Sunday, June 19, 2011

Cropping in camera and other tricks

Crop in-camera for photo files that make better enlargements.
Learn to crop in-camera. Short of buying a better camera, learning to crop your pictures as you are taking them is one of the most important steps you can take in improving the quality of your images.

Simple point-and-shoot cameras do not deliver the best quality images. My Fuji FinePix HS10 is especially poor when I am forced to enlarge an image. With my Fuji, blowing up the image is a very apt description of what occurs. Always keep in mind that the Fuji is a bridge camera; It is not a full blown DSLR.

Filling the frame is often enough. Unfortunately, with my HS10 sometimes when I blow up an image I discover soft, smudging areas. This can be visually very annoying. These smeary areas are where the in-camera algorithm for controlling noise has gone a little overboard.

I have been finding that if I shoot important images as RAW files and not jpeg I can skirt some of these issues. Photoshop CS5 Extended has better noise control algorithms than my Fuji. Or I can choose not to eliminate noise at all.

I have been criticized in the past for using Photoshop. Too expensive, I've been told. Well, watch for sales, I say. I managed to buy my copy for about 70 percent off list. Stay alert and maybe you will be lucky, too.

If you click on this image of Fiona, taken with my HS10, the image will enlarge. In the original, non-jpg file, if you took a close look at the buttons on her shirt, you could see that each of her pink buttons has two holes. This image was shot RAW and enhanced in Photoshop CS5 Enhanced. I stayed completely away from noise reduction in enhancing this image.

One other lesson has emerged here. If you intend on making very big prints, save a TIFF file along with any other files you may save. JPGs have their place, and with luck will make good enlargements, but to be safe keep an enhanced TIFF file in the wings ready to send off to be printed.

For Best Quality:
  • Use a DSLR to shoot your pictures. If this is not possible, it isn't for me, then make sure to:
  • Fill the frame when shooting.
  • Shoot RAW.
  • Shoot the largest file size that your camera is capable of shooting.
  • Save the enhanced image as a TIFF file.
  • Stay away from JPG if you want maximum quality.
Click to enlarge. In the original, non-jpg file, one could count the button holes.

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