What's wrong with my 20D?

Started Sep 22, 2006 | Discussions
Tim Corso Regular Member • Posts: 156
What's wrong with my 20D?

Or may be whats wrong with what I am doing? I've had my 20D a little over a year now and it nearly always fails to impress me. The main issue I have with it is the consistent dull and brown looking images that I get. Take a look at a couple of typical shots below.

BTW both shots were taken on a bright blue sky sunny day, virtually no clouds

Original files can be found here:
http://www.place2view.co.uk/pictures/Misc_MG_0294_small.jpg
http://www.place2view.co.uk/pictures/Misc_MG_0281_small.jpg

I think that the white balance is getting it wrong most of the time. Generally I use AWB and usually shoot RAW+JPG knowing that RAW is the only way I'm going to get any kind of satisfaction. Sometimes I use my Whilbal, but that isn't as fool proof as some would have you believe.

Anyway I don't want to be post processing every last picture, particularly where I've been on holiday and have more than 800 shots to process. What I want is a more satisfying result straight from that camera.

I really want to like the 20D but the poor results are killing my enthusiasm for taking pictures. I'm beginning to force myself to take my camera out with me, knowing that when I download my days shots, I'm going to be disappointed.

Any suggestions on how I can get better looking images straight from the camera? I've explored all of the different parameter settings to the point where I wonder if a 30D with picture styles would help me? I have the 17-85 EFS lens which I think is OK, as well as a 70-200 L f2.8 which is much revered, but both lenses give, what to me, are disappointing results.

Cipher Senior Member • Posts: 2,652
Stop taking pictures of...

dull brown objects.

Also, don't take pictures when the sun is high. Try taking photos early or late in the day.

-- hide signature --
Cipher Senior Member • Posts: 2,652
Also...

do you use a polarizer? If not, go out and buy one made by Heliopan or B+W.

-- hide signature --
c.hammett Forum Pro • Posts: 12,111
Re: dull brown subjects

I agree with the above poster. Your subjects are dull and brown. Show us something with some color and life to it !

Also, try changing the w/b to suit the lighlt rather than using awb. I change it all the time. Frequently, you will be shooting a series of shots under the same lighting conditions, so it isn't like you have to change every time you click the shutter. Bu doing that (changing w/b to suit the light) you can get a pretty good idea on the LCD review if your shots are correct re: color balance.

Check my pbase gallery of 20D images from Italy 2005 (by city using the 17-40 L) and Scandanavia / Russia (by city with the 17-85) to see how it works by changing w/b as needed.

carolyn
Ranger a.k.a chammett
http://www.pbase.com/chammett

'elegance is simplicity'

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Lenny L Senior Member • Posts: 1,794
Re: What's wrong with my 20D?

This may not be the main reason, but I want to track this thread, and figure I might as well post something semi-useful.

I noticed that you're using Adobe RGB colorspace in your JPEG. What system / applications are you using to view your images? Are they colorspace aware?

FWIW I still can't get blue skies on the first image with PS CS2 even when using the correct colorspace - I had to play around with the blue and red levels before it looked decent.

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OP Tim Corso Regular Member • Posts: 156
Re: Also...

Hi Cipher

Thanks for your comment.

Firstly the views I have shown here are just two of many examples. The views should be predominantly green as the views were taking in in the south of England just a week ago. At the very least both shots should have nice blue skies.

I may well invest in a polarizer, but I don't think this will solve my problem. May be you and others would disagree

OP Tim Corso Regular Member • Posts: 156
Re: What's wrong with my 20D?

Lenny,

I'm using PS CS. like you I sometimes find it impossible to get the colours I want in ACR. This is what makes me think something is wrong, either with what I ma doing or with my camera

AdityaDatta Contributing Member • Posts: 857
Re: What's wrong with my 20D?

Assuming your lenses are good copies, and in good clean usable condition, you should try the following:

  • Take pictures at the right times.. Overcast sky, early morning/ late evening is the best time to get most saturated colors

  • It is possible that your WB meter may be off, have you tried to do a manual WB and/or sent camera to canon to check for calibiration?

  • I fully understand not wanting to do a post processing of every last image, and what I find most successfull for getting that pop out of camera pictuers is to push the limits of parameters to the extreme. Granted it may seem a bit excessive, but you can tune it down later

  • Try you camera in a controlled reproduceable environment and see how you like the results (use tripod,good light, remote/timed shutter release)

  • Pay extra attention to exposure and expose for the details that you want most.. under/over exposure would make the colors look dull/washed out

  • Composition... still trying to get my arms around this one, but this makes the biggest difference in the PoP that a image may or may not have.

Outside of a bad copy / malfunction, you should be able to get photos out of the camera with you 70-200 f2.8 which would bring a smile on your face.

The landscape shots are almost always a bit more tricky and take a quite a bit of practice and often some post processing to tweak.. im still learning.

SMC2002 Veteran Member • Posts: 3,357
Re: What's wrong with my 20D?

What's the histogram look like? Big hump in the middle with very skinny tails? Looks like most of the tonal info in these pics is neutral. Everything is probably bunched in the middle of the histogram. Use Levels or Curves to stretch the tails of the histogram and give more pop and contrast.

Of course, you probably won't be topo pleased about how they look when posting to the web, if you leave them in Adobe RGB color space. Convert to sRGB and do some post processing.

It's not the camera's fault, IMHO.

Steve

-- hide signature --
beerguy Senior Member • Posts: 2,539
Re: What's wrong with my 20D?

Tim Corso wrote:

Or may be whats wrong with what I am doing? I've had my 20D a
little over a year now and it nearly always fails to impress me.
The main issue I have with it is the consistent dull and brown
looking images that I get. Take a look at a couple of typical shots
below.

BTW both shots were taken on a bright blue sky sunny day, virtually
no clouds

I added a Curves layer (quick S-Curve to bring up mid-range contrast), and a slight Saturation boost (+6). Also, when you post to the web, convert to sRGB from aRGB. At least some PP is usually necessary.

I think that the white balance is getting it wrong most of the
time. Generally I use AWB and usually shoot RAW+JPG knowing that
RAW is the only way I'm going to get any kind of satisfaction.
Sometimes I use my Whilbal, but that isn't as fool proof as some
would have you believe.

I never use AWB, I find that Canon's AWB gets it wrong quite often. Also, AWB will rob you of the early morning or late afternoon quality of light. I use daylight when shooting during the day. I also shoot RAW, so I can tweak the WB if needed.

Anyway I don't want to be post processing every last picture,
particularly where I've been on holiday and have more than 800
shots to process. What I want is a more satisfying result straight
from that camera.

You'll have to shoot jpeg for that, and play with the in-camera settings. I shoot RAW, as I like to have control over my images.

I really want to like the 20D but the poor results are killing my
enthusiasm for taking pictures. I'm beginning to force myself to
take my camera out with me, knowing that when I download my days
shots, I'm going to be disappointed.

You need to stop shooting in the middle of the day. Shoot some sunrises or sunsets. Go for the "Golden Hour", the hour just after sunrise or before sunset. Buy a polarizer, too.

Cameras don't take pictures, people do.

Any suggestions on how I can get better looking images straight
from the camera? I've explored all of the different parameter
settings to the point where I wonder if a 30D with picture styles
would help me? I have the 17-85 EFS lens which I think is OK, as
well as a 70-200 L f2.8 which is much revered, but both lenses
give, what to me, are disappointing results.

Shoot better subjects at better times of the day? Check my gallery for some 20D images.

-- hide signature --

Cheers,

bg

'I have always wished that my computer would be as easy to use as my telephone. My wish has come true. I no longer know how to use my telephone.'

  • Bjarne Stroustrup, inventor of the C++ programming language

Check out my gallery at http://beerguy.smugmug.com

(See profile for the gear collection)

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OP Tim Corso Regular Member • Posts: 156
Re: dull brown subjects

Hi Carolyn,

My subjects are not dull and brown, that is the point. In the second picture the stubble in the foreground is brown, but the hills in the distance are definitely green. The sky should be blue not a mirky grey brown BTM each shot was one in a series to be stitched into a panorama

I admit that I never adjust the white balance as I've checked out what Cloudy Tungsten and so on do in Camera Raw and I think these would not help one bit. I guess I have assumed that the Camera does exactly what ACR does.

The shots on your site have great colours I have never got anything like that out of my 20D

OP Tim Corso Regular Member • Posts: 156
Re: What's wrong with my 20D?

beerguy wrote:

Tim Corso wrote:

Or may be whats wrong with what I am doing? I've had my 20D a
little over a year now and it nearly always fails to impress me.
The main issue I have with it is the consistent dull and brown
looking images that I get. Take a look at a couple of typical shots
below.

BTW both shots were taken on a bright blue sky sunny day, virtually
no clouds

Sorry beerguy, but I prefer the original. I think it should look more like this, but even this is not perfect since it doesn't look like a sunny day.

I added a Curves layer (quick S-Curve to bring up mid-range
contrast), and a slight Saturation boost (+6). Also, when you post
to the web, convert to sRGB from aRGB. At least some PP is usually
necessary.

I think that the white balance is getting it wrong most of the
time. Generally I use AWB and usually shoot RAW+JPG knowing that
RAW is the only way I'm going to get any kind of satisfaction.
Sometimes I use my Whilbal, but that isn't as fool proof as some
would have you believe.

I never use AWB, I find that Canon's AWB gets it wrong quite often.
Also, AWB will rob you of the early morning or late afternoon
quality of light. I use daylight when shooting during the day. I
also shoot RAW, so I can tweak the WB if needed.

Anyway I don't want to be post processing every last picture,
particularly where I've been on holiday and have more than 800
shots to process. What I want is a more satisfying result straight
from that camera.

You'll have to shoot jpeg for that, and play with the in-camera
settings. I shoot RAW, as I like to have control over my images.

I really want to like the 20D but the poor results are killing my
enthusiasm for taking pictures. I'm beginning to force myself to
take my camera out with me, knowing that when I download my days
shots, I'm going to be disappointed.

You need to stop shooting in the middle of the day. Shoot some
sunrises or sunsets. Go for the "Golden Hour", the hour just after
sunrise or before sunset. Buy a polarizer, too.

Cameras don't take pictures, people do.

Any suggestions on how I can get better looking images straight
from the camera? I've explored all of the different parameter
settings to the point where I wonder if a 30D with picture styles
would help me? I have the 17-85 EFS lens which I think is OK, as
well as a 70-200 L f2.8 which is much revered, but both lenses
give, what to me, are disappointing results.

Shoot better subjects at better times of the day? Check my gallery
for some 20D images.

Shoot better pictures? What do you mean? Both shot are one in a number to be stitched into a panorama

-- hide signature --

Cheers,

bg

'I have always wished that my computer would be as easy to use as
my telephone. My wish has come true. I no longer know how to use
my telephone.'

  • Bjarne Stroustrup, inventor of the C++ programming language

Check out my gallery at http://beerguy.smugmug.com

(See profile for the gear collection)

NickC20D Forum Member • Posts: 99
picture style in dpp

you can apply picture styles in digital photo pro and see if you like it. the user guide tells you what each picture style setting does to saturation, sharpness, color tone etc. landscape style in dpp gives you a very saturated blue sky if that's what you're looking for. it ups the levels in blue and green tones and boosts saturation and sharpness. the nice thing is you can apply the recipe to a batch all at once.

SMC2002 Veteran Member • Posts: 3,357
That's the beauty of post processing...

You can make the scene look as accurate as you remember it. Or, you can tweak it to taste

My take may be off too. But all the points brought out in this thread are valid. Especially the color space advice.

We really are trying to help you

Steve

-- hide signature --
Gary Rodgers Senior Member • Posts: 1,359
You nailed it

The images are in Adobe RGB. When viewed through a medium expecting SRGB, they'll be flat looking...

Lenny L wrote:

This may not be the main reason, but I want to track this thread,
and figure I might as well post something semi-useful.

I noticed that you're using Adobe RGB colorspace in your JPEG. What
system / applications are you using to view your images? Are they
colorspace aware?

FWIW I still can't get blue skies on the first image with PS CS2
even when using the correct colorspace - I had to play around with
the blue and red levels before it looked decent.

-- hide signature --

Gary

Alvin Nunley Veteran Member • Posts: 4,305
I have the 10D....................

And I had the same problem as you. I was ready to return it. I also saw a lot of pictures here on dpreview with the same problem. And trust me, my pictures looked just like yours. Photoshop took care of a lot of my problems, but not all of them.

What to do? I'm no expert, that's for sure. I changed to raw, I changed to manual. I purchased PS. Then PS CS2. Then to RSP. I now use both.

I have come to the conclusion that the camera will not blow a highlight, thus the under exposure. It's a nice camera, but it's not as smart as me. Now, I will set the exposure, I will let the camera set the white balance. (Most of the time it gets it right.) Still, there are times I have to change it in PP.

With film, I never had this problem, but film had no idea about WB or anything else. What you need to understand is this, this camera is really smart. It makes mistakes, for sure, but that's where you come in.

After all my trial and errors, my pictures come out, for the most part, pretty good. I guess, after reading the posts here, I must have just absorbed what I needed to know.

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Canon PowerShot SX520
HenryL64 Contributing Member • Posts: 521
Re: There's nothing wrong with your camera

What the others have mentioned is right on the money - there are many small things that are all contributing to your images appearing the way they do. Here's a quick edit of each - just bumped contrast, adjusted white and black points with levels, and converted to SRGB.
Original:

Adjusted:

Original:

Adjusted:

One thing to keep in mind is that a camera does not see the same way that we do. These images simply have a very narrow tonal range and are underexposed as well. That's a recipe for flat images.

Try using the histogram to do a quick assessment of the initial exposure, and if it isn't right adjust your settings so that you are "shooting to the right". It's taking me some time, but it's slowly becoming second nature.

-- hide signature --

Regards,

Henry

STEVENAS Senior Member • Posts: 1,843
with all due respect...

go back to a point and shoot.

Rick Colson Contributing Member • Posts: 954
Re: "I changed to raw, I changed to manual..."

"I purchased this. I purchased that..." You don't need to buy any more stuff.

The problem is that first, great images are not easy. That's why there are so many people on forums like this. You just need a little more practice and experience. Believe it or not, as simple as it seems, there are plenty of photographers who go to college for four or more years to learn their craft.

Second, the only thing you do need is a calibrated monitor and more experience in Photoshop. It all starts with a calibrated monitorthough. Without that you have no frame of reference. It really doesn't matter which version of Photoshop. CS, CS2, etc., You're not doing anything that ANY version of Photoshop can't handle.

Third, even on a calibrated monitor, the images that are most suitable for printing will be those that do look a little bit "flat." They'll print with a little more contrast.

Before you try to master curves and adjustment layers, just try the basics. Bring the sliders in top the beginning of the black opaart of the histogram on both ends in levels. Try brightness, contrast, hue and saturation. As you gain experience, you can then try stuff like curves. (Oh, I'm not suggesting that you don't try curves. it's just that you might find it a little frustrating at first.)

Get a book or two on Photoshop for photographers. There are a lot that are written for graphic artists and designers but the ones expressly for photographers will be a lot more useful.

Good Luck. Keep Shooting. Don't Buy New Stuff 'Til You Learn What Ya Got.

R

roypogi Regular Member • Posts: 205
Re: What's wrong with my 20D?

Lenny L wrote:

This may not be the main reason, but I want to track this thread,
and figure I might as well post something semi-useful.

I noticed that you're using Adobe RGB colorspace in your JPEG. What
system / applications are you using to view your images? Are they
colorspace aware?

FWIW I still can't get blue skies on the first image with PS CS2
even when using the correct colorspace - I had to play around with
the blue and red levels before it looked decent.

When I opened the picture in Photoshop it became vivid already, did some levels and curves and it looked a lot better. You might want to change to SRGB before posting on the web.

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