Not being at all ready to accept camera failure as my focusing problem, I redid the pictures of yesterday since my friendly red squirrel was back. A lot of photos later, I knew my eyes aren’t sharp enough closeup on the LCD screen to be sure when shooting tight, that I’m in exactly in focus. I’m shooting with a 300mm lens across a 12-foot deck — which is a bit close for very tight shots unless you can clearly see the focus in the screen. Which I can’t. So what to do?

Back up or zoom down a bit. I zoomed down the lens to increase the depth of field, and voila!

Every picture came out sharp — and ALL of these pictures are unprocessed except for a bit of cropping and reducing their size they will fit my blog.

You might think autofocus would fix the fuzzy bits, but lenses are not electronic. They are optical. Ground from glass to specifications about which I know absolutely nothing, but those of you who are engineers — or opticians — would know. Although there are some electronic features attached to many lenses such as autofocus and electronic meter readings, but ultimately, it’s an expensive piece of glass. Difficult to repair and once broken, it’s gone. For many of us, the camera is the lesser investment. Cameras  are relatively cheap compared to their lenses.

Optics have limits and a lens can only do what the science attached to it allows — and, as I said, I know nothing about that sciece. Like a cell phone, I can use it, but exactly how it really works? Sorry, I missed that part of my education.

I do know what depth of field means, however. A lot of young photographers don’t even know what it is because they bought a camera, always use it on automatic.  As long as the picture comes out okay — why learn more? I can understand how they feel. There are things about which I have little interest, optical engineering being one of them. But I also think anyone who is serious about photography needs to know at a minimum, what an f-stop and ASA (which used to be”film speed”) does and how it translates to CD cards and other electronic recording media. Also, everyone should know what shutter speed does and how these things work together to produce a photograph that will make you say “ooh, aah.” If you are using a “non-DSLR camera” like my Olympus cameras you need to know how the lenses on my camera translate (more or less) to what you can see in your bigger lenses.

Sometimes, one just slips away …

I have three long zoom lenses. One is 12mm to 200mm which gives you a viewing that approximates 24mm to 400mm in a DSLR. I have two longer lenses: a Panasonic 100mm to 300mm zoom (approximates 200mm to 600mm per DSLR) and an Olympus 75mm to 300mm zoom (approximating 150mm to 600mm per DSLR). They really are not the same as a real 150 to 500 lens on a DSLR. They give you a similar “close up view,” but the lens is still whatever it says it is. This is confusing for me. I accept it as true even though all those number flutter past my brain without denting it. Nonetheless, I know the optical thing is true (and my eyes are fooling me) is the pictures comes out differently on each lens. And that includes when you are shooting at the same distance. Your lenses are in charge.

You frame it to get the best of the visual. Next, if you process it, you probably twiddle with the image. It’s okay. Really. Even the revered Ansel Adams twiddled with his photographs. He just did it in a dark room rather than on a computer. I used to know how to do that too, but it was so many years ago, I’ve forgotten it all.

Despite what I’ve forgotten, I recognize I get different results using my 12mm to 200mm lens then when I use either of the longer lenses. The way the lens focuses is different. One of these days, I’ll have the patience to set all the different lenses up and try to take the same shot using each, but not until we are out of what seems to be permanent quarantine and I have something to shoot that isn’t a bird feeder. Maybe a bridge or a dam and I’ll use my newly refurbished tripod. I got a new (much better) ball head and what a difference. Next, all I have to do is go somewhere and take pictures.

Tripod or not, If you shoot too tightly, your photos will be blurry. No amount of autofocus will help. Fixing the problem is easy. Back up or shorten up the zoom to get a longer depth of field, or as the Japanese so elegantly put it, “bokeh.” I’m sure glad it’s just my eyes which need new glasses. Glasses are a lot cheaper than pretty much any lens. Oh, and by the way, all these pictures are straight off the CD card without any processing except cropping and size reduction for publication.

Categories: Anecdote, Gallery, Nature, Photography, quarantine, Squirrel, Wildlife

Tags: , , , , , ,

10 replies

  1. Rose bought me this Sony DX80 some time ago. I still don’t know what half the stuff on this camera does? or how to make use of it. It’s a ‘Point and Shoot’ deluxe. Can do a ton of things. Which often gets me in trouble when I activate something and can’t figure out what the hell happened or how to undo it. Sometimes I have so many icons all over my viewscreen that it’s a wonder I can take photos at all. I asked her to get me a camera with a viewfinder – as I find the popular screen method to be very imprecise and inaccurate. Blaah blah blah. Anyway, it can do a ton of things – video – even has 30x lens. But, you know what, most people can take equal or better with phone! LoL. I am NO photographer.


    • I’ve got two Panasonic cameras with exactly the same issues. One I use occasionally, but ONLY on automatic because any other setting doesn’t work. Or something doesn’t work, lord knows what. There are a million buttons that you can turn or press and you can so easily press them by accident and then, suddenly, NOTHING works. The other one, I don’t use at all. I don’t know what the engineers were thinking. Owen tried to use it last night and couldn’t get it to focus. It only focuses in iAuto and I’m sure it’s one of the million and a half settings in the software that has gone awry.

      You might BE a decent photographer, but these bell-and-whistle specials will never let you find out. But you know, my Olympus cameras? Although there are settings I don’t use and don’t know what they do, the basic settings they come with work very well and you don’t have to be an Asian camera specialist to make them do the thing cameras should do: TAKE PICTURES!


  2. The photos came out beautifully! Such wonderful detail on your ‘model’, and so crisp and sharp. Whatever you’re doing/did – keep it up. I think those are FABULOUS! ❤


  3. Marilyn, nice adjustment on your part. The pics look pretty sharp to me.


  4. I used to shoot 100% manual, which is a great way to learn about how it all works… On the other hand, I do tend to go full zoom way too often and need to pull back more often. These shots a re a great example why. One quick comment – “bokeh” refers to the quality of the background blur more than depth of field. Each lens makes that blur a little different, some more pleasing than others. More expensive lenses, of course, usually are considered to have better “bokeh”, though not always.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good stuff to know. Thanks.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I know, but it’s SUCH a classy word. I know it refers to the quality of the backdrop, typically in either a macro or portrait — but Koreans have a word for almost ever aspect of photography. They are like the Inuit and snow …

      Liked by 1 person

    • I have been over zooming a lot lately and it was a good lesson, learning to just pull back. Worse comes to worse, you can crop tightly and get what you wanted anyway. And at my age, although I’m not blind, none of my glasses can see the screen well on the camera and with my eyeglasses, the viewfinder is a loss — especially since exactly what prescription is the right one for whatever distance I’m looking at could be the distance glasses, the middle-vision/computer glasses, or reading glasses — except I read without glasses because the glasses make reading MORE difficult. I am extremely fond of autofocus!

      Liked by 1 person

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