Low quality photos (Canon EOS Rebel T2)

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by kman543210, Nov 4, 2009.

  1. kman543210

    kman543210 Member

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    I received as a gift an SLR 35mm Canon EOS Rebel T2 a few years back, and I have never been satisfied with the quality of the pictures. It seems that my Pentax point-and-shoot that I got in 1991 took better pictures, especially in low lighting situations. I am not a "photographer", just someone who loves to take pictures and wants to always capture the moment, so I don't need the best quality but want my pictures to look good.

    My question is what could be the reasons/fixes for my pictures always looking dark, lacking clarity (not necessarily blurry), and not having vibrant colors. I use the auto mode on the camera, a Quantaray 28-90mm lense, the built-in flash, and have used 800, 400, and 200 film (usually Fuji). I don't think it's the camera because it's practically new still since I haven't use it much, but I think it is either the lens or most likely the flash not being sufficient enough in the low-level lighting? I had no problem with my Pentax P&S in low-level lighting, so I was expecting the SLR to provide at least the same, if not better, results. Thanks.
     
  2. kman543210

    kman543210 Member

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    examples

    couple of examples from the 200 film I used on Halloween. I can probably find other examples from previous film shot that would be 400 ISO film. I just feel like my pictures don't look vibrant, kind of dingy (these examples are actually not as bad as some of the others, but I don't want to show the full faces of my nephews on the net).
     

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  3. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

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    Buy or borrow some prime lens (some 50mm /1.8 or something) and try it again. For sure it will be good. :smile:
     
  4. Ektagraphic

    Ektagraphic Member

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    I reccomend trying some new films or maybe trying a lab to process them....You may want to try some Kodak Portra 400VC. Where are you having your film processed?
     
  5. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    Learn to shoot on manual, and stop letting the camera dictate the exposure. when its on auto mode, it averages the exposure, hence the average looking pix. Also either remove the flash to a bracket mount(off the shoe) or get a bounce flash(regardless) this will minimize the harsh shadows, maybe even a flash diffuser. Next, keep on shooting, more practice, and thought about composition and exposure,you'll soon start to produce better quality. IMO its not the equiptment, or the film, its all about the operator.

    Rick
     
  6. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    My guess is that the issue is mostly the direct flash on the camera. The lens (Quantaray?) may be a contributing factor also.

    I would try to find a cheap flash that you can bounce off the ceiling. I doubt the problem is the film, I use the Fuji 800s (superia & pro) all the time and they're great films.
     
  7. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    The lens may be an issue, some of the mid range zooms were quite poor performers, only the big 5 manufacturers lenses and the Vivitar S1 & Tamron SP lenses were really up to scratch. I certainly wouldn't trust that zoom.

    Ian
     
  8. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    It could be the lens. Try a good prime lense.

    Jeff
     
  9. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    The lens is nothing special, but I'd say the light is a bigger factor in these kinds of shots. Unfortunately, you can't do much with a built in flash. With a separate shoe mount flash, you can usually swivel the head and point it toward the ceiling, so it isn't so harsh.

    You've also got some other issues going on, like holding the camera level. If you've got straight lines at the edge of the frame, try lining up the edge of the frame in the viewfinder with, say, the edge of the ceiling or a cabinet door. Try getting a little closer to your subject, and think about shooting vertical instead of horizontal, when a horizontal shot is going to include a lot of extraneous stuff.
     
  10. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Are you using Fuji Film 200 that comes in a box of 4 and labeled Indoor & Outdoor? If so, I have almost an identical photos in terms of lacking sharpness, cleanliness, and contrast right here. In every which way I tried to evaluate the print, it was wrong. I looked at the negative under a microscope and I also saw problems. It was so bad that I also doubted my equipment that I was testing. I showed them to my girlfriend who is not a photographer and even she saw they weren't the best. When I took more with B&W and processed it myself, the results were totally different. My guess is, your problem is either film or processing, or both. My suggestion to you is to use different film, possibly a professional film, and send it to a good lab, then re-evaluate.

    True, exposure may not be perfect but a lot of that can be adjusted during printing. True, lens may not be the best, but unless defective, they are not so bad that it will produce images that would readily dissatisfy someone who claims to be "not a photographer." Of course, if it is defective, all bets are off. I even had a bad Nikon prime lens fresh out of factory!

    Before resorting to some expensive experiment, get a fresh film, from a different manufacturer, send it to a good lab (I'm sure someone here can recommend?), and review again.

    Good luck!
     
  11. rthomas

    rthomas Subscriber

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    Direct flash is definitely to be avoided if you want control of the light. You don't need to spend a lot of money, but get a shoe-mount flash with some decent power (a guide number of at least 80, preferably 100; the typical built-in flash on an SLR has a guide number at ISO 100 of about 40). With two or three stops more power than the built-in flash on the T2, you will have enough to compensate for the light loss with the diffuser and/or bounce. You don't have to get a Canon speedlight, look at Sunpak and Metz. I've used both brands of flashes with very good results, and either is available used for low prices. Another point to consider, if you are using fast enough film (400 or 800) to capture some of the ambient light but still shooting flash, is the difference in the color balance between the flash and the fluorescent/incandescent bulbs. This can be compensated for buy using the appropriate gel filter over the flash head.
     
  12. viridari

    viridari Member

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    That body with decent glass on it can take some wonderful photos. I sometimes shoot with a Canon EOS Rebel G which will take photos no better or worse than your T2 given the same glass.

    I don't have any color examples that are relevant here (just cross processed slide film) but in B&W it does just fine.

    [​IMG]
    Canon EOS Rebel G, Canon EF 50mm f/1.8, Ilford Delta 100, Rodinal 1:25

    [​IMG]
    Canon EOS Rebel G, Canon EF 50mm f/1.8, Ilford HP5+ (EI 320), Xtol

    You're getting a lot of great advice here. Do learn how to use your camera. It is not failing you. You just need to learn to use it. It probably wouldn't hurt to get a nice prime lens for it (as you might be able to tell, I'm a fan of the very affordable Canon 50mm f/1.8). Also I tend to get lousy results from lab processing. The negatives come out much better when I develop them myself in the kitchen. You don't need a dark room for this.
     
  13. FilmOnly

    FilmOnly Member

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    My liberation from bad photos came only when I learned how to use a camera. Program mode must be ignored. I also ignore any "priority" modes, and thus shoot only in manual mode.

    There are a number of key elements to learn, but perhaps the most important involves the focusing ring and the depth-of-field markings on your lens. Thus, buy a good quality 50mm lens (a 50/1.8 or 50/2). You need not spend big dollars on a "fast" 50--i.e. a 50/1.4. I have been using 50/1.8s and 50/2s for years and cannot ever recall needing a 1.4 f-stop. There is almost no depth-of-field at f/1.4, and most lenses do not perform well at wide-open aperture. Thus, I recommend a not-so-fast 50, and a good deal of practice. Framing and compostion are also extremely important. I still will occasionally take "unnecessary" shots just to improve my basic skills.
     
  14. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    I am going to digress from others and recommend getting some good film and have it processed by a good lab.
    Go to a local camera store and get a roll of say kodak portra or even better slide film. Spend a day taking a variety of pics in different situations.
    Outdoors in daylight, outdoors in subdued light, indoors with flash, indoors without flash.
    Then evaluate the prints/slides for color balance, grain, sharpness, quality of light, and composition.
    After that, you can make better decisions on equipment or technique changes.
     
  15. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    comments on the example photos you posted:
    1. There is much grain. This can be caused by a number of things. If the film is no exposed properly, this can cause excessive grain. But other causes of this are damaged film from heat or X-rays, expired film, bad development, or just a grainy film.
    2. Quality of light. Shots with on-camera flash have a certain look to them that is generally disappointing. Do you have any examples in daylight?
    3. Composition. Its a snapshot, what did you expect?
     
  16. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    You may merely have a poor individual sample of a lens from a long line of dogs (Ritz house brand). Beg or borrow a real lens.

    If you wish to prove it for yourself, wait for a decent day outside with some fairly bright light. Put the camera on a tripod and take a picture or two a brick wall on auto; then set the focus manually, if you can do it). Develop and print and call me in the morning. ~:smile:+>}}
     
  17. kman543210

    kman543210 Member

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    Thanks everyone for their responses. Am I correct to assume that what many are saying is that my Pentax Zoom 90-WR point-and-shoot that I got in 1991 is expected to take better pictures than my Canon EOS Rebel T2 SLR when it's used in "auto" mode? I don't expect to get excellent pictures using auto mode, cheap film, and cheap processing, but I am mostly comparing my indoor photos taken with the same film and using the same photo processor and I guess expected at least the same, if not a little better, results from the SLR compared to the point-and-shoot even in auto mode. For those who state it's "operator error", I'm assuming you're talking about me using auto mode instead of setting the manual mode because I'm not sure what errors one can make when using auto mode (besides using it in the first place...lol).

    Film: I usually use Fuji 400, but sometimes 800, and the above sample pictures were 200 (the only film my dad had). I don't expect to enlarge my pictures much, if at all, so that's why I never worried about the possible grain with the higher ISO. What film would most people recommend for doing candid shots where there is usually some movement by the subjects? I read one person recommend Kodak Portra or slide film?

    Processing: Okay, so before everyone stones me for this, keep in mind that I've always had a point-and-shoot with which I only shot pictures of my friends/family, so super high quality was never in my mind. That being said, I have always used one-hour photo (sometimes sent out), usually at my local Fred Meyer (a one-stop-shop store). Of course, I probably need to find a better place to get my film developed, but my pictures from my previous camera that was developed in this way still turned out decent. Anyone know of a good film processor in the Portland, Oregon area?

    Lens: I've heard a few people recommend a 50mm lens, so no zoom range lens, just a plain 50mm? Are there good-quality (doesn't have to be top of the line) lenses that are not super expensive (brands, models?)? I've read some reviews on the Quantaray af 28-90mm 1:3.5-5.6 lens that I have, and some say they are not good, some say they are okay (it was a gift along with the camera, so I imagine he probably picked a more inexpensive lens since the camera wasn't cheap).

    Flash: I highly suspect, just as others here have noted, that a big factor in the indoor pictures is the lighting problem. I'm not 100% certain, but I think that the flash on my Pentax p&s may have a better flash than the built-in flash on my Canon SLR. I'd like to get a better flash to put on the hot shoe but have been a bit confused on which ones I can/should use. The manual says it's a type-A camera (E-TTL II autoflash compatible) which can use features of EX-speedlites. Does this mean that I can purchase any flash that says E-TTL II? Should I also consider a diffuser for indoor pictures?

    I'm sure everyone is wondering why I got an SLR if all I'm going to do is candids in auto mode. Well, my p&s suddenly stopped working when I was in Washington DC back in 2005, and the local camera stores said they couldn't fix it there. I have a friend that knew that I wanted to start taking better pictures of the water falls where I hiked to, so that's what I got. Unfortunately due to a long-term illness, I haven't been able to get out to do such photography.

    The reason that I use auto mode is that the friends/family pictures that I do take are rarely set up, so I don't have time to adjust any settings, hence auto mode. If the auto mode doesn't work as well as a p&s, I may have to consider sending my p&s camera into Pentax and hope they can fix it and save my SLR for when/if I get better or for portrait type pictures.
     
  18. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    First of all eliminate the film as a cause. The easy way to do that is shoot some E-6. Those transparencies will tell you in a hurry how well your camera is metering. 2nd, get some decent glass if you can. You will pay for it if you want a zoom, that's just how it is. Other people have beat around the bush a bit, but I won't. Quantaray sucks. It's a soccer mom brand. Sigma is better, and for a Canon, the good Canon lenses are worth every penny. A good quality 50mm is cheap to pick up, 2-4 times faster than the Qbert superfuzz trombone 9000 light vacuum, which will get you out of the need for the flash in many cases, and to utilize it's zoom function you can walk forwards and backwards :smile:, and become a better photographer in a hurry for the effort invested. The thing about investing in a lens is that if you care for it, it will last you through all the camera bodies you care to go through. Cameras don't make photographs, lenses do. A Rebel and an EOS V will make very nearly indistinguishable images through the same glass.
     
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  19. dpurdy

    dpurdy Member

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    Regarding quality film processing in the Portland area, there is one that advertises right here on APUG called Blue Moon camera and machine. One of the only places left in the world that still does optical printing of the color film.

    Regarding the quality comparison of a Pentax point and shoot, I have seen some point and shoot stuff that comes out really nice partly due to the balance of the flash to the ambient light. The low power flash allows more ambient light to record. Also the lenses on some point and shoot cameras are surprisingly good. Pentax is a reputable camera company.
    Dennis
     
  20. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    Whew! Thought for a second there you were gonna say 'soccer dad' brand. Almost got painted with a broad gender generalization there. :wink:

    Agree on using slide film as a better, more specific test, and the advice on primes or higher quality zooms. Also, a good lens shade can make a big difference in color saturation if your lens is at all sensitive to flare.

    Costco seems to have a good reputation among the 1 hour labs. They seem to train good people and keep them. They even make the effort to calibrate and post their lab color profiles on the web at intervals. (Not applicable on this forum, but an indicator that they care about the quality of their output.)

    I once took a roll to Ritz after my regular lab at the time closed. I went back in and told them to clean their enlarging lenses and reprint. They did, and the results were much cleaner colors, improved contrast, and sharpness. Doesn't matter how good the hardware is unless the operator is good and takes care of the equipment. When you get prints at a lab, you're testing the lab and operator as much or more than testing your camera and lens.

    Lee
     
  21. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    kman, I really want to help you resolve this issue.

    "Am I correct to assume that what many are saying is that my Pentax Zoom 90-WR point-and-shoot that I got in 1991 is expected to take better pictures than my Canon EOS Rebel T2 SLR when it's used in "auto" mode?"

    First of all, you have not provided the examples from the Pentax P+S.
    Second, you have not specified what you dont like about the Canon's images you posted. There are so many variables that can make a bad image. Think of a test where if you get one wrong you get ZERO for the whole test. Thats photography!

    We cannot help you much without that information.

    That said, I am positive that either the film was bad or the film processing was bad.
    Below is an example of some film I had developed recently. It looks like mush, and thats only after a bunch of post processing to bring it up from crap. Look familiar? I have 5 rolls that look exactly the same, different film and different cameras. Same cheap lab. (Target)
    This image was taken with a Canon A1, no flash, and 50mm f1.4 FD lens. All previously gave good results.
     

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    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 5, 2009
  22. viridari

    viridari Member

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    Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Camera Lens - $93.53 + shipping. I have this lens, I adore this lens, you will be hard pressed to find better bang for your buck in the glass department on a Canon EF lens.

    You mentioned using an ISO 200 film indoors. The film you used wasn't matched to the shooting conditions. It's too slow for the poor lighting in that space.

    I use a Canon 430EX flash on my Rebel G. It's the most expensive part of my Canon EF system. But it works great. If you want to save a bundle you can get a Vivitar 285HV for a fraction of the price, but you're going to have to learn a lot more about manual exposures before you can expect to get good results out of that flash. I use the Vivitar 285HV on a fully manual Mamiya C330 as well as all of my other film cameras besides the Canon and it does pretty well for me.
    [​IMG]
    Mamiya C330, Mamiya-Sekor 80mm f/2.8 "blue dot", Vivitar 285HV, Sekonic L-358, Kodak Tri-X 400, Rodinal 1:50
     
  23. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    The first thing I would do if I were you is take some photographs outside on a reasonably bright day. Shoot some in sun (if available), under cloud cover, and in shade. Take a variety of photographs, in as wide a variety of conditions as you are able (a 24 exposure roll of colour print film should be fine).

    You should do your best to guard against camera movement. If possible, it would be great to put the camera on a tripod when you shoot, but you could probably make due with just bracing the camera against something stationary. You do this because it helps eliminate any question about whether any lack of clarity is due to camera movement arising from your unfamiliarity with the camera and lens.

    Get the film developed, and examine the prints.

    My guess is that you will have pleasing results. If not (too dark, too light, unsharp or colour casts) ask the lab if they can look at the negatives to tell if it is a printing problem. If there are problems not due to poor printing, there may be a basic problem with the camera.

    If the camera and lens work well outside, with good light, then the next step is to check how the camera works with flash. Your example photos make me think that the built in flash may be underpowered, but there are a few factors that make those photos tough for a small flash.

    I'd try a few flash pictures in a room with lighter walls and normal height ceilings.

    I too would recommend a better lens, but even with this lens you should be able to get reasonably pleasing results.

    Good luck.

    Matt
     
  24. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    Reading through this after observing the sample prints, I second JBrunner's comments that you ought to move on to transparency film (either Fujichrome or Kodachrome, I don't bloody care which, for those who are parochial), just to see how well the camera nails the exposure. Next, dump that obscure el-cheapo lens and fit either a 28, 35 or 50mm (EF 1.8II is a cracker) prime Canon lens. Take the camera through its paces with ambient as well as flash exposures (though the built-in flash is more of a hindrance than a help: invest in a pre-loved shoe-mounted Canon flash) and then work towards some definitive assessment. Just a final point: Wherever you go and whatever you do in photography, skip fancy, feature-laden camera bodies and plough your money into high quality lenses. It is the lens that sees the scene and focuses it; the camera is merely a light-tight box to hold the film and make a recommendation for exposure.
     
  25. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    Before you do anything, check the "exposure compensation" settings on the camera (sorry, you may have to find a manual or ask someone here who knows the camera, I'm not familiar with Canons) and make sure it's set at zero - if it is non-zero, then that is likely the source of your pain. For colour negative film, it's pretty safe to set it to +0.5 or so and just leave it there. +2 or +3 can cause saturation and contrast loss, anything negative can cause loss of shadow details.

    Further to what others have said, chromes (slides) will tell you if your camera is metering accurately or not, but if you're only using negative film then it shouldn't really matter that much, as long as you're not getting under-exposure. The slides are a good judge of exposure because you observe them directly and can tell if they're too bright/dark (look for completely-black or clear areas), whereas negatives go through a scanning and/or printing stage before you see the final image. Most exposure errors on negatives are hidden by the printing process, resulting only in some quality being lost, like what you're seeing here. Do your testing with chromes on low-contrast scenes, e.g. at dusk. Avoid bright sunlight and deep shadows while doing your test roll as it can confuse things, especially in Auto/P mode. You want a scene with as uniform a brightness as possible.

    If the chromes tell you that the camera is dramatically over- or under-exposing, then there's your answer. Test a few frames both with the lens wide open (using A mode on the camera, the smallest f-number that can be selected) and with the camera at f/16. If the wide-open ones are exposed OK (ignore any softness) but the f/16 ones are overexposed, then that tells you that the aperture in the lens is sticky, which is a pretty common problem and for that lens basically means you bin it. Severe over-exposure of negative film can cause the sort of saturation and contrast problems you're seeing in your final images. If the effect is consistent with varying apertures, it means either your camera body is defective or you have accidentally adjusted it in error - see the exposure-compensation thing above.

    If your problem is just sharpness and not exposure, then getting a Canon 50/1.8 is an excellent solution. It's a good thing to do anyway because it will teach you a lot about perspective (composition, etc) without you needing to know how to use the non-auto modes on the camera and it gives you a good lens to learn A mode on and try some shallow depth of field. Your Quantaray will be OK for 6x4" or so but will likely be soft for 8x10 and doesn't give you a lot of light.

    There might be processing problems at your lab - with all the P&S users largely going digital (blasphemy here, but an option worth evaluating), the quantity of C41 (colour neg) film processed has declined dramatically so there are some poor places out there. Like others have said, if you want good skin colours and low-light ability, Portra 400NC is a good option. 400VC if you want brighter colours. Fuji Superia is very good value for money.

    Getting a bounceable off-board flash is highly recommended if you're doing people shots. Avoiding the front-lit morgue-photo look is a huge improvement and generally more important than any choice of camera, lens or film you might make. You won't get that option with a P&S - good flashes are a very good reason to use a proper SLR.

    On the matter of your P&S being better, that is entirely possible. For one, an SLR assumes you know a bit more about photography and leaves more up to you. Running it on Auto mode can definitely produce worse pictures, so it's worth investing a little time to learn about depth of field, apertures and shutter speed. The other thing is that the physical structure of a P&S (no big mirror box in the middle) means they can have simpler, sharper lenses cheaply. It is quite possible, even highly likely, that the lens on your P&S was a lot sharper than the cheap Quantaray lens you're using now. Of course, you can get much better lenses (and a variety of lenses for different purposes) for your SLR than you can for the P&S, but they cost.