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How do I get sharper, in-focus pictures? Want to learn!

ajdooley

Waterloo, US
3330 posts

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"RE: How do I get sharper, in-focus pictures? Want to learn!"

ajdooley Gold Member Nikonian since 25th May 2006
Tue 14-May-13 06:47 PM | edited Tue 14-May-13 07:01 PM by ajdooley

Bruce -

You do pose interesting questions. And I suspect others have the same or similar concerns and don't want to reveal them! So thanks! I just wrote an item for a newspaper on the process of determining property taxes and therefore had it refreshed for me: there are NO dumb questions!

I know some may differ with my answers, but I have been at this for 50 years now (I'm 68). So I cross the threshold from film to digital and there are remarkable similarities. About the only real difference is the lack of reciprocity failure in digital exposures.

An ISO "wall?" There's really no such thing. While obviously, higher ISOs generate more noise, just as higher ASAs generated grain with film, noise is just a function of how much your signal has to be amplified to record the image. Think of it again, as grain. Or static in a stereo or radio. Crank up the volume (amplify it) and hear the static. Use higher ISOs and see the noise. With film we saw grain in shadows and in out of focus areas. That's pretty much the case for noise in digital photography too. If you don't watch exposures and tend to get everything crammed over on the left side of the histogram, you're going to get more noise. Another element of visible noise is the same as for sharpness -- how close does the viewer get? My advice is to test your result on the kind of photos you do. Shoot some at your current "wall" -- ISO 800. Then go to 1600 and stop down or shorten your shutter speed by one half. Then go to 3200 and do it again. 6400... 12800... 25600. Detail tends to "hide" noise. So a contrasty scene such as one that is stage lighted and offers a lot of dark or even black areas, may manifest more noise -- all things being otherwise equal.

I heartily approve of Dave Busch's manuals. Again -- not to criticize others such as Darrell Young's book. But I just like what Busch says and how he justifies it.

I own two primes: an older 50mm f1.4 AFD and an also older 105mm f2.8 AFD macro. I use the 50 about once a year and if anyone ever tries to stuff money in my pocket they may walk away with it. I just love the flexibility of zooms, although as I used to teach at the Naval School of Photography in Pensacola, most of us have zoom lenses -- they're hanging down from our rear ends. But at my age the twist if a wrist is easier than a hike!

Again, Bruce. Shoot, try different things. There are two delete keys on your keyboard. If something works, make sure you understand why. If it doesn't, either correct your error or remember not to do that again!

Alan
Waterloo, IL, USA
www.proimagingmidamerica.com

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

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