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PLEASE put some effort into your photos!

Things

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I am continuously getting people emailing/PM'ing me and even posting on the forum asking for help, yet the images might as well not be there.

For example:



Sure, you may be able to identify a few of the parts, but if you're asking why it's not working, then how are we supposed to identify anything else?



Better, but the image is resized waaayyy too large, or taken with a very low quality camera. But seriously, these days even $5 webcams off eBay take better resolution than this!



Much better! Now we can identify some parts. However there is still one thing preventing this from being a perfect, clear photo, the camera flash. As you can see, it has reflected off the PCB and made it very hard to see detail in that area.

To solve this, you can either turn your camera flash off and find a better light source, move the camera further back and zoom in (Although be sure you are not using digital zoom, as this will make the image quality somewhat like the image before this!), you can also simply tilt the camera at a different angle to avoid the reflection, and finally, if nothing else works, you can try holding something like a piece of paper in front of the flash to diffuse it.


But I only have a phone camera!!

Most of the time the issue isn't the camera, but the user. You need to figure out what conditions your phone camera works best under, and go from there.

For example, most iPhones really do NOT like dark conditions, and your photos will turn out something like this:



As you can see, the image is very blurry. But not because the focus is off, but because the light conditions you were shooting in were too low. To compensate for this, the camera has tried to amplify the little light it had. You can not make something from nothing, so the image ends up looking fuzzy (and not to mention dark).

If your focus is off AND it's too dark, then this happens!



However, lots of light is not always best! Especially with phone cameras, due to their size, have very little control over exposure. Too much light is just as bad as too little, if not worse!



All my phone photos turn out blurry!

One huge flaw to phone cameras is that they're usually in a prime holding position. As such, their lenses become completely covered in fingerprints, dirt, oil and all kinds of stuff. ALWAYS wipe down the camera with a very soft tissue, or a specialized lens cleaning product before taking the picture to save yourself a lot of headache!

Another reason phone photos turn out blurry is because you have them too close to what you're trying to take a picture of. Many phones DO have a macro mode(Very often it has a flower symbol), so check and make sure that is enabled first!

If your phone doesn't have a macro mode, then try and find a lens you can put in front of your phones camera. I have hundreds of optics from old projectors laying around, and almost ALL of them had a substantial improvement. Hold it in front of your phone camera, and slowly move it closer until the image is clear.

This was taken on my phone camera using a lens infront:



Those traces are about the size of human hair.

Note however, doing this means you do not have a very large area in focus, so only use it when you do need extreme macros!

Here are some tips for both phone cameras and regular cameras:

Try to always use the lowest ISO possible. The ISO is how much the image sensor amplifies the light, as I showed in a previous photo. Turning this right down means that it does not amplify the light, and thus, very minimal grain. Unfortunately this isn't always an option on phone cameras. Instead, use as much light as you possibly can without overexposing. This will force it into using the lowest ISO it can.

Do not hold the camera too close. All cameras can only focus so far in front of them. Trying to take a photo closer than your camera can focus is guaranteed an instant blurred photo. You can also use the lens method for phone cameras I explained above.

Watch out for your flash reflection! This can make parts in a photo very difficult to identify, such as part numbers. Tilt the camera at an angle, turn off the flash and use a different light source, or diffuse the flash with a piece of paper. You can also hold the camera further away from your subject and use the zoom if your camera will allow it.

Use manual focus whenever possible! Auto focus often gets confused, especially when taking photos of electronics. If you do not have a manual focus option, then take a few photos, moving the camera slightly back and forth each time to attempt to have it focus on something else. You do not have to worry about wasting film, so do it!

Finally, watch the size of your images when posting them on the forum! There is nothing worse than having to scroll down for 5 minutes to get to the bottom of your picture! Resize them before you upload!

Using all I have mentioned above, you should get nice, clear, easily identifiable photos, even from your phone. One of these was taken on a phone, and the other on a Fuji HS10. Can you spot the difference? :)





This is not a guide on how to become a pro photographer, but instead to try and keep the sanity of members when you are asking for help. Like anything, practice is key. Eventually you will get to a stage where you don't even have to think and your photos will turn out perfect.

Cheers,
Dan
 
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n2stuff

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Wow nice tips. But I had to wait after the first picture before eyes were able to focus again:crackup:
 

LtKernelPanic

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+1 for the excellent tips. You don't need a dSLR to get clear photos. Most P&S cameras within the last couple years take excellent photos. There have been many times (especially with beam shots) my little Sony P&S gave me better results than my D90.
 

Eudaimonium

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This should be Stickied and made mandatory to read for everybody posting into Help section.

I am so sick and tired of seeing square bags of out of focus pixels, it makes my head hurt. I mean, seriously? Did you seriously think that the picture you just took is OK to post on a public forum and taken as a foundation for some useful piece of advice? Really?!

You don't need a $5000 camera to take a decent photo!

/rant.

That is all.
 

vk2fro

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There is one other thing I'd like to point out on this post.

If you are using an image hosting service, please pick a FORUM FRIENDLY (i.e. 800x600 or less) image. From there, LINK to the higher resolution photo. Most of the image hosting places even give you the option to show a smaller image on the forum, which clicks through to a much larger resolution image.

I flat refuse to scroll left and right six football fields on a 24" Dell, to read what you have to ask about the picture. I'd rather read what you have to say, then look at the picture (either forum friendly, or the sporting ground sized version). It also makes the forum much quicker for loading times of those with slower connections. Not all of us have Cable or DSL2+.

/end rant.
 

Eudaimonium

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24" Dell? Hah! How about 15.6" Laptop?

Worst part is, only like 50x50 pixel center of that image is useful, some detail he was trying to take picture of, the rest is abstract, out of focus mess.

Crop it! If you don't how know to, ask somebody! Google it! In a world where information about image manipulation is so readily available that you can learn Photoshop basics in 5 minutes of free time, there's just NO excuse for posting THAT on a forum.
 

vk2fro

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Zactly. I was trying to point out that if its annoying on a big monitor, try doing it on a small screen. Its a pain. :p
 

foulmist

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very nice, I hate crappy photos too, and phone cameras really can do the job with some out of the box thinking :beer: +1
 

DJNY

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Thanks Dan! I do agree that many photos around here are much worse than they could be. Especially when selling something, pictures are one of the most important part. I don´t get it why some people still don´t know/think about that.

+1 for you
 

proud2deviate

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To be honest, when I need to take pics to post online, I bang out a couple dozen, stick them on the computer, and go through to pick out the passible ones. The only problem with that method is trying to remember what settings you used for the good pictures.

Seriously, are people afraid of wasting film? You already have the camera out, it's no great chore to take an extra few shots.
 

LEDSanders

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Seriously

Proud is right take a few shots before you upload!
Odds are that you will get one acceptable photo...

anyway here is what I have been taking for years with camera phones!!!

My newest phone!
Droid Incredible 2 (8MP)


2 year old HTC ARIA (5MP) THIS CAMERA SUCKED, but I still got focus!
 

LtKernelPanic

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The only problem with that method is trying to remember what settings you used for the good pictures.

That's when the EXIF data comes in really handy. Just about every picture viewer will show it. Photo editing and managing apps like Aperture (what I use), iPhoto, Lightroom, Picassa, etc will show it for sure. I took about 20 shots with various aperture and shutter speeds before I got the shot that I used for my avatar. That EXIF data was very handy about a month later when i wanted to take a similar shot of the green tube.
 




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