Why aren't my photos very sharp?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by whodareswins, Aug 14, 2011.

  1. whodareswins macrumors regular

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    Jul 12, 2011
    #1
    I have a D90 with th 18-55mm kit lens and shoot in RAW on the largest and best quality. I have taken several landscapes photos as well as photos of buildings etc. They have never, to me, seemed to hold as much clarity as I have seen on other photos taken with D90s.

    I shoot on either the aperture or shutter speed settings, I usually select the an aperture of about f13, and always use a tripod, VR is on. I may have to post up some examples of my shots.

    Any help would be extremely grateful.
     
  2. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

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    #2
    Aren't you supposed to turn VR off when using a tripod? Could that be the problem?
     
  3. ChristianVirtual, Aug 14, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2011

    ChristianVirtual macrumors 601

    ChristianVirtual

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    #3
    If you shoot f13, what was the exposure time ? was the tripod steady ?

    f13 ask for longer exposure.on a tripod that can mean that you move around while the mirror is up and give vibration to the setup.

    Another tip: on tripod my Canon has a function called mirror lock. This flips the mirror up before the exposure actually start with some delay. This reduce the vibration of the system. Also a cable release help to reduce the vibration caused by your finger on the shutter.

    Ok, lots of little guessing. Please provide more info from your setup, EXIF data and may be an sample ?
     
  4. whodareswins thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jul 12, 2011
    #4
    Thanks for the replies guys. How do I post EXIF data?

    I will post a couple of examples when I get home. By the way I have used timed delay to reduce vibration. And the photos are coming out exposed properly.
     
  5. TheDrift- macrumors 6502a

    TheDrift-

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    #5
    Have you tried using a Canon?

    jk!

    Dons flameproof suit and runs away :)
     
  6. Padaung macrumors 6502

    Padaung

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    #6
    Totally agree, this would be a good place to start solving the problem. VR should be turned off when using a tripod.
     
  7. acearchie macrumors 68040

    acearchie

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    #7
    VR should definitely be off when on a tripod otherwise it is just trying to remove vibrations that aren't there and instead will create them.
     
  8. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    #8
    If turning VR off doesn't help, then it's time to take it back to the dealer. While there they can swap lenses, compare your images to images taken with another D90. There is always the possibility that you have a bad camera or lense, and it should take all of about 10 minutes at a dealer to determine if this is so. If the camera or lense new, and one of them has gone bad, then a good dealer will swap it out for a good unit while you're there.

    Good Luck.
     
  9. flosseR macrumors 6502a

    flosseR

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    #9
    Sorry but the D90 suffers from Diffraction starting at f11. I used to own one and f11 was the highest i shot with it, after that the photos became soft. and yes, VR HAS to be off as the lens element moves to try and adjust REGARDLESS if the camera is still and that causes an ever so slight unsharpness..
     
  10. iCollector macrumors newbie

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    #10
    My experience with RAW is that it needs more post processing than JPEG.

    Have you tried a comparison between the RAW and JPEG results out of the camera using the same scene and exposure? That may tell you something.

    I apologize if you are already doing all the PP, etc....
     
  11. flosseR macrumors 6502a

    flosseR

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    #11
    Well, RAW is a digital negative.. JPG is the processed foot.. more or less. post processing a jpg usually results in pretty bad results as it is a distributable format and not a workable one. RAW is meant o be processed but the sharpness should be there already. You can try some tools like sharpener pro but overall there SHOULD be a good amount of sharpness there already.
     
  12. Designer Dale, Aug 14, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2011

    Designer Dale macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

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    #12
    Try the same shots at f/8. That seems to be the sharpest aperture for most lenses. Some distortion occurs at both the widest and smallest openings.

    If your shutter speed is anything under 1/250 sec, vibration can show in the final image. I have found that a cable release helps a lot.

    Dale

    Edit: For the EXIF data part of the question, I have an app called Simple EXIF Viewer. It is located at the following link.

    Simple EXIF Viewer for Mac
     
  13. G.T. macrumors 6502a

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    Jul 12, 2008
    #13
    Yeah I will say 1st of all turn of VR when using a tripod. Also f13 will require a long exposure which runs the risk of blur from moving objects, another thing like previously mentioned is defraction. Maybe use f8 to help. You also have a kit lens where others are probably using primes etc. One last thing, do you use a remote trigger for the shutter, if not I would say set a timer of a couple seconds so that the tripod can steady after your shutter press.

    Can anyone think of anything I've missed?
     
  14. runlsd macrumors 6502

    runlsd

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  15. avro707, Aug 14, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2011

    avro707 macrumors 6502a

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    #15
    Depending on the lens, VR may be left on while using a tripod, provided the lens has "Tripod detection". This is typically the larger telephoto lenses - and probably not the 18-55. The manual for the lens will state if the lens has this feature or not.

    whodareswins: I'll reply in bits -

    Exif - If you have photoshop, press Cmd+Opt+Shift+ I - then you can see the EXIF information. Or just use the photoshop camera raw save as feature, it should include the EXIF on an image. Then upload it here and we can see it. Or otherwise, the camera info display for the image will show it too.

    VR - I'd generally suggest to leave the VR turned off on a tripod - especially with the 18-55mm lens. Suggest using mirror up feature and a remote release for your photos.

    F8 or F9 should be a fine aperture for the lens you are using. What shutter speed are you using?

    Using RAW (NEF) should be fine, those can be quite sharp right away if done correctly. Some sample images would be good to see. You will need to do some post-processing, but usually not too much.
     
  16. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    #16
    In addition to suggestions about the VR, Almost all digital images require post sharpening due to anti-aliasing or demosaic filters that are applied either over the sensor or as part of the RAW processing. In the case of my 7D the amount of sharpening required has been noted to be significant. I'm not sure about the D90.
     
  17. hulugu macrumors 68000

    hulugu

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    #17
    A few ideas:

    1. As others have suggested, turn off VR. You might also want to turn off Autofocus, so the lens doesn't try to 'search.'
    2. Get a cable release or the IR remote. Keep in mind that the IR remote is a little fiddly.
    3. If you don't have either, you can use the timer to shoot. Get your settings established and then set the timer.
    4. Steady your tripod. I use a sandbag hanging from the bottom of the tripod, but I've also used my camera bag. A carabiner is very useful to set this up.
    5. When you're shooting, stand still. Even small vibrations from you walking can blur an image, especially on a roof, deck, etc.
    6. Try F/11 as others have suggested.
    7. Sharpen during post-processing to get best results.
     
  18. whodareswins thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jul 12, 2011
    #18
    Wow thanks for all the help guys, I will be posting some examples tomorrow. I will try turning off VR and using f8-f11 for wide shots. Just out of interest, why would someone use f22 or f30?

    You guys have been invaluable.
     
  19. acearchie macrumors 68040

    acearchie

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    Jan 15, 2006
    #19
    Not sure on this but I think the reason that f11 is one of the sharpest apertures is because it is in the middle of the selection i.e. if they left off the f16, f22, etc then it would be not as sharp?

    Now I have written that it seems mostly wrong but I thought I would chuck it out there.

    But f22 is useful if you are shooting in brigth sunlight and don't have ND filters and want to get the shutter to drag as I did today as I was panning with a cyclist. Without f16-22 I wouldn't have been able to do this!
     
  20. whodareswins thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jul 12, 2011
    #20
    Ahh ok, that makes sense now. Thanks for the help. I usually shoot in aperture priority for most things, unless of course I need a quick or slow shutter speed. So I do like to know what settings are ideal for particular situations. I am quite new to this so again, thanks for the help.
     
  21. ChristianVirtual macrumors 601

    ChristianVirtual

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    #21
    Consequence of f22 is that the DoF is relative hugh. It might be needed when doing macro photography because the distance to the object is very close. But for most pictures I preferr a blurry background. This will guide the viewer eyes direct to what I was trying to show.
    Classical Example: portrait shooting. A smaller DoF is used to blurry the background and make the face the obvious visual center.

    Of course f22 comes handy when shooting lightning because it force you to use long exposure time; which increase the chance to fetch a lightning.
     
  22. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    #22
    Two main reasons....

    1) To be able to adjust the shutter speeds. Not quite the issue now as it was in the days of film. Film was rated at a certain ISO, and you got the best results (with some exceptions of course) if you shot at or very near that ISO. It was possible to shoot film at a different ISO by altering the developing, but once you had started to shoot it became very very difficult to change the ISO since that would mean somehow physically separating the low ISO end of the film from the high ISO end the film so that each end could be processed individually. I had to learn to how to do this, but thankfully never actually needed to. With digital cameras you can change ISO from shot to shot order to change the shutter speed (within limits of course) while keeping the f/stop constant (more or less). Back then you needed to adjust your f/stop in lock-step with the shutter speeds.

    2) DoF. Traditionally portraits are taken with a shorter DoF and landscapes with a longer DoF. It's not unusual for landscape photographers with medium or large format systems to shoot at f/32, f/45, or even f/64+ in order to preserve the detail from the foreground to the back. In the mid-1900s there was a group of photographers who formed the f/64 Group because they insisted the only good landscape was one shot at about f/64 or higher (OK, they didn't actually say that .... but they did believe that a landscape should be in focus from back to front, and that could only be achieved by shooting at very small apertures.) Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham (iirc) and one or two of the Westons formed part of the f/64 group. Plus some others I should know, but can't quite pull out of the memory. But you can Google them if you want to know more.

    Knowing how film cameras worked, and how film worked, helps to explain the "why" of many digital camera functions. Many of the functions today are what they are simply because they are descended from how film cameras needed things to work.

    Hope this helps....
     
  23. whodareswins thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jul 12, 2011
    #23
    It has helped a lot. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. I just cannot fault this forum, such a good bunch of people on here.

    Interesting you say about the older film SLR's. I have never had one but wouldn't mind trying one out one day.



    Thanks! I am waiting for my chance to capture some lightning. I imagine it's a big deal of timing and luck involved.
     
  24. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    #24
    It is a great forum, eh?!

    If you are truly interested in trying film, start with BW film and take a comprehensive course. Even if you end up deciding to not pursue shooting film, you will understand some much more about why photo editing suites works the way they do.

    If you truly want to blow your mind, work with a large format camera - most common is one that takes 4x5 film (that is, 4 inches by 5 inches!) and then when you have a good negative get a good scan made of it. You will not believe just how low resolution regular SLRs (digital or film) are by comparison.

    There are of course some numbers that show that the best dSLRs are close to the 4x5s etc etc, but when you see the images from a good 4x5 neg you will see what I mean. I have a couple of friends who shoot 8x10 (so 4x the size of a 4x5) and it's humbling to see what their images look like.
     
  25. HBOC macrumors 68020

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    #25
    A lot of my photos I will use a small aperture and shoot at a low ISO. For example, if I am shooting a mountainscape with wildflowers in the foreground, I NEED a small aperture, as the DOF (depth of field) is deeper; meaning everything is (should) be in focus throughout the whole image.

    if I took the same image and used a larger aperture (say f/5.6), I would have only partial focus. I would have to choose what I want to be in focus. I use ISO 50 on most everything because my camera is WONDERFUL at low ISOs.

    Lens diffraction was a term that became more common once digital came along. Light diffracts off of the aperture blades. The larger the aperture (smaller the f number i.e.; 1.8, 2, 3.6, 4, 5.6 ) the less the light is being diffracted (reflected) onto the sensor, as the aperture blades are more open. The smaller the aperture (f/11 - f/32 in some lenses), the more light is being diffracted due to the aperture blades covering more of the lens.

    I first encountered this on my 40D. I had just bought a 17-40L (which is PHENOMENAL on a crop body) and used a 10 stop filter. I used a small aperture (like f/18) and had a crazy exposure for mid day (maybe 40 seconds). I checked out the images when I got home, only to start thinking the lens was effed up. A little internet search uncovered lens diffraction - although some people still think it is a myth.

    I think that full frame sensors are less susceptible to this, but that depends on the ISO used, at least that is what I think. I have yet to encounter LD on my old manual focus Tokina 17mm and 1Ds.

    Also, using a image stabilizer (whether is it Nikons' VR or Canons' IS) while mounted on a tripod actually counters' itself as ironic as that is. This is because the motor in the lens (Sony has this built in to the body, as do many of the new cameras from Pentax, OM, etc) actually vibrates to off-set or counter any handheld movement (unstable surface). When you are tripod mounted, it will cause blur. I found this out while at Kerry Park in Seattle. I had a 24-105L and I guess IS was left on. Oh well...

    You can click on my link at the bottom of my post to view some images. Most state the aperture and ISO used.
     

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