Can someone help me operate this stupid camera??

Phobie PrivettDecember 18, 2008

Hi! I recently bought a Canon Powershot S5IS. I haven't had much opportunity to take pics outside, but the few that I have taken have been pretty good. My problem is taking pictures inside. For some reason the light in my house is not conducive to good picture taking, so that's one issue.

The next one is that nearly every pic (regardless of the color quality) is not sharp or crisp. It seems to be better if I don't use the flash and is also better if I raise the ISO to about 400. It's also better if I do a close-up of something. I've tried using a tripod (thinking it was me shaking) and that helped slightly but it's still not great.

The camera has image stabilizer, but it doesn't seem to be a great help. Is there some different setting I should be trying? Some great trick to use? Here's some examples of recent pics. The color is not accurate at all, but is better in the first one, which is with a flash. Most of the time I get too much flash and it washed everything out. But nothing is crisp and sharp.

See my point about the lack of crispness? ANY help would be greatly appreciated! TIA!

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Hey photographys weakness at this stage of the game is definetly "low light". There is an additional flash you can add to that S5,that may yield better results. Otherwise all you can do is try to light the room properly and experiment with photoshop. With that camera, 12x zoom, I assume you have some outdoor stuff to shoot.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2008 at 8:53AM
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Your home looks lovely!!

Good luck learning how to use your camera; they are fun to use but as with everything, there is a learning curve.

There are lots of discussion groups online which are oftentimes helpful. GardenWeb is usually the first place I post my questions.

Merry Christmas!!


    Bookmark   December 21, 2008 at 12:05PM
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Phobie Privett

Ginny-thank you for your kind words!
Crunchpa-thanks for the heads up on the flash. I guess it's possible that I may never get decent pics inside the house. We live in a warmer climate, so we purposefully made the house where there wouldn't be a huge amount of sunlight coming in (it'll fry everything it touches!). I just hate the thought that I may never get a good pic indoors again!

    Bookmark   December 21, 2008 at 10:29PM
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Hello Superchick:

I have an earlier model of your camera, the S2 IS. It has an abundance of adjustments and these have to be used to maximize what the camera can do.

Refer to the manual, maybe its the little booklet that discusses all the settings. There should be one for lighting source. The number of adjustments is limited when in the "auto" mode. Rotate the selection dial to "M" for manual, and all the adustments become available. I shoot in this mode most of the time because of these adjustments. However, one looses the automation when in the "M" mode.

Find in you manual, or drill down through the camera's menus to find the adjustment for lighting. Example are, sunlight, cloudy, incandescent, flourescent, etc. The camera probably came defaulted to sunlight for outdoor shooting.

The color cast of the photo is entirely dependent on the color content of the lighting source. Without adjustment, lighing by and ordinary light bulb (incandescent) will have an orange cast, and flourescent will give a strong color cast related to the phosphor of the lamps's coating. Flourescent lighting may produce a bluish, washed out result with missing reds. Light from a flourescent lamp is strong in narrow color bands and may be missing other colors entirely. It is usually a poor source for photography.

The built-in electronic flash give a blue-white light. Its effect is determined by how much of the light came from the flash and how much came from other sources. if the flash lamp was the primary source, then choosing a daylight setting may give good results. This is something that can be sorted out by making a series of test shots and becoming familar with the results. Rememeber, its a digital camera and trial shots are cheap and can be deleted when you are done with those.

The default ISO setting for my camera was 80. I increased to 100 and no more. I raise it only in circumstances where I can not get the shot without more speed. The lower settings give better color saturation.

I had major problem in that my outdoor shots tended to have burned-out portions. The dynamic range was disappointing. Apparently, the default setting was set toward over exposure. I found improved results by setting the exposure adjustment -1/3 to -2/3 f-stops. Some of my shots are on the dark side, but these are readily compensated with software. The burn-outs can not be fixed.

Check you camera menu for the setting of the IS mode. It can be turned off! If yours is off, of course, it is inactive. The three choices are (1)off, (2)on all the time, and (3)active only when the shutter button is pressed to the first detent. I use (3) to save on battery power and yet have the function. In this mode, one must press the shutter button to its first detent and wait for the lens to focus before pressing further to make the shot. I found this requires good dexterity, sometimes more than I can muster. The first detent is so light, that I may push the button all the way down. I wish there was a greater difference in the feel for this feature.

Leaving the IS feature activated all the time uses a lot of battery power since the lens is continually hunting for focus as the camera is moved.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2008 at 4:42AM
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Phobie Privett

Wow-thanks so much Jemdandy! I never thought about changing the IS feature. I have messed with the ISO and with the settings in "Manual" to try to compensate for poor light inside the house, but I think I never got the right combination. I will be trying out some of your suggestions immediately. I'm certain that I've turned the ISO up to about 400, thinking that would help compensate for shaking, but I'll turn it down and see what that does. I really appreciate all the info. I'm totally ignorant about these things and need all the help I can get!!

    Bookmark   December 23, 2008 at 10:30AM
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I purchased the S3IS a little over a year ago and had all the same problems you've had. I've learned to use it and often get photos inside that I like now, but I have a little cheapie digital pocket camera that I pick up more often because it's so fast and easy!

    Bookmark   December 25, 2008 at 10:19AM
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Not sure what AE setting is in your pictures, my wife has a S2 older version and she loves it.
These are excellent cameras for the money, don't expect to get good results right out of the box in manual setting.
For starters...shooting in auto setting is not bad, something to consider and I would use this setting first.
Your file size setting could be the culprit also.?? should put it on highest [large] setting, it seems your file size [original] is too small.
On camera LCD screen left bottom it should show SL....means super fine picture with large file, do a bit of reading and see if you
can set it.
For instance, the S2 IS, 5 mega pixel camera, older version of your camera max. file size is around 2594 x 1944....yours should read higher.
Another hint I found in your pictures...when focusing, try focus on dark areas first, push shutter half way focus, then move to subject then shoot, this will tell the camera do give more light etc.
As said above this camera is also a great outdoor camera, heaving the 12x zoom, great for birding.
Some pictures...



    Bookmark   December 25, 2008 at 3:18PM
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You offer some good insight konrad. That 2nd shot is a beauty, that vista would look good with my nieces Hanna Montana camera. I have an S1 and an S5...I have been happy with the results for such a portable camera. I take ballgame photos from the upper deck like this one. From 1

    Bookmark   December 25, 2008 at 8:44PM
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I have the same camera. I love the pictures for online use, but my pictures are poor quality when I try to upload to other sites to make a collage or calendar. I rarely make printed copies of the pictures, but I want to be able to make photo books and have great quality pics. What am I doing wrong? What settings should I have?
Any help would greatly be appreciated!

    Bookmark   March 5, 2010 at 6:29PM
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The early versions of that Canon camera stores the pictures in .jpg format, a lossy format. You can easily destroy definition during an editing session. For example, you upload a picture to your computer, fire up your favotite photo editor and procede to correct the color balance, and then 'save' the results. You have just overwritten the original file with the edited file. Each time you do this, there will be a little more loss of definition because the .jpg format is a compressed file format. Also, you probably did not chcek the editor to see how much compression it was set for for writing files. That is adjustable in most photo editors. If the level is set at anything less than 83%, there will be noticable losses.

So, what to do? Never over write the original file! after the file has been first transferred onto your hard drive, set the file to "read" or "read only" to protect it. After you edit a copy, save the results to a diffferent file name. I merely append a dash-number to the file name, e.g., -2 for the first editied copy, -3 for the next edit, etc. Example of resutling file names.

DogBarking, 07Mar2010.jpg
DogBarking-2, 07Mar2010.jpg
DogBarking-3, 07Mar2010.jpg

Delete any edited files you do not wish to keep.

It is not mandatory that you set the original file as 'read only', but that will prevent one from overwriting it. If you forget about the 'read only', you may wonder why you are getting a failed to write or copy message when you try to save the edited result, but hopefully, you'll soon figure out the reason. If you are very diligent about not over writing the original, you do not have to set it to 'read', but this is a worthy precaution.

This 'read' setting may give you a bit of bother at a latter date after you have forgotten you did this. You may decide to delete this file and the system may not let you. It may stubbornly stay in place and will do so until you remove the 'read' or 'read only' setting.

Hopefully, later versions of that camera series will permit the user to select the storage format. The .jpg format is not a 'bad' format. The user has to recognize that it is a compressed format, is 'lossy', and treat it accordingly.

By the way, the practice, "never overwrite the original" is a good practice for any photo format.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2010 at 2:09AM
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