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Thread: How to improve the focusing?

  1. #1
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    Default How to improve the focusing?

    Hi guys, newbie here

    I'm trying to take some night photos of Singapore, so I used tripod, small aperture, lowest iso, manual focus, remote control. With all that, the objects are still blurry . I'm using Canon 600D and 18-55mm kit lens. Any advice on how I can improve the aperture? Some technique, better camera, better lens,..?

    Thanks


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    Default Re: How to improve the focusing?

    Here are a few tips.

    1) Use live view zoom in & observe that the image is rock solid. If you observe movement it means that your setup is picking up vibrations from the ground / wind. Either move to a place with no vibrations or weight down your setup.

    2) Switch off the lens image stabilizer when you are using the tripod.

    4) Enable & use the electronic front curtain shutter or use mirror lock up to minimize mirror slap vibrations.

    3) Use live view, zoom in & tweak the focus till the image is sharp. If not use the hyperfocal method.

    4) For the 18-55 kit lens, generally they perform the best from f/8 onwards from wide / landscapes shots . Shoot f/8, right up f/16 & check which pic is the best in term of sharpness. From here you will know at which aperture your lens performs at its best sharpness from center to the edge.

    4) Shoot RAW at the base ISO, adjust the shadows, saturation, exposure & etc, then sharpen & denoise the picture. Check the details while sharpening & denoise.

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    Default Re: How to improve the focusing?

    Wow, thanks Light machinery, very helpful. Will try

  4. #4

    Default Re: How to improve the focusing?

    for light machinery. He basically covered everything

    I will just add this,
    1) make sure you have a stable tripod and tripod head.
    2) if you are shooting on a bridge or places where vehicle and pedestrian movement nearby will cause shake... Wait for the shake to subside before starting long exposure.

    Not sure if I am seeing correctly, I think you picture might be due to misfocus.

    Try to use hyper focus ...and do not set lens to infinity for focus.

    Alternatively, if you are using wide angle and small apecture, you could auto focus on the bottom 1/3 of you scene, typically that will give you enough dof
    Last edited by DSolZ; 10th October 2015 at 12:56 PM.

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    Moderator daredevil123's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to improve the focusing?

    Reading what you posted, there are 2 possible problems.

    1. Your tripod is not stable.
    or
    2. You are not focusing right.

    Having a better camera or lens will not solve these problems. Having a better tripod and head will solve (1). But....

    From what you posted so far, it is very obvious you do not yet have a basic understanding of the basics of photography. You need to learn to walk before you run. Please read up and understand... here is a start:
    http://www.clubsnap.com/forums/showthread.php?t=309544
    Last edited by daredevil123; 10th October 2015 at 01:15 PM.

  6. #6
    Moderator catchlights's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to improve the focusing?

    the tips are all given, one more thing to add,
    it is super boring to see a night scene with pitch black sky, since the laser show can't really be seen here, just go for blue hour shot instead.
    Shoot to Live, Live to Shoot
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    Default Re: How to improve the focusing?

    Actually, I'm not sure if my eyesight is getting worse. I don't quite see the part where the objects are blurry....

    And mind if you share your settings for this shot? Feels abit off, diffraction?
    Last edited by SkyStrike; 10th October 2015 at 04:00 PM.
    Too many great equipments but too little quality photos. [My Flickr] | [My Blog]

  8. #8

    Default Re: How to improve the focusing?

    Maybe post the original file.
    Easier to see what is wrong

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    Default Re: How to improve the focusing?

    Thanks guys for adding up tips I tried again last night with
    + f/11 to see if can get rid of lens diffraction
    + I made sure the tripod was well secured. I extended the tripod less, put it on the concrete ground, near to the light show there.
    + I used live view + remote control so no mirror flipping.
    + Manual focus on the buildings in live view + zoom in
    + Exposure time 30s
    +

    Actually the only diff than before is f/11.

    The result is not improved



    @DSolZ, SkyStrike: Sorry I can't attach the full-res images here. I keep getting "Can't upload image due to security reason" (I uploaded JPEG files).

    @daredevil123: Thanks, I read your notes, very helpful

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    Default Re: How to improve the focusing?

    Looking at your 2nd zoomed in picture, it looks like you are losing details due to sensor noise.

    2)Try to shoot in RAW & enable the long exposure noise reduction function.

    2) Check your exposure histogram & expose to the right (careful not to blow the highlight details) to maximize the DR of the sensor, if the image is visually too bright, it can be adjusted down. Its much better than using LR to increase the exposure & open up the shadows which will increase the luminance & color noise in the image.

    Overall I'll say the pic already looks very good. Oh one more thing which I over looked, if you have a filter mounted on the lens, please remove it.
    If possible upload the RAW file of the picture you posted to a file hosting service & send us the link. We definitely can tell you more.
    Last edited by Light Machinery; 11th October 2015 at 07:18 PM.

  11. #11

    Default Re: How to improve the focusing?

    From my mobile phone, it looks decent enough. You can try put it in dropbox and share the link. We can pick it up.
    Last edited by DSolZ; 11th October 2015 at 08:38 PM.

  12. #12

    Default Re: How to improve the focusing?

    Actually maybe it is the haze haha

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    Default Re: How to improve the focusing?

    Thanks Light Machinery and DSolZ, I think I mixed up the parameters, it was actually f/8 and exposure time 14 secs.

    https : // www dropbox com / s / ic3twjubr95iwsl / IMG_8504.CR2?dl=0

    I attach here another one f/11 and 15s

    https : // www dropbox com / s / 0kux25ka69be6ka / IMG_8551.CR2?dl=0

    sorry I can't post link yet.

  14. #14
    Senior Member sammy888's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to improve the focusing?

    Quote Originally Posted by warlord85 View Post
    Thanks guys for adding up tips I tried again last night with
    + f/11 to see if can get rid of lens diffraction
    + I made sure the tripod was well secured. I extended the tripod less, put it on the concrete ground, near to the light show there.
    + I used live view + remote control so no mirror flipping.
    + Manual focus on the buildings in live view + zoom in
    + Exposure time 30s
    +

    Actually the only diff than before is f/11.

    The result is not improved



    @DSolZ, SkyStrike: Sorry I can't attach the full-res images here. I keep getting "Can't upload image due to security reason" (I uploaded JPEG files).

    @daredevil123: Thanks, I read your notes, very helpful
    + f/11 to see if can get rid of lens diffraction OK fine to go with that

    + I made sure the tripod was well secured. I extended the tripod less, put it on the concrete ground, near to the light show there.
    You made no mention as to what kind of tripod/head you use up to this point. Is this a good solid tripod or something given as part of the camera purchase bundle? Is it skinny legged brandless? A tripod like that when extended will wobble easy given it's poorer construction. If it is a good tripod that is larger and weighted by itself or can you hang a heavy bag to keep the tripod from wobble/shake due to wind and camera's mirror slap.

    The secret to stable night shots is not about the DSLR alone but the platform it sits securely on that can resist movement. A good tripod would be like a 190 Manfrotto for example. You should try never to use a tripod's central column extended unless it's a solid well made one supported by solid tripod legs. Even then serious photographers would prefer to get a taller tripod then to use the center column. The smaller or thinner the tripod legs, the more likely there will be flexing as you extend the legs to it's maximum length and if that is the case of your tripod, the LESS you want to extend the legs to minimize shake or wobble.

    At this point I don't know how anal you are about sharpness and what you really consider blurry since don't have a real size untouched photo file to examine. But you want to be sure, best you get a good tripod if you are not already using one. People who want to capture good long exposure shots will never be seen owning a wimpy thin cheap tripod. That does not mean you need to get the most expensive. You just need to get one that does the job well if this is a long term interest you have for long exposure photography.

    You can only get away with a cheap thin legs light weight tripod if you just want your camera held in place to take a photo of you and your friends in a normal day shot at faster shutter speeds or with flash.


    + I used live view + remote control so no mirror flipping.

    I don't use LIVE VIEW but have you try using your viewfinder, set your AF to one single point focus, then you use your cursor to place that focus point on the building? I guess you can do that in LIVE VIEW too and once set, switch over to manual focus. So no matter what, AF will not try to re-focus. I shoot night scene on MANUAL FOCUS only. I have disable AF using half press shutter permanently and only my rear AF button for AF.

    A remote control was used. What puzzle me was when say no mirror flipping? What you meant by that? You had your camera on delayed shutter fire? Or delay firing after mirror flip up? (feature found in my D4) Or you capture a shot in LIVE VIEW mode where the mirror is already lock in the up position and it is capturing the scene direct from the sensor. My camera does that but the image will not be a full size resolution but a small megapixel version and it is not as good a photo then if I use the camera in normal mode of shooting thru a viewfinder. Not sure if that is the reason for your shot till you can tell us more on this point.

    + Manual focus on the buildings in live view + zoom in

    Yes manual focus is always good. AF should be switched off. I don't zoom in to do a "more' accurate focusing of a landscape then zoom back out. I have my AF on single focus point and use that to zero in on the specific building I want to focus on. For people who do not know this yet, turning the focusing ring on your lens to INFINITY will not mean the building in the scene will now be sharp. INFINITY could mean a focal point way further back then your eye can see. So it is still best to get a good contrasting building with lights to pin your single focus point at.

    + Exposure time 30s

    I find your 30 secs was over exposed in this shot. If I was doing 30 seconds I might have gone F16 but that's beside the point. The thing is why choose 30seconds instead of 20seconds or 15 seconds..etc. Did you not see the photo looked blown out?

    The longer your exposure, the more you have to ensure stability for the camera to stay in place undisturbed. When you want to do a long exposure shot, you got to have a good reason as to why you do it for whatever duration. This one has no right or wrong for duration choice but imagine if you could have done the same shot without having to use a long exposure timing, there 'might' be less chances of vibration or shaking to cause blurring.

    For example, when I shoot on a bridge with moderate traffic of vehicles coming thru. Each time it does, the bridge shakes. Now if the interval of cars coming thru was like every 15 seconds. It means any shots I shoot, better be less then 15 seconds or another car coming by will screw up my shot as the shutter is open wide to capture the lighted scene to my sensor. Know what I mean?


    When I shoot night scene and I have no remote, good thing is my camera has a delayed shutter mode feature or when you don't, you can use your camera's TIMER MODE to self trigger. This is always better then to sneak a light touch of the shutter button to capture the shot while it is on a tripod..

    Another good feature my camera has is, it can fire later after the mirror has flipped up and then I can set it to wait for a few second before the shutter actually start to capture, thus allow for a moment for the DLSR to settle down. For camera without this feature, I use to do this all the time, I have a card which I line with a velvet black cloth. I use velvet as it stops stray reflection.

    How do I use it? I set up my camera to take the night scene. I manually focus correctly the scene. Set the aperture. Set my shutter speed to BULB. Attach shutter release cable to the SLR/DSLR. With the black board in my left hand and the remote on my right. I place the card with the velvet side facing the lens about one inch to block the full view of the landscape I want to take the photo. Say I want to capture that image for a duration of 10seconds. So I will press the shutter remote to get the camera to lock up the mirror and open the sensor to take the shot. At this point, the black card has block all light from the lens opening. So the moment I take away the black card, the light enters and flood the sensor with the image, then I count to 10 seconds then I bring the black card back in front of the lens, wait a second then i release the shutter remote cable to finish the shot. Mirror down.

    That is OLD SCHOOL style when you have a camera that has less features to deal with shakes and vibration.

    But a good solid tripod completes the whole setup.

    So hopefully within this stuff I write you can find what you missed out on and have yet to look into and if you have and it is still blurry, I think short of you setting up a full size photo here for us to look, we might not know what you are truly talking about if you are new to photography and have not explain things correctly to us heheheh.

    Trust me to say that as I have seen way to many who are like that. Learning to run when they have not even learn to walk.

    Damn I got a bit long winded...again. Many have replied by now heh
    Last edited by sammy888; 11th October 2015 at 09:13 PM.
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    Default Re: How to improve the focusing?

    Hi sammy888, very informative post, really appreciate that I have attached the raw images above in case you missed out. Also I was mistaken, the CBD image was f/8, 14s only.

    About the tripod, I used SLIK F630, I think it's not very good, but not so bad either. I tried with and without the center column extended, but personally don't think much diff. It's made from carbon fiber I guess?


    Yes you were right, I was a bit redundant. I use remote control when viewing in live view, so the 2s of capturing delay was not necessary. But I think there was no mirror flipping at the time because it was in live view already.

    I manually focused on the dim building because it tends to be out of focus.

    The black card trick is cool, will definitely try it

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    Default Re: How to improve the focusing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Light Machinery View Post
    Looking at your 2nd zoomed in picture, it looks like you are losing details due to sensor noise.

    2)Try to shoot in RAW & enable the long exposure noise reduction function.

    2) Check your exposure histogram & expose to the right (careful not to blow the highlight details) to maximize the DR of the sensor, if the image is visually too bright, it can be adjusted down. Its much better than using LR to increase the exposure & open up the shadows which will increase the luminance & color noise in the image.

    Overall I'll say the pic already looks very good. Oh one more thing which I over looked, if you have a filter mounted on the lens, please remove it.
    If possible upload the RAW file of the picture you posted to a file hosting service & send us the link. We definitely can tell you more.
    I didn't try #2 but did try #1, not sure if 600D is bad or it's my mistake but still but better compared to no noise reduction.

    For #2 yes you're right, I will try with long exposure then bring the exposure down

  17. #17

    Default Re: How to improve the focusing?

    I seen the raw files. I think it is ok to be frank.
    First of all, raw file typically is softer then what you get from out of camera jpeg. You need to apply some sharpening.
    If I look at the center sharpness of the pic I think it is ok. Edge performance is abit poor but that is the lens property.
    Last edited by DSolZ; 11th October 2015 at 10:22 PM.

  18. #18
    Senior Member sammy888's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to improve the focusing?

    Quote Originally Posted by warlord85 View Post
    Hi sammy888, very informative post, really appreciate that I have attached the raw images above in case you missed out. Also I was mistaken, the CBD image was f/8, 14s only.

    About the tripod, I used SLIK F630, I think it's not very good, but not so bad either. I tried with and without the center column extended, but personally don't think much diff. It's made from carbon fiber I guess?
    Yes you were right, I was a bit redundant. I use remote control when viewing in live view, so the 2s of capturing delay was not necessary. But I think there was no mirror flipping at the time because it was in live view already.

    I manually focused on the dim building because it tends to be out of focus.

    The black card trick is cool, will definitely try it

    Well let me be the one to tell you, if that was a carbon fibre tripod with a head, it would cost you $400 plus or way more. That is basically an aluminum leg painted black with plastic joints. I hope no one BS you on this tripod to sell it to you at a high price.

    It is a good entry level tripod to hold up your camera for times you want to take a selfie with friends and some stable shots BUT NOT what I would personally use for night long exposure shots.

    If I did, there would be consideration I need to consider like NOT extend the tripod legs to shoot low to the ground or at MOST extend the 2nd leg piece but not the lower thinnest one. It will help if you can hang a bag around the bottom of the center column where you have those 2 horizontal supports bars. Because so many parts are plastic, there will be flexing and the head piece that holds the camera might not be solid enough to damp the mirror flip up. With tripod like that, i would try the old school method just in case your mirror does flip up. A good tripod is made with as much metal and metal/carbon fibre for good reasons.

    You sure when you are in LIVE VIEW, your mirrors does not flip up or something? I saw on youtube a guy using the 600D with a remote to trigger the camera and heard the familiar shutter THUNK!. When he took the shot and was in LIVE VIEW mode.

    What 2s delaying? As in the camera will fire after 2 second delay from the remote triggering?


    https://youtu.be/9R9tnFuHawY


    https://youtu.be/CW_mb2yNm9Y

    Last edited by sammy888; 11th October 2015 at 10:35 PM.
    A good photo's 45% you, 45% practice & 10% equipment. A bad photo share the same ratio.

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    Default Re: How to improve the focusing?

    Hmm, not bad at all .

    In the RAW files I can make out the window frames of the OUE building, they are quite sharp & distinctive after basic LR sharpening.

    When converted to JPEG output, the finer details are lost, can't be helped.

    When I viewed the RAW files the very fine details are either distorted by heat wave or the lens (the bright lights tend to bloom out).

    IMHO, if you really want to get sharper images, upgrade the legs, change to primes & shoot early in morning where the air is cooler & there is no heat wave.
    Last edited by Light Machinery; 11th October 2015 at 10:51 PM.

  20. #20

    Default Re: How to improve the focusing?

    And when there is no haze haha
    One more comment. I think lowest native iso for your camera is 200. So don't shoot at iso 100 unless u really need to double exposure time.
    Last edited by DSolZ; 11th October 2015 at 11:05 PM.

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