed settings, and took pictures of my foot until the batteries ran out.. on my old camera, automatic was just that.. point and shoot.. i'll learn..

To love this comment, log in above
7/15/2006 7:22:56 AM

Stacy L. Robertson
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/26/2006
  brigitte..I too own a s9000. This camera just takes soft pictures. I have been using mine for 3 months and have tried every setting on it. None of my pictures inside or out are super sharp. Thats why I bought the makes my portrait work a little softer. I love mine, hope you get the hang of it.

To love this comment, log in above
7/15/2006 8:04:40 PM

Tonya R. Boles
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/7/2004
  I have this camera as well and really love my results. So far my images are turning out well, at least for me. I use Aperture Priority most of the time because I get the best DOF with it.
All I can say is, take the same photo with as many different settings as possible and see what you like the most. Good luck with the camera..

To love this comment, log in above
7/15/2006 8:49:02 PM

Irene Troy
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/27/2004
  At least some of your “softness” issues are related to exposure – at least in the image that you uploaded. I learned the hard way that trying to capture images such as this one in mid-day – or really anytime when the sun in really bright – is really difficult. You were battling a couple of things here; first, the light was really harsh, thus you lost definition in both shadow and highlight; second, you were trying to push your camera further than it really can reasonably be expected to go – as you put it, you got as close as possible, but it was not close enough. I do this all the time and hate myself for it! Lenses really do have a maximum distance for sharpness and it is very often not at the furthest reach of the lens. For example, with my 50-500mm lens I thought that I could get sharp images at the maximum of 500mm. But, I have learned that anything beyond around 450 and the image begins to degrade. With a fixed lens I think that the maximum sharpness is even less than with an interchangeable lens – don’t really know this as a fact, but seems very possible. (correct me if I am wrong, folks!). Finally, you were trying to shoot a relatively small subject – the duck – in a relatively busy scene. Your lens may not have known exactly where you were aiming. All of these factors can play a major role in determining just how sharp your images will be, even in the best of cameras and lenses. Bottom line: the camera is probably fine, you just need more practice and patience to learn the ways of your new equipment – patience that I, personally, lack! (lol)


To love this comment, log in above
7/16/2006 1:38:18 PM

Bob Chance
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/19/2006
  One thing you didn't mention and I don't beleive anyone else brought this up either. Did you do any editing to this photo. Point blank, most all pictures taken with a digital are soft until they have been edited to sharpen them. And from what I've read in the threads posted on this web-site, it doesn't seem to matter what camera you have or how expensive.
It stems from the compositional make-up of the digital image itself, which consist of millions of tiny dots. A pixel is only capable of recording one color. And even though they are so very tiny, in the diverse world that we live in, many colors or even shades of the same color can be striking a single pixel. The firmware in the digital processing chip, basically fudges the pictures for us by guestimating hue, brighness, saturation of unrecorded areas by sampling the surrounding pixels. This is really the main reason for softness in a digital image.
Most people use a photo editing program on the computer to enhance, or sharpen thier images before printing or sharing on the interenet.
One of the best filters is the 'unsharp mask' found in most of these programs. By 'masking' the unsharp areas of the photo, it actually makes it sharper. Sometimes, much sharper.
In the menu of most digital cameras, you can control the sharpness, or softness of your images by varying degrees. However, the in-camera algorythm is usually not the best, and even though it does sharpen the image, it has a tendecy to create halos out of any specular highlights.
My advise, if you don't already have one, get yourself a decent photo editing program such as Photoshop elements. If your camera allows you to choose a RAW file format in which to save your images, start shooting in RAW.
There are many advantages to shooting RAW over JPG and sharpness is one of them. Since I started shooting in RAW, my images have been tack sharp. Of course, they are post-processed in Canons RAW processing software and then I use PhotoImpact Pro for any finishing touches and printing.

To love this comment, log in above
7/18/2006 2:36:27 PM

brigitte stahre
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/27/2004
  it was even softer before I photoshopped it.. my camera can be used in the raw format, I have just not tried it yet.. I also realize that almost everything in the picture is a combination of the same colors and the duck blends right in.. I was photographing the geese for quite a while before I even noticed her.. i'm not happy with my geese pictures either.. while these are practice pictures to get used to the camera, I probably wont get many more opportunities to shoot this goose family.. as it is, the youngsters are almost the same size as the adults..

To love this comment, log in above
7/18/2006 3:58:17 PM

Log in to respond or ask your own question.