Old 03-07-2007, 03:05 PM   #1
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Default Image Quality

I've been having a lot of rejects for poor image quality lately. I was wondering if there was anything I could do to improve the quality, or if I am doing something wrong in the resizing or editing that diminishes the quality. It's also possible that the rp standards have just gotten a bit stricter lately and my cheap camera just can't cut it anymore. Here's a few sample rejects from this weekend; all feedback is welcome. Thanks.

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Old 03-07-2007, 03:21 PM   #2
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General - RP standards are stricter than a few years ago, but you have lots of very recently accepted pix, so it's not that.

First one - HCLX looks bad on the side, complete loss of detail. UP not great, can't read the unit number. My first guess would be too much noise reduction, but I strongly doubt you needed to do any. So I have no idea.

I was going to comment individually on the rest, but they all just seem to be "off." The Amtrak is worse than just "off." Your recent accepted pictures are not terrific quality-wise, but they are a notch above these. (Metra at 16th street is very nice, BTW, but the quality seems much better in the rails at foreground compared to the rest of the image.) So I have no idea, this is intriguing. I look forward to what others have to say.

Maybe you bumped your camera and some sort of alignment in the optics is off?
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Old 03-07-2007, 03:33 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by JRMDC
Maybe you bumped your camera and some sort of alignment in the optics is off?
Clearly, this is a case of someone storing their camera on its side in the bag. Ween, beware!

Seriously, a few of the shots seem just a notch off. But this monitor I am looking on is not the best, so I could be prejudiced by the Poor Image rejections.

I myself recently got a Poor Image rejection that I did not agree with too, for what it's worth. But I let it go since I had another one that in hindsight was the better shot and should have been the one submitted.

Shot 1 -- The HLCX shot. It's a beautiful little engine. I wish the 3819 and 3821 had been painted red before they were delivered to the L&C in South Carolina. The main issue I see is the lack of clear light on the nose. For RP purposes, this is a must in most cases. The shot also appears to be leaning slightly to the left.

Shot 2 -- The BNSF shot suffers more from bad framing than anything to me. I would have let the train get a little closer to the barn. If the train was up just a hair from where the trees start in the background, I think we'd have a winner. It also appears to be leaning to the left.

Shot 3 -- The Amtrak shot is just a little off in enough areas that it's way off. The cropping issueprobably comes in from cutting off what looks like a horse thing to the left. But there's also a distracting shadow in the bottom of the shot and the shot looks to lean to the left.

Shot 4 -- The shadow on the side of the lead loco is a shot killer. It's also leaning to the left.

The first two shots might be salvageable. The Amtrak shot needs a lot of work and the CN shot is one for the oft mentioned personal collection.

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Old 03-08-2007, 03:20 AM   #4
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Clearly, this is a case of someone storing their camera on its side in the bag. Ween, beware!
Ha ha ha ha!! Stirring the pot, I see!

As for the topic at hand, recheck to make sure you're shooting at the highest setting available. Also, have you changed your workflow or any programs you use to process your images? Other than that, not sure...
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Old 03-11-2007, 10:44 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Joe the Photog
Clearly, this is a case of someone storing their camera on its side in the bag. Ween, beware!

Shot 2 -- The BNSF shot suffers more from bad framing than anything to me. I would have let the train get a little closer to the barn. If the train was up just a hair from where the trees start in the background, I think we'd have a winner. It also appears to be leaning to the left.
I like this composition quite a bit. If I had taken it, I probably would have clicked off a round of shots as the lead loco approached the barn. Perhaps he has a closer one? And maybe with some different processing he can improve the image quality. It should definitely be considered.
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Old 03-11-2007, 11:44 PM   #6
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I have attached lead strips to the bottom of my camera to assure it never ends up sitting on it's side by accident.

Assuming that is not the problem (kidding), I'd say that the photos rejected are indeed a bit off. What is frustrating, but perhaps unavoidable, is that there are quite a few screeners on RP and each not only has his own standards, but also their own variable tolerences for quality which may fluxuate from day to day, month to month. We are all guilty here as many of us can surely look back at some of our own photos and shrug at the thought of seeing them... and strangely, who hasn't revived a photo from the second's pile?

This can be brought to light by simply looking through the database. I've even seen a few People's Choices that had poor image quality. Submit and debate on the merits of your own standars rather then in comparison of others and you will have an easier time stomaching those rejects.

You can appeal, of course, if you feel a specific screener's judgement is off one day.

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Old 03-12-2007, 12:23 AM   #7
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I really like your second shot. Nice composition.

Your first two shots look like they were soft and then over sharpened. The sky looks sort of grainy and you can see the white border along the tops of the locomotives and cars. On your fourth shot, the nose looks OK, but detail disappears behind it. The tree branches are fuzzy and the trailing units don't have much detail.

Check your camera settings and make sure you are shooting at the highest quality setting. Then check your aperture/shutter speed/ISO settings to make sure you have an f/ stop that will give you some depth of field while the shutter speed is high enough to stop the action.

It's very common for auto focus to focus on the nose, but that means 1/3 of the zone of sharpness is ahead of the train. By understanding what your depth of field is and focusing a bit back from the nose, you can get the locomotives in the full zone of sharpness. Pre-focusing on a spot and then shooting just after the train has passed it is a useful technique.

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Old 03-13-2007, 12:16 PM   #8
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The EXIF Data tells me that you are using a Kodak CX7430 'Zoom Digital' Camera. This particular camera is classified as a 'Point and Shoot' with 4 megapixels.

It would appear to me - please tell me if I'm wrong - that you are pressing the shutter button halfway down (to focus) as the train approaches and then fully when the train is in the desired position. Now, depending on how far the train has travelled (in distance) between focusing and actually taking the shot will determine how 'out of focus' the subject is. If the train is say 100 metres away when you've focused and 20 metres away when you've taken the shot, then obviously you will get a blurry shot because you have focused too soon.

I had this problem with my Nikon E5700 and this is what I did ...
- How long does it take my camera to focus correctly? You sould see a little green light or similar indicating correct focus.
- What is the track speed of the area I'm photographing in?
- How fast should the train be travelling?
- Where do I actually want the train to be positioned when I take my photo?

Here's what you do/think:
It takes my camera 0.5 seconds to focus, the train will be travelling at 100km/h, and I want the headlight to line up with a tree in the background. So, when the train is very close to the tree, press the shutter button halfway down to focus, and then fully down without delay. This reduces the amount of time between when you have focused and actually taken the shot to ensure sharp shots everytime!

If you camera takes a considerable amount of time to focus, then I suggest pre-focusing on the track where you want to take the photo. This will reduce the amount of adjustment your camera has to do to focus.
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