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11/9/2018 9:21:38 PM
Posted: 10/22/2018 6:00:20 PM EST
I have been getting better with the focus on my camera. Is there any other pointers you can share to get sharper photos? This and the other in my album were taken without a tripod or mono pod. Could that be the only problem? I am shooting a D7100 with either a 18-140 or the 55-300.

Thanks

POB_0996 by Paul O, on Flickr
Link Posted: 10/22/2018 8:22:14 PM EST
An investment in a good tripod and head will make a huge difference.
Link Posted: 10/22/2018 8:55:09 PM EST
What focus mode are you using? I pick a single point and focus/recompose whenever possible for a shot like you have in the OP. that makes all the difference, as the camera isn't attempting to determine what I want.
Link Posted: 10/22/2018 9:18:03 PM EST
I was using single point focus for this one. It was a quick, impromptu shot as I had to try and stalk into position for the shot.

I do own a Manfrotto 290 xtra with a 804 Mark ii 3 way head. Just didn't even think of it for this.
Link Posted: 10/23/2018 2:13:48 AM EST
Usual tip is higher shutter speeds, smaller aperture, lower ISO.

Seeing the kind of lighting you've got there, kinda at the limit of the 18-140mm, at ƒ/5.6 142.5 mm 1/60 3200
Link Posted: 10/23/2018 2:47:01 AM EST
First thing I would do is set the AF Fine Tune with whatever lenses you are using.
Link Posted: 10/23/2018 6:44:58 AM EST
Fine tune sounds like a very good idea. I have seen threads about it but never really gave it a thought.
Link Posted: 10/23/2018 11:32:24 AM EST
"Sharpness" results from two major categories: technique and equipment.

Technique
Technique is by far the major culprit in the sharpness issues I've seen. As others here have suggested, when dealing with motion in the composition (e.g., animals moving, wind blowing vegetation, people moving, etc.), fast shutter speed is critical. Many wildlife photographers aim for 1/500 or faster for sharp wildlife shots, for example. This often means compromising depth of field (with a wider aperture/lower f-stop) and/or higher ISO (risking additional noise).

Another technique consideration is how the camera is held in position. There are many times you'll want a sharp shot that must be taken handheld and this is where one must learn and apply good stabilizing technique. There are plenty of videos and other resources online to demonstrate the concept, but learning how to brace your arms in a good support structure for your camera is essential. As important as handheld technique is, remember that this is like VR/VC/IS technology: It helps reduce motion in the camera body/lens, but will not eliminate it (pointing back to the need for higher shutter speeds).

Under the banner of technique, learn your lens' sharpest aperture range and use it when you can. Every lens has a sweet spot for sharpness and, while each lens has its own, most lenses seem to be sharpest at f/8 or f/11. Opening the aperture wide open (say, f/4 or f/2.8) and closing it to its smallest value (say, f/22) can result in noticeable loss of sharpness (and I'm talking about sharpness in the plane of focus, not the blurred fore-/background). There are lots of resources online to describe the physics behind this phenomenon.

Equipment
Even with absolutely perfect technique and even placing the camera on a tripod, you may find that your images still show some softness. One good first step is fine-tuning the focus (as mentioned by others in this thread). Not all cameras support this, but it's a good investment of several minutes of your life if you're suffering from soft images with a tripod-mounted camera.

Speaking of tripods, if you have one, it must be a solid tripod. I had a friend recently buy a tripod from Walmart ($30) and no matter how tightly she adjusted the various platform controls, there remained significant movement in the camera position. Tripod investment is truly a "buy once, cry once" scenario.

Finally, lenses have different levels of quality. "Kit" lenses are generally not as sharp as more expensive lenses - but there is not a direct link between price and sharpness. I have taken the same shot at the same settings with my Nikon 70-200 f/2.8G and my 28-300 and the difference in sharpness is obvious and rather striking. Lens acquisition is another area of careful consideration and is most often a result of balancing budget constraints with desired quality.

Oh, one other "equipment" consideration is the possibility of a malfunctioning lens. Don't drop them and you'll likely avoid this particular symptom.
Link Posted: 10/23/2018 11:45:06 AM EST
Link Posted: 10/23/2018 12:33:41 PM EST
If your camera has it, going to live view, magnifying the image, and fine tuning the focus manually is a good trick. Not too useful for wildlife or moving shots.
Link Posted: 10/23/2018 8:51:54 PM EST
I appreciate the continued help as I get farther into this hobby.
Link Posted: 10/24/2018 5:50:10 PM EST
[Last Edit: 10/24/2018 5:51:28 PM EST by CB1]
if you are using that telephoto, set your shutter speed to the focal length of the lens.
Nikon APS-C is 1.5 so keep your camera in "S" mode, set shutter speed at 450 (1.5x300). Also, set ISO to auto. That will help.

I had the same issues with my Canon T6i. I found that when I keep the shutter speed aligned with my focal length my focus/sharpness got better. Also, if you shoot RAW, turn your camera sharpness down and play with that in processing.

ETA - also set focus point to center only. using all the AF points could have it focusing on something other than your target. Just a thought.
Link Posted: 10/24/2018 8:53:33 PM EST
Also, if you shoot RAW, turn your camera sharpness down and play with that in processing.
View Quote
If you're shooting raw things like that sharpness setting should have no effect. That's for the camera's jpeg encoder.
Link Posted: 10/25/2018 10:18:30 AM EST
1. Setup back button focus on your camera and disable the shutter release autofocus.
2. Use continuous focus.
3. Single point AF will work best with most wildlife photography.
4. A fairly wide dynamic AF mode for flying birds. *IF you have a programmable button available to set this as your secondary AF button this works great for when birds suddenly take flight.
5. General outdoor/landscape,.. not really my thing BUT I do have one tip,... IF your lens/body have image stabilization you may want to disable it IF you're using a tripod.
Link Posted: 10/25/2018 6:35:09 PM EST
IF your lens/body have image stabilization you may want to disable it IF you're using a tripod.
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You DEFINITELY want to disable it if you're using a tripod. It WILL introduce blur trying to correct non-existent camera motion.
Link Posted: 10/25/2018 7:10:44 PM EST
Link Posted: 10/25/2018 7:16:41 PM EST
I don't use Nikon so I don't know your lingo. With Canon I would tell you to use AI Servo with back button focus. It will continuously focus so that when you take the shot, you're in focus. The rest of what was said above is accurate. Tripod ect. Good glass is always helpful.
Link Posted: 10/28/2018 12:14:06 PM EST
One thing not mentioned yet is to clean your lens. Front as well as rear.
I’ve also gotten away from filters unless there is a specific reason such as a polarizing.
Link Posted: 10/28/2018 12:22:17 PM EST
Link Posted: 10/28/2018 6:59:15 PM EST
[Last Edit: 10/28/2018 7:02:05 PM EST by AHSGA]
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Originally Posted By Zack3g:
That's because it doesn't matter nearly as much as people think it does, especially on the front element.

Rear, yeah, I worry about it. Front? I clean it as little as possible, to avoid damaging the coatings.

Some of mine look like they've been in the attic for a while. Still work just fine. The camera can't see the dust on the front element. It's too far out of the focal plane to matter. Same thing goes for scratches.
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Originally Posted By Zack3g:
Originally Posted By AHSGA:
One thing not mentioned yet is to clean your lens. Front as well as rear.
I’ve also gotten away from filters unless there is a specific reason such as a polarizing.
That's because it doesn't matter nearly as much as people think it does, especially on the front element.

Rear, yeah, I worry about it. Front? I clean it as little as possible, to avoid damaging the coatings.

Some of mine look like they've been in the attic for a while. Still work just fine. The camera can't see the dust on the front element. It's too far out of the focal plane to matter. Same thing goes for scratches.
It does matter imho. Use clean micro fiber cloth.
No paper towels or such.

ETA:
A clean lens is one thing that can contribute to a in focus picture.
Holding the camera still and using proper settings is important as well.
Link Posted: 11/2/2018 2:36:28 PM EST
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By TheAmaazingCarl:
1. Setup back button focus on your camera and disable the shutter release autofocus.
2. Use continuous focus.
3. Single point AF will work best with most wildlife photography.
4. A fairly wide dynamic AF mode for flying birds. *IF you have a programmable button available to set this as your secondary AF button this works great for when birds suddenly take flight.
5. General outdoor/landscape,.. not really my thing BUT I do have one tip,... IF your lens/body have image stabilization you may want to disable it IF you're using a tripod.
View Quote
All good points. also using live view on a tripod you can "zoom" digitally to assist in visualizing focus if focusing manually. And live view has the added benefit of mirror lockup by default, which can be a factor at certain shutter speeds.
Link Posted: 11/2/2018 11:37:17 PM EST
I'd like to hear the rationale for why people think back button focus could improve sharpness.
Link Posted: 11/3/2018 4:58:01 AM EST
Link Posted: 11/3/2018 5:00:48 AM EST
Lens hood will give you a soft blur on some lenses.
Link Posted: 11/3/2018 8:11:48 AM EST
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Originally Posted By xeeoneyx:
Lens hood will give you a soft blur on some lenses.
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How is this even possible?
Link Posted: 11/3/2018 8:22:26 AM EST
Link Posted: 11/3/2018 12:23:56 PM EST
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Originally Posted By Zack3g:
Lens hoods are known to cause vignetting on some lenses.
Blurring? Never heard of that.
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Originally Posted By Zack3g:
Originally Posted By FredMan:
How is this even possible?
Lens hoods are known to cause vignetting on some lenses.
Blurring? Never heard of that.
I've seen situations where without a hood resulted in a soft flare over the entire image, but with a hood was sharp. So I'd say the opposite is true most of the time.
Link Posted: 11/3/2018 3:55:31 PM EST
Link Posted: 11/3/2018 5:22:09 PM EST
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Originally Posted By Zack3g:
Yeah but that's kinda why the hood exists.
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Originally Posted By Zack3g:
Originally Posted By Gamma762:

I've seen situations where without a hood resulted in a soft flare over the entire image, but with a hood was sharp. So I'd say the opposite is true most of the time.
Yeah but that's kinda why the hood exists.
Exactly. Just don't want people to think they should take the hood off to improve their photos.
Link Posted: 11/3/2018 5:42:20 PM EST
[Last Edit: 11/3/2018 5:42:33 PM EST by M-60]
I don't know about back button focus improving sharpness, but I do know it's the only way to roll.
Link Posted: 11/3/2018 5:47:39 PM EST
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