Is this image quality normal? (5D mark II )

Started Aug 2, 2010 | Discussions
SheldonCooper Junior Member • Posts: 47
Is this image quality normal? (5D mark II )

Dear all,

I recently started using a Canon 5D mark II. I see some image quality issues in regions with fine detail, and I'm not sure whether this is normal (these are difficult regions after all) or am I doing something wrong. I'd appreciate your advice.

In "simple" cases (uniform color regions with sharp edges in the scene) the focus looks good. This is an example image:

and this is 100% crop in a region marked 1:

This looks in good focus to me. But when you look at a crop of region marked 2:

it looks less sharp to me. This was taken with the kit lens (EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM) at 28 mm, f/11, 1/160 sec, ISO 100. I focused on the sign, but with this aperture I expected to get sharp focus all the way to infinity. I used live view with slow focus. I didn't use tripod, but at this shutter speed (and with an IS lens) I didn't expect this to be an issue, and indeed, the sign part looks OK.

Here's another example:

A 100% crop of the region (in the middle of the scene) I focused on:

and another region in the far left:

This was at 32mm, f/11, 1/800sec, ISO 400. Again, looks a bit blurry to me. On the other hand, the grass patch I focused on is at least 100 feet away. Maybe I can't expect to see every strand clearly at this distance.

I'd appreciate your thoughts. Do you think it's normal, or am I doing something wrong here?

vander
vander Senior Member • Posts: 2,661
Re: Is this image quality normal? (5D mark II )

Looks about normal to me.

What lens

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KCampbell Senior Member • Posts: 2,057
Pixel peepers disease

Picking over your images at 100% is a sure road to madness Have you calculated how close you're sitting next to an enormous print when you examine these images at 100% on the screen?

In the two cases shown the lighting is very harsh, and the grass is a low contrast subject. The grass is rather uniform in color and I think part of what you're seeing is a low contrast subject with full on sunlight - there's very little to suggest detail to the viewers eye.

The power lines actually look OK to me, but then there's good contrast to help pick out the detail.

What type of post processing, specifically sharpening, are you applying?

Kevin

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RedFox88 Forum Pro • Posts: 29,541
depth of field varies

Depth of field (how much is in focus and how "in focus" things look) vary on the distance setting the lens was focused to. The quality of the lens used matters too. What lens was used?

mswlogo Senior Member • Posts: 1,029
Re: Is this image quality normal? (5D mark II )

Did you shoot RAW and then Sharpen.

How much sharpening did you use (JPG or RAW) it makes a big difference.

You MUST Sharpen.

Those shots look like beaming sun, you won't get good results in those conditions.

I've had a 5D, 7D and 5DII and I'm learning too what the limits of the cameras are.

But in my experience almost anything hand held will not be razor sharp at 100% crop with a Zoom lens. Check out my recent thread on a couple full crops. I'm quite happy with results.

Most folks that are looking for razor sharp landscape shot. Use a Tripod, Shut IS OFF, and use a timer to take the shot.

PART of your problem is the lens your using too. The 24-105 is a very nice lens and my favorite. But if you want razor sharp and start to approach what the camera can do you need to try out a few primes. 200, 135, 85, 50 L primes.

So I think it's combination. Zoom lens, Handheld, Time of Day, Technique, Lack or Post Processing, Lack of Sharpening.

Also I'm not so sure your DOF would would go out to infinity.

Camera is fine.

Francois Cleroux New Member • Posts: 3
Re: Is this image quality normal? (5D mark II )

Two possible issues.

1) When dealing with hi-res images camera shake and movement can cause slight blur. The image of the sign does not actually look razor sharp as seen by the bottom edges of the black lettering but more specifically the right edges.

I would try doing some tests using a tripod with proper techniques to minimize movement. Mirror Lockup, Cable Release and such.

2) Another possible culprit and one I have dealt with is that you focus may actually be off. Again using a tripod do some focus tests using something like the LensAlign Pro or make something familiar. I have found that many Canon Cameras that come out of the factory are not properly adjusted for perfect focus. Your 5D has a micro focus adjustment setting where you can tweak the focus. You can also tweak for each lens as they may require slightly different adjustments.

Note: When doing your tests make sure that you are shooting RAW and make sure you exposures are perfect. Small JPGs can show all kinds of blur.

Francois

OP SheldonCooper Junior Member • Posts: 47
Re: Is this image quality normal? (5D mark II )

Thank you for your comments, they sound reassuring. Some more detail: the lens was EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM (with IS on). For both images, I focused on a point at least 10 feet away. According to this table ( http://www.dofmaster.com/doftable.html ), at f11 the focus indeed goes to infinity. (Note that you will need to select a camera and focal length to use that table.)

I was shooting in RAW+JPEG. What I showed here is the full size JPEG (largest size and finest quality) right out of the camera. This was processed in the camera with default settings. The default sharpness setting is 3.

To me, the messiness of details in regions with texture actually looks like sharpening artifacts. As I understand, the camera blurs the image before recording (to prevent aliasing I guess) and then tries to sharpen it. Sharpening algorithms work much better when there are large uniform regions with sharp edges (as in the letters on the sign), and may have issues when there is a lot of irregular detail (like in the grass).

Francois: does the micro-focus adjustment apply to live view TTL focus as well? I thought it applies only to the phase detect focus. I focused both images in live view with the "slow" auto-focus method, which does TTL focusing.

IMEDIA Regular Member • Posts: 177
Re: Is this image quality normal? (5D mark II )

Hi,

the JPEGs of 5D Mark II aren't really satisfying. They loose a lot of details and look "mushy". So take a RAW file and compare - if you have shot both. For example with Digital Photo Professional you can compare - very useful, because you can compare the files with the same settings (JPEG vs. RAW) you have done during your shooting (Picture Style, White ballance, Sharpening and so on) The RAW files have so much more details and looking so much sharper and more crispy if you turn off NR totally.

The JPEG engine of 5D Mark II is very bad in my opinion compared to the JPEGs of the original 5D. That's bad if you need a very fast output of your files, which doesn't work fine with the 5D Mark II JPEGs.

Kind regards,

Markus

Kuivaamo Senior Member • Posts: 2,248
Re: Is this image quality normal? (5D mark II )

SheldonCooper wrote:

According to this table ( http://www.dofmaster.com/doftable.html ), at f11 the focus indeed goes to infinity.

That applies only to an 8x10" print. Viewing 100 % crops is way larger than an 8x10", and therefore the DoF does not extend to infinity. For DoF calculations to hold up to pixel peeping, you need to make the CoC a lot smaller, close to the pixel size preferably.

EDIT: for example in the second image in the OP, for a FL of 32mm, aperture f/11 and focusing distance of 10 feet, the DoF is less than 5 feet, if you choose a circle of confusion of 0.007mm (this is close to the 5D Mk II's pixel size of 0.00645mm). So only a five foot deep section of the scene will be sharp when viewing the image at 100 %.

mswlogo Senior Member • Posts: 1,029
Re: Is this image quality normal? (5D mark II )

I agree with you on shooting raw etc. But the in camera jpg should produce the exact same results in DPP by default. What DPP gives you is allowing you to change sharpness or whatever after. You can boost the sharpness way up in, in camera jpg by using a custom Picture Style.

Almost all the standard Picture Styles have modest sharpening.

I would not think of RAW as having more detail. RAW allows flexibility of how much "detail" (sharpness) you want with no harm. The JPG is just as detailed but is a fixed set of parameters. You can even tweak jpg's but you loose some quality by uncompressing and recompressing.

Everyone eventually publishes in JPG and those have plenty of detail. And the in camera JPG is fine. It's just going to do what you ask it to do at the time you take the shot, rather than later in DPP or Photoshop or what ever tool.

IMEDIA wrote:

Hi,

the JPEGs of 5D Mark II aren't really satisfying. They loose a lot of details and look "mushy". So take a RAW file and compare - if you have shot both. For example with Digital Photo Professional you can compare - very useful, because you can compare the files with the same settings (JPEG vs. RAW) you have done during your shooting (Picture Style, White ballance, Sharpening and so on) The RAW files have so much more details and looking so much sharper and more crispy if you turn off NR totally.

The JPEG engine of 5D Mark II is very bad in my opinion compared to the JPEGs of the original 5D. That's bad if you need a very fast output of your files, which doesn't work fine with the 5D Mark II JPEGs.

Kind regards,

Markus

Austin_Luker
Austin_Luker Contributing Member • Posts: 606
Re: Is this image quality normal? (5D mark II )

Well your on a full frame camera body for starters, that means crazy shallow DOF and your hyper focal distance was flawed. Second this is one of the reasons they make tilt and shift lenses so you can adjust the focal plane so everything can be in focus, there are to many variables in your test to say "this is why your image is soft" a good bet though is to always use a tripod and I always multiply my focal length by .1 for testing. SO if I am using a 50mm I would go 50 x .1 = 5 feet, I would start my focus test there and work my way closer to the lens and then away from from starting point.
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KCampbell Senior Member • Posts: 2,057
This is a key point : dof depends on viewing distance

A very good point frequently overlooked: Depth of Field is a zone of apparent focus at a selected enlargement and viewing distance .

The term circle of confusion is well coined - details are only actually in focus at the focus point, other details merely appear to be focused because we can't tell the difference - and the closer we view, or the more we enlarge, the smaller this circle becomes.

Kevin

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Victor Engel Forum Pro • Posts: 18,812
Re: Is this image quality normal? (5D mark II )

The standard sharpness used in determining depth of field is based on assumed acuity of the observer. A discussion on the circle of confusion article on wikipedia mentions the standard sharpness is equivalent to perceiving detail that is 1/1250 the width of the image. Since the 5D Mark II has 5616 pixels across its width, this means that blur in the amount of about 4 1/2 pixels when viewed at 100% is considered to be sharp.

Keeping that in mind, your pictures are plenty sharp.

If you want even sharper pictures, you can no longer use the standard depth of field tables/calculators. You'll need to tweak them by adjusting the circle of confusion used in the calculations to a smaller number.
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Fred Briggs
Fred Briggs Senior Member • Posts: 1,023
Re: Is this image quality normal? (5D mark II )

SheldonCooper wrote:

Thank you for your comments, they sound reassuring. Some more detail: the lens was EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM (with IS on). For both images, I focused on a point at least 10 feet away. According to this table ( http://www.dofmaster.com/doftable.html ), at f11 the focus indeed goes to infinity. (Note that you will need to select a camera and focal length to use that table.)

DoF is not real - it is just a measure of when display/reproduction technology and conditions of viewing conspire to mask some of the out-of-focusness. So whatever you do, focus does not "go to infinity". It deteriorates steadily both in front and behind the plane of focus.

A photo is really only in focus at the plane of focus, and even then that plane is so infinitessimally thin that you will run out of resolution and ability to magnify before you can actrually see it. Hence you will only ever see a band of apparently in focus area. How much of the image falls into that band of apparent (though not real) focus depend entirely as others have pointed out on a number of factors.

Camera settings and focus distance influence how rapidly focus deriorates with distance away from the focal plane, and viewing size/distance and visual acuity determine the ability to distinguish the out of focus from the apparently in focus areas.

Fred

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Hans Kruse Veteran Member • Posts: 3,432
Re: Is this image quality normal? (5D mark II )

I think your images looks less sharp they should be, but let me give an example of what I think you should expect from your 24-105 lens.

The following picture is taken with a 1Ds mk3 (almost same sensor as the 5D mk2) and Canon 24-70 f/2.8L at 70mm, f/8, 1/125s, ISO 200 and handheld (as far as I remember). It's shot in RAW and processed in Lightroom 3 and input sharpening as my normal default (a=50,r=1,d=25,m=9) and output sharpening in Lightroom after resizing for screen and amount high (what I find works best with highrez pictures)

A 100% crop with the same sharpening

and the same crop with higher detail input sharpening (d=66 and other params the same).

and yet another with clarity set to zero. The others were made with clarity=20 which is my default import preset. Notice how it is possible to take a little more detail out of this picture by changing the input sharpening. Too much will create artifacts, of course.

I hope this helps.

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