Photography question -- poor contrast at full zoom

Sorry if this belongs elsewhere, but I couldn’t figure out if photography belongs under ‘travel’ or ‘technology’ as neither seems encompassing enough…

I have a zoom lens that goes to 270, but every time I extend it fully the color goes way off and I lose a lot of contrast. I’m not sure if this is because of the camera but I suspect the real culprit is smog and cloud which become more apparent when shooting far-off objects. Regardless, photos shot at full telephoto come out dull and miscolored. Is there anything I can do to prevent this (other than obviously post in Photoshop)?

Posting an example would be a good start. it would also help to share the camera information.

True true. Well I didn’t share camera info because I’m almost positive it’s a problem of smog/cloud cover, but here goes:

Nikon D300 with a Tamron 18-270mm. The effect happens at any F stop and any ISO…

These pics are all a little overexposed and I realize that doesn’t help the situation at all, but it still seems abnormally low contrast to me.


Focal length: 270mm
Exposure: 1/500
Aperture: f/6.3
ISO: 400
Auto WB


Focal length: 270mm
Exposure: 1/250
Aperture: f/8
ISO: 400
Auto WB

It’s easy to fix low contrast, but then the coloring always gets rather fugly (in the case of the top picture, heavy greens and teals), and that’s much more of a pain for me. Is there a way to prevent it rather than fixing it afterward?

When I take shots at minimum zoom (18mm) the contrast is alright, which is why I suspect it’s more about fog than equipment. Thanks for any help.

They look to be mostly because of the weather conditions.

Definitely the atmosphere. I would also consider a tripod for lower ISO and less motion induced blur.

This was taking with a tamron 18mm-200mm at full zoom

This one has the background in focus.

That’s yours.

There is nothing wrong with your lens.

Here is the thing though.
I’ve noticed that the camera’s auto white balance doesn’t work properly with this lens.
I suggest taking the pictures in both Jpeg and dng.

They can be enhanced quite a bit later.



[quote=“Hamletintaiwan”]This was taking with a tamron 18mm-200mm at full zoom


[/quote]

Which is meant to be the enhanced one? The first is low contrast, the second seriously underexposed.

Hey, I didn’t bother bringing the exposure up after removing the fog.
That’s just an example done in 2 minutes.

I shoot in RAW and have a general idea of what I’m doing so I can basically make a terrible photo look pretty OK. It’s just that I think I’m better at Photoshop than I am at the actual photography part, and I want to be able to take a decent picture with my camera alone. Obviously dropping my exposure would have helped the above photos, but I’m just really bad at figuring out white balance.

You wouldn’t want to drop your exposure on them. They’re already a little underexposed. But with these, the best option would be to shoot them in better conditions if possible.

[quote=“Hamletintaiwan”]Hey, I didn’t bother bringing the exposure up after removing the fog.
That’s just an example done in 2 minutes.[/quote]

You don’t need to reduce exposure to alter the contrast. :eh:

Shoot in RAW and use Lightroom :slight_smile: problem solved.

You really aren’t going to be able to do much for this type of situation. The good news is that the air cleans up quite a bit during the summer.

OK, guess I’ll have to stop by temples and light incense before going shooting next time. orz

Thanks!

I also noticed similar effects when I got myself a new 70-300mm lens from Tamron for a DSLR fullframe camera. Shots at 200+ mm being very blurry and foggy. I then had to remember that the tele settings means that the lens brings distant objects closer - when actually going through all the air in between. And the air always contains moisture and thus a bit of fog. Condensing it to a telephoto image means getting more fog into the photo.
I then noticed that my mind keeps ignoring the fog when looking through the viewfinder of the camera, as if my brain focuses on what is there and kind of reworks the image in my mind. Interesting.

However I also noticed that my cheap (130 Euro) tele lens is not as good at 250+ mm than it is below that range. Should have spent a little more. But that only related to sharpness and the lens not being able to focus properly at high zoom.

[quote=“bob_honest”]I also noticed similar effects when I got myself a new 70-300mm lens from Tamron for a DSLR fullframe camera. Shots at 200+ mm being very blurry and foggy. I then had to remember that the tele settings means that the lens brings distant objects closer - when actually going through all the air in between. And the air always contains moisture and thus a bit of fog. Condensing it to a telephoto image means getting more fog into the photo.
I then noticed that my mind keeps ignoring the fog when looking through the viewfinder of the camera, as if my brain focuses on what is there and kind of reworks the image in my mind. Interesting.

However I also noticed that my cheap (130 Euro) tele lens is not as good at 250+ mm than it is below that range. Should have spent a little more. But that only related to sharpness and the lens not being able to focus properly at high zoom.[/quote]

With fullframe DSLR’s, the image sensor is of such high resolution that unless you are using the very highest quality lenses, you’re going to see problems in the images. You really need to be spending the same amount (as the body) again on each lens otherwise you’re not going to get all the benefits of the camera.

[quote=“cfimages”][quote=“bob_honest”]I also noticed similar effects when I got myself a new 70-300mm lens from Tamron for a DSLR fullframe camera. Shots at 200+ mm being very blurry and foggy. I then had to remember that the tele settings means that the lens brings distant objects closer - when actually going through all the air in between. And the air always contains moisture and thus a bit of fog. Condensing it to a telephoto image means getting more fog into the photo.
I then noticed that my mind keeps ignoring the fog when looking through the viewfinder of the camera, as if my brain focuses on what is there and kind of reworks the image in my mind. Interesting.

However I also noticed that my cheap (130 Euro) tele lens is not as good at 250+ mm than it is below that range. Should have spent a little more. But that only related to sharpness and the lens not being able to focus properly at high zoom.[/quote]

With fullframe DSLR’s, the image sensor is of such high resolution that unless you are using the very highest quality lenses, you’re going to see problems in the images. You really need to be spending the same amount (as the body) again on each lens otherwise you’re not going to get all the benefits of the camera.[/quote]

That is one issue with long lenses but probably not the most important factor in decreased IQ. Zooms (especially budget zooms) are notorious for being weakest at the ends of the zoom range. You also need a faster shutter speed (or a tripod) with a longer lens. I would be perfectly fine with a 1/250th shutter speed with a wide/normal lens but that is the bare minimum that you need in the 250+mm range. And that probably isn’t going to result in a great photo.

I agree though that if you are shelling out the big bucks for a FF camera then you need to do so likewise for a majority of your lenses. That’s one reason that FF isn’t a big want for me. That and I like the compact Pentax lineup (small, slow but excellent primes for hiking).

Well, I had good results even with a substandard Minolta 3,5-5,6/28-80mm lens from an old Minolta camera. But I am replacing that one now. My old prime lens Minolta 1,7/50mm gives fine results with the camera (a Sony Alpha 850), even though it was just 230 Marks back in the days before the Euro. And the Sony 2,8/28mm is excellent as well even though it was just 320 Euro or so a while ago.
So I never totally believed the “same amount rule”, even though it probably gives a wee bit of an image benefit. What one should not do however with a fullframe is going for the cheap glass which I did for a while when replacing my burnt-out Minolta lenses when shifting from Minolta Analogue to Sony Digital gradually.

Okay, I regret buying that 130 Euro lens :laughing:

Getting better glass is the goal for the next years…

[quote=“Abacus”][quote=“cfimages”][quote=“bob_honest”]I also noticed similar effects when I got myself a new 70-300mm lens from Tamron for a DSLR fullframe camera. Shots at 200+ mm being very blurry and foggy. I then had to remember that the tele settings means that the lens brings distant objects closer - when actually going through all the air in between. And the air always contains moisture and thus a bit of fog. Condensing it to a telephoto image means getting more fog into the photo.
I then noticed that my mind keeps ignoring the fog when looking through the viewfinder of the camera, as if my brain focuses on what is there and kind of reworks the image in my mind. Interesting.

However I also noticed that my cheap (130 Euro) tele lens is not as good at 250+ mm than it is below that range. Should have spent a little more. But that only related to sharpness and the lens not being able to focus properly at high zoom.[/quote]

With fullframe DSLR’s, the image sensor is of such high resolution that unless you are using the very highest quality lenses, you’re going to see problems in the images. You really need to be spending the same amount (as the body) again on each lens otherwise you’re not going to get all the benefits of the camera.[/quote]

That is one issue with long lenses but probably not the most important factor in decreased IQ. Zooms (especially budget zooms) are notorious for being weakest at the ends of the zoom range. You also need a faster shutter speed (or a tripod) with a longer lens. I would be perfectly fine with a 1/250th shutter speed with a wide/normal lens but that is the bare minimum that you need in the 250+mm range. And that probably isn’t going to result in a great photo.

I agree though that if you are shelling out the big bucks for a FF camera then you need to do so likewise for a majority of your lenses. That’s one reason that FF isn’t a big want for me. That and I like the compact Pentax lineup (small, slow but excellent primes for hiking).[/quote]

It’s the main issue because it’s the only one you can’t work around. A modern FF sensor out-resolves all but the best lenses. You can do everything else perfectly and it’ll still result in weaknesses in the image.

Bob gave a specific example of having problems at 250+mm’s plus while getting pretty good results <250mm’s. He used the same FF sensor in both instances so how is this not due the typical weakness at the end of a zoom and/or too slow of a shutter speed for a long lens? There is also the dirty air being magnified if it’s a long distance shot.