One of the first pictures I ever made with a DSLR, how to get all sharp?

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Cingen
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One of the first pictures I ever made with a DSLR, how to get all sharp?
5 months ago

Hey all!

I got my first DSLR (the Nikon D7100) a few days ago and I am busy trying to find out more about how you can get everything sharp for landscape photography. Today I took this picture on the fly when passing this park (didn't have much time) and I was wondering if anyone has any advice about trying to get as much as possible sharp in landscape photography? I know that composition wise this is absulute crap, but I barely even had time to stand still and take a picture as it was, I am planning to take more time at this location tomorrow to actually spend some time learning.

So my first question is, what do you guys think about the actual sharpness of what is in this picture (ignoring composition), and how can I improve it? I am actually embarassed even posting this here but there is only one way to learn...

Nikon D7100
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Mark Scott Abeln
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Re: One of the first pictures I ever made with a DSLR, how to get all sharp?
In reply to Cingen, 5 months ago

Cingen wrote:

Hey all!

I got my first DSLR (the Nikon D7100) a few days ago and I am busy trying to find out more about how you can get everything sharp for landscape photography. Today I took this picture on the fly when passing this park (didn't have much time) and I was wondering if anyone has any advice about trying to get as much as possible sharp in landscape photography? I know that composition wise this is absulute crap, but I barely even had time to stand still and take a picture as it was, I am planning to take more time at this location tomorrow to actually spend some time learning.

So my first question is, what do you guys think about the actual sharpness of what is in this picture (ignoring composition), and how can I improve it? I am actually embarassed even posting this here but there is only one way to learn...

Well, there are a couple of things to keep in mind:

First, digital images are inherently not sharp, and sharpness typically must be added to them, either in-camera or on the computer. Film tends to appear to be sharper, for various reasons. Did you use in-camera sharpening?

Your optics might not be all that good — some are sharper than others. Filters placed on lenses can make an image softer, as well as crud on the lens itself. There is a little bit of light ‘bloom’ around the flower blooms — a bit of smearing of brightness around the flowers.

Your aperture setting of f/10 is coming close to the minimum recommended value of f/11 for an APS-C sized sensor like your camera, due to diffraction — but this can be largely overcome by added sharpening.

Your shutter speed of 1/100th of a second might be a bit low — there is risk of camera shake.

I can’t really tell the focus point here, but be aware that mis-focus (which is really easy to do these days with automation and cruddy focus screens) might be a problem here. You might want to do a focus check with this lens and use care in selecting a focus point — often cameras select the closest object to focus on, which is rarely ideal.

Processing the image can also increase softness — for example, rotating the image to straighten it, or using software to remove lens distortions.

High ISO can also make an image look soft.

 Mark Scott Abeln's gear list:Mark Scott Abeln's gear list
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Cingen
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Re: One of the first pictures I ever made with a DSLR, how to get all sharp?
In reply to Mark Scott Abeln, 5 months ago

Mark Scott Abeln wrote:

Cingen wrote:

Hey all!

I got my first DSLR (the Nikon D7100) a few days ago and I am busy trying to find out more about how you can get everything sharp for landscape photography. Today I took this picture on the fly when passing this park (didn't have much time) and I was wondering if anyone has any advice about trying to get as much as possible sharp in landscape photography? I know that composition wise this is absulute crap, but I barely even had time to stand still and take a picture as it was, I am planning to take more time at this location tomorrow to actually spend some time learning.

So my first question is, what do you guys think about the actual sharpness of what is in this picture (ignoring composition), and how can I improve it? I am actually embarassed even posting this here but there is only one way to learn...

Well, there are a couple of things to keep in mind:

First, digital images are inherently not sharp, and sharpness typically must be added to them, either in-camera or on the computer. Film tends to appear to be sharper, for various reasons. Did you use in-camera sharpening?

Your optics might not be all that good — some are sharper than others. Filters placed on lenses can make an image softer, as well as crud on the lens itself. There is a little bit of light ‘bloom’ around the flower blooms — a bit of smearing of brightness around the flowers.

Your aperture setting of f/10 is coming close to the minimum recommended value of f/11 for an APS-C sized sensor like your camera, due to diffraction — but this can be largely overcome by added sharpening.

Your shutter speed of 1/100th of a second might be a bit low — there is risk of camera shake.

I can’t really tell the focus point here, but be aware that mis-focus (which is really easy to do these days with automation and cruddy focus screens) might be a problem here. You might want to do a focus check with this lens and use care in selecting a focus point — often cameras select the closest object to focus on, which is rarely ideal.

Processing the image can also increase softness — for example, rotating the image to straighten it, or using software to remove lens distortions.

High ISO can also make an image look soft.

So the main things I should do is up the shutter speed (or add a tripod) and increase the aperture to 11? I was afraid of bringing the aperture up too high because of all the things I read about difraction...

Also, I just realised this was actually a very bad spot to stand for taking a photograph. This picture had to be taken at 1000ISO to just be able to get a 1/100 shutter speed. I guess this is to blame because I was standing in a heavily shadowed area?

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BobSC
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Re: One of the first pictures I ever made with a DSLR, how to get all sharp?
In reply to Cingen, 5 months ago

It looks like it's out of focus, or that you had a filter, or something. I agree with the comments in the prior post, btw.

Assuming you have one of the kit zoom lenses, try using an aperture of f/5.6 or f/8, and pick an object in the foreground to focus on.

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arbie1
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Re: One of the first pictures I ever made with a DSLR, how to get all sharp?
In reply to Cingen, 5 months ago

Cingen wrote:

Mark Scott Abeln wrote:

Your aperture setting of f/10 is coming close to the minimum recommended value of f/11 for an APS-C sized sensor like your camera, due to diffraction — but this can be largely overcome by added sharpening.

So the main things I should do is....increase the aperture to 11? I was afraid of bringing the aperture up too high because of all the things I read about difraction...

No, going from f/10 to f/11 is decreasingthe aperture (making it smaller). The f number is a ratio, a smaller number is a larger diameter opening. Maybe confusing at firstĀ 

Ralph

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Mark Scott Abeln
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Re: One of the first pictures I ever made with a DSLR, how to get all sharp?
In reply to Cingen, 5 months ago

Cingen wrote:

So the main things I should do is up the shutter speed (or add a tripod) and increase the aperture to 11? I was afraid of bringing the aperture up too high because of all the things I read about difraction...

No — sorry, I was a bit unclear with my terminology. The bigger the aperture number, the smaller the aperture. With f/11 you risk a bit more softness, as well as a higher ISO or longer shutter speed, which are all bad for sharpness. But softness due to diffraction can be counteracted by adding sharpening.

For this subject, you might get away with f/8, which is a wider aperture opening, if you focus on something midway between the nearest and farthest objects you want tolerably sharp.

If the f/numbers are still bewildering, try taking a photo while the camera is pointed at you — see how the aperture size changes with the aperture setting. A big number will give you a little hole, and a small number will give you a big hole.

Also, I just realised this was actually a very bad spot to stand for taking a photograph. This picture had to be taken at 1000ISO to just be able to get a 1/100 shutter speed. I guess this is to blame because I was standing in a heavily shadowed area?

Do you have a tripod? This ought to solve your problems.

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Cingen
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Re: One of the first pictures I ever made with a DSLR, how to get all sharp?
In reply to Mark Scott Abeln, 5 months ago

Alright, I took a new picture out of my bedroom window so don't expect anything that looks nice. I also used the in camera HDR function cause well, it was needed to avoid blowing out anything and making a HDR manually just for this test seemed a bit over the top.

I'm taking it in baby steps and the first item on my checklist is "sharpness", after that I will start working on composure etc more

Any feedback about sharpness / lack of it in this one? I used an Aperture of 11, focussed on the root of the brown shed you see (the one with the wavey material)

I also used the very cheap plastic tripod I bought a few years back (planning to upgrade soon), and used the self timer to avoid camera shake when pressing the button.

This is also a JPEG straight out of the camera. I am holding post processing back until I am good enough to actually have some okay source material, I don't want to end up having a workflow where I take worthless pictures, and use post processing to fix all the flaws.

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juvx
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Re: One of the first pictures I ever made with a DSLR, how to get all sharp?
In reply to BobSC, 5 months ago

First you need to know your tools limits. For example your camera can be perfectly sharp at ISO 1600 and even 3200. Don't be scared to use 1600 if you need to achieve a faster shutter speed. Your lens should be sharp at F11. However, some lenses are sharper than others. Don't expect miracles from a 200$ kit lens.

Obviously, if you use a tri-pod you dont need to worry about shutter speed anymore.

Honestly you should be shooting RAW as post processing is an important factor in todays photography. I personally use Lightroom and think its great. It doesnt take as long as you think. I can do a basic edit, color correction sharpening in 30 secs.

 juvx's gear list:juvx's gear list
Sony RX100 II Fujifilm X-T1 Fujifilm XF 14mm F2.8 R Fujifilm XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS Fujifilm XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8 R LM OIS +1 more
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Cingen
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Re: Ohne of the first pictures I ever made with a DSLR, how to get all sharp?
In reply to juvx, 5 months ago

juvx wrote:

First you need to know your tools limits. For example your camera can be perfectly sharp at ISO 1600 and even 3200. Don't be scared to use 1600 if you need to achieve a faster shutter speed. Your lens should be sharp at F11. However, some lenses are sharper than others. Don't expect miracles from a 200$ kit lens.

Obviously, if you use a tri-pod you dont need to worry about shutter speed anymore.

Honestly you should be shooting RAW as post processing is an important factor in todays photography. I personally use Lightroom and think its great. It doesnt take as long as you think. I can do a basic edit, color correction sharpening in 30 secs.

Thanks for the tips!

I really do appreciate them

My main issue is though, a picture that looks sharp to me often doesn't look sharp to other people on forums, it may be due to either my poor eyesight or lack of experience in finding flaws though.

I mainly post these samples here to have people with a good eye judge them and point out flaws I may simply not notice Once I know where the flaws (in these cases lack of sharpness) are, I may be able to train myself to recognise them better

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iljitsch
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Re: One of the first pictures I ever made with a DSLR, how to get all sharp?
In reply to juvx, 5 months ago

What kind of lens is this?

On my computer both shots don't look super sharp at 100% but also not terribly blurry, but these forums aren't optimized for high resolution displays so it's hard to tell how bad the problem is.

If you want to increase your depth of field for landscapes, obviously increasing the f number helps but you will at some point run into diffraction. Don't listen to common wisdom in this regard, but experiment yourself! Even if diffraction limits the sharpness of what's in focus then the benefit of wider depth of field may be worth it to go to f/16 or f/22. Also, find the right place to focus on, I think DoF extends about one third in front and two thirds behind, so find something around the middle of the scene but a bit closer to the foreground to focus on.

Other than that the only thing you can do is use a wider lens to increase DoF.

As for general sharpness: if your lens isn't too terrible, turn off distortion correction and/or chromatic aberration correction. This messes with the location of the pixels and will thus reduce sharpness. Keep your ISO setting as low as you can and if you need to go higher, you may want to limit the noise reduction that the camera applies. You also need a short shutter speed to avoid camera shake, but short shutters, small apertures and low ISO don't go together, so use a tripod.

And stay away from HDR of course, as you're now combining multiple images shot with some time between them, which is asking for trouble unless you are photographing a mountain from a camera on a concrete tripod.

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Cingen
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Re: One of the first pictures I ever made with a DSLR, how to get all sharp?
In reply to iljitsch, 5 months ago

iljitsch wrote:

What kind of lens is this?

On my computer both shots don't look super sharp at 100% but also not terribly blurry, but these forums aren't optimized for high resolution displays so it's hard to tell how bad the problem is.

If you want to increase your depth of field for landscapes, obviously increasing the f number helps but you will at some point run into diffraction. Don't listen to common wisdom in this regard, but experiment yourself! Even if diffraction limits the sharpness of what's in focus then the benefit of wider depth of field may be worth it to go to f/16 or f/22. Also, find the right place to focus on, I think DoF extends about one third in front and two thirds behind, so find something around the middle of the scene but a bit closer to the foreground to focus on.

Other than that the only thing you can do is use a wider lens to increase DoF.

As for general sharpness: if your lens isn't too terrible, turn off distortion correction and/or chromatic aberration correction. This messes with the location of the pixels and will thus reduce sharpness. Keep your ISO setting as low as you can and if you need to go higher, you may want to limit the noise reduction that the camera applies. You also need a short shutter speed to avoid camera shake, but short shutters, small apertures and low ISO don't go together, so use a tripod.

And stay away from HDR of course, as you're now combining multiple images shot with some time between them, which is asking for trouble unless you are photographing a mountain from a camera on a concrete tripod.

The lens I'm using is the 18-140 kit lens. Thanks alot for the advices!

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Mark Scott Abeln
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Re: Ohne of the first pictures I ever made with a DSLR, how to get all sharp?
In reply to Cingen, 5 months ago

Cingen wrote:

My main issue is though, a picture that looks sharp to me often doesn't look sharp to other people on forums, it may be due to either my poor eyesight or lack of experience in finding flaws though.

Ah! Resizing an image — like for example, when forum software displays a small version of your image on the screen — will also make is softer. There has a been a lot of research into this, and some algorithms for doing this are better than others. What I do is to resize the image to the size that is needed, and then I’ll add sharpening if it needs it.

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juvx
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Re: Ohne of the first pictures I ever made with a DSLR, how to get all sharp?
In reply to Cingen, 5 months ago

Cingen wrote:

juvx wrote:

First you need to know your tools limits. For example your camera can be perfectly sharp at ISO 1600 and even 3200. Don't be scared to use 1600 if you need to achieve a faster shutter speed. Your lens should be sharp at F11. However, some lenses are sharper than others. Don't expect miracles from a 200$ kit lens.

Obviously, if you use a tri-pod you dont need to worry about shutter speed anymore.

Honestly you should be shooting RAW as post processing is an important factor in todays photography. I personally use Lightroom and think its great. It doesnt take as long as you think. I can do a basic edit, color correction sharpening in 30 secs.

Thanks for the tips!

I really do appreciate them

My main issue is though, a picture that looks sharp to me often doesn't look sharp to other people on forums, it may be due to either my poor eyesight or lack of experience in finding flaws though.

I mainly post these samples here to have people with a good eye judge them and point out flaws I may simply not notice Once I know where the flaws (in these cases lack of sharpness) are, I may be able to train myself to recognise them better

Gotcha. Well the easiest way is to zoom in to 100% and see if the details such as leaves, grass, etc are blurry at all. Also check the background all the way in the back does it have enough detail in it and look clear or is it super blurry?

Now sometimes you want the background blurry but generally not in landscapes.

General rule of thumb to larger the aperture the more blurry (out of focus) the background. If you want EVERYTHING sharp you need a smaller aperture (F11 or smaller F16,F22). Don't worry about diffraction as much as FOCUS. Out of focus areas and camera shake are the top causes of softness in the scene. If its really bright outside use F16 or even F22.

If shooting handheld make sure VR is on and use a shutter speed pretty much double your focal length. So at 100mm use 1/200 sec. You can get away with slower of course but that' just to be safe.

when shooting at F11 or less (F16, F22) focus on an object in the scene that is between the background and foreground. something about 2/3 of the way in the distance.

read this its specific for your camera

http://www.peachpit.com/articles/article.aspx?p=2109324&seqNum=5

 juvx's gear list:juvx's gear list
Sony RX100 II Fujifilm X-T1 Fujifilm XF 14mm F2.8 R Fujifilm XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS Fujifilm XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8 R LM OIS +1 more
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Cingen
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Re: Ohne of the first pictures I ever made with a DSLR, how to get all sharp?
In reply to juvx, 5 months ago

juvx wrote:

Cingen wrote:

juvx wrote:

First you need to know your tools limits. For example your camera can be perfectly sharp at ISO 1600 and even 3200. Don't be scared to use 1600 if you need to achieve a faster shutter speed. Your lens should be sharp at F11. However, some lenses are sharper than others. Don't expect miracles from a 200$ kit lens.

Obviously, if you use a tri-pod you dont need to worry about shutter speed anymore.

Honestly you should be shooting RAW as post processing is an important factor in todays photography. I personally use Lightroom and think its great. It doesnt take as long as you think. I can do a basic edit, color correction sharpening in 30 secs.

Thanks for the tips!

I really do appreciate them

My main issue is though, a picture that looks sharp to me often doesn't look sharp to other people on forums, it may be due to either my poor eyesight or lack of experience in finding flaws though.

I mainly post these samples here to have people with a good eye judge them and point out flaws I may simply not notice Once I know where the flaws (in these cases lack of sharpness) are, I may be able to train myself to recognise them better

Gotcha. Well the easiest way is to zoom in to 100% and see if the details such as leaves, grass, etc are blurry at all. Also check the background all the way in the back does it have enough detail in it and look clear or is it super blurry?

Now sometimes you want the background blurry but generally not in landscapes.

General rule of thumb to larger the aperture the more blurry (out of focus) the background. If you want EVERYTHING sharp you need a smaller aperture (F11 or smaller F16,F22). Don't worry about diffraction as much as FOCUS. Out of focus areas and camera shake are the top causes of softness in the scene. If its really bright outside use F16 or even F22.

If shooting handheld make sure VR is on and use a shutter speed pretty much double your focal length. So at 100mm use 1/200 sec. You can get away with slower of course but that' just to be safe.

when shooting at F11 or less (F16, F22) focus on an object in the scene that is between the background and foreground. something about 2/3 of the way in the distance.

read this its specific for your camera

http://www.peachpit.com/articles/article.aspx?p=2109324&seqNum=5

Thanks alot for the reply and link!

Do you see any obvious issues in the second picture I posted? I tried to apply everything I found when researching in it to get maximum sharpness, but I have no idea if the result actually is good enough...

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BobSC
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Re: Ohne of the first pictures I ever made with a DSLR, how to get all sharp?
In reply to Cingen, 5 months ago

Cingen wrote:

My main issue is though, a picture that looks sharp to me often doesn't look sharp to other people on forums, it may be due to either my poor eyesight or lack of experience in finding flaws though.

Those do not look sharp.

Do you have a filter on the lens? If so, take it off.

It possible the softness is in the lens. It's possible you have a focus issue. That camera has live view, right? Try manual focus with live view. Try f/5.6 and f/8 as well.

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Cingen
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Re: Ohne of the first pictures I ever made with a DSLR, how to get all sharp?
In reply to BobSC, 5 months ago

BobSC wrote:

Cingen wrote:

My main issue is though, a picture that looks sharp to me often doesn't look sharp to other people on forums, it may be due to either my poor eyesight or lack of experience in finding flaws though.

Those do not look sharp.

Do you have a filter on the lens? If so, take it off.

It possible the softness is in the lens. It's possible you have a focus issue. That camera has live view, right? Try manual focus with live view. Try f/5.6 and f/8 as well.

This is slightly worrying :/

I do not have a filter attached, and I am using the 18-140 kit lens. Sort of hard to know if it's a technical issue or just me being new to this that causes the unsharpness...

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Mark Scott Abeln
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Re: Ohne of the first pictures I ever made with a DSLR, how to get all sharp?
In reply to Cingen, 5 months ago

Cingen wrote:

BobSC wrote:

Cingen wrote:

My main issue is though, a picture that looks sharp to me often doesn't look sharp to other people on forums, it may be due to either my poor eyesight or lack of experience in finding flaws though.

Those do not look sharp.

Do you have a filter on the lens? If so, take it off.

It possible the softness is in the lens. It's possible you have a focus issue. That camera has live view, right? Try manual focus with live view. Try f/5.6 and f/8 as well.

This is slightly worrying :/

I do not have a filter attached, and I am using the 18-140 kit lens. Sort of hard to know if it's a technical issue or just me being new to this that causes the unsharpness...

Looking at the data for this lens, it appears that the sharpest settings are towards the wider zoom settings at about f/5.6 or so.  It isn’t particularly sharp at f/11.

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Cingen
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Re: Ohne of the first pictures I ever made with a DSLR, how to get all sharp?
In reply to Mark Scott Abeln, 5 months ago

Mark Scott Abeln wrote:

Cingen wrote:

BobSC wrote:

Cingen wrote:

My main issue is though, a picture that looks sharp to me often doesn't look sharp to other people on forums, it may be due to either my poor eyesight or lack of experience in finding flaws though.

Those do not look sharp.

Do you have a filter on the lens? If so, take it off.

It possible the softness is in the lens. It's possible you have a focus issue. That camera has live view, right? Try manual focus with live view. Try f/5.6 and f/8 as well.

This is slightly worrying :/

I do not have a filter attached, and I am using the 18-140 kit lens. Sort of hard to know if it's a technical issue or just me being new to this that causes the unsharpness...

Looking at the data for this lens, it appears that the sharpest settings are towards the wider zoom settings at about f/5.6 or so. It isn’t particularly sharp at f/11.

So there isn't necesarily an issue with either my lens or camera? I am starting to get slightly worried now.. :/ If it's simply the lens having it's limits, I can live with that, I planned to buy a new and better lens next year anyways. If there is a technical issue it is a bigger problem though...

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BobSC
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Re: Ohne of the first pictures I ever made with a DSLR, how to get all sharp?
In reply to Cingen, 5 months ago

Cingen wrote:


I do not have a filter attached, and I am using the 18-140 kit lens. Sort of hard to know if it's a technical issue or just me being new to this that causes the unsharpness...

It's hard to figure out. But here's what you can do:

Set your camera on a tripod. Take a series of photos at each aperture. 5.6, 8, 11, 16.

Take them and look at them. Figure which is sharpest.

Now go back out and use only that aperture. Set the camera to manual focus. Perhaps 1 foot off the ground. Focus on something about 8 feet out. Now when you look at the photo there will be something that is in focus. That's the best your lens can do. You'll see the grass out of focus, in focus and back out. Like so:

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Cingen
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Re: Ohne of the first pictures I ever made with a DSLR, how to get all sharp?
In reply to BobSC, 5 months ago

BobSC wrote:

Cingen wrote:

I do not have a filter attached, and I am using the 18-140 kit lens. Sort of hard to know if it's a technical issue or just me being new to this that causes the unsharpness...

It's hard to figure out. But here's what you can do:

Set your camera on a tripod. Take a series of photos at each aperture. 5.6, 8, 11, 16.

Take them and look at them. Figure which is sharpest.

Now go back out and use only that aperture. Set the camera to manual focus. Perhaps 1 foot off the ground. Focus on something about 8 feet out. Now when you look at the photo there will be something that is in focus. That's the best your lens can do. You'll see the grass out of focus, in focus and back out. Like so:

Is this technique used to test a lens his "sweet spot", or to actually spot technical issues that may be wrong? I don't mind the lens not being the best of the best, I'd be crazy expecting a kit lens to be. My main worry is an actual technical problem with either my camera or lens..

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