Does D50 have sharpness problems?
I am a beginning hobbyist and I was testing my D50 after I got a bit suspicious about it's sharpness in certain conditions.
I was using two lenses: kit lens 18-55 and Nikkor 18-200 VR.
On both of them I noticed sharpness problems in some conditions.
Nikkor 18-200 does good pictures on objects up to 60 feet, but for more broad and distant panoramas the images are too soft on edges. I was expecting razor sharp images and instead I received very soft photos as if I was using a diffuser filter.
Is the problem with D50 body or with the lens?
I was trying two D50s and got exactly the same results.
This is a little gallery with my test images:
Am I expecting something impossible? Sometimes I am looking at razor sharp landscapes on various galleries and I am wondering why my D50 and 18-200 VR cannot deliver the same.
Even when I do close outdoor portraits taken in a gray and low in contrast weather they come up fuzzy and very soft on edges.
Is D50 really not suitable for sharp images, or is rather the lenses? If it's the lenses, which lenses should I get?
#1. "RE: Does D50 have sharpness problems?" | In response to Reply # 0Tiberius Registered since 24th Aug 2007Mon 05-Jun-06 05:39 PM
Without seeing the full-size original images or cropped portions of them, it's difficult to know what is camera and what is the resizing.
I haven't had any sharpness issues with the D50/18-55 combination, but that's just me. The 18-55mm, while a great lens for the money, is still a $130 lens. The 18-200VR is a Jack of all Trades kind of lens that doesn't particularly excel in any one area. I'd put my money more on the Lens than the camera. The cheapest way to test this theory would be picking up the f/1.8 50mm Nikkor. It's supposed to be sharper than even most of the $1200-1400 Zoom Lenses. I don't own one yet myself to comment on, but people tend to love it.
#3. "RE: Does D50 have sharpness problems?" | In response to Reply # 1Mon 05-Jun-06 05:48 PM
>Without seeing the full-size original images or cropped
>portions of them, it's difficult to know what is camera and
>what is the resizing.
Oh, that is not a problem! Each image has an option 'original' on the bottom under the image. If you click on it the image will come in it's original size.
Sorry for not telling this in my first post.
Thanks for the response,
#2. "RE: Does D50 have sharpness problems?" | In response to Reply # 0
Hello and welcome to Nikonians!
In general the D50 has outstanding sharpness. Check out the pictures in this review, which convinced me that the D50 (with 18-55Dx lens) was superior to the Canon 350D and easily comparable if not superior to the D70s:
Without shooting data it's difficult to say what is the source of your problems. You may be picking a poor focus point, you may have the aperture open too far which is limiting your depth of field, you may have too slow a shutter speed which will cause camera shake issues. Outside of technique, you may have poor lens samples, which does happen, but you really need a methodical approach to evaluating equipment while testing against known good equipment and using techniques that eliminate these variables.
A high-resolution digital SLR is certainly not a magic wand for photography. More than anything, the increased resolution of the sensor and the control you gain over depth of field will require knowledge and techniques that may not have been necessary with a point & shoot camera. Again, without shooting data it's tough to say what the problem is.
Larry - a Bay Area Nikonian
Please visit my Nikonians gallery
#4. "RE: Does D50 have sharpness problems?" | In response to Reply # 2Mon 05-Jun-06 05:51 PM
>Hello and welcome to Nikonians!
>Without shooting data it's difficult to say what is the
>source of your problems.
Oh, again my fault of not telling this. Under the image you will see
a text 'see full EXIF'. Click on it and the data will show.
Also, as I said in previous post, make sure to click on 'original' under the image to see the photo in full resolution.
#5. "RE: Does D50 have sharpness problems?" | In response to Reply # 0
Are you shooting RAW or JPEG? If JPEG, turn up the incamera sharpening. If shooting RAW, use unsharp mask to sharpen the image. All digital images will require sharpening of some sort. The pictures look as if no sharpening was done. Also, maybe a hint of camera shake. 1/30 at 200 (essentially 300) is very hard to do, even with VR on. You are about 4 stops slower than the reciprical rule (300mm = 1/300 = 1/500 shutter speed in camera.
Edit: I also see some JPEG compression artifacts in the pictures and that may be contributing as well.
#6. "RE: Does D50 have sharpness problems?" | In response to Reply # 0
Exposure Time = 1/2"
F Number = F5.6
Exposure Program = Manual
Exif Version = Version 2.21
Date Time Original = 2006-05-02 18:08:53
Date Time Digitized = 2006-05-02 18:08:53
Exposure Bias Value = ±0EV
Max Aperture Value = F4.76
Metering Mode = Pattern
Light Source = unknown
Flash = Off
Focal Length = 56mm
That is the EXIF data of your night photo from looks like a hotel window. 1/2 second shutterspeed is causing exactly the problem you're describing.
You need to play around on the auto settings a little more. Read up some on how to use aperature priority and shutter priority modes and you will be set!
Also, I don't know about anyone else here, but www.kenrockwell.com has some great ideas for settings on the camera itself once you want to go fully manual and control everything.
Hope that helps!
#7. "RE: Does D50 have sharpness problems?" | In response to Reply # 6Mon 05-Jun-06 07:37 PM
I knew exactly what was up as soon as I saw the blurred guy in the red t-shirt and the blurred leaf edges. Play with shutter priority mode a little for your night shots and see what ya get!
#8. "They all used a tripod" | In response to Reply # 6Mon 05-Jun-06 08:17 PM
The motion blur is not a factor on any of the pictures. The night picture was taken with a tripod and a remote control. The test picture od a street were taken when the camera was resting on a front porch and the remote control triggered the shutter.
The blur on all the pictures was caused entirely either by the camera or the lens. This is exactly what I am trying to figure out.
#11. "RE: They all used a tripod" | In response to Reply # 9Mon 05-Jun-06 09:09 PM
>Was VR on or off? If it was ON while on a stable platform,
>the VR mechanism will BLUR the image. Like I mentioned
>before, did you perform any sharpening at all?
This may be the problem.
I have always had the VR on. Even when not needed at all. I simply didn't realize that VR may do the opposite of what it is trying to fix. I thought that the VR function is mechanical and if there is no shake then the VR simply does nothing at all.
Today I am going to perform the same tests with VR off and I am hoping that this is going to be what I have been looking for.
I will also study how the VR engine works. I didn't bother to read it before because of my genetic laziness.
However, if it turns out that the VR is simply a piece of software running in the lens, I will be deeply disappointed. I paid almost $700 for this!
#12. "RE: They all used a tripod" | In response to Reply # 11Mon 05-Jun-06 09:16 PM
>>Was VR on or off? If it was ON while on a stable platform,
>>the VR mechanism will BLUR the image. Like I mentioned
>>before, did you perform any sharpening at all?
>This may be the problem.
>I have always had the VR on. Even when not needed at all. I
>simply didn't realize that VR may do the opposite of what it
>is trying to fix. I thought that the VR function is
>mechanical and if there is no shake then the VR simply does
>nothing at all.
>Today I am going to perform the same tests with VR off and I
>am hoping that this is going to be what I have been looking
>I will also study how the VR engine works. I didn't bother
>to read it before because of my genetic laziness.
>However, if it turns out that the VR is simply a piece of
>software running in the lens, I will be deeply disappointed.
>I paid almost $700 for this!
The VR mechanism is a mechanical function of the lens, not the camera. It detects movement and vibration and attempts to correct for it by moving glass elements in the opposite direction. When there is no movement, the VR mechanism gets confused and attempts to correct for the tiniest vibrations. This in turn creates vibration from the VR unit itself and causes gross over corrections which translates into blurred pictures. It constantly begins to move attempting to correct the nonexistent.
#10. "RE: They all used a tripod" | In response to Reply # 8
>The motion blur is not a factor on any of the pictures. The
>night picture was taken with a tripod and a remote control.
>The test picture od a street were taken when the camera was
>resting on a front porch and the remote control triggered
>The blur on all the pictures was caused entirely either by
>the camera or the lens. This is exactly what I am trying to
Just because the camera didn't shake, doesn't mean the objects in the picture don't move. For example, put your camera on a tripod, set it for 1/2" exposure and then wave your hand in front of it. Your hand will be blurry much like the guy and the leaves in your photo. Otherwise I don't see a whole lot of sharpness related problems in your photos. I did notice in your EXIF you have sharpness set to normal. You might want to try changing that setting to Auto instead. Here are some pics I've taken un-altered with Photoshop that show some relatively quality sharpness done with just the 18-55MM kit lens. Dialup beware; large photos.
#13. "RE: Does D50 have sharpness problems?" | In response to Reply # 0
. The D50 is actually a very sharp camera and for the price its probably the best bargain out there. So enjoy the camera for what it is and if you need the quality that you see in galleries then you might wanna look at large format cameras and flatbed scanners.
24-120mm VR ED Lens
80-200mm f/2.8 2 touch
18-70mm DX ED Lens
60mm f/2.8 Micro Nikkor
SB-600 x 2/SU-800/SB-800
#14. "RE: Does D50 have sharpness problems?" | In response to Reply # 0
Simple answer, no.
Long answer, as usual it depends on your lens and shooting situation, but the D50 is noted as having the best out of camera JPGs of all the Nikon DSLRs, just a quick filter application is all that is needed to get shots both web ready and print ready on the D50 if all else is perfect.
#15. "New tests and some answers" | In response to Reply # 0
This is the page with images where I tested different combinations of VR on/off and Image Processing Normal/Sharper
Please click on the text 'original' to see the full image.
There are four images in the order of sharpness:
1. Sharpest: Optimize Sharper and VR On/Off. Don't see a difference between 'VR On' and 'VR Off' once we set the Optimize function to Sharper. The result is what I was expecting.
2. Less sharp: VR off and Optimize Normal.
3. Least sharp: VR on and Optimize Normal.
Because the difference between 2 and 3 is minimal, the answer is not in the lenses, but in the image post-processing. In conclusion, the sharpening is not in preserving more optical details on the edges, but rather in the artificial impression that photo-processing software can do.
Instead of setting the Optimize to Sharper, I can very well leave it on Normal and do the same kind of processing with PS.
#17. "RE: New tests and some answers" | In response to Reply # 16Tue 06-Jun-06 02:47 AM
>can we see some pictures shot in auto and not A priority? I
>just want to see something. Thanks
I had to do it quickly since it's getting dark soon...
There are two images taken with Auto mode and VR on/off. I can't see any difference in sharpness between the two.
#18. "RE: Does D50 have sharpness problems?" | In response to Reply # 0
From the file sizes, the first 2 images seem to have been taken in jpeg basic mode, which could account for loss of detail/sharpness. Odd that all pictures are shown as JPEG Quality (6), when these 2 are not shot in the same mode as the others.
The images with red car in foreground are focussed on it, or on the paving behind it, so the scene across the street can be expected to be unsharp, or out of focus.
The VR & Optimise test images are shot in a variety of jpeg modes - from the file size - so that rules out comparing them like-for-like. Again, all are shown as JPEG Quality (6), whatever that is. It's a busy scene, and it's difficult to tell where the camera has focussed, and hence which parts of the scene should be razor-sharp. The shots in Fine mode do look a lot better than the others.
So, I'd say that the problems are down to the image quality selected, and not being focussed at the optimum point.
Hope this helps
#19. "RE: Does D50 have sharpness problems?" | In response to Reply # 18Tue 06-Jun-06 02:56 PM
>The VR & Optimise test images are shot in a variety of jpeg
>modes - from the file size - so that rules out comparing
Not true. All of them are shot in Fine mode. The ONLY difference between them is the Optimize option and the VR on or off.
The image size difference must be due to the optimization.
#20. "RE: Does D50 have sharpness problems?" | In response to Reply # 19Tue 06-Jun-06 04:26 PM
Somewhere, then, the first 2 pictures and last picture of the 6 have been subjected to a size reduction. 1Meg, 1Meg, 3.3Meg, 3.1Meg, 3Meg, 860K? Please check the image info in your camera, and/or in something on your computer. This isn't the sort of image file size reduction you'd get from sharpening, or using VR.
The blue car looks to be nicely in focus in those images, but as might be expected it looks a bit better (sharper) in the 'bigger' (over 3Meg) pics. To be honest, I can't see a lot to complain about in those bigger pictures. The smaller ones are a little bit soft, as might be expected from aggressive algorithms such as jpeg compression.
As an example: in the last 2, the blue car's aerial looks fairly good in the bigger picture, and less good (surrounded by jpeg artefacts) in the second. Blow them up to 500%, side by side, and compare.
I stand by my original statement: some pictures are unsharp because of the jpeg compression applied to them (in-camera or afterwards), and others because the camera has focussed a long way from the things you're expecting to be sharp.
I'd like to think this helps,
#21. "Thank you all!" | In response to Reply # 20Tue 06-Jun-06 04:51 PM
You are right! The size difference is really a shocking observation. The only difference among the images from each group (Aperture mode and Auto Mode) is the VR setting. However, it can be the fault of the pbase server. The pbase server is doing recompression of the uploaded images, but I am still surprised that the same recompression algorithm on two almost identical files give two completely different file sizes.
Thank you all for help.
This really opened my eyes to several issues of DSLR photography.
I was ready to freak out and send the camera back to Nikon service and it's good that I asked the experts first
#22. "RE: Thank you all!" | In response to Reply # 21Tue 06-Jun-06 05:37 PM
Really, digital is not that different from film. First rule: Keep the originals! Print film users will usually opt for jpeg large/fine; slide film users will most likely go the raw route. Burn them to dvd - not worth talking about CD as a backup medium nowadays - as soon as you can. Once you've done that, you can think about scrapping some shots, printing some, manipulating others. ALWAYS keep what came out of the camera intact, on an unalterable medium.
Then, be careful who you get to do your "printing". Some web printing/storage services will be better than others. I can say this impartially, since I have used exactly none of them.
I visited some of your other pages, and I liked what I saw. There are some fime pictures in there.
Enjoy your photography!