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I use a Sony A7ii camera.

Yesterday when I was out for a shoot, I took about 30 images of a particular scene. My exposure time averaged about 10-20 seconds, and it was mildly windy at the time of the shoot.

I have a habit of taking a shot and then zooming in each photo to check the image is sharp. I did so for most of my photos yesterday.

However, when I opened up my photos on my laptop last night and zoomed in 1000%, I found out that half of my shots were no good due to slight shaking during exposure or improper focus.

I find it very frustrating because it's very difficult to verify your photos are sharp when you are out shooting sunset - Your viewfinder is too small to for zooming in and checking your photos even at a high zoom while the main monitor suffers from too much glare from your surrounding.

This got me wondering if this is a mirrorless only problem. Regardless, what tips could you provide to verify that your photos will look perfect on your screen when you are out shooting?

  • In addition to Michael's excellent answer, consider what you are "asking" of your system. With a 20s exposure that sort of camera shake is acceptable to achieve a sharp image? What sort od support or tripod are you using, and can it be improved? Solider tripod, more weight preloading it? Is eg wind or groundshake or user setup vibration or shutter die down the or an issue? With a "moderately good" tripod I have observed motion "ringing" after 10s delay. ... – Russell McMahon Nov 11 '17 at 15:40
  • ... At very long exposures if shutter operation causes motion you may be able to externally mask the optical path (piece of black stuff near but not touching camera) at start and end of exposure. – Russell McMahon Nov 11 '17 at 15:41
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Regardless, what tips could you provide to verify that your photos will look perfect on your screen when you are out shooting?

You can't. There are several reasons why.

  • There's no such thing as a perfect photo. Look at it close enough and hard enough and you'll find something wrong with every single one.
  • Unrealistic expectations. Zooming in at 100% on your computer monitor is way more critical than the way photos are meant to be viewed. If you're using a 23" HD (1920x1080) monitor, a 24 MP image viewed at 100 % (one image pixel per screen pixel) is going to be the same size as a piece of a 60x40 print! No one looks at a 60x40 inch print from only 18 inches away. If you have a 15.6" screen on your laptop, that same 24 MP image will be magnified the same as a 40x27 inch print.
  • When you're viewing at 1000% (as you state in your question) each pixel in the image is getting a 10x10 block of pixels on the screen. Now you've blown that same 24MP image on your 15.6" laptop screen up to 400x267 inches! Of course it will be pixelated!
  • The LCD screens on the back of cameras Lie like politicians! Remember, typical DSLRs now have resolutions of around 20+ MP, give or take a few. The LCD screen on the back of most DSLRs is about 1MP, give or take a few. What this means is that blur that is less than about 5 pixels wide (or high) will be combined into a single pixel on the LCD preview screen and will appear to be sharp! Even when you zoom "all of the way in" on your camera's LCD you're often still viewing a resized version of the preview jpeg produced by your camera when you took the photo. Preview images displayed on your camera's LCD screen are also sharpened and usually have a bit (or more) of contrast and saturation added to give them a little "punch". Hey, the camera manufacturers want that preview image to look incredible when you make a sample snapshot under the crappy light at the camera store!

For more, please see:

Why is there a loss of quality from camera to computer screen
Why do my images look different on my camera than when imported to my laptop?
Why do images look sharp on my camera's LCD, but not tack sharp on my laptop?
Why do RAW images look worse than JPEGs in editing programs?

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