D3100 takes sharper photos than D7000?

Started May 9, 2012 | Discussions
RLV4422
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D3100 takes sharper photos than D7000?
May 9, 2012

I know there have been a LOT of discussions about D7000 focus issues. Trust me, I've read through them all. However, today is my last day to return this camera - and I thought this forum might be able to help me.

When I started shooting with my new D7000, I was amazed! Of course I was judging the images by the LCD screen on the camera. When I finally put them up on my large monitor... they were awful and blurry! So I checked all my setting again, changed lenses - and shot outdoors in bright sunlight. No matter what I do, they are always soft.

Last night I took two shots from a tripod - one with the D3100 and one with the D7000 - both using the same Manual settings, and the same 35MM 1.8 lens. The color on the D7000 was much better, but the image was much softer than the D3100.

I don't have examples right now - but I've tried everything. Is there possibly a setting or camera knowledge (operator error) missing from the equation? Ritz is willing to let me return it today for a full refund - and I think that for the cost, I'd like it to be slightly better than my D3100 No?
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  • Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better... it's not!" - Dr. Suess

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RLV4422
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Re: D3100 takes sharper photos than D7000?
In reply to RLV4422, May 9, 2012

I'd like to add, that I've seen many of your sample images - and mine are not turning out anywhere near as clear.

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  • Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better... it's not!" - Dr. Suess

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Nikon D3100 Nikon D7000 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR II
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bhD7000
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Re: D3100 takes sharper photos than D7000?
In reply to RLV4422, May 9, 2012

Try live view on the tripod with the 35 at say f8. Then switch to VF focus and take the same pic. Then for interest sake, switch to Quiet shutter and take same picture again. Refocus each time on the same point and take pictures of real things, not lined up batteries etc.

See if there is any difference in apparent sharpness between shots and that will give you an idea if your VF focus is inaccurate.

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Reilly Diefenbach
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Re: D3100 takes sharper photos than D7000?
In reply to RLV4422, May 9, 2012

I'd like it to be slightly better than my D3100 No?
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Yes!

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blue_cheese
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Re: D3100 takes sharper photos than D7000?
In reply to RLV4422, May 9, 2012

I am not sure how you are assessing but consider the following:

  • at 16MP the pixels are smaller than at 12MP, the problem is that when peeping at 100% the image may appear slightly softer due to the nature of the smaller pixels, there is more smoother detail.

  • Softness due to motion blur will show a doubled/moved/trailed image along edges of contrast, look for that, if so then yes operator error

  • Softness in the entire image is due to a bad lens, use the same lens on both camera when testing

  • Softness due to missed focus, due to backfocus/front focus, AF claibration/error, etc.. etc... means you still have something sharp... something must be in focus it just missed to focus on the correct area

If I were you and in doubt with a day to return, I would return and worry about it later.

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Mako2011
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Re: D3100 takes sharper photos than D7000?
In reply to RLV4422, May 9, 2012

RLV4422 wrote:

I know there have been a LOT of discussions about D7000 focus issues. Trust me, I've read through them all. However, today is my last day to return this camera - and I thought this forum might be able to help me.

When I started shooting with my new D7000, I was amazed! Of course I was judging the images by the LCD screen on the camera. When I finally put them up on my large monitor... they were awful and blurry! So I checked all my setting again, changed lenses - and shot outdoors in bright sunlight. No matter what I do, they are always soft.

Last night I took two shots from a tripod - one with the D3100 and one with the D7000 - both using the same Manual settings, and the same 35MM 1.8 lens. The color on the D7000 was much better, but the image was much softer than the D3100.

I don't have examples right now - but I've tried everything. Is there possibly a setting or camera knowledge (operator error) missing from the equation? Ritz is willing to let me return it today for a full refund - and I think that for the cost, I'd like it to be slightly better than my D3100 No?

You said on LCD they seemed sharp....do they still look better on the camera LCD when you zoom in vs the computer? I ask as I had a similar problem and it fixed itself when I updated my viewing software and graphics drivers. Just trying to rule out it being a "viewing" issue with the computer. (you can also print one of the pics to see if it's a computer "viewing" issue.)

Next, as suggested, do a Live View vs viewfinder shot comparison to rule out a focus issue.

Lastly, when possible post an example so some here might help troubleshoot. Make sure it is an OOC jpeg and unaltered in any way.

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Jim Holtz
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Re: D3100 takes sharper photos than D7000?
In reply to RLV4422, May 9, 2012

Here's where you start:

Set AF mode to AF-C
a1 AF-C priority set to* Focus* (this is very important!).
a3 Set to OFF.
a6 Number of focus points = 39
f5 Assign AEL/AFL button to AF lock only.
I choose the number of AF points base on the requirements of my subject.
• 1 point for static objects.
• 9 points for slow or predictable direction moving subjects.

• 21 points for erratic moving subjects (like hummingbirds), that only fill a small portion of the scene.

With this AF set-up, keep your shutter button half pressed so the lens continuously adjusts focus until you actually fully depress the shutter. Focus and re-compose is accomplished by pushing and holding down the AFL button after subject focus is achieved.

The 35 1.8 is often problematic on D7000 until adjusted. Do this:

What is the best way to use the Micro Focus Adjustment?

The question is simple enough, but the answer really depends on the lenses you're using and the way you use them. The point of focus can be adjusted up to + - 20 steps in 1-step increments. Also in both cases, any adjustments you make apply only to the specific camera body in question; lenses themselves are never modified by the camera's AF microadjustment settings. The amount of focus adjustment per step is proportional to the maximum aperture of the lens, with the goal being to increase the precision of the adjustment with large aperture lenses since they have a smaller depth of focus. With all that as a preamble, here the procedure for selecting and using an AF microadjustment setting:
1. Mount the camera to a sturdy tripod.

2. Position a reference target for the camera to focus on. The reference target should have sufficient contrast for the AF system to read, should be flat and parallel to the camera's focal plane, and should be centered with respect to the picture area.
3. Lighting should be bright and even.

4. Camera-to-subject distance should be no less than 50 times the focal length of the lens. For a 50mm lens, that would be at least 2.5 meters, or approximately 8.2 feet.

5. Set the lens for AF and the camera for One-Shot AF, and manually select the center focusing point.

6. Shoot at the maximum aperture of the lens via manual mode or aperture-priority AE, and adjust the exposure level if necessary to achieve an accurate exposure of the reference target. Use a low ISO setting to reduce noise.
7. If the lens has an image stabilizer, shut it off.

8. Use a remote switch and/or the camera's self-timer to release the shutter. Use mirror lock as well.

9. Take three sets of images at microadjustment settings of -5, 0 and +5, i.e, three consecutive images at -5, three consecutive images at 0, and three consecutive images at +5. Then take a live view image for comparison.

10. Examine the resulting images on your computer monitor at 100% pixel magnification and compare each image to the live view image.

11. Take additional sets of test images at different microadjustment settings if necessary until the sharpest image is achieved and most closely matches the live view image.
12. Save the corresponding microadjustment settings in the camera.
Here are a few additional precautions to observe:

• Do not attempt to autofocus on an angled chart, because doing so will degrade the consistency of the camera's focusing measurement. Keep in mind that the camera's AF sensor is comprised of multiple pairs of linear pixel arrays. If you attempt to autofocus on a single line in an angled focusing chart, only a few pixels from each active pixel array will "see" the target. Ideally, the contrast in the reference target should cover the entire area of the camera's center focusing point, and the reference target should be perfectly parallel to the camera's focal plane.

• For best results, manually set the focus on the lens to infinity for every exposure before allowing the camera to autofocus the reference target.

• Expect some minor variations in focusing accuracy within each set of three test images, even though they were all taken at the same microadjustment setting. This is completely normal, and is due to the tolerances of the camera's AF system.

• Expect smaller microadjustment settings to have a greater effect with telephoto lenses, and vice versa for wide-angle lenses.

• If you are attempting to set microadjustments for a zoom lens, it is important to realize that the camera's setting may only be accurate for the focal length setting you test. The instruction book suggests testing at the longest focal length of the lens, but you may find it more efficient to choose the focal length you use most often.

• Some cameras and some zoom lenses may require more sophisticated calibration than the in-camera AF microadjustment settings can provide. In such cases, it may be necessary to have calibrations performed at a Factory Service Center.

Finally, you aren't looking at straight out of camera jpgs at default settings are you? The D7000 is an advanced amateur camera that shows it's worth when shooting RAW and post processing. At the very least, if you're shooting jpgs, up the sharpening to at least 6-7 from the default 3 setting.

Good luck!

Jim

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RLV4422
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Re: D3100 takes sharper photos than D7000?
In reply to Jim Holtz, May 9, 2012

Yes, I am shooting RAW - Thank you for the tips! I'll be sure to try this before I send anything back. However, I must say that looking at the photo of the clearly movning hummingbird shows such great detail! This not not what I am seeting.
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  • Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better... it's not!" - Dr. Suess

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Nikon D3100 Nikon D7000 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR II
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IceBrkr
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Re: D3100 takes sharper photos than D7000?
In reply to Jim Holtz, May 9, 2012

With my 35mm 1.8G lens, I had to set the AF Fine Tune to -12 on the D7000. Now, all the photos are consistently crisp. This same lens worked perfectly on my D40, but the D7000 clearly benefits from some degree of fine tuning. The good news is that this adjustment seems to provide consistently sharp results, across all types of lighting - at least on this prime lens.

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RLV4422
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Re: D3100 takes sharper photos than D7000?
In reply to Reilly Diefenbach, May 9, 2012

This is amazing! I feel inspired again, thank you

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  • Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better... it's not!" - Dr. Suess

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Nikon D3100 Nikon D7000 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR II
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jonikon
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Re: D3100 takes sharper photos than D7000?
In reply to RLV4422, May 9, 2012

There have been a number of posts regarding focus errors with the D7000 / 35MM 1.8 lens combination for whatever reason. You may have to dial in some AF fine tuning compensation for this particular lens. I don't own the 35mm, and you have not posted any images, so I can't say definitively that is the problem with it though.

In my personal experience, when I see soft images, it is almost always caused by front focusing.
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  • Jon

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SaltLakeGuy
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Re: D3100 takes sharper photos than D7000?
In reply to jonikon, May 9, 2012

The easy way to determine if some - focus adjustment would benefit the D7000 is just put BOTH cameras on a tripod in LiveView mode. Focus using the timer to avoid your contact motion on the bodies. Then evaluate. The D7000 should THEN look superior in all regards assuming you've shot in RAW. If you are shooting in Jpeg I rather like to use the Natural setting and bump sharpness up to +7 which after much trial and error have found it ideal for good sharpness without artifacts. If it now looks great than indeed you'll need to probably add some negative adjustment to the lens. I haven't seen any forward adjustment ever being needed, as one already mentioned they tend to front focus. I have my kit lens at -12 and it's perfect there. My other 3 lenses needed NO adjustment at all.

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Patco
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Re: D3100 takes sharper photos than D7000?
In reply to blue_cheese, May 9, 2012

blue_cheese wrote:

  • at 16MP the pixels are smaller than at 12MP, the problem is that when peeping at 100% the image may appear slightly softer due to the nature of the smaller pixels, there is more smoother detail.

That may be true, but as the OP is comparing cameras with 16.2MP and 14.2MP sensors, I don't think the size difference would be enough to cause what the OP is experiencing.

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Patco
A photograph is more than a bunch of pixels

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Graeme NZ
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Re: D3100 takes sharper photos than D7000?
In reply to IceBrkr, May 10, 2012

I also set my AF Fine Tune for my D7000 - 35mm1.8 to -12 Works great
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newpictaker
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Re: D3100 takes sharper photos than D7000?
In reply to Graeme NZ, May 10, 2012

When you set that does it screw up all the other lenses, or does it remember for just the 35?

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Mako2011
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Re: D3100 takes sharper photos than D7000?
In reply to newpictaker, May 10, 2012

newpictaker wrote:

When you set that does it screw up all the other lenses, or does it remember for just the 35?

Just for that particular 35mm model.

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