I am still testing and experimenting with the "new" 80d I got. My question is, is this EFS 18-55 any good? It's the cheapie that came with the camera and the same one as I had on my 40d (the one with the 80d is much newer manufacture than the 40d lens though).
I can't seem to get images that are razor sharp no matter what I do: MF or AF, wide or telephoto or anything in between. I've taken a lot of test shots now and they are just never as sharp as I think they should be. They are usable, but when I zoom in on things like signs, wires, branches or leaves that I would think should be razor sharp, they are not.
If I'm expecting too much from that lens I can look into another one IF I could get the sharpness out of something else. I can't find many 17mm-only lenses. I don't care about telephoto range as I rarely use it.
I'll add a couple of example images. First one was MF, 2nd was AF, both shot wide. They looked focused when I took both images, but if you enlarge it and look at the branches and leaves they appear soft to me. These are cropped from the original images as the originals were too big to upload. They may look OK below, but open them in a new tab to see them enlarged.
Maybe this is the limit of this level of DSLR, but I don't know. All I have to compare it to is the old 40d.
First the newer lens is better than the older one even though it is the same FL. Your settings are not the best for detail you realize? Any photo is going to lose IQ as you zoom in on it or blow it up or crop it severely. You used f5, ISO 160, 1/60 SS at 43mm. Almost no lens is at its best wide open and most are substantially better when stopped down one stop. Just for kicks lets try this again only use f8, ISO 400, 1/100 SS at 35mm (whatever gets you a correct exposure at f8 and 1/100 SS)
Actually I think it looks rather good. Remember this is Canon's least expensive general purpose zoom lens. So, yes, I believe this is all and what you should expect. Now if you want to up your game a bit check out the very good Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens. Keep in mind IQ goes up in very small increments.
You mentioned 17mm. Have you thought of a prime in or around that FL? How about the Canon EF 20mm f/2.8 USM? Or, perhaps a bit longer but has IS, the Canon EF 24mm F/2.8 IS USM. And, without doubt if IQ is your main most goal check out the Sigma 20mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens. It is scary sharp! It's likely the sharpest 20mil made.
OK, I was thinking that what I'm seeing is the best that lens can do. It's not terrible, it looks OK when reduced on this page above, but it's not razor sharp like a lot of digital images I've seen (open the image in a new tab and view at 100% and you'll see what I mean).
I looked up the various lenses you listed. Prime lens would be fine but the pickings seem to be pretty slim. I really prefer shooting a wide field of view and don't use telephoto very often. The field of view with a 20mm on an old 35mm film camera was perfect (for me). The best photos I ever took were with my old canon FT and a 20mm Vivitar lens years ago. Absolutely tack sharp every time.
The efs 24mm is about the only thing in my "comfort zone" price range but I'd prefer 12-18mm. I did see a canon 10-18 on amazon that is about $300, but it looks like the same "series" of lens as the one I've got now. Zoom range is fine but it probably isn't as sharp as I'd like. Also saw a Sigma 10-20 and it was only a little more than the canon 10-18. Be nice if I could try these out before buying!
I'll think on it all for now.
Thanks for the help. I appreciate it.
"The best photos I ever took were with my old canon FT and a 20mm Vivitar lens years ago."
WOW, if you thought that was a sharp combo just about anything today would be better. Seriously, have you consider the used market? I know top glass can be quite expensive. You can find some decent values and I am going to think a prime is where you want to be. The 80D is capable of producing some very nice photos. So, it is a case of the lens letting you down. It is almost always the lens that is the issue. Not the camera.
That said what you are getting should be fine unless you do enlarge a lot or crop a lot. The more critical you are and the more you peep the more you will see. Make sense? I'd say enjoy the camera/lens for a while. Live with it and let it sink in. You might just be satisfied and don't peep too much.
So our general rule will be stop down one stop, keep SS at 1/100 or 1/200, ISO 200 to 400. Middle FL range (35mil in your case) will be the sharpest. Shoot Raw format. Then in PS or the free and very good DPP4, do a lens correction. Once in the editor add a small bit of sharpening. That will be the best it gets.
Haha! Yes, I know...an old FT (not even an FTb!). But I did get the best shots out of that thing. Almost always shot TRI-X 400 ASA. Great camera.
You and waddizzle are correct that I need to continue testing.
I was shooting only jpg format so I tried another shot of the tree in raw. That certainly holds up under zoom better. That of course sent me down the path of trying to get that CR2 file open in PS. All I have is CS6 so that was an adventure. CS6 updates are no longer available so the only thing that worked was dowloading adobe DNG Contverter (version 12 dot something). Using that, I was able to convert the CR2 into a DNG format which CS6 actually opened. What a process. But at least I can add filters in PS if/when needed.
I'm installing DPP4 now. OK, got that installed. And wouldn't you know, I can xfer to PS as a TIF with one click.
I did take some close, test shots of some flowers yesterday. Those looked OK.
I've got a lot of new stuff to look at now. Thanks for the help!
"I've got a lot of new stuff to look at now. Thanks for the help!"
OK, good, yes you do! Keep this guide in mind.
"So our general rule will be stop down one stop, keep SS at 1/100 or 1/200, ISO 200 to 400. Middle FL range (35mil in your case) will be the sharpest. Shoot Raw format. Then in PS or the free and very good DPP4, do a lens correction. Once in the editor add a small bit of sharpening. That will be the best it gets."
PS. Faster SS isn't going to help or sharpen a shot like this. Most things in nature do not move on their own faster than one 200th of a second. If a problem does appear move it up to 1/400, that's OK too. And, diffraction isn't the first concern with a basic quality zoom lens like yours, f8 is totally fine.
You are using one of the least expensive lenses that Canon offers. AS previously note, the STM version of the 18-55mm lens is actually a pretty good lens for its' price range.
I think you should take a critical look at yourself before start laying blame on your gear. I think your camera settings could be improved. Make sure you have sufficient light for your ISO [and exposure] settings, and experiment with them.
Again, pixel peeping photos at 100% magnification is a bad habit. Most photos will never look perfect. Resolution decrease when you view a photo at 100%. So, of course, it will not look as good [as] full size.
If you want to see details, then take photos of objects that are much closer to the camera than some trees 100 feet away. Fill the frame with a fork on a table, and use a shutter speed of at least 1/200 to 1/400. I always shoot at 1/800, or faster, when I am outdoors [on a sunny day].
f8, ISO 400, 1/100 SS at 35mm still seems soft to me. I used the roof of the car as support when shooting so shouldn't be camera shake. Here's a crop of the center of the image:
Cropping the image is half the problem. The other half is that it seems that you are zooming in, and doing what is known as pixel peeping. Personally, I think 1/100 shutter speed is probably too slow for what looks like a sunny day.
I would use at least 1/200 to 1/400 on a sunny day. You can probably afford to open up the aperture to f/5.6, too, when you are photographing distant objects. Without knowing what the entire scene looks like, it is impossible to really say.