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Tuesday, July 13, 2004

LCD - Looks Can-be Deceiving

A great many amature digital photgraphers have been disappointed many times by the little screen on their digital camera called the LCD - Liquid Crystal Display. The inclusion of LCD brings a very important advantage of SLR - Single Lens Reflex Cemara to your Digital Camera. What you see in the LCD is exactly what will be exposed on the CCD. Just like in an SLR where what you see in view finder is what is exposed on the film through main lens. This is very important for accuracy of framing. It is different from a point and shoot film camera where what you see in viewfinder is from a separate lens. However, LCD has a big drawback. It's resolution.

Take a look at this shot I snapped in rural India. This is an approximation of what the Image would look like on the LCD Screen of Canon G5.

At first sight it looks fine and sharp. Now click on the image to open the full size picture. Surprize ! It is all blurred ! So what happend ?

Well, I was in aperture priority mode, I didn't want to use flash or higher sensitivity (higher ISO), there was not enough light, so camera suggested a shutter speed slower then 1/60, I did not use the tripod, and my hand shook while taking the picture. And that's not the worst thing. The worst matter is I did not realize this mistake until I got the picture downloaded on the PC. Deceived by LCD, You go home feeling great about your pics and when you open'em up they look blurred.

The LCD window has limited resolution and there is no easy way you can tell if the picture is shaken. On the other hand, a high resolution image will have captured even your slightest shake in high resolution!

Another problem that cannot be detected easily on LCD is those Out-oF-Focus pictures. OFFs happen especially in follwoing cases

  • Low Light : You used autofocus in low light.
  • Far Focused : Someone took a picture of yourself and a friend at a close distance but the focus was on something else at further distnace visible between the heads of you two.
  • Near Focused : You took a picture of objects behind a fence or a glass window. But you got the glass window or the fence in clear focus and everything else blurred.

All of these problems can be avoided by using Manual Focus mode (MF button in G5) Although MF allows you to select the focus distance, you still use the LCD for making sure that the subject is in proper focus. In G5, part of the LCD screen shows a magnified view to help with Manual focus.

Another way to avoid OFFs is use lower aperture (higher F value). This increases the depth of field - the range of distance from camera in which everything is captured in focus.

Lessons Learned - How to avoid taking blurry pictures with your Digital Camera ?
  • Don't trust your hands : You are human, not a robot. If you are going to take pictures at speed slower than 1/60, please make sure your camera is stable. Use a support level. Tripod is the best defence.
  • Don't trust the AutoFocus : Watch out for a fense or other near by objects that may grab the attention of AutoFocus. Make sure that your subject is focused properly. Use Manual Focus when in doubt.
  • Don't trust the LCD : That's right Looks Can-be Deceiving. Preview your image and Zoom in on the LCD if you can detect any shake or focus problem.
  • Take a second pic : Snap it again when in doubt. Be more careful in the next shot.
  • Use Focus Bracketing : If it is really tough to tell if you have got the subject in focus or not, then the best way to go is to use the Focus Bracketing mode of your camera if it provides one. In this mode, the camera takes more than one pictures with focus set at varying distance. G5 takes 3 pictures, one at selected focus point, one focused at a shorter distance and one focused little further. Chances are that you will get at least one of them right. This mode can't help you with Camera Shake though.
  • Find the right balance : You can increase the depth of field by reducing the Aperture, but that let's in low light, so you have to go for slow shutter speed for letting enough light in. But then you run into the risk of shaking it. Alternatively u can increase the ISO speed to capture more light in short time, but in digital cameras this lead to higher noise (grainy images). Obviously Noise is something that you don't want, but you may have no choise if you are taking pictures of fast moving objects in low light ... kids running around after dinner for example. Point is, for every shot in low light, you have to decide where u want to compromize and achive the right balance of Aperture/ShutterSpeed/ISO such that you capture what is the priority in the picture : Time, Depth of Field or crisp clear no-noise quality.

I'm waiting for anti-shake technology in consumer cameras like what Sony has in their camcorders. That'd definitely save a lot of disappointments.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope you realize you can easily magnify the picture in the LCD and it would confirm whether or not it is in focus.

I personally do not use the LCD to take pictures but I do use it to make sure I got what I wanted.

12/15/2005 12:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice site, but you gotta check your spelling, fense->fence and some others that are around there. i really like the content and learned some stuff here, thanks

3/21/2006 04:25:00 AM  
Blogger os5minutos said...

i even sugest to use ( if possible ) a tripod under 1/200 , especially with high resulotion cameras . As you said , when you see the result on your monitor ( full ) , sometimes you will see not exactly shaking but a little blurring , that´s or out of focus or shaking hands .

5/09/2006 03:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your advice....But now shake reduction digital cameras arrive...!!!
You can Visit ==> www.mycameraworld.blogspot.com

1/27/2007 09:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When using a tripod, to prevent shake even further, use the self timer mode so that you are not touching the camera when you take the picture :)

6/08/2007 11:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Use burst mode with slow shutter and discard blurry shots.

4/05/2008 04:53:00 AM  

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