borderglider PRO 5:31pm, 24 February 2007
I used to use my OM2N and colour slide film - with a great set of Zuiko lenses - and got pin sharp landscapes. Since I started using my Canon EOS 350D I don't seem to get the same sharpness. I don't have the lens with the 'anti-motion' system, so maybe I just have to take more care and use a tripod.

However, what is your experience? Do you find digital cameras are more susceptible to 'camera shutter shake'? Is it harder to guarantee a really hard, sharp focus?

Finally, do any of you still use colour slide film?
S i m o n . M a y s o n PRO Posted 11 years ago. Edited by S i m o n . M a y s o n (member) 11 years ago
I use a 350D - found the same problem - but a new lense may not be necessary.....a few suggestions:
1. A tripod is a must - if poss I use a remote shutter release or the self timer
2. Go into camera menu and move sharpness up a notch
3. I use Photoshop > Filter > Unsharp mask occasionally to improve sharpness but don't overuse!
4. I have stopped using slide film now - but there is still some in the Fridge!
Coneheadkeef PRO 11 years ago
Yeah, I use a 350D as well and noticed lack of sharpness from day 1.
I now shoot all images on RAW and tweak sharpness, etc on Pixmantec Rawshooter Essentials software (free download).

The explanation of apparent lack of sharpness is the way the image is captured in pixels which are square and therefore the transition between tones/colours can be exaggerated. The camera processor deals with this by softening the transition between tones/colours, however, this also renders the whole image a bit soft. If like me you shoot RAW you will have to apply a bit of sharpening, but don't over do it!

There has been a lot of comment regarding the quality of the Canon kit lens 18-55 which comes as standard bundle. I have found that the best images are obtained by stopping down to f8 or f11.

I also still use a Minolta X700 & 28mm, 35mm & 55mm Rokkor lenses for black & white infrared and some colour slide (Fuji Provia)
Farhiz PRO 11 years ago
I also happen to use a 350D. I almost always carry a tripod but that can be a pain at times. But even when I do I try to zoom to the maximum limit of the lens and manually focus the image. I then re-zoom to the desired length and shoot. If I change positions then I do this all over again. I also now choose to buy only zooms which have IS.
philzero PRO 11 years ago
A tripod is essential for landscapes - you're going to want to be stopped down pretty far for maximum depth of field, and it becomes very hard, if not impossible to handhold at the resulting shutter speeds. It's worth finding out about hyperfocal distance as well - this will tell you where to focus in the scene for maximum depth of field at a given focal length and aperture.
Monika Sz 11 years ago
And also remember to switch off Image Stabilizer on your lens when you use tripod.
TheBackupVault PRO 11 years ago
You need a top notch tripod... I use a Gitzo with an Arca Swiss ball head... stops wind buffeting (if it's there) and you want to shoot at least f11 on the lowest ISO setting... and generally everything on manual. Remote shutter release also a good bet.

I find though digital lenses top out at around f16 - but I generally shoot at max... as well as at f16. Another simple thought might be the lenses you have just aren't as good as the Zuiko's... you using L lenses?
TheBackupVault PRO 11 years ago
Another thing to think about is Mirror Lock Up - which will elminate some of that 'slap' when you fire the shutter... not sure if you can do it on the 350 - although I've seen it done on 5Ds and 1Ds.
Kevin Lelland 11 years ago
You can also use the cameras timer to help reduce shake when shooting on a tripod if you don't have a remote shutter release.
Kenny Muir 11 years ago
I have noticed a big difference when I don't use the kit lens. It doesn't seem to make the most of the cameras ability. I bought a new tripod which was more compact than my original one. the results are noticably worse so it does make a difference (listening to Jims advice now!)
blue-eyed partner [deleted] 11 years ago
Film is sharper than digital in my opinion.
I've never seen anything from a digital camera that could touch a slide from even a middle of the road SLR.

It could also be that you are using a zoom and comparing it to prime lenses.
No zoom can match the quality of a fixed 50mm or 28mm lens.
There's too much glass and too many compromises in the design.
Scottish Nomad 11 years ago
Best sharpness I achieve is from an old OM2 Spot/program camera using wide angle - Zuiko lens 28mm ........ my digital is just a point and shoot 5.2 megapixel Fuijipix - light to carry when shinning up the ice routes in winter; film quality is far better than digital for me with the current equipment I have - have thought about trying a digital body for Olympus lenses I have but will research first before shelling out.......
ShinyPhotoScotland PRO Posted 11 years ago. Edited by ShinyPhotoScotland (member) 11 years ago
It's more complicated...

Any lens has an optimum aperture at which it will be at its sharpest subject to design. On moderate quality lenses designed for 35mm film, that might be half-way through its range, say about f/11. On lenses designed for digital, it may be one or two stops wider, say f/8 or so. On expensive lenses designed for use by the press, it might be deliberately shifted towards the wide end (because they're forever shooting comparatively dark indoor press conferences).
If you stop-down too far, you'll start getting diffraction detracting from the sharpness. I really don't recommend going all the way to f/16 or f/22 on a dSLR.

So. First thing is to establish that optimum aperture. Chances are if you're working towards the end of a reasonably sunny afternoon, you'll be using something like (iso100, f/8, 1/250th) as an exposure - the equivalent of f/11 in Sunny-16 metering, say. That's playing into your hands already - it's going to be closer to the optimum aperture *and* it's faster than it would've been by a stop or two, too. Remember you can hand-hold at 1/focallength (35mm equiv) so 1/125th will keep you steady up to 70mm zoom on a dSLR. You don't need a tripod unless you go slower than this.

Next, calculate or estimate the depth of field. It suffices to know that at wider focal-lengths, you have huge depth of field, dropping off a lot as you zoom more. Ie, if you're shooting a wide-angle 24mm vista, you have depth of field from a very few feet out to infinity by f/5.6. If your lens has DoF scales, use them.

Finally, weigh-up the distances in your scene. Only if you have a boring shot with everything at infinity should you focus at infinity. Otherwise, you want to focus at a point slightly beyond the nearest object you want to be in focus - because the aperture will give you depth of field a little in front and a lot beyond the focal distance. You won't do better than a thing called the hyperfocal distance.

Processing considerations: the last thing you can do at source, and the first specifically digital choice, is shoot RAW. Now you've done the best with the image out in the field, you can start considering USM in PS. I'd recommend doing that twice, once with a high amount, narrow radius (eg 100, 1, 1) to give fine detail, and once the opposite, to improve local contrast (10, 40, 1). Adjust numbers according to image-size and taste.

Finally, an example:
Sunlit Evening

Check my exif; that's 1/125, f/5.6, iso 100, 24mm focal length. Hand-held, no tripod, focussed on one of the baby trees nearby along the left side, pine-needle-sharp all the way from nearest heather to infinity.
ShinyPhotoScotland PRO 11 years ago
Oh, and yes, I do use slide film. What do you mean "still"?! ;)

Velvia (straight RVP, 100 not-F) or Provia in particular. Yum.
KF 红相机 11 years ago
if you are using the kit lens, 18-55mm 3.5/5.6, then the sweet spot is around f7.1 pin sharp all the way, and much sharper than at f16. personally i prefer my sigma 17-70 @ 17mm. razor sharp throughout even at f4
borderglider PRO 11 years ago
Hey this was a great series of contributions - thanks a lot for all that good advice and information -w ill try to put to good use.
antsplan PRO 10 years ago
superb advice spodzone - thank you
Farhiz PRO 10 years ago
This one was shot with the kit lens on the 350D (18-55mm) set at f3.5. Quite sharp in the middle though not so at the near edges. Handheld btw.

sleepflower18 10 years ago
so does anyone know what the optimum aperture is for a Nikon D60? (based on typical outdoor conditions in Scotland...cloudy etc)

I have a tripod from my manual film SLR so can use that for landscape.
gordon2208 10 years ago

Solway Firth
This photo was taken without a tripod just on auto setting on a samsung 10.1MP I have since invested in a tripod hoping to make the shots sharper.

From experience, view through my photoshots of The Quayside Newcastle , those shots were taken without a tripod but on a timer delay (4seconds) and placing the camera on a flat solid surface if you dont have a tripod.
dolphinpix PRO 10 years ago

Even when using a tripod you will get some movement as you press the shutter. You could use a remote cord, or.. Evening simpler, use the self timer function and let go of the camera/tripod.

As for typical settings for Scotland, having taken thousands of photos outdoors, there is no such thing. But, try F10, lowest ISO on apature priority, also add a circular polarising filter, and a graduated ND filter.
photopath PRO 10 years ago
Sharp landscapes? Forget DX and shoot on 6 x7 as a minimum.

If you have to use digital, then it's a great excuse to go full frame. DX struggles with the kind of sharpness / contrast / edge definition which a larger format allows - whatever the measurebators try to tell you.

The difference between 35mm film and 6x6 or 6x7 film rated at the same speed and processed the same way was always huge - although the 35mm lenses "measured" better than the ancient optics on the MF cameras
dolphinpix PRO 10 years ago
If you win the lotto, or find that pot of gold, one of these,

Or, put some money into a reasonable non-zoom lens.
Kwame Photography 9 years ago
good tips on this thread. thanks
John Dera 9 years ago
For what's its worth I rarely use a tripod as the majority of the time I am generally in remote terrain and the object is the freedom of excess kit on my back.... I have always been happy with the results hand holding my camera on each shot.
AnthonyGibbons 9 years ago
Fast glass. Steady hands.

Especially steady hands, and something to lean on. There's normally something.

Personally I can barely tolerate tripods as I find it to get any kind of dynamism into the shot when I do.

Sometimes you get blur, but those don't make it out of draft and the ones that do are worth it.

Just about to treat myself to a Tokina 11 16 2.8. The faster the glass the better though.
howbeg 9 years ago
Have to agree with both John and Anthony, never use tripod, cant realy be bothered lugging it about. Did a lot of handhled stuff today and was fairly pleased with it. Tripods are a pain!
Crazy Daisy2009 9 years ago
Tri-pod and release cable I have tried.
Comment about digital or film? I still use both.
Like reading discussions, as it is giving me some tips, to help my hobby.
Thank you everyone.
michael prince PRO 6 years ago
Tripod. Cable release. Mirror lock up. F22/ F32. ISO 50.
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