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E-PL1 blurred photo advice

Discussion in 'Creative Corner' started by invalidopcode, Jun 9, 2010.

  1. invalidopcode

    invalidopcode New to Mu-43

    Jun 9, 2010
    I am not getting the great pictures that everybody else seems to be getting using the E-PL1 and was wondering on advice or tips on what is wrong.

    I am trying to use as much automation as possible with the camera to make it easier for me (and my wife). I understand that the *best* pictures are taken when you tinker with all of the settings. I am looking for what best modes (iAuto, SCN, P, A, etc.) I can use in typical situations.

    For instance, in this picture, the ceiling lights are on the in the room. The curtains are all open on the right of the frame where you cannot see unless you look at the reflection in the glass. I put the camera on iAuto, it focused on the faces, and took the picture. However, the image is quite blurry.

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    I can use iB to sharpen it somewhat but my girl on the right still stays blurred with that post processing.

    I did not think that this scene should be a problem for the E-PL1 AF and iAuto system.

    [edit: fixed the link to the thumbnail]
  2. BBW

    BBW Super Moderator Emeritus

    First of all let me just say that they are incredibly cute and the happiest babies I've ever seen!:2thumbs:

    Second, if you haven't read this thread yet about posting images https://www.mu-43.com/f77/how-post-images-forum-threads-316/ it is very helpful. Since you have the image in your gallery, you can use the "My Photos" section just below the "smilies" when you use the Advanced Reply method to edit your post and click on "Insert" and that way your photo will show up right here.

    I'm going to wait and let someone else address your technical questions regarding the blurriness issue because there are a number of issues in question and I don't know much about the iAuto mode.

    Hang in here...you'll get help, I promise!
  3. ajramirez

    ajramirez Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 16, 2010
    Caguas, Puerto Rico
    It looks to me like the camera focused on the left foot bootie on the baby on the left. Depth of field was not enough for the babies' faces to be in focus.

    The way I have my camera set up, I use the center point for autofocus. I would place the point over the subject's eye, lock focus and recompose. Another way would be to use face detection.

    Hope this helps.

    • Like Like x 1
  4. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    I was trying to look at the EXIF data, but there wasn't any in the picture.

    What was the recorded ISO, aperature, focal length, shutterspeed of the photo?
  5. BBW

    BBW Super Moderator Emeritus

    I think Antonio (ajramirez) is right on the mark about what happened. The issue here is that invalido says he had the camera on iAuto...if you go into the gallery and click on EXIF it does give some info P4230402 - Mu-43 Gallery

    It would be difficult, I believe, to have enough depth of field to allow the whole of these two little girls to be in focus at f/3.5 even though I know f stops and depth of field on the micro four thirds might not be the same as on a full sized camera.

    Invalidopcode, you might find this thread helpful if you're not that familiar with "depth of field" https://www.mu-43.com/f35/dof-depth-field-499/. I don't want to write anymore because I'm not quite sure if you are knowledgeable about "DOF" or not. Basically certain f stops allow certain parts of the image in your field of view via the camera to be in focus. The larger the number the smaller the hole that lets the light in and the greater the depth of field.

    There are quite a few very helpful threads in this forum regarding "how to", though not specific to any particular brand of camera. One that springs to mind is this Landscape/Portrait/Action/ Any Rule of Thumb? you might want to read through it and see if you find it helpful and if you have any questions from that thread be sure to ask away over there. Meanwhile, we're here for you, so please don't hesitate to ask for clarification, etc.:thumbup:
  6. mauve

    mauve Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 9, 2010
    Paris, France
    With IBIS at 14 mm, you can close 2 stops and get down to 1/15th a sec. easily. But then you would get subject motion blur. I think lighting was suboptimal to begin with. The babies might have been better lit by the window, closer and light coming 3/4 from face instead at 90° from camera. Then there's the focus point problem, IMO nothing beats centre point focus + lock, in spite of what marketing puppets are force feeding us as 'better' multi-point pseudo-intelligent focusing. Focus first on your subject, then frame. Don't let a machine decide what's important to you.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. bilzmale

    bilzmale Mu-43 All-Pro

    The main problem as I see it is the slow shutter 1/60 sec. Even with IBIS there is some camera shake here. Using the flash would help a lot. The kit lens os not optically fast at f/3.5 and you wouldn't want to go much above ISO 800.

    A lens like the Panny 20mm f/1.7 would cope better in low light but the cheapest option is to turn on the flash.
  8. Brian Mosley

    Brian Mosley Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    I agree, gorgeous babies... and unfortunately front focused slightly. I'd go with either face detection or spot focus on the eyes.

    Practice practice practice! :smile: be aware of where your natural light is coming from and position yourself and subjects to make the most of it.


  9. mauve

    mauve Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 9, 2010
    Paris, France
    I disagree ; when you hover the magnifier over the foot in focus, you see the fabric is detailed to the pixel level, which is impossible to achieve if there is the slightest hint of camera shake. But there is subject motion L2R in the face of the right hand side girl, and your advices (faster lens, flash) would take care of that.
  10. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    After looking at the picture more closely, I tend to agree with Mauve in that it might be a focus issue. However, looking at the babies faces and head, it doesn't really appear that it to be OOF as much as what I typically see as very minimal camera shake or subject movement. I think 1/60s should be plenty fast enough.
  11. invalidopcode

    invalidopcode New to Mu-43

    Jun 9, 2010
    So if I am to understand what everybody is saying, there are several issues with this image and workarounds...

    Problem 1:
    The AF on the camera focused on the babies foot rather than on the face.

    One suggestion was to use face recognition. I thought this was happening since the LCD showed the white boxes around the babies faces when I took the picture. Does the "Single AF" value in "Focus Mode" in the EXIF mean that it did not use the facial focusing?

    Another suggestion was to change the focus to use point focus [rather than the default grid pattern] and center on the face. This is how I used to do it with my old Canon A640 P&S. Do I need to take the camera out of iAuto and put it into P Mode to do this. I guess I'll go back and read through the manual again to figure out the combinations.

    Problem 2:
    DOF was so small that focusing on the foot caused the faces to be blurry.

    I need to "convince" the camera to increase the DOF. Am I right in assuming that it chose to use the maximum f-stop because there was not enough light for the camera sensor/lense? The easiest solution would be to use the flash next time or improve the lighting in the room/scene.

    I did unzoom the camera to make sure I did not lose light because of focal length so I at least was aware of getting as much light as possible.

    I guess if the DOF was larger, the picture would have been ok since the babies faces are such a short distance from their little piggies.

    Problems 3:
    Right side baby's foot is blurry.

    I take that because there was not enough light reaching the sensor, the shutter speed was so slow we got motion blur. So the fix would be to use the flash or make sure there is more light in the scene/room.

    So here is a photo from the same session, but this time with the flash on. The problem is that the flash mezmorizes the babies and they stop doing whatever they do - including laughing hilariously! :( 

    Hmmm, looking at the EXIF, it is using the same shutter speed, F3.5, and focus mode. So what is different, the spot it actually focused on?

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    Thanks for all the help and suggestions.

    Jeff (aka. InvalidOpcode)
    • Like Like x 1
  12. mauve

    mauve Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 9, 2010
    Paris, France
    Basically, yes, you're right, that sums up the discussion.

    Just one thing to consider : light hitting a surface decrease by an amount that's the square of the distance between light source and subject. That's a *huge* regression. But lighting is *not* affected by distance between camera and subject. You can be (almost) as far as you want from the subject provided said subject has got enough light. So you could (room size permitting) back off a bit and bring the focal to 25 ~ 35 for a more natural perspective (and avoid distorting the heads' shapes).

    So next time, move your subject *closer* to the window (light source). You can easily win 2 stops by moving your subject 50 cm closer. Try for yourself !


  13. BBW

    BBW Super Moderator Emeritus

    And you might want to experiment on one set scene trying out using the camera in Aperture priority mode, setting the ISO to Auto, using the center point, and seeing what combinations of shutter speed you get with which aperture. Sometimes it works out just right, sometimes you need to change things even if it is a static scene, let along a moving portrait of two little girls with their wiggling "piggies". Love that term, too.

    You can easily change the aperture on the E-PL1 fast with that little plus minus button...and see how it will change the shutter speed, but keeping in mind your need for depth of field. I think that the more you just go out and use this camera, you'll get the hang of it pretty quickly but it does help to take some time to experiment to get to know it. For example some types of pictures are going to be more about moving objects - as in your two little girls when they start to run:wink: so that you can catch them, so you might use Shutter priority or put it on Scene mode for children and pets or sports...
  14. invalidopcode

    invalidopcode New to Mu-43

    Jun 9, 2010
    An interesting observation is that in the blurry picture, the iB software can only find the babies face on the left. Same thing if I put the high res picture on my computer monitor and have the camera focus on the image on the monitor. The camera finds the left face but not the right.

    On the flash picture, both iB and the camera looking at the computer monitor can find both faces.

    So maybe finding only the face on the left confused the focusing system in the camera, making the matters worse.

    In any event, thanks again for all the information and help. Next time the babies are in a good mood like that I'll try the scene again!
    • Like Like x 1
  15. BBW

    BBW Super Moderator Emeritus

    Thanks invalidopcode and good luck - please let us know how it goes, too.

    I'm not familiar with that software you're using. I use Aperture 3 (on a Mac), while many here use Lightroom, Lightzone, etc. Everyone tends to love their own. If you get interested in any check out the software forum. Meanwhile, happy shooting of those two darlings!
  16. mauve

    mauve Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 9, 2010
    Paris, France
    Ok, I thought this out and edited your image a bit. I can post the result of my ramblings here or to you directly if you wish to see what I came up to (obviously, I couldn't do much about the focus).

    Basically, I corrected your WB for more natural flesh tones, and tweaked optical geometry to simulate a longer focal for improved perspectives.

    So if you're interested to see it, let me know, I'll inline the edited image here.
  17. goldenlight

    goldenlight Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 30, 2010
    This is more complex than it first appears.

    The first point I note is that from the Exif the shutter speed and aperture were the same in each photo, 1/60th @ f3.5. Depth of field, both front and back seems the same so it is not a focusing issue and even f3.5 at 14mm should have had sufficient DOF provided focus was on the faces.

    I think most of the blur is subject movement, I bet those little darlings were moving the whole time and 1/60th at close range won't freeze that. However, it also seems there is just a touch of camera shake as well, perhaps a sudden, involuntary jerk as the shutter was quickly pressed to capture the moment? IS is good but it doesn't perform miracles and we have to appreciate that lightweight :43: cameras lack the heft and bulk which gives DSLRs a bit of inertia when the button is pressed.

    The decision to use natural light in preference to flash was a good one, it gives a much nicer soft illumination and more atmosphere. In my view it would have been worth the trade off to have increased the ISO from 800 to 1600 to get a faster shutter speed or, better still, next time set them up nearer a window to get more of that lovely light.

    Also, practice pressing the shutter release. Make sure you are standing or kneeling in a stable position and well balanced. Concentrate on keeping your arms rigid and steady as you press the release - photographing with outstretched arms while viewing the screen is inherantly less stable than holding a DSLR to your eye. Hold your breath as you gently press the shutter release with the minimum pressure necessary and in marginal situations such as this hold that button down while you take a burst of frames - the more you have the better the chance of a sharp one, both from the point of view of camera and subject movement.

    Despite the natural light version being disappointing you do have a lovely flash shot and plenty of opportunity to try again. Good luck. :smile:
    • Like Like x 1
  18. invalidopcode

    invalidopcode New to Mu-43

    Jun 9, 2010
    The babies were doing their first belly laughs so they were moving back and forth laughing hysterically.

    I did stabilize my arms/elbows on the back of a chair but perhaps you are right that my hands moved a slight bit when I pushed the trigger. :frown:

    I do like the pictures with the natural light but I need to do something about the yellow/orange tint to the ceiling lights. This is the first camera we owned that really showed just how bad the spectrum is for our overhead lights.

    Again, to all that have been following this thread and helping out, I thank you. My kids will thank you 20 years from now when they look at all of their baby pictures and can actually make out the details!

    BTW, the ib software is the Windows application that comes with the camera to download, organize, and edit the images.
  19. BBW

    BBW Super Moderator Emeritus

    Did you or have you tried the White Balance control on the camera? It can be a big help, and/or your post processing software should have a white balance correction...but next time try the camera's controls and see if you think it helps while you are looking through the viewfinder or at the LCD...if you haven't already.

    I don't know anything about that software but it might behoove you to consider a different type. You could check out the Software forum and start a new thread or add to one...which ever is appropriate. Just a thought.

    By the way, I love your description of the scene with your daughters!
  20. angloasturian

    angloasturian Mu-43 Veteran

    I don't know anything about that software but it might behoove you to consider a different type.

    Wow BB, I haven't seen that word used for years and years
    • Like Like x 1
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