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How to get sharper images?

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by 369, Jul 31, 2011.

  1. 369

    369 Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 10, 2010

    I have had the ep-1 for a year now and I feel I have not learned how to get sharper images with the kit lens? What I have learned so far is by reading forum and self educating, but I think my basics are not right. I use P mode and sometimes A mode.

    I feel the images are not as sharp as it can get or samples I have seen with the kit lens. So how do I learn how to get sharp images.

    There is no help or beginners thread so I thought I would post here since it's native lens.

    Mods please move it to the appropriate section if this is another the right place.
  2. BruPri

    BruPri Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 13, 2010
    Could be motion blur, do you use IS and if so, what focal length is it set at?
  3. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    Quite a few people use software in post processing to increase sharpness too....Sounds to me like you're trying to increase sharpness in your Straight Out Of Camera shots...
  4. Mellow

    Mellow Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 27, 2010
    Florida or Idaho
    Well, here's my $0.02, as someone who's struggled with this in the past too:

    (1) Learn how to minimize shake when holding the camera. I've found that if I really concentrate and try to use any available objects to stabilize myself, I can make a real difference in sharpness;

    (2) If you struggle with holding the camera still, favor higher ISO over slower shutter speed;

    (3) Make absolutely sure you're focusing on what you want to be focusing on. This is really most of my problem, and it's not also easy with the PENs because the focus box is so large. Also a problem with manual legacy lenses.
  5. Do you have a comparable baseline of what you consider to be a sharp image? Maybe posting a real-size crop of an image taken by your camera and lens will help, including what shutter speed, ISO, focal length, aperture setting you were using. An image of a flat, detailed surface is always your friend when testing sharpness. That eliminates focusing on the wrong object and removes the variable of depth-of-field. Brick walls are a favourite of pixel peepers.
  6. WT21

    WT21 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Feb 19, 2010
    as Luckypenguin noted: Samples always help!
  7. Pelao

    Pelao Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 3, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    I agree with the other points and questions. Samples are especially helpful

    Also, when do you notice the lack of sharpness: when looking at 100%, or in the finished photograph?
  8. squeegee

    squeegee Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 26, 2010
    I've found the best way to get a sharp image is to....

    1) use a tripod (or a desk or some non-hand-held surface). Everyone seems to go on about lens and sensors, very few people go on and on about tripods. Okay admittedly tripods don't work so well for fast moving objects (you could try a monopod though or just use 1 of the tripod legs). You may be surprised at what difference a tripod makes, even if you compare it to a fast shutter speed of say 1/1500... but then again maybe that's just me with shakey hands. I've gotten into the habit of not holding my camera when ever possible, I'll find any flat surface, and just put my camera down on it.

    2) timer release. Even with a tripod or a table top, to get the best out of it I put it on 2 second shutter delay so me pressing the button doesn't jiggle the camera.

    3) use aperture mode and know the sharpness sweet spot for the lens. Have a look at some of the lens review graphs or what ever, as an example with the kit zoom Olympus E-P1 Review: 22. Lens tests: Digital Photography Review you can look at different focal lengths and see what aperture is sharpest. Quite often it's not the widest aperture. I don't have the kit zoom, I've got the kit 17mm. For the 17mm I just remember if I want sharpness to keep it between 3.5 and 5.0. If I ever use 2.8 I know the images will be a little fuzzy.

    anyways that's my thoughts.
    • Like Like x 1
  9. Lauzers

    Lauzers Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 6, 2011
    as photography is all about light, are you getting enough light for your subject? try taking the same shot in Auto mode and see if it corrects the blur/sharpness. If so, look at the details and see what the camera set the aperture, shutter speed and iso are on.

    i think photography is all experience, through trial and error, your can determine what settings to dial at the given condition.

    - thanks
  10. squeegee

    squeegee Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 26, 2010
    to further my comment about aperture being something to be aware of... there's an article that just came out recently with measurements on the kit zoom.

    Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 MkII Lens Review

    have a look at the sharpness charts and just be aware of which aperture you're using so you can make an informed decision as to whether your priority is sharpness or field of view...
    • Like Like x 3
  11. kytra

    kytra Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 28, 2011
    IMO there are a few things that should give you sharp images, and you should try to observe as many as possible when taking a pic:

    1. exact focus - one should look for critical sharpness only in the plane of focus so pay attention to it
    2. exposure time (especially for moving subjects and also to counteract camera shake) - usually above 1/250 sec you'll get sharp images (providing bullet 1 above is checked). For static subjects the rule of thumb is 1/focal lenght
    3. steadiness of hand/use of antishake (effective mainly for static or slow moving objects). The best solution for landscapes/static objects is use of tripod with timed exposure
    4. low ISO (usually below 400-800, but that depends on the sensor capabilities also) - the higher the ISO the greater the noise thus less sharp images

    There is also:

    5. de-noising/sharpening alghoritms (in-camera or post processing) - do not count on these to give you a drematically sharper result, they will just enhance a bit the images, especially the ones taken with higher iso.
  12. 369

    369 Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 10, 2010
    Yes I do use IS but I have not idea what focal length it is set at. I just use IS1 from the available options.
  13. Hikari

    Hikari Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 26, 2010
    Can we have a some samples of what you are talking about?

    BTW, when using native m4/3 lenses with IS, the camera sets the focal length automatically.
  14. DiskMan101

    DiskMan101 Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 30, 2011
    Kansas City
    I noticed the same thing, lack of 'focus' when taking scenic shots. I did a lot of the things everyone here is talking about... using a stable shooting platform, using higher ISO (didn't like that much), and turning OFF image stabilizing, etc.

    Here's what I've learned from trial and error. After all the other conditions are met (stabilization, low ISO, IS off, etc.) bumping up the aperture does wonders! I've messed around with some manual lenses (Minolta) with large apertures and the difference is noticeable. I run them at about F2-3ish.

    Last but not least, don't expect 35mm film performance. I have a $50 Kodak that can smoke the top of the line PEN.
  15. 369

    369 Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 10, 2010
    I think the charts helps to understand the lens capabilities in different aperture range.

    I will try to find some pics and post it so to give you guys a better understanding.

    I am asking this purely from a point where I see images here in this forum as well as others and find that the pics are much sharper using the same equipment that I use then why am I not getting the same results.

    I think its most definitely a user error than anything else, that why I am trying to learn to omit those errors.
  16. DiskMan101

    DiskMan101 Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 30, 2011
    Kansas City
    @369 I don't think it's just an issue with the lens and the aperture, I really think there's an issue with the camera... firmware/hardware, not certain. I can toss on the standard kit lens, mount the camera, and snap pic after pic. Some will be perfect, others fuzzy lacking resolution. Trust me, I've tried it one day on the back deck trying to see if there was a pattern to the problem.

    I tend to have much better results with older manual lens with large apertures usually in the F2-F3 range. I did a search about it later and found out a LOT of people were having similar issues:

    Example - Re: E-PL1 blurry photos: Micro Four Thirds Talk Forum: Digital Photography Review
  17. squeegee

    squeegee Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 26, 2010
    do you have any other lens other than the 14-42 version 1?

    There was the reported problem with the original 14-42 version 1, lens where the shutter closing actually caused the front lens element to shake because of the multiple extending barrels - which caused blur. Unfortunately the solution to this is to buy the newer lens...

    I have an e-p1 and the 17mm and I can say I get consistent results with that, i.e. consistently unsharp or consistently-some-what-sharp.
  18. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    I'm going to call BS on this one.

    This was absolutely true when digital first came out, but digital surpassed film in just about every technical sense a few years ago.
    • Like Like x 1
  19. Hikari

    Hikari Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 26, 2010
    Me too. Film still can have more dynamic range.
  20. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    Agreed. It CAN have more if you know how to exploit it.
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