Is it my camera or me? (P&S)

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Is it my camera or me? (P&S)

Postby TinaTC » Sat Jan 31, 2015 1:17 pm

I got a Nikon Coolpix L810 about 4 years ago and I've never been that happy with it. The camera shop suggested it for really good macro shots in my aquarium, but I've found it's no better than the cheap Fugi Finepix I had before it (often worse). Outdoor photos are never sharp. I've played with all the settings and I try to rest the camera on something so there's minimal movement, but nothing improves.

I'd love some opinions on what I'm doing wrong. This was the best of about 20 shots I took. You can't even see the detail in the pilly, and I was resting the camera against the door frame as I took it. If it's the camera, I'm ready to go shopping again. I'm just not sure I want to go the DSLR route - I have too many expensive hobbies as it is!

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Re: Is it my camera or me? (P&S)

Postby MikeW » Sun Feb 01, 2015 3:07 am

Tina, I do not know much about your model but did notice in the metadata you posted that it was at 15.3mm. This is considered a very wide angle focal length and is much better suited for a large landscape shot than a bird or wildlife photo. Does that model have a zoom on it? If so, when taking a shot like this with a P&S, use the highest 'optical' zoom you have available. Taking a rest on something like you did is the right thing to do if you can't use a tripod...anything to steady the shot. My wife had a small Nikon P&S just for family pics and such, but was not happy with it because it was too grainy. I am personally a Canon shooter so can't make a good recommendation on the Nikon line (they have some great cameras, I just am not familiar with them). If you are looking I would suggest the Canon SX50 if you can still find one (B&H still has them as does Best Buy and Amazon). The new SX60 is out but it has a slower burst rate, which is one reason I suggest the SX50. I know some folks on this site shoot them and can probably fill you in on how they like them. It sells for about $320 has a focal range of 24mm to 1200mm (50x optical zoom) and shoots at up to 13 frames a second. I've seen some shots from one and they are pretty impressive, especially from a P&S. Something to check out anyway, if you should decide to go the new camera route. Hope this was helpful.
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Re: Is it my camera or me? (P&S)

Postby Celtictwo » Sun Feb 01, 2015 4:34 am

I've recently upgraded from the Nikon L830 bridge camera which has a 35X zoom. I was very pleased with the results most of the time. To be frank, the only reason I upgraded was because I missed quite a few action shots because the camera did not give enough control of settings, particularly shutter speed . The advice from MikeW is dead on and Canon has some excellent P&S cameras, but if you would rather stick to the Nikon brand, the L830 is on sale at Best Buy for $200. The attached photos are samples of some of my photos with the L830. The eagle photo was taken at a focal length of 830mm and the other two were at 136mm. Hope this helps.
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Re: Is it my camera or me? (P&S)

Postby TinaTC » Sun Feb 01, 2015 12:05 pm

MikeW and Celtictwo, thank you for your replies. I should have mentioned that the zoomed photos aren't good either. Indoor shots often look yellowish even with the incandescent light setting. When I looked up reviews of this camera most were quite positive, leading me to believe the problem was me. The only consistent negative was that it ate batteries, which it does. I originally planned to get a Canon but the camera shop talked me into the Nikon. But wow, I am extremely impressed with Celtic's photos. I never would've guessed those were taken with a P&S! That gives me hope.

My moving subject is often blurred. So this has to do with the shutter speed? Is this something I can adjust in my P&S or not?

Here's a zoomed in photo.
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Indoor photo with lighting set on incandescent. This is less yellow looking than most I've taken, but still not good. Using the flash helps, but it won't always go off. Again, never had this problem with the Fugi Finepix.
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Re: Is it my camera or me? (P&S)

Postby MikeW » Sun Feb 01, 2015 4:19 pm

Tina, the camera setting for incandescent should have taken care of the yellow if working properly, not sure what is up there. To answer the question on moving subjects being blurred, yes, that has to do with either shutter speed or possible camera shake which is more of a problem as you increase focal length (zoom in). Again, I don't know enough about your camera model to tell you if you can set shutter speed, but your camera manual should cover that. I did notice that in your metadata it shows VR = off. The VR is Vibration Reduction and it would help when handholding the camera to have that turned on. Give that a try and see if you notice any improvements in the sharpness of your photos.
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Re: Is it my camera or me? (P&S)

Postby MikeW » Sun Feb 01, 2015 5:01 pm

Tina, I did a quick look through your camera manual and did not see anything where it allows you to control the shutter speed directly. By the way, here is a link to the manual.

http://cdn-10.nikon-cdn.com/pdf/manuals ... 810_EN.pdf

However, there are two things I found that might help indirectly effect the shutter speed for your moving subject issue. First, there is a 'sports' mode that sounds like it tries to use a faster shutter speed for moving subjects. Second, and this one gives you a bit more control, is that you can control the ISO. In your metadata you are on 'auto ISO' and the camera is using ISO 200 which gives you a shutter speed of 1/250 second. Your camera will go to ISO 1600 and any increase will give you a corresponding increase in shutter speed (if all other factors like aperture remain the same). For example, if that photo was on auto at ISO 200 with the Shutter speed of 1/250 sec then changing the ISO to 400 (double) would give you a shutter speed of 1/500 second. You will have to play around with this a bit because increased ISO can, well, will mean increased digital noise. However all cameras handle that differently...some of the newer DSLRs can get well up there in ISO without significant increase in any noticeable noise. That is where you will have to do some experimentation and see what increase you find acceptable for your camera. One other thing to note. Sensor's have come a long way in the past 4 years, kinda like computers...as soon as you buy one a better model comes out before the ink is dry on your check. Even with P&S cameras the sensors are much better than they were when your camera was new, not saying there is anything wrong with older tech, just something to consider. I have a Canon 5D Mark II that has what is essentially 7 year old sensor technology in it, but it still takes great landscape shots...is the Mark III better or the Mark IV that will come out this year, yes they are, but it is personal choice when to upgrade. Sorry to ramble here, enjoy the rest of the weekend.
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Re: Is it my camera or me? (P&S)

Postby TinaTC » Sun Feb 01, 2015 7:50 pm

Holy moley, MikeW! This is quite enlightening. The vibration reduction setting didn't appear until I reset the entire camera. Then voila, there it was. So I changed it and took another shot. What do you think? I think it's much improved already. The color even looks better. Maybe resetting it corrected something I screwed up before. Then I saw your 2nd post. I never knew what to do with the sports mode or ISO before. Will definitely play around with that too. I've read through this manual several times but I always found it confusing. Having the settings explained to me really helps. Thank you!

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Re: Is it my camera or me? (P&S)

Postby Celtictwo » Mon Feb 02, 2015 4:08 am

If you find the manual as confusing as I did I suggest you try finding an instructional video on YouTube. When I first purchased my DSLR I read through the manual several times and made all of the settings as I understood them. I was so disappointed with the results I almost returned the camera. But then I found a few videos on YouTube for my camera model. I watched the videos, using the pause button and taking notes frequently. I can't stress how helpful these were.
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Re: Is it my camera or me? (P&S)

Postby SandyLee » Mon Feb 02, 2015 4:35 pm

Hi Tina,
Your last shot does look better... does your camera "tell" you where your focal point is? The trees are much "crisper" so it looks like the camera is on a multi-point focus, therefore "looking" at the overall environment, rather than the birds. The birds, being so small in the frame (as well as being "black and white" birds... notoriously hard to photograph) take a "back seat" to the trees. Not sure about what length zoom you have, but usually a 20X on P/S is the minimum now-days to shoot birds.

One of my first P/S cameras was a Nikon CoolPix. Switched to Canon about 10 years ago.

Don't worry about getting a DSLR right now.... as Celtic demonstrated beautifully, an advanced P/S can give you lovely images. It also provides the opportunity to learn (because it has manual settings) what "all those settings" mean and do.

If you are interested, I have a Canon SX10 (20X zoom) that is yours free for the asking. It's in excellent condition, (but in really humid conditions in the summer, the zoom sporadically hangs up...not a huge deal, it usually resets just fine.) We have two DSLR's and and SX40 for back-up. (Besides, maybe we could meet for lunch!)

This is one of my first photos with the SX10, several years ago (I was laying on the beach, in MARCH at the Holiday Inn, TC)... the "whites" are a bit burned, but overall, I was happy and it was this photo that made me want to learn more. Straight out of the camera, no post processing.....
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Re: Is it my camera or me? (P&S)

Postby wngrigg » Mon Feb 02, 2015 9:57 pm

I 'googled' your camera, and found out that it has the 35mm equivalent of a 585mm telephoto lens, with 35mm base. That should be more than adequate. Your photo was taken at 15mm, which is a very wide angle setting. I'd suggest playing with the zoom feature inside your house, away from the cold elements of late. Focus on a salt shaker, a Lego figure - something a distance away, and zoom in on this, taking several photos at different focal lengths.
The key (and, I'm by far no expert) to good nature photography is 'Practice, Practice, Practice', and I'd add, 'Know your camera'.
Good luck, and I look forward to future posts.
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