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Author Topic: Canon 18-55mm IS for lanscapes?  (Read 11231 times)
Bella
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« on: March 02, 2008, 04:30:47 PM »
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Hi,

I am wondering if any of you awesome landscape photographers can help me with a lens question please?

I bought a Canon 18-55mm IS lens a couple of months ago for a vacation. Our photography mostly revolves around birding, using a canon 20D and a 400D (xti) but the Island where we stayed is extremely beautiful, so we bought the 18-55mm IS for some landscape shots. It seemed to get decent reviews, and it was cheap.

I did some basic testing before we left, and it is a sharp copy, especially stopped down .It brought up really wonderful detail on subjects such as flowers, buildings and statues, for example, corner to corner.

However during my vacation, I was disappointed with basically all of my landscape pictures. Closeups were fine, but anything wide and `landscape-ish'  looked kind of bad. I managed to get reasonably good sky and water colors from using a CPL, this also  resulted in softness as well as some difficulties with keeping the polariser in the right position (the front of the lens rotates during AF).

I tried a variety of f stops, from f/11 tp f/22, and kept the camera low, on a tripod. Still, the pictures seemed to be lacking any kind of `wow' qualities, even the ones which were composed well. A lot were inexplicably softish, and the contrast and clarity was not really there.

I've ordered a tamron 17-35mm f/2.8 which will arrive tomorrow, to basically help work out what's wrong with my landscape photos. I'll sell one of them afterwards.

I guess what I'm hoping for is any suggestions, and to know whether you think the 18-55mm lens lacking `something'?

Thanks so much for hearing me out, lol. Its good to know there are forums like this one on the net:)
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DarkPenguin
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« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2008, 04:36:50 PM »
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Did you get the lens hood for the 18-55IS?  If not you could have some (veil) flare issues.

Also, on the 400D I find you do not want to go much beyond f11.  By the time you hit f22 you're deep into diffraction city.

If you have samples images of what you're seeing that would probably help.
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Bella
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« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2008, 05:14:47 PM »
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Thanks so much for replying Dp,

Yes, I do believe these were shot on the 400D mostly, as the tele lens was on the 20D most of the time. If you have a spare moment, would you mind checking out some of these? They are some of the pics I took, none of which quite worked out. DOP was around F/16 - F/18 mostly.

http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y186/OzHo.../landscape6.jpg

http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y186/OzHo.../landscape5.jpg

http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y186/OzHo.../landscape4.jpg

http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y186/OzHo.../landscape3.jpg

http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y186/OzHo.../landscape2.jpg

EDIT: The pic below is a flower shot using this lens at F/14 on the 20D, at 49mm

http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y186/OzHo...TUFF/FLOWER.jpg
« Last Edit: March 02, 2008, 05:27:53 PM by Bella » Logged
DarkPenguin
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« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2008, 06:41:02 PM »
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Hard to tell at those sizes.  But you are running up into the realm of diminishing returns.  Compare the lens at f8 or f11 with f16 or f22.  You gain DOF but the sharpness will suffer.
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Bella
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« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2008, 06:57:01 PM »
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Dp, Is that the case with most lenses on a crop body, or do you think I could squeeze better sharpness out of the 20D stopped down?
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DarkPenguin
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« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2008, 07:27:20 PM »
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The 20D's pixels are bigger so you should be able to stop the lens down more.   The sweet spot for the 400D was smaller than my 20D.  I was willing to stop down one or more stops with the 20D compared to the 400D.

I don't recall if you indicated you were using a lens hood or not.  Not sure it would matter in all images but if the sun is hitting the from element directly you could also be suffering from veil flare which would reduce contrast.
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Panopeeper
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« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2008, 07:28:47 PM »
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I don't have the 18-55mm but it has the reputation of a cheapo lens. You get what you paid for. Do you think the EF-S 17-55mm costs four times as much only for the 1 stop and 1mm extra?

As for the diffraction limit: the 20D's pixel sites are a bit larger than those of the 400D's, so the diffraction cases somewhat less problem, but that won't help you (the effect is visible from f/13). The resolution of the 18-55mm is simply not good enough, and nothing helps on that.
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Gabor
Bella
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« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2008, 07:57:49 PM »
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Thanks once again DP, and also thanks to you too Panopeeper

The 18-55mm IS lens is optically different to infamous 18-55mm kit lens, which is a truly average lens IMO. Its just too soft to do anything with it.

The photozone review  of the IS version is glowing, and it is certainly sharper than the kit lens.

Dp, I didn't use a hood; that is a good point. It could definitely explain some of my problems with poor contrast. The tamron comes with a hood included, fortunately. It is compared favorably with the 17-40L, so I am looking forward to trying it out.

Also, thanks so much for the info on the 20D versus the 40D. I find that really incredible, and interesting.
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mahleu
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« Reply #8 on: March 03, 2008, 03:08:22 AM »
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Did you have the IS turned on? If the lens doesn't realise it's on a tripod then the IS can continue to try and correct throughout your exposure. Were your exposures longer than 1/8 of a second?
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NikoJorj
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« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2008, 04:25:49 AM »
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Quote
I tried a variety of f stops, from f/11 tp f/22, and kept the camera low, on a tripod. Still, the pictures seemed to be lacking any kind of `wow' qualities, even the ones which were composed well. A lot were inexplicably softish, and the contrast and clarity was not really there.
[{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

As said, f/22 is in the diffraction territory, and I even see it on my 300d (bigger pixels as the 20d). You can read a nice illustration (see the purple cloth) and explanation of the phenomenon [a href=\"http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/diffraction-photography.htm]on this page for the 20d[/url]. As you will read, the phenomenon is physical, depending mainly from the pixel size, and you won't see a world of difference between 8 and 10 MP on this matter (may be about a third or half stop).
To be on a safe side, think of f/8 as the optimum aperture relative to sharpness.
See also this page about the interaction between diffraction and depth of field, and how they collide.


I can't judge sharpness on the little images, but I'd say they would need some tonal editing (exposure/contrast) to get a bit of the wow factor back.
That would also help for contrast/clarity, which is typically something you fix in post-processing imho (if you capture it flat, you'll have more headroom for editing without oversaturating anything).
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Nicolas from Grenoble
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kitalight
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« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2008, 07:37:38 PM »
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I just got the new IS kit and saw your post so wanted to give some more feedback..here's my standard nature test site...shot out from my front door...
full frame...iso 320 18mm @ 5.6

100% crop with USM 200/.3/0
« Last Edit: May 12, 2008, 07:41:44 PM by kitalight » Logged
DarkPenguin
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« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2008, 10:24:36 PM »
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I've been playing with a copy of the 18-55IS.  I'm reasonably impressed.  It isn't as good as the tamron 17-50 or canon 17-55IS BUT it is just fine.  It is also so light that on a relatively heavy body like the 40D it is a really stable setup.
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Bill in WV
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« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2008, 11:05:46 PM »
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I don't have the 18-55mm but it has the reputation of a cheapo lens. You get what you paid for. Do you think the EF-S 17-55mm costs four times as much only for the 1 stop and 1mm extra?

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=178754\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Hi Panopeeper,

I skipped over the kit lenses, buying my 30D and the 17-40L. You just gotta love that lens. It's inexpensive for an L lens but very sharp and contrasty. I later added several more (to me) lenses in the way of the 17-85IS, the 70-300IS, but all these are f3.5 or slower. I really wanted the f2.8 and the reports of the 17-55IS 2.8 were just too much for me to resist.

It is very sharp! Definately on a par with the 17-40L 4.0; construction is very solid and it has a very smooth action, almost identical the the L lens; and it is a constant f2.8. With any of the others your maximum aperture grows, the 17-85 IS for instance is 4.0/5.6. The larger aperture gives brighter viewing, and I think faster focusing. It only has two minor drawbacks, the first is the price, it is expensive (to me, again) but you only cry once when you buy really good stuff, and the other thing is, it is HEAVY. But it just feels like a higher quality instrument.

So at least in my opinion, you get a lot more than 1 stop and 1mm extra, a lot more. It is a totally different catagory of instrument than the $100-$200 kit lenses, and well worth the money.

By the way, I still like the 17-85 IS, it is still one of the best walk around lenses of the EF-S line and I think the most maligned lens of the Canon line. Again, just my opinion, YMMV.

Bill in WV
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Bill Evans

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kitalight
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« Reply #13 on: May 15, 2008, 12:27:42 PM »
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I don't have the 18-55mm but it has the reputation of a cheapo lens. You get what you paid for. Do you think the EF-S 17-55mm costs four times as much only for the 1 stop and 1mm extra?

As for the diffraction limit: the 20D's pixel sites are a bit larger than those of the 400D's, so the diffraction cases somewhat less problem, but that won't help you (the effect is visible from f/13). The resolution of the 18-55mm is simply not good enough, and nothing helps on that.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=178754\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

When shooting landscapes, you're going to stop the aperture down to F8-11ish with any lens...overcoming the limitation of the kit...making it quite nice for landscapes if you avoid 5.6 and wider, and smaller apertures than F11...as for the PL filter, landscapes move slow enuf to adjust the rotating front barrel, at least for me...and when using a wider FL there really is very little PL shift when focusing between 10' and infinity...again, at least on my kit and filter combo...of course, 0MMV...
« Last Edit: May 15, 2008, 12:48:29 PM by kitalight » Logged
01af
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« Reply #14 on: May 16, 2008, 05:26:47 PM »
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I bought a Canon EF-S 18-55 mm IS lens a couple of months ago for a vacation. [...] I was disappointed with basically all of my landscape pictures. Closeups were fine, but anything wide and `landscape-ish'  looked kind of bad. I managed to get reasonably good sky and water colors from using a CPL, this also  resulted in softness as well as some difficulties with keeping the polariser in the right position (the front of the lens rotates during AF).[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=178722\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Sounds like the lens, or rather the camera, or maybe that lens on that camera, isn't focusing properly at distances at or near infinity. Try shooting a few test frames from atop a tripod with manual focus. Try bracketing the focus, i. e. change it manually between shots in very fine increments. If one of these shots comes out fine then auto-focus accuracy is leaving something to be desired.

Furthermore, avoid apertures smaller than f/11. Use f/16 or f/22 only when you desperately need more DOF. At these small apertures, sharpness of finest detail will suffer from diffraction. For any test shots, use medium apertures like f/5.6 or f/8. Switch IS off when the camera is on a tripod.

Also the polarizer may be the culprit ... or part of it. In cheap polarizers, the front and the back surfaces may not be parallel which can blur the image. Well-made polarizer filters aren't cheap.

-- Olaf
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kitalight
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« Reply #15 on: May 27, 2008, 01:40:14 AM »
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no polarizer here...pretty good without it...
sharp level in DPP set at 4...after transfer and resizing USM 100/.3/0

 
100% crop USM after resizing set to 200/.2/0

plenty of color in the shadows, grass sharp is if just mowed, and the tree bark is plenty crisp as well...
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BradSmith
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« Reply #16 on: May 29, 2008, 05:52:56 PM »
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kitalight,
for clarity........which lens are you using for these posted images?  the newer 18-55is???
Brad
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kitalight
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« Reply #17 on: May 29, 2008, 07:17:17 PM »
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kitalight,
for clarity........which lens are you using for these posted images? the newer 18-55is???
Brad


[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=198869\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Sorry 'bout that...see post #11...yes, the new IS version is of the 18-55 kit...and it's now available at B&H.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2008, 07:19:50 PM by kitalight » Logged
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