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Canon a95 - Why Not Sharp Enough?

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April 18, 2005 2:49:29 PM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

I am new to digital photography. After much research, I determined that the
Canon a95 (5MP) was the best camera for me in my price range. The main
problem I am having is that the pictures aren't sharp enough, or at least
they are not as sharp as I think they should be - even the "in focus" ones
:)  Am I spoiled by looking at shots from 8+ MP cameras on the web and in
magazines? Am I expecting too much, or is it common to need to do
enhancement on the desktop? The shots do compare very favorably to some 2MP
shots I tried with a cheapo camera in that I can zoom in on them much
further (the only way I know to compare detail and sharpness), and of course
the overall size is much larger (shooting max size). The detail seems to be
there (at least by comparison). I tried shooting in superfine vs fine (at
ISO 50), but I really don't see a difference. I've tried many modes and
settings in different conditions, and nothing is as sharp as I would like.
Also true for macro shots. So, again, am I expecting too much, or is fixing
it on the desktop the common scenario? Thanks.

More about : canon a95 sharp

Anonymous
April 18, 2005 3:32:28 PM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

Alan wrote:
> I am new to digital photography. After much research, I determined
> that the Canon a95 (5MP) was the best camera for me in my price
> range. The main problem I am having is that the pictures aren't sharp
> enough, or at least they are not as sharp as I think they should be -
> even the "in focus" ones :)  Am I spoiled by looking at shots from
> 8+ MP cameras on the web and in magazines? Am I expecting too much,
> or is it common to need to do enhancement on the desktop? The shots
> do compare very favorably to some 2MP shots I tried with a cheapo
> camera in that I can zoom in on them much further (the only way I
> know to compare detail and sharpness), and of course the overall size
> is much larger (shooting max size). The detail seems to be there (at
> least by comparison). I tried shooting in superfine vs fine (at ISO
> 50), but I really don't see a difference. I've tried many modes and
> settings in different conditions, and nothing is as sharp as I would
> like. Also true for macro shots. So, again, am I expecting too much,
> or is fixing it on the desktop the common scenario? Thanks.

Just for fun, try a few photos using a tripod or at least outside in sun
with the camera held steady on something solid like a large rock.

--
Joseph Meehan

Dia's Muire duit
Anonymous
April 18, 2005 8:00:33 PM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

"Alan" <not.me@uhuh.rcn.com> writes:
>I am new to digital photography. After much research, I determined that the
>Canon a95 (5MP) was the best camera for me in my price range. The main
>problem I am having is that the pictures aren't sharp enough, or at least
>they are not as sharp as I think they should be - even the "in focus" ones
>:)  Am I spoiled by looking at shots from 8+ MP cameras on the web and in
>magazines? Am I expecting too much, or is it common to need to do
>enhancement on the desktop?

First, likely every single image you see in a magazine has had some
processing done to it, probably including sharpening. If you want your
images to look like that, you may have to do some processing yourself.

Second, what size are you looking at the images? A 5 MP image viewed at
100% (one screen pixel per image pixel) will look somewhat soft, but
you're examining a tiny portion of the image. If you downsample the
image to fill your screen at 1 megapixel or so, the image should look a
lot sharper at that size. (Beware of viewing a 5 MP image without
downsampling it - many viewing programs do "quick and dirty" resizing
with poor quality results under these conditions).

Or print the image as an 8x11 inch print. Does it look soft at that
size? It shouldn't.

>The shots do compare very favorably to some 2MP
>shots I tried with a cheapo camera in that I can zoom in on them much
>further (the only way I know to compare detail and sharpness)

Do note that going from 2 MP to 5 MP only gives you 1.6X more
useful resolution. It ought to have more detail, but not 2X more.

>and of course
>the overall size is much larger (shooting max size). The detail seems to be
>there (at least by comparison). I tried shooting in superfine vs fine (at
>ISO 50), but I really don't see a difference. I've tried many modes and
>settings in different conditions, and nothing is as sharp as I would like.
>Also true for macro shots. So, again, am I expecting too much, or is fixing
>it on the desktop the common scenario? Thanks.

Sounds like your old camera simply did more sharpening in-camera by
default. But you *want* to do the final sharpening on the desktop
because it gives you more control.

I have an A80 (the A95's predecessor) and I leave it set to "low
sharpening" all the time.

Dave
Related resources
April 19, 2005 3:45:33 AM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

Dave,

First, thanks much for your anwers. They were a big help. My responses
in-line below.


"Dave Martindale" <davem@cs.ubc.ca> wrote in message
news:D 40lj1$7il$1@mughi.cs.ubc.ca...
> "Alan" <not.me@uhuh.rcn.com> writes:
> >I am new to digital photography. After much research, I determined that
the
> >Canon a95 (5MP) was the best camera for me in my price range. The main
> >problem I am having is that the pictures aren't sharp enough, or at least
> >they are not as sharp as I think they should be - even the "in focus"
ones
> >:)  Am I spoiled by looking at shots from 8+ MP cameras on the web and
in
> >magazines? Am I expecting too much, or is it common to need to do
> >enhancement on the desktop?
>
> First, likely every single image you see in a magazine has had some
> processing done to it, probably including sharpening. If you want your
> images to look like that, you may have to do some processing yourself.

Understood- thanks. Kind of what I suspected, but processing is part of the
fun.

>
> Second, what size are you looking at the images? A 5 MP image viewed at
> 100% (one screen pixel per image pixel) will look somewhat soft, but
> you're examining a tiny portion of the image. If you downsample the
> image to fill your screen at 1 megapixel or so, the image should look a
> lot sharper at that size. (Beware of viewing a 5 MP image without
> downsampling it - many viewing programs do "quick and dirty" resizing
> with poor quality results under these conditions).

I was using MS Photo Editor. I zoomed in and out. Of course smaller was
better, and I could zoom in quite a bit until the detail started to go.

>
> Or print the image as an 8x11 inch print. Does it look soft at that
> size? It shouldn't.

I had a theory that it perhaps was my monitor. What tipped me off was that
certain diagonal lines were jagged at one zoom level, but looked correct at
the next one in. I tried different monitor resolutions and got different
results. I have a 19" monitor, with not the greatest dot pitch, and I was
working at 1024 x 768. Once I chanmged it to a higher res, the images looked
somewhat sharper, but still not great. So, I took them into work, where I
have a decent monitor. Much better, but still not what I expected.
Fortunately, there is a Kinko's in the building, so I chose one shot, and
printed an 8 x 10 ($5.00, but I needed to know...) You are right- the print
was very sharp- maybe even a little too sharp- and this was without any
processing at all. Basically, I am afraid that what i really need is a new
monitor. Anyway, there appeared to a few small digital artifacts in what was
probably an overexposed area. Not speckles exactly, but probably in the same
family. Does that make sense that this would happen in an overexposed area?
(It was the top of my cat's head, which has some white, and it was in
sunlight with details blown out. The whole shot ran the gamut from dark
shadow to bright white.)
>
> >The shots do compare very favorably to some 2MP
> >shots I tried with a cheapo camera in that I can zoom in on them much
> >further (the only way I know to compare detail and sharpness)
>
> Do note that going from 2 MP to 5 MP only gives you 1.6X more
> useful resolution. It ought to have more detail, but not 2X more.

I went with more MP primarily to be able to print large, so I think I'm okay
in that area, at least that's how I undertsand it.

>
> >and of course
> >the overall size is much larger (shooting max size). The detail seems to
be
> >there (at least by comparison). I tried shooting in superfine vs fine (at
> >ISO 50), but I really don't see a difference. I've tried many modes and
> >settings in different conditions, and nothing is as sharp as I would
like.
> >Also true for macro shots. So, again, am I expecting too much, or is
fixing
> >it on the desktop the common scenario? Thanks.
>
> Sounds like your old camera simply did more sharpening in-camera by
> default. But you *want* to do the final sharpening on the desktop
> because it gives you more control.
>
> I have an A80 (the A95's predecessor) and I leave it set to "low
> sharpening" all the time.
>

I found a "low sharpening" setting in amongst other effects, such as sepia,
high contrast, and the like. Is this the one you are referring to?

Thanks again!
Anonymous
April 19, 2005 3:45:34 AM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

Alan wrote:
> Dave,
>
> First, thanks much for your anwers. They were a big help. My responses
> in-line below.
>
>
> "Dave Martindale" <davem@cs.ubc.ca> wrote in message
> news:D 40lj1$7il$1@mughi.cs.ubc.ca...
>
>>"Alan" <not.me@uhuh.rcn.com> writes:
>>
>>>I am new to digital photography. After much research, I determined that
>
> the
>
>>>Canon a95 (5MP) was the best camera for me in my price range. The main
>>>problem I am having is that the pictures aren't sharp enough, or at least
>>>they are not as sharp as I think they should be - even the "in focus"
>
> ones
>
>>>:)  Am I spoiled by looking at shots from 8+ MP cameras on the web and
>
> in
>
>>>magazines? Am I expecting too much, or is it common to need to do
>>>enhancement on the desktop?
>>
>>First, likely every single image you see in a magazine has had some
>>processing done to it, probably including sharpening. If you want your
>>images to look like that, you may have to do some processing yourself.
>
>
> Understood- thanks. Kind of what I suspected, but processing is part of the
> fun.
>
>
>>Second, what size are you looking at the images? A 5 MP image viewed at
>>100% (one screen pixel per image pixel) will look somewhat soft, but
>>you're examining a tiny portion of the image. If you downsample the
>>image to fill your screen at 1 megapixel or so, the image should look a
>>lot sharper at that size. (Beware of viewing a 5 MP image without
>>downsampling it - many viewing programs do "quick and dirty" resizing
>>with poor quality results under these conditions).
>
>
> I was using MS Photo Editor. I zoomed in and out. Of course smaller was
> better, and I could zoom in quite a bit until the detail started to go.
>
>
>>Or print the image as an 8x11 inch print. Does it look soft at that
>>size? It shouldn't.
>
>
> I had a theory that it perhaps was my monitor. What tipped me off was that
> certain diagonal lines were jagged at one zoom level, but looked correct at
> the next one in. I tried different monitor resolutions and got different
> results. I have a 19" monitor, with not the greatest dot pitch, and I was
> working at 1024 x 768. Once I chanmged it to a higher res, the images looked
> somewhat sharper, but still not great. So, I took them into work, where I
> have a decent monitor. Much better, but still not what I expected.
> Fortunately, there is a Kinko's in the building, so I chose one shot, and
> printed an 8 x 10 ($5.00, but I needed to know...) You are right- the print
> was very sharp- maybe even a little too sharp- and this was without any
> processing at all. Basically, I am afraid that what i really need is a new
> monitor. Anyway, there appeared to a few small digital artifacts in what was
> probably an overexposed area. Not speckles exactly, but probably in the same
> family. Does that make sense that this would happen in an overexposed area?
> (It was the top of my cat's head, which has some white, and it was in
> sunlight with details blown out. The whole shot ran the gamut from dark
> shadow to bright white.)
>
>>>The shots do compare very favorably to some 2MP
>>>shots I tried with a cheapo camera in that I can zoom in on them much
>>>further (the only way I know to compare detail and sharpness)
>>
>>Do note that going from 2 MP to 5 MP only gives you 1.6X more
>>useful resolution. It ought to have more detail, but not 2X more.
>
>
> I went with more MP primarily to be able to print large, so I think I'm okay
> in that area, at least that's how I undertsand it.
>
>
>>>and of course
>>>the overall size is much larger (shooting max size). The detail seems to
>
> be
>
>>>there (at least by comparison). I tried shooting in superfine vs fine (at
>>>ISO 50), but I really don't see a difference. I've tried many modes and
>>>settings in different conditions, and nothing is as sharp as I would
>
> like.
>
>>>Also true for macro shots. So, again, am I expecting too much, or is
>
> fixing
>
>>>it on the desktop the common scenario? Thanks.
>>
>>Sounds like your old camera simply did more sharpening in-camera by
>>default. But you *want* to do the final sharpening on the desktop
>>because it gives you more control.
>>
>>I have an A80 (the A95's predecessor) and I leave it set to "low
>>sharpening" all the time.
>>
>
>
> I found a "low sharpening" setting in amongst other effects, such as sepia,
> high contrast, and the like. Is this the one you are referring to?
>
> Thanks again!
>
>
Some cameras do tend to oversharpen.
On the subject of monitors. A couple of years ago I visited my brother
in law in Kansas and took some pictures there, and was looking at them
on his computer. They looked TERRIBLE. I worried that my camera was
broken until I got home and saw them on my monitor, and they were fine.
Shortly thereafter, he replaced his computer and monitor with a faster
model, and an LCD monitor. The next trip produced nice looking pictures
on his monitor. It can certainly make a major difference.


--
Ron Hunter rphunter@charter.net
April 19, 2005 3:47:00 AM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

Joe,

Thanks for the suggestions. I had tried those already. Turns out that the
problem is probably that my monitor isn't as good as the camera. You can
read my response to Dave's reply. Thanks again.


"Joseph Meehan" <sligojoe_Spamno@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:gVM8e.6742$0d6.3680@tornado.ohiordc.rr.com...
> Alan wrote:
> > I am new to digital photography. After much research, I determined
> > that the Canon a95 (5MP) was the best camera for me in my price
> > range. The main problem I am having is that the pictures aren't sharp
> > enough, or at least they are not as sharp as I think they should be -
> > even the "in focus" ones :)  Am I spoiled by looking at shots from
> > 8+ MP cameras on the web and in magazines? Am I expecting too much,
> > or is it common to need to do enhancement on the desktop? The shots
> > do compare very favorably to some 2MP shots I tried with a cheapo
> > camera in that I can zoom in on them much further (the only way I
> > know to compare detail and sharpness), and of course the overall size
> > is much larger (shooting max size). The detail seems to be there (at
> > least by comparison). I tried shooting in superfine vs fine (at ISO
> > 50), but I really don't see a difference. I've tried many modes and
> > settings in different conditions, and nothing is as sharp as I would
> > like. Also true for macro shots. So, again, am I expecting too much,
> > or is fixing it on the desktop the common scenario? Thanks.
>
> Just for fun, try a few photos using a tripod or at least outside in
sun
> with the camera held steady on something solid like a large rock.
>
> --
> Joseph Meehan
>
> Dia's Muire duit
>
>
April 19, 2005 4:10:17 AM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

Alan wrote:
> Dave,
>
> First, thanks much for your anwers. They were a big help. My responses
> in-line below.
>
>
> "Dave Martindale" <davem@cs.ubc.ca> wrote in message
> news:D 40lj1$7il$1@mughi.cs.ubc.ca...
>
>>"Alan" <not.me@uhuh.rcn.com> writes:
>>
>>>I am new to digital photography. After much research, I determined that
>
> the
>
>>>Canon a95 (5MP) was the best camera for me in my price range. The main
>>>problem I am having is that the pictures aren't sharp enough, or at least
>>>they are not as sharp as I think they should be - even the "in focus"
>
> ones
>
>>>:)  Am I spoiled by looking at shots from 8+ MP cameras on the web and
>
> in
>
>>>magazines? Am I expecting too much, or is it common to need to do
>>>enhancement on the desktop?
>>
>>First, likely every single image you see in a magazine has had some
>>processing done to it, probably including sharpening. If you want your
>>images to look like that, you may have to do some processing yourself.
>
>
> Understood- thanks. Kind of what I suspected, but processing is part of the
> fun.
>
>
>>Second, what size are you looking at the images? A 5 MP image viewed at
>>100% (one screen pixel per image pixel) will look somewhat soft, but
>>you're examining a tiny portion of the image. If you downsample the
>>image to fill your screen at 1 megapixel or so, the image should look a
>>lot sharper at that size. (Beware of viewing a 5 MP image without
>>downsampling it - many viewing programs do "quick and dirty" resizing
>>with poor quality results under these conditions).
>
>
> I was using MS Photo Editor. I zoomed in and out. Of course smaller was
> better, and I could zoom in quite a bit until the detail started to go.
>
>
>>Or print the image as an 8x11 inch print. Does it look soft at that
>>size? It shouldn't.
>
>
> I had a theory that it perhaps was my monitor. What tipped me off was that
> certain diagonal lines were jagged at one zoom level, but looked correct at
> the next one in. I tried different monitor resolutions and got different
> results. I have a 19" monitor, with not the greatest dot pitch, and I was
> working at 1024 x 768. Once I chanmged it to a higher res, the images looked
> somewhat sharper, but still not great. So, I took them into work, where I
> have a decent monitor. Much better, but still not what I expected.
> Fortunately, there is a Kinko's in the building, so I chose one shot, and
> printed an 8 x 10 ($5.00, but I needed to know...) You are right- the print
> was very sharp- maybe even a little too sharp- and this was without any
> processing at all. Basically, I am afraid that what i really need is a new
> monitor. Anyway, there appeared to a few small digital artifacts in what was
> probably an overexposed area. Not speckles exactly, but probably in the same
> family. Does that make sense that this would happen in an overexposed area?
> (It was the top of my cat's head, which has some white, and it was in
> sunlight with details blown out. The whole shot ran the gamut from dark
> shadow to bright white.)
>
>>>The shots do compare very favorably to some 2MP
>>>shots I tried with a cheapo camera in that I can zoom in on them much
>>>further (the only way I know to compare detail and sharpness)
>>
>>Do note that going from 2 MP to 5 MP only gives you 1.6X more
>>useful resolution. It ought to have more detail, but not 2X more.
>
>
> I went with more MP primarily to be able to print large, so I think I'm okay
> in that area, at least that's how I undertsand it.
>
>
>>>and of course
>>>the overall size is much larger (shooting max size). The detail seems to
>
> be
>
>>>there (at least by comparison). I tried shooting in superfine vs fine (at
>>>ISO 50), but I really don't see a difference. I've tried many modes and
>>>settings in different conditions, and nothing is as sharp as I would
>
> like.
>
>>>Also true for macro shots. So, again, am I expecting too much, or is
>
> fixing
>
>>>it on the desktop the common scenario? Thanks.
>>
>>Sounds like your old camera simply did more sharpening in-camera by
>>default. But you *want* to do the final sharpening on the desktop
>>because it gives you more control.
>>
>>I have an A80 (the A95's predecessor) and I leave it set to "low
>>sharpening" all the time.
>>
>
>
> I found a "low sharpening" setting in amongst other effects, such as sepia,
> high contrast, and the like. Is this the one you are referring to?
>
> Thanks again!


As Dave said, the dagged dialong lines are caused by quick resize which
is used in many programs, including Photoshop.
April 19, 2005 6:44:43 AM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

>
> As Dave said, the dagged dialong lines are caused by quick resize which
> is used in many programs, including Photoshop.

Thanks for the confirmation. It was a bit unnerving at first. It's good to
know that this is a known non-issue issue.
April 19, 2005 6:47:32 AM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

> >
> Some cameras do tend to oversharpen.
> On the subject of monitors. A couple of years ago I visited my brother
> in law in Kansas and took some pictures there, and was looking at them
> on his computer. They looked TERRIBLE. I worried that my camera was
> broken until I got home and saw them on my monitor, and they were fine.
> Shortly thereafter, he replaced his computer and monitor with a faster
> model, and an LCD monitor. The next trip produced nice looking pictures
> on his monitor. It can certainly make a major difference.
>

Thanks for the info. I feel better about this now.
Anonymous
April 20, 2005 11:27:56 AM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

"Alan" <not.me@uhuh.rcn.com> writes:

>I had a theory that it perhaps was my monitor. What tipped me off was that
>certain diagonal lines were jagged at one zoom level, but looked correct at
>the next one in. I tried different monitor resolutions and got different
>results.

That's one of the telltale signs that your image viewing program is
downsampling by simply selecting every Nth row and column of the input
image, rather than properly filtering it to the viewing size. It's
quick, but it gives jagged edges and enhances noise to an unrealistic
level.

Even Photoshop sometimes does this, but it's not consistent - if
you have the "image cache" turned on, it automatically prepares
pre-reduced images at several different resolutions, and these are
properly downsized. But when you're viewing the image, you may get one
of these or a quick-and-dirty resizing. If you don't know how to tell
them apart, and don't know Photoshop is doing this behind the scenes, it
can be very confusing.

On the other hand, if you use something like Irfanview to view your
images, and have it set to use "resampling" all the time, you get a nice
clean image at all sizes. That's why it's my default image viewer.
It's slower than quick-and-dirty, but it's *correct*.

>> I have an A80 (the A95's predecessor) and I leave it set to "low
>> sharpening" all the time.

>I found a "low sharpening" setting in amongst other effects, such as sepia,
>high contrast, and the like. Is this the one you are referring to?

That's it. I have no use for the other "special effect" modes, since
they're all better done on a computer after the fact, but low sharpening
is selected all the time.

Dave
!