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Soft Focus Issues / Lens Test

 
 
Robert R Kircher, Jr.
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      06-20-2005
So I was out the other day shooting and when I got home that afternoon I
wasn't very unhappy with the results from my EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM.
Everything seemed too soft. This prompted me to go out the next day and do
an unscientific test of all my lenses. The results can be seen here.
http://www.pbase.com/rkircher/lens_test

I shot this test using 3 of my lens in an effort to compare their
performance.

Lenses used:
Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM
Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM

These images are shot at the minimum focal length of the lens used. Other
then shutter speed I kept all other camera settings the same. The lenses
were auto focused using the center focus point only. I took a series of
pics with each lens all of which looked just about the same. The images
were processed using Capture One where I applied the same amount of
sharpening and adjusted exposure and contrast.

The processed images look pretty good, however, you can see that the
original images are all very soft. I'm concerned that the originals should
be sharper and wondering if my camera needs adjusting. I keep reading post
saying that the 18-55 is a fairly sharp lens but I wouldn't call my results
sharp at all.

Does this look like an issue with the camera? Is it something I'm doing? Or
is this what I should expect from these lenses?

I have to say that I've had little to no problems with the EF 100-400mm
f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens. But the 18-55 and the 28-135 seem way too soft.

Any thoughts or comments would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Rob


 
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Craig Flory
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Posts: n/a
 
      06-20-2005
What was your aperature ? If wide open, that could be your problem. For
maxiumum sharpness, you do know to stop down to the optimum f-stop. For most
lenses you should be stopping down to at least f8.0. For scenics like you
have shown make sure you are using a tripod. Try stopping down to f11 or
smaller aperature. The images you posted are not bad but could be even
better on a tripod at f16. Experiment to see how the aperature effects your
images.

Craig Flory


 
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Robert R Kircher, Jr.
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Posts: n/a
 
      06-20-2005
"Craig Flory" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:FOBte.6541$(E-Mail Removed) ink.net...
> What was your aperature ? If wide open, that could be your problem. For
> maxiumum sharpness, you do know to stop down to the optimum f-stop. For
> most
> lenses you should be stopping down to at least f8.0. For scenics like you
> have shown make sure you are using a tripod. Try stopping down to f11 or
> smaller aperature. The images you posted are not bad but could be even
> better on a tripod at f16. Experiment to see how the aperature effects
> your
> images.
>


They were all shot at F8.


 
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Mike Bernstein
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      06-20-2005
According to Canon (EOS Magazine March 2005), "Digital cameras do not take
sharp images. This is nothing to do with focusing - it is caused by the
interpolation of colour data". It follows that all digital images need some
sharpening and this is more true of the EOS SLRs than digital compacts.
In-camera sharpening is performed in the compacts. There are many, many
articles on this subject and many different views about the best methods and
optimum results. The end result required will depend on personal taste and
the eventual output wanted (web, print, screen). For me, for example, your
sharpened 18mm shot is a touch over-sharpened.

Also, you can get the 300D to perform some of this if you take in JPEG
format. In that format, you can set elements of in-camera sharpening as well
as colour saturation.

Mike Bernstein

"Robert R Kircher, Jr." <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:(E-Mail Removed)...
> So I was out the other day shooting and when I got home that afternoon I
> wasn't very unhappy with the results from my EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM.
> Everything seemed too soft. This prompted me to go out the next day and
> do an unscientific test of all my lenses. The results can be seen here.
> http://www.pbase.com/rkircher/lens_test
>
> I shot this test using 3 of my lens in an effort to compare their
> performance.
>
> Lenses used:
> Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
> Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM
> Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM
>
> These images are shot at the minimum focal length of the lens used. Other
> then shutter speed I kept all other camera settings the same. The lenses
> were auto focused using the center focus point only. I took a series of
> pics with each lens all of which looked just about the same. The images
> were processed using Capture One where I applied the same amount of
> sharpening and adjusted exposure and contrast.
>
> The processed images look pretty good, however, you can see that the
> original images are all very soft. I'm concerned that the originals
> should be sharper and wondering if my camera needs adjusting. I keep
> reading post saying that the 18-55 is a fairly sharp lens but I wouldn't
> call my results sharp at all.
>
> Does this look like an issue with the camera? Is it something I'm doing?
> Or is this what I should expect from these lenses?
>
> I have to say that I've had little to no problems with the EF 100-400mm
> f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens. But the 18-55 and the 28-135 seem way too soft.
>
> Any thoughts or comments would be appreciated.
>
> Thanks,
> Rob
>
>



 
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Malcolm Stewart
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Posts: n/a
 
      06-20-2005
"Robert R Kircher, Jr." <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:(E-Mail Removed)...

> Any thoughts or comments would be appreciated.
>
> Thanks,
> Rob


Now you got me puzzled...
I downloaded one of your images at "original" size, and Photoshop reports it
at 1014 x 676 pixels.
My EOS10D images from the same CCD are ~3000 x 2000 pixels, and boy!, are
they sharp when I use my EF 50 f1.4.

Anyway, using my standard Unsharp Mask (200, 0.6,4), your image sharpens up
nicely. In matters like this, I'd suggest getting a copy of the EF 50
f1.8 - despite its poor build quality, it's very sharp, and easily acts as
an affordable bench mark.

--
M Stewart
Milton Keynes, UK
http://www.megalith.freeserve.co.uk/oddimage.htm





 
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Robert R Kircher, Jr.
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Posts: n/a
 
      06-20-2005

"Malcolm Stewart" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in
message news:d97g5o$900$(E-Mail Removed)...
> "Robert R Kircher, Jr." <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
> news:(E-Mail Removed)...
>
>> Any thoughts or comments would be appreciated.
>>
>> Thanks,
>> Rob

>
> Now you got me puzzled...
> I downloaded one of your images at "original" size, and Photoshop reports
> it
> at 1014 x 676 pixels.
> My EOS10D images from the same CCD are ~3000 x 2000 pixels, and boy!, are
> they sharp when I use my EF 50 f1.4.
>
> Anyway, using my standard Unsharp Mask (200, 0.6,4), your image sharpens
> up
> nicely. In matters like this, I'd suggest getting a copy of the EF 50
> f1.8 - despite its poor build quality, it's very sharp, and easily acts as
> an affordable bench mark.
>



Malcolm,

I appreciate the thoughts. I've down sized the image to conserve space on
the website, however, the full size image is just as soft.

As far as sharpening the images, I've been able to get all my images
sharpened in post processing, my concern is if I'm getting the best possible
image out of the camera to begin with. Maybe I am, I just don't know for
sure.

Rob


 
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Malcolm Stewart
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Posts: n/a
 
      06-20-2005
"Robert R Kircher, Jr." <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:(E-Mail Removed)...
>
> "Malcolm Stewart" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in
> message news:d97g5o$900$(E-Mail Removed)...
> > "Robert R Kircher, Jr." <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
> > news:(E-Mail Removed)...
> >
> >> Any thoughts or comments would be appreciated.
> >>
> >> Thanks,
> >> Rob

> >
> > Now you got me puzzled...
> > I downloaded one of your images at "original" size, and Photoshop

reports
> > it
> > at 1014 x 676 pixels.
> > My EOS10D images from the same CCD are ~3000 x 2000 pixels, and boy!,

are
> > they sharp when I use my EF 50 f1.4.

>
> Malcolm,
>
> I appreciate the thoughts. I've down sized the image to conserve space on
> the website, however, the full size image is just as soft.
>
> As far as sharpening the images, I've been able to get all my images
> sharpened in post processing, my concern is if I'm getting the best

possible
> image out of the camera to begin with. Maybe I am, I just don't know for
> sure.
>
> Rob


I'm not an expert on this but, AFAIK if you save as RAW there is no
sharpening done in camera, and you have to do all the work, but the results
can be excellent.
Alternatively, if you crank up the sharpness in camera prior to saving as a
jpeg, your results will initially look better, but you may be stuffed if you
want to do further work on the image, as it will already have the beginnings
of sharpening halos.
Personally, I mostly save as jpeg (neutral EOS10D parameters) but tend to
use prime lenses all the time, and good prints to A3+ are easily made. I
have a range of zooms, and used them much more with my EOS3 and Provia 100F.
Affordable scanning seemed to make all my lenses look alike, and grain
aliasing was the real problem!
--
M Stewart
Milton Keynes, UK
http://www.megalith.freeserve.co.uk/oddimage.htm





 
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Roxy d'Urban
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      06-21-2005
On Mon, 20 Jun 2005 09:43:47 -0400, Robert R Kircher, Jr. wrote:

> So I was out the other day shooting and when I got home that afternoon I
> wasn't very unhappy with the results from my EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM.
> Everything seemed too soft. This prompted me to go out the next day and
> do an unscientific test of all my lenses. The results can be seen here.
> http://www.pbase.com/rkircher/lens_test
>
> I shot this test using 3 of my lens in an effort to compare their
> performance.
>
> Lenses used:
> Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
> Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM
> Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM
>
> These images are shot at the minimum focal length of the lens used. Other
> then shutter speed I kept all other camera settings the same. The lenses
> were auto focused using the center focus point only. I took a series of
> pics with each lens all of which looked just about the same. The images
> were processed using Capture One where I applied the same amount of
> sharpening and adjusted exposure and contrast.
>
> The processed images look pretty good, however, you can see that the
> original images are all very soft. I'm concerned that the originals
> should be sharper and wondering if my camera needs adjusting. I keep
> reading post saying that the 18-55 is a fairly sharp lens but I wouldn't
> call my results sharp at all.
>
> Does this look like an issue with the camera? Is it something I'm doing?
> Or is this what I should expect from these lenses?
>
> I have to say that I've had little to no problems with the EF 100-400mm
> f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens. But the 18-55 and the 28-135 seem way too soft.
>
> Any thoughts or comments would be appreciated.
>
> Thanks,
> Rob


I think you may find this has something to do with the sensor being a CMOS
and not a CCD. I read an article recently that explained the major
differences between the two types of sensor and the gist of it suggests
that CMOS sensors require a lot of in-camera processing to reduce the
amount of noise they generate. Ironically a CCD is not as noisy in its raw
state, but costs a lot more to manufacture than a CMOS sensor, which is
why manufacturers have gone from CCD to CMOS.

This probably explains why CMOS appears to be less noisy at higher ISO
levels than a CCD, but it's a false reality, since most of the noise is
removed by software, which will obviously have some kind of effect on
optimum image sharpness.

Don't shoot the messenger.

--
Save photography | shoot some film today!
email: drop rods and insert surfaces
 
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Don Stauffer
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      06-21-2005
Robert R Kircher, Jr. wrote:
> "Craig Flory" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
> news:FOBte.6541$(E-Mail Removed) ink.net...
>
>>What was your aperature ? If wide open, that could be your problem. For
>>maxiumum sharpness, you do know to stop down to the optimum f-stop. For
>>most
>>lenses you should be stopping down to at least f8.0. For scenics like you
>>have shown make sure you are using a tripod. Try stopping down to f11 or
>>smaller aperature. The images you posted are not bad but could be even
>>better on a tripod at f16. Experiment to see how the aperature effects
>>your
>>images.
>>

>
>
> They were all shot at F8.
>
>

I think it is easy to underestimate what even slight movement can make
to sharpness, hence Robert's good suggestion to use tripod whenever
possible. The higher resolution of digicams get, the more necessary
tripods are.

Also, it doesn't take much crud on lens front surface to affect
sharpness of high contrast scenes.
 
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