D800 in the hands of a (poor) amateur. Tips needed.

Started Dec 14, 2013 | Discussions
saulhr
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D800 in the hands of a (poor) amateur. Tips needed.
Dec 14, 2013

Ok, so I know a tiny amount about photography and have had many non-pro Nikon SLRs in the past. I bought a used D800 a month ago. I know it requires much more technique than I currently have but my photos are surprisingly rubbish in most conditions and with most lenses! Please, I need advice in many areas but the most urgent are:

1. I recently photographed Vesuvius and Herculaneum with a 50 1.4 and most photos have a distinct purple cast. WHY? What do I do about it? The lens has a Skylight 1B on it, and displays the purple cast from wide open, right through to F8. Is it my technique? The lens? The filter?

2. I seem to get a lot out of focus on stills with all the lenses

3. I cannot get anything in focus using the video with the zoom or the 50.

4. My shots have no vivid quality; I can get better from my G9 in full Auto mode at the moment.

My lenses are all about 15 years old: 50 1.4; I set the WB to what Ken Rockwell suggested A3 1M; I usually use auto ISO, or fixed ISO 100 if enough light; and AF-S single point.

Please, let me have it! Tell me what I'm doing wrong. Thanks in advance.

Purple haze 1

Purple haze 2

Not in focus 1

Purple haze 3

Out of focus 2

300 F4; 28-85 F3.5

Canon PowerShot G9 Nikon D800
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jkjond
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Re: D800 in the hands of a (poor) amateur. Tips needed.
In reply to saulhr, Dec 14, 2013

saulhr wrote:

Ok, so I know a tiny amount about photography and have had many non-pro Nikon SLRs in the past. I bought a used D800 a month ago. I know it requires much more technique than I currently have but my photos are surprisingly rubbish in most conditions and with most lenses! Please, I need advice in many areas but the most urgent are:

1. I recently photographed Vesuvius and Herculaneum with a 50 1.4 and most photos have a distinct purple cast. WHY? What do I do about it? The lens has a Skylight 1B on it, and displays the purple cast from wide open, right through to F8. Is it my technique? The lens? The filter?

Are you shooting jpg or raw?

The filter, is that a bit yellow (I can't remember correction filters as I don't use them). That will have some effect, try with and without to get a better idea. If you were using auto WB, then it may well confuse the camera. But you mention some other setting. I always shoot raw and correct in pp if necessary. wb is an area of confusion. Its coming back to me, skylight are very similar to UV, so should not have much colour to them at all. If its not accurate to your subject, then wb is top of my list.

2. I seem to get a lot out of focus on stills with all the lenses

It could depend on which focus point you are using - some may not be functioning correctly, but it could just as easily be technique and or pixel peaking. Eliminating camera shake is the first step in working out what is going wrong - either by using a tripod of flash to freeze out the effect of camera shake. If you get reliable results from a tripod or flash, then camera shake is what is causing the blur.

3. I cannot get anything in focus using the video with the zoom or the 50.

then don't use it :~) I don't own a camera with video, hopefully someone will point out something obvious that you are overlooking.

4. My shots have no vivid quality; I can get better from my G9 in full Auto mode at the moment.

A lot will depend on what you are comparing - shooting jpg or raw being the first factor. If jpg, then the camera needs to be set up for more punchy colours if that's what you like. The G9 default factory settings for jpg are very likely brighter, more sharpened and greater saturation. If you are shooting raw, then you need to learn how to process images to your liking.

My lenses are all about 15 years old: 50 1.4; I set the WB to what Ken Rockwell suggested A3 1M; I usually use auto ISO, or fixed ISO 100 if enough light; and AF-S single point.

Purple haze - I'm not seeing it in your shots, but there is a blueness to the shadows. I'd expect some of that on a blue sky day as the shadow areas receive a lot of light from the blue areas above.

Please, let me have it! Tell me what I'm doing wrong. Thanks in advance.

Purple haze 1

Purple haze 2

Yup, not in focus. I'd expect sharper from the shutter speed used. Check technique before blaming the camera.

Purple haze 3

Out of focus 2

300 F4; 28-85 F3.5

On this last one, it is mainly missed focus. the grass in the mid distance is sharper then the main subject. 300mm and wider apertures will reduce the dof of a shot, which means your focus has to be more accurate.

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Chuck Yadmark
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Re: D800 in the hands of a (poor) amateur. Tips needed.
In reply to saulhr, Dec 14, 2013

My guess is the filter is causing the problem.

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Bing Chow
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Re: D800 in the hands of a (poor) amateur. Tips needed.
In reply to saulhr, Dec 14, 2013

saulhr wrote:

Ok, so I know a tiny amount about photography and have had many non-pro Nikon SLRs in the past. I bought a used D800 a month ago. I know it requires much more technique than I currently have but my photos are surprisingly rubbish in most conditions and with most lenses! Please, I need advice in many areas but the most urgent are:

Wow. from a point and shoot to a semi-pro FX DSLR! Welcome to photography! You have much to learn so keep reading and asking questions.

1. I recently photographed Vesuvius and Herculaneum with a 50 1.4 and most photos have a distinct purple cast. WHY? What do I do about it? The lens has a Skylight 1B on it, and displays the purple cast from wide open, right through to F8. Is it my technique? The lens? The filter?

What you are talking about is white balance. I can't speak about the filter because I don't use any. But if you shoot jpeg, that means you have to adjust WB in camera. If you shoot outdoors, you are going to be setting it at Daylight or cloudy. But not all parts of a scene have the same colour of light. For e.g., in your first two shots, daylight might perfect for the sky and the sides of the building lit by the sun. But in the street/shadows, it will have a cooler colour, hence bluish or purplish haze to it.

2. I seem to get a lot out of focus on stills with all the lenses

Probably technique. To check if it is equipment problem, mount camera on tripod and shoot at static subjects with good contrast so the AF picks up on it easily. If it is sharp, then you need to learn to hold the camera better.

3. I cannot get anything in focus using the video with the zoom or the 50.

4. My shots have no vivid quality; I can get better from my G9 in full Auto mode at the moment.

You are used to shooting jpeg and having the camera doing the processing for you. Chances are, the G9 is set up for punchier colours, increased contrast, and sharpness. It's what people find pleasing. If you shoot jpeg in D800, then you have to experiment with all those picture controls (Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Monochrome, etc) Inside each of those modes, you can dial in further customization. Personally, I shoot RAW and process it in Lightroom. Post-processing is another skill altogether. I believe shooting in camera is like gathering ingredients for a meal. Processing it in computer is the cooking.

My lenses are all about 15 years old: 50 1.4; I set the WB to what Ken Rockwell suggested A3 1M; I usually use auto ISO, or fixed ISO 100 if enough light; and AF-S single point.

I usually don't use auto iso. For those who are just getting beyond point and shoots and starting to discover what aperture-priority, shutter-priority, and full manual modes, aperture-priority is easiest. You pick aperture and iso, the camera will pick shutter for you.

Please, let me have it! Tell me what I'm doing wrong. Thanks in advance.

In the rugby shot, the focus point is clearly wrong. I suppose you wanted the ball carrier in focus but the child closest to you was in focus. Sports photo is a different beast and requires different settings. I am starting to explore this area myself.

Please forgive me if my assumptions are wrong. But judging by the type of questions you are asking, you are new to SLR photography. It seems you need a better foundation of understanding of aperture, shutter speed, jpeg, RAW, single-point AF, continuous AF, white balance, histograms, etc. The D800 manual will be a wealth of info for you. Perhaps check out some books on matter. Select some general, basic, broad range type of book to get your feet wet. Don't pick specialized subjects such sports, flash, portrait photography, low-light, or HDR.

Good luck and have fun.

Out of focus 2

300 F4; 28-85 F3.5

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axcentphoto
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Re: D800 in the hands of a (poor) amateur. Tips needed.
In reply to Bing Chow, Dec 14, 2013

I think you are being a little 'hard' on yourself but, as mentioned, the filter might be the 'culpret'. And remember, this camera with it's high pixel count is very unforgiving 'hand held', a tripod or VR is almost a must. Keep asking and reading, you'll get it right, BTW Great Camera!   Brent

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wasserball
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Re: D800 in the hands of a (poor) amateur. Tips needed.
In reply to jkjond, Dec 14, 2013

On this last one, it is mainly missed focus. the grass in the mid distance is sharper then the main subject. 300mm and wider apertures will reduce the dof of a shot, which means your focus has to be more accurate.

That last photo, kids playing, was shot at f7.1.  Looks like the boy in front, lower left is more in focus than the rest.  So, I assume the focus point was to the left.  Didn't the D800 had left focus issues?

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laddsmith
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Re: D800 in the hands of a (poor) amateur. Tips needed.
In reply to Bing Chow, Dec 14, 2013

Bing is on the money.  But as others have suggested, dump the filter.  Always amazes me that someone will pay $$$$ for a great lens, and put a "protective" filter in front for a few dollars.  The image is only as good as the weakest link, and that is usually the filter.  Agree with above-always shoot in RAW, you can have both RAW and JPG's recorded, (I use the jpg's if making a slide show, etc. for TV).  You can change the WB in post processing.

Your other camera is doing in camera processing, and with the D800 optimally you do that as post processing.

You have a good eye, look forward to your next post.

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saulhr
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Re: D800 in the hands of a (poor) amateur. Tips needed.
In reply to saulhr, Dec 14, 2013

Thanks to you all for replying quickly, and constructively. It's very interesting what comes out of the discussions. First, I always shot the G9 in raw (the G9+ series is quite a sophisticated camera for point and shoot!) but I only shot a few on the D800 in raw as had small cards and no big ones available at short notice. I've ordered some proper cards so can always shoot the D800 in raw.

Focus: on the sports and the museum shot, I was in single shot autofocus, with single centre point focus on the boy carrying the ball. The grass/boy on the left shouldn't have been the focal point so I wonder if it does have the "left focus" problem some D800s have.

WB: having specifically used Ken Rockwell's suggested adjustments for the D800, which dialled in 1 unit of magenta, I think the problem got compounded with the skylight 1B filter which I didn't realise also had a magenta tint. I'd left the filter on from film camera days! I'll use the same lens with different WBs and experiment

Vividness: I set this to Ken Rockwell's suggested setting, "Vivid", but I would like more so I'll experiment.

I've also bought a monopod.

Overall, I did expect to get better pictures out of the box, allowing for the need to have higher shutter speeds than usual because of the res.

I'd be happy to post some more and keep getting your comments. I know the D800 is awesome and I'd like to learn to do it justice. Thanks.

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Flashlight
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Seems a severe camera problem...
In reply to saulhr, Dec 14, 2013

Looking at the rugby shot taken at 300mm I see the plane of focus like this:

The mural shot taken at 50mm seems to have the same problem, assuming you lifted your right arm and shot it with the shutter button up.

My guess so far, assuming two different lenses showing the same fault, is the camera has had a severe impact where the mount went out of register. I'd contact the seller to send it back as Nikon will not be able to repair it (speaking from experience).

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Philip

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wasserball
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Re: D800 in the hands of a (poor) amateur. Tips needed.
In reply to laddsmith, Dec 14, 2013

laddsmith wrote:

Bing is on the money. But as others have suggested, dump the filter. Always amazes me that someone will pay $$$$ for a great lens, and put a "protective" filter in front for a few dollars. The image is only as good as the weakest link, and that is usually the filter. Agree with above-always shoot in RAW, you can have both RAW and JPG's recorded, (I use the jpg's if making a slide show, etc. for TV). You can change the WB in post processing.

Your other camera is doing in camera processing, and with the D800 optimally you do that as post processing.

You have a good eye, look forward to your next post.

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Ladd Smith

Hello Ladd,

I was trying to prove your point, so I used a D600 and a D90 with kit lens with and without a UV filter in front of the lens, shot in aperture priority, ISO 1600, on tripod, using IR remote release. The photos are 100% cropped to compare details. You will notice that the shutter speed is slowed with the UV filter in front in all cases. The photos are post processed the same. I do have the originals, and it showed darker images w/o the UV filter since the shutter speed was faster. Please look at these pictures and tell me what you think. To be honest, I was very surprised with the results. The photos with the UV filter showed less noise!

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saulhr
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Re: Seems a severe camera problem...
In reply to Flashlight, Dec 14, 2013

You have just hit on something very important: the lenses have always "scraped" from day one when mounting them. Thank you...bought it from Amazon used.

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Flashlight
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Now try the same with...
In reply to wasserball, Dec 14, 2013

...a Nikon NC filter. I've not been able to find a significant difference when using on of these, including shooting right into the sun with a zoom lens. YMMV.

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jkjond
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Re: D800 in the hands of a (poor) amateur. Tips needed.
In reply to saulhr, Dec 14, 2013

saulhr wrote:

Thanks to you all for replying quickly, and constructively. It's very interesting what comes out of the discussions. First, I always shot the G9 in raw (the G9+ series is quite a sophisticated camera for point and shoot!) but I only shot a few on the D800 in raw as had small cards and no big ones available at short notice. I've ordered some proper cards so can always shoot the D800 in raw.

The software used to read files will matter. All software will have default values, and the manufacturer's own software will read more info from the camera. I'm not familiar with the canon options, so can't comment much more, but it could simply be set with more acceptable defaults.

Focus: on the sports and the museum shot, I was in single shot autofocus, with single centre point focus on the boy carrying the ball. The grass/boy on the left shouldn't have been the focal point so I wonder if it does have the "left focus" problem some D800s have.

WB: having specifically used Ken Rockwell's suggested adjustments for the D800, which dialled in 1 unit of magenta, I think the problem got compounded with the skylight 1B filter which I didn't realise also had a magenta tint. I'd left the filter on from film camera days! I'll use the same lens with different WBs and experiment

Vividness: I set this to Ken Rockwell's suggested setting, "Vivid", but I would like more so I'll experiment.

Note that dialling in adjustment settings when shooting raw will only be read by nikon's own software on your computer. Other software will only read settings such as aperture, shutter speed, iso and white balance (though wb can then be changed afterwards)

I've also bought a monopod.

Overall, I did expect to get better pictures out of the box, allowing for the need to have higher shutter speeds than usual because of the res.

I'd be happy to post some more and keep getting your comments. I know the D800 is awesome and I'd like to learn to do it justice. Thanks.

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Rick Knepper
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Re: Seems a severe camera problem...
In reply to Flashlight, Dec 14, 2013

Flashlight wrote:

Looking at the rugby shot taken at 300mm I see the plane of focus like this:

The mural shot taken at 50mm seems to have the same problem, assuming you lifted your right arm and shot it with the shutter button up.

My guess so far, assuming two different lenses showing the same fault, is the camera has had a severe impact where the mount went out of register. I'd contact the seller to send it back as Nikon will not be able to repair it (speaking from experience).

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Philip

My interpretation is that the kid in front of the kid on the left and closer to the rest of the group has the sharpest focus. That kid seems to be on the same plane with the kid on the far right and the kid closest is falling out of DoF. My experience with 300mm tells me that a scene this "deep" is going to have to be stoppped down more.

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Rick Knepper
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Re: Seems a severe camera problem...
In reply to saulhr, Dec 14, 2013

saulhr wrote:

You have just hit on something very important: the lenses have always "scraped" from day one when mounting them. Thank you...bought it from Amazon used.

Well, the sound you are hearing is metal on metal and is normal unless you are going OCD and precisely placing the lens inside the body cavity without touching the sides.

By the way, my take on your images shot outside is that you have over-exposed skies and possibly blown areas (can't remember and don't want to back-track). Once I started using the Spot meter, my exposures improved a great deal. Matrix or Canon's Evaluative modes do not work like they are insinuated to work. If you want those beautiful blues every time, try Spot metering and/or locking your exposure.

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Flashlight
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Well...
In reply to Rick Knepper, Dec 14, 2013

...if you look a these crops (utter left and right bottom) and think that's normal, happy shootin'

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Philip

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saulhr
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Re: Seems a severe camera problem...
In reply to Rick Knepper, Dec 14, 2013

Rick, you know how you know when your car, or something else you use every day, just isn't right? Well the very first time I mounted a lens, it didn't go on smoothly. And it's niggled me every time I change lens. I just tried all my lenses on an old Nikon body I have and they go on perfectly smoothly (and they're lightly used). On the D800 body, they grate.

I also agree with you about the matrix metering vs spot by the way. You've reassured me by pointing it out. I read up a lot about the D800 before buying it and Ken Rockwell just says "leave it in matrix" so I thought I had just been doing it wrong for years because in my experience with older Nikons, centre and spot metering needs to be used much more often than expected outdoors. One of the main reasons for buying the D800 is because it has the button to immediately switch between metering modes.

I'm starting to think that Ken Rockwell is not gospel on the D800! So far he seems to have got his WB and metering recommendations wrong in my very humble experience.

Anyone, jury is still out on the body problem vs my technique now, so I'll have to send it to Nikon. Will keep you updated out of interest, and still keen on all your comments. Thanks.

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wasserball
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Re: Now try the same with...
In reply to Flashlight, Dec 14, 2013

Flashlight wrote:

...a Nikon NC filter. I've not been able to find a significant difference when using on of these, including shooting right into the sun with a zoom lens. YMMV.

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Philip

You are right! 2 attached photos, untouched, jpg, D90 with 70-200mm f2.8, Nikon NC 77 mm filter, aperture priority, f3.5, ISO 1600, tripod, IR remote shutter release. Top photo w/o filter, lower photo with filter. But, can you explain in the "cheap" filters there were less noise than w/o filter. Those photos are in my previous post.

Judging the two photos, it seems the photo w/o filter showed higher contrasts.

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MikeJohn
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Re: Seems a severe camera problem...
In reply to saulhr, Dec 14, 2013

I would do more testing before sending it to Nikon. I would un-do Ken Rockwell settings, use AF-C for sports and I would AF fine tune my lenses. You just show pictures you're not happy with, have any pictures turned out OK?

Good luck,

Mike

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Rick Knepper
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Re: Well...
In reply to Flashlight, Dec 14, 2013

Flashlight wrote:

...if you look a these crops (utter left and right bottom) and think that's normal, happy shootin'

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Philip

I haven't formed an opinion on whether this is normal or not because I don't know all of the facts just as you don't know them. You could be 100% right or not as to severe mount damage. But, that doesn't change this fact. I was merely pointing out that the plane of focus appears to me to be different than how you drew it. Can the plane of focus skew front to back?  The crops above are directly across from one another.

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