DezM, how do you get sharp distant objects with LX5 ?

Started Apr 15, 2011 | Discussions
Rich the Hiker
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DezM, how do you get sharp distant objects with LX5 ?
Apr 15, 2011

For DezM and anyone else who takes landscapes.

I’ve had an LX5 for about 5 months and am fairly happy with it, it has been a step up for me regarding manual control.

I do have to question the sharpness of some of my photos though, especially distant landscape detail such as forests of trees. They seem very blurry and not sharp.

Now some of this may be down to the fact that I have used suggested settings for contrast, noise reduction and sharpness at -1 or -2 on this forum, and the fact that I have done very little post processing to sharpen the photos up. I shoot in RAW + fine JPEG format and am mostly looking at the JPEG unsharpened versions.

DezM, most of your photos are pin sharp and I am trying to understand why and how. My landscape shots of mountains, lakes and forests have foreground as well as background that I want sharp, so I have used the 1/3 in focus rule and shooting at F5.6 to try to get sharply focussed near and far detail. In your New York skyline shots, sometimes most of your subject is in the far distance (rather than near and far) which maybe helps to get pin sharp. How do you compose a shot to get near and far landscape sharp, and is this only achieved in post processing? Am I being stupid here criticising an unsharp and undetailed JPEG photo when I myself have set the sharpen and noise reduction to -2 ?

If I will primarily be using out of the camera jpegs (but wish to have the option of altering brightness etc in PSE 9 afterwards if necessary) should I alter my camera settings to have the sharpness at +1 and noise reduction at 0 or +1?
Will this give me for distant detail and sharpness?
Thanks for help

windmillgolfer
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Re: DezM, how do you get sharp distant objects with LX5 ?
In reply to Rich the Hiker, Apr 15, 2011

Dez is the man to ask his images are superb. You mention f5.6 but at what focal length, ISO and shutter speed is this at? No point in sticking to f5.6 if that means the shutter speed is low.

If the lack of clarity is not due to high ISO, atmospheric polution, then my guess is that the trees are moving too much for the speed of the shutter. Suggest you post a couple of samples with full EXIF intact - then the data can easily be extracted.

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Rich the Hiker
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Re: DezM, how do you get sharp distant objects with LX5 ?
In reply to windmillgolfer, Apr 15, 2011

Can't load any photos at minute, but can say that most of my LX5 landscape photos are taken at ISO 100, and I wrote F5.6 to mean the maximum F number I would shoot at even for landscape (as opposed to F8 which some suggest is not as sharp as the F4.5 - F5.6 sweet spot of the lens).

I saw your Loch Lomond photo are was interested in the trees on the far shore. Some of my photos of Scottish lochs with trees in distance don't contain much detail, maybe it is because the conifers themselves blend together and don't contain much detail to capture anyway.

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windmillgolfer
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Re: DezM, how do you get sharp distant objects with LX5 ?
In reply to Rich the Hiker, Apr 15, 2011

I sold the FZ38 because my results were often blurred. I came to realise this was down to isnatability i.e. I just wasn't holding it steady enough. For me, with the FZ38 the answer should have been a sturdy tripod, especially when at the 480mm end. I have a heavy tripod now and a dSLR but they are usually at home...

Although the LX5 only goes to 90mm, I believe that stability is key. There is much good advice on this forum, which I'm convinced is one of the very best. One tip, from a master of the TZ7 (whch I aslo have) is to always try and stabilse the camera against something firm and use the 2sec timer. I'm pretty sure for the Loch Lomond shot I was using a pocket tripod and the 2 second timer. If I haven't got the tripod then I'd try and sit the camera on a wall or fence. I've still got much to improve but the more I practice the better the IQ gets regardless of the camera. But the LX5 is, without doubt, an excellent camera.

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DezM
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My LX3 / LX5 Settings
In reply to Rich the Hiker, Apr 15, 2011

Rich, I basically use the LX5 like it's a DSLR but without the bulk. I watch my Histogram and make sure my exposures are good in combination of using the compensation EV button.

I owned a LX3 for 2 years before the LX5, so I have alot of practice with the Lumis model. Just follow good technique and you'll be alright.

Here's some settings:

FOR DAYLIGHT: Raw or Jpg (or Raw + Jpeg) at highest quality settiong. Evaluative Metering, STD film mode (+1 sharpening, -2 NR), Aperture Priority set to f/4 or 4.5 (if real bright, set to f/6.3), ISO 80 or 100, EV compensation at -2/3 EV in daylight.

FOR NIGHT / LOW LIGHT: Same as above except f/4 and EV compensation at 0 or +1/3 EV. Tripod with 2-second self timer.

Q.Menu settings :

STD Film Mode

Contrast: 0
Sharpness: +1
Saturation: 0
NR: -2

More settings copied off of my LX5's Menu:

For Landscapes, put AF on 23-Area AF. You'll have more AF points scattered throughout frame.

Stabilizer on AUTO
Digital Zoom OFF
i.ZOOM set to OFF
I.Resolution set to STANDARD
I.Exposure set to OFF
Face Recognition set to OFF

In post, I use Photoshop to edit my images. I'll do a simple Levels adjustment & shadow/highlight adjustments to exposure. I'll also add selective NR where needed as well as selective sharpening where needed. Lens distortion correction, as well. Hope this helps.
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jazzbass62
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Re: My LX3 / LX5 Settings
In reply to DezM, Apr 15, 2011

Thanks Dez for publishing your guidelines and technique!
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Cleve

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breivogel
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The Solution is....
In reply to Rich the Hiker, Apr 15, 2011

to use RAW. I also do a lot of hiking/climbing photos, and noticed exactly the same effect. The foreground, high contrast stuff is sharp, but the distant, slightly hazy mountains and forests seem like there is a veil over them. Detail in clouds is often lacking. Taking the in camera noise reduction to minimum (-2), helps a little bit, but still annoying. I think the reason that Panasonic does this is to reduce the incidence of noise in blue skies.

This probably would not be noticed in small size prints, and does not seem to be an issue with cityscapes (like Dez does) or portraits. Many folks might say that this is a problem for pixel peepers only, but I find I can see the problem clearly when the image just fills the monitor (at about 40% magnification). It annoys me that perfectly good details (not artifacts) are being eliminated. Thus, I use the LX5 on RAW 100% of the time (and use 8gig memory cards). Note that Canon seems to have a different approach, and does not do this selective smudging, at least on my old A710 (which has other issues).

I find the included Silkypix raw converter decent, considering it is free. For high isos, the in-camera jpegs appear to be better than the Silkypix in terms of noise reduction. Most of the time, for landscapes, I stick with iso 80, and seldom go more than 400.

I have some sample images, but the gallery is not working right now.

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breivogel
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Other thoughts and photos
In reply to breivogel, Apr 15, 2011

An additional thought. Some might suggest that you increase sharpening or contrast. As this this smudging is selective as to where it appears, you will not get nice results by doing global adjustments. In addition, the smudging can't be corrected with the usual USM very well, as it has a very wide radius.

I also have a Panny ZS-7, and it has similar, if not worse smudging.The lack of raw makes it impossible to correct. I only use this camera if I want the extended telephoto or GPS (needless to say it is not used very much, though it is lightweight).

Galleries are now working. Here are some examples from a recent trip to Death Valley (while climbing Telescope peak) I cropped out the center of the image (around 1800x1500 pixels in size) to more clearly show the issue.

The original Jpeg from the camera (all film settings at default 0. setting nr to -2 would not make much difference, base on prior experience). Notice the fuzziness of the distant mountains and the clouds.

Raw converted in Silkypix, all settings default. Much better detail retained.

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Guy Parsons
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Focus point issues
In reply to Rich the Hiker, Apr 15, 2011

Rich the Hiker wrote:

For DezM and anyone else who takes landscapes....... so I have used the 1/3 in focus rule and shooting at F5.6 to try to get sharply focussed near and far detail. ......

Using hyperfocal focus methods guarantees blurred backgrounds.

Best to have a read of Harold Merklinger's article to see why http://www.trenholm.org/hmmerk/DOFR.html and follow the Articles links to find his four part Shutterbug set of articles (adjusting depth of field) that explains it all in more detail.

In film days I proved that it all works and it did make background details more distinct.

Digital though did not seem to make much of a difference as early on the low megapixels and sometimes uncontrollable noise reduction interfered too much. So it's worth a try to see if you notice any changes. Basically if using jpegs then set the camera to -2 Sharpening to reduce noise and eliminate edge halos, sharpen to taste in post process, and set Noise Reduction to -2 to reduce image smearing. Again post process noise reduction to taste works better.

With my LX3 I use only ISO 80 to 200 and never need to post process noise reduction anyway, the LX5 could possibly run 80 to 400 safely. Sample prints to A2 size were no problem at all for my LX3.

As for hyperfocal focus, the old "focus 1/3 way into the scene" rule is only for something like a 50mm lens on 35mm film at f/8, everything else is different. You need to consult a site like http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html to see what the hyperfocal distances are for your camera and focal length and aperture should be.

According to that site the hyperfocal distance for LX5 at 5.1mm and f5.6 is 2.53 feet. At that focus distance then according to Merklinger the distant details would really be bad.

Regards............ Guy
LX3 info... http://homepages.ihug.com.au/~parsog/panasonic/01-intro.html

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breivogel
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Re: Focus point issues
In reply to Guy Parsons, Apr 15, 2011

Given the DOF of small sensors, you might as well let it focus on infinity most of the time for landscapes.

At f 5.6, and widest zoom on lx5, the DOF is 1.2 ft to infinity, when focused to hypefocal (2.4 ft).
If you focus to infinity, you get dof 2.4 to infinity.

If you are using longer zoom or macro, then getting correct focus point is more of an issue, and the 1/3 trick might have merit. Otherwise, just focus on the main subject. As has been pointed out by others, you get depth clues by OOF parts of the image, which is not bad.

In the case of the OP, and in my own extensive experience, the LX5 has a design flaw in the NR algorithm, that wipes out detail in low contrast areas - particularly those with a blue cast(e.g., distant landscapes)

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TechOutsider
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Re: My LX3 / LX5 Settings
In reply to DezM, Apr 15, 2011

I.Resolution has a "Standard" option? What other options are there? Are there "High" and "Low" options as well?

DezM wrote:

I.Resolution set to STANDARD

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DezM
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Re: My LX3 / LX5 Settings
In reply to TechOutsider, Apr 15, 2011

TechOutsider wrote:

I.Resolution has a "Standard" option? What other options are there? Are there "High" and "Low" options as well?

DezM wrote:

I.Resolution set to STANDARD

There's OFF, LOW and HIGH. I guess "Standard" is a medium setting?

I. Resolution or Intelligent Resolution is a form of localized sharpening, which applies different levels of sharpening to outlines, texture and gradation within a single image. I believe it only applies to Jpeg and not Raw files.

http://www.panasonic.asia/lumix/philippines/features/ir_technology/index.html
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Tanngrisnir3
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Re: DezM, how do you get sharp distant objects with LX5 ?
In reply to Rich the Hiker, Apr 15, 2011

Rich the Hiker wrote:

Can't load any photos at minute, but can say that most of my LX5 landscape photos are taken at ISO 100, and I wrote F5.6 to mean the maximum F number I would shoot at even for landscape (as opposed to F8 which some suggest is not as sharp as the F4.5 - F5.6 sweet spot of the lens).

I saw your Loch Lomond photo are was interested in the trees on the far shore. Some of my photos of Scottish lochs with trees in distance don't contain much detail, maybe it is because the conifers themselves blend together and don't contain much detail to capture anyway.

I've found there really is no practical 'sweet spot' for this lens, and have shot very sharp images across the spectrum.

For example, both of these, taken under drastically different light conditions, are well below the 4.5-5.6 range.

No problems with details there.

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stefaan
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Re: My LX3 / LX5 Settings
In reply to DezM, Jul 28, 2011

I could swear your photos were taken with a high end DSLR
... incredible what you get out of an LX5 !
Again proves ... it's the artist, not the camera making the difference.

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DezM
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Re: My LX3 / LX5 Settings
In reply to stefaan, Jul 28, 2011

Thank you, but I don't consider myself an artist but a photography enthusiast
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ulfie
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Re: My LX3 / LX5 Settings
In reply to DezM, Jul 28, 2011

Dez, How about you being an "artistic photography enthusiast?" ulfie

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millsart
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Use focus stacking for foreground and sharp background shots
In reply to Rich the Hiker, Jul 28, 2011

People used to try stopping a lens way down to get more DOF, but that leads to diffraction softening detail.

Tilt/shift lens can be useful, if the subjects are on a flat plane, for adjusting the plane of focus to be near infinite at a larger fstop, but at $1500 per lens, not really an option that most people want.

Luckily with digital shooting, we can now use focus stacking where you take shots at different focal distances and then use software to blend the sharpest parts of each together.

Gives you total near to far sharpness and its quite easy to do with a camera like the LX5 with manual fous. Given its small sensor usually 2 shots will do

New m4/3's with the touch screen are great as well. Just keep camera on the tripod and tough on the screen where you want the focus.

Got to love digital

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