April 08, 2017

What Happened To My Picture Quality?

Stella was heading out for her 3rd walk of the day on Saturday. I am not sure she is a real fan of the three walks in one day as she seems to walk in her "slower than slow" mode. To the point of dragging the front edges of her paws with each step.

Sadie is always ready for a walk, sometimes even minutes after we return.

My post tonight is going to be about picture quality. I am either losing my mind or I have lost the deep colors of my pictures. I have thought the picture quality of my photos has decreased a lot in recent months. At first I thought it was the time of year with dull drab surroundings. I rechecked all of my camera settings, made sure the lens was clean as well as the mirrors inside the camera.

I even took a day of photos with my iPhone 6s so I could compare them. Still, they all looked 'off'. The colors were not as deep and rich as I remember them being when I bought the camera in September 2014 and even as recently as September 2016.

Since I shoot all my pictures in the 'auto' mode, there are only so many ways I can change the settings. By the camera default settings I would assume that all of them are set for optimal results.

None of these pictures on the blog today were edited in any way.

I have searched google for info, I've watched YouTube videos from camera professionals, read Nikon D3200 forums, and read my owners manual from cover to cover ... I didn't find what I was looking for. Although I did find one answer to one of my questions.

By default, the D3200 pictures shot at jpg, are in a 'soft' mode. They need to have their 'sharpness' adjusted, thus the reason I was finding they were looking much better when I did that and it really wasn't my old eyes that were the problem. Sharpness isn't my complaint though. Depth of color is, vibrant natural colors are not there most of the time.

To me a lot of my pictures have a dull quality when it comes to color. I am not a professional photographer and probably not a high amateur but I do know the time of day makes a difference in the light, which makes a difference in picture quality.

All of these pictures were taken after 5pm where most of my blog pictures are taken between 9:30am - 11:30am. Still I can see a difference in the pictures I take in the afternoons, where they might not show up on the blog.

I know that sunshine will make my pictures look better than those with overcast skies ... just like my moods.

Luckily I have saved every picture taken with the Nikon D3200, ~10,000 of them. I also have folders for different topics and each hound has their own folder of pictures, most recent on top. Just like spreadsheets I might be a little obsessive when it comes to making file folders because I have a folder labeled "house roof" ... where there is a daily picture of the back of my house where I can see the older roof in all kinds of weather and note if there is any damage taking place. Too curious I guess.

For a while I had talked myself into thinking the change of picture quality took place when I replaced the stock Nikon lens with a new Tamron lens. So I went back and looked at pictures of the same things, side by side, shot close to the same time of day ... I did not see any differences in the lens used.

Just to make sure I went out Saturday morning on the first walk of the day with the Nikon 55mm - 200mm lens attached. I was instantly reminded why I bought a new Tamron lens ... the Nikon lens would not auto focus on the first picture. Later on during the walk, it would not auto focus on any length greater than 70mm zoom. For reference I posted all of those pictures on my private blog where I could look at them on the Blogger platform and compare.

I saw no difference in picture quality nor depth of color.

So about the time I downloaded these pictures for tonight's blog post, I had just watched a video on a basic set up for the Nikon D3200 ... and it came to me ... the possible answer. One, that I will check out on the Sunday morning hound walk.

When I first bought the camera and started shooting pictures, I was shooting on a setting of 'RAW-JPEG". After reading a few forum answers that I found searching on google, that may not be the solution either.

I do remember the reasons I changed from Raw to Jpg Fine ... file size. I also had to do extra steps to reduce the size of the picture so I could upload it into Blogger or Wordpress. I was told that the quality would not be that much different, if seen at all, between Raw and Fine settings. Basically the raw file was like a negative of the picture, while the jpg was the picture itself.

Here is a picture of Sadie taken on September 29, 2014 with the Nikon lens. You can see the different in sharpness, clarity, and color. It is also funny/surprising that I was still putting her on the tether anytime she was outside.

Or this one taken July 9, 2016 at 4:45pm ... not edited

Those above were taken with the Nikon 55mm-200mm lens.

September 6, 2016 my new Tamron 18mm-200mm lens arrived and I saw no difference in color or quality. The picture below was taken the morning after the lens arrived. In my eyes, this picture looks much better than any picture I have taken in the last 6 months.

Maybe it's my eyes ... but recent photos don't look as good as the ones I took last fall.

I think I'll take a night off from google searches, baseball games, picture files and start a new book. I have a few on my shelf that were bought but never read. With tall glasses of caffeinated ice tea that should keep me occupied for the rest of the night into the early morning hours.

The beautiful weather is back in 'the tropics' of southern Indiana.

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