A couple of weeks ago, my DD bought a Canon 550d which is a DSLR. I'm trying out shots from it. It has come with the basic lens 18-55. It will take some time to get a hang of it. My DD knows better as she is inspired from her friends who know a bit of photography and so that's why this camera arrived! I love macro shots with blur background. Still trying to get it right. I want to compare the sharpness I achieve from my Lumix FZ8. I'd be delighted to hear any opinions on this camera and suggestions that may help me and my DD to achieve the best results. Any tips are welcome, please. I never imagined I'd lay my hand on a DSLR so soon. It's only 9 years ago since I started posting pictures on DG from my friend's Sony MVC FD5 (methinks) and that is also the time when internet had come to our office.
Congratulations! That is a wonderful camera that I am sure you will master in no time. As you have found out, there is a learning curve in moving to DSLR.
Edited to add: OOPS, I just read your other thread near this one regarding your camera history. You can forget all of the info below. I'm quite sure you already know this. I'll leave it in case it helps anyone else though.
As far as getting good blurred background macro shots, the Canon 100mm f2.8 L lens is awesome for that and it is good for portraits too. But, you can take some really good blurred background shots with that 18-55 lens too. Just make sure the background is as far away as possible and use the smallest f-number (largest aperture) it has. You probably already know this, but, the smaller the f-number (like f2.8), the larger the aperture and the less depth of field you will have. My instructor taught, "Big f-number (f22) = Lots of things in focus. Small f-number (f2.8) = Very little in focus."
As far as sharpness, with the 100mm lens at f2.8 when in very close, you almost need a tripod to get the shot. I try to always use one. A good tripod would be a good investment also if you want to take photos of the moon and sunrise/sunset shots when there is not a lot of light.
Patti, thanks for the information anyway, it served me as a good brush for the memory! I was forgetting to adjust certain settings while using the FZ8 and now this post will push those important points in! It is really helpful and I'm going to show this to my DD who is already handling the Canon better than me. Already 2k shots taken in
Hmmm. It looks pink. Is it only pink on the web? If so it might be a colorspace issue. If it isn't already, convert to sRGB for the web.
If it looks pink on your computer and you are shooting jpegs, it might be an issue with whatever "Picture Style" you are using. I always shoot in RAW, so I ignore Picture Style. It doesn't apply to the RAW file, only to what I see on the LCD.
If it's not one of those, I don't have a clue. ^_^ Let us know what you find out.
Patti, thanks. We take only jpg. It looks pinkish on our PC also. It looks/looked red to the eye. The sun was directly on it - early morning sun. May be this caused the 'glare' - it happened with the yellow also when shot a rainlily. May be I must try with different white balance settings to see which gives natural results. What do you say?
It could be the white balance I guess. It seems to me that those two colors - red and yellow, are the hardest for most digital cameras to get right. But, that's the beauty of shooting RAW. You can change the white balance in Photoshop since the raw file contains all of the information. But I almost always leave my WB on Auto and hardly ever need to change it, so I don't think it is WB. I think you have the answer - glare. Shoot the flower (or something red) in the shade and see if it is better. I have one of those portable diffuser/reflectors that fold up similar to a car windshield shade. Mine has a silver and gold reflector, a black surface and a transluscent white diffuser. The diffuser works nicely to allow in some light, but not direct.
Yes, could be as you say. Will try the other methods also and see. We don't have photoshop. We use simple Picasa 3 for minor editing. I try to take the sun on the subject with the shade of the tree in the b/g to try and see if that gets that 'stand out effect'. Here is the yellow I told you.
Ah, yes! That is what I typically see for yellow and also red - oversaturation. If you just reduce the saturation on the yellow flower, you will see more detail in the petals. That is where you can go into your Picture Styles and set up a custom one for shooting yellow and red flowers. Lower the saturation and save as a custom PS. Or just use one of the Picture Styles that already has a lower saturation. I can't remember them since I never use them.
Canon is really bad about oversaturating yellow and red. That is why I was a bit confused about the pink color. Normally what I see on red is oversaturated blown out red with no detail.
As for colors it could be several factors such as time of day - midday will wash a lot of colors out; settings on the camera such as picture style which controls saturation, hue, contrast, and sharpness; white balance to a degree but that usually adds a tint to the entire scene; and then there is exposure. If the colors don't look dark enough then underexpose by 1/3 to a full stop; if they don't look white enough then overexpose.
I have tried only a few things since I posted that last insect picture but for me it takes time... my DD is already having some great fun with it and knows most of the adjustments. She has already taken hundreds of shots esp. of water. Here is one of them. Rain water dripping from the collection tray (pipe).
I haven't looked at my owners manual since I got that book, so I don't know how much this is discussed there,but you can bracket your white balance. Doing that might give you an idea of the camera's biases towards colors.
Thanks niceguy2. Saw the links. Very good info. Our owner's manual is misplaced. My DD says she has not seen it. I did see it once. It's a mystery that it is not located. The books are not discussed much here. So we did not know that there were other guides other than the user's manual! It's interesting.
My DD gets better results with macros. She knows a bit more than me with settings. I learnt a few things going through the video samples in the links you sent.
I'll see about the white balance. In another photo of the hibiscus stamens, there is the yellow stamens. Just around it like an aura, there is a yellow 'outline'. I wonder what this is. The picture looks sharp on zooming. I have not got this pic on my office PC (may be I'll send it from home).
I see the aura, but if you look at the red filaments(stems) there is a red aura to them also. Notice the bottom/left side of the bottom one. Two filaments cross each other in the middle of the picture and it is noticeable there also. The picture is not completely in focus, and I think both auras are the result of that. The red auras show up as a darker shade of red on the bottom sides. If you considered that is where a shadow would occur that would explain the dark red. The yellow aura could be highlight from the sun. In a perfect picture there would be a fine line of highlight and shadow around the stamen, but because it is out of focus it comes out like a scattering of pixels to create an aura. Hope that makes sense.
Aaaah, yes of course that makes sense. You have explained it nice and simple. I thought so too, that it is slightly out of focus as accuracy is critical. May be it took the focus to some stamen a wee bit closer to the lens. I think the image was cropped a bit. That was taken by my DD in the initial stages of its arrival. I noticed the red aura also after you told. I'll take 'highlight' as 'glare'/'glow', if those also hold good.
I show another picture I tried with it. Spider web. I put my hand very close to the web and set the readings (half pressing the shutter button) and then shot. It is almost impossible I feel to get it focused automatically... or is there any other way? I had sprayed water in a fine mist as it was getting dark - thought it would look well in flash.
What you did worked fine. You mentioned you have the kits lens. I was wondering if you can manually focus with the lens in auto focus? For that shot I think you could have used the settings the camera gave you in auto focus, but then pulled back to focus on the web. Did you use a tripod for that shot? It seems like it has a similar aura to it. Maybe you are getting camera shake. If you have a tripod try to take the shot again and use the self timer delay. --- After you select the program press the button to the left of the set button on the back of the camera. Scroll over to 'self-timer;2 sec delay' and press set. That will eliminate any chance of camera shake. Please post the picture.
Turn off the AF on your lens if you want manual focus. Also if you use a tripod, then turn off IS as well (if your lens has it for even less vibration - that doesn't make sense but it works as the pros tell us). One more tip is to turn on mirror lock up if you want to eliminate mirror vibration (takes two pushes of the shutter though). A cable release would be better than a self timer but that works too.
Close up work can be done hand held but put the camera in burst rate and hope for one good shot out of dozens. Tripods are your best friend in most of these situations.
Thanks for the tips both of you. I'll show these to my DD also. It was hand-held. Yes, since light was poor, there might be a slight shake. Will try those tips when I see another good web. That one is now gone. We have a simple small tripod, probably light duty. No cable release. The lens is the basic 18-55.
My DD tried with sand yesterday. I threw a stone on the small heap. She took more than 15 shots, but this one topped. 1/200, f/5.6.
Dinu, That is a cool photo! Very creative and nicely done. My compliments to you and your daughter.
Another tip for shooting webs is to get the plane of the web parallel to the plane of your sensor (or film in the old days). I think you did that though and just didn't have enough depth of field. Some of the droplets were in better focus than others. So, you probably just needed a smaller aperture (bigger f number as in going from f5.6 to f8) to get a bit more in focus. I usually shoot shots like that at several apertures and pick the one that gets all of the web in focus but still has a nice blurry background. And when using the smaller apertures, you will likely have a slow shutter speed and will need a tripod and no wind. The first one's easy. The second one is the tough one. ^_^ You could always crank up the ISO to get the shutter speed faster, but I prefer to come back on a day with no wind.
Oh, and as far as focusing manually while the lens is in auto-focus, either follow hcmcdole's good advice and don't do it, or read up on your particular lens before you do it. It will be in the manual if the lens has the "full time manual focus" capability. And don't use it in AI servo in any case. Thankfully, I don't know from experience, but from what I have read, it can damage some of the the older kit lenses and any lenses that don't have USM (Canon's term). Even some with USM do not support the full time manual focus. If the lens does not suppor it, it will, over time, wear out gears and damage the AF motor. All of my newer Canon L lenses have the full time manual focus capability though and I do use it as niceguy described. It works great to get that last little tweak of focus, especially if you have and are using the Live View feature magnified. You can get some really fine-tuned focus that way.
But, a lot of people just don't do it because if you get in the habit and forget that you have a lens on that doesn't support it, you will be damaging that lens.
Using a dark background and tweaking it in a photo editor can help as well for the spider web.
I had my wife hold up a black cloth from one of those 5 in 1 reflectors behind this dew laden spider web. It would've been nice to have ironed the cloth but in this case it was better than nothing. She couldn't back up further else I couldn't get the entire web. My lens at that time was probably wide open but a fast lens would've helped blur the black cloth. I don't remember using a tripod for this shot and the shutter speed is 1/30 at ISO 640 on an early summer morning. Minor tweaks in PSE to make the cloth black instead of a dark grey and a bit of contrast.