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Thread: Help improving image quality (Panasonic DMC-GX1)

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    New Member PaulST's Avatar
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    Help improving image quality (Panasonic DMC-GX1)

    Hi,
    I've possibly posted this in the wrong forum so can the mods please move it if appropriate.

    I’ve just returned from Israel and took a few photos although I’m concerned that the quality of the images isn’t as good as I was hoping. I’m keen to know, do I need to change any settings or am I expecting too much and need to upgrade the camera?
    I should note that I don't know a lot about cameras.
    The camera is a Panasonic DMC-GX1.
    The current settings are as follows:
    Photo style: standard (as opposed to monochrome)
    Aspect ratio: is now 16:9 (note that my example photo isn’t that)
    Picture size: 4576x2576
    Quality: (attached a photo because I can't describe it)
    Colour space: S RGB (as opposed to adobe rgb)

    Here’s a photo of the Sea of Gallilee in Israel. If you zoom in only a little, it becomes fuzzy which I imagine is because the image quality isn’t brilliant.
    How can I improve the image quality?


    Thanks!
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Hi Paul.

    Oh, well that's a start... Now, how to answer your Qs...

    OK, a couple of quick Qs of my own first just to help:
    1. What is the Quality setting on your camera?
    2. Is RAW a quality setting on its own, or do you use the highest quality jpeg?

    Remarks:
    I've read the review of your camera on DP Review and it does not get panned for image quality, so I suspect tat either:
    1) You may not be processing the images optimally, or
    2) You may be expecting too much from its output. Or perhaps...
    3) To expand on the first point, your re-sizing might be fraught.

    A thing to do:
    Post a 100% crop segment of the offending part of your image, because at the size posted I can't see anything.

    To get such a crop: set the image in your processor at full size; crop a small but representative part of it; DO NOT re-size it;
    save it and post it here.
    Am.
    CC, Image editing OK.

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    Unfortunately, you (or maybe the website where you posted the original) have stripped out the EXIF information from the image. The EXIF information is so-called meta-data that describes what parameters were used when taking the photo. These parameters (shutter time, aperture, ISO settings, shooting mode, JPEG compression factor etc) are key to image quality. Also, we would want to know which lens you used. Without this information, we cannot provide much advice. In theory, the Panasonic DMC-GX1 is capable of shooting much better pictures than what you showed here.

    So, what you need to do is upload the original image file to this website (or, for example, dropbox) and repost.

    Some generic points:
    - this camera has no viewfinder, right? Make sure the camera is as stable as possible. Don't shoot with the camera armlength in front of you, but try to anchor it on a wall, table or whatever provides a good stability.
    - try to avoid shooting in heavily compressed JPEG, shoot either fine JPEG or RAW (or a combination of those)
    - Try to keep ISO as low as possible. Anything over 200 ISO will increase noise and the noise reduction system smears very badly
    - The standard 14-42mm kitlens is not a very good one. When zoomed in and shooting at 1/60" to 1/200", the mirror shake is pretty bad. See for example http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/panasonicdmcgx1/16 , bottom of the page under "PZ 14-42mm kit lens: Issues"

    All in all, it's not a particularly bad camera but it has its share of limitations and faults. You can get better results from it, but don't expect wonders.
    Ciao, Joost

    All feedback is highly appreciated!

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    Ausphotography Regular bitsnpieces's Avatar
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    It looks like you're on the highest JPEG quality, I wonder if the highest RAW quality will have any difference.

    So going along with what Am said, is the photo you attached straight out from the camera?
    I'm wondering if you might have had the ISO too high by accident (unless the camera does it automatically), or if noise reduction is on too high (it's generally better to just have it off, or the lowest setting if there's no off like Sony's cameras, and then post process to remove the noise).
    Also, when you save the image after any editing that you may do, are you saving it at the highest quality?

    My only other guess could be that maybe the focus was at infinity? I know infinity is used sometimes depending on the photos you're taking, I just wonder if sometimes it may have negative effects on the result image.

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    I would like to know what time of the day this photo was taken. The best scenery photos are taken early in the day and late in the day. Anything taken between about 9.00am - 4.00pm is not going to result in a great scenery photo (sometimes they will), but more often than not the light is too bright etc to get a good scenery photo.

    I think the big issue here is :

    * Photo taken at wrong time of day
    * horizon is crooked
    * leading lines, there is a great fence and road down the hill and a great rocky outcrop to the right that both could have been used to compose this much better.
    * your horizon is in the middle of the frame, dividing the image into half. Learn about the rule of thirds and use it.
    "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

    Constructive Critique of my photographs is always appreciated
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    My Photography

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    Thanks for the replies? How do I upload onto this site?

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulST View Post
    Thanks for the replies? How do I upload onto this site?
    http://www.ausphotography.net.au/for...dexes:How_Do_I

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    Straightened the horizon
    Cropped to rule of thirds
    Used a graduated filter on the top portion to bring out the detail in the sky and distant shore, hills, and water.
    Slighting increased saturation
    Slightly increased contrast
    Sharpened
    Added a vignette

    I think this shows most of your issues are with composition, time of day and camera settings. All of these can be learned by the photographer to take control of the functions of their camera, and learn some editing skills to allow a well exposed and taken photo to be edited into a great photo.

    P1020426-copy.jpg

    *Due to working with a 140kb JPG file some artifacts are now evident in the editing, but having access to the original high quality captured image file would not have seen these artifacts become evident. And I also miss cropped in the top right corner. But this edit took me under 5 minutes.
    Last edited by ricktas; 29-07-2014 at 6:35pm.

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    Am,
    1) Honesty I have no idea what the quality settings are, that's why I tried to post up the info in the first post. It doesn't mean much to me.
    2) It doesn't let me choose jpeg or not, just RAW and those little images next to that. I've taken a photo of that in my first post - they're the only options under 'quality'
    I haven't re-sized the image at all. I posted it how it came from my camera. I've opened it in Windows Live Photo Gallery and 'auto adjusted' the colours.

    Jev,
    1) Yep, no viewfinder.
    2) how do you choose between compressed jpegs or not?
    3) I think the ISO is automatic. It has a blue 'iA'
    4) Unfortunately it does have the 14-42 lens.

    David,
    I can't find any setting about noise reduction and I believe the images are saved at the highest quality.

    Ricktas,
    Your comments are about what's in the photo and not the actual image quality. It was taken at roughly 10am in very humid and hot conditions so they probably weren't ideal. I'll look up the rule of thirds.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Another thing, and I'm not sure if this is an issue, but my lens appears to be different to the one I'm seeing on examples of the GX1. I've attached a photo from my iphone.

    Thanks.
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    The icon of the small block like pattern means compression.
    More of the blocks means less compression(good!) ... larger files ... less images per card.
    Less blocks means more compression(bad) ... smaller files, but more likely to see artifacts in images if processing is pushed too hard. more images per card.

    Like bitnspieces said; you currently have it set to fine jpg.

    The quality settings from top to bottom icon seem to be:
    Fine jpg(as you have it set)
    Standard jpg
    raw + fine(jpg)
    raw+ std(jpg)
    raw(only).
    (obviously the patterned block symbol means jpg quality setting)

    if you need jpgs, use one of those settings, but shooting raw mode will give you a better end result on the image.
    jpgs in effect are superfluous if you shoot in raw mode.

    Of course if you shoot in raw mode, you then need an image editing software to tho those files justice .. Lightroom is capable of that.

    From there, it's then just a matter of getting the image right in the camera and loading it onto the computer to touch it up to how you like it.

    EXIF is fully intact in the image .. no worries there.
    Looks like this is straight out of camera, no processing software has been used on it.
    It should be noted that while cameras nowadays seem to have quite good image enhancing capabilities .. they' still aren't as good as a proper image editing software.

    The biggest issue with this image as shown here is pixelation due to jpg camera processing.
    The focus point is set on the horizon just above the trees in front of what looks like some beach resort looking place.
    I don't know how good/bad the 14-42mm lens is in terms of IQ .. but you'd have thought that at f/8 .. it's be better than the sharpness in the image shows.
    (could be either diffraction, or just 'in camera processing' .. as already said could be better looking if shot in raw and processed via a proper image editing program).
    You would expect a lot more detail to be rendered sharply considering the 15mm focal length used and f/8 aperture .. but disregarding that, focus may have been best placed on the foreground to try to capture a bit more detail there.

    Apart from that .. I can't think of anything else to add .. other than maybe you could have exposed it a tad darker(say -0.33Ev) just to bring out a bit more detail in the cloud on the horizon.
    I suppose I can think of one other aspect on how this image could have been improved .. a CPL, if the lens can take a filter. In such conditions a CPL could have been an ideal tool to have had(if you hadn't)

    - - - Updated - - -

    The lens seems to be the standard kit lens that this camera shipped with when it was new.(not sure, but I think it is) .. you can get other lenses for it .. and I think Olympus also make a 14-45mm type lens too.

    Another thing I forgot to reply too in your original post.
    The 16:9 aspect ratio can be adjusted in your camera!
    I don't know where or how, but it should be easy to find the menu item to do so, or find it in the manual somewhere.
    Nikon D800E, D300, D70s
    {Nikon} -> 50/1.2 : 500/8(CPU'd) : 105/2.8VR Micro : 180/2.8ais : 105mm f/1.8ais : 24mm/2ais
    {Sigma}; ->10-20/4-5.6 : 50/1.4 : 12-24/4.5-5.6II : 150-600mm|S
    {Tamron}; -> 17-50/2.8 : 28-75/2.8 : 70-200/2.8 : 300/2.8 SP MF : 24-70/2.8VC


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    Thanks arthurking.
    I've attached some further details about my photo which may reveal some light?
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Okay, the above *is* the main part of the EXIF data. Clicking through, I found the original (assuming the JPEG I downloaded at 4.24 MB *is* directly from the camera) which has full EXIF data, sorry if that caused confusion.

    Anyway, the image quality you show here is pretty bad. If the 4.24 MByte file is directly from the camera, you had it set to a high JPEG compression - the originals I've seen that feature the same kind of details are at least double that size - see for example http://www.dpreview.com/galleries/32...photos/1732286 . Note: that image shows better quality from this camera *is* possible, but it's far from perfect.

    Furthermore, you say you shot this in humid, hot conditions? That might be part of the cause of the smearing. Hot, humid air plays tricks with light, loosing detail very quickly.

    When looking at the details in the trees in the foreground, I also recognize the typical smearing of Panasonic's noise reduction algorithm. That is something you cannot suppress other than switching to RAW instead of JPEG. More work in postprocessing, much better results though!

    Last but not least, the camera reports some camera shake has been detected, but at 1/500" exposure time and 15mm focal length that really should not have mattered. According to several experts, the image stabilizer seems to work counter-productive on higher speeds - you may try what happens if you switch that off when you see exposure times that are much shorter that the effective focal length of the lens. And make sure the camera is stable!

    Other than that, there's not much you can do to get better results in these circumstances without taking a big step forward in photographic knowledge (so you can control the camera's parameters yourself).
    Last edited by jev; 29-07-2014 at 10:12pm.

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulST View Post

    Ricktas,
    Your comments are about what's in the photo and not the actual image quality. It was taken at roughly 10am in very humid and hot conditions so they probably weren't ideal. I'll look up the rule of thirds.
    Sure, but the point I am trying to make is that it is not necessarily your camera that is at 'fault'. You are, by your own admission, unhappy with the results you are getting, and I wanted to show that the image data is there, inside your image files. The distant hills are barely visible in your original image posted above, cause the photo is slightly over-exposed, but if you had been able to recognise that, you could have adjusted the camera settings to eliminate it. These exposure issues etc are not necessarily the camera's fault. Learning to understand how exposure works, composition, best times of day to shoot etc are all part of being a photographer.

    You have commented above that you had no idea what quality settings were used, or what ISO was used. These are the things you need to learn about and understand and take control of, to get better photographs. I think you are expecting high quality photographs without knowing why or how these high quality photographs are achieved. In your other thread you asked about buying a DSLR, and if you do go ahead with that, you need to understand the relationships that exist between ISO, Aperture, Shutter speed. Along with composition, editing etc. A 'better' camera will not necessarily give you better results. What will give you better results is your own increased knowledge of photography.

    Yes you current camera has its limitations, but so does a DSLR. If you went back to the same location you took this photo with a DSLR, and with no additional photography skills, the resultant photo would be similar (perhaps more detail due to bigger sensor, better lens), but there is so much more to photography. I think you need to start at the beginning, get the camera manual out, read it, find out how to take control of the ISO, aperture, shutter speed. Use Ausphotography to learn about them, and start working on taking control of your camera, become a photographer if you like. You will find that with knowledge comes better photos, rather than with better camera comes better photos.

    If you handed me your camera, gave me 10 minutes to scan the settings, work out how to change them, I can guarantee, I or any other advanced photographer (and most likely most intermediate photographers) could take some super photos with it.

    As my edit showed, your camera has the ability to take good data, you just need to learn how, and take control of the camera.

    A good starting point is our New To Photography Book. : http://www.ausphotography.net.au/for...otography_Book
    Last edited by ricktas; 30-07-2014 at 5:59am.

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    Ausphotography Regular swifty's Avatar
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    I'll take a stab at this.
    I'll go through the usual suspects:
    1. ISO - 160. This should be ok.
    2. Shutter speed - 1/500. Should also be ok but occasionally if stabiliser is on and the shutter speed is much higher than the stabiliser frequency then you may get funny effects that resemble motion blur. I don't see that in your pic though.
    3. Aperture - f8 should be ok but is starting to dip towards diffraction zone. Shouldn't cause this kind of smearing though.
    4. RAW vs jpeg - even though you get more detail in RAW, jpeg in the highest quality should still be quite good. I think at least part of the problem is low quality jpeg setting. The size of the file seems low for 16MP, meaning high compression.
    5. Lens - not sure what the PZ pancake kit lens' like but I can't imagine it to be this poor, especially stopped down. I don't think there are any AF issues from what I can see in the image.
    6. NR - noise reduction might be an issue but at ISO 160 I doubt it would kick in so low. If you can find it in the menu, try to turn off all noise reduction to begin with.

    My best guess is the processing algorithm of the in-camera jpeg engine but there may be some lens issues ie. its just not a very sharp lens or copy of the lens.
    But if you care to get to the bottom of it, you may need to do some testing, changing one parameter at a time to isolate the issue.
    Nikon FX

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    I reckon the sample photo is focused on the weeds in the bottom right corner. The rest of the image is still somewhat sharp and only moderately 'fuzzy' because of the good depth of field at 15mm and f/8. If you had shot at f/3.5 it would have really shown up. What AF mode are you using?

    Also, you seem to be shooting in scene modes (Landscape mode in the sample provided). Scene modes often produce a highly 'doctored' image, which sometimes work a treat and sometimes disappoint.

    If you are a beginner, I suggest shoot in Program mode, 'P' on the dial, and set AF mode to centre square. To take a shot, firstly put the AF square on the area you want to be sharpest, press the shutter half way to lock focus, then while holding the shutter half way, recompose to the scene you want and press the shutter the rest of the way to take the photo.

    cheers

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