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dslr bad picture quality?





lightwate
We have Nikon D3000 - an affordable dslr. I seem to notice that most of the shots we have are dull and doesn't look like it's taken from a DSLR - it doesn't have that "wow" effect that I get when I see other people's shots. But I'm not sure if what I see in the web are edited or not.

I'm an amateur and I usually take shots of my family and the landscapes whenever we're in vacation. But every time I use the 'Auto' or 'P' setting the picture seems dull. I always have to tinker with the settings using manual, but this is hard when the sun reflects on the lcd and also when my subjects are losing patience.

But whenever I use my android phone to take the picture, most of the time it looks better. The colors are more vivid. And this makes me wonder if point and shoot cameras have a great advantage. I mean, sure the shots taken by DSLRs are much clearer than those of point and shoot cameras, but the latter is almost always better looking because of all the post processing the image goes through.

But I still don't know if it's because of the camera model we have :\
Ankhanu
The advantage of DSLRs is shooting in manual. They don't necessarily perform any better in Auto mode than anything else. The "Wow" factor you're after comes from either carefully selecting your ISO/Aperture/Shutter/WhiteBalace combination, post production, or a combination of the two. Auto rarely gives you what you want, and, honestly, if you're using it in Auto all the time, you've wasted a lot of money; you'd have been just as well off with a point n shoot.

Basically, you need to practice; get accustomed to your camera's control layout and practice, practice, practice, under all kinds of light conditions. In time you'll be able to change settings to the conditions in no time, and your subjects won't have to wait.
Also, if I'm not mistaken, you SHOULD be able to see the seeing information through the viewfinder, including a basic light meter. As you get to know your controls better, you'll be able to adjust settings while looking through the finder, and see the immediate changes on the light meter, speeding up the process.
Learn to meter off of the light level you want to capture, rather than the full frame, as well. If you meter for the average light level (which Auto is apt to do) you'll usually get the wrong metering for what you want to shoot. For example, your family is kind of in the shade, against a bright sky; Auto will probably meter more for the sky, leaving your family dark; if you meter, instead for the shadow, your family will be bright, even if the sky ends up a bit overblown. You can play back and forth to get a good mix of the two light levels, and it will eventually become somewhat intuitive.

Personally, I tend to avoid post-processing (i.e. Lightroom, Photoshop, etc), but most people do it fairly heavily; THIS is where they make shots that really POP, and give that WOW you're after. While I prefer to capture what I can with the camera in hand, I'm something of a minority in that respect; learn your way around an editing program, and your picture quality will increase.
lightwate
I see. So that means auto almost always sucks. I'm wondering though, if the more advanced DSLRs have good Auto functions that have good post-processing too. Not that I want to use it or something Razz

I've played with our DSLR in manual a lot too, but the best shots I get (which doesn't have that wow effect) are almost always on the same setting. For instance, in a setting with little lighting but doesn't need flash, I first set the aperture to it's widest setting, then the shutter speed to the longest that I can hold steadily (1/30 s). Sometimes I adjust the exposure compensation and that's it.

Do you usually shoot images with large different combinations of A and S settings? I mean, are the settings really far apart from another?

I haven't actually paid attention to the basic light meter in the view finder. I'll research for it and maybe that's what I need.
Ankhanu
lightwate wrote:
I see. So that means auto almost always sucks.

No, it means that you have no real control over the end result... which usually isn't desirable. You can still get good pictures, but there will be compromises.

lightwate wrote:
I'm wondering though, if the more advanced DSLRs have good Auto functions that have good post-processing too. Not that I want to use it or something Razz

Some will, but, not necessarily. The camera you have is a pretty good entry-level DSLR, designed with new users or semi-serious shooters in mind... it likely has pretty decent non-manual settings. More expensive, higher end models generally have more serious users in mind, so have better controls, faster image processing, etc. features, but the automatic settings won't necessarily be any better.

lightwate wrote:
I've played with our DSLR in manual a lot too, but the best shots I get (which doesn't have that wow effect) are almost always on the same setting. For instance, in a setting with little lighting but doesn't need flash, I first set the aperture to it's widest setting, then the shutter speed to the longest that I can hold steadily (1/30 s). Sometimes I adjust the exposure compensation and that's it.

Do you usually shoot images with large different combinations of A and S settings? I mean, are the settings really far apart from another?

I haven't actually paid attention to the basic light meter in the view finder. I'll research for it and maybe that's what I need.


I generally set my aperture based on my desired depth of focus/field (DoF) (the smaller the f-stop number, the shallower the focus, and the higher the f-stop number, the deeper the focus), then set my shutter speed to whatever I need to get the right exposure for the current light settings.
For example, when shooting macro stuff, in which I'm using a Nikkor 50mm f.18 lens mounted to the camera backwards (see image here), I tend to set the f-stop to 8 or 11, this gives me a moderate DoF and enough light reaching the view finder to tell if my subject is in focus, any higher an f-stop and the image is too dark to see my focal quality, any lower an f-stop and my DoF is too shallow to have much of an image. I then set my shutter to whatever the light conditions require. Under normal indoor light conditions, that's probably somewhere between 1/15 and 1/60. In bright sunlight, it might be somewhere around 1/200.

Using different ISO settings will change your shutter speed requirements too. The tendencies I mentioned above are for about ISO400; shooting ISO100, for example, would require shutter speeds between 15-30 seconds under indoor lighting, or 1/60 in bright sun.

Using a proper macro lens, or shooting with more standard lens, is a little easier than shooting with my 50mm reversed... as the lenses and camera are more responsive. With a normally mounted lens, shutter speeds can be faster.

Feel free to peruse some of my shots here: http://ankhanu.livejournal.com/
For the most part, I include the camera, lens and settings used for each shot; they'll give you an idea for how I tend to shoot.
Ankhanu
Whoops, meant to address this in the last one...
lightwate wrote:
I'm wondering though, if the more advanced DSLRs have good Auto functions that have good post-processing too. Not that I want to use it or something Razz

I should clarify that post-processing is not camera related, it's the processing/manipulation you do to the image AFTER (post) the photo is taken. Generally it refers to using Photoshop, Lightroom, or something similar on the computer... or dark room work with film.
dude_xyx
Well photography needs patience. If you need " wow " then you need to learn all those manual setting as well as post processing.

Fast moving photos might not come out great unless you have a fast lens.
Shreyas
Using a DSLR is a lot of patience. Most people use the DSLR's in the Auto mode, which i feel is useful in quick and tricky snaps. The "WOW" effect you are talking about is mostly a post processing effect, but then there are people who really spend lot of time learning the art and can produce it straight out of camera.
As its mentioned before, its not always about the mode you use. You need to use the metering of your camera to the optimum. Use different metering modes based on the scene you are shooting.
There are a lot of tutorials online for this. Also a perfect picture is all about timing, you really need patience.
AlexandruEvans
lightwate wrote:
I see. So that means auto almost always sucks.

No, it means that you have no real control over the end result... which usually isn't desirable. You can still get good pictures, but there will be compromises.

lightwate wrote:
I'm wondering though, if the more advanced DSLRs have good Auto functions that have good post-processing too. Not that I want to use it or something Razz

Some will, but, not necessarily. The camera you have is a pretty good entry-level DSLR, designed with new users or semi-serious shooters in mind... it likely has pretty decent non-manual settings. More expensive, higher end models generally have more serious users in mind, so have better controls, faster image processing, etc. features, but the automatic settings won't necessarily be any better.

lightwate wrote:
I've played with our DSLR in manual a lot too, but the best shots I get (which doesn't have that wow effect) are almost always on the same setting. For instance, in a setting with little lighting but doesn't need flash, I first set the aperture to it's widest setting, then the shutter speed to the longest that I can hold steadily (1/30 s). Sometimes I adjust the exposure compensation and that's it.

Do you usually shoot images with large different combinations of A and S settings? I mean, are the settings really far apart from another?

I haven't actually paid attention to the basic light meter in the view finder. I'll research for it and maybe that's what I need.


I generally set my aperture based on my desired depth of focus/field (DoF) (the smaller the f-stop number, the shallower the focus, and the higher the f-stop number, the deeper the focus), then set my shutter speed to whatever I need to get the right exposure for the current light settings.
For example, when shooting macro stuff, in which I'm using a Nikkor 50mm f.18 lens mounted to the camera backwards (see image here), I tend to set the f-stop to 8 or 11, this gives me a moderate DoF and enough light reaching the view finder to tell if my subject is in focus, any higher an f-stop and the image is too dark to see my focal quality, any lower an f-stop and my DoF is too shallow to have much of an image. I then set my shutter to whatever the light conditions require. Under normal indoor light conditions, that's probably somewhere between 1/15 and 1/60. In bright sunlight, it might be somewhere around 1/200.

Using different ISO settings will change your shutter speed requirements too. The tendencies I mentioned above are for about ISO400; shooting ISO100, for example, would require shutter speeds between 15-30 seconds under indoor lighting, or 1/60 in bright sun.

Using a proper macro lens, or shooting with more standard lens, is a little easier than shooting with my 50mm reversed... as the lenses and camera are more responsive. With a normally mounted lens, shutter speeds can be faster.

Feel free to peruse some of my shots here: http://ankhanu.livejournal.com/
For the most part, I include the camera, lens and settings used for each shot; they'll give you an idea for how I tend to shoot.
jjstudio
you can play a bit with Picasa or adobe to get really good results or enhancements of your pictures.

or if you want it cheap then use paint.dot its free and can do most things and with same quality photoshop can
TheGremlyn
DSLRs are great if you take the time to fool around with them and try new things. The whole point of having one is using the manual settings to set your aperture, shutter speed and other settings to create those effects you're after. On top of that it's possible the pictures you see have been altered after the fact. I've done that myself and I've used photoshop to adjust colours, contrast, brightness and a host of other things.

DSLRs can take great pictures but it takes either talent or time to learn how to take those great pictures. Some people sit around for hours waiting for the perfect moment to take that landscape picture. As others have said, the Auto setting isn't going to give you what you want. It will take a simple picture and do all the work for you. The point of the DSLR is to take more control and refine the mechanics of the camera.

I've taken some nice shots with a DSLR but it took months of tinkering to get those. I could still improve on those if I spent more time experimenting with the settings.
chrisdriscoll
As everyone has said manual settings are key. In general you want to use the lowest iso possible (100-200 in good light), the lowest aperture possible (f/1.8-2.8 often create a nice amount of depth though it'll vary a lot depending on the focal length of lens and distance to subject among other things), then you can play with shutter speed or shoot in ss priority mode to get a good exposure. To lower your aperture on the 18-55mm kit lens shoot with it completely zoomed out (18mm).

Often times it's useful to actually under/over expose an image depending on the situation which requires manual settings. For example when shooting a bride in a bright white dress it's good to under expose to grab the details in the dress instead of having it turn out blaring white (the same also goes for shots that have a daytime sky in them).

Once you've played around with manual settings a bit I'd recommend trying out shooting with a tripod/remote, getting a fast prime lens (50mm f/1.8 is $100 but would need to be manually focused on a d3000) and playing around with a flash either on or preferably off camera. You can get a cheap off brand flash such as a neewer 520, http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004KV4DNK/ref=pe_175190_21431760_cs_sce_dp_1 for $30 which can be triggered remotely using your cameras built in flash or a cheap receiver transceiver set.
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