18-300 with d5200 giving soft photos
I am doing a two stage upgrade from a d5000 with an 18-200 lens to a d5200 with an 18-300 lens. About a month and a half ago I bought the 18-300 lens and it seemed to be sharper than my 18-200. Then last week I got a d5200 and my shots all seem to be just a bit softer. I've also noticed on the metadata that the 35 mm equivalent is the same as the focal length, rather than the 50% increase it should be (i.e. at 300mm on the d5000 the 35mm equivalent was 450mm while on the d5200 300=300).
Any thoughts? Are the two (softness and 35 mm equivalence) related?
#1. "RE: 18-300 with d5200 giving soft photos" | In response to Reply # 0
The 35mm equivalence is the same for both cameras, 450mm in this case. Both are 1.5x DX cameras.
Of the two lenses, the 18-200mm in general seems to be the sharper lens. Whether or not you can see the difference in your actual photography would depend on multiple factors.
The big difference here is the doubling of the resolution of the cameras. The 24mp D5200 is going to show any bad habits in poor holding technique that the 12mp D5000 let you get away with.
All that said, some example photos with full EXIF data are always helpful for diagnosis.
Seattle, WA, USA
D700, D200, D70S, 24-70mm f/2.8, VR 70-200mm f/2.8 II,
50mm f/1.4 D, 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR, 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5 DX
#2. "RE: 18-300 with d5200 giving soft photos" | In response to Reply # 1
Before upgrading to Silver for posting pictures, I'm going to work on this a bit. Although even at high shutter speeds or with stationary objects the softness seems to be there, I think you might be right about the poor holding techniques (much as that wounds my pride). Tonight I've taken some shots and they seem to be better, but they've been at closer range. Also, the soft ones were JPG, the sharp ones RAW (NEF). I'll try some longer distance shots when the sun is back out and see how they come out.
Still not sure where that 35 mm equivalence issue (35mm equivalence = actual focal length) is coming from. I use Aperture 3, maybe it has an problem with D5200's; I know it hasn't been upgraded to take D5200 RAW (NEF) images yet.
Thanks for your answer.
#3. "RE: 18-300 with d5200 giving soft photos" | In response to Reply # 2
Welcome to Nikonians!
You can upload images to your User Gallery and then provide a link to them in your post.
You might find On Handholding Technique helpful.
Another thing to keep in mind is the Minimum Shutter Speed Rule of Thumb to prevent blur due to camera shake
Minimum Shutter Speed = 1 / 1.5 x focal length of lens
so at 50mm the minimum shutter speed = 1/75 rounded up to 1/80th sec.
Proper use of VR should allow you to use a slower shutter speed within reason. Keep in mind that you must allow about a second or so for the VR mechanism to settle before you capture the image.
Camera Basics useful as well.
Good Luck and Enjoy your Nikons!
#4. "RE: 18-300 with d5200 giving soft photos" | In response to Reply # 3
Thanks for the links.
Here are a few of the pictures in question:
#5. "RE: 18-300 with d5200 giving soft photos" | In response to Reply # 4
I've had my own gripes about my 18-200 giving me soft focus. Now someone says that it is the sharper of the two lenses. Hmmm.
Anyway, in the pic off the two doves, the vertical branch at the right of the pic seems to be sharper than the birds. Perhaps you were focused on the wrong things.
In the pic of the flying geese, the geese seem to be ok, but keep in mind the old bird hunter's adage. When there is a flock, pick one bird to shoot at. Same with auto-focus. Gotta focus on one bird, or better yet, one part of a bird (usually the eye, but with a flying bird that gets a little tricky). Also, considering the pic of the doves, in which there are nearby things, one of which seems to be sharp, you might have a front focus problem. It doesn't show up in the geese pic because there is nothing near the flying birds to be in focus.
In a class on bird photography I attended, the instructor suggested always use continuous fire and track the bird; out of a series from one burst, some will be sharp and others will be less so. This seemed to hold true this past weekend on flocks of snow geese where I was firing 3 to 5 second bursts. (I use 5100 with a 150-500 sigma lens.) Some were hand held (standing up or hanging out of a car window) and some were from a Wimberly head on a Vanguard Auctus 323AT tripod.
And then there is the pixel density. I wonder if anyone has played around with the concept of an optimum pixel density beyond which you have to mount the camera on a 5 ton granite slab. Perhaps this continuous fire would be helpful here. Figure the first shot is a throw away because your trigger finger was moving and the last shot is a throway for the same reason. But the in between shots have a better chance of being sharp because the only motion is tacking the bird.
But hey, these are only random thougts from someone who is also struggling with sharpness issues.
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#6. "RE: 18-300 with d5200 giving soft photos" | In response to Reply # 4
These are very interesting photos and do show a couple of things.
The open wings photo is degraded considerably by the high ISO 3200 noise. The D5200 is a very high resolution DX camera that doesn't have good noise performance at 3200.
The hawk lunch photo looks to be degraded by possibly diffraction. The photo was shot at f32 as reported by PhotoShop. You should try to keep the aperture below f11 for the sharpest photos. The same could be said of the in field photo but to a lesser extent at f20.
The first photo with the flying birds looks sharp enough, just a bit noisy at this enlargement for ISO 2000. With all my DX cameras I try to stay at ISO 1600 as a max.
I think the dove photo is fine. I'm just not sure where the focus point is, doves or branches.
Just remember this high a resolution camera will show up any errors much more than other, lower resolution cameras and especially at the longer focal lengths.
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#7. "RE: 18-300 with d5200 giving soft photos" | In response to Reply # 6
The dove photo does seem to have the VR turned on at 1/640, if you're north of 1/200 you should generally have it off, and always above 1/500th. This won't matter much on the D5000, but on the D5200 you can get slight artifacts from it.
I definitely agree though that the extra pixels are what's showing your softness: if you're pixel peeping, there's the problem, but your old D5000 hid it because it didn't have as many pixels.
#9. "RE: 18-300 with d5200 giving soft photos" | In response to Reply # 8
The VR system samples at 500 Hz; ergo, according to Nyquist, this means that the effective limit of the system removes vibrations up to shutter speeds of 1/250th of a second - although generally switching it off at the flash sync speed is my rule of thumb.
If you have the VR system on at shutter speeds above the Nyquist frequency, you can have the VR element moving during the exposure and can cause weird losses of sharpness, especially noticeable on high resolution sensors.
There are two major exceptions to this: the VR does stabilize the viewfinder image, so if you're having trouble keeping the AF point on target it's useful at any shutter speed and worth the possible minor loss in sharpness, and if you're on moving platform using support, where the vibrations are transferred to the camera: cars, helicopters, stadium bleachers, etc.
The VR system gives you extra stops to remove blur, but that's only on the low end of shutter speeds, high speed shutters don't need it.