D800 - cannot get sharp images even in macro on non moving targets

Started Aug 8, 2012 | Discussions
Fastmikefree
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D800 - cannot get sharp images even in macro on non moving targets
Aug 8, 2012

Hi

I saw some very impressive macro photos from people on that forum that people clamed to take handheld!

Can someone please explain to me what I am doing wrong???

I am seeing those pictures taken handheld at F3 and iso 800. When I am trying on heavy tripod, with Nikon 105 2.8G Micro, and cannot get anything close to that even using liveview:

Cannot get anything sharper than that one that I am finding unsharp and soft... This is the neatest one from about 100 pics at different aperture/speed at a sunny day.

FYI my D800 and lenses went to Nikon services. To be honnest I am getting much sharper photos with my compact camera or any of my Canon SLR. As I am new to Nikon, I am still blaming myself and looking for advice but be very curious to find out on what is wrong.

Please provide with guidance on correct settings with that camera. I took those in AF-C S but tried many combination. I cannot get 'high speed' without increasing ISO much higher that values I am used to with my other SLRs.

Many thanks in advance emoticon - wink

Phil

Nikon D800
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oldhouse
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Re: D800 - cannot get sharp images even in macro on non moving targets
In reply to Fastmikefree, Aug 8, 2012

Hi Phil...
There are a lot of things (variables) to consider here.

In the post you first complained of this... The OP was shooting f/13 not f/3. But, also, the OP was using flash. This helps a LOT with handheld macro.

I think it would be helpful for us to see some of the pictures that didn't come out. That can help us figure what specifically happened.

If your other cameras are older, smaller sensor cameras, then you may be finding the DOF to be too narrow to get all what you'd like in focus. Thus, you have to be much more careful nailing focus.

With the D800, your technique, if sloppy, could lead to disaster. If you are on a tripod, make sure the VR on your macro lens is turned off. Use a cable release. Manually focus. mirror lock-up even may improve things.
Make sure that you apply appropriate sharpening in PP.

Again, I think that seeing some of the problem images can help us figure out what is going on. The fact that you get some images in focus makes me thing it is a technique issue rather than something wrong with your setup.

EDIT- in looking at your posted image, it is focused behind the eyes of the subject. If this was focused manually, you missed. If you used auto-focus, forget it. It can't pick the specific detail out that you are looking for. At f/6.3 on FF camera and macro distances, you aren't going to have that whole bug in focus.
Quinn

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Quinn

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Fastmikefree
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Re: D800 - cannot get sharp images even in macro on non moving targets
In reply to oldhouse, Aug 8, 2012

Hi Quinn

First of all, many thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Appreciated!

I was referring to some posts like that one when seiing tremendous results that I cannot even get close to with my D800.

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum

Here are some other shots from the 105 from F3 to F8, all with mirror up for 3 seconds (option d4) but the bee (1sec). VR is off on tripod. Crops are straight from the camera, no post production.

None look sharp to me. Even the flower on the 2nd pic should be vey sharp at the focus point what I am not finding to be the case...

Many thanks again

Phil

oldhouse wrote:

Hi Phil...
There are a lot of things (variables) to consider here.

In the post you first complained of this... The OP was shooting f/13 not f/3. But, also, the OP was using flash. This helps a LOT with handheld macro.

I think it would be helpful for us to see some of the pictures that didn't come out. That can help us figure what specifically happened.

If your other cameras are older, smaller sensor cameras, then you may be finding the DOF to be too narrow to get all what you'd like in focus. Thus, you have to be much more careful nailing focus.

With the D800, your technique, if sloppy, could lead to disaster. If you are on a tripod, make sure the VR on your macro lens is turned off. Use a cable release. Manually focus. mirror lock-up even may improve things.
Make sure that you apply appropriate sharpening in PP.

Again, I think that seeing some of the problem images can help us figure out what is going on. The fact that you get some images in focus makes me thing it is a technique issue rather than something wrong with your setup.

EDIT- in looking at your posted image, it is focused behind the eyes of the subject. If this was focused manually, you missed. If you used auto-focus, forget it. It can't pick the specific detail out that you are looking for. At f/6.3 on FF camera and macro distances, you aren't going to have that whole bug in focus.
Quinn

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Quinn

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Ernie Misner
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Re: D800 - cannot get sharp images even in macro on non moving targets
In reply to oldhouse, Aug 8, 2012

You mentioned earlier using the tripod. If focusing manually you need to first decide what exact area within the composition you need to have the sharpest and then focus carefully on that. You can put a focus point on that area and then use the green dot focus aid or the viewfinder, which ever works best for you at the time. Auto focus can work well also with proper technique, and sometimes it will acquire better focus than manually. If using auto focus, try this: in menu, remove the focus feature from the shutter button and put it onto the AFon button instead. Then switch the focus mode to Continous. Then using your thumb on the AFon button acquire focus on that important spot, then once you remove your thumb, the focus is LOCKED onto that spot and a half or full press of the shutter button to take the photo will not interfere with your pre determined and locked in focus choice. Blessings,

Ernie Misner

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inasir1971
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Re: D800 - cannot get sharp images even in macro on non moving targets
In reply to Fastmikefree, Aug 8, 2012

The images you posted aren't out of focus so much as your depth of field is too shallow. You need to forget about diffraction effects and use a larger f number (and possibly a macro flash)

Your aperture values above are far too small. To giive you an idea of the DOF for the 105VR at a distance of 0.6m for the apertures used in your some of your shots:

f3 - 3.5mm
f6.3 - 7.3mm
f8 - 9.3mm

Even f16 only gives 18.6mm. The in focus area on your shot corresponds roughly to what it should. And as the previous poster said there really is no way to AF on the area you want, and VR is incredibly ineffective at macro distances.

You trade DOF for magnification.

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Fastmikefree
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Re: D800 - cannot get sharp images even in macro on non moving targets
In reply to Ernie Misner, Aug 8, 2012

Thanks Ernie!

I was using the autofocus at all time but even at the center spot, not finding the image sharp.

You are fight that I was using the AF attached to the shutter button. I will try what you recommend!

Many thanks for your valuable advices.

Phil

Ernie Misner wrote:

You mentioned earlier using the tripod. If focusing manually you need to first decide what exact area within the composition you need to have the sharpest and then focus carefully on that. You can put a focus point on that area and then use the green dot focus aid or the viewfinder, which ever works best for you at the time. Auto focus can work well also with proper technique, and sometimes it will acquire better focus than manually. If using auto focus, try this: in menu, remove the focus feature from the shutter button and put it onto the AFon button instead. Then switch the focus mode to Continous. Then using your thumb on the AFon button acquire focus on that important spot, then once you remove your thumb, the focus is LOCKED onto that spot and a half or full press of the shutter button to take the photo will not interfere with your pre determined and locked in focus choice. Blessings,

Ernie Misner

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Fastmikefree
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Re: D800 - cannot get sharp images even in macro on non moving targets
In reply to inasir1971, Aug 8, 2012

Hi Inasir

One of the issue that I am facing is that to increase the DOF, the speed get far too low to get anything neat on that type of subject. Increasing the ISO is one solution but the image get noisy quiet quick. I was not expecting this on a sunny day...

When trying with the integrated flash, it blows out everything... (my smartphone is doing better in that matter )

I understand that my DOF is very low but I was expecting the spot I am focusing on to be extremly sharp which is not the case and is worrying me the most.

I have tried fine tuning and also went through the Nikon service center so I believe that the hardware is 'good' at least using center AF point...

Many thanks

Phil

inasir1971 wrote:

The images you posted aren't out of focus so much as your depth of field is too shallow. You need to forget about diffraction effects and use a larger f number (and possibly a macro flash)

Your aperture values above are far too small. To giive you an idea of the DOF for the 105VR at a distance of 0.6m for the apertures used in your some of your shots:

f3 - 3.5mm
f6.3 - 7.3mm
f8 - 9.3mm

Even f16 only gives 18.6mm. The in focus area on your shot corresponds roughly to what it should. And as the previous poster said there really is no way to AF on the area you want, and VR is incredibly ineffective at macro distances.

You trade DOF for magnification.

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caspianm
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Re: D800 - cannot get sharp images even in macro on non moving targets
In reply to Fastmikefree, Aug 8, 2012

I think your pix is not too bad just blown exposure.

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Fastmikefree
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Re: D800 - cannot get sharp images even in macro on non moving targets
In reply to caspianm, Aug 8, 2012

Thanks! Strangely the small crop looks better than the original raw pic, but still not as sharp as it should at center...

Cheers

Phil

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ADMint
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Re: D800 - cannot get sharp images even in macro on non moving targets
In reply to oldhouse, Aug 8, 2012

oldhouse wrote:

Hi Phil...
There are a lot of things (variables) to consider here.

In the post you first complained of this... The OP was shooting f/13 not f/3. But, also, the OP was using flash. This helps a LOT with handheld macro.

I think it would be helpful for us to see some of the pictures that didn't come out. That can help us figure what specifically happened.

If your other cameras are older, smaller sensor cameras, then you may be finding the DOF to be too narrow to get all what you'd like in focus. Thus, you have to be much more careful nailing focus.

With the D800, your technique, if sloppy, could lead to disaster. If you are on a tripod, make sure the VR on your macro lens is turned off. Use a cable release. Manually focus. mirror lock-up even may improve things.
Make sure that you apply appropriate sharpening in PP.

Again, I think that seeing some of the problem images can help us figure out what is going on. The fact that you get some images in focus makes me thing it is a technique issue rather than something wrong with your setup.

EDIT- in looking at your posted image, it is focused behind the eyes of the subject. If this was focused manually, you missed. If you used auto-focus, forget it. It can't pick the specific detail out that you are looking for. At f/6.3 on FF camera and macro distances, you aren't going to have that whole bug in focus.
Quinn

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Quinn

Hi Quinn, I haven't did macro shots in years but your post here has given me some food for thought as I blow the dust off my macro 60mm Nikon lens and play with it on my D800. Great suggestions.

Thanks.
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caspianm
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Re: D800 - cannot get sharp images even in macro on non moving targets
In reply to Fastmikefree, Aug 8, 2012

I dealt with a small file. The original file should have a lot more info.

Check your camera setting. D800 has a very capable metering. Some settings are wrong. If can't figure it out do a reset. You should be fine.

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Fastmikefree
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Re: D800 - cannot get sharp images even in macro on non moving targets
In reply to ADMint, Aug 8, 2012

Quinn

by the way, I have tried using the integrated flash and it blown everything... so probably another user error there... ;-(

Cheers

Phil

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sssesq
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Re: D800 - cannot get sharp images even in macro on non moving targets
In reply to Fastmikefree, Aug 8, 2012

Fastmikefree wrote:

Thanks! Strangely the small crop looks better than the original raw pic, but still not as sharp as it should at center...

Cheers

Phil

The second pic (tighter crop) looks much better (exposure and sharpness). Are you positive that all you did is recrop and not fiddle with the sharpness or exposure? I think that the second pic is delightful. Don't expect much better wrt DOF at f6.3.

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inasir1971
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Re: D800 - cannot get sharp images even in macro on non moving targets
In reply to Fastmikefree, Aug 8, 2012

Now you know why many of the shots you see of dragonflies, butterflies etc. are done with the 70-200 VRII

It is frustrating. You could try and set shutter to release only (so won't activate focus), set your focus with AF-on, and then using liveview to move the camera to get the part you want in focus.

When you've had enough of that. Kill the bug (chemically), place it on a plain background, and use focus stacking to get a perfect image which you can then photoshop onto your desired background.

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sssesq
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Re: D800 - cannot get sharp images even in macro on non moving targets
In reply to inasir1971, Aug 8, 2012

inasir1971 wrote:

When you've had enough of that. Kill the bug (chemically), place it on a plain background, and use focus stacking to get a perfect image which you can then photoshop onto your desired background.

Isn't that cheating?? How 'bout the freezer? Less toxic.

= joke...

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StillLearning
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Re: D800 - cannot get sharp images even in macro on non moving targets
In reply to Fastmikefree, Aug 8, 2012

No, Nikon flashes in closeup mode need to be dialed down like -2.0 EV. Start there then add or subtract.

F22 at 1/250. Flash with diffusor.

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GMack
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Re: D800 - cannot get sharp images even in macro on non moving targets
In reply to Fastmikefree, Aug 8, 2012

I suspect your DOF is far too shallow, and you have a bit of back-focus going on too so you might want to tune your closeup AF Tuning numbers a bit. I believe mine differs around 7 points on my near to far macro tests with that lens.

My version is a bit slow to focus to a good AF lock-on too. Might take 3-4 button presses before it settles out and gets a good lock-on. I don't know if it is a characteristic of that lens, but it really wavers in the QoF numbers in FoCal away from the curve in successive shots for some strange reason. It takes a lot of shots to come up with a decent final number in that software, and then I often doubt it. So I'll try some closeups in the field prior to getting serious.

I also think your P-P skills need some work. Nikon always seems a bit soft to me coming from Canon so I have to sharpen them a bit more in post as well as raising them in camera setting up from the default of 2 or 3 to 7 or 8. Canon always seemed over-sharpened at times with subsequent CA colors showing up. Macro might be better off going with a higher than the default 'Sharpness' setting. Then follow it up in Post with maybe Topaz Focus or similar.

These bugs were shot hand-held with the Nikkor 105mm VR with a 20 year old Minolta ring-flash with a high f/number. Diffraction wasn't bad, but I prefer it down around f/16 so I need to do something with the flash somehow too lower it a bit. My sharpness on that lens begins to suffer around f/13. Ideally, if I were to use f/5.0 (My optimum sharpness on that lens.) and 'stacked' with a few shots it may be better for sharpness - if the bugs would hold still.

Mack

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Fastmikefree
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Re: D800 - cannot get sharp images even in macro on non moving targets
In reply to sssesq, Aug 8, 2012

Thanks!

I don't think I did... I just used a freeeware called Faststone viewer to do the crop. I don't believe that it changes anything but might be wrong...

Phil

sssesq wrote:

Fastmikefree wrote:

Thanks! Strangely the small crop looks better than the original raw pic, but still not as sharp as it should at center...

Cheers

Phil

The second pic (tighter crop) looks much better (exposure and sharpness). Are you positive that all you did is recrop and not fiddle with the sharpness or exposure? I think that the second pic is delightful. Don't expect much better wrt DOF at f6.3.

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Fastmikefree
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Re: D800 - cannot get sharp images even in macro on non moving targets
In reply to GMack, Aug 8, 2012

Hi GMack

I noticed the same with mine. The Fine tune needs to be adjusted depeding of the distance to the subject. I was expecting it to be accurate once for all but I was wrong. And it is very obvious with that macro lens compare to other prime lenses.

About Focal, it is terrible with that particulat lens for any unknown reason.

Cheers

Phil

BTW very nice photos!!! Congrats

GMack wrote:

I suspect your DOF is far too shallow, and you have a bit of back-focus going on too so you might want to tune your closeup AF Tuning numbers a bit. I believe mine differs around 7 points on my near to far macro tests with that lens.

My version is a bit slow to focus to a good AF lock-on too. Might take 3-4 button presses before it settles out and gets a good lock-on. I don't know if it is a characteristic of that lens, but it really wavers in the QoF numbers in FoCal away from the curve in successive shots for some strange reason. It takes a lot of shots to come up with a decent final number in that software, and then I often doubt it. So I'll try some closeups in the field prior to getting serious.

I also think your P-P skills need some work. Nikon always seems a bit soft to me coming from Canon so I have to sharpen them a bit more in post as well as raising them in camera setting up from the default of 2 or 3 to 7 or 8. Canon always seemed over-sharpened at times with subsequent CA colors showing up. Macro might be better off going with a higher than the default 'Sharpness' setting. Then follow it up in Post with maybe Topaz Focus or similar.

These bugs were shot hand-held with the Nikkor 105mm VR with a 20 year old Minolta ring-flash with a high f/number. Diffraction wasn't bad, but I prefer it down around f/16 so I need to do something with the flash somehow too lower it a bit. My sharpness on that lens begins to suffer around f/13. Ideally, if I were to use f/5.0 (My optimum sharpness on that lens.) and 'stacked' with a few shots it may be better for sharpness - if the bugs would hold still.

Mack

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Fastmikefree
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Re: D800 - cannot get sharp images even in macro on non moving targets
In reply to StillLearning, Aug 8, 2012

Nice advice, will give it a try! I was stupidly expecting this to be 'automatic' and linked the the distance calculate by the AF system...

Many thanks

Phil

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