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Thread: Optical problems.

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    Optical problems.

    I have been away from this site for a while due to both a major melt down of my Sony Alpha700 (smashed in an accident), the lack of $$ to repair/replace it, and a problem with my own eyesight that I'm hoping will soon sort itself out.
    I have over the last few weeks taken a few shot with my husbands Sony A550, but have found that no matter what I try the image is always slightly blurred or soft.
    So I am now thinking of taking a step back to a point and shoot / super zoom until my eyesight improves, as the focusing I assume will be less of a problem.
    I haven't used one for quiet a few years and would like anyone with personal experience to recommend a couple so I can review them and make a decision.
    Thanks in advance!

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    Blurriness or softness can be caused by a myriad of things

    1. not in focus
    2. subject moving
    3. camera moving
    4. photographer shake (see 3)
    5. Shutter speed to slow

    and more

    Post some examples of the problem and we should be able to advise on the cause / resolution.
    "It is one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it is another thing to make a portrait of who they are" - Paul Caponigro

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    Mark mpb's Avatar
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    I think you will be disappointed will a point and shoot. I am not sure how you will get sharp shots with a p&s if you can't get them with a dslr.

    Why not look at a second hand camera, just saw an A700 go for $255 on eBay. You probably already have the lenses and other accessories, and you would need to spend a reasonable amount on a p&s or super zoom that you would be happy with.

    I would also recommend looking at the sony's with an electronic view finder if your eye sight is dodgy. They provide a number of tools to help with focusing like focus peeking and highlighting in focus areas. You could probably pick up an A57 or the like for under $500.
    Mark


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    Ausphotography Regular bitsnpieces's Avatar
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    As mentioned, there are many reasons for blurriness, but one I think I'll add is the possibility it's just getting old and needs a little tuning, or worst yet, replacement. This will also answer Mark's question of why a P&S may have sharper photos.

    But hopefully it isn't so, and is only the things Rick has listed.

    Anyways, I would also agree with what Mark said - you have so many things available for the Sony Alpha range already, it'd be a waste to leave them to gather dust - definitely a lot of cheap second hands, heck, I'm sure prices have gone down quite well you can get some cheap brand new ones too.

    To get a good P&S, you'll be spending around the same amount of money for a DSLR, and as Mark mentioned, the new EVF stuff - a57, a58, and a65 are all very similar priced and definite must haves if you want to try EVF and low on budget.
    Buying a cheap P&S just won't give you the quality you want, of course, unless you can find a good deal somewhere for a good one, but it's really up to you.

    But if you really find that you want something more simple and will get you going, you should look at some of Sony's new Cyber-shots - WX350 has 20x zoom, HX60 has 30x zoom, and HX300 has 50x zoom.
    If huge zoom isn't a necessity like that, and you want good zoom and high quality, the RX10 is a good choice of 8x zoom with a professional 24-200mm f/2.8 lens, though much more pricey (but I presume that if you don't want to do DSLR anymore, you probably have some stuff you're looking to sell anyways right?)

    Myself personally, I've used the WX300, which is the same as the WX350, just less features, and it took great photos. Only thing I didn't like about it was image distortion on the sides of the image when using wide - the image would look pulled out.

    I've been looking at the HX300 and while, and the RX10, reading reviews - both look very competent, though I haven't used them myself.

    If water, shock, smash, are factors, may I even suggest the Olympus Stylus TG-3? I haven't used it, but my friend has one, loves it. I've seen the quality of models under it and they look great. It has 3 lenses which you can buy (in the future if you like) for macro lighting, fisheye effect, and I think the 3rd is a small telephoto lens if I remember correctly.

    Anyways, those are some of my ideas.
    Last edited by bitsnpieces; 10-05-2014 at 8:02pm.
    David Tran

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    This may (or may not) solve your problem:

    I have a little Olympus XZ2 point and shoot camera, although it is really far more than that. I noticed that occasionally I was getting shots out of focus or that the focus refused to lock on to the subject. Than I noticed that the camera seemed to have changed inexplicably (or so I thought) to manual focus. Then I noticed that the little lever at the bottom of the camera on the right had been knocked to the right. This little lever is the switch for changing from manual focus to auto focus and back.

    Problem solved! - Or though not really. I don't know what Olympus were thinking when they put that little lever in such an exposed position. I now know that I have to check the auto focus switch before I use the camera.

    It might be worthwhile taking a look as to whether this could also be happening on your camera. - The camera is maybe inadvertently being switched to manual focus.
    Cheers

    Larry
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    Olympus XZ2 (primarily for P&S and in-the-pocket duties)

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Narell, I have used the "IMG" links on your Photobucket pages (listed above) to link the images into the thread.
    Basically, copy that code and paste it in your posts here.

    Usually, images contain the EXIF data that can give us an idea of your settings fro the shot. In the direct links
    to these images the Camera EXIF does not show, but I found it when I clicked to enlarge the images (to "View Original").
    Am.

    Your images, in orser as above (I hope):





    Last edited by ameerat42; 11-05-2014 at 12:31pm.
    CC, Image editing OK.

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    Ausphotography Regular bitsnpieces's Avatar
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    Well, it doesn't look much of a camera shake problem or anything, Larry's comments about the switch may be a potential - that could be one thing to try checking first.

    It seems the first and third image are fine with regards to focus, unless it's not focusing on what you wanted it to focus on - if you could provide some details on your what you were aiming for, we can get a better idea of the focus problem.

    The second image I don't know if it we just missed the focus, or if there's a front focus problem. Those are my guesses I guess.

    I couldn't find the "View Original" button, so no idea of the EXIF data

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Bitsn...
    It's the magnifier button: You get "View Original" come up when you hover over it after the 1st magnification, ie, on the 2nd click.
    Last edited by ameerat42; 11-05-2014 at 2:13pm.

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    Ausphotography Regular bitsnpieces's Avatar
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    Oh there it is... I magnified it twice, but didn't notice the second one on the bottom right again

    Thank you. And as you can see, I don't use many online photo services... lol

    But I still don't know what to do next... Hovering on the image doesn't bring up any information like it does here, downloading the image didn't either... I don't see any info anywhere too

    Nevertheless, unless we know what she was focusing on, I don't think we'd get far though :shrug:

    Edit: Ah, gotcha, will look for one. Thanks
    Last edited by bitsnpieces; 11-05-2014 at 2:53pm.

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    You need an EXIF Viewer add-on, either for Chrome or FFox.

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    Sorry I do not know how to show the exif Info. I shot these in RAW and then saved them straight from PSP to my desktop without any alterations. Sorry the first image was not the correct link, the correct image was the following one.

    There was no particular focus, just general focus on my surrounds that I felt was not quiet right. With the image being out of focus and also soft.
    Thank you for your help Ameerat42. I do not usually post my images to the internet, so am grateful for the pointers.

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Narell, you don't really have to "show" the EXIF. Some sites (seem) to strip or change the EXIF from the camera and replace it with nothing, or other data.
    Now for this image I cannot see camera EXIF data !!! when I click on view original image.

    The image is overexposed (maybe you were exposing for shadow detail??), and when I clicked the largest size I rather thought the blurriness was
    from camera shake. Perhaps you had a low shutter speed?

    Apart from that it looks an interesting composition of the subject matter.

    Finally, if you want to add an EXIF Viewer to your browser, just go to "add-ons" and search for one. They are usually called
    "exif viewer".
    Am.

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    Thank you ameerat42, this image was taken at the wrong time of day with full blazing sunlight (around noon in Far North QLD), I know this was definitly not a good time, but was hoping to at least get a semi good shot. When I looked through the viewfinder I thought this image was clear, sharp and in focus but found out it was none of these when i got home. This is the kind of problem I have been having. When I take the shot in AV mode and manual focus it, it looks to be in focus, and then after downloading my images I see they are not focused. This still happens when I use a tripod, so I'm thinking I now need to go to Auto mode to prevent this as I do not want to give up my love of photography. As I stated in a previous post I had completely forgotten about Auto mode on my Sony as I have never used it, but I am also thinking that as bitsnpieces mentioned, it may just be time for a new camera also.
    Thanks again for your comments and i am now off to look for an EXIF Viewer.
    Last edited by narrell; 11-05-2014 at 8:00pm.

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    Ausphotography Regular bitsnpieces's Avatar
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    I only have a couple of guesses based on what you've described:
    1) Image-stabiliser mechanism fail
    2) Image-stabiliser fighting against itself

    If you really are holding everything stead (and as you say, on a tripod), it couldn't be user shake, which is why it leads me to think the two possible reasons above. But there could be more - this is just guess based on what I've learned and experience.

    For example, my friend had a waterproof Sony camera, and after a while, it constantly vibrated - you can feel the camera vibrate, so when taking pictures, of course, it's all just shake. It was the Image-stabiliser which failed, causing the thing to just keep shaking. The repairman had to disable that feature from the inner core since there was no menu to disable the Image-stabiliser.
    I don't know if Sony's Image-stabiliser works the same way on DSLRs to the point & shoot, and being that it's a bigger camera, you probably won't feel it, but do you hear anything? Then again, being a higher quality machine, it's probably silent too. But this is simply a guess - the Image-stabiliser has failed.

    But the image doesn't look like it's shaking that bad (the shake was so bad on my friend's camera, you're really only getting photos of streaks), which leads to #2 - Image-stabiliser fighting itself.
    When set on a tripod, I read that using image-stabiliser can actually interfere with the quality of photo, like the image-stabiliser thinks there's shaking, it's always thinking there's something to adjust to, so when there actually isn't, it's confused and sometimes just does the wrong thing.

    Now, if it is a user shaking problem, then it could be your shutter speed is too slow, especially if you're zooming in, it's easy for the camera to pick up any shake - sometimes Image-stabiliser isn't enough to make it clean. Because looking at your previous 3 photos, they don't look like there's camera shake, just out of focus - that could be just incidental, or another problem on it's own (front/back focus problems - getting old, just needs some adjustment)

    So I have a few ideas:
    1) Try auto mode
    2) Put it on shutter priority and set the shutter speed to 1/60, at least around there. I'm not too concerned about the photo you try taking, I just want to see what could be the cause of the shake. I'm hoping at 1/60, should be fast enough to not capture any user shaking, but slow enough so if the camera is doing it, it can still get caught. Try 1/60, then 1/80, 1/100, and 1/160. Basically just trying different speeds (incase 1/60 is still too slow and you get both camera and user shake, if you know what I mean - more tests, more chances of finding an answer).
    3) Turn image stabiliser off, and do the same above. That way you have a comparison of the amount of shaking, if any, and help deduce what amount of shake is user, and if any, whether the camera is shaking itself or not.

    Tests shouldn't take too long.

    Maybe others may have a more efficient way to testing, but only reason I suggest the above is because of what I think it could be, and if I'm wrong at that point, well, this all goes out the window along with it so oh well :P

    Also, I'm guessing this is your husband's camera, so although you may decide to move on to a point & shoot, I'm sure your husband probably might still want to be able to take photos with his camera - so if it can be fixed without much, it's worth it right?

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Firstly, so time isn't wasted offering advice that may not be appropriate, look into the exif issue.

    I don't think you need an exif viewer as such, you just need to eliminate the step in your workflow where exif is all lost.
    I downloaded one of your images from PB, and it had no exif whatsoever!

    I think this is more likely to be a result of some edit or conversion process with your software.(which I think was PSP?)

    So firstly look into PSP, and make sure that, when you 'save as' or convert your raw image, or save a final web upload version or whatever ... it doesn't strip the exif.
    So software has an inbuilt routine where if you (for eg) 'save to web' or something like that, it strips the exif automagically, and there may not be options to change that.
    If this is the case with your software, look to a different saving/converting routine.

    Then again, in saying all that, I think bitsnpieces is on the right track tho.. do some shutter speed tests to see if you can get a sharp image.
    Shoot something static, if handheld is your predominant preference, then do that .. otherwise use a tripod.
    Static subjects that are useful are bricks in a wall, the side of your house, the columns holding up the verandah roof .. etc. Flowers and all that look nice, but if they're moving in the breeze, and the images are coming out blurry, the results will be misleading.

    Note that exposure affects the apparent sharpness in an image. Too dark and the image may be all black(so of course may have nothing sharp in it to portray a sharp image, but overly bright and overexposed subject has the same appearance.

    Your closeup flower shot is overexposed. You can just make out some detail in the flower, but it gets washed out, and hence looks blurry.
    If this image was shot in raw made, go back to the raw image and reprocess it. First step would be to set about -1 to -1.3Ev underexposure and see if it helps to restore some tone detail in the flower area.

    The overall feeling here tho, with these images is that they are all a 'bit too bright'(although #1, with the fish statues seems OK!) .. overly bright image imply softness in the images in two ways.
    as already said, too much brightness can make the image look soft(as in the flower image) but it also implies that the shutter speed is a bit slower than it needs to be too, which suggest camera shake too.
    Without exif data, it's hard to tell which and what.
    So get on top of the disappearing exif data problem first.
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    Ausphotography Regular bitsnpieces's Avatar
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    True, the EXIF data would help eliminate some possible guesses already, but since I wasn't able to view them also, thought I'd just throw it in anyways.

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    Member blkmcs's Avatar
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    The question that no one seems to have asked Narrell is "are photos taken by your husband with this camera also out of focus?"
    If yes then ditch the camera, if no then look at what you are doing that is different to what your husband is doing.

    Have you tried taking the same shot using manual focus and then using auto focus? If so are both shots out of focus?

    Have you and your husband tried taking the same shot using the same settings? If so is one in focus and one not in focus?
    Maybe the diopter adjustment is fine for your husband but not for you.
    Last edited by blkmcs; 12-05-2014 at 2:06pm.

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    ok, just need to clear up a couple of things...
    1. These photos are taken with my Sony A700B by me.
    2. The out of focus/soft problem I am having has only started in the last 4 month.
    3. I have no idea how to keep the exif details with the images, when I view them on my PC the exif data is on the bottom of the window.
    4. I intend to do the testing as soon as I can, both hand held/tripod, Av, Shutter & also Auto modes.

    Bitsnpeices... You mentioned feeling a shake..Lately when I first switch the power on I feel shake and also hear a noise similar to a grinding sound. (have stopped using it for fear of doing more damage before I can get a repairer to have a look at it).

    Blkmcs....we have not tried taking the same shot but this is something we will check out as well.

    Thank you everyone for your time. I will try to re-upload the images with the Exif data as soon as I find out how to do it.

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    Ausphotography Regular bitsnpieces's Avatar
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    Just to make sure it isn't a standard shake (I don't know about the A700, but the SLTs will have a quick sensor shake presumably to shake off any dust), does that shaking and grinding noise stay after turning on? Like while trying to use, you can still feel/hear shake/grind? You could try removing the lens and just looking in the camera when turning on too - maybe it's noticeable.

    If that's the case, as you did say your camera got smashed, depending how bad of one, I wouldn't be surprised something internal messed up.

    But either way, I would still try the things mentioned on here to test your camera, with your husband, different modes, but if you start feeling those shakes/vibrations/grinds are definitely out of the normal, stop, get it to the repair shop, evaluate costs, and then I guess decide whether you repair, replace, upgrade, take a new path, etc. Choices are endless

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