Landscape Photographer & Artist
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06.02.2021

How to get out more of your Camera and Lenses?

Best possible sharpness, lowest possible noise. Find out how to get out more of your camera and lenses, just through knowing your gear a little bit better.

When ever I am out for photography and I see anything beautiful, I want to photograph, I know exactly which camera settings I have to use on my camera gear, to get out the best possible quality - to get out the best possible sharpness, the lowest possible noise and so on.

As I bought new gear recently (Sony A7rIV with different G-Master lenses), I don't know my new gear and so I have to find out, which camera settings I have to use in different situations to get out the best possible image quality. So I did a couple of tests to find out.

 

#1 Lens Sharpness

As I often see on my workshops, lots of photographers don't know how far they can go with their aperture before their photographs would get just rubbish.

There are two different types of blurryness I am interested in here:

1) Diffraction:

Diffraction happens when the aperture reflects light to the center of the lens, what disturbs the incoming light to the sensor and makes everything soft. The closer the aperture gets, the more light is reflected to the center, the more diffraction is visible.

If you are unhappy with your photographs, they will net get better just with buying new gear. In this case it is better to engage with how to build up a composition, how to manage the light, timing, etc. But if you are unhappy with your camera, your lenses or filters, it could be that you finally will get out better photos if you use new gear. High quality lenses have often well coated apertures, so that it is possible to close the aperture even more.

2) Corner Sharpness:

Dependend on the aperture the corners are more or less blurry. Of couse, I'm interested in sharp corners. Corner sharpness is even more important for me than the entire sharpness of a lens, by the way.

So in the first test, I made a series of photos with each available aperture on each of my lenses, on 3 different focal length. After that, I compared the photos between different apertures and defined:

  • Sweet spot of sharpness: Where do I get the best possible sharpness?
  • Aperture range for pin sharp photos
  • Aperture range for acceptable sharp photos

On my photo tours I usually always try to work inside the pin sharp range, but when the conditions force me to go outside, I know exactly how far I can go inside the acceptable range, till the photos would get just rubbish. So I'm always working in a totally safe range of apertures.

 

#2 Colour Fringing & Chromatic Aberration

Very important for this test is to use some sharp edget lines at the corners of the frame with high contrast, to provoke the appearance of colour fringing and chromatic aberration. I decided to get some branches into my frame for my test.

In this test, I made another series of photos with each available aperture on each of my lenses, on 3 different focal length. After that, I compared the photos again between the different apertures and looked if I have to change my defined ranges.

 

#3 High Resolution & Hyper Focal Distance

In the last years I heard more and more from other photographers, that they don't use hyper focal distance for focussing, as they wouldn't get acceptable results with higher resolution cameras. The only high resolution camera I used before the A7rIV is the A7r three years ago, with just 36MP. As the A7rIV has 61MP, I was totally interested in testing this out by myself. Because what I found strange is: When a lens is already able to draw high resolution, why shouldn't it make a difference when using the hyper focal distancing methode for focussing?

So I tried to take testshots with hyper focal distance compared to focus stacking. I expected already, that the focus stacked images would get sharper, but the focussing over hyper focal distance worked more than acceptable for me.

The only thing is: Because of the higher resolution, mistakes are seen much better - so we have to get sure to focus as exact as possible to the hyper focal distance point. This is nothing for time critical situations, where you see the light already coming in and you have to expose here and now. In this case I would prefer to go into aps-c mode and take advantage of the extra depth of field.

 

#4 High Resolution & Filters

I know that my filters are fantastic for 24MP and even 36MP, but I never tried them above. So before I use them out on the field, I also wanted to test how they perform on some testshots.

I made a test with following photos:

  • without a filter
  • with CPL
  • with ND8
  • with ND64
  • with ND1000

As I use a really cheap Walimex CPL filter (it is linked in my gear list below), what worked fantastically on up to 36MP, I was totally clear about, that I would have to replace it for a 61MP high resolution camera. But I hoped, that my really good Rollei ND filters out of gorilla glas would work with the high resolution as well.

I was totally surprised: All my filters worked amazingly well - even the cheap CPL. There is no reason to exchange any of my filters.

 

#5 ISO Limits

When I am out in the field, it is really important to know for me, what is the acceptable iso range for me.

In important fact is, that the iso ends up in more noise, the darker it is. So I made multiple tests in different ambient light, out in my local forest. As I knew the ISO behaviour already on my old Sony A6500, I made simultanously the same test with that camera, to be able to compare.

What I found out is, that as I was able to go up to iso 800 on my old A6500, I'm able to go up even to iso 1.000 on my A7rIV. So I can go slightly higher. What I didn't consider is: As the A7rIV has a much higher resolution, it were possible to downsize the image afterwards to get even rid more of iso noise. Fantastic for woodland scenes in the early morning, when I really have to go up to iso 1.500 to get 1/10 sec for instance.

 

Check out my gear, which I use for my landscape photography:

My Landscape Photography Gear

 

Nice greetings,

Christian

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Landscape Photographer & Photography Artist

Generations after Gustav Klimt

"For me photography is a modern way of art, to interpret the environment, but especially to convey emotions."

Christian Irmler - great-great grandnephew of Gustav Klimt (6th degree)

 

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