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What's wrong with this picture?

What's wrong with this picture?
Photo Information
Copyright: Andy Cole (flagman) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 351 W: 44 N: 607] (2408)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2005-03-20
Categories: Birds
Camera: Canon EOS 300D, Canon EF-S 18-55mm F3.5-5.6, Skylight
Exposure: f/5.6, 1/60 seconds
Photo Version: Original Version, Workshop
Theme(s): Rouge-gorge / Robin (part. 1), Robins [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2005-03-21 3:55
Viewed: 7496
Points: 17
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
I'm looking for the advice of those on Treknature more experienced than myself.....
Yesterday I went for a walk and took my camera, looking for something to photograph. At the moment my longest lens is the 18-55mm kit lens that came with the camera (an EOS 300D). Now I know it's nearly impossible to expect a decent picture out of that lens of something so small, but I took about 30 pictures and this appalling result was the best one. What's the problem with it? Camera shake? I don't know, it's 55mm length, 1/60 sec and I've got a pretty steady hand, so that *should* be fast enough. Out of focus? I pre-focused on the top of the post before the robin landed, and I was standing about 3 metres away and didn't move. There's just no clarity. Now I want to buy another lens, and It'll probably be one of 3: Canon 75-300 4-5.6 USM, Canon 75-300 4-5.6 IS ISM or Canon 70-200 F4L. I expect a great improvement on the sharpness of the shots for my money, which of these lenses, if any, is going to help me? And please don't tell me I need XYZ lens that costs $$$, my wife would kill me!

Shot info:
Camera: Canon EOS 300D
Lens: EF-S 18-55mm
Focal Length: 55mm
Aperture: 5.6
Shutter: 1/60 sec
Original image size: 3072x2048
Image quality: fine
White balance: auto
Parameters: Contrast/sharpness/saturation +1

Original image has just been cropped to the centre of the subject, and saved as jpeg with 2% compression, no other PP.

Your comments would be most appreciated, and I don't expect any smileys!

pgmoni, LordPotty, sAner has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To Gameangler: Thanks but I know now!flagman 1 10-09 07:39
To bullybeef53: Upgrade to 70-200Lflagman 1 05-09 03:59
Thanks Andyhummingbird24 1 03-22 10:11
It looks like it's the lens.....flagman 1 03-21 11:31
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • pgmoni Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 343 W: 100 N: 637] (2769)
  • [2005-03-21 4:47]
  • [3]

Wee, I'll leave it to better photographers that I am to discuss the technical details, but I, for one, would not expect to do better at that distance/cropping ratio on a 1/60 shutter speed. Your hand would have had to be very steady indeed. As you say, it is unlikely to be focus, because there is nothing really sharp, either in front or at the back of your subject.
Yet the picture has a certain charm of its own, AND your note is very interesting to us the community of learning beginners. I think posting a less-than-perfect picture to initiate such a discussion deserves points ;>)

Hi Andy

What were the weather conditions on the day? This would have some impact on the image. I am sure getting closer would have been a help, but we all know what usually happens, the subject takes off! I have never used this lens, but have to wonder if it is just simply wrong for this type of photography. I would suggest adding some contrast, cropping tighter so the wee bird is not so lost in the image, running through a 'noise' adjustment program or a Photoshop action and using unsharp mask. My suggestion for what it is worth, get a better lens. I actually like the image and have posted a workshop. I don't know if this has been any help at all, but keep trying.

I dont know much about lenses,but I use a Panasonic Lumix digital camera,with autofocus.It is only a 2 megapixel camera and has a 12x optical zoom.
This is about the same quality I would get if I were using the zoom (the digital zoom takes it up to 36x but I don't use it at all).It looks as though the day was overcast yet quite bright...not bad conditions,but sometimes there is still a little glare.
A little PP is often necessary with shots like this,I usually use gamma correction (in Irfanview),increase colour saturation a little,and sharpen.
I don't know what else to suggest.I'm really a beginner myself.Perhaps hold off buying a new lens until you find out a bit more about using the one you have.You may not need to.

Hi Andy.
My advice for you.
1. As I always say, use shutterspeed long as you lens , all to avoide camera shakings, 50mm at 1/60 sec, 300mm at 1/300 sec.and so on.
2. Get to know your subject and they let you came closer.
3. If you will shot birds, 200mm is to short, but to 70-200 L is the best lens of that you mention. Look for Sigma or Tamron lenses. I shot most my picture with a Sigma 100-300/4 EX HSM and I use a 1,4 X converter with good results. 300mm * 1,6 crop * 1,4 converter = 672 mm tele
4. Set the parameters to 0 and do the PP afterwards in the computer.
The picture is little centred, need more contrast and it is little soft. But I think its the best you can you with the kit-lens.


  • Great 
  • Fisher Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1540 W: 309 N: 2234] (8915)
  • [2005-03-21 7:33]
  • [2]

Auto white balance is not the setting to use, set it manualy.
What AF mode were you using? Sometimes the lens likes to play when focusing. If that happens, set the lens to manual and manualy focus your subject.
If you are able to, shoot RAW, your Canon program will turn it to Tiff, or if you have photoshop CS, the plugin if you have it will read your Raw file.
In the working world there is a saying, "It's not the machine that is the problem, it's the opperator."
Don't blame the lens, it's not the one to use unless you are closeup.
Save your change, wait, when the time comes, purchase 100-400 IS, or Sigma F2.8 120-300mm.

I speak with experience using the EOS Elan SLR, as I donot use a DSLR yet.

The Canon 18 - 55 kit lens seems to be quite well known for it's soft results at larger apertures, I've seens comments on many other forums about it. Having said that, this looks like camera shake to me. I would suggest using a tripod taking similar shots to this, focus on the post and use the timer to trip the shutter at different apertures and speeds. Then try the same using hand held and see if their is a difference. At least with the tripod shots you will get a good idea of what your lens is capable of.

First, let me thank you for opening with your post an interesting thread about lenses. Posting shots whith problems and an interrogation is always useful. I'm not an expert, but all what has been said above really makes sense. It seems that none of the required conditions to make a successful shot was present, to start with the lens (not adapted here), up to the overcast day, reducing contrast on colors and contours. With such a good camera you have, a decent medium to long focal zoom is a must for birding. I also take as a rule that a lens costing twice the price of the box is a good average in that case. According to the brand (Sigma or Tamron against the genuine Canon lens), this ratio might change a lot. So, IMO, a good way to make a decision is by looking at pictures taken by these brands similar lenses at same focal distance. Comparative reports will help you afterwards to confirm your impressions. BTW, nice robin!

Canon 70-200 F4L is the one from what I read . I use a cheaper lens with limited results . One thing you can do a shoot in the action mode with a fast shutter speed and that will make the photograph sharper . Did you focus correctly I wonder ? Keep shooting , I am having the same problem to a limited degree . Jim

The picture is an excellent picture, but the lens didn't help in many ways

Regard and good shooting


invest in a tripod before buying another lens. When the camera's on the tripod, set the shutter delay to 2 seconds or more so the movement of your fingers won't shake the camera.
Zoom lenses (even at 55mm) amplify movement so tripod and shutter delay are important.
Next to try would be white balance for the conditions (cloudy or sunny), and cropping to place the subject off-centre and eliminate as many distracting branches as possible.
It is a decent photo subject however; keep up the work and make an effort to improve your skills daily.


Your shutter is way to slow mate get it up to 1/500th or faster if you can.

Look at the sigma 70-300 APO lens if you want a good 'cheap' lens its about 180 quid, the sigma 150-500 is an excellent lens too but I use the 100-400L IS USM on my 400D and 30D bodies but its selling for about 1300 quid just now so aint a cheap option.

Check out my images to see the sigma 70-300's performance.

What ISO were you using as your EXIF doesn't tell us?

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