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Best camera for website photos?
My Oly SP-310 has proven disappointing
Absolutely




msg:3028913
 4:20 pm on Jul 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'm really frustrated. My new Olympus SP-310 cannot take a picture at 640x480 without residual 'wavy lines' or 'moire' as it's apparently called when I take pics of anything other than a person, or nature shot. Buildings, signs etc all end up being sub-par. While the Oly instructions even 'suggest' 640x480 as the website-photo size to use,it just isn't working at all.

I've contacted Oly Customer Service and after resetting the camera per that operator's suggestions yet still getting the same wavy line problem, I've have been told to send the camera in for repair/replacement-so maybe there is hope.. Online forum repsonses only suggest I use various software to filter out the wavy lines. I'm not happy with the notion of having spend additional time on each photo.. (grrr)

I don't know-is there hope? I look at home pictures on realtor.com and see the same wavy lines there...

But then I look at smaller photos, maybe half the size of 640x480 in a local FREE used auto guide and all buildings in the background are PERFECT! So I guess it can be done..

Is there a better camera? Maybe one that has a 320x240 setting or the like? My entire effort is being held up at the moment by the inability to have clear small pics.

By the way, my Sony camcorder takes 640x480 still pics with never any indication of wavy lines/moire. I'd been told that a still camera takes better pics than a camcorder's still pic ability.

That's why I bought the Olympus.

So far, the joke's been on me :(

 

rocknbil




msg:3029183
 7:58 pm on Jul 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

Absolutely - something is WRONG. That shouldn't be happening. I have had an Olympus 3020 for over 4 years, we have driven this thing to the ground and it keeps on clicking, the Olympus mid-range cams are excellent for this stuff. The 3020 has been discontinued but other than a 5 m-pixel res (I think) it's almost the same as yours which has 7.1.

I used to be a high end scanner operator and color tech in the printing industry and was very skeptical about the capabilities of digital photography, so I dont say this lightly, Olympus cams are GOOD CAMERAS (when they work right!) and have very good optics.

I've looked over your specs and this should be a GOOD mid-range camera, and can even produce decent high res images. Have you tried shooting at a higher resolution? I run mine at 2048 X 1536 by default, it's possible the smaller res algorhythm is screwy. To change from the inherent resolution, the image must be interpolated from to 640 - perhaps it's just a lousy firmware in the ROM on the camera. I've never even tried 640.

If it works, it's better rez anyway, just ise your graphics program to scale it down. I know you don't want to spend extra time in software but if you want quality you need to at least LOOK at it, resizing only takes a few seconds. :-)

But still, if you don't want to mess with it and have the time, send it in. There is no excuse for moire at a different resolution.

We have a 128 MB card, at high rez I think that's still 175 photos or so.

zooloo




msg:3029213
 8:24 pm on Jul 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

Take it back to the shop and get a new one.

Sounds very odd problem.

zoo

oodlum




msg:3029700
 6:44 am on Aug 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'd been told that a still camera takes better pics than a camcorder's still pic ability.

Unless your settings tell it not to. First of all I agree with rocknbil. 640*480 is a tiny res to be shooting. You have a decent camera but aren't using it's potential at all. Rule of thumb: the better the original picture, the better the final picture.

Aside from image size there's compression. What image quality (jpeg compression) have you set the camera at? Low? Medium? High?

Shoot at a higher resolution and highest quality and use a free batch program to resize them at an acceptable compression. Memory cards are dirt cheap these days.

If possible, turn sharpening off, or down. Many cameras sharpen the hell out of photos by default, and often their algos aren't very good and can result in moire in complex backgrounds. Now that I think of it, this plus low resolution is probably your problem.

If that doesn't work, your camera needs fixing.

Absolutely




msg:3030514
 6:55 pm on Aug 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

I know the camera has the potential for much larger pics, but their own instructions do recommend/suggest the 640x480 setting for pics intended for websites, rather than them warning against it or suggest the need for specialized software to accomodate the smaller pic size. And of course there is the 640x480 setting 'on the camera itself'. All these things seemingly pointing at the camera able to handle small pics.

I've tried both image quality settings offered without any difference in the finished product at 640x480.

I don't know what a free batch program is, or where'd I'd put a cheap memory card..in the camera?

Anyway, by great fortune, my problematical internet vendor I bought the camera from with a short 2 week return period graciously agreed to take the camera back even though I'd had it for 5 weeks! So it seems I've avoided the problem altogether for the moment..

I see Walmart has the SP-310s on sale for abour $20 LESS even my internet vendor. I could order one and return easily at a local WM store if that too is not up to (or down to) what I want to do.

OR I'm open to suggestions as to what camera to get instead of the Olympus SP-310, and start with something more suited to my needs. Mabye something shooting at 320x240 comfortably?

I see Cars.com's pics in the printed publication have NO wavy line defects in background buildings, maybe they're using a different camera as their agents roam the local dealerships..

But I don't want to spend MORE than the $200 or so the Oly cost me if possible.

Maybe I'm asking too much? Thanks for all the great feedback!

Unless your settings tell it not to. First of all I agree with rocknbil. 640*480 is a tiny res to be shooting. You have a decent camera but aren't using it's potential at all. Rule of thumb: the better the original picture, the better the final picture.

Aside from image size there's compression. What image quality (jpeg compression) have you set the camera at? Low? Medium? High?

Shoot at a higher resolution and highest quality and use a free batch program to resize them at an acceptable compression. Memory cards are dirt cheap these days.

If possible, turn sharpening off, or down. Many cameras sharpen the hell out of photos by default, and often their algos aren't very good and can result in moire in complex backgrounds. Now that I think of it, this plus low resolution is probably your problem.

If that doesn't work, your camera needs fixing.

Absolutely




msg:3032390
 2:27 am on Aug 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

I just got a return call from Oly TEch Support saying the wavy pics I sent him are NORMAL..! It's been about 2 weeks since I sent that guy the pics, long after talking to one of his coworkers that it's not normal.

Anyway, I'm open to suggestions as to what kind of camera to look at now.

rocknbil




msg:3044073
 6:56 pm on Aug 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

I am looking too. Our Oly kicks -A but we've had it for over 4 years. Seems to be working fine, but can't help thinking the CCD's have to be losing charge.

So. Here's what **I** am looking at. Today. :-D Haven't gone over the Oly site for comparables, but will probably stick with an Oly because we've had tremendous luck with ours.

If money is not an object, Canon 30D [usa.canon.com] (Drool . . . ) $1300-$1600

Slightly less, Canon 20D [usa.canon.com] (No prices found ATM)

Being more reasonable, Rebel XT [usa.canon.com] $700-$1000

Coming back to earth, Canon 2S IS [usa.canon.com] About $300 - $325. (I hate Flash used in this way, that is, on this web page.) But it looks like a good cam.

We're a ways off from choosing, so will keep adding to this thread. This is an important topic to anyone needing photography, hopefully others will contribute.

I'm going to try and shoot for the Rebel/20D range. I'll probably miss and wind up with the 2D or something like it. :-)

rocknbil




msg:3044135
 8:22 pm on Aug 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

The Olympus E1 [olympusamerica.com] is of course off the hook. :-( $1199 for body only, you would want to put a lens or two that would cost at least half as much.

E-33o with lens [olympusamerica.com] $900 - $1100

E-500 with 2 lenses [olympusamerica.com] $700-$800

Back to earth again, SP-350 [olympusamerica.com]$350 or so

I'm leaning toward the E-500, it comes as a kit with two lenses and lots of goodies for about $700. With other SLR's the price will vary with the lenses you get.

Still shopping at this point as we don't have funds ATM for a camera, but the E-500 is looking really good for the money.

ken_b




msg:3044160
 8:57 pm on Aug 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

The moire effect is really annoying, but not limited to your camera. I've got a Nikon D70 with the same issue.

One thing that sometimes helps is to take 2 or 3 similar shots, just side stepping a foot or so for each one. It seems like even a small difference in perspective can make a significant difference in the final result.

Hinestly though, when I stated out using a basic Mavica and shooting at 640x480 5, or whatever it was, it sure seemed lik I had less of this problem.

I tried a pocket sized 6MP Kodak this spring and it wasn't any better, or worse, than the Nikon. Thankfully Costco has a long term no fuss return policy.

bird




msg:3044168
 9:09 pm on Aug 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

their own instructions do recommend/suggest the 640x480 setting for pics intended for websites

That "advice" is meant for people who don't know how to scale and crop images, and will lead to suboptimal results at best.

If you want professional looking results, then you need to shoot at several times the target resolution, so you will have enough quality reserves to manipulate and correct your image before scaling down and publishing.

j_h_maccann




msg:3044216
 10:37 pm on Aug 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

If you're buying a camera this year, the feature to look for is "Optical Image Stabilization" (rather than digital); many of the new cameras have longer zooms built in (4x to 12x), and the optical image stabilization makes an amazing improvement in sharpness. Similar improvement in sharpness in low-light without flash when shutter speeds get low. Optical image stabilizers have been a big help to video cameras for a while, and they are equally helpful for still pictures.

As well as Canon, look at the Lumix brand--made by Panasonic, with lenses from Leica of Germany. Often the Lumix cameras are excellent values with superior features (and they are very high quality), and they have good optical image stabilization.

It really is a mistake, though, to shoot at 640 x 480. You want to shoot at much higher resolution, then always use Photoshop on every picture to improve it, crop it, downsize to 640 x 480, then sharpen and tune for web use. The same Olympus that the OP had would probably do a fine job if used this way.

Wlauzon




msg:3045114
 12:37 am on Aug 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

That 640x480 is for the average vacationer taking pictures of the dog at the lake that just wants to post a few photos on their personal website.

The problem that some cameras have at low resolutions is that they actually take a high res picture and interpolate, or "dumb it down" - and that is a common cause of moire patterns. I suspect that is what is happening here.

Try shooting at high res and see if the patterns go away, and use a graphics editor - if you start with a good picture you can always reduce the file size etc with any basic graphic editor.

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