Faulty Camera or Faulty Photographer?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Graham Fountain, Sep 17, 2006.

  1. Graham Fountain

    kosh Guest

    as I mentioned..... it is a pretty extreme situation and would push most

    also I would agree about the metering.... the metering mode only shifts
    you up and down the exposure scale.... it does not effect your dynamic
    range... just where you are within that range. either way, you were
    going to lose something.. shadows or highlights.....
    as mentioned by another poster..... highlights clip very easily... you
    have a bit more meat to play with in the shadows... hence why you should
    generally under expose digi
    kosh, Sep 17, 2006
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  2. It seems to me that the camera is applying metering that would work on
    film. Sounds to me that the firmware should be underexposing and then
    applying a different curve to the image. Considering it is no SLR, and
    lacks raw, it is a camera that should be used as a P&S - you would think
    therefore that this type of adjustment would be made in camera, and not
    have to be made in photoshop.
    I know the examples I posted are fairly extreme, but as I said, this
    happens in EVERY image that involves sunlight. If I try to take a
    landscape, it is once again a case of wind back the exposure, every
    time. The only time the metering comes close to being accurate is
    indoors with flash. The annoying thing is, that on all my film cameras,
    I can rely on the inbuilt meter, except in extraordinary situations such
    as backlighting. It seems with the S2IS, the inbuilt meter means nothing
    - it's a case of keep shooting until highlights become acceptible.
    I just had another flick through my photos to find some more where I had
    two samples. I just uploaded another pair of images, a typical landscape
    with clear blue sky. The camera's standard exposure gives me a 100%
    white sky, go -2 stops and it comes back.
    Graham Fountain, Sep 17, 2006
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  3. Graham Fountain

    k Guest

    "Graham Fountain

    | These 2nd examples I think show that the camera has put too much
    | emphasis on the centre, and pretty much ignored the brightness from the
    | clouds. This is what you would expect from using spot metering, but in
    | this case it was set to "pattern".

    you can always test your metering, set a bright light source (a white led is
    good!) on a dark background and run the camera across the scene and note how
    the meter responds..

    I usually did this with any new (film) camera I bought to find out precisely
    how he meter was reacting.

    One old camera (canon Ft) was base weighted, it ONLY measured the bottom
    half of the scene with absolutely nothing in the top half of the frame ever
    registering, averaging that selected area completely - so using the camera
    in portrait mode always called for a bit of thinking, ANother Canon I used
    had a few hot spots across the meter area away from the center - it to was
    laregly base weighted but also heavily center weighted.. but those hot spots
    in the base area made things tricky sometimes if a bright light presented
    it's self there.

    As a consequence I tended to use inbuilt light meters as ambient meters
    rather than relying on them to accurately measure luminance in the scene

    k, Sep 18, 2006
  4. You mean "purist"? No, I am not saying you cease to look at the scene
    and evaluate exposure, etc. Just that with digital, you need to be a lot
    more precise with your exposure, to the extent that you need to consult
    the LCD to see how you are doing with your guesses. With film it just
    wasn't that critical. You took a meter reading, biased it for the
    subject at hand, and prayed like hell. Usually worked out, because you
    can do some amazing things in the printing of a color negative.

    With digital, things need to be more precise, but you also have more
    options both before and after exposure. Most of us have experienced in
    increase in the number of pix we take and the interest in photography
    after acquiring our first digital camera.

    So the answer is that you evaluate the scene even closer in digital, not
    less. The challenge is greater, but the rewards are worth it.

    Gary Eickmeier
    Gary Eickmeier, Sep 18, 2006
  5. As I may have mentioned above, the live histogram of an EVF type camera
    can save you from these situations, but the histogram of your images
    after exposure can do the same thing.

    If your camera exposed for the highlights more than the lowlights or
    general area, you might be pissed that you lost all detail in the dark
    areas. So all you can do is learn your camera and deal with it.

    Gary Eickmeier
    Gary Eickmeier, Sep 18, 2006
  6. Graham Fountain

    kosh Guest

    but it does require discipline! otherwise there is a tendancy to siimply
    react to what you see on sceen or in a histogram..... which you hsould
    use to check exposure, not test!
    kosh, Sep 18, 2006
  7. Yes. I have stated my approach in several posts in this thread now, and
    can't help but wonder if Graham read any of it.

    Gary Eickmeier
    Gary Eickmeier, Sep 19, 2006
  8. I did read about your suggestion of monitoring of the histogram, and
    that is exactly what I have been doing, and why I had both an "according
    to the meter" and a "-2-2/3 stops underexposed" version of several
    images. My point is, should I really have to do this?

    I have just uploaded a version of the steam train image, this time shot
    with my Pentax MZ-60, using Sensia 400 slide film. I also have a strip
    of FP4 B&W neg's, when I get them scanned I'll upload one of them. This
    was shot using just the stock standard exposure as indicated by the
    camera. It has caught the clouds ok (maybe a little washed out, but
    still has detail), it has caught detail in the buildings and yards that
    the canon has lost, and while it does struggle in the shadows, it is
    still coping better than the S2IS did when I had it at -2. The important
    thing to note is that this is stock standard exposure. I guess I know
    the Pentax well enough to know that it will meter this type of scene
    correctly, and I intuitively know when I have to give it a tweak (which
    is rare). But even though I haven't had the canon long enough to fully
    learn it's nuances, it does tell me that 1, it has less dynamic range
    especially in highlights than slide film (and everyone says how bad
    slide is), and 2 that it's inbuilt meter err's toward overexposure, yet
    the sensor has very little margin for error in overexposure - this to me
    sounds like a silly way to set metering.
    Call me fussy, but I think a camera that requires you to monitor the
    histogram for every single shot because the metering is so hit and miss,
    is faulty. I have a 40 year old camera that can do better than that.
    Graham Fountain, Sep 19, 2006
  9. Graham Fountain

    Poxy Guest

    To my eye (and monitor), looking at the area in the shadow of the platform,
    the default digital shot is mighty close to the film shot, so it strikes me
    that both cameras metered the scene pretty much the same way. The big
    difference, as you mention, is the way in which the slide film handled the
    highlights, which in this difficult shot, make up the left half of the

    The film shot also managed to hold up more detail in the shadows of the engi
    ne on the right half, which also suggests superior latitude with film.

    To me, it's nothing to do with metering, just a matter of inferior latitude
    and/or perhaps a particular choice of gamma/contrast by the digital's
    designers. You might get better results in difficult shots such as these by
    shooting raw files?
    Poxy, Sep 19, 2006

  10. Agreed.


    I am curious if you saw my post a few days ago and had any comment.
    John McWilliams, Sep 19, 2006
  11. You should take into consideration that you're comparing two different
    classes of camera. The digital camera is a small-sensor long zoom
    camera probably designed primarily for snapshots, while you're comparing
    it to a film SLR. A DSLR, with its much larger sensor, has more dynamic
    range, and RAW output allows carrying that extra range into an image
    editor. A DSLR would be better suited to difficult subjects like these.

    Dave Martindale, Sep 19, 2006
  12. Yeah I know better light would help. Unfortunately steam trains don't
    wait for better light. In this case I had a window of about 1-1/2 hours
    before it would be gone for another year.
    Graham Fountain, Sep 19, 2006
  13. Sadly the S2IS won't do raw. I agree that it comes from a latitude
    problem, but the metering also affects that. DX coded film cartridges
    also have a coding to indicate the latitude of the film. My Pentax uses
    that to adjust the way it meters, hence it metered this difficult scene
    such that the highlights stayed under control. Yes the better latitude
    helps. Since the canon has pretty much no over-exposure latitude, but
    heaps of detail in the shadows (giving the -2 shot a gamma adjustment in
    photoshop yields heaps of shadow detail), then to my way of thinking,
    the default exposure should give a bit of underexposure, maybe with a
    bit of a gamma change to keep shadows controlled.
    Since the camera doesn't have raw mode, and has very limited contrast
    control, it is obviously intended for mum & dad type photographers, who
    would just point, shoot, and get reasonable results. When I take a
    landscape and get a white sky, I know how to adjust the exposure, and
    give it a tweak in photoshop to get a blue sky and a decent looking
    subject. I wonder how many snapshooters would know that, and just be p'd
    off at getting a white sky. Surely not all S2IS's would do this, or it
    would have a terrible reputation. I have had 2 low-end Kodak digicams,
    and 1 low-end HP digicam and with all of them, I never had this problem.
    That's why I think my camera is faulty. If other, less advanced and
    cheaper cameras can do this correctly, surely a mid-priced Canon should
    be able to. Or am I expecting too much? Are Canons actually inferior to
    Kodaks and HP's?
    Graham Fountain, Sep 19, 2006
  14. I know it is in a different class to an SLR, but I find it rare that
    I'll get a blue sky in a landscape shot using standard exposure. My
    older Kodak & HP digis (which were small sensor, but short zoom cameras,
    designed primarily for snapshots), could get a blue sky pretty much
    every time. If a $200AUS camera can take an acceptible shot, surely a
    $600AUS camera can. I know an SLR is better, but a DSLR is out of my
    price range, so I still use one of my film SLRs for anything that
    matters. I did have _occasional_ highlight issues with my Kodaks and HPs
    and hoped that upgrading to a better camera and better brand would give
    better photos, but was wrong. Instead, nearly every photo out of the
    canon needs an exposure change, followed by a gamma correction. I've
    even noticed that taking a photo of a flower garden under cloud, with
    only the garden in the shot, will blow highlights in every white flower,
    including having blooming around the photos. This is not exactly a high
    contrast scene, and it still gets it wrong. Take a photo with the
    inbuilt flash of a person at about 3m and you will get a white face if
    you don't adjust exposure. I don't think these characteristics are
    acceptible in a mid-priced camera. If all S2IS's do this, then they
    would have a bad reputation which they don't, so I'm sure I must have a
    faulty example.
    Graham Fountain, Sep 19, 2006
  15. Graham Fountain

    Ron Baird Guest

    Hi Graham,

    Looks to me like all your shots include extremes. Dark to Bright. The range
    is always going to demand a trade off. Do you want a bright blue sky or a
    well exposed foreground (dark area). In the exposures shown, there is too
    much range to get it just the way you want. I would take two pictures, one
    exposed for the bright scene, and one for the dark and bring them together
    in an image program like Photoshop. I don't think it is the camera. Just the
    scene range.

    Talk to you soon,

    Ron Baird
    Eastman Kodak Company
    Ron Baird, Sep 19, 2006
  16. Graham and anyone else interested, pls check out


    I haven't tried it extensively on my A100 yet, but it seems like an
    answer to digital woes.

    Gary Eickmeier
    Gary Eickmeier, Sep 20, 2006
  17. Ouch, now that's a long cycle to wait for the next one!

    Another way to get much broader shoulders is to shoot RAW, and then
    develop one image for the shadows and another for the highlights,
    sandwich, and then mask and paint through what you want. The same could
    be done for two jpegs taken at different exposures, on a tripod, in
    short time frame.
    John McWilliams, Sep 20, 2006
  18. Graham Fountain

    Mr.T Guest

    Funny statement that, when a new DSLR can be had for similar money
    (AUD$600-$700, check out the current deals on Pentax ist DL's for example)
    and second hand one's even less (I've seen Olympus E300's selling for $500).

    Mr.T, Sep 20, 2006
  19. Graham Fountain

    Mr.T Guest

    The answer to "digital woes" has been around for years. It requires the use
    of a RAW file format, and knowledge of how to use Photoshop.
    The Sony solution is simply aimed at those who can't or won't. Even then a
    Photoshop plug-in could do a similar job automatically, with any DSLR photo.

    Mr.T, Sep 20, 2006
  20. The S2IS is(was) RRP $599. I picked mine up in the low $400's while they
    were on close-out. Best price i've seen on an istDL is $795 - that's
    almost double the price - and that is a close-out price too. Where have
    you seen E300's selling for $500? Not that an E300 is much of a solution
    - I used one a fair bit last year, and was utterly disgusted by it,
    really no better than a P&S. Actually, some of the stuff I've got out of
    the S2IS, bad as it is, is better than the RAW results I was able to get
    out of the E300. Even if I did pick up an E300 for around $500, to get
    similar telephoto to what the S2IS is capable of, would be the 40-150
    lens which is an extra $500'ish. The pentax would be better since I
    already have pentax lenses (albeit manual lenses which would require the
    use of stop-down metering), but it's still a big price jump above the
    S2IS. Besides, I bought the S2IS, not as a poor-man's SLR (I have film
    SLR's for quality), but as a compact more portable alternative to the
    SLR, that would give a bit more zoom than my little $200 HP. I was most
    surprised though to find that it performs worse than the HP.
    Graham Fountain, Sep 20, 2006
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