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Frequent Contributor
Posts: 91
Registered: ‎08-24-2013

Canon too Soft?

Recently I was talking to a photographer who says he shoot both canon and nikon. He told me however that they canon has a softer picture to it compare with the nikon.

 

I wanted to know if that's true and if it is it, how can I fix that to get sharp pictures like the nikon?

Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 2,343
Registered: ‎11-14-2012

Re: Canon too Soft?

In all fairness it's a huge topic with many variables but the biggest one is the quality of lens used. Nikon DOES NOT have a lens line up similar to Canon's L series of lenses but they do have some high end lenses, but nowhere near as extensive a selection as Canon. Also note that unless you always shoot from a tripod YOU are another influence on your results because we all can't shoot every shot perfectly.

Larry, Canon & Nikon owner.

"A skill is developed through constant practice with a passion to improve, not bought."
Respected Contributor
Posts: 1,735
Registered: ‎02-28-2013

Re: Canon too Soft?

There's absolutely no basis for his statement.  If the images you or he produced with the Canon equipment are markedly softer than the Nikon then either you had inferior equipment (of a different price range than the Nikon equipment), or it was the skill (or lack thereof) of whoever shot with Canon.  Both Nikon and Canon are used by the best in the world, and for good reason, they produce results.  If there was a noticeable difference in something as important as sharpness we wouldn't even be here discussing, because everybody would use the other brand.

 

You can find small differences between the companies, this lens is performing a bit better than that, this camera offers this while that camera has that feature.  It's mostly temporal and often subjective as to which is better, but it gives Canon and Nikon fanboys something to argue about.  In the end the differences unlikely have much of an impact on the final product. 

Reputable Contributor
Posts: 766
Registered: ‎06-11-2013

Re: Canon too Soft?

[ Edited ]

Image "softness" - or, better yet, "sharpness" - varies from camera model to camera model for certain reasons. And it's something an experienced and knowledgeable user can control.

 

Image sharpness, as it pertains to any DSLR itself, mostly has to do with the strength of the anti-aliasing filter over the camera's sensor. This filter is necessary to prevent an optical effect called "moiré". Google that for more info about the effect, if you wish. But in general you can expect higher resolution, smaller sensor cameras to need to use a stronger AA filter, than either a lower resolution camera, or one with a larger and less crowded sensor. For example, if you look at images straight from a 6MP Canon 10D (APS-C size sensor, approx. 15x22mm) those photos will appear quite sharp (but enlargement potential is limited by the resolution). Likewise, a 21MP Canon 5D Mark II (with a larger "full frame" size sensor, approx. 24x36mm) renders a sharp image straight from the camera. In comparison, an 18MP Canon 7D's (APS-C size sensor) image initially appears soft, left just as it comes from the camera. You'll see differences comparing various models within a single manufacturers' line-up, as well as comparing between manufacturers.

 

However, all this is under your control. In all but a few cases, digital image files need some sharpening applied. You can apply more sharpening to the image files in post-processing, or simply set the camera to apply more sharpening at the time of exposure. Most experienced users apply most of their image sharpening during post-processing, since how much will be needed varies a lot depending upon how large the final image will be used. You need to apply the right amount... too much, especially applied to certain types of digital files, will cause strange artifacts to appear in the image. Too little leaves the image appearing soft. But the exact amount needed will be quite different for a small image prepared to be posted at low resolution online, versus a large image prepared to make a bog print or for some other high resolution usage. Plus there are different methods of sharpening images. Some work better than others, for certain types of images.

 

There are some camera models that don't have an anti-alias filter, in order to render extreme fine detail straight from the camera. An example is the Canon 60Da. A common usage for this type of camera is astrophotography. But it might be problematic to use one for other types of photography and videography.

 

Yes, there can be some difference in lenses, too. But to be fair both Canon and Nikon produce extensive selections of lenses. You can build up a top notch kit of lenses in either system. Canon offers a few that Nikon doesn't... and vice versa. But both Canon and Nikon offer a much wider selection of lenses than do Sony, Pentax, Olympus, etc. As of now, Canon and Nikon are undoubtedly the top two DSLR lens manufacturers. I think Canon now has about 65 or more, while Nikon is close to the same with around 60 to choose among.

 

If you were to compare a premium lens from one manufacturer with an inexpensive "entry level" lens from another manufacturer, I'm sure you would see some differences in image quality. Sharpness is just one factor of many (there are also color rendition, contrast, flare control, vignetting, distortion control, abberation correction, and much more to compare).

 

Image stabilization or IS (Nikon calls it Vibration Reduction or VR) is another factor, especially when shooting handheld. This is to prevent "camera shake blur". Use of a tripod or monopod when it's appropriate can help, too. Even with those, you have to watch your shutter speeds, especially with moving subjects (to minimize "subject movement blur").

 

Shooters' techniques are a big factor, too. For example, proper use of a lens hood, while avoiding cheap filters both can  lead to better or worse images. Simple, skillful handling of the camera... along with making the right settings, can make a big difference.

 

All in all, there are many reasons that someone might get softer images with one camera than they do with another. A blanket statement that one manufacturer's cameras produce softer images than another's is really pretty ridiculous and just shows a lack of experience and understanding. Virtually any camera model currently being offered is capable of making fine images... so long as it's used correctly with quality lenses and good techniques. processing can produce stunning images.

 

Besides, sometimes we want the image to be a bit soft! (Take some ultra-sharp portraits of your mother-in-law and see how she likes them!)

 

***********
Alan Myers

San Jose, Calif., USA
"Walk softly and carry a big lens."
GEAR: 5DII, 7D(x2), 50D(x3), some other cameras, various lenses & accessories
FLICKR & PRINTROOM 

Frequent Contributor
Posts: 91
Registered: ‎08-24-2013

Re: Canon too Soft?

wow. I applaud you sir. I don't have L series lens so I will have to take you word for it. Thanks

Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 2,343
Registered: ‎11-14-2012

Re: Canon too Soft?

[ Edited ]

OK, lets simplify it. There is a CheVETTE, and a CorVETTE, but they don't perform the same. Both have strengths & a weaknesses when compared head to head. The same applies to Nikon vs Canon. You need to learn how to get the absolute most from 1 before you can say the other is better, but for the vast majority of users you'll never get there. Both DELIVER, both have users who think their gear makes them  better than the competition but based on real world use neither rules the roost. When you can HONESTLY say you have surpased the limits of one brand or the other you'll need to move to the other, but even then you'll need to learn how to get everything out of it that it can produce.

Think of this the same as learning how to drive, it wasn't easy right away but you got better at it with practice, BUT if you were given an all out race car could you drive competively. 

"A skill is developed through constant practice with a passion to improve, not bought."
Reputable Contributor
Posts: 766
Registered: ‎06-11-2013

Re: Canon too Soft?


@Kolourl3lind wrote:

wow. I applaud you sir. I don't have L series lens so I will have to take you word for it. Thanks


You don't necessarily need Canon L series lenses to get sharp shots with Canon cameras.

 

The EF-S 10-22mm, 17-55/2.8 and 15-85mm are all critically sharp zooms, but aren't L series.

 

The orignal 100/2.8 USM macro lens is equal in sharpness to the 100L macro. There are many other Canon lenses that aren't L series, but are very capable.

 

Slightly stopped down, most Canon lenses are quite sharp and rival anything Nikor or anyone else makes. In fact, most lenses have a "sweet spot"... an aperture or apertures where they are exceptionally sharp.

 

Besides - once again - sharpness isn't everything. In fact, some of the large aperture lenses are designed for their soft background blur, as much as for their sharpness within the shallow depth of field they render. The 85/1.2L II, 200/2L IS, 300/2.8L IS (both versions), etc. are examples of this. The 70-200/2.8 and 24-70/2.8L (all versions of each) are some e zooms that are designed to render beautiful background blurs, too.  

 

***********
Alan Myers

San Jose, Calif., USA
"Walk softly and carry a big lens."
GEAR: 5DII, 7D(x2), 50D(x3), some other cameras, various lenses & accessories
FLICKR & PRINTROOM 

Frequent Contributor
Posts: 91
Registered: ‎08-24-2013

Re: Canon too Soft?

Well I am working with a kit lens. So I will have to take your words for it.

New Contributor
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎06-25-2014

Re: Canon too Soft?

Go buy a 70-200 2.8 L   you will be pleased

Highlighted
Valued Contributor
Posts: 425
Registered: ‎01-19-2014

Re: Canon too Soft?


@amfoto1 wrote:

Image "softness" - or, better yet, "sharpness" - varies from camera model to camera model for certain reasons. And it's something an experienced and knowledgeable user can control.

 

Image sharpness, as it pertains to any DSLR itself, mostly has to do with the strength of the anti-aliasing filter over the camera's sensor. This filter is necessary to prevent an optical effect called "moiré". Google that for more info about the effect, if you wish. But in general you can expect higher resolution, smaller sensor cameras to need to use a stronger AA filter, than either a lower resolution camera, or one with a larger and less crowded sensor. For example, if you look at images straight from a 6MP Canon 10D (APS-C size sensor, approx. 15x22mm) those photos will appear quite sharp (but enlargement potential is limited by the resolution). Likewise, a 21MP Canon 5D Mark II (with a larger "full frame" size sensor, approx. 24x36mm) renders a sharp image straight from the camera. In comparison, an 18MP Canon 7D's (APS-C size sensor) image initially appears soft, left just as it comes from the camera. You'll see differences comparing various models within a single manufacturers' line-up, as well as comparing between manufacturers.

 

Why did you write that AA filters are necessary if a couple paragraphs later you are going to mention that camera manufacturers have been moving away from AA filters, or reducing their effect?

 

I don't agree. There is no evidence that the sensor size is primarily responsible for any meaningful distinction in sharpness, AA filter or no AA filter. Your point regarding the size of very small sensors, notwithstanding, does not provide a meaningful distinction between the small sensors (phone camera sensors, for example) and larger sensors (24 x 35mm). In the context of discussing the difference between FF vs APS-C sensors which are popular among DSLR and mirrorless models, it is easy for the reader to get lost in the technology explanation and forget to ask HOW MUCH any lose of sharpness might occure. I have observed and guided hundreds of people in making sharpness choices on-press in the high-end commercial printing industry and can confirm that most people lack the prerequisite ability to discern minute differences in sharpness. The sort of differences you suggest that might exist between Nikon and Canon cameras, comparing like-models, is beyond the unaided visual capacity of most anyone, myself included.

 

However, all this is under your control. In all but a few cases, digital image files need some sharpening applied. You can apply more sharpening to the image files in post-processing, or simply set the camera to apply more sharpening at the time of exposure. Most experienced users apply most of their image sharpening during post-processing, since how much will be needed varies a lot depending upon how large the final image will be used. You need to apply the right amount... too much, especially applied to certain types of digital files, will cause strange artifacts to appear in the image. Too little leaves the image appearing soft. But the exact amount needed will be quite different for a small image prepared to be posted at low resolution online, versus a large image prepared to make a bog print or for some other high resolution usage. Plus there are different methods of sharpening images. Some work better than others, for certain types of images.

 

Digital image files in most cases do not NEED sharpening but most get it anyway. What makes a picture appear sharp may not, in fact, result in a sharper picture. For decades, the printing industry has used various filters and masking techniques to digitally modify imagesso they appear sharper. Invariably, these techniques are destructive to images and result in a loss of the very detail that makes up a sharp image. The techniques are popular, IMHO, because viewers have embraced visual representations of what they think sharpness should look like. Google "unsharp masking", if you care, or read the first paragraph in the Wiki here, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unsharp_masking.

 

There are some camera models that don't have an anti-alias filter, in order to render extreme fine detail straight from the camera. An example is the Canon 60Da. A common usage for this type of camera is astrophotography. But it might be problematic to use one for other types of photography and videography.

 

Several manufacturers, big Canon competitors, have moved away from AA filters and they are not making problematic cameras. But that doesn't matter because there is no way you'd be able to tell the difference anyway. Certainly not after applying generous doses of sharpness and masking filters.

 

Yes, there can be some difference in lenses, too. But to be fair both Canon and Nikon produce extensive selections of lenses. You can build up a top notch kit of lenses in either system. Canon offers a few that Nikon doesn't... and vice versa. But both Canon and Nikon offer a much wider selection of lenses than do Sony, Pentax, Olympus, etc. As of now, Canon and Nikon are undoubtedly the top two DSLR lens manufacturers. I think Canon now has about 65 or more, while Nikon is close to the same with around 60 to choose among.

 

If it isn't in the lenses then do you think you're on to something? Maybe, just maybe, the people that claim N is sharper than C, aren't making a valid judgement. Because, from were I sit, the lens is probably the biggest factor which determines sharpness and it may have a lot to do with the coatings on the lenses, things that most people don't even consider.

 

If you were to compare a premium lens from one manufacturer with an inexpensive "entry level" lens from another manufacturer, I'm sure you would see some differences in image quality. Sharpness is just one factor of many (there are also color rendition, contrast, flare control, vignetting, distortion control, abberation correction, and much more to compare).

 

Image stabilization or IS (Nikon calls it Vibration Reduction or VR) is another factor, especially when shooting handheld. This is to prevent "camera shake blur". Use of a tripod or monopod when it's appropriate can help, too. Even with those, you have to watch your shutter speeds, especially with moving subjects (to minimize "subject movement blur").

 

Shooters' techniques are a big factor, too. For example, proper use of a lens hood, while avoiding cheap filters both can  lead to better or worse images. Simple, skillful handling of the camera... along with making the right settings, can make a big difference.

 

These paragraphs have nothing to do with the question of Nikon vs. Canon. Alan, this is your editor, you need to cut out the extraneous details which detract from your writing.

 

All in all, there are many reasons that someone might get softer images with one camera than they do with another. A blanket statement that one manufacturer's cameras produce softer images than another's is really pretty ridiculous and just shows a lack of experience and understanding. Virtually any camera model currently being offered is capable of making fine images... so long as it's used correctly with quality lenses and good techniques. processing can produce stunning images.

 

We all suffer from a lack of understanding but I would be careful to suggest that your understanding is more valid than someone else's.

 

Besides, sometimes we want the image to be a bit soft! (Take some ultra-sharp portraits of your mother-in-law and see how she likes them!)

 

***********
Alan Myers

San Jose, Calif., USA
"Walk softly and carry a big lens."
GEAR: 5DII, 7D(x2), 50D(x3), some other cameras, various lenses & accessories
FLICKR & PRINTROOM 


 

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