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Elizabeth Yorick's picture

Too much blur or noise?

Technical question.... For those that don't know me, I'm pretty new to DSLR's, and technical photography. That said I have a question. Is there too much noise and/or blur in this photo? It's shot at 3:38 pm. We were driving down the road about 50 mph. It's shot on Shutter Priority at 1/4000, F7.1 with an ISO of 400 - to get the 7.1. The focal length was 53mm. I was using the Center Weighted Metering Mode and AI Servo AF Mode. My dilemma is when I expand the photo to 100% or more the details aren't as crisp as I think they should be and I can see the noise in the sky. I've shot this same scene at all kinds of different shutter speeds to get the greater DOF but they end up too blurry, or too dark and if I turn the ISO up to compensate then I get too much noise.

Yes, I know the logical thing is to pull over and take it at a standstill but since I ride with my husband on his calls, that's not an option so I'm trying to overcome the effects of being in a truck. 90% of my photos are shot this way. I have a screwed up back and don't drive a lot on my own or walk very far - hence, trying to overcome movement. Any suggestions?

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18 Comments

Robert Tran's picture

Based on your post, it seems that you have taken a lot of steps to compensate for the challenges of shooting from a moving vehicle i.e. usable camera settings, panning technique, etc. Beyond these countermeasures, you'll probably have to accept the results given the limitations of current tech. FWIW, my feedback comes as a person who enjoys traveling by train and regularly shoots through moving windows for personal enjoyment.

What I told myself a while back was that any shots from moving vehicles would generally never be portfolio quality for obvious reasons. However, I have found many to be fine for social media and documenting travel. Based on my experiences:

1. Contrary to my general view on photography, gear and the features of your equipment matters if the majority of your photography is going to be from the road (literally). Higher megapixels will allow you to crop more liberally. In the shot you posted for example, much of the sky (and naturally, the noise in it), can be eliminated.
2. Your use of wider lenses already helps mitigate any imperfections i.e. a 70-200mm would reveal a lot more motion blur.
2. Focus on certain scenes to compile a series. Perhaps if you accumulated enough shots of "Sun Rays from the Road," for example, the collection of shots would be stronger.
3. I realize you are shooting in shutter priority, however, Av and limiting your minimum shutter speed if your camera allows may allow faster changes on the fly. Also, shoot RAW (assuming you are not already). Shooting through window tint will throw the resulting tones way off, so with RAW, you can have a little more latitude with CB.
4. Higher frame rates will also help in giving you more variety from which to choose your preferred compositions.

Cliche's aside, hope that you continue to enjoy the journey and the shots you collect along the way.

Elizabeth Yorick's picture

Thanks for the advice, Robert! I really appreciate it. I didn't think about switching back to AP. I had originally shot in AP but the pics were so blurry. Of course, that was back when my husband had given it to me for Christmas and I've learned a lot since then. I'll try it again!! Unfortunately, neither of us knew crap about DSLR's when he bought it. Probably would have gotten a better one if we'd known then what I know now. lol. The Canon Rebel T6 that I have only has 18 megapixels and has some big limitations that a 5D Mark iv or something wouldn't have, but I couldn't see spending a couple grand on a learning camera. Maybe in a year or two I'll be able to upgrade but the T6 is what I have now so I'm trying to learn as much as I can. I do shoot on continuous mode and I roll the window down if I'm not shooting through the windshield. Sorry this is so long, but serious thanks for the suggestions.

Ruth Carll's picture

Great advice Robert!

Francisco B's picture

Robert nice points. One thing I would mention for a new photographer is that they should probably be in the habit of not cropping. That makes you focus more on improving your framing rather than falling into the trap of trying to salvage a photo in post with cropping. There are of course exceptions as you mentioned.

Chris Jablonski's picture

You're doing well if you're new to DSLRs, Elizabeth! You have, as Robert suggests, done all the sensible things to maximise sharpness in your circumstance. At these distances, f/5.6 could get adequate DOF, and gain a little speed. You could use aperture priority, and adjust ISO to keep shutter speed where you want it.

One further thing you could do is prefocus on infinity, then turn the AF off. I often to this to prevent the camera "hunting" and losing the shot altogether for you.

At the resolution on this forum, your image looks sharp to me. Noise is not obvious here, I don't think it's a death-knell for images, and it can be tamed surprisingly well with noise reduction in almost any processing software.

100% on screen can be deceptive, Elizabeth. Sometimes called pixel-peeping. By my calculation, the width of a 100% image from your camera displayed on my 24' monitor would be 2.7 times the width of the screen - 5ft long i.e. HUGE! But if you printed it at 300 dpi, a common standard, it would be about 17" long, and the noise would shrink in size, perhaps to invisibility. Try some prints if you haven't already.

Keep doing your thing, and post more! Good on you. It's not logical to stop a truck abruptly, after all. There's no one right way.

Elizabeth Yorick's picture

Thanks Chris, for your help. It seems like the more I learn, the more there is to learn and considering, I'm turning 50 this year, I'm trying to learn as fast as I can. Lol. I've always taken pictures, but the camera's have always been point and shoot's or my smartphone. Lol. Way different when you're changing lens' and shooting in RAW. I'm still trying to figure out both ends of it - the camera and the software. I think I shot in JPG for the first two weeks before I learned that I should switch to RAW. That's about the time I bought David Bush's book on my camera and read it. You should see the highlighting throughout the book. It's all different colors. The noise reduction/resharpening is one thing I'm not sure of - hence this post. One of my first posts was slammed for too much blur and noise so I've been trying to figure out how much is too much and what resolution you should be viewing it from to see if it's too much. Lol. I do tend to be OCD about everything - especially when it's something I love. I want to learn everything I can so I can get better. I so appreciate your help!!

Chris Jablonski's picture

I realise that you're fastidious, as I am, Elizabeth, but I wouldn't worry too much about the adequacy of your gear.

I don't think you could tell, even in an A2 print, which one of my portfolio photos is taken on a 12MP camera, rather than 40-odd. And I cannot see the difference in sharpness between images made with my sharpest and softest lenses in a carefully processed A2 print, even though it's obvious when pixel-peeping at 100%.

Sure, there are differences, but if they're invisible when actually looking at the image as you intend it to be seen, so what? It's easy for us to lose perspective about this.

Phillip Breske's picture

As the others have said, at this resolution, we can't see any focus or noise issues.

But, there are some significant dust spots on your sensor that are exacerbated by a narrow aperture. You might want to check your camera's manual for the best options for cleaning the sensor. Normally you wouldn't notice these against a scene with lots of detail, but the clear blue sky brings them out like crazy.

Turning up the contrast reveals the dust spots:

Elizabeth Yorick's picture

Thanks!! I had forgotten to turn up the contrast when I was looking for the dust. Crap, crap!! Thanks for the reminder and the help!! Seriously appreciate it!

Chris Jablonski's picture

Crank up the contrast and see all the sensor dust - depressography! :-(

Francisco B's picture

Seems like you already understand the technique in stabilizing a handheld image. The reality is handholding in a moving car will never give you the consistent tack sharp/best composition result that a carbon tripod on the side of the road will.

Personally I'd try to figure out a way to be able to occasionally pull over, a tripod really is such an important part of photography, particularly landscape.

Ray Zee's picture

Photos at 100% are almost never crisp especially if you are using a entry level lens and/or if you are shooting raw.
To get to the next level of sharpness, you have to add sharpness in post processing and at that point, the limitations of the lens can be somewhat mitigated.
If you are shooting RAW, sharpening at post process is expected.

Elizabeth Yorick's picture

Ray, thanks for your help. I do shoot in RAW and right now I'm just using Canon's Digital Photo Professional 4 for post. I have been debating between Adobe and something different like Capture One, maybe? I'm not sure which is better. What photo editing software would you recommend?

Ray Zee's picture

Canon's DPP4 is quite good for global changes (exposure, contrast, sharpness, noise, etc). If you want to go beyond DPP, any one of the well known software would do good. I'd say, try out few of them and decide based on your preferences.

Ruth Carll's picture

You (and I!) have received so much awesome advice here. I will only add one thing - you mention that you are learning your 'camera and software'. Once you are comfortable, try thinking of your lens as separate from your camera. Lenses have their own strengths, weaknesses and quirks. (like Robert mentioned about the 70-200mm) I made the mistake when I was new to changeable lenses of thinking that I was going to get what I wanted if I just knew how to use the camera. The lens is a thing unto itself!

I'm curious what our knowledgeable friends here would suggest as the ideal lens for this type of work?

Then, if it isn't what you have, it is off to ebay. I buy all my equipment there so if you want tips for getting the good stuff without falling into ebay traps, message me. I just got a low image number pentax K3 for under $300 shipped and its a honey. Woo Hoo!

Elizabeth Yorick's picture

Ruth, I completely agree. We do receive awesome advice. I love F-Stoppers! There's so much to learn and so many great photographers willing to help out those of us that aren't as proficient. You are correct in thinking that I don't think of my lens as a separate entity - necessarily. I do change it up but right now I only have the 2 lens. I have a 18 - 55mm and a 75 - 300mm. Both are "kit lens". I have and do switch back and forth, even when riding in the truck. I really want to get one of those nicer 24 - 300 telephoto's. Anybody have a recommendation for a particular lens that would work on my Canon T6? From what I've read here and other places, it's better to upgrade your glass before your body. I would very much appreciate any ideas on using ebay without shooting myself in my foot with a bad purchase. I'll message you. Thanks for your suggestions and help.