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High ISO photographyuiv)


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#21 TonyQ

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Posted 01 July 2016 - 05:00 PM

@douglaswise

I am not a technical expert - but a few thoughts that might be helpful. No doubt someone will chip in if I am wrong.

 

1. I think you have a good eye for composing your photographs.

2. I think (not 100% sure) that Program mode is not clever enough to choose an aperture like f14 because of breadth of perch etc.

3. I do not think holding the camera still is the major problem - you have some here that are taken at fairly slow shutter speeds.

4. One of the issues with high ISO is the way that the camera processes the photo when shooting JPEG. It will process it to reduce the noise - but one of the side effects of that can be that it also reduces some of the detail - so in some cases this could lead to some loss of sharpness.

5. If you use multi-focus points, your camera will choose which point to use. Often it will choose the nearest object that a point covers. Although cameras are clever, they do not know what you want to focus on. In the picture of the macaw, if you look at the leaves just in front of the bird, these are sharper than the bird - suggesting this is where the camera focussed. I almost always use a single focus point (and usually the centre one thogh sometimes I choose a different on if I have more time). I only use multi -points if I try birds in flight when there are no other things that the camera could focus on.

6. I think the Programme mode chooses a very strange set of values. I think you will remain frustrated if you continue to use it. Although I have never used it, I thought that you could change the settings that the camera chooses - but I suspect you are using it like the fully automatic option (I may be wrong in that assumption). I would recommend that you try the Aperture Priority mode and experiment with it at home. I think you would soon get used to it and it would give you more control. If you want to continue with Programme, experiment with changing the settings so they make more sense.

7. I think the photo of the cows is a very nice picture. I don't think the noise spoils it. But the most important judge of that is you (and your wife). The term "acceptable" really asks - who is the primary audience. Is it for you to look at and enjoy at home? To post on here? (where I enjoy it) To make a giant print for an exhibition?

8. All of us delete a very large number of photos, and also have many more that we do not post!

I think it is admirable that you want to improve, but remember to enjoy the sightings and the memories as well.


Edited by TonyQ, 01 July 2016 - 05:01 PM.

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#22 xelas

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Posted 01 July 2016 - 09:04 PM

With #4 @TonyQ touched another important issue: in-camera noise reduction when using high ISO values. That noise reduction is very radical, and undiscriminating, and obliterates many fine details, and its negative effects are most visible on bird's feathers.



#23 douglaswise

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Posted 02 July 2016 - 08:19 AM

I am very touched by the great help I have received from so many of you.  It has definitely kindled a desire to improve my photographic skills.  Although I have been a fairly regular safari-goer for 30 odd years, I had never had a camera with a focal length capability of greater than 80mm until I borrowed my son's Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ5 (35mm equiv 36-432) for a trip to Meru in 2011.  It wasn't till 2014 that I persuaded my son that we should buy jointly the current Nikon D3200 plus 70-300 telephoto lens.  I had expected to see very obvious benefits and, although I got some, they were nothing like as clear-cut as I had been hoping for.  I do think things markedly improved last year when, half way through a Kafue trip, I was advised to use 1600 ISO to overcome my shake.  I am now really looking forward to making further progress, thanks to all of you.  I will now use back button, single point focus and AF-C.  I am, as yet, uncertain as to whether to shoot in Aperture Priority or Manual Mode with auto ISO and minimum shutter speed of 1/500.  I am currently leaning towards the former, having discovered that the camera will still allow photos to be taken with a slower shutter speed when it hasn't the capability of meeting the exposure requirements dictated by the F number and upward adjustment in auto-ISO.

 

 very interested to learn from @xelas that there is something inherent in my lens that will lead to sharper pictures in the range F8-11 rather than at larger apertures.  I had thought that stopping down might be working for me because it gave me better depth of field and overcame poor focusing.  This was probably a false assumption because, as @ TonyQ pointed out, the camera's AF seems to be OK except on occasions when the multi-point system I had been using chose to focus on the wrong target.  Both @xelas and @TonyQ explained that, at high ISOs, the camera will process JPEG images to reduce noise at the expense of detail.  This probably explains why some of my better images, to me, look sharp, but, nevertheless, lack detail. 

 

@xelas suggests that I might be over-exposing my pictures and thus losing contrast.  I think I may have given a false impression.  I omitted to mention that, though not cropped, the pix that I showed above had been tweaked by me in Picasa by using the "auto contrast" and "fill light" slider in the editing facility.  In fact, I guess that a lot of the bird pix - those on perches in front of sky -  were initially under-exposed.  I have tried compensating with the use of the "wheel" at the back of the camera, but don't find it easy.  I'm also reluctant to do so because it doesn't seem automatically to default back to 0 and I'm forgetful!

 

@xelas, not content with the recommendations already made, is heroically preparing a second course of "medication".  He asks about my Picture Control settings.  To the extent that I understand the question, the answers are as follows:  Image quality, JPEG Fine,  Image size, Large.  Brightness, 0.  Background colour, white.  Beep, (now) off.  Standard. Vivid.  This, I gleaned from the camera.  When I looked at Properties of my pix in Picasa, I saw the following: Scene capture type, normal.  Gain control, High gain up.  Contrast, normal.  Saturation, normal.  Sharpness, normal.  I don't know quite what it all means or even whether it answers your questions. 

 

Am I wasting time by using JPEG fine with a large image size, bearing in mind that I'll never want a photograph that is going to be larger than 10x10 inches (25x25 cms), but remembering, also, that I may well wish to do some cropping/digital enlargement of the original photo as it comes out of the camera?  Should I be contemplating RAW - it has always scared the hell out of me because I had assumed it would beyond the capabilities of an amateur such as myself?

 

On a more personal note, I would like to make a few comments to @TonyQ and @xelas:

 

@TonyQ, I really enjoyed your Barranco Alto trip report and it definitely played a part in our decision to go there.  We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, despite the fact that the early winter season was neither very dry nor sunny.  This was bad for the fishing.  I suspect that it also limited mammal viewing options due to the thick vegetation.  However, because we were there for 13 nights, we saw masses of foxes and plenty of giant anteaters as well as having an excellent sighting of an armadillo (plus glimpses of others) and of giant and neotropical otters.  Unfortunately, only a glimpse of one tapir.  The birds were wonderful (and I'm not a birder, as such).

 

@xelas, my wife and I had a wonderful week in Slovenia a few years ago.  We were mainly trout/grayling fishing, but also did some sight seeing.  You live in a very beautiful country and those of your fellow citizens that we met were all friendly and, like you, very helpful.  


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#24 TonyQ

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Posted 02 July 2016 - 08:35 AM

@douglaswise

I am pleased you enjoyed Barranco Alto!

Re: JPEG - If using JPEG I would recommend that you always use the best quality JPEG (JPEG Fine).  Memory cards are cheap - even with JPEG Fine you will get loads onto a memory card. I cannot see any reason or advantage to switching to a lower quality. As you say, cropping is always a possibility.



#25 pomkiwi

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Posted 02 July 2016 - 08:41 AM

@douglaswise I would encourage you not to be scared of RAW! The file sizes are larger and essentially you are capturing as much data as possible using RAW. The camera will do some 'processing' of the image if you use JPEG.  I'm not sure which programme you are using to store and manipulate your images. I personally use Lightroom and often find that I do litttle of nothing with a high proportion of my images but I have managed to get some usable (and to my eye pleasant) results from images that appeared fairly ordinary out of the camera, I find Lightroom has been easy to learn and allows me to make changes in a large number of discreet elements of the image.  There are lots of reviews and resources out there. (apologies if I am stating the obvious).


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#26 douglaswise

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Posted 02 July 2016 - 08:53 AM

@pomwiki:  Perhaps I should delve deeper into this.   I've tended to assume that Lightroom would be beyond me because of my poor computer knowledge and skills.  Maybe it's time to be bolder.  As I'm semi-retired, I can't plead lack of time.  Up to now, it's been fear of the unknown! 


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#27 pomkiwi

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Posted 02 July 2016 - 09:10 AM

@douglaswise  I have only really started using Lightroom in the past year or so (before then I used Apple's Apperture programme).  It has a slightly off-putting way of organising photos until you are familiar with it but I have found the processing options easy to learn - it is possible to keep things simple until you want to make them complicated.  Two tips - firstly I have found the blog and e-book written by the Lightroom Queen (honestly) helpful and I have also downloaded the Google Efex add-ins which are very good (especially for black and white conversions) - they are now available free of charge. Important to note - everything you do is non-destructive - you can always get back to your original image!


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#28 PeterHG

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Posted 02 July 2016 - 11:48 AM

@douglaswise

Not much more to add to all the things that have been mentioned. I agree that you have a good eye for photography and I love the cows picture! Great composition there and iso not a problem at all. With respect to the under-/over-exposing of the images: perhaps the auto and fill light functions of picasa do not always do the best job, brightening up too much and losing some of the clarity and contrast in the process. The end results on some of the photos do seem a little  flat. I second the Lightroom suggestion. I've been using it for a number of years and I like it very much. It takes some getting used to (as with most software), but it does a very good job, both on raw and jpeg. I have taken the liberty of downloading one of your pics (that beautiful Caracara) and did a few quick tweaks in Lightroom. I do hope you don't mind. Of course this is always a matter of personal taste, but at least it gives you an idea of what can be done. You can find it here: https://photos.smugm...O/i-Bk2JqpK.jpg


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#29 xelas

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Posted 02 July 2016 - 05:01 PM

@douglaswise

 

Do not be afraid of experimenting ,neither with different settings neither with RAW neither with using another software. While Lightroom is an excellent one (probably the best out there) myself I am using the two that cames with Nikon, free of charge: 

ViewNX-i and Capture NX-D. First is good for JPEG and second is more complicated, better for RAW.

 

When you shot RAW, camera always add the settings of JPEG (otherwise you would not be able to see the preview on the LCD screen of the camera). Those settings, and in fact the complete JPEG photo is embedded into RAW photo. Thus with one file you have two options. And Nikon software can replicate the JPEG to exact same photo as it would be done in the camera.

 

I also took the liberty to work on your photo; this is 1-2-3 clicks result (it took me 3 minutes at the most, with ViewNX-i):

 

Original

Caracara.jpg

 

By Alex & ViewNX-i

Caracara by Alex_01.JPG

 

By Peter & Lightroom

Caracara by Peter.jpg

 

Good news is you are a very good photographer; stop blaming your shaky hands and start using the technology  :) ! Forget about Auto, Scene and even P(rogram) modes. Go into A(perutre) or even M(anual). 

Go into Set Picture Control -> chose Standard -> push Right and change to following settings:

Sharpening: 6

Contrast +1

Brightness 0

Saturation +1

Hue 0

 

Click OK and save under Standard-02; now go back and do the same also for Vivid.

 

I have been using Standard-02 for wildlife and Vivid-02 for all other photos with good results for many years while I was shooting JPEG only.

 

I have take also the liberty to add @PeterHG edition so one can now have all three to compare.


Edited by xelas, 02 July 2016 - 05:32 PM.

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#30 PeterHG

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Posted 02 July 2016 - 05:24 PM

Good work @xelas and free is always preferable :)
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#31 KaingU Lodge

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Posted 02 July 2016 - 05:32 PM

I won't try and add to the superb technical advice as I cannot really add much.  What I would say is that VR or IS (depending on brand) stabilisation is sometimes a hit or a miss affair.  For example:  my canon 100-400 Ii has what is supposed to be one of the world's most advanced IS systems.  It works like black magic - to get a sharp shot of the moon at 400mm and 1/80th of a second is downright amazing.  This morning I got a usable (facebook and web news at least) picture of a wild dog from a moving vehicle (again at 400mm).  But at times it throws a total wobbly and what should be sharp just isn't.  In reality the rule that the shutter speed should at least equal the focal length is a sound one.  The new tech is amazing, but not always bang on for every shot.  Again, control of this is something that programme modes won't help with. 

 

One of our guides is facing exactly the same issue with his bridge camera with something like a 600mm lens, and cranking up the shutter speed has helped a lot.  For sure with the small sensor noise becomes an issue, but (like you Douglas) I was once told by a well known pro wildlife photographer that it is better to have noise and a usable momento than blurred nothing. 

 

At the end of the day unless you are using a massive monitor or printing large a bit of noise is not the end of the world.  Pixel peeping is a futile pastime! 


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#32 Gregor

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Posted 02 July 2016 - 06:48 PM

When we are on the IS/OS topic. I want to add that don´t ever use IS when resting camera/lens on a hard surface. The IS vibration will blur the picture. And then I will give the basic advice of beanbag, which is perfect for mini-van safari. Using open cars, it is a little bit more difficult to get a good support place. Some have built in support place, sometimes even bringing a monopod is a good idea. If you shoot handheld, you should support your left arm (if you are right handed) against your chest, hold your breath and squeeze of. I guess much of the same technique like shooting a rifle (I did army service once, hunting is not my thing). Shooting high speed burst will increase your chance of good pictures, both getting some really sharp, and getting that right facial expression, eye etc. 


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#33 douglaswise

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Posted 03 July 2016 - 07:42 AM

Once again, thanks everybody.  I have made all the recommended camera adjustments, including those for "Picture Control" as per @xelas.  In a few hours, I'm off for a week on a fishing trip.  With new found enthusiasm, I'll take my camera along with my fly rod and experiment hard, hoping, on return, to discover that  the quality of my pix has improved.  I will look at the next stage, post processing, when I get back.  I do accept that my caracara's appearance has significantly improved when manipulated by others.

 

@Gregor, your hard surface advice noted.  I do like bean bags, but, on my last 3 trips, vehicle configurations have precluded their use.  Your comments on hand holding intrigue me  to the extent that you emphasise its relevance to right handers.  My relevant buttons are on the right of my camera and I'm left handed.  I look through the view finder with my left eye and press buttons with my right hand.  Isn't that what right handers do?  However, I shoot a shotgun and, very occasionally, a rifle off my left shoulder.

 

When I'm back, I'll give you a progress report.


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#34 xelas

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Posted 03 July 2016 - 08:39 AM

@douglaswise

 

Well done! If not fly fishing you will have plenty of time to test your newly acquired knowledge, and to add some of your own. Not a fisherman myself, so no advices in that area  :D ; if you will ever wanted to revisit Slovenia, you know whom to contact, yes?!



#35 douglaswise

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Posted 12 July 2016 - 07:36 AM

At the risk of being a bore, I would like to report back to my helpful advisers and describe how I got on with implementing their recommended changes:

 

1)  Back button single point focusing:

 

a)  Basically, I think this proved very helpful.  However, I had hoped that the single little red dot would be constant in the centre of the viewfinder.  It seemed to appear at random in any of the 11 potential sensor points in the viewfinder.  I was unable either to re-centre it or to keep it permanently in the centre.  Have I got the relevant setting wrong?

 

B)  Having focused and taken a picture, I found that, when changing to another subject at a different distance, I couldn't re-focus without, first, turning the camera off and back on.  Only then would the red dot reappear in the viewfinder.  Perhaps this is sensible, given that I am, effectively, locking the focus point.  I can certainly adapt to this if necessary.

 

2)  AF-C:

 

Seemed to hold focus on retreating target.  Happy with this.

 

3)  Aperture priority:

 

Having selected the chosen F number (typically 8) and demanded a minimum shutter speed of 1/500, all photos, regardless of focal length, were taken at 1/500 except when I stopped down to F 14 (on these occasions ISO went to the maximum of 6400 and only then did shutter speed drop below 1/500).  I am happy with this arrangement and it occurs to me that I can use it for both day and night photography, only needing to ensure maximum aperture for the latter, given that ISO will maximise and shutter speed drop as necessary.  Only when contemplating taking birds in flight will I have to make changes to demand faster shutter speeds.

 

If any of you have comments on or criticisms of my conclusions, I would be grateful to hear them.  Further, I would like comments on the image quality of the 4 pix below.  I'm sorry that they are not of a wild mammal, but, instead, of a semi-domesticated wife.  They all have different exposure characteristics and I have played a bit on Picasa with "contrast and "fill light".  What they do have in common is that the focal lengths were 70 (105 35 mm equiv).  To be honest, I find it hard to detect quality differences at ISOs ranging from 360-6400.  Am I just not seeing "noise" that is obvious to those with more expertise?

 

042.JPG

 

1/500, F 8, ISO 1250

 

136.JPG

 

1/500, F 4.5, ISO 360

 

270.JPG

 

1/250, F 14, ISO 6400

 

275.JPG

 

1/500, F 8, ISO 2800

 


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#36 douglaswise

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Posted 12 July 2016 - 07:40 AM

Slight correction to above post.  The uploaded pix are the original ones from the camera without any tweaks from Picasa.  Sorry.



#37 xelas

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Posted 12 July 2016 - 10:35 AM

Glad to have meet your wife, @douglaswise  :) ! My regards to her as she is a lovely person to take photos of. Mine, well, or she is very camera shy or she is still far from being half-domesticated  :rolleyes: !!

 

Some comments: The back button and the single point are two different settings. As is AF-C. So you need to check three different parameters:

 

1. autofocus being activated by back button only

2. auto focus being set at AF-C

3. number of focusing points being set to Single Point.

 

Better explained here: http://www.dummies.c...area-modes.html

IMO you have your camera set to (3D) 3D-tracking (11 points)

 

 

Your comment under a) is quite disturbing  :unsure: . My first reaction would be to detach the lens, and to clean the contacts both on the lens and on the camera. Camera should always be ready to focus on the subject below the active focus point.

If cleaning is not working, head to local camera store or Nikon service point. No settings are such to cause unresponsivness of the autofocus action.

 

 

AF-C = autofocus continuous / camera constantly measure the distance between the sensor and the subject and correct the focus accordingly; works on approaching and on retreating subjects.

 

 

Camera will follow the instructions (set aperture, minimum shutting speed) until the max ISO will be reached, Then the shutter speed will go down irrespective of the settings you have imposed. Only in M (manual) setting all the set parameters are kept fixed.

 

 

"Noise" very much depends on the scene and available light. Ally your 4 photos have good available light, and not many dark/underexposed areas, so there is not much difference in those 4 images.To check how the noise looks like at each ISO, look at 100% and select the darkest area on each image ( on image #4 that would be the dark patch left of your wife's head).

 

 

All four images looks good to my eye, contrast and sharp. #2 is best exposed, to my eye.

 

 

And, how was the fishing??



#38 douglaswise

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Posted 13 July 2016 - 10:21 AM

@xelas:

 

I think you're a genius.  As suggested, I cleaned the contact points between lens and camera and seem to have fixed (at least temporarily) the problem of the intermittently unresponsive autofocus.   The camera was on AF-C, but I think I might have been on Dynamic Area Mode, which I have now changed to single point (non dynamic). 

 

Glad that you thought the contrast/sharpness of the 4 test pictures was OK.  Possibly my test should have been undertaken under more rigorous conditions.  I agree about image #2 as it appears on the screen.  Its superiority is much less obvious before the translation from original to Safaritalk format.

 

Finally, the fishing was excellent.  We seemed to have had the only decent week of weather in our English summer to date and the previous wet conditions ensured good water flow.

 

Many thanks. 


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#39 xelas

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Posted 13 July 2016 - 11:14 AM

Not genius, @douglaswise , just old and having plenty of time to read through various photo forums  :) !

 

Glad to hear you have had a nice fishing week. Are you considering to do some more fishing in Slovenia?



#40 Terry

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Posted 23 July 2016 - 02:49 PM

Thank you, @douglaswise, for asking the questions which I should have asked a few years back. I know I will benefit from the knowledge gained from this discussion as will many other people. 

 

And thank you, @xelas,  @Gregor,  @TonyQ, @Safaridude,  @pault,  @cheetah80, @ KaingU Lodge. @PeterHG, for all the information you have shared. 

 

It has taken me a some time to work thru it all but now I have my camera setup for to follow your instructions, including back-button focusing.  I admit I had a lot to learn for I am/was a program-mode user also.   Buy a new camera, set it to program-mode, and go on safari.  It was all so easy and so seductive.   

 

Again, many thanks to you all for all your help!


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