Posts Tagged Sample Photos

Review Wide Angle 0.67x Phone Clip-on

0.67x180degrkit

Once again I return to testing a Wide Angle Add-on but this time it is actually a Wide Angle and Fish Eye Clip-on and it is for a mobile (cell) phone camera. Again it was very cheap! Ebay £1.20/$1.80 – so I was not expecting much! The question is naturally if you are entitled to expect a lot? For that low price! Well that is an open discussion without much of chance of a single correct answer! So … I will mostly be checking out if the kit is usable at all and show you a few sample pictures so you can see yourself what to expect!

I have used my iPhone 6 for all the sample pictures! But you should get the same results with any decent camera. It will fit any mobile (cell) phone camera as long as the camera is surrounded by a, mostly, flat area. You might have to slant the clip-on to one side so that you will have something for the clip-on to clip on! See the picture above or on the side – in which you can see that the bottom part of the clip-on is actually shorter than the top part!

Be sure to check out my review of a 0.45x Wide Angle Add-On for ordinary cameras!

What I got was 7 parts; clip-on holder, 0.67x wide angle + macro combo, 180° fish eye, two plastic lens covers and a small pouch to keep it all in. That is if you do not count the two small plastic bags that contained the lenses. You could get it in several different colours – I got a rather nice shade of blue!

067xmacroLooking at the lenses mechanically they are very well built! Made from anodized aluminium and have threads that work very well. Here you can see the two-part wide angle clip-on as separate pieces.  This is not a very advanced optical construction – just two lenses. But they are at least made of glass! As far as I can see there is no anti reflex coating on the lenses. You screw them together to use the 0.67x wide (as you can see on the first picture, above) and unscrew the “front lens” and use only the part marked “MACRO” when you want to take macro pictures. 😉 You only get two lens covers – for the front of the lenses but no back covers! So the plastic bags are kind of necessary to keep the rear lens elements clean! The clip-on is (naturally) made from plastic and is spring loaded and also padded to keep it attached to the phone without leaving any marks! It will fit on almost any mobile phone camera – as long as there is at least some flat area around the lens! It does not matter if the lens protrudes a bit as long as it is less than 3 millimetres – just over 1/10th of an inch and the diameter of the protrusion is less than 9 mm! It is OK attached tho the phone but it will fall off if you are a rubbing it a little bit too much and too hard against other items.

 

Macro Lens

CloseUp1WithoutCloseUp2Looking at the lenses optically the story is a bit more varied! Starting with just the macro lens. First of all – it gets you very close to your subject! Its depth of field is very narrow – just a few millimetres or 1/10 th of an inch! It does give reasonable sharpness in the centre of the picture so pictures like the sample picture on the side works surprisingly well! But note that this type of motif is ideal for this lens as that there is nothing along the edges of the picture so except for the middle of the picture everything else is in a … rather nice soft blur! You can also see the difference in close up limit without the macro lens. The two first sample pictures illustrate how close as you can get with and without the macro lens. By taking into account the shallow depth of field and moving the camera you can get more of the flower in focus as the third picture (of another flower!)  illustrates. Just click on the pictures to see them full size!

SkittlesCloseUpSkittlesFullI have added two more sample pictures that I think shows very well the sharpness that is obtainable with the macro lens. Skittles – I love ’em! 🙂 Note also the difference in the depth of field between the both photos! The second one – without macro lens – is practically sharp all over the (too) small bag of Skittles! Check out the full size macro picture and see how sharp the printed dots are! I also think that the colours comes out as they should – with no changes at all! The iPhone was set for fully automatic and I used the standard Apple camera app! That software can naturally have compensated for any change in colour temperature – but I do not know if it has! These are the results you will get also!

CloseUp3Without2Using the macro lens with a flat motif, the shortcomings of this lens is very obvious! It will not give a sharp picture over the whole area! Feels a little like you have twisted the zoom during exposure! Is this really useful? As always it depends on what you want to use the pictures for! It is rather cool to be able to get as close as this and the pictures do have a sort of novelty feel for macro pictures with a mobile camera – at least for the flower pictures above! The two pictures to the left also illustrate how close as you can get with and without the macro lens. The macro picture is taken at the very centre of the other picture.

Conclusion is that this macro lens is OK for “natural” non-flat motifs but is not very suitable if you want to document your stamp collection!

 

The other two lenses

First of all I have to really stress that these clip-ons does NOT give sharp pictures!

But as always there are different levels to sharpness and also the position of sharpness! Another important factor to get maximum sharpness with this clip-on is how well centred it is over the camera lens!

There are two clip-on lenses to compare; a 0.67x wide angle and a fish-eye.

180SelfieAll lenses can be attached to both the ordinary front facing camera and to the “selfie” camera. It is actually a little easier to attach the lens to the side where the “selfie” camera is, because it is located further from the edges of the phone. I expect that the close-up lens will not be of any real use for the “selfie” camera! There is soft plastic area on both clamps of the clip-on that press against the phone so as to not scratch it.

You need to be very careful about centring the clip-on exactly in the middle over the camera lens! Look through the clip-on lens when you do this – you will then see the camera lens very clearly! Make sure you get the camera lens exactly in the middle. Also, when you switch on the camera you will see the dark vignetting in the outer edges/corners. If it looks as if the picture not is centred then move the lens a bitt to get it centred! Be careful once you have it in position as the whole clip-on – lens combo is quite easy to knock off the camera or move it away from the centre position.

 

 

Wide Angle Lens 0.67x

iphone6_originaliphone6_wideangleI will start with the wide angle clip-on. First picture is original iPhone lens with no clip-on. Second picture is with wide-angle clip-on. Click on pictures to see full size pictures! The wide angle does give very powerful vingetting, that is: dark corners! It also gives a big drop in sharpness, especially along the edges and the corners. Or I should maybe rephrase that and say that it is only reasonably sharp in the centre of the picture sharpness drops significantly as you move away from the centre part! But even in the centre there is not as good sharpness as without the clip-on! The picture  also has most other forms of distortion!

The difference to the original camera lens is striking! So picture quality in just one word: BAD!

 

Fish-Eye Lens

iphone6_originaliphone6_fisheyeAs above the first picture is the original iPhone6 picture and the second picture is with the clip-on. The fish-eye clip-on gives almost a circular picture with black sides and corners! Notice the very unsharp branches on the left! Not much good to say about the picture quality at all!

As for the wide angle clip-on: the quality in just one word: BAD!

 

Conclusion

Well, this is very cheap product and the wide angle and fish eye lenses are almost useless due to their low picture quality! Still, the close-up lens is quite fun – but only when you have the motifs just in the centre! The clip-on is also quite large and is easy to knock off.

As the close-up lens does give ok sharpness (at least in the middle of the picture) I still think it is a fun thing to have for less than $2! But you might as well loose the other two lenses!

You can buy the same lenses – for a few dollars more – with magnetic attachment instead of clip-on. Probably even easier to knock off – but if you are just using the slim close-up lens it might be a more handy and compact solution!

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Review Wide Angle 0.45x Add-On – Part 2

WideAngleAdd-OnSIn my previous review of a 0.45x wide angle add-on one aspect that I forgot to write about is how sharpness is affected by aperture. As this is one of my most popular articles I wanted to rectify this shortcoming! I talked to one of the readers of this blog, Somu Padma, and he kindly offered to do the test and has sent in the resulting pictures he took with a similar wide angled add-on, the Power Pak. Thank you! It seems very much like my own wide angle add-on – except for the name.

Especially interesting is the ones he took with his AF-S Nikkor 35mm 1.8G DX – a very good prime lens. This is a good use for an add-on like this – to widen a lens with a “normal” focal length. Somu had a real challenge to take pictures with all apertures – on that sunny day! So much that the pictures that I selected start at 2.8 – a little stopped down. This is also good in that the lens in itself will not affect the sharpness of the pictures too much. The Nikkor lens is especially good if you stop down to f2.8.

A recommendation is to unscrew any filters (UV or similar) before screwing on the wide angle add-on to get the add-on as close as possible to the front of the lens. This minimizes the vignette if you use it with a wider angle lens to start with! Remember from my first article on the subject that the vignette is very pronounced up till around 22 mm focal length (with APS-C sensor). Read about that and also what “0.45x” really means here!

Pictures have all been taken with the camera, a Nikon D5200, on a tripod. Automatic setting on both exposure (A for aperture selection) and focus.

f2.8

f2.8

f8.0

f8.0

f16

f16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These three pictures I think illustrates very well the effect aperture has on the picture sharpness. Here we can see that the smaller apertures give a much better sharpness.

The f2.8 picture is very very soft along the edges – too much to be ignored really! Can maybe be used for an “old-time soft” effect though … Please see the full resolution picture to really appreciate the amount of softness and the linked loss of contrast!

At f8.0 it is acceptably sharp (for the price!) – especially if you intend to use it only scaled down for web publication or similar. Centre sharpness is naturally best and optimum seems to be around f8.0. Edge sharpness and contrast have picked up very well but there is still some softness left.

At f16 it is still acceptably sharp and stays with similar sharpness also at f22. It is difficult to say exactly but centre sharpness seem to have gone down very slightly and edge sharpness have improved still a little bit!

Just click on the pictures to see them at full resolution.

TrippleCrop_PowerPakWideAngleAdd-On_Edge

TrippleCrop_PowerPakWideAngleAdd-On_Centre

I have also included two “Tripple Crops” where you can see small 100% pixel for pixel sections from the original full resolution pictures at centre and edge. Click it to see them at 100% size!

Conclusion:

It is a very cheap way of getting a wider angle lens – at a certain quality loss! Might be the only alternative for cameras with a fixed lens! For moving motifs it is hard to beat the price for this type of wide angle add-on! There exists more expensive products – that might give higher quality!

If you are photographing stationary motifs I would certainly recommend you to take a panoramic shot instead! Either just two or more pictures side by side to get a wider panoramic picture or take a matrix of pictures to get the normal wide angle height as well and join them together with Microsoft ICE – read my article about how to do it here! This way you get top quality with higher sharpness and more pixels for an even lower price – free! 🙂

Once again, thank you Somu for your help with the pictures for this article!

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RAW vs JPEG – Usability

RAW versus JPEG. Which should I use? This is a very interesting and delicate subject involving many aspects! First of all I must say that I think that there is no doubt about the fact that a RAW file is superior – information-wise – compared to a JPEG! It is lossless, has more information per pixel (more bits/pixel), … etc. There are drawbacks also: very large files (25-30MB/picture for Canon EOS 550D), always having to postprocess…etc. There is also no doubt that you get the greatest abilities to adjust your picture with a RAW file. I have had this question for a long loong time and now is the time to finally try to get it resolved:

Is  there much to be gained from using RAW for an ordinary photographer – like myself?

Are there BIG advantages – for me? Or is it more like carrying two spare wheels for a car? Something that could be of use – but only “once in a blue moon”? Is RAW something I ought to use? Is it worth the hassle, time and space? If I pay good money for a DSLR or a premium compact am I throwing away good money by not going RAW?

I will try to stay out of the technicalities – as this post is really about usability for a normal everyday photographer – with some slight ambitions! (That is like myself! 😉 ) I want some time over for other things as well! This is not for pixel-peepers – but we will peep at pixels now and then to get at the answer! My idea for this post is to find out how close I can get with RAW and JPEG. I will be trying to get the same – or close to the same – results from post-processing both RAW and JPEG – and then comparing the result to see if it can be accepted by someone like me – an ordinary everyday photographer  – with some slight ambitions! In ordinary everyday photography with ordinary everyday camera settings will I get enough room and flexibility to handle the ordinary everyday photo situations – if I go the JPEG way?

As most photographers – especially those with compact cameras – uses JPEGs all the time the answer should be given already: JPEGs are good enough! (Or at least a good compromise.) But I want to find out how much I lose out by going JPEG – or could I actually gain something when considering more factors…?

Summer is quickly approaching here in Sweden and it’s beginning to look and feel wonderful! I am saying this so you will understand why this task might take some time before reaching an answer. While on this journey to find the answer – my answer – I would very much appreciate your input and ideas on what to look for and what to compare!

The Formats

RAW is really many different file formats – specific for most cameras or camera brands Canon, Nikon, Sony, etc … – containing more or less unprocessed info directly from the camera image sensor – and need a special program (or a plug-in to your favorite image software) for your computer to process. Software and/or plugin are usually included with the camera when you buy it. It is sort of a “digital negative” – which you then process – in your computer – into a JPEG or several with different settings. The fact that each RAW format is a manufacturer specific format does raise some (small?) concern in me about the usability over time…

JPEG or JPG files are standardized picture files (JPEG – Joint Photographic Experts Group) that can be viewed, processed and printed with all (?) image software! Not that all standards survive over time but still it is calming to know JPEG is a proper standard so (almost) any type of software with image support will open a JPEG-image – hopefully for many years to come! These JPEGs are created in-camera by the cameras image processor. The process in the camera can usually be adjusted in a few ways: White balance, Contrast, lightness, saturation, sharpness, etc … and also in more general terms like for portrait, landscape, neutral, vivid, vintage … etc.

The Variables

The are quite a few factors/variables that influence the look and quality of pictures and to even contemplate evaluating them all is quite mind-boggling! It gets even worse when trying to weigh in such things as time spent processing, flexibility, storage space, fun(!), etc.. I would have to limit myself to just a few of all the factors – but I am open to suggestions as to which! Hopefully this journey will help me to decide what really matters – at least to me!  Hope you will tag along and find your own set of what you believe are the most important factors! The following are a few of the different variables to compare: Exposure, Dynamic range, Colour saturation, White balance, Sharpness, Contrast and Noise…

The Photo Mission

I set out with my trusty Canon EOS 550D/Rebel T2i to take a bunch of pictures like any tourist (with some slight photographic ambitions) would do. I set the camera for saving both RAW and JPG. The plan was to let the camera do its automatic “magic” so I set it up for what pictures I like to get out of the camera: one notch up on contrast, saturation and sharpness! I know from comparing the different Canon picture settings that “Neutral” actually gives quite good likeness to the original – but  rather soft picture – that I would not be satisfied with but that I always would have to post process. “Standard” is my most used setting + every now and then I use “Landscape” settings. Sometimes throwing in a “Portrait” or two. I have tooled with the idea of creating a RAW to JPG processing of my own and download it to the camera. (The Canon EOS 550D/Rebel T2i allows you to do this – giving you access to loads of settings!) The more I think about it the more I wonder why I haven’t…!

The Tools

The software I will be using is Canon’s Digital Photo Professional, Adobe Photoshop Elements and IrfanView. I am also using a 24″ 1920×1200 pixel Dell UltraSharp U2410 display.

The fine print:
The above was a lot of technical stuff – don’t be scared of it because my intention is to mostly use my eyes to make up my mind and include samples so you can use your eyes and make up your mind! I will of course give you my opinions of how the pictures should look! The reason why I stress that you make up your mind is because as we all know taste and liking is not universal! You might like a different look on your pictures and because of that you will have samples to look at so that you can make up your mind! Hopefully we can all arrive at a good understanding of this tricky question!

I will update this posting to contain the complete article as I go along!

Till next time!

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Canon IXUS 210 IS – Sample Photos

Having a camera like the Canon IXUS 210 IS (also called PowerShot SD3500 IS) should – I think – place you in the category where you want good pictures without too much hassle! At least that is the assumption I have made during my testing for this review. Here I should add that this is what many many photographers want! To be able to concentrate on the motif and forget as much as possible about the technical side! Still it would go too much against my grain to use “Full auto” so I have set the camera to “Program auto” when comparing it to the Canon PowerShot S95.

Under a few common lighting conditions the two cameras will battle it out to see what kind of sample photos they will produce – on their own – with the setting “Program auto”. There are a number of differences between the cameras – and we will see how that affects the pictures! As I have pointed out earlier on these pages the differences between most cameras on low ISO-settings when lighting conditions are good (sunshine or very light clouds) are very small – even between DSLR’s and compact cameras! Ok, Ok – when pixel peeping you will see differences … But the differences are not much to write home about – not when the full picture is shown on the screen – not even when viewed on my  24″ 1920×1200 pixel screen! (As you probably know that translates only to just over 2Mpix – roughly like a FullHD television screen! On (large) printed pictures is where the differences might show – if you are very close (sort of pixel peeping again… 😉 ) BUT as the light gets weaker – even just a day with proper clouds – the differences start to show very clearly!

Note that what I will be testing is each cameras ability to produce good pictures – under similar conditions! Not what pictures you will get using the same exposure time, the same f-stop, etc..

Indoor Sample
First out will be indoors sample photos. The one not so common circumstance was to use a table for support on these pictures. Most people tends to take handheld pictures but they would have been very blurry …! Low light is not be the easiest – but quite common – task for these cameras!

As always the pictures are unchanged and unedited – this is how they came out of the cameras – only filename has been changed!

   Canon IXUS 210 on the left, S95 on the right.

Let’s start by looking a little at what settings these two cameras chose – and try to guess why the camera chose those settings!  The IXUS 210 chose 1/20 sec and S95 1/15 sec, both picked f3.5, but chose very different ISO values 800 and 80(!). It is not very easy to guess why the cameras picked so different settings for this albeit lowly lit but evenly lit subject.  Also why S95 picked f3.5 instead of f2.0 – that would have been the logical selection when light is sparse. If I would have picked settings I would have chosen to go with the full opening f2.0, 1/30 sec and let the ISO sort itself out. ISO would probably stop at around 80 – so I would probably have gotten away with slightly shorter shutter time or slightly higher f-stop. Considering the image stabilization my picking 1/30 sec is probably very conservative – for a stationary subject… But the great MYSTERY is how the cameras could have picked so very different ISO values – 800 against 80 – and that the lightness of the pictures still do not look soo much different! Agreed the IXUS 210 picture looks a little on the light side – but 800 to 80 – that is over three steps!

As can be seen the difference in chosen ISO-values makes a lot of difference when it comes to sharpness and noise in the picture. The S95 picture is clearly the winner here – even if I do not understand why the cameras picked so different ISO-values!  The IXUS has clearly overexposed this motif a bit and also the white balance is a little on the cold blue side. The differences are so big that any deeper analysis of the two pictures qualities would not contribute to anything! Of course any (at least from a compact camera) ISO 80 picture will be better than any ISO 800 picture!  Click on the pictures and see for yourself!

Even if my idea for this test aims to show the above – how the pictures from a camera will look during different but common lighting conditions – I am a little baffled by the above … so for those of you that – like me – wonder how much the IXUS and S95 differ at the same ISO-value I will include another indoor sample – this time forced to the same 800 ISO-value!

   Canon IXUS 210 on the left, S95 on the right.

Now the differences are not that big – but first let’s look at the settings the cameras picked when forced to use ISO 800. The IXUS and S95 chose 1/15 sec and 1/50 sec,  f3.5 and f2.0. Again this baffles me – a little at least! The IXUS could not do much but pick the largest aperture f3.5 and then got 1/15 sec as a result. But why did the S95 pick such a “short” shutter time 1/50 sec this time? And used the widest aperture to achieve this – when it not did so in the umbrella picture above?

Looking first at the noise levels they are somewhat similar but still it is quite clear that the S95 has much lower noise levels generally – both in dark corners and in “well-lit” areas! The saturation and contrast are slightly higher on the S95 picture – also affected by the lower noise levels. Sharpness in a ISO 800 picture is always very much affected by the rather high levels of noise but also here the S95 trumps over the IXUS.

The above is while pixel peeping (Click on the pictures and do it yourself to see what you think!) but most of it is not visible on my 24″ 1920×1200 pixel display. That is not to say that there are no differences – flipping between full size images I can both “sense” and actually see a little better saturation and slightly better sharpness in the S95 picture.

Conclusion – Indoor Pictures
The S95 has a clear edge over the IXUS 210 with sharper pictures that has better saturation and better contrast. The S95 also has lower noise with higher ISO-values.

Outdoor sample
Time for an outdoor picture taken in good light.

   
Canon IXUS 210 on the left, S95 in the middle and EOS 550D on the right – or below (depending on your screen width)

Here a slight tonal difference is clearly visible – with the IXUS going for a slightly colder colour and the S95 for a slightly warmer look. I brought along my trusty old EOS 550D for the comparison as the “gold” reference. Based on the EOS colour I would have to lean to that the S95 probably is the most correct one.  My memory of the sky colour at the time is not so exact so I could not say which is the most correct. These three pictures are similar enough that except for the tonal differences I can see no other differences when viewing full screen. This was expected – as the lighting conditions were so favorable! The settings for the pictures were – in the above order – 1/1250, 1/1000, 1/320 and f3.5, f4.5, f11 and ISO 80, 80, 100. Both compacts going for shorter shutter times – probably both because of there being fewer* F-stops to choose from and because of their intended target users … (The last is just a guess!)
(* Compacts very often has just a few f-stop settings. Some cameras go as low as two settings! Full open and something around f5.6-f8.0)

Conclusion – Outdoor Pictures
As expected – in good lighting conditions – all three cameras produce good results! Both the IXUS and the S95 faring very well when comparing them with the EOS 550D.

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Canon PowerShot S95 – Depth of Field

The distance from the closest to the most distant part of a motif that is sharp is called Depth of field (DOF). DOF affects all pictures – sometimes you want DOF to be shallow to bring out and concentrate the interest on your sharply focused main motif while the background is blurred … other times you want sharpness from close up and all the way to infinity – with a really deep DOF! This post is both a general post on DOF but it also contains specific samples that relates to the Canon PowerShot S95!

All cameras with a small sensor – and a correspondingly short focal length on the zoom lens – has a depth of field (DOF) that is quite deep! This applies also to the Canon S95 with its 6-22.5 mm zoom lens. For a DSLR with a bigger sensor it is a little more varied – but usually the DOF is more shallow.  This can be both good and bad – depending on how you want your picture to turn out!
(The picture above is taken with Canon EOS 550D 18 mm and f 11.0 – to get a deep DOF. Not shown full size.)

The DOF is affected by three things:

  • Focal length
    The shorter focal length (you might like to think of it as wider angle) the deeper DOF and (it follows) the longer focal length the narrower DOF.
  • Aperture
    The smaller the aperture (that is bigger f-value) the deeper DOF and larger the aperture  the narrower DOF. You really need a large aperture to get a nice blur!
    One complication with most zoom lenses is that they vary the aperture as you vary the focal length!
  • Distance to the motif
    The more distant you are to the motif the deeper DOF and the closer you are the narrower DOF

All of the above factors are combined so that:
The deepest DOF you will get when you are using a very short focal length, a small aperture and are very distant to your motif!
The most shallow DOF you will get when you are using a very long focal length, a large aperture and are very close to your motif!

Depth of Field diagrams

To keep things reasonably simple I will look only at the extreme values: widest angle and most tele – with biggest and smallest aperture. Moreover I have limited it to two focus points at 1 and 6 meters.These 8 cases I have plotted in a DOF Diagram for the Canon S95 – and as a comparison I have included a DOF Diagram for the Canon EOS 550D 18-55 mm  . The two top rows are showing the tele results and the three bottom rows showing wide angle. The small black marker on top of each bar is the focus point (1 or 6 m) and you can see how the DOF spreads out around it (the green/violet bars). Note that as you goes towards smaller apertures the DOF behind the focus point increases a lot!

Canon S95 DOF diagram. Looking only at the two most extreme combinations – for deepest and most shallow DOF:
Using wide-angle, f8.0 and focusing at a close object at 1 meter we get a DOF of  0.43 m – infinity. That is close to the deepest DOF you can get with the S95! Handy for landscape pictures or whenever you want everything to be sharp! Notice also that it does not matter that much if you focus on something 6 m away instead – you will still get almost as deep DOF of 0.7 m – infinity!

If you use the largest aperture (f2.0) you will still get a relatively deep DOF at a distance but it will get more shallow at 1 m.

Using the largest aperture with tele, f4.9 and focusing at a close object at 1 meter we get a DOF of  only 0.95 – 1.06 m. That is a reasonably shallow DOF! Handy for a portrait (face only) or where you want only the main motif to be sharp! Here it does matter a lot if you focus 6 m away instead – you will get a DOF of 4.5 m – 9 m! At around 6 m this works well for a full picture of a person and a few meters more will handle a whole group of people – who does not have to stand on a line either! You will get a blurred background – but (I am sorry to say) only slightly blurred.

If you use the smallest aperture (f8.0) you will still get almost as shallow DOF at 1 m but at 6 m distance the DOF will increase a few meters! Note that the only way to accomplish a really blurry background is when you take pictures really close up … Also note that due to the fact that the aperture in the tele setting is f4.9 you will not get an extremely blurry background if your motif is a few meters distant!

Canon EOS 550D 18-55 mm DOF diagram. Also with its biggest and smallest aperture – BUT note that this lens has very different extreme values for its aperture!

Looking only at the two most extreme combinations – for deepest and most shallow DOF:
Using wide-angle, f22 and focusing at a close object at 1 meter we get a DOF of  0.43 m – infinity. (Same DOF as the S95 but with a very different aperture!)  Again that is close to the deepest DOF you can get with the wide-angle!

If you use the largest aperture (f3.5) you will still get a relatively deep DOF at a distance but it will get more shallow at 1 m.

Using the largest aperture with tele, f5.6 and focusing at a close object at 1 meter we get a DOF of  only 0.97 – 1.03 m. That is a very shallow DOF! To be used where you want only the (small)  main motif to be sharp! If you focus 6 m away instead – you will get a DOF of 5 m – 8 m!

Here it is a little easier to accomplish a really blurry background when you take pictures really close up … But note that 55 mm is not long enough to give a really blurry background at a distance! You will need 100-200 mm lens to accomplish this on a half-size sensor camera like the Canon EOS 550/Canon Digital Rebel T2i!

I have already said this (in the 3 points above) but want to stress that – for all lenses – as you move away from your motif the DOF increases (can be seen very clearly in the diagrams) giving you less and less blurry background. If you focus at 18 m you will with the S95 at the longest focal length and largest aperture (f4.9) have a DOF stretching from 9 m to infinity – not much hope for a blurry background there – but on the other hand you will get a picture where most of it is in focus – could also be handy sometimes…

Want to dive deeper into the shallow depth of DOF? 😉 Then go to Wikipedia for a much longer and much more detailed take on the subject with formulas, diagrams etc…

Three examples

Blurry background – Portrait or flower
You probably want a nice blurred background to make your motif stand out. Ask your motif to move away from the background (flowers – I am sorry to say – only moves when you want them to be still! 😉 ) – the further away from trees, houses etc the better! Then use your zoom at its maximum tele setting (if you have one of those super-zooms you don’t need to overdo it 🙂 ) and you step back from your motif – but only as far as is absolutely needed to get enough coverage of your motif! Make shure that the camera (or you) select as large aperture as possible!
(The picture on the left is taken with Canon EOS 550D 55 mm and f 5.6 (full open) – to get a shallow DOF. Cropped and shown half scale.)

Possible problems:
If you want blurry background when photographing a flower: On many compacts you can only use the “macro” setting with the wide-angle! Accept it (you might like it) – or try to go as close as possible with maximum tele setting – this is by far the best way to get a nice blurry background!
The whole picture turns out blurry? Then you have shaken the camera – hold it more still – get some support! Tree, rock, table or … maybe even a tripod! You can also get a totaly blurry picture if you have missed the focus completely!

Blurry background – Group of people
Assuming you want the whole group to be sharp – first of all you have to have them all at roughly the same distance! For blurry background you do the same as with the portrait or flower above: Position your group far away (at least 10-20 m) from the background! Use your largest aperture and as much tele as you can and then you walk away – but only as far away from your group as needed – until you get them all to fit in the picture (with the tele setting). The only special handling with a group is if they are not standing at exactly the same distance: focus on one of the nearest persons in the group. Assuming that the nearest and most distant person are not more than a meter or two apart you will get a sharp picture of the whole group and a somewhat blurry background. The longer tele lens you have the nearer on a “line” the group must stand – but the “blurrier” background you will have!

Sharp background – Person or group in front of Eiffel Tower
Or any other picture where you want the surroundings to be seen clearly. Here you probably want a deep DOF so that as much as possible can be seen clearly. First of all you move away from your foreground motif and use your wide-angle. To get maximum DOF you should also use the smallest possible aperture. But also take one picture with what f-value the camera suggests – it might be good enough.

Canon S95 DOF Samples

First of all I must disappoint all of you who is hoping to get a very blurry background in your portraits with the S95 – or any other small sensor short focal length lens cameras! It will not happen – even with a large aperture lens as the f 2.0 one on the S95! But as largest aperture at tele is just f4.9 you will only get a really blurry background when you use max tele in a very close up picture – that will not cover a view big enough for a proper portrait – but might work for a close-up of a flower for example. If you have a super-zoom you are luckier but will need to use the tele setting and hold the camera very very steady!

I have taken two series of pictures samples. You will see a variation of the DOF but it is so small it hardly is worth mentioning.

The first series in which I vary the focal length from 28 mm to 105 mm (equiv – in reality 6-22.5 mm ) and use the lowest possible f-value. This affects the perspective – more than it affects the DOF. The difficulty here is that the Canon lens is only f2.0  at the wide-angle end – and f4.9 at the tele end. So as I zoom to tele I also increase the f-value and thereby keep the DOF almost constant.

The second series I kept the focal length at a mid position and varied the f-value. Also very little variation of DOF!

As the DOF variation is so small I have just put up the extreme samples – but trust me – the intermediate pictures looks much the same! All pictures are taken with AWB – which handles the flourescent energy-saving lamps quite well! The hat sits 50 cm in front of the wall.

           

Looking at the above pictures you can easily see that for the Canon S95 the first picture has the most blurry background. This is due to two factors: I am closer to the motif and can use f 2.0  – this together affects the background most thus giving the most shallow DOF – even if I use the wide-angle! And a hat – contrary to a person – usually does not complain about certain features (like the brim) looking a bit wide! 😉

I will add a few extra samples with the motif further away from the background to illustrate how blurry you can get the background – as soon as the weather improves! (We have had the coldest winter for at least 150 years!)

If you want to have really seriously blurry background with an ordinary zoom compact – you have to fire up your favorite image software and get to work! Or get a super-zoom… If you on the other hand want to have a deeper DOF than you can get with your camera and lens combination – then you can combine several pictures with different focus into one picture with a lot of work in Photoshop or similar – or you cold just use CombineZP that automates the process.

Hope this throws some light on DOF for us photo amateurs!

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Canon PowerShot S95 – Sample Photos PaS

Bringing the Canon PowerShot S95 with me to do some after Christmas shopping I snapped some samples of Christmas Tree Decorations and other things – in one of our local shops.

This was to test the Real World Point-and-Shoot (PaS) abilities of the Canon S95. Handheld and only available light used – but it was a very well-lit shop as you can see! Think of the feat this camera does – you just going into a shop and get almost studio-like photos with no preparation or set up at all – no tripod – no flash – no lights – just point-and-shoot!

Going for the multicoloured Christmas Tree Decorations first I would like to point out the there was a cellophane wrapping around the boxes giving some reflections and also some misting effects.

This is where the fast f 2.0 lens really comes in handy and helps achieve better pictures – both keeping the ISO value lower and keeping the shutter times shorter! In a few of the samples the ISO value was kept as low as 80-100! That combined with an effective image stabilization really helps the sharpness!

As always all of these samples are full size and have not been edited in any way – except changing the filenames! Just click on the photos to see them full-size! Having the camera set up with “P” Program Setting , Automatic White Balance and “Auto ISO” I let the camera pick what it considered the best compromise for each photo. True point-and-shoot! For some of the photos I have added small 100% crops of center and corner for a quick and easy comparison for you – but best is of course to check out the full sample!

   

Starting out with the picture above I used the widest angle (28 mm equiv) and the camera picked ISO 80 – giving a shutter time of 1/30 sec and f2.0.

Looking at it full screen it looks close to perfect just out of the camera – good enough for most of us! Adding a little more saturation and contrast – to counteract the misting from the cellophane wrapping would make it perfect. And this in the shops flourescent lighting! Maybe I should check with them for some good studio lighting perhaps … 😉

Looking at it at 100% I notice – what I think is – some slight corner softness. Not very disturbing – but it is there! (See the rightmost 100% corner crop above.)

The noise is virtually non-existent  and you can not even see it in the out of focus areas.

   

Continuing with the next picture I again used the widest angle (28 mm equiv) and the camera picked a higher value this time – ISO 250 – giving a shutter time of 1/30 sec and f2.0.

Looking at it full screen it looks good just out of the camera – again good enough for most of us! But as before – adding a little more saturation and contrast would make it even better. Looking at it at 100% – there is some corner softness evident. Note that I have gone much closer so the relatively short depth of field (DOF) when using f 2.0 exaggerates the corner softness. Not very disturbing – but it is there! (See the rightmost 100% corner crop above – and also the picture below using f 2.8.)

The noise is very controlled and even if you can see it in the blurry – out of focus – areas – it is very “kind” noise and quite easily accepted. See the rightmost 100% corner crop above where the noise is visible in the top of the crop.

     

One more close up of the lovely Christmas Tree Decorations – once again with 28 mm equiv – and the camera chose – ISO 100 – giving a shutter time of 1/30 sec and f2.8.

Looking at it full screen it looks close to perfect just out of the camera – more than good enough for most of us! But to make it really dazzle – upping the saturation and contrast a little would make it perfect!

Looking at it at 100% – there is no longer any corner softness! This seems to be just because of the slightly smaller aperture of  f 2.8 for this photo. (Compare to the f 2.0 pictures above.) Both edge and corner crops show a good sharpness.

The noise is virtually non-existent  and you can not even see it in the out of focus areas.

 

In the above samples – more Christmas Decorations – the tinsel was taken with 28 mm,  ISO 200,  1/30 sec and f2.0 – and the Santas with 28 mm,  ISO 80,  1/30 sec and f2.8.

In the tinsel (originally strands of silver – invented around 1610!) you can once again see the soft corners and some very slight noise – but once again not very annoying!

In the Santas picture we have the benefit of both lower ISO value (80) and slightly smaller aperture (f2.8) which gives a visibly very calm picture with few disturbances. In short a really good picture – technically at least! 😉

 

Last two samples – straw goats and artificial flowers. The straw goats were taken  with 28 mm,  ISO 80,  1/30 sec and f2.5. The artificial flowers with 28 mm,  ISO 100,  1/30 sec and f2.0.

Both turned out as really good PaS pictures with no obvious faults! Have you noticed that I like wide-angle shots? 😉

Conclusion

The white balance worked perfectly for this type of flourescent light. The light was also quite strong – for ordinary shop lighting! That in combination with the fast (f 2.0) lens made it quite easy to take well exposed and sharp pictures with good colours and little noise. The slight corner softness – I think – can easily be accepted because it increases the “artistic” freedom! Also one could very easily have added a little more “punch” to the pictures by one of the different colour, contrast and sharpness settings. The above is how they came out of the camera with Canon factory settings! To get the absolute best results keeping the ISO as low as possible and stopping down a little – to f 2.8 – is the ideal – and also a no-brainer as this in practical photography goes for all cameras!
(I stress that the pictures looks really good as it is – and I am talking about adding a just a little more saturation and contrast – just to get that extra “wow” effect! This is something you would only bother with for a few pictures that you want to do something extra with – calendars, presents, give away pictures … etc. For ordinary usage you would probably not bother …)
In short: Very good pictures – very easy!

Hope you liked the Christmas samples!

After this will be a post on the depth of field for the Canon S95 and after that it will be a post in which I dig into the abilities of RAW versus JPG! Is RAW really that much better? Is there really a reason to use RAW – if you are a reasonable person and not a pixel-peeper? What can you do with the JPGs – and not? I do not know the answers yet – but I intend to find out!

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Canon PowerShot S95 – Sample Photos ISO Effects #2

This is the second set of sample pictures from the Canon PowerShot S95 and Canon EOS 550D (or Digital Rebel T2i). The main goal is to see how different ISO settings – from low to high – affects the picture quality – mainly the noise levels but also colour saturation. Because this second set is looking – image quality wise – so similar to the first set I will refer you to the first set for comments!

The “Midnight sample” to the left is an extra sample I included. Taken close to midnight with only street lamps to light the scene. The light was very yellow so I used custom white balance. ISO 1600, 1/20 sec f 2.0. Turned out alright I think! For a mysterious effect look at the dark sky on the right and you will see a strange pattern – it can also be seen if you look at the sky between the tree branches! I think it is a combination of noise and the structure of the very dark clouds that was at the time when I took this picture.

Canon S95 Samples – ISO 100 and 200

 

Canon S95 Samples – ISO 400 and 800

 

Canon S95 Samples – ISO 1600 and 3200

 

PhotomanCompareStrip – Canon PowerShot S95

Canon EOS 550D Samples – ISO 100 and 200

 

Canon EOS 550D Samples – ISO 400 and 800

 

Canon EOS 550D Samples – ISO 1600 and 3200

 

PhotomanCompareStrip – Canon EOS 550D

Hope you had some use of this second set!

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