Scratching my head: 70-300 VR, D7000 sharpness

Started Oct 2, 2011 | Discussions thread
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Scratching my head: 70-300 VR, D7000 sharpness
Oct 2, 2011

Yesterday I went out to shoot a couple of games. For the first half of the first game, I shot the action with the D300 and 70-300 VR, and for the second half I used the D7000 and 70-300 VR. I'm not showing those shots here, because they were pretty nominal. However, here are some shots from the second game, shot with the D7000 and 70-300 VR that have me scratching my head. While I'm aware the 70-300 doesn't perform at its best wide open at 300mm, these results, especially the first shot, have me wondering about VR (or something else) really letting me down.

Here are 3 samples, 1st is worst, 3rd is best, all shot at 300mm, 1/1600 sec, ISO 200 and f/5.6.

Sample 1

Crop 1

Sample 2

Crop 2

Sample 3

Crop 3

The 3rd shot is more along the lines of what I'd expect, but note the motion there isn't terribly fast.

I've read that one shouldn't have VR on at higher shutter speeds, and I'm wondering whether that's what's going on here. But I've never been able to tell the difference, and this is more pronounced than anything I've seen before. Is this rather a case in point where the D7000 really highlights lens flaws (300mm @ f/5.6 not so good for 70-300 VR)? Or is it something else?

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