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Author Topic: Indoor "portrait" with Canon 500D and 50mm f1.8  (Read 10713 times)
bradf
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« on: November 23, 2010, 11:23:35 PM »
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Thanks in advance for your help.
I photograph my kids (occasionally) receiving awards, indoors under (relatively poor) fluoro light, at about f2.0 and iso 400 - 800, no flash. Initially the photos were bad to very bad.
Gradually worked thru issues (eg correcting white balance, sharpening etc with Aperture 3) and the pictures are much better, but with the above combo are still 'soft'. In comparison if I use my Canon 100mm f2.0 lens the results are much crisper and better colours - but the longer lens is very inconvenient.
Questions:
1. Would you expect the Canon 50mm f1.4 to be a lot better than the f1.8 lens (shooting at f2.0), or is my entire system near its limit and I should wait to buy a lens upgrade in a couple of years when I get a camera upgrade ?
2. Otherwise are there other 50mm lens options at a similar price point to the Canon f1.4 that I should consider (I guess in this situation AF is not really needed) ?
Many thanks,
Brad.
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rsn48
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« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2010, 06:41:45 PM »
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The Sigma 50mm f1.4 is the sharpest wide open, even exceeding the Canon 50mm f1.2 set at f1.4.  The bokeh of the Sigma is also great.  The other lens you might want to consider is the Sigma 30mm f1.4 or the Canon 35mm f2.0.  A suggestion I have is for you to shoot with your pop up flash in Av mode, this automatically sets the flash to "fill" and supplements but doesn't blow out detail, or have that sharp hard flash look.

Try this as an experiment using your current lens at f5.6.  Set your camera to Av f5.6, let the camera choose the speed (you have no choice really), with ISO set at 100, pop your flash and rubber band a kleenex folded over about two or three times and rubber band this kleenex over your pop up flash.  The Kleenex is just a low budget flash diffuser.  See how this works out.  And don't forget your camera has a flash compensation scale to dial down or up your flash output.  You might try dialing down your flash by 1/3rd stops to see how the image works out.   Kiss
« Last Edit: November 24, 2010, 06:43:23 PM by rsn48 » Logged
bradf
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« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2010, 08:16:36 PM »
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Thanks rsn48 - I'll try that.
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lookit
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« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2010, 09:46:37 PM »
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I have a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 lens and think it's pretty good wide open.  I haven't bought an f/1.4 or f/1.2 autofocus lens because the reviews seem to say others are a little better, but not startlingly better, and much more expensive.  The extra money might better go into a camera that increases low-light performance by more than 1/2 stop with all lenses. 

There is very little depth of field at very wide apertures.  Try setting the autofocus to use only the central sensor and putting that right over the subject's eyes, either shooting immediately or locking and quickly reframing.  Also check that the camera and lens aren't back- or front-focusing.

Fill flash often improves the picture but ISO 400-800 shouldn't cause much of a sharpness problem on your modern camera.  Check that your shutter speed is high enough that it couldn't be the problem.  A flash providing much of the light would freeze the action; bounce flash might eliminate your lighting problem entirely (unless the room lighting adds a nice effect, but it's probably just bad).

A flash diffuser works best when it increases the area from which the flash radiates.  If you put tissue paper over the flash, make sure it's not tightly stretched over the orifice but puffed out.  This article shows how to improvise a bounce-flash diffuser. 

http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/sb400.htm

The built-in flash probably doesn't have enough power to use with a diffuser except close up.
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bradf
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« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2010, 04:23:41 AM »
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Many thanks for  all that info.
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bernhardAS
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« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2011, 05:40:56 AM »
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A new lens might help for future pictures.

For the past ones I would also try to apply a high pass filter in post processing.

You might then just be happy with the 50 1.8 results.

 

 
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2011, 11:44:27 AM »
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Based on your explanation, I'd venture to say it is the technique, not the equipment.

Actually, even without your explanation, I would again say the same. Why? Because for the vast majority of photographers (myself included) contemporary equipment is much better than their (our) technique.

There can not possibly be anything wrong with the 50/1.8, under normal circumstances (if there is, it should be sent for repair). It is a highly esteemed lens, with excellent test results (its MTF chart is even slightly better than of the 50/1.4), generally considered one of the best value-for-money lenses there is.

Also, I am a bit perplexed with your claim that for 100/2.0

Quote
the results are much crisper and better colours - but the longer lens is very inconvenient.

If anything, results for the 100 should be softer, given that hand shake would kick in sooner (approximately already below 1/160s, vs. 1/80s for the 50). There is no reason for the two lenses to differ in color either.

And how is the 100 "very" inconvenient? It would be only about 50 % longer and heavier than 50/1/4 sound a lot in percentages, but really not so much in real life, as both lenses are relatively quite small, especially compared to today's ubiquitous zooms.

As for the flash, you just said "no flash". Is it because flash is forbidden there, or you do not want to use it, and if so, why not?
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Slobodan

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bradf
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« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2011, 03:26:26 AM »
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Thanks for your reply.
I am a beginner, and have improved over the last 2 months. I recently got a Canon 270 flash and am trying to improve my results with flash. I still find under harsh fluoro lights the colours are not good, and interestingly the photos are consistently better with the 100mm lens. Some of the photos I have in the sports stadium with the 100 are really good, whereas with the 50mm are generally very average.
The 100mm is 'very inconvenient' in the sense that taking photos of athletes (the kids) on a podium the 50mm is about the right focal length for good composition (on my APS-C), whereas 100mm is just too long (its physical size is not inconvenient).
The consensus of all the posts - and I think you are concurring - is that i should work on using my present equipment including flash correctly, rather than try a new lens, as the 50/1.8 is well regarded ?
Thanks again - I am grateful for your input.
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2011, 12:27:47 PM »
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As usual, it would help tremendously to post some examples of what you consider "really good" 100mm shots, and what you consider "very average" 50 mm shots.
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Slobodan

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Kellen
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« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2011, 05:11:47 PM »
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The 50/1.8 is pretty soft wide open...however for web sizes it shouldn't be too apparent...I attached an example of the nifty fifty wide open, just output sharpening, nothing too fancy, processed in LR 3.3.

I've since traded the 50/1.8 for the 85/1.8, and I've really enjoyed the results so far. It's pretty tight for indoor portraits (I have to take them from across the room generally if I want a waist-length portrait) but the bokeh is much better in my opinion (which is why I replaced the 50/1.8, too much haloing going on for my taste! Tongue)
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2011, 05:51:50 PM »
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The 50/1.8 is pretty soft wide open...

Can you point out areas in the attached photo that you consider "pretty soft"?
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Slobodan

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Kellen
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« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2011, 06:22:07 PM »
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Can you point out areas in the attached photo that you consider "pretty soft"?
I'd rather not get into that. It is sharp enough for my needs, but my XSi outresolves it wide open.
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #12 on: February 02, 2011, 06:30:15 PM »
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I'd rather not get into that...

I thought you wouldn't.

I was just trying to establish whether people are confusing out-of-focus areas, due to the extremely shallow depth-of-field at f/1.8, with lens being "soft". In your example, one can easily distinguish individual eyelashes... I that is not sharp enough, than I do not know what is.
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Slobodan

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Kellen
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« Reply #13 on: February 02, 2011, 06:36:21 PM »
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I thought you wouldn't.

I was just trying to establish whether people are confusing out-of-focus areas, due to the extremely shallow depth-of-field at f/1.8, with lens being "soft". In your example, one can easily distinguish individual eyelashes... I that is not sharp enough, than I do not know what is.
I didn't know you'd be so presumptive as to demand evidence. Debating subjective observations is a waste of time.

As I stated, my sensor outresolves the lens at f/1.8, so with heavy cropping there could be a potential issue. I also recognize that DoF is shallow at 50mm f/1.8, but that's not what I was referring to.
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #14 on: February 02, 2011, 07:08:27 PM »
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... my sensor outresolves the lens at f/1.8...

What exactly do you mean by that?
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Slobodan

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Jonathan Ratzlaff
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« Reply #15 on: February 06, 2011, 11:48:50 PM »
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Use a higher ISO.  chances are that even if you are shooting wide open in flourescent light, your shutter speed may still be lower than it should be.  How large are your kids in the image.  is the camera focus being confused by othere stuff in the image.  THat may be why the 100mm lens is giving you better quality.  The difference in aperture between those lenses is negligible.  Even though the 100mm lesn is larger it may also be more suitable for the purpose than the 50mm lens. 
There were recommendations to use the centre focus point.  I would also recommend that you use the custom function and assign af to one of the rear buttons as well sofocusing is separate from shutter release.
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bradf
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« Reply #16 on: February 07, 2011, 01:08:24 AM »
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Thanks Jonathon,
I'll play with those settings.
Appreciate your interest.
Brad.
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fredjeang
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« Reply #17 on: February 07, 2011, 06:01:11 PM »
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The difference between the 1.4 and the 1.8 is the bokeh and the feeling in hand. Construction is different. It's not that one is better than the other, it just gives different look.
The 1.8 is slightly more forgiving but IMO the bokeh is rather harsh, some prefer that anyway. I also miss the little shorter dof you gain with a faster prime.
About the "softness" wide open, as Slobodan said, what's generally soft are not the lens but the user technique. And remember that the best lens for portraiture, specially childrens and women are not the ultra sharp.
In portrait you want to be "a little" soft or at least delicate. and recuperate sharpness in certain areas in PP. Now, if you want to do skin medical pictures, you can use an ultra sharp macro lens but that's another kind of imagery. Sharpness has never made a pic to be better. Don't worry too much about that "sharpness culture".(like DR, resolution etc...) and work hard on your lightning.
I think that if you use a cropped sensor, the 50 is all right but I'd go for a 85.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2011, 06:12:59 PM by fredjeang » Logged
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