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Subject: Why some game photos are blurry rss

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Andreas Krüger
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A lot of game photos appear rather blurry. This happens more often with components images than with photos in the people category, so I wondered why.

When I think about blurry photos, the most common reasons that come into my mind are shaking, bad focus and maybe image sensor noise. Most of these problems can be solved by better lighting.

But then I realized that this may be true for snapshots and night photos, but less likely for game images. For game images, the most common reason is that people are too close to the motif. This means the camera cannot focus. The focus is not bad - there is no focus! And this is why it does not happen so much in the people category - you do not hold the camera directly into someones face and press the trigger.

So, if you take a photo, make sure to step back a little bit. Most lenses need about 0,5 - 1 m minimum distance. Compact cameras have a huge depth of field and may allow for smaller distances, but an arms length will always be necessary. You should find the minimum distance for your camera in the manual or written on the lens (usually next to a flower pot icon).

Of course, this means that your motif will appear smaller on the image than you intend. There is not much you can do about it. You can buy expensive equipment with lenses that allow very close distances. And of course you can zoom in as much as your camera allows. The next best solution if you cannot zoom any more is to crop the image with image editing software.

It is not difficult to do, and today cameras have so many pixels that it does not matter much to cut most of them away...

Image editing software can be found for free. I think even Irfan View can do cropping. And "Picasa is a software download from Google that helps you organize, edit, and share your photos. It's free, and easy to use" (says Google). Picasa has also a famous "I feel lucky" button that you should try - it is supposed to improve most images, do color correction and other things.

Please don't say you cannot do that. Please don't say that a blurry image is better than nothing. The latter may be true, but a well done image is really much better than a blurry one and everybody can create a photo that is actually in focus. Just give the autofocus a chance and keep some distance.

Experienced photographers, please feel free to correct any mistakes I may have made and add your own comments.

Edit:
dcclark wrote:
Actually, pocket cams in "macro mode" (which basically all of them have nowadays) can focus very close -- much closer than 0.5 m. My old one (5+ years old) would quite happily focus around 10cm away.

I suspect that low light and hand shake are the real reasons, along with poorly chosen autofocus -- letting the camera choose the focal point, instead of the user (intelligently) picking the correct one.


Good point, although I do not agree about the autofocus.
(After thinking for a moment I have to agree, some photographers do have the focal point at the wrong spot - sometimes intentionally because of an artistic idea that did not work out as intended, sometimes probably by mistake. Note that this problem will occur more often with SLR cameras with their narrow depth of field and several measurement points for focus.)
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Klaus Brune
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Couple of A few additional thoughts...

1) Use a tripod. The heavier the better. My camera is one of the more inexpensive ones on the market, but I dare say that my tripod is the fanciest amongst all the camera owners I know, most of whom don't even OWN a tripod.

2) Use the delayed shutter (timer) function on the camera. Just because it's on a tripod doesn't mean it won't shake when you press the shutter button.

3) When possible, turn OFF the flash. Why? Because too much light will flood out the image, causing blurring. Provide as much natural lighting as possible. One or two floodlights on stands would be ideal. Try to have more than one light source. Most digital cameras that have a macro setting will turn off the flash for you when in macro mode.
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Ben .
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Tack sharp 101:

1) Use a tripod
2) Use a remote release
3) Lock the mirror up


Edit: Written at the same time as Klaus' post - and almost point-for-point!
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kSwingrÜber
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Gruumsh wrote:
Couple of A few additional thoughts...
1) ...
2) ...
3) ...
Amen, amen, amen!



And another reason not to get the camera too close to the subject: it can cause a "warping" effect. Not so noticeable on bits and pieces, but you see it a lot on shots of boxes and boards. Bleah! Just get the camera a little further away, take the picture on the highest resolution the camera is capable of, then crop the picture... if a person can't be bothered to take these simple steps... er, I'd better get down off my soap-box right there...

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Andreas Krüger
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Quote:
Use a tripod. The heavier the better.


It is not necessary to have one to make a game photo, you can get good results free handedly. But if you use a tripod you will soon find it is the most useful piece of photo equipment you could buy.
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Andreas Krüger
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Quote:
3) Lock the mirror up


I think most uploaded images are made with cameras that don't even have a mirror.
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DC
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Actually, pocket cams in "macro mode" (which basically all of them have nowadays) can focus very close -- much closer than 0.5 m. My old one (5+ years old) would quite happily focus around 10cm away.

I suspect that low light and hand shake are the real reasons, along with poorly chosen autofocus -- letting the camera choose the focal point, instead of the user (intelligently) picking the correct one.
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John O'Haver PhoDOGrapher
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I use a tripod for my DLSR and a tri-fold piece of foam core for a reflector. I suspect Andreas is right. In many cases the photo is being taken inside the camera/lens combination's minimum focus distance. Use as much ambient (non-flash) light as you can muster. Step back use and tripod and the self-timer. Most computers and digital cameras come with software that will permit you to crop the extraneous stuff off the edges of the photo to make it look close up. Many will automatically make color corrections and adjust exposure.
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DC
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Thamos von Nostria wrote:
Edit:
dcclark wrote:
Actually, pocket cams in "macro mode" (which basically all of them have nowadays) can focus very close -- much closer than 0.5 m. My old one (5+ years old) would quite happily focus around 10cm away.

I suspect that low light and hand shake are the real reasons, along with poorly chosen autofocus -- letting the camera choose the focal point, instead of the user (intelligently) picking the correct one.


Good point, although I do not agree about the autofocus.
(After thinking for a moment I have to agree, some photographers do have the focal point at the wrong spot - sometimes intentionally because of an artistic idea that did not work out as intended, sometimes probably by mistake. Note that this problem will occur more often with SLR cameras with their narrow depth of field and several measurement points for focus.)


Just noticed this -- I am pretty sure that the vast majority of BGG users use pocketcams, not SLR/DSLRs. Even among those using *SLRs, probably the vast majority keep them in some sort of automatic focal-point choosing mode (as do almost all of the pocketcam users). Autofocus systems are pretty good nowadays, but they can still be faked out -- especially if there's a lot of stuff around to focus on. All modern cameras, even pocketcams, have multiple focus points.

Also, depth of field is not an inherent characteristic of a camera -- it's the lens. Most kit lenses on modern DSLRs only go to f/3.5, so DOF is nice and big. Of course, sensor size also affects this, but I doubt it's really an issue.

Going back to my original point, the real problem is:

- Blur due to slow shutter speeds, arising from poor lighting (most people don't realize just how dim home lighting is), and
- Poor autofocusing choices, arising from not realizing which focus point the camera chooses.
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Kim Fjeld
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I want to add that depending on autofocus (AF) isn't all that good. Always use manual (MF) to insure a focus setting stays the way it should be until image is captured. Alternatively use AF to set focus, then imediately switch to MF when you have object/scene in focus.

Also, an initially low image quality and low DPI (ISO) may also have impacts on the end result.

And finally, why don't people retake photos untill they have a proper image to upload? And then, why do the MOD even approve all these failed cases in the first place? The latter question is by far the biggest mystery.
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Gruumsh wrote:

1) Use a tripod.


Depending on the technique used, bean bags is sometimes a good alternative for a tripod. I own a very good tripod but seldom use it for macro photos. Good support is often enough.

In my opinion, good lightning is the key and I try to take macro photos at daytime using natural light only.
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Andreas Krüger
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Quote:
Also, depth of field is not an inherent characteristic of a camera -- it's the lens.


A compact (pocket) camera has a very small image sensor. This is compensated by a lens with short focal length. This is the type of lens with a lot of depth of field. This makes it really easy to get the image in focus, but it takes away control from the photographer. Compact cameras are very easy to use and focus mistakes do not matter so much. On the other hand, you cannot intentionally make the background blurry.

Quote:
I want to add that depending on autofocus (AF) isn't all that good.


Unfortunately, a camera with a useful (!) manual focus is hard to find. Compact cameras do not have a manual focus anyway. My SLR does have a manual focus, of course, but without any visual aids. So good use of the autofocus gives much better results. But of course you have to know the simple technique of focusing - saving focus - moving to desired image section.
 
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Kate Callen
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Gruumsh wrote:
3) When possible, turn OFF the flash. Why? Because too much light will flood out the image, causing blurring. Provide as much natural lighting as possible. One or two floodlights on stands would be ideal. Try to have more than one light source. Most digital cameras that have a macro setting will turn off the flash for you when in macro mode.


My pocket digital camera, like many others, has a nice setting where it will take two photos consecutively, one with flash and the other without. You do have to remember not to move the camera between the two shots (which if you're using the other tips shouldn't be a problem), but it's great for macroany shots where you aren't sure will the flash be helpful/necessary or not.

I often find (I am more used to focussing closely on crochet stitches, but the same principles apply, I think) that in a series of shots of the same item, some will be better with the flash, and the others without, depending on what I am trying to show in each picture. E.g. detail vs true colour vs overview vs background contrast.
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will F
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If you use a can auto-focus SLR I recommend the about lens it will fit you needs perfectly. If you use a Nikon I suggest the 55 micro lens it is my personal favorite.
You may want to try indirect lighting with a soft light source for a more even lighting and get a good sturdy tripod.
I would not use extension tubes or screw on magnifiers. They tend to be more clumsy and a lot more of a pain to use. If you are going to do a lot of close up photography by a good close up lens designed for that in mind.
If not using a digital camera mind your light sources. Fluorecent lighting will give a green tint to you images on daylight balanced film. Regular incandesnet light bulbs give a yellowish orange tint on daylight balanced film.
Try not to use slow shutter speeds as the slightest vibration on a table will send you photo out of focus.
These tips should help you with your problem.
 
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jumbit
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Snooze_uk wrote:

1) Use a tripod
2) Use a remote release
3) Lock the mirror up


If we were professional photographers, we wouldn't have this blurry problem in the first place. I doubt a remote release would even attach to my camera, and I don't even know what a "mirror up" is. I imagine this goes for all of us with regular cameras.
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kSwingrÜber
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jumbit wrote:
Snooze_uk wrote:
1) Use a tripod
2) Use a remote release
3) Lock the mirror up
If we were professional photographers, we wouldn't have this blurry problem in the first place. I doubt a remote release would even attach to my camera, and I don't even know what a "mirror up" is. I imagine this goes for all of us with regular cameras.

However, for all of us non-professionals...

Follow rule #1: small tripods are quite inexpensive and very indispensable.

For rule #2 just use the "self-timer"! That way you won't be touching the camera when the shutter snaps. (I live in an old house with with squeaky floors. Once I click the button, I step back a few feet to further reduce the chance of vibrations).

As to rule #3, I have no idea what "mirror" he's referring to either, but I suspect it has something to do with lighting (or not), so instead substitute my rule: take your pictures in natural sunlight (in the shade or inside a window but not in the direct sunbeam works best).

And to these I'd add two more rules...

#4) don't get too close to the subject, especially boxes or boards (things with square corners). Being too close will case a "fish-eye" or "warping" effect. Take the picture from a bit of a distance, and then crop it.

#5) use a digital camera and take TONS of pictures. You're bound to get one or two that are pretty ok!

You don't have to be a "professional" to get pretty darn good pictures. Persistence will do the trick.

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Quote:
Provide as much natural lighting as possible. One or two floodlights on stands would be ideal.


This made me chuckle.
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Jeff Jones
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kswingruber wrote:
jumbit wrote:
Snooze_uk wrote:
1) Use a tripod
2) Use a remote release
3) Lock the mirror up
If we were professional photographers, we wouldn't have this blurry problem in the first place. I doubt a remote release would even attach to my camera, and I don't even know what a "mirror up" is. I imagine this goes for all of us with regular cameras.


As to rule #3, I have no idea what "mirror" he's referring to either, but I suspect it has something to do with lighting (or not), so instead substitute my rule: take your pictures in natural sunlight (in the shade or inside a window but not in the direct sunbeam works best).




http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirror_lock-up

 
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A 2 second timer with macro mode should do it in most cases. If you don't have a tripod, you can lean the camera on a coffee mug or something.
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Andreas Krüger
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jumbit wrote:

If we were professional photographers, we wouldn't have this blurry problem in the first place. I doubt a remote release would even attach to my camera, and I don't even know what a "mirror up" is. I imagine this goes for all of us with regular cameras.


First of all, having a professional camera does not mean having professional skills.

Professional cameras require even *more* skill, because you have to take care of the depth of field (DOF). Small, cheap cameras have such a huge DOF that everything in your image from 30 cm until the horizon can be in focus. A more expensive SLR camera has a smaller and variable DOF, which can be used for great artistic effects but is difficult to handle.

The mirror is part of a SLR camera. Compact cameras do not have it. If you do not know what a mirror is, you don't have to care, because it is very unlikely that you own a SLR camera.

The mirror must be moved up when the image is taken, and this movement can cause a small camera shake. So SLR cameras have an option to move the mirror, pause a moment and then open the shutter. Thus, taking the image takes slightly more time but there is less shake. However, the mirror movement is a very small disturbance compared to shaking hands, wrong focus and bad light, so get rid of these first. Using a tripod and getting good light is helpful with any camera, the mirror thing applies only to SLR.
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Virre Linwendil Annergård
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For the smaller more challangeing compacts there is also a problem with useing a Tripod if they only have automagic everything, ending up badly.

(I only used bad compact cameras, all I could afford. I should look into geting a camera that can take all thoose photos I have in mind soon though (both boardgame related and not) )
 
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This thread has really gotten a bit crazy.

The right and best answer is: get a scanner.

If you absolutely have to have a camera, then get better lighting, any kind of tripod, and study the concept of depth of field.
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kSwingrÜber
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dcclark wrote:
... The right and best answer is: get a scanner ...

Yep. A scanner is usually great for flat stuff: rules, box covers, cards (some things are too big for scanners).

But... I've also seen some pretty crappy scans here on the Geek. Maybe we should start another thread titled "Why some game scans are blurry", and it can get crazy as well! LOL

And... it's hard to get good scans of 3D components, games in progress, game shelves, cats in boxes, convention halls, gamer-gal cleavage, etc, etc...

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Bruce Murphy
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kswingruber wrote:
And another reason not to get the camera too close to the subject: it can cause a "warping" effect. Not so noticeable on bits and pieces, but you see it a lot on shots of boxes and boards. Bleah! Just get the camera a little further away, take the picture on the highest resolution the camera is capable of, then crop the picture... if a person can't be bothered to take these simple steps... er, I'd better get down off my soap-box right there...


Little known fact. Those pictures from too close aren't distorted beyond usefulness, they just appear distorted unless you view them from close enough.

Try it, you might have to expand it, but get much closer than the diagonal size of the photo.

B>
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Okey some additional thoughts on this, this the day after I got a dSLR (EOS D20) and can stop thinking about my crapy 4 Meg compacts

The problem I hade was,

1) Not useing a tripod, there was blur and crappy lighting

2) Useing a tripod did stop the tremble but not the light problem

Self-expusrue was suggested here, and I read about it somewhere else.

I.e set the camera on a flat surface or tripod, and then use the selfexposure for stability.

Don't sure how good this get as I read it two days or something.

 
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