BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Marcelo J. Montagna
 

How do I get sharper photos?


 
BetterPhoto.com Editor's Pick   Morning Glow
Morning Glow
Shot in the morning using ISO 400 film
© Marcelo J. Montagna
Canon EOS Rebel 20...
 
 
OK here it goes... I own a Canon Rebel 2000 and I must say, I'm a little disapointed with the sharpness of my photos. When I bought the camera it came with the kit zoom lense EF 28-80mm(I know, I know, I didn't know any better at the time of purchase) =-( I know all of you that have been shooting for a while are gonna say, "what the heck was he thinking?" lol.. but I guess that's why I'm asking for help.

With that being said, how can I resolve my problem? I've been doing some research and I was thinking about purchasing a Canon EF 28-200mm f3.5-5.6 USM since I understand it has much better optics. I've read a lot of postings on this issue, and it seem to me that everyone suggests doing away with the infamous "kit zoom" and buying a "non-kit" lense from Canon instead.

Also.. I've been shooting with ISO 400 film, but will switch to an ISO 200 or slower film since I've also read that a slower film speed should help with overall sharpness.

Any suggestions?? I would really appreciate your comments. Thanks!

The photo I've included should help illustrate my problem.


To love this question, log in above
11/17/2003 9:43:29 AM

 
Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/18/2000
  IMHO, the EF 28-200 is not among the sharper Canon lenses, and recall a review of it in Popular Photography & Imaging that was not particularly flattering. I'm a big Canon fan, but if I were considering a super-zoom, I would opt for the Tamron 28-200 XR or Tokina 24-200 before the Canon 28-200.

Despite the negative rap that "kit" zooms usually get, their deficiencies usually do not become apparent unless you are routinely making 8x12 enlargments. If you're unhappy with sharpness you're getting in typical 4x6 prints, the reason is probably related to technique rather than the lens. Make sure you are steady when pressing the shutter. Brace yourself and gently press the shutter button without jerking the camera. Make sure the camera is focusing where you want it. I'm pretty sure that with the Rebel 2000 (and most other af SLRs) you can manually select the center af sensor. Most lenses, especially zooms, are less sharp at wide open aperture than when stopped down to f/8.

For a little more than the 28-300 ($400 v. $350), the EF 28-135 f/3.5-5.6 IS USM is sharper than your kit lens and has Image Stabilization, which will give even better real-world results by eliminating blur due to camera-shake. For less than $100, the EF 50 f/1.8 is the sharpest lens to be had (especially when used at f/4-f/8).


To love this comment, log in above
11/17/2003 11:39:42 AM

 
Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/18/2000
  IMHO, the EF 28-200 is not among the sharper Canon lenses, and recall a review of it in Popular Photography & Imaging that was not particularly flattering. I'm a big Canon fan, but if I were considering a super-zoom, I would opt for the Tamron 28-200 XR or Tokina 24-200 before the Canon 28-200.

Despite the negative rap that "kit" zooms usually get, their deficiencies usually do not become apparent unless you are routinely making 8x12 enlargments. If you're unhappy with sharpness you're getting in typical 4x6 prints, the reason is probably related to technique rather than the lens. Make sure you are steady when pressing the shutter. Brace yourself and gently press the shutter button without jerking the camera. Make sure the camera is focusing where you want it. I'm pretty sure that with the Rebel 2000 (and most other af SLRs) you can manually select the center af sensor. Most lenses, especially zooms, are less sharp at wide open aperture than when stopped down to f/8.

For a little more than the 28-300 ($400 v. $350), the EF 28-135 f/3.5-5.6 IS USM is sharper than your kit lens and has Image Stabilization, which will give even better real-world results by eliminating blur due to camera-shake. For less than $100, the EF 50 f/1.8 is the sharpest lens to be had (especially when used at f/4-f/8).


To love this comment, log in above
11/17/2003 11:39:46 AM

 
Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/18/2000
  Sorry for the double post :(

Re, the photo you submitted ...
The lack of sharpness is not readily apparent. Not surprising as it is limited by monitor resolution, which is generally a low 72ppi.

I assume that you think the child is not resolved as sharply as you'd like. I think the problems here are
(a) the camera has focused on a nearer subject than the baby (the man's face/profile), and
(b) because of that the very shallow depth of field from the aperture being set wide open (f/4 or f/5.6) has rendered the child's face a little softer.

The shallow DoF from wide open aperture is usually preferred in this type of portrait, so you need to ensure that the camera is focusing on the child's eyes ==> manually set autofocus to the center sensor so that it does not pick up closer objects in the wider area sensors.


To love this comment, log in above
11/17/2003 11:52:07 AM

 
Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/18/2000
  P.S.S.
Upon further review, there seems to be some effect from lens flare due to the very bright side-lighting. There's a bright streak running diagonally from upper left to lower right, and perhaps some loss of contrast. An inexpensive lens hood would help mitigate lens flare (stray light striking the front element and causing internal reflections). For zoom lenses it's usually best to get the makers own lens hood to avoid vignetting problems.


To love this comment, log in above
11/17/2003 12:00:28 PM

 
Marcelo J. Montagna   Thanx for the response Jon, I really appreciate it.

I guess the image I'm trying obtain, is that almost life-like sharpness/definition that I've seen in other shots. The photo I took in itself I guess is not too bad, it just needs a little "definition" I assume... so that it doesn't look so soft and blended.

As far as the lenses, I also appreciate your suggestions on that issue. I'm looking to spend up to maybe $450 (USM) on a good lense if I can. I just thought that the Canon EF 75-200mm would be a good choice because I read somewhere that any Canon lense other than the "kit" lense would considerably much better in terms of "Optics" but I'll be sure to check out the Tamron and Tokina.

If you have any other suggestions, please feel free.

Once again.. thanx a bunch!


To love this comment, log in above
11/17/2003 12:11:48 PM

 
Marcelo J. Montagna   OK I see what you're saying about the "focus point" and the "bright streak", however, I think the word I was looking for was "Crisp"... I guess I'm trying to make my photos look more "Crisp" and "Sharp" at the same time.

Does that make any sense?? lol I'm sure you know what I mean.

Anyways... thanx a lot for your comments.


To love this comment, log in above
11/17/2003 12:19:43 PM

 
Marcelo J. Montagna   By the way... I also want to add that the photo I posted has been "fine tuned" a little with Photoshop. The original 4X6 print is actually a little less sharp and has a little more yellow tint to it. I also used the color correction feature to give it a more realistic color appearance.


To love this comment, log in above
11/17/2003 12:27:53 PM

 
Log in to respond or ask your own question.