Hi, I'm new here. Apologies for the very long first post.
I'm hoping I can get some constructive advice and/or opinions from those more experienced (and at this moment in time, more clear-headed) than myself.
First a little history about me and my photographic background. I'm 37 and have loved photography ever since I was a boy. I used my bathroom as a make-shift dark room, and developed my own film and photographs when I was a teenager. I progressed from film cameras (never used an SLR though) into the digital age. I had several digital cameras and took many pictures with all of them, always trying to learn and develop further.
My first DSLR was a D90 and I LOVED it! I used it a lot. I took about 9000 pictures in about 16 months on it (mainly on holidays). Initially, I was a bit worried (coming from a Panasonic superzoom) I will find it too cumbersome, or would resort to automatic modes too much, but I very soon figured out I preferred the manual mode the most, and that's where the camera's dial has stayed for probably 95% of the pictures I've taken. I never had any issues with it, and was very pleased with the pictures I was taking. When I saw the D7000 announced, I was very excited. I like taking pictures in low light, and thought the expanded ISO range would be awesome. I also never made use of the D90's video mode, which, frankly, wasn't that great, and thought the D7000 would be far better for this (even though video was never a priority for me). Add the sealed body, faster burst frame rate, and I was sold.
I was VERY excited when I picked up my D7000 a couple of weeks ago. I was patient, and copied most of the D90's settings into my D7000 whilst learning what all the new ones did (I LIKE reading manuals! ), before I took my first picture.
Because I picked up my D7000 at the airport, I took it with me on a brief holiday. I took about 300 pictures, and was only able to review them on the D7000's screen. Now we come to it... I started developing a suspicion that a lot of pictures looked a bit soft.
Now, an important note before I go any further. At this point, I was TOTALLY UNAWARE of all the back-focusing issues being discussed in relation to this camera on the Internet.
I then looked at the pictures I'd taken on the computer screen, and my suspicions only grew. Nearly every image I had taken was a bit soft or out of focus, and they were different images, taken with varying shutter speeds and apertures. Also, the majority of the first 300 images I took were taken with my 35mm f1.8 Nikon prime, the rest with the kit 18-105mm lens. I did some brief and crude experiments, which increased my suspicion that pretty much all images taken with the 35mm were soft. I then experimented with the AF Fine Tune, and found that images taken at -15 seemed sharper. However, I stress again, these were crude tests (handheld, with fast-ish shutter speeds), and I knew I couldn't really rely on any results I got, more take them as clues. I never had any problems (or perhaps didn't notice them?? but I doubt that) with this lens on the D90.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, over the last couple of weeks, I never really had a chance to test the camera properly. I downloaded and printed a focus chart, and looked at a couple of websites which explained the procedure.
But... I'm actually not sure I want to go down this route. I don't want to get obsessed with numbers, and charts, and the minutiae of all that. I just want to shoot nice pictures and have fun doing it (I know how simplistic that sounds, but basically, that's what I (and I think most of the rest of us) want to do). But (another but)... I'm now suspicious of my D7000. I'm by NO MEANS convinced it's the camera's fault. I'm perfectly ready to accept it's me. In the last couple of weeks, I've read MANY forums posts from people complaining about this issue, and all sorts of explanations given, that's it's a higher pixel-count camera, less tolerant of user mistakes, etc. etc. I WANT my camera to be ok, and not to have to send it back, or exchange it. But I'm struggling with being able to reach a definite conclusion, and decide if my camera REALLY has a focusing problem, or it's me (or the lens(es))?
I never had any of these issues with my D90. I was very happy with the images I got from it from day one (or to be more precise with that statement, I was happy with the focusing of the D90 - I simply never had reason to question it), but of course, I continued to learn and improve my photography as I went along.
So. I have another two weeks or so to exchange or return the camera. I also don't want to end up (like some people) getting a second camera which also has issues, and then having to go onto a third one, etc, etc.
You're probably wondering what I'm hoping to achieve with this post. I suppose, I'm hoping for some level-headed advice on what my best course of action should be. I suppose I really need to do some more precise and accurate testing (as much as I dislike doing that). Can someone recommend a relatively quick and simple, but still fairly accurate testing method? Also, a question. Is it possible a lens which worked fine with one camera (D90) might have a problem working with another? I ask because I'm seeing most issues with my 35mm lens. The 18-105mm seems to exhibit less focusing issues, leading me to believe that it's perhaps not the camera body's fault, but perhaps the lens'.
Bottom line is, I'm unsure if my camera has a problem, and if I need to return or exchange it, or if perhaps my lens has an issue, or if the issue is me.
Any advice or opinion gratefully received, and again, sorry for such an outrageously long post.
#1. "RE: D7000... in need of advice" In response to Reply # 0
Welcome to Nikonians!
As always with this type of question, an image is worth a thousand words...
Can you supply an example of the shots which look soft? If this is a focusing issue, then we'd also need to know which AF settings were in use.
Other than that, one thing which hit me from your post is that you basically duplicated the settings from your D90. That's not necessarily the best approach; people are finding that the new sensor and firmware in the D7000 are likely to require different Picture Control settings to produce optimum results.
One easy thing to try would be to raise the sharpening setting, either in-camera or in your chosen postprocessing software.
As for focus testing, I know that many of our members members are reporting favourably on the Lens Align test rig. One thing to avoid like the plague is the old "45-degree" test target. With complex modern AF systems, it's essential to have a target that is flat and parallel to the camera sensor plane, otherwise results can be unpredictable and invalid.
#2. "RE: D7000... in need of advice" In response to Reply # 1
Hi, thanks very much for taking the time to read through that gigantic post and respond with some suggestions.
I thought about submitting an example image, but like I said, no images I took can be considered as a valid test of focus. They were just ordinary shots. I will look through them again, and see if there are one or two that could be used as examples (i.e. where I think I've done nothing fundamentally wrong, like too low shutter speed), and I'll include the full EXIF too.
Regarding copying the D90 settings, I copied nearly everything, but one thing I didn't copy is the D90's picture controls. I used the default Standard or Neutral settings mostly, and after I noticed the softness, I upped the sharpening in-camera by about 1 or 2 notches, which seemed to improve things, but not completely get rid of the issue.
Thanks for the suggestion, I will look up this "Lens Align test rig", but it sounds scary!
#3. "RE: D7000... in need of advice" In response to Reply # 2
The first thing you should do is to load the pictures into ViewNX2 (it comes with the camera, and you can download another copy for free). Then turn on the feature that shows which AF target was used and locked in - if any. I am often surprised at how infrequently I have focus locked in, and I am definitely not a rookie. Note that you can also do this on the LCD - there is a display mode that can be enabled. It may be enabled by default on some cameras, but regardless it is either on already or I turn it on with all of my cameras and never turn it off so I can't remember.
If the LCD or ViewNX2 shows a target lock on - and it should - then you will want to evaluate how well the target is in focus. Bear in mind that it is still possible for the camera to achieve lock and then for the subject to move, so you have to evaluate this in that context. Obviously if you are shooting a 10mm lens stopped down to f/11, the subject's moving can't possibly escape the DOF unless it's moving at the speed of sound, but with a fast lens such as the 35/f1.8 and especially a long fast lens like a 200/f2, this can be problematic. Of course, this is one reason why things like the LensAlign exist, to help create easily reproducible and predictable conditions.
You could rent a LensAlign at a place such as lensrentals.com, although I certainly wouldn't go to that extent yet.
One reason you aren't seeing as much of an issue with the 18-105 (whether one exists or not) is that the latter is inherently creating more DOF, which may cover any focus error.
_____ Brian... a bicoastal Nikonian and Team Member
My gallery is online. Comments and critique welcomed any time!
#4. "RE: D7000... in need of advice" In response to Reply # 3
Thanks for your suggestions blw.
I usually shoot with single focus point, prefocusing with a half-press on the shutter, then recomposing as needed. Not sure if looking at the focus point for pictures taken this way would be accurate? For example, if I used the central focus point on something, then recomposed moving to the left, wouldn't the software and the camera still show the focus point being in the centre of the picture (to the left of the subject I originally focused on)? I am really asking, not stating, as I haven't played with this feature much.
Also, I set the camera to focus priority, so the shutter won't fire if the camera hasn't achieved focus, so none of my shots are out of focus (at least as far as the camera is concerned!).
I like the look of this LensAlign device, and wouldn't even mind investing in the lite version, but it seems it's not available before the 15th Dec which is too late for me, as I have another two or so weeks in which to decide whether to return/exchange my camera.
Also, I'm in the UK, so can't rent it, and it doesn't look like anyone over here is selling it.
#5. "RE: D7000... in need of advice" In response to Reply # 4 Thu 02-Dec-10 02:56 PM by ericbowles
You need to be careful judging results if you are using the shutter release to focus and then recomposing. Remember that the D7000 has a focus system intended to track moving targets. It does pretty well tracking moving targets under normal circumstances, but if you have selected 3D tracking will track even more. If you are not very careful, the focus and recompose approach could be working against you.
As you found out, the picture control settings vary from camera to camera. It makes sense that you may need to adjust to your liking.
Also keep in mind the D7000 has 30% more pixels than the D90 - meaning it provides more resolution and detail, but also might be more willing to show focus errors.
It is unlikely that the camera is the source of error - but it is possible. Most likely the issue is camera settings. I have the Lens Align tool and it is useful, but it requires a very careful testing methodology. Keep in mind that there are three sources of error - the camera, the lens, and the photographer. Sometimes the cumulative error is enough to be noticed while the error in the lens and camera remains wihtin spec. If you are going to use fine tuning, you really need a tool like Lens Align.
The D200 had a similar increase in pixels. For photographers moving from a D70, the increase in detail meant quite a learning curve for many. It took me a couple of weeks to refine my technique and capture sharp images. I expect the D7000 will have some of the same issues.
Try posting a test image. View NX2 will convert the image to a size that can be posted here and maintain the EXIF data.
#6. "RE: D7000... in need of advice" In response to Reply # 5
Hi Eric, thanks for your reply.
I'm aware of the D7000's focus tracking abilities, but I have it all switched off, I'm using the plain old single focus point, and AF-S, so not AF-C or AF-A. 3d tracking or any kind of tracking doesn't work in AF-S mode, so that can't be the problem.
I fully understand and am aware that having higher resolution, the D7000 will reveal user-errors more when examining images at 100% magnification and now know I can't expect the same easy, almost effortless, results from it like I got accustomed to getting from my D90. I don't think I'm doing anything fundamentally wrong, but am always willing to re-examine my techniques, and improve and learn new ones.
I will have a look at the photos I've taken with it, and try and pick out one or two that might be good examples that show the issues I'm worried about.
BTW, I'd just like to say thanks to all of you that have replied so far. All the replies have been constructive and helpful, and I didn't get flamed, or told to go buy a point-and-shoot, or some similar nonsense. This happens all too often on many other forums, and my hope that the Nikonians forum is different is so far proving right.
#8. "RE: D7000... in need of advice" In response to Reply # 0
Like Bill mentioned, I can't recall "back-focusing" issues; mainly hot pixels and fine tuning the lens. I've had my camera a week and, fortunately, have none of these issues. I'm using an 18-135 and 70-300 and everything appears correct. Welcome aboard and good luck.
Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others. <><
#9. "RE: D7000... in need of advice" In response to Reply # 2
>Regarding copying the D90 settings, I copied nearly >everything, but one thing I didn't copy is the D90's picture >controls. I used the default Standard or Neutral settings >mostly, and after I noticed the softness, I upped the >sharpening in-camera by about 1 or 2 notches, which seemed to >improve things, but not completely get rid of the issue. > >Thanks for the suggestion, I will look up this "Lens >Align test rig", but it sounds scary!
The base setting for sharpening on the d7000 is very low, 1 or 2 notches is still inadequate imo. 6 is the minimum I would set sharpening to in order to determine the general sharpness of the photo on the LCD.
You have a lot of good advice here on what could be going wrong. I have never seen a thread about back focusing but there have been a few threads about people worrying that their photos are OOF. Many of the examples I have seen are people shooting longer lenses at inadequate shutter speeds.
I agree if you could post a photo is would be easier to try and resolve this issue. Focus issue questions are nearly impossible to resolve without seeing the problem.
#10. "RE: D7000... in need of advice" In response to Reply # 0
I returned my first D7000 because it had a focusing issue. It tended to back focus, regardless of what AF setting I was using, or maybe "side focus" is a better way to describe it (but it did both). I also used single point AF, though I tried a variety. The worst seemed to be 3D tracking, the best the dynamic (9 dots). Many of pictures seemed to have a 'glaze' over it - very subtle, but noticeable to my untrained eye. Soft for sure. It also made a funny noise that didn't sound right, and the first time I set the lens on the camera it didn't register it with the AF system (it was just blank). Anyways, I returned it and am now onto my second one. Definately better, but still doesn't seem as sharp as the D90, though I'm sure this has something to do with settings. I'm planning on keeping it as the 2 week period I've had with it (2 week return period) isn't long enough to truly understand a new camera. Anyways, not much help for you, but a show of support.
#11. "RE: D7000... in need of advice" In response to Reply # 6
I'm glad you're finding the discussion helpful.
We're all lookiong to explore the limits and the best settings for the D7000. I want to know the limits of the camera.
I used my wife's D7000 and her Tamron 200-500 last week for some bird images - an osprey shot handheld from the car at a distance of about 70 feet. Nothing ended up being a great image, but I was looking for a shot to illustrate the capabilities of the camera. What I saw was pretty good, but I hit the limitations of my technique and the lens. I shot handheld but at a fast shutter speed. The images revealed my Tamron lens does poorly into the sun with serious fringing and CA. I should have stopped down a half stop. ISO performance was very good. In shots with better light, contrast is not quite what I want but overall is pretty good. In post processing, I needed to sharpen a good bit more than normal, but otherwise was pleased. Bottom line - I hit the limit of the glass on the camera, had a bit of a mental error, and never truly saw the camera's limit. But at least I know.
#12. "RE: D7000... in need of advice" In response to Reply # 10
Thank you everyone.
I'm surprised many of you say you've never heard of back-focusing issues related to this camera, the Internet and other forums (won't mention them by name, but in particular, one pretty major one) are buzzing with discussions and speculation about this (http://bit.ly/gvN4z5). Perhaps I should've just said "focusing issues", instead of "back-focusing". Of course, I know one shouldn't believe everything one reads on the Internet, but the fact is that this is being discussed a lot. I know there was a long thread on this very forum about this issue, not that long ago. I think the OP returned the camera, maybe even twice, and finally ended up with one he was happy with.
In any case, I will try and do some valid tests this weekend, and will post some pics, for you to judge.
As an aside, I also seem to be having a few random card-related issues. I'm using two brand new (bought at the same time I bought the camera - two weeks ago) Transcend 16GB SDHC Class 10 cards. Already, probably about 3-4 times so far, the camera would suddenly refuse to take a picture. When I looked on the top screen, it was flashing ERR, and I think there was a message on the back screen saying there's an error with the card. This would be in the middle of taking pictures, having taken a picture 2-3 seconds before. Switching the camera on and off seems to resolve this. I have only ever formatted both cards in-camera.
#13. "RE: D7000... in need of advice" In response to Reply # 12
I've not had any issues with my SD cards (FugiFilm) although they are not listed as an approved card. Perhaps your card (also not listed as approved) is not operating efficiently as I have had a few problems with other cards in the past.
Brian mentioned in his post, regarding focus, some things to consider. Not questioning your understanding of focus problems but most on this forum have been about "softness" with suggestions to try AF fine tune. I would think back focusing could be determined easily and without any specialized equipment whereas the lensalign tool might be needed for a more precise adjustment. I had read an article somewhere that "fine tuning a lens" and "back focus" were not always issues that were found together. But, perhaps I misunderstood that article and people with more experience can reply. Just a thought.
Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others. <><
#14. "RE: D7000... in need of advice" In response to Reply # 12 Fri 03-Dec-10 07:46 PM by km6xz
St Petersburg, RU
I did not follow the link but I bet it was DPR. They are famous for having problems and arguments over issues that only appear on that forum. Reading old posts regarding the D90 when it came out, you will see only DPR posters have constant problems, or more accurately, reported more problems than all the other forums combined. That community just attracts a different sort of person. For a while they had convinced everyone that you had to tweak a mechanical adjustment in the mirror box to get a D90 to focus right. It was of course making every other factory setting stored in EEPROM off and ruined focus for all FL and lenses but the one used for the test. Front or back focus is very easy to spot. Take a picture with detailed items at different distances from the camera and look for SOME part of the image that is perfectly sharp. Usually if there is a real sharpness problems, nothing will look spectacularly sharp. If front of back focusing then something will be at the right true focal distance. Also, taking a tripod shot with live view should tell you whether there is a focusing issue or a sharpness issue. Sharpness issues ought to affect both live view and conventional phase detection AF, using the VF. What about MF? Can the 35mm create sharp enough images with manual focus? Remember also that the little boxes for showing focus points in the VF are not the same shape and size as the actual focusing sensor point detection area. When trying to come up with a diagnosis, it is necessary to reduce the variables to as few as possible. A focusing target must be flat and perpendicular to the axis of the lens. No angled targets, that introduces way too many variables. It must be done with AF friendly targets, ones with contrast and little depth. A fury cat is bad for focusing tests but good for back or front AF tests because SOME area of hair will be in focus, not necessarily the spot you thought however. Good uniform light is needed. A STURDY tripod is needed. Mirror lockup and remote shuttle release is needed. That is a start to avoid the variables that you need to remove from the equation.
The only useful angled test target is one that is only expected to verify that someplace is in focus, but not expecting it to pinpointing where it was supposed to be. You have less control of where the AF assumes is the intended target than you might think. If you absolutely must get a target in-focus, that is what DOF control and MF are for. For example on a shallow DOF portrait, how do you really ensure that the AF is targeting the outer surface of the eyeball and not the iris or eye lash? On a 85 1.4 or 50 1.2, the DOF will make a difference what part of the eye is the target. Even the iris, just mm from the outer curve of the cornea can be less sharp if the focus in on the cornea. Only with a still subject and MF can you make sure of what the camera is "believing" your intended target is. Sharpness however is highly over rated as a factor in whether an image is good. If you are using the JPG rendering engine, which is very good, experiment with the sharpening in your custom PC's, you might find the level needs to be punched up a lot more than you are used to with the D90 where +1 or +2 was fine. The AA filter is different, as is the sensor so do not expect it to respond exactly the same way as the D90 to adjustments. Good luck, when you get it nailed, the D7000 should in every way be better than the D90, as great as the D90 has been. It will always be remembered as being one of the easiest cameras to get good images with despite technique. Good technique with the D7000, or D3x is not good enough however for getting the superior images they are capable of. Stan St Petersburg Russia
#15. "RE: D7000... in need of advice" In response to Reply # 12
I'm using two brand new (bought at the >same time I bought the camera - two weeks ago) Transcend 16GB >SDHC Class 10 cards. Already, probably about 3-4 times so >far, the camera would suddenly refuse to take a picture. When >I looked on the top screen, it was flashing ERR, and I think >there was a message on the back screen saying there's an error >with the card. Has any of you seen this sort of stuff before?
I have two of the EXACT same cards. No hiccups yet (in a few hundred shots), though I would say they are a good deal slower to upload images into my PC than my SanDisk ones were... My PC has a built-in card reader (with the Sandisk, I had a Sandisk CF reader).
BUT I went and bought a SanDisk Class 10, and will use the Transcend as a backup in the 2nd slot...
#16. "RE: D7000... in need of advice" In response to Reply # 0 Fri 03-Dec-10 04:32 PM by richardd300
Oh, your posting sounds so like mine!
I haven't trawled through all of the responces to your posting, but you are joining a list of posters who have soft and out of focus problems. I am one of them and I started a thread a few weeks ago which may be worthwile a look. Also another open thread which is ongoing.
I can assure you that the help I received here was excellent and I am now well on to resolving similar issues. However, I am certain that my first D7000 was faulty as I have been getting far more satisfactory results, not anywhere near perfect though, on the new camera.
I will watch this thread too as it's of great interest to me also.
#18. "RE: D7000... in need of advice" In response to Reply # 14
Not only are most of them from DPReview (according to the forums there all cameras in production are defects), they almost all involve people proving focus issues with angled test charts with numerous small black lines all over it and objects at different distances (well known to play havok with focus systems).
This gets people to playing around with the AF fine tuning (not something you should really be playing around with unless you really know what you are doing) and this almost guarantees that they will never get in focus photos.
The pixel density on the D7000 is in certain respects demanding. I keep a very close eye on my shutter speed especially. The longer the focal length the more demanding it is. You might get away with 1/focal length shutter speeds on the D90, this is not necessarily the case with the D7000 unless you have perfect hand holding technique (See Joe McNally's if you shoot with your left eye, its the best I have come across), or a solid tripod and good technique.
It could be the camera, it is more likely the camera not being used correctly (and when I say this I am not trying to call into question the experience level of people, the pixel density issue is fairly new to Nikon shooters who don't own a D3X).
#19. "RE: D7000... in need of advice" In response to Reply # 0 Fri 03-Dec-10 08:32 PM by kuzzy
I have back focus issues with my D7000 as well and it was readily apparent with the first 2 photographs I took. I attributed it to "more pixels, new machine, etc" at the time but after a couple of weeks it became apparent that it was not me. Put the camera on a tripod, blah,blah,blah and there was no doubt that with my 18-70 lens it was definitely not focusing correctly. I fine tuned it within the camera and it seems much better now although i still may need to adjust it a little more. I have used my 80-200 with it and it seems fine as does my 85 f1.8 as well as a sigma 70-300. I have not tried my 50 f1.8 as of yet. There are no doubt some issues here with some cameras and back focusing but at least in my case it is far from a deal breaker.
I would suggest that if you think you may have a problem that you take some shots, using a tripod and wide open aperture and carefully look at the results. Also, many have found that they were getting spot on results in live view when they were getting OOF shots through the viewfinder. You may want to do that comparison as well just to help clarify the issue for you. I did not try the live view myself. You can always reset the fine tuning adjustments and turn them off altogether if that does not seem to work.
I would also agree with many here that on some of the other forums they tend to go a bit overboard in there assessment of the severity of camera issues and tend to follow the leader without any substantive proof that the problem is not with the photographer. Good Luck.
Marc There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.-Ansel Adams
#20. "RE: D7000... in need of advice" In response to Reply # 19
I wish to offer about point of view here...
I had trouble with soft images with the D300 and the 18-200mm. Until I read the section in the manual about how you should take a picture with VR on!
You have to wait until the image stablises before you actually release the shutter. Otherwise you are taking a picture while the VR mechaism is trying to sort out an algorithm for counteracting the vibration.
Unforunately, this VR activity takes place between the point where focus is achieved and when you release the shutter. On the D7000, this a very small distance which is what led to my thread about the hair trigger. You just have to wait until the image stablises then you take the picture.
#22. "RE: D7000... in need of advice" In response to Reply # 19 Sat 04-Dec-10 08:30 AM by richardd300
"and tend to follow the leader without any substantive proof that the problem is not with the photographer"
With the greatest respect I certainly have substansive proof that there was a problem with my first camera and it was not with me. After looking at my printed resultant images, some reasonable some terribly out of focus, the camera was readily replaced and the shop agreed I certainly wasn't the first. Others who returned their D7K were known as extremely capable photographers with many years of Nikon camera use.
I do appreciate all of the comments and help given in this forum, but I say this again. I have had 4 Nikon dSLR cameras before the D7K, they all worked out of the box, I never had to fiddle with settings to get a sharp picture even on the longest lenses. I'm not talking about a little bit of softness. I, like the original poster of this thread" am talking about out of focus images which I had never had before.
I personally believe that there is a problem, but perhaps not with every camera produced, but I won't be at all surprised to see a firmware upgrade which will result in sharp images and the default AF fine tune setting of 0 where the users lens is not at fault. The fact that this issue seems to be with some cameras and not others could mean there is factory QA problem.
#23. "RE: D7000... in need of advice" In response to Reply # 19
Some of the new features of the D7000 are changes to the Picture Controls. In addiiton to allowing specific picture control choices for sharpening and contrast, the D7000 has Auto Sharpening and Auto Contrast settings. Depending on the post processing method being used, the in camera settings could mean an image that appears out of focus but really just needs sharpening and contrast.
Even if RAW images are used, the sharpening and contrast settings should be different than those on earlier cameras. That is a different discussion but could also lead to the appearance of out of focus images.
#24. "RE: D7000... in need of advice" In response to Reply # 0
Hi all, and again, thank you to everyone who's taken the time to respond here.
Ok, I've just done some testing.
Whilst not pro-standard, I tried to create conditions as close to ideal as reasonably possible in my living room.
I was shooting a focusing chart I downloaded (don't worry, NOT at a 45 degree angle), positioned vertically, near my window for good light. The camera was on a tripod, which I've tried to set up at a perfect horizontal angle using the inclinometer on my iphone. The distance from the camera to the chart was approximately 1 meter. I experimented with shutter speeds and ISO (trying to increase the former and decrease the latter as much as possible). Generally, I didn't go above ISO 400 and below shutter speed of about 1/640. I also used my wireless remote, in Mirror-Up mode. Pictures were taken in SD Picture Control mode, with sharpness upped to 6, JPEG, Large, Fine, compression set to Optimal Quality.
The results seem to confirm that there's probably nothing wrong with the camera. I know that may make me seem like a bit of a fool in front of everyone here, but I don't really care, as long as I can satisfy myself that there's nothing wrong with my camera and that I just need to tighten up my photo-taking procedures. I simply didn't expect there to be such a big step up in being able to take good pictures with this camera as compared to the D90, with which I was very comfortable with.
Having said all that, before I can conclude this, I need to ask an additional question.
Is it normal and "ok" that the pictures taken in Live View are EVER SO slightly sharper. I have to stress that the difference really is tiny (but noticeable nonetheless), and not always repeatable. You can only tell the Live View pic is marginally sharper by zooming to 100% and beyond. And it only happened perhaps 50-70% of the time.
Or should the sharpness and focus in pictures taken either using the viewfinder or LiveView be IDENTICAL (on a perfect camera)?
I think I can live with the tiniest difference I discovered, as long as you guys confirm this is normal. If not, then perhaps I do have an issue with the camera, but a much smaller one than I initially thought.
Ah, I'm such an idiot. I was going to post a few samples, but, as I've been taking pictures, and reviewing them on the screen, I was also deleting them after every couple of shots so I wouldn't get confused as to which was which. I've just realised I've actually deleted ALL pictures of the focusing chart - and I've now dismantled the whole set-up and it's now gone dark, not enough light to repeat the whole exercise. So can't post samples. Idiot.
So, judging from my description of the results above, what do you think?
#26. "RE: D7000... in need of advice" In response to Reply # 22
"and tend to follow the leader without any substantive proof that the problem is not with the photographer"
Hi Richard, I did not mean to imply that YOU or the OP did not have a real problem or that there are not others in the same boat as you. I too have a similar problem with one of my lenses. I also do not find that the people here at Nikonians, in general, fall into that same category as the threads are usually much more rational than in some of the other forums out there.
My only point in that statement was that whenever there is a hint of a problem there is a number of people that attribute there own unsatisfactory (in their eyes) results from the camera directly to the problem without looking at their own technique, settings, etc. first. (You know, buys a D3s because the pictures from the D40 do not look like the ones in National Geographic) They like to jump on that bandwagon and join the crowd. Just as there is also a small number that believe that the camera companies only produce A+ products and that all issues are operator error. I think experience teaches us that the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
"I personally believe that there is a problem, but perhaps not with every camera produced, but I won't be at all surprised to see a firmware upgrade which will result in sharp images and the default AF fine tune setting of 0 where the users lens is not at fault. The fact that this issue seems to be with some cameras and not others could mean there is factory QA problem."
I agree that there is a problem but do not think this is fixable with a firmware update.
I believe that your new D7K is giving you satisfactory results now and I hope you are enjoying it as much as I am. Hopefully the OP will get his issues resolved as well.
Marc There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.-Ansel Adams
#27. "RE: D7000... in need of advice" In response to Reply # 24 Sat 04-Dec-10 03:58 PM by kuzzy
Glad to hear that you seem to have resolved the issues with your D7K. I would say to you that if you are getting similar results in live view than based on what I have read elsewhere you should be all set. As Brian correctly points out the camera uses a different autofocus technique in live view so you can get slightly different results but if they are very close you should be good to go. Many of the people that have real serious AF issues are getting substantially different results between the 2 systems, namely that live view produces tack sharp images and that when not in live view they are getting OOF images or noticeable back focusing.
Hope you can now go on and enjoy the camera as you, along with the rest of us, learn how to get the most out of it.
Marc There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.-Ansel Adams
#28. "RE: D7000... in need of advice" In response to Reply # 24
It sounds like you've done a good job in confirming your camera and lens are operating properly. That's a lot tougher than finding a problem since you have to remove a lot of variables. Your methodology sounds good - and should satisfy you that there are no issues.
This has been a good thread. We don't want to blindly assume everything is perfect, but also don't want to judge a whole line of cameras based on a few instances on individual images that are not sharp.
#29. "RE: D7000... in need of advice" In response to Reply # 28 Sun 05-Dec-10 01:21 PM by RRRoger
Monterey Bay, US
This is a long thread and may have been previously mentioned. With this camera, I am beginning to use Live View. You can zoom in before taking the shot. This can be very helpful especially when manually focusing on a TriPod.
The D7000 has a lot more capability (Mag body, battery life, MegaPixels, ISO, AF, controls, settings, etc.) than the D90. The price we pay for that is that it cost more and is more difficult to use. Anybody that masters this camera will become a Mo Beta Photographer.
#30. "RE: D7000... in need of advice" In response to Reply # 24
I'm glad you're getting there with your camera. This thread and your comments, especially regarding your excellent experience with the D90, mirror mine exactly. I'm tending now to move on as I get used to the D7000's quirks. The more I practice settings etc the better it gets. It's just a shame we've had to go through a torturous route to get there.
#31. "RE: D7000... in need of advice" In response to Reply # 0
I must say, even though I've proven to myself there's most likely nothing wrong with my camera or lenses, this has left a slightly bitter taste in my mouth. Spoiled the fun, so to speak.
I simply didn't expect these kind of problems using the camera in a way I'm used to. I'm by no means a pro, or anywhere close, but consider myself a solid intermediate photographer, with a solid understanding of photography technique. The camera IS (in my honest opinion) similar enough to the D90 that I expected nowhere near as much headache using it straight out of the box.
I'm actually still a little confused - my tests seem to prove there's nothing wrong with the camera, but about 95% of the first 300-400 images I took are soft/oof. About 50% of those were taken indoors, all without flash, and with the 35mm, so low light, granted, but again, I had no problems using that lens on my D90 in the same conditions. The rest were taken either with the same lens, or with the kit lens, outdoors, in daylight, and they too are soft/oof. At some point I increased in-camera sharpness by one or two notches (so probably still not enough), and things improved slightly, but still, I'm not happy with those pictures.
I can't be bothered taking more pictures of test charts, so the real test will come the next time I use the camera in the normal way, to take normal pictures, probably for Christmas. Again, these will be challenging conditions as most pictures will be most likely taken indoors.
This time, I will pay more attention and do everything in my power to ensure I'm not making a mistake and causing blur/softness in my pictures.
So we will see.
I actually realised I have until 18th January to return or exchange the camera, so that gives me a bit more breathing space. I shall make the decision on whether to keep it beginning of January. I hope the camera stays and proves to me I (and it) are capable of taking some good quality pictures!
Thanks everyone VERY MUCH for all the help, opinion and advice I was give here, it is very much appreciated. I feel the price of the membership for this forum was justified.
#32. "RE: D7000... in need of advice" In response to Reply # 0
East Liverpool, Ohio, US
Hi Vlad. I am one of the others that returned a camera for the exact problem you discussed here. I tried the fine tuning on my long teles to no avail. They would be sharp at the long end, and really bad at the short end. I returned it. They did not have another body in the store but got some this week and I picked one up late yesterday.
It was my luck ( or bad luck, you choose ) that a Nikon Rep was in the store with every camera and lens Nikon makes on display. I tried grilling him about the focusing issue, but he claimed to be unaware of any such issues but did say there is always a possibility that a few cameras will be produced that have problems here and there. He also told me that the fine tuning is meant to be used primarily on prime lenses and older lenses, but was not very specific on this.
Anyway, the new camera is still in the box as I am, like many others, not really excited about it anymore. I, like you and several others, was a D90 user and got amazing results with that camera even when I pushed it to and past it's limits. I just don't like the idea of having to, "tune " my camera to every lens I own. They all worked fine on my D70, D80 and D90 right out of the box. I am kind of wishing I had bought the D700 and changed my lens line up to accommodate full frame. We will see what tomorrow brings. I will charge the battery up today and set out to shoot a basketball game tomorrow evening. Good luck to you!!!
#33. "RE: D7000... in need of advice" In response to Reply # 31
>I'm actually still a little confused - my tests seem to prove >there's nothing wrong with the camera, but about 95% of the >first 300-400 images I took are soft/oof. About 50% of those >were taken indoors, all without flash, and with the 35mm, so >low light, granted, but again, I had no problems using that >lens on my D90 in the same conditions. The rest were taken >either with the same lens, or with the kit lens, outdoors, in >daylight, and they too are soft/oof. At some point I >increased in-camera sharpness by one or two notches (so >probably still not enough), and things improved slightly, but >still, I'm not happy with those pictures.
Given that your test charts were sharp I suspect some of the problem may be with shutter speed. The d7k's pixel density is less forgiving of camera shake. The indoor shots even at f/1.8 (I assume you were shooting wide open on the 35) would require that you really boost the ISO (3200-6400) to get an acceptable shutter speed of 1/50 - 1/125, unless you use a flash. You are not going to get away handholding shots at 1/20 unless you have rock steady handholding technique.
Also I would shoot neutral or standard and boost in camera sharpening to at least the 6th notch to get an idea on the LCD how sharp your image may be when previewing it.
It helps to shoot RAW (14 bit preferably) and sharpen post processing. I use Lightroom 3.3 RC 3.3 and apply some capture sharpening in basic post processing. Most importantly, when saving the output file I apply output sharpening. This is critical, you lose sharpness when you resize or save the image in another image format (such as a JPEG). Sharpening the image for screen viewing or printing (depending on your need) will make a huge difference. Nik Software's new Sharpener 3.05 (which has Pre-Sharpening and an Output Sharpening feature) also works quite well, I am currently experimenting with it, and it might replace my Lightroom routine.
#35. "RE: D7000... in need of advice" In response to Reply # 32
@ JPJ - I shoot JPG 99% of the time, as I dislike having to spend much time on post-processing, I try and get my images to look as close to what I want straight out of the camera. But the tips are appreciated anyway, thanks!
@ kwb49 - Thanks, and good luck to you too! I hope the replacement camera works for you!
#36. "RE: D7000... in need of advice" In response to Reply # 35
I am heartened by the comments in this post, but take no consolation in knowing that "it wasn't just me"! I whole heartedly agree with the sentiments expressed about the disappointment.
In another post I expressed my concern that not every buyer would even know where to turn if they think they have a lemon. Yes, they could go through the often torturous route of exchange, or spend the rest of the cameras life regretting a mistake. I refer mainly to the student or someone keen to buy their first dSLR. Lets be fair in that by any measure a dSLR is a major purchase to most.
I have been so pleased with all my dSLR's in the past and Nikon is a brand name I could trust for quality. The jury's still out on my D7K until I can venture out, ice and snow permitting, to the wildlife reserve. Then I can flex the camera in the same way as the D90. Forget focus charts etc, you can't beat the aminate subject. Best of luck to all those getting a replacement.
#37. "RE: D7000... in need of advice" In response to Reply # 33
St Petersburg, RU
I think there should be a new rule concerning posting focusing questions or complaints. None should be allowed unless a sample image with data intact. We are all talking about different things using the same words and so talking past each other. This long thread and days of frustration for the OP would have been stopped in its tracks if an image was posted in the first post. The image would have told the story better than words. We still have not seen examples of this or other complaints. More than just a few of these complaints come down to expectations of old habits, some bad old habits, being expected to give the same results with a different category of camera. Yet there is a clear weakness in diagnostics by users who rant about how bad the camera is, or possibly is. The basics of photography are being ignored in most of these posts of complaint, which points to being different being judged as bad. If different with different limits, in this case greatly extended limits, were not the purpose, why upgrade at all? We hear people claim the D90 was great for them, and their set of habits, so why replace it? I still want to see examples and image data before I am going to take any more complaints seriously. A majority eventually find that their technique needed adjusting and the camera is great after all, but not until weeks of complaints and frustration with a new device not acting just like their old camera.
One good thing about these store exchanges is that there will soon be some lower priced "refurbished" D7000's available. If so many people were not getting great images with this model, some after initially complaining of softness, I would be more concerned with the development and design maturity, but so far I have not seen anything to indicate a design problem. Stan St Petersburg Russia
#38. "RE: D7000... in need of advice" In response to Reply # 37 Mon 06-Dec-10 03:07 PM by RRRoger
Monterey Bay, US
>I think there should be a new rule concerning posting >focusing questions or complaints. None should be allowed >unless a sample image with data intact. > >One good thing about these store exchanges is that there will >soon be some lower priced "refurbished" D7000's >available. >St Petersburg Russia
Right on Stan,
What most people don't realize is that the D7000 is a whole new class of camera. They have been spoiled by a progression of easier to use cameras including the D3 and now the D3100. But, the D7000 has a whole bunch of new controls and menus, and a higher MegaPixel sensor.
Perhaps, it has been lucky for you that you have been forced to wait. Nearly all the "bad copy" cameras are in the first or second batch. There seems to be so many more D7000 available now that some retailers are beginning to discount them. Also, cheaper SDHC cards, batteries grips etc. are beginning to become available. And, you have been forced to research and review while you wait. Thus, you should be ahead of most of us when you finally get your camera in hand.
#40. "RE: D7000... looks sharp to me" In response to Reply # 36
I've shot about a thousand test images in the past two weeks with the D7000. I've used 35mm, 50mm, 85 mm, 16-85mm, and 70-300mm lenses. Everything is as sharp as I expected, which is to say, very sharp.
#41. "RE: D7000... in need of advice" In response to Reply # 20
>I wish to offer about point of view here... > >I had trouble with soft images with the D300 and the 18-200mm. > Until I read the section in the manual about how you should >take a picture with VR on! > >You have to wait until the image stablises before you actually >release the shutter. Otherwise you are taking a picture while >the VR mechaism is trying to sort out an algorithm for >counteracting the vibration. > >Unforunately, this VR activity takes place between the point >where focus is achieved and when you release the shutter. On >the D7000, this a very small distance which is what led to my >thread about the hair trigger. You just have to wait until >the image stablises then you take the picture. > >Makes a huge difference!!
This may bear some relevance to your focusing problems: try turning on the Exposure Delay feature (menu d11) which allows the mirror to move out of the way 1 sec before the picture is taken (like it does in Live View). I was having concerns about focus too until I tried this. Now my photos are really sharp, Of course, it only works with static subjects! Apart from this setting I use single point focus for all but those images which contain a mass of objects right across the frame. > >Alternatively, you can turn VR off!
#42. "RE: D7000... in need of advice" In response to Reply # 41
With a static subject, using the Exposure Delay feature should not improve (or worsen) focus performance. If image quality is better with the delay, it suggests that any softness previously experienced was caused by camera movement rather than mis-focus.
#43. "RE: D7000... looks sharp to me" In response to Reply # 40
>I've shot about a thousand test images in the past two weeks >with the D7000. I've used 35mm, 50mm, 85 mm, 16-85mm, and >70-300mm lenses. Everything is as sharp as I expected, which >is to say, very sharp. Congratulations! But, please, share your approach (aside from which lenses you are using). Spot metering or which? What type of shots? Moving or static? ISO? Flash? You are obviously a professional, so those of us who are not might be very grateful for some insights. Thanks! How about posting a couple of images with all the relevant exif?
#44. "RE: D7000... looks sharp to me" In response to Reply # 43 Fri 17-Dec-10 08:44 PM by billD80
Everything is as sharp as I expected, >which >>is to say, very sharp.
> Congratulations! But, please, share your approach (aside from >which lenses you are using).
Here's one approach... DO NOT use a tripod, or mirror-up. Shoot at 1/15th of a second, hand-held, natural/incandescent light, ISO 800, 50mm f/5.6 (TAMRON 17-50/2.8 non-VR), APERTURE PRIORITY, HIGH ISO NR-OFF, AUTO WB, MATRIX METERING NEUTRAL COLOR.
Hold breath, elbows in, GENTLY SQUEEZE SHUTTER RELEASE. Done.
#45. "RE: D7000... looks sharp to me" In response to Reply # 44
Wow, you are obviously a much more stable shake-free shooter than I am! That is amazingly crisp for that shutter speed.
In terms of my "approach," its nothing special...just be sure to have the shutter speed fast enough for any non-VR lenses I'm using (1/foc). Using the camera normally, very sharp pictures. Since I shoot NEF, I don't make many adjustments in the camera, but I do let lightroom apply what it thinks are the camera std adjustments when I import.
That is to say, no special technique beyond what anyone would do.
#46. "RE: D7000... looks sharp to me" In response to Reply # 44 Mon 20-Dec-10 02:09 PM by briantilley
I could never get a sharp picture at 1/15th of a second, hand-held, especially with a non-VR lens. Even my 50mm 1.8 will show shake at that speed. Now, it is true that I have had several joints replaced or fused in some of my fingers, but funnily enough I often feel that makes it easier to have steady hands!
#47. "RE: D7000... looks sharp to me" In response to Reply # 46
>I could never get a sharp picture at 1/15th of a second, >hand-held, especially with a non-VR lens.
Betcha can! I did the one I posted with a brace on my left wrist/hand due to recent ligament surgery...
Cradle the camera, elbows in, or supported on a table, know EXACTLY where your focus point is, breathe out, hold, squeeeeze shutter... The beauty about digital is you can practice and immediately see where you're at.
#48. "RE: D7000... in need of advice" In response to Reply # 0
hello Vlad, I am sorry that you have any problems and after reading your post, I did some tests with my D7000, 18-200 G2 lens and I think the results are very good. Unfortunately I am a beginner and I wish I could help you in a more professional way; my thought is to experience more with the camera and also understanding depth of field and the factors that determine dof is very important.