softness: me, glass, or camera?

Started 11 months ago | Discussions
Voe2014
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softness: me, glass, or camera?
11 months ago

I am getting lots of soft images from my D90 with Tamron 18-270 mm f/3.5-6.3 9the older model). Normally I shoot my kids but I do not want pics of them online, so attached are some landscapes, they illustrate my problem even better since there's no motion blur. These jpeg are OOC.

18 mm, f8 ,1/250, ISO 200

I find my lens often had problems with the autofocus, I just can't get the subject in focus as shown by the monkey:

130 mm, f6, 1/160, ISO 400

So, is this me (I mainly use shutter priority or automatic if shooting kids as full manual will make me miss the shot) or the glass? What suggestions can you offer?

Nikon D90
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Leonard Shepherd
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Re: Sorry but
In reply to Voe2014, 11 months ago

Sorry but - it is probably you.

The first and third images in particular are ones where your D90 instruction book (the section on getting good results using AF) explains the subjects are ones where AF may not be accurate.

If you use AF on a subject where the camera is unable to AF good you can get unsharp pictures like yours.

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Great images are often of good subjects.
If they are great images does what lens, body or technique was used matter more than the skill of the photographer?

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Steve Bingham
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Re: Sorry but
In reply to Leonard Shepherd, 11 months ago

At this internet resolution, all your images should appear sharp. It's you. Sorry. Study, take a class, etc. Good luck.

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Steve Bingham
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www.ghost-town-photography.com

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Westmill
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Re: Sorry but
In reply to Steve Bingham, 11 months ago

Well from what I can see... Firstly, with high contrast scenes like this you would do much better shooting RAW. Or at least turn up your DR. As has been already said too, they actually do not look bad for sharpness. As such... its the lens !  If you want a zoom with good range, try the new nikon 18-140. This would be much better, although you can not expect miracles from any superzoom. Thats the price you pay for all that convenience

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mosswings
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Re: softness: me, glass, or camera?
In reply to Voe2014, 11 months ago

Appears to be mostly you. You haven't told us what AF-area mode you were using and I can't read your EXIF data to find out. But:

#1: Assuming that you're using the center point to focus, it's focusing at infinity and you're getting normal atmospheric distortion and softening of distant objects.

#2: I personally don't like to shoot any slower than 1/125, even with a wide angle lens, but that's to account for my shaky hands. You're shooting into the sun here, and there's a lot of contrast reduction from the backlight. The dead center of the frame appears to be the best focused, but the overall image is rather soft.  Was there a lot of mist in the air in this shot?

#3: The camera focused fine, on the tree leaves at the dead center of the frame. The monkey was a bit to the left, out of range of the center focus zone. I'd also advise that you're perilously close to too slow of a shutter speed for the chosen FL. This shot should be taken at around 1/200-1/250.

Here's a shot I took in India a few months ago. It was essentially ruined by atmospheric pollution and heat:

Looks a lot like your #1 shot, doesn't it?

I'm not particularly impressed by the image quality of your Tamron - lots of CA, soft at the extreme FLs...but it's a superzoom and that's what you'll get. However, it is capable of excellent performance away from its FL extremes as evident by #3. And, as I and others have pointed out, Nikon wants you to move the focus point around the frame to lie on your subject, not focus and recompose (it screws up exposure sometimes if you do). If you do choose to focus and recompose, make sure the camera is set to lock focus on the half press. Hopefully you're not using the dynamic area modes, which often will not focus on what you want but rather what they determine is the most contrasty portion of the frame that meets the camera's definition of "subject".

Keep practicing.

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Brev00
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Re: softness: me, glass, or camera?
In reply to Voe2014, 11 months ago

What I notice is not so much the softness but how overexposed the images are, particularly the first two.  You cannot rely soley on automatic modes (P, S, A) without  recourse to exposure compensation and a frequent review of your histogram along with the highlight blinkie screen.  When the sun is bright or the day is very gray, it is often a good idea to exclude the sky entirely.  If I am shooting with a lot of sky in the frame, I will often spot meter and switch to manual so I can expose with those bright tones in mind.   When you are shooting a scene with tons of dynamic range, that is when your auto mode will fail you.  So, if you want to shoot something in the shade, keep the sun out.  At least until you have more familiarity with your choices.  An image that is properly exposed will have a better chance of having good contrast and retaining the sharpness you desire.

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