Should my images be sharp at 100%? What am I doing wrong?

Started Feb 13, 2013 | Questions thread
tom60634
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Re: Should my images be sharp at 100%? What am I doing wrong?
In reply to dizdane, Feb 14, 2013

dizdane wrote:

Hello, I'm having a hard time getting my bird photos to look sharp at 100% and they just don't look that high of quality, not considering composition, just image quality. I'm pretty sure this is due to camera shake giving me soft images. Here are a few sample images that I've taken recently.

Are these sharp or am I being overly harsh?

Are these not sharp because I'm so far away?

Should these be sharp at 100% view?

I'm on a D7000 with an AF-S 300mm F4 + 1.7x TC, shooting from a monopod, on AFC 9pt, focus release.

100% crop and sharpened:

f/8, 1/1600, ISO 320, 500mm

100% crop no sharpening:

f/8, 1/1600, ISO 320, 500mm

The regular image, just resized for web:

I see images from other users with the same setup and much sharper, higher quality looking photos.

I'd appreciate any tips and insight on my images and how to improve. I am a rather shaky person, maybe I should opt for a stabilized lens instead, such as the 50-500 OS? I'm not sure if this will help me or if I just need more practice.

Thanks.

To my eye the image seemed flat.

I isolated the highlights and with an s-curve adjustment added contrast ( just to the highlight areas).

I then copied this layer, reversed the mask and used curves to lighten mid-tones and shadows.

A general curve adjustment was then used to help establish some white and dark points.

I then used the Photoshop plug-in Photo Kit sharpener to subtly sharpen for web display.

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