Go to a  "printer friendly" view of this message which allow an easy print Printer-friendly copy Go to the page which allows you to send this topic link and a message to a friend Email this topic to a friend
Forums Lobby MASTER YOUR VISION - BY SPECIALTY Wildlife (Public) topic #151556
View in linear mode

Subject: "sharpness: my perpetural struggle" Previous topic | Next topic
bobpilot Silver Member Nikonian since 08th May 2007Tue 29-Jan-13 07:19 PM
3226 posts Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin    Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this authorClick to view this author's profile
"sharpness: my perpetural struggle"


Washington, US
          

I leave Yellowstone in a few weeks so I've been practicing with my 60mm lens. I am not able to produce sharp images, some are better than others, and I don't know why. The attached image is the best of four. It is not sharp; see the 'halo' on the side of the bolt? This shows me that I am not getting a sharp image or at the least there is an error somewhere. Or am I expecting too much? With reference to the scale shown on this screen capture on ViewNX, this image is 1:1.

Gitzo 3530 tripod with a RRS pano base with a RRS long lens support package.
Nikon D3s
Nikon 600mm lens
Focus Mode: AF-S
AF Area Mode: Single
Shutter Release Delay: ON
1/500; f/6.3, ISO 400
Spot metered.
I am rolling my finger over the shutter release
My hand is resting on top of the lens
I am pausing for a moment before rolling my finger over the shutter release.

What I am I missing? I see images posted here of birds in flight that are tack sharp and I can't get a bolt on a swing-set sharp. At this rate I'll come back from Yellowstone with no sharp images. If that happens, my gear goes up for sale and will find a new hobby.



Attachment #1, (jpg file)

  

Alert Printer-friendly copy | Reply | Reply with quote | Top

Replies to this topic
Subject Author Message Date ID
Reply message RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle
HBB Moderator
29th Jan 2013
1
Reply message RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle
bobpilot Silver Member
29th Jan 2013
3
Reply message RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle
backpacker24 Silver Member
29th Jan 2013
2
Reply message RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle
bobpilot Silver Member
29th Jan 2013
4
     Reply message I don't think it's your tripod Bob....
Jim Pearce Silver Member
29th Jan 2013
5
     Reply message RE: I don't think it's your tripod Bob....
bobpilot Silver Member
29th Jan 2013
6
          Reply message Shoot a ruler at 45 degrees Bob...
Jim Pearce Silver Member
29th Jan 2013
7
     Reply message RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle
HBB Moderator
29th Jan 2013
8
     Reply message There's no need for this...
Jim Pearce Silver Member
29th Jan 2013
9
     Reply message RE: There's no need for this...
bobpilot Silver Member
29th Jan 2013
10
     Reply message Post them here Bob...
Jim Pearce Silver Member
29th Jan 2013
11
          Reply message RE: Post them here Bob...
bobpilot Silver Member
29th Jan 2013
13
               Reply message Sorry, shoot wide open Bob...
Jim Pearce Silver Member
29th Jan 2013
15
     Reply message RE: There's no need for this...
HBB Moderator
29th Jan 2013
14
          Reply message RE: There's no need for this...
bobpilot Silver Member
29th Jan 2013
16
               Reply message RE: There's no need for this...
HBB Moderator
30th Jan 2013
19
     Reply message RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle
bobpilot Silver Member
29th Jan 2013
12
          Reply message f/4 2000 ISO; 1/800
bobpilot Silver Member
29th Jan 2013
18
               Reply message Focus looks pretty good to me Bob...
Jim Pearce Silver Member
30th Jan 2013
21
                    Reply message RE: Focus looks pretty good to me Bob...
bobpilot Silver Member
30th Jan 2013
22
     Reply message RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle
backpacker24 Silver Member
30th Jan 2013
23
Reply message RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle
nrothschild Silver Member
29th Jan 2013
17
Reply message RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle
bobpilot Silver Member
30th Jan 2013
20
     Reply message RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle
nrothschild Silver Member
30th Jan 2013
24
     Reply message RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle
bobpilot Silver Member
30th Jan 2013
25
          Reply message RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle
nrothschild Silver Member
30th Jan 2013
26
          Reply message RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle
nrothschild Silver Member
30th Jan 2013
27
               Reply message RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle
backpacker24 Silver Member
30th Jan 2013
28
                    Reply message RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle
bobpilot Silver Member
30th Jan 2013
29
     Reply message RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle
nrothschild Silver Member
30th Jan 2013
31
          Reply message RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle
bobpilot Silver Member
30th Jan 2013
32
               Reply message RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle
nrothschild Silver Member
30th Jan 2013
33
               Reply message RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle
bobpilot Silver Member
31st Jan 2013
35
               Reply message RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle
dm1dave Administrator
31st Jan 2013
34
                    Reply message RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle
bobpilot Silver Member
31st Jan 2013
36
                    Reply message RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle
Bump57 Silver Member
31st Jan 2013
37
Reply message RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle
Bump57 Silver Member
30th Jan 2013
30
Reply message Bob, did you re-shoot that bolt?
Jim Pearce Silver Member
31st Jan 2013
38
Reply message RE: Bob, did you re-shoot that bolt?
bobpilot Silver Member
31st Jan 2013
39
     Reply message RE: Bob, did you re-shoot that bolt?
Lunastar Silver Member
01st Feb 2013
40
          Reply message RE: Bob, did you re-shoot that bolt?
bobpilot Silver Member
01st Feb 2013
41
          Reply message RE: Bob, did you re-shoot that bolt?
bobpilot Silver Member
05th Feb 2013
42
Reply message RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle
Dubes Silver Member
06th Feb 2013
43
Reply message RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle
bobpilot Silver Member
06th Feb 2013
44
     Reply message RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle
Dubes Silver Member
06th Feb 2013
45

HBB Moderator Hal is an expert in several areas, including CLS Awarded for his excellent article contributions to the Resources. Charter MemberTue 29-Jan-13 08:16 PM
8443 posts Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin    Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this authorClick to view this author's profile
#1. "RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle"
In response to Reply # 0


Phoenix, US
          

Bob:

The whole image appears a bit soft to me.

A few questions:

1) What was the camera to subject distance?

2) Were you using the center focus point?

3) What was the focus target?

4) I assume you were using autofocus, correct?

5) Was the wind blowing? If yes, how strong?

6) Was the camera/lens configuration mounted on the tripod base plate, or was it elevated using the center column? If the latter, how much was it elevated?

7) How heavy is the camera/lens package compared to the weight of the tripod?

8) Is the pano base rated for the load it was carrying? RRS products usually have adequated load capacity.

9) How well was the camera/lens package balanced ( front to back) on the tripod mount?

10) Is the tripod rated for the camera/lens etc. load it was carrying? Remember: In addition to pitch and roll, tripods are subject to wind-induced yaw (torsional) movement, depending on wind angle and strength. This can be a problem with a heavy, unbalanced load, on an elevated center column, on an under-rated tripod in a strong wind, etc. The movement may be imperceptible to you, but the camera/lens will record it.

11) I can't tell from the image: Is the movement horizontal or vertical?

12) Can you recall the above conditions when you achieved sharp images with this configuration?

If it isn't camera movement during exposure, it may be a focus issue that we can explore next if necessary.

I'm out of questions for now ...

Regards,

HBB in Phoenix, Arizona
Nikonian Team Member

Photography is a journey with no conceivable destination.

  

Alert Printer-friendly copy | Reply | Reply with quote | Top

    
bobpilot Silver Member Nikonian since 08th May 2007Tue 29-Jan-13 08:50 PM
3226 posts Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin    Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this authorClick to view this author's profile
#3. "RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle"
In response to Reply # 1
Tue 29-Jan-13 08:51 PM by bobpilot

Washington, US
          

>The whole image appears a bit soft to me.

Yes to me as well; the image is enlarged in View to 1:1
>
>A few questions:
>
>1) What was the camera to subject distance?

20 feet, maybe 25.

>
>2) Were you using the center focus point?

Yes, or a point near to it.

>
>3) What was the focus target?

The bolt

>
>4) I assume you were using autofocus, correct?

Yes

>
>5) Was the wind blowing? If yes, how strong?

No wind, the camera was set on carpet (hmmm) in my living room and the shot was made through the patio door. (the door was open)

>
>6) Was the camera/lens configuration mounted on the tripod
>base plate, or was it elevated using the center column? If
>the latter, how much was it elevated?

base plate

>
>7) How heavy is the camera/lens package compared to the weight
>of the tripod?

The tripod is more than adequate as is the support package for the lens.


>
>8) Is the pano base rated for the load it was carrying? RRS
>products usually have adequated load capacity.


Yes

>
>9) How well was the camera/lens package balanced ( front to
>back) on the tripod mount?


balanced so that I could have the tilt loose and it did not move; it was centered.

>
>10) Is the tripod rated for the camera/lens etc. load it was
>carrying? Remember: In addition to pitch and roll, tripods are
>subject to wind-induced yaw (torsional) movement, depending on
>wind angle and strength. This can be a problem with a heavy,
>unbalanced load, on an elevated center column, on an
>under-rated tripod in a strong wind, etc. The movement may be
>imperceptible to you, but the camera/lens will record it.

Tripod is adequate, load balanced, no wind.

>
>11) I can't tell from the image: Is the movement horizontal
>or vertical?
>

I do not know.


>12) Can you recall the above conditions when you achieved
>sharp images with this configuration?

random, as far as I know.

>
>If it isn't camera movement during exposure, it may be a focus
>issue that we can explore next if necessary.
>
>I'm out of questions for now ...


I paid a lot of money for this 600mm lens, it better not be a lens problem. If it is, and if it needs repair, then I need to get on this now to have it ready for Yellowstone.

I followed the advice of Moose Peterson and had the gimbal head loose, I watched his videos and set my system just like he did. hmmm, maybe that is not a good idea. I'll take a few more pics with the head locked. That might be the issue. If so, then how does he do it?

Bear in mind, this is the best of the group; the others are blurry









Attachment #1, (jpg file)
Attachment #2, (jpg file)
Attachment #3, (jpg file)

  

Alert Printer-friendly copy | Reply | Reply with quote | Top

backpacker24 Silver Member Nikonian since 26th Dec 2003Tue 29-Jan-13 08:47 PM
74 posts Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin    Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this authorClick to view this author's profileClick to send message via AOL IM
#2. "RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle"
In response to Reply # 0


Nevada, US
          

The previous post covers a lot of good ground. I think your tripod may be a little light for that lens/camera combination I think that Gitzo recommends their series 3 tripods up to 400mm. I've used a 600mm/D3s on a Gitzo series 3. It can work, but if things are a little unsteady or if the wind is blowing much, things can get a bit soft. I'm unfamiliar with the head you're using. I've used mine with a Wimberley II, which works ok.

Hope this helps,
Craig

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

  

Alert Printer-friendly copy | Reply | Reply with quote | Top

    
bobpilot Silver Member Nikonian since 08th May 2007Tue 29-Jan-13 08:53 PM
3226 posts Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin    Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this authorClick to view this author's profile
#4. "RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle"
In response to Reply # 2
Wed 30-Jan-13 03:57 AM by bobpilot

Washington, US
          

Oh great! I do not want to buy another tripod.

Edit: I am considering buying a Series 5. There is not point to go without the right equipment.

  

Alert Printer-friendly copy | Reply | Reply with quote | Top

        
Jim Pearce Silver Member Nikonian since 02nd Mar 2004Tue 29-Jan-13 09:27 PM
4397 posts Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin    Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this authorClick to view this author's profile
#5. "I don't think it's your tripod Bob...."
In response to Reply # 4
Tue 29-Jan-13 09:29 PM by Jim Pearce

Grimsby, CA
          

I shoot with my 500 f4 AF-S & TC-14E on a 3 series all of the time. You should have about .5" of DOF front and back with that setup - 1" total. I'd try autofocus fine tuning to see if you can get it sharp. You might start with a ruler at 45 degrees to get a better idea as to whether you're back focusing or front focusing.

Jim

  

Alert Printer-friendly copy | Reply | Reply with quote | Top

            
bobpilot Silver Member Nikonian since 08th May 2007Tue 29-Jan-13 09:42 PM
3226 posts Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin    Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this authorClick to view this author's profile
#6. "RE: I don't think it's your tripod Bob...."
In response to Reply # 5


Washington, US
          

I spoke with Brady and RRS and he agrees that my base is fine.

I also talked to a person at Authorized Nikon Repair and he suggested it might be the camera or body. Of course, he is in the repair business.

I wish I could have a photographer use this set up and take some photos; I'd like to determine if it is me or the gear. It's too easy to blame the gear.

  

Alert Printer-friendly copy | Reply | Reply with quote | Top

                
Jim Pearce Silver Member Nikonian since 02nd Mar 2004Tue 29-Jan-13 10:11 PM
4397 posts Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin    Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this authorClick to view this author's profile
#7. "Shoot a ruler at 45 degrees Bob..."
In response to Reply # 6


Grimsby, CA
          

And then we can talk. I think that some back or front focus should be your first suspect here. If no point of maximum sharpness shows on the ruler, then you know it's more serious. If it is focus calibration and serious you might have to send both the lens and the body to Nikon. But it might be a minor AF fine tune.

Jim

  

Alert Printer-friendly copy | Reply | Reply with quote | Top

        
HBB Moderator Hal is an expert in several areas, including CLS Awarded for his excellent article contributions to the Resources. Charter MemberTue 29-Jan-13 10:13 PM
8443 posts Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin    Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this authorClick to view this author's profile
#8. "RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle"
In response to Reply # 4
Tue 29-Jan-13 10:15 PM by HBB

Phoenix, US
          

Bob:

I think Craig may be onto something.

My copy of the 2008 Gitzo catalog shows the Series 3 tripods suitable for lenses up to 300 mm focal length. Series 4 tripods are rated for 400 mm, and Series 5 for 500 mm. The chart does not extend to 600 mm focal length. These limits are a function of torsional rigidity.

The Nikon 300 mm lens weighs 6.4 pounds, and the 600 mm F/4.0 weighs 11.2 pounds. Add the weight of the D3S camera (2.75 pounds) and the RRS pano system to the 600 mm lens, and your are probably at something over sixteen pounds or so, which is well within the maximum load limits for the Gitzo Series 3 tripods: 26.4 pounds for aluminum legs, and 39.6 pounds for the carbon fiber legs.

As mentioned above, torsional rigidity may be an issue here, particularly if the tripod is extended to its full height. Is the tripod a three or four section leg model? The 600 mm lens has a field of view (FX format) of 4.17 degrees. If you can examine the original image above to see if the apparent movement is lateral, we may have narrowed the issue down to possible torsional movement.

Before you purchase another heavier tripod, can you repeat the test with the configuration on a concrete slab? Then capture a series of identical images (same subject and subject to lens distance, etc.) with the tripod legs at different extensions, from the shortest, collapsed configuration, to fully extended. Start with all sections fully extended, then collapse them one at a time until they are all collapsed. Examine the images at 100 percent (actual pixels) on screen and see if you can identify the configation that begins to show image blur. And, is it blurred in roll, pitch, or yaw? (It may be difficult to distinguish between roll and yaw.)

Is your location subject to heavy truck, bus, or other vehicle traffic? Our house backs up to a fairly busy arterial road and I can feel the vibration in the floor when a heavy truck goes thundering by.

If this exercise is inconclusive, we may have to look at focus issues. I assume that this issue has occurred with the 600 mm lens only, correct?

Regards,

HBB in Phoenix, Arizona
Nikonian Team Member

Photography is a journey with no conceivable destination.

  

Alert Printer-friendly copy | Reply | Reply with quote | Top

            
Jim Pearce Silver Member Nikonian since 02nd Mar 2004Tue 29-Jan-13 10:25 PM
4397 posts Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin    Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this authorClick to view this author's profile
#9. "There's no need for this..."
In response to Reply # 8
Tue 29-Jan-13 10:28 PM by Jim Pearce

Grimsby, CA
          

All he needs to do is crank up the ISO and shutter speed to eliminate vibration as a suspect. Shoot at say 1/1000, and maybe mirror lockup with remote or the self-tmer.

Jim

  

Alert Printer-friendly copy | Reply | Reply with quote | Top

                
bobpilot Silver Member Nikonian since 08th May 2007Tue 29-Jan-13 10:46 PM
3226 posts Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin    Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this authorClick to view this author's profile
#10. "RE: There's no need for this..."
In response to Reply # 9


Washington, US
          

I shot a ruler at 45, forgot to use mirror up. do you want to see the image at 1:1? Or may I post them on my web page? Or should I post them here?

  

Alert Printer-friendly copy | Reply | Reply with quote | Top

                    
Jim Pearce Silver Member Nikonian since 02nd Mar 2004Tue 29-Jan-13 10:54 PM
4397 posts Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin    Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this authorClick to view this author's profile
#11. "Post them here Bob..."
In response to Reply # 10


Grimsby, CA
          

Do you see a sharp spot on the ruler?

Jim

  

Alert Printer-friendly copy | Reply | Reply with quote | Top

                        
bobpilot Silver Member Nikonian since 08th May 2007Tue 29-Jan-13 11:00 PM
3226 posts Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin    Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this authorClick to view this author's profile
#13. "RE: Post them here Bob..."
In response to Reply # 11


Washington, US
          

Nope, it's all soft; or is it? I need some other eyes to look at this.

Here is my ruler shot; viewed at 1:1


Attachment #1, (jpg file)

  

Alert Printer-friendly copy | Reply | Reply with quote | Top

                            
Jim Pearce Silver Member Nikonian since 02nd Mar 2004Tue 29-Jan-13 11:12 PM
4397 posts Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin    Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this authorClick to view this author's profile
#15. "Sorry, shoot wide open Bob..."
In response to Reply # 13
Tue 29-Jan-13 11:19 PM by Jim Pearce

Grimsby, CA
          

And turn down the ISO to 2000. You've got too much DOF here - and too much noise! And turn that ruler - it looks too straight to me!

Jim

  

Alert Printer-friendly copy | Reply | Reply with quote | Top

                
HBB Moderator Hal is an expert in several areas, including CLS Awarded for his excellent article contributions to the Resources. Charter MemberTue 29-Jan-13 11:03 PM
8443 posts Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin    Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this authorClick to view this author's profile
#14. "RE: There's no need for this..."
In response to Reply # 9


Phoenix, US
          

Jim:

Thanks for your contributions to this thread. With enough heads together, I'm sure we can help Bob.

Agreed: faster shutter speed may quickly identify a vibration issue ... unless it is a focus issue as others have suggested.

In Bob's initial post, he indicated he was shooting at 1/500 second, which is a bit slow if we believe in the 1/focal length rule of thumb for shutter speed.

If I were going to take that configuration to a national park for some wildlife images, I would like to be able to shoot in low light situations, at maximum aperture when necessary, where faster shutter speeds are not possible. I would also like to shoot at base ISO and RAW format for maximum image quality. These conditions require a very stable platform and excellent long-lens technique.

True confession time: I tend to overkill when faced with challenges like this.

Thanks again for joining the discussion.

Regards,

HBB in Phoenix, Arizona
Nikonian Team Member

Photography is a journey with no conceivable destination.

  

Alert Printer-friendly copy | Reply | Reply with quote | Top

                    
bobpilot Silver Member Nikonian since 08th May 2007Tue 29-Jan-13 11:21 PM
3226 posts Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin    Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this authorClick to view this author's profile
#16. "RE: There's no need for this..."
In response to Reply # 14


Washington, US
          

I appreciate all input and ideas. Thank you

Here is the same shot in the previous post with the ruler. That shot was a screen capture of the image in VIEW.

Here is the same image, not a screen shot, from Lightroom:

Cropped:



Cropped to match (close I hope) to 1:1:





Attachment #1, (jpg file)
Attachment #2, (jpg file)

  

Alert Printer-friendly copy | Reply | Reply with quote | Top

                        
HBB Moderator Hal is an expert in several areas, including CLS Awarded for his excellent article contributions to the Resources. Charter MemberWed 30-Jan-13 12:05 AM
8443 posts Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin    Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this authorClick to view this author's profile
#19. "RE: There's no need for this..."
In response to Reply # 16
Wed 30-Jan-13 12:08 AM by HBB

Phoenix, US
          

Bob:

I suspect that those suggesting you shoot something (a 12 inch ruler for example) at a 45 degree angle mean the following:

1) Place camera/lens configuration on tripod as above.

2) Place 12 inch ruler, or yard stick, at a 45 degree angle relative to the sensor plane of the camera, and parallel with the lens axis, at a subject to lens distance that fills the image with the ruler/yardstick.

3) Open the lens up to maximum aperture.

4) Focus on the midpoint of the ruler (6 inches) or yardstick (18 inches) and capture an image.

5) Look at the image at "actual pixels" on screen and see if the sharpest part of the image is at the 6 inch or 18 inch point. If the midpoint of the ruler/yardstick is the sharpest point of the image, this probably rules out a focus issue. If the sharpest point of the image is ahead of the midpoint, you may have a near focus issue: the lens is actually focusing closer than indicated in the view finder. If the sharpest point of the image is behind the midpoint, you may have a far focus issue: the lens is actually focusing beyond the point indicated in the view finder. Either of these may possibly be be fixed by a fine focus adjustment in the camera, unless there is a problem with the lens that is beyond the range of fine focus adjustments.

Hope this helps explain things a bit.

Neil is our resident guru in these matters ... you are in good hands.

Regards,

HBB in Phoenix, Arizona
Nikonian Team Member

Photography is a journey with no conceivable destination.

  

Alert Printer-friendly copy | Reply | Reply with quote | Top

            
bobpilot Silver Member Nikonian since 08th May 2007Tue 29-Jan-13 10:54 PM
3226 posts Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin    Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this authorClick to view this author's profile
#12. "RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle"
In response to Reply # 8
Wed 30-Jan-13 03:55 AM by bobpilot

Washington, US
          

>
>My copy of the 2008 Gitzo catalog shows the Series 3 tripods
>suitable for lenses up to 300 mm focal length. Series 4
>tripods are rated for 400 mm, and Series 5 for 500 mm. The
>chart does not extend to 600 mm focal length. These limits
>are a function of torsional rigidity.

Does this mean that my 3500 is not adequate?

>
>The Nikon 300 mm lens weighs 6.4 pounds, and the 600 mm F/4.0
>weighs 11.2 pounds. Add the weight of the D3S camera (2.75
>pounds) and the RRS pano system to the 600 mm lens, and your
>are probably at something over sixteen pounds or so, which is
>well within the maximum load limits for the Gitzo Series 3
>tripods: 26.4 pounds for aluminum legs, and 39.6 pounds for
>the carbon fiber legs.

OK, so my tripod is adequate. I'm confused.


>
>As mentioned above, torsional rigidity may be an issue here,
>particularly if the tripod is extended to its full height. Is
>the tripod a three or four section leg model? The 600 mm lens
>has a field of view (FX format) of 4.17 degrees. If you can
>examine the original image above to see if the apparent
>movement is lateral, we may have narrowed the issue down to
>possible torsional movement.


My tripod has three section legs. Is the halo caused by vibration?
>
>Before you purchase another heavier tripod, can you repeat the
>test with the configuration on a concrete slab?

the last shots, not yet posted, was on concrete, subject was a ruler.

>Is your location subject to heavy truck, bus, or other vehicle
>traffic? Our house backs up to a fairly busy arterial road
>and I can feel the vibration in the floor when a heavy truck
>goes thundering by.

steady ground

>
>If this exercise is inconclusive, we may have to look at focus
>issues. I assume that this issue has occurred with the 600 mm
>lens only, correct?

Well, that is another test I need run; try another lens. I had focus issues with my 600 in Zion last month, but I attributed that to my technique. Last fall, I shot a Civil war reenactment, guys in battle, and got some sharp and some not sharp images. (600mm lens)


How should I post the images? my web page, which I can share here via a private link. I can crop tight, but I can't tell if the crop is a 1:1. I will also post some examples here.

  

Alert Printer-friendly copy | Reply | Reply with quote | Top

                
bobpilot Silver Member Nikonian since 08th May 2007Tue 29-Jan-13 11:55 PM
3226 posts Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin    Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this authorClick to view this author's profile
#18. "f/4 2000 ISO; 1/800"
In response to Reply # 12


Washington, US
          

The first image is a screen capture from VIEW

The second is from Lightroom







Attachment #1, (jpg file)
Attachment #2, (jpg file)

  

Alert Printer-friendly copy | Reply | Reply with quote | Top

                    
Jim Pearce Silver Member Nikonian since 02nd Mar 2004Wed 30-Jan-13 12:17 AM
4397 posts Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin    Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this authorClick to view this author's profile
#21. "Focus looks pretty good to me Bob..."
In response to Reply # 18


Grimsby, CA
          

I'm stumped. Did you try just the bolt at 1/1000 and mirror lockup at the original DOF? If that shot looks fuzzy too then we can eliminate tripod vibration.

Jim

  

Alert Printer-friendly copy | Reply | Reply with quote | Top

                        
bobpilot Silver Member Nikonian since 08th May 2007Wed 30-Jan-13 12:28 AM
3226 posts Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin    Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this authorClick to view this author's profile
#22. "RE: Focus looks pretty good to me Bob..."
In response to Reply # 21


Washington, US
          

Nope, I switched to the ruler. It's dark now, more tomorrow.

So, if the focus is good here, then is my support all right? it seems so. So, then why are the other shots not in focus, the bolt, the wall?

I'll start over with testing tomorrow. I want to determine the problem soon, so if it is a lens problem I have time to send it in.

  

Alert Printer-friendly copy | Reply | Reply with quote | Top

        
backpacker24 Silver Member Nikonian since 26th Dec 2003Wed 30-Jan-13 01:08 AM
74 posts Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin    Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this authorClick to view this author's profileClick to send message via AOL IM
#23. "RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle"
In response to Reply # 4


Nevada, US
          

Sorry. I wasn't trying to add to your anxiety, just relating my experience. I've shot a lot with a series 3 and lenses up to 600mm, but I wasn't as successful at first as I am now. It takes practice to shoot the long glass well.

I think Moose's shooting techniques are great, especially for Moose. They may or may not work well for you. I don't keep my gimbal all loose, but instead keep a slight bit of tension on all the movements. I just works better for me. I don't use the "roll the finger" technique on the shutter either, but then I've always been pretty good at gently pressing the shutter button. I think you need to experiment to find out what works the best for you. I also know that's really difficult with this trip coming right up.

Others here are giving you really good advice in troubleshooting the problem. My advice is to follow their lead, eliminating only one variable at a time. But most of all, I advise that you don't fret about this so much that you don't enjoy Yellowstone. It's a magical place in winter. My guess is that you'll get good shots, and some bad ones. That's how it usually works for me, anyway.

Above all, don't give up. You'll work it out.

Best of luck,
Craig

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

  

Alert Printer-friendly copy | Reply | Reply with quote | Top

nrothschild Silver Member Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Nikonian since 25th Jul 2004Tue 29-Jan-13 11:39 PM
10907 posts Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin    Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this authorClick to view this author's profile
#17. "RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle"
In response to Reply # 0


US
          

I think you need to take a problem solving/process of elimination approach. Do whatever makes sensible order, considering inconvenience and/or time.

1. You are shooting from inside a home, presumably around 65-72F ambient to outside more like 30 degrees ambient. That is a 40 degree difference and that can easily result in a mirage effect. Shoot outside and give your lens an hour to cool down before shooting. Once cooled down leave it outside if possible until all tests are done for the day.

This is actually at the top of my likely list of suspects, and the easiest for you to test.

2. I would shoot something on a 45d angle and post it here. Two things to test... 1) Doesn't matter where you focus; you want to see if *something* is in focus. If something is in focus then you need to figure out where it's focusing. As Jim says, DOF at 25' is quite thin although that is about where you can expect the sharpest images, strictly based on image quality and without regard for focus accuracy.

3. In your profile you list an "RRS SB55". I assume you mean a BH-55 head. If you have that head, swap it in, but use the long lens support (can't hurt). Eliminate the gimbal. I have never shot that gimbal so I have no opinion of it. I would like to try one out some day.

Just for your sanity, never look to RRS to tell you that their gear might or might not be quite up to snuff for any given application. I've had that conversation (regarding that Long Lens Support). Trust me on that one.

4. If you shoot hands off, in Mup mode, with a MINIMUM 5 second delay you will get the sharpest image possible, assuming no wind. Which may be tough this time of year but this stuff is never easy. The slightest puff of wind will nullify that test (especially on a Series 3). I actually test my 500/4 indoors solely because of this problem, even though the working space is difficult to deal with.

5. If you can, try a Series 5. You don't want to buy another tripod but the lens does not care what you think or want:-). The Series 3 is marginal, to the extent that it takes more skill and daring than a Series 5. I get about 50-70% consistency on a Series 3 with a 500/4 working 700-850mm.

But I didn't buy the lens last week for a trip across country next week. It takes time to perfect the technique - more like months or years, not days. A Series 5 would likely speed that up. Your decision there.

6. That image was with VR off. You might want to try VR on to find if all those guys that dumped their AFS lenses for the VR model knew what they were doing. I have no firm opinion, my 500 is AFS, not VR. It's a tool in your box, try it.

7. I would NOT shoot hands on with exposure delay. I mean literally *I*. Whenever I have done that, or shot with Mup by accident that way my timing is thrown off. Perhaps it is because I just don't shoot that way and not accustomed to the delay.

I have some reason to believe that exposure delay mode does not accomplish anything when using hands on Long Lens Technique. Rather than argue out the details I'm just suggesting that as part of your process of elimination try standard S mode when hands on, and a long Mup when hands off with a remote. You need to spend the time, experimenting with different techniques, to see what works for *you*.

8. If you want to take a 1.5- 2 hr drive, send me an email or PM. I'd be happy to meet up with you at a local nature park to check things out as best I can. You can also try my 500/4 and Wimberly on my Series 3, and we can trade results. That might help separate potential gear trouble from technique. We would need to pick a low wind day; I'm fairly flexible. You should be comfortable eliminating focus or optical issues before we do that.

_________________________________
Neil


my Nikonians gallery.

  

Alert Printer-friendly copy | Reply | Reply with quote | Top

    
bobpilot Silver Member Nikonian since 08th May 2007Wed 30-Jan-13 12:15 AM
3226 posts Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin    Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this authorClick to view this author's profile
#20. "RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle"
In response to Reply # 17


Washington, US
          

It's getting dark, more test tomorrow.

Just a few quick replies. The folks at RRS said my support is fine, they didn't try to sell me anything and instead took the time to try to help me with the problem.

For the last two tests I was outside.

By hands on and hands off; do you mean with my had resting on the lens? I never liked that technique, but that's what Moose P. recommends so I tried it.

I did not try Mup and will do so, with timer delay tomorrow.

The 600 has two settings, VR OFF and TRIPOD

My last two posts are of the ruler at 45, or at least more of an angle.

This is not my time using this lens. I used it for Civil War enactment battles (some sharp images) and I used in Zion last month. Although, in Zion all my images were soft, just like the ones posted here.

Well, I could buy another tripod, and sell one. RRS now carries a full line of pods. Again, they said my support was fine. The 600 on a ballhead? Uh, that's more courage than I have; too hard to handle. The RRS full gimbal works well, and the long lens support adds a some support at the end.

Here are some photos of the end of the RRS long lens support. With this, do you think I need to rest my hand on the lens? I think not, but I have no knowledge to base that on.








Attachment #1, (jpg file)
Attachment #2, (jpg file)

  

Alert Printer-friendly copy | Reply | Reply with quote | Top

        
nrothschild Silver Member Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Nikonian since 25th Jul 2004Wed 30-Jan-13 01:54 AM
10907 posts Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin    Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this authorClick to view this author's profile
#24. "RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle"
In response to Reply # 20
Wed 30-Jan-13 02:06 AM by nrothschild

US
          

Before I forget if you have not done so already, buy a spike kit for the Gitzo and always use it, whenever possible.

Spikes do NOT help when shooting from concrete or other hard surfaces like a gravel driveway or parking area. Nor sandy or marshy terrain. But for any dirt substructure (especially grass) they are golden. They come with rubber tips that pop on and off (without tools) as needed.

Spikes will do more for your support than any other accessory, including that Long Lens Support.

>Just a few quick replies. The folks at RRS said my support is
>fine, they didn't try to sell me anything and instead took the
>time to try to help me with the problem.

You talked to a different guy. The guy I talked to tried to sell me a TVC-33, insisting that unless everything I used was RRS I would not get the results I was after. I then offered to direct him to my web site, where I have posted the images and methodology proving my 4 section Series 3 Gitzo met or beat the TVC-33. I needed to do that to get the conversation back on track.

Let me try another approach- you had a nice conversation with RRS and you are still having problems. So you need to look elsewhere for your solution.

>
>For the last two tests I was outside.
>
>By hands on and hands off; do you mean with my had resting on
>the lens? I never liked that technique, but that's what Moose
>P. recommends so I tried it.

Moose is right, especially since, like me, he is an avid birder. It would be very unproductive to demand a songbird stay perched while you execute a 5 second mirror up operation.

Beyond that, a Series 3 will never hold your lens steady in even the slightest wind. So you can either shoot only on dead calm days, or behind a tall wind break, or learn to love Long Lens Technique. I suggest the latter.

For testing though, especially indoors, Mup is very useful to remove the human element and this is very important here. If outdoor temps were closer to indoor ambient you could hide indoors and shoot your outdoor target.

>I did not try Mup and will do so, with timer delay tomorrow.

Just to be clear, with Mup you are not using the self timer. You press the shutter once to raise the mirror, wait 5-10 seconds, and then press a 2nd time to fire the shutter.

>The 600 has two settings, VR OFF and TRIPOD

Try TRIPOD. That is Tripod enabled VR mode (I guess the only VR mode available on that lens).

>My last two posts are of the ruler at 45, or at least more of
>an angle.
>
>This is not my time using this lens. I used it for Civil War
>enactment battles (some sharp images) and I used in Zion last
>month. Although, in Zion all my images were soft, just like
>the ones posted here.

I did say it could take months or years rather than days ...

>Well, I could buy another tripod, and sell one. RRS now
>carries a full line of pods. Again, they said my support was
>fine.

See above. They make good gear. They really like to sell that gear. But they did not solve your problem.

As I mentioned above, I own a 4 section GT3541LS. I tested it against their current best- the TVC-33. My series 3 met or beat their TVC-33. They were indistinguishable in a tap test. Your 3 section Series 3 performs marginally better than my 4 section and I would expect it to more firmly beat the TVC-33.

If you want to squint at some test charts, my test results are here. I went into the tests fully expecting the TVC-33 to absolutely kill my tripod, and I wanted it to kill it because the idea of a significantly better tripod that weighed no more than mine was very attractive, to say the least.

A Series 5 tap tests far, far better than my tripod. A TVC-33 will not solve that part of the problem, nor any other RRS tripod.

I believe that tap tests most closely model the aspects of tripod performance most important for users of Long Lens Technique.

All that wiggling and jiggling you see through the viewfinder while you are trying to use Long Lens Technique is well modeled by a tap test. A tap test of 3-5 seconds, as you will likely observe, is consistent with moderately difficult Long Lens Technique.

A tap test closer to 1 second is far better and results in far less visible jiggling. Better than 1s would be even better but that is probably too much to ask for, short of a concrete pier or perhaps a Schactler tripod.

Edit: yes, for best results you MUST rest your left hand on the lens. With a 600 you may need to push down because the lens foot is not well situated for "resting your hand on the lens" as I can do with my 500. I think that is one major benefit of the 500/4.

Do a tap test with and without your left hand on the lens, both resting and also pushing down a bit. You will find the pressure required to best damp the vibrations.

> The 600 on a ballhead? Uh, that's more courage than I
>have; too hard to handle. The RRS full gimbal works well, and
>the long lens support adds a some support at the end.

Why does it take courage to put that lens on a ballhead? I've always found my 500 to handle much easier on my Markins heads, it just isn't as easy and fast to reframe. But my Markins heads are slightly more stable than my Wimberly and that is why I suggest trying it.

A ballhead is not a good working solution for that lens, but it is a critical part of my process of elimination to determine if your problem is gear or technique.

>Here are some photos of the end of the RRS long lens support.
>With this, do you think I need to rest my hand on the lens? I
>think not, but I have no knowledge to base that on.

You need to do some tap tests...

1. set your tripod indoors to hide from the wind, and use your outdoor target. You won't be shooting any images. Aim the tripod and lock down the gimbal.

2. While looking through the viewfinder (but without touching it with your head or eyebrow!) give either end (lens hood or camera body) a stiff tap with your forefinger.

3. Count how long, in seconds, it takes to settle. I would guess 5+ seconds, especially on rubber feet as you will likely use indoors even if you have spikes.

4. Now remove the long lens support, clamp your lens foot directly to the gimbal, and repeat.

I predict the results with and without the long lens support will be difficult to distinguish and you may literally need to use an accurate stop watch to consistently determine a difference and you will have to be absolutely clear in your mind exactly when the "lens fully settles" because the closer you look the longer they last

My GT3541LS and 500/4 settle in 3-5 seconds with rubber feet on my concrete patio. Performance on spikes over grass turf seems to vary depending on the moisture in the soil, but I've seen as good as 1 second out in the field, down to about 3 seconds. Even my worst case performance is far, far better.

I have tested my setup against a Series 5 with my lens and same gimbal. At the time I clocked the Series 5 at one second flat, which was a phenomenal performance compared to my Series 3.

Unfortunately I did that before I became fully aware of the benefit of spikes and I could never recall what was on the feet of that Series 5 or the exact terrain we shot on. All I know for sure is that one second is relatively fantastic, regardless of what surface or what was on the feet.

Back to the long lens support. That apparatus does only ONE thing, and that is to stabilize any vibration emanating from the lens collar or the lens foot. It does not and cannot mitigate vibrations coming from the gimbal or the tripod.

Now take a long hard look at your setup. Where do you think most of the vibrations are coming from? The lens foot/collar or the tripod and head?

Remove your lens from the tripod. Tilt it back a bit on two legs. Grab the 3rd leg around the middle and twist back and forth. Measure the flex.

Now do that with your lens foot and tell me where the flex comes from.

RRS is one of the greatest marketing firms in the photo biz. And the best they can say is that "improves performance up to a 15% resolution improvement". "Up To" are the operative words, and that is coming from the greatest and most effusive marketing department in the biz.

One thing the Long Lens Support does probably do very well is to allow you to shoot with the collar loose as long as you set the front lens support foot tight against the lens. But it will not turn a Series 3 into a Series 5.

I am assuming that your 600/4 collar and foot are not significantly less sturdy than my 500/4 AFS. If the collar/foot were significantly less sturdy then it would follow that the LLS would provide more of an improvement.

I've been shooting the Long Lens Support for over a year now. I'm very confident in my conclusions here.

I want to repeat, your best investment right now, with a Series 3 or 5, is a set of spikes if you do not already use them. And the same spike kit fits both Series so no possible loss there.

_________________________________
Neil


my Nikonians gallery.

  

Alert Printer-friendly copy | Reply | Reply with quote | Top

            
bobpilot Silver Member Nikonian since 08th May 2007Wed 30-Jan-13 03:16 AM
3226 posts Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin    Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this authorClick to view this author's profile
#25. "RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle"
In response to Reply # 24
Wed 30-Jan-13 03:47 AM by bobpilot

Washington, US
          

Thank you; I read your post twice and I'll read it again tomorrow; then I'll a tap test (after my dental visit to get a crown put on a back molar)

Let me see if I captured what you said:

1. Get spikes. Do you mean these: B&H # GIGS5030VSF ?
Or these: B&H # GIG1220129L3

I found B&H# GIG1410130B3 for the Series 5. (This means that I am considering a new tripod)

2. Test to find out where the vibration is coming from; legs, head, lens foot.

3. Use long lens technique: hand on lens, Mup (for test, but not practical in field)

4. I am confused about what you meant about the Long Lens Support. You stated, "I predict the results with and without the long lens support will be difficult to distinguish . . ." So, is the Long Lens support of not much improvement in stablity? Later you said you use it; does it help?

This little adventure to Yellowstone will cost me a significant amount of money; hotel, guide, transportation, meals, cold-weather clothes. If I have to buy a new tripod, I will. I don't want to spend the money and come home with images that are not sharp; if a new tripod will resolve this issue then that's what I'll do.

If I can't get a sharp image, every time, or at least most of the time at home on a concrete slab, taking photos of a ruler on a stable platform, I am not going to get good images on an icy path, in bitter cold with wind blowing. If a new tripod will improve the odds, the that's what I'll do.

  

Alert Printer-friendly copy | Reply | Reply with quote | Top

                
nrothschild Silver Member Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Nikonian since 25th Jul 2004Wed 30-Jan-13 03:56 AM
10907 posts Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin    Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this authorClick to view this author's profile
#26. "RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle"
In response to Reply # 25
Wed 30-Jan-13 03:59 AM by nrothschild

US
          

>> 3. Use long lens technique: hand on lens, Mup (for test, but not practical in field)

Just for clarity, you want to use Mup only with a remote, hands off the tripod.

Use Long Lens Technique (obviously) when shooting hands on, and then in S mode although if you do better than I do with Exposure Delay mode, feel free .

>> 4. I am confused about what you meant about the Long Lens Support. You stated, "I predict the results with and without the long lens support will be difficult to distinguish . . ." So, is the Long Lens support of not much improvement in stablity? Later you said you use it; does it help?

I am saying it is a marginal benefit. I don't think it is a game changer. At best it might have bumped my consistency up a bit, maybe from 50% to 60-65% or something like that.

It is obviously not a solution to your problem because you are using it now and we are here talking about your sharpness problems

I use it mainly because it gives me a stable platform with a loose collar that lets me quickly switch to portrait orientation and back.

There are situations where it causes problems (with my Think Tank Hydrophobia for example) and then I don't use it and don't think I am losing a lot of performance.

Edit: let me put it another way... given a choice of a Series 3 + LLS or a Series 5 without, it's a slam dunk no-brainer. Series 5 wins by a mile.

>> This little adventure to Yellowstone will cost me a significant amount of money; hotel, guide, transportation, meals, cold-weather clothes. If I have to buy a new tripod, I will. I don't want to spend the money and come home with images that are not sharp; if a new tripod will resolve this issue then that's what I'll do.

Forgetting your trip expenses for the moment...

If you can't afford the tip you can't afford the meal.

The cost of a Series 5 is just about a standard tip relative to the cost of that lens. And a man with a lens like that should be eating in better restaurants anyway, where, as I understand it, the standard tip is considered chincy

The only issue with a Series 5 for a 600 is not the cost, it is the extra few pounds of weight, plus the larger mount is more difficult to shoulder unless you have very broad shoulders.

Get to know the tap test, and try to understand what it is telling you, and then get a Series 5, preferably from some place with a decent return privilege. If I'm wrong and you do not see a very significant difference, return it.

_________________________________
Neil


my Nikonians gallery.

  

Alert Printer-friendly copy | Reply | Reply with quote | Top

                
nrothschild Silver Member Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Nikonian since 25th Jul 2004Wed 30-Jan-13 04:17 AM
10907 posts Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin    Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this authorClick to view this author's profile
#27. "RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle"
In response to Reply # 25


US
          

As far as the specific Series 5, historically there was really only one choice, what is now the GT5542LS. Don't worry about 3 section verses 4, the bottom section of that Series 5 is 28mm, the same as the 2nd section in your Series 3. The GT5542LS goes to 60" height, which is on the high end of the standard eye level tripods.

You now have a new and interesting option, the GT5562GTS, which goes to 109". It is a 6 section.

You probably don't want to haul 6 sections (and some significant weight) around in the field; it's likely overkill. But you can remove one or more sections and add optional feet to turn it into almost exactly a GT5542LS, among other possible configurations.

It is an interesting option if you have some other occasional need for a very high, but still decently stable tripod. You might be able to shoot airplanes in flight, with a wing level perspective, while everyone else is getting belly shots

_________________________________
Neil


my Nikonians gallery.

  

Alert Printer-friendly copy | Reply | Reply with quote | Top

                    
backpacker24 Silver Member Nikonian since 26th Dec 2003Wed 30-Jan-13 04:43 AM
74 posts Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin    Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this authorClick to view this author's profileClick to send message via AOL IM
#28. "RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle"
In response to Reply # 27
Wed 30-Jan-13 05:08 AM by backpacker24

Nevada, US
          

Just a thought. You may be able to rent the series 5 tripod for your trip. I'd check with someone like lensprotogo.com to see if they could fix you up. I've rented long glass from them before and had a very positive experience, I have no affiliation with them, I'm just a satisfied customer.

Oops. Sorry. I just checked with 3 different online rental houses, and none had a series 5 Gitzo.

Oh well. it was worth a try.,
Craig

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

  

Alert Printer-friendly copy | Reply | Reply with quote | Top

                        
bobpilot Silver Member Nikonian since 08th May 2007Wed 30-Jan-13 05:09 AM
3226 posts Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin    Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this authorClick to view this author's profile
#29. "RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle"
In response to Reply # 28


Washington, US
          

If I decide to use a series five, I'll buy a new one. If I can sell my series three that will reduce the effective cost for the series five. .

  

Alert Printer-friendly copy | Reply | Reply with quote | Top

        
nrothschild Silver Member Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Nikonian since 25th Jul 2004Wed 30-Jan-13 08:38 PM
10907 posts Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin    Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this authorClick to view this author's profile
#31. "RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle"
In response to Reply # 20


US
          

Hi Bob,

I want to add one more thought...

Most people that use a 500/4 through 600/4 are birders and they generally shoot very regularly. As often as weekly, and generally at least once a month.

I get the sense that you've owned this lens for awhile now but you only use it very sporadically, during relatively short trips.

I think you will find that the skills needed to master this lens, and to start to understand sharpness issues as best any of us can, are acquired through regular use, where technique and gear can be steadily tweaked and progress monitored.

That may or may not fit well with your plans and usage, but I think it is something to consider. It takes more than a few days in the back yard to master it. You might consider doing some regular birding, for the practice if nothing else. Or sports of course, if that works well. Anything that gets you out in the real world with that lens.

_________________________________
Neil


my Nikonians gallery.

  

Alert Printer-friendly copy | Reply | Reply with quote | Top

            
bobpilot Silver Member Nikonian since 08th May 2007Wed 30-Jan-13 09:16 PM
3226 posts Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin    Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this authorClick to view this author's profile
#32. "RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle"
In response to Reply # 31


Washington, US
          

You are right. I bought this lens for a trip last year to Yellowstone, and then was not able to go on the trip. I have used it only a few times. If it takes years to master it, and dedication, then I am not sure this lens is for me. I have other issues in my life that need attention. What makes this lens so difficult?

Of course, now I have to decide to go to Yellowstone or not. The other approach is to go to Yellowstone as planned and enjoy the view, take photos with this and my other lenses, and not worry so much about taking perfect photos.

Even so, a new tripod might help.

Bob

  

Alert Printer-friendly copy | Reply | Reply with quote | Top

                
nrothschild Silver Member Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Nikonian since 25th Jul 2004Wed 30-Jan-13 09:59 PM
10907 posts Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin    Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this authorClick to view this author's profile
#33. "RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle"
In response to Reply # 32
Wed 30-Jan-13 10:05 PM by nrothschild

US
          

>> What makes this lens so difficult?

Forget the optics and look at the geometry. It is a well designed... tuning fork .

It has a handle (the lens foot), just like a tuning fork, and like a straight sided tuning fork (not the more typical U shaped) it has two nice arms to resonate sweetly.

This is true of any collared lens, to some degree. Some people have some trouble mastering a 70-200 if that is their first collared lens. And if they do not understand the physics of a tripod, that particular lens can produce better results hand held (usually using VR) than on a tripod.

The next tiny step up is a 300/4, unless it is shot at 500 or 600mm with a TC (as most people do because most users are birders). That can take a little time.

The next step up woould be your 200-400 or a 300/2.8 working a TC. I suspect you did not get perfect results with that lens out of the box the first day. But while that lens is tougher than a 70-200 it is much easier than your newer 600/4.

Among the highest end 400/500/600 lenses, your 600 is usually considered the toughest of the bunch, simply because it is physically longer and heavier. If you want an efficient tuning fork you generally increase the length of the arms.

Weight is important because weight stresses the mount, and the length allows you to more easily put leverage on it, even if you don't want to. The length also adds "moment arm" which is another way to say it's a good tuning fork!

It is all a matter of degree, and this lens is at the top of the heap, in quality and relative difficulty.

I'm not trying to say this lens is beyond your ability or nearly impossible to master, but you asked, and I am trying to explain it as best I can, and on a purely relative basis compared to other lenses, especially those you have shot. You've made a very good start by starting this thread.

The good new is that once you master this lens, just about any other "normal" lens you shoot will seem like child's play. With the exception of very deep macro where all the issues I mentioned (except now usually a one sided tuning fork) apply at a microscopic level.

Since you do not plan to make an intensive hobby out of this lens, as many or most of us do, it just means you have to approach your learning curve smarter, and we are trying to help you do that.

If you do not want to make this lens an obsession, then you absolutely, positively need to get that Series 5. Many of us use less, usually a Series 3, but we are putting more time behind the lens to acquire the better skills necessary to use that tripod. You will accomplish more, and faster, with a Series 5. I am as sure of that as anything regarding what I think is a rather fuzzy and ill defined subject. It is as much art as science for us because few of us are vibration engineers. We just know what empirically works for us.

I would also suggest finding a local "duck pond" and getting in some quality time behind the lens before the trip. I have a busy local pond I use for practice and testing new gear or new ideas for technique. And this is prime duck season.

And you have the lens, you should try to use it out west.

Edit: I have talked to a number of 600/4 shooters that use Series 3's. I rarely see a Series 5 in the field. When I ask them about VR/IS they all tell me they could not shoot their lens without it. Most are Canon users simply because most of them are old timers that bought their Canon IS lenses back before Nikon had a VR model.

For that reason alone I would suggest you seriously try VR and determine if it helps or hurts. You will get varying opinions on that so you need to find out for yourself.

_________________________________
Neil


my Nikonians gallery.

  

Alert Printer-friendly copy | Reply | Reply with quote | Top

                    
bobpilot Silver Member Nikonian since 08th May 2007Thu 31-Jan-13 02:47 AM
3226 posts Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin    Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this authorClick to view this author's profile
#35. "RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle"
In response to Reply # 33


Washington, US
          

>>> What makes this lens so difficult?
>
>Forget the optics and look at the geometry. It is a well
>designed... tuning fork .

I see, thank you. I believe there is nothing wrong with the optics on my lens; I had not ruled that out until this discussion brought out the other factors. Your tuning fork analogy is the perfect way to explain the concept.

>
>Among the highest end 400/500/600 lenses, your 600 is usually
>considered the toughest of the bunch, simply because it is
>physically longer and heavier. If you want an efficient
>tuning fork you generally increase the length of the arms.


Now that I have at least a vague understanding of the concept, I hope that I can learn to adapt.

With the exception of very deep macro where all the
>issues I mentioned (except now usually a one sided tuning
>fork) apply at a microscopic level.

I did some macro photography, with a controlled setup in my dining area so I see what you mean. I rather enjoy macro.

>
>Since you do not plan to make an intensive hobby out of this
>lens, as many or most of us do, it just means you have to
>approach your learning curve smarter, and we are trying to
>help you do that.

I take pictures to have fun, but I also want to take good pictures. And I appreciate your insight and help.

>
>If you do not want to make this lens an obsession, then you
>absolutely, positively need to get that Series 5.

You hit this on the head; I want to enjoy the experience and not be worried about the equipment.


>
>Edit: I have talked to a number of 600/4 shooters that
>use Series 3's. I rarely see a Series 5 in the field. When I
>ask them about VR/IS they all tell me they could not shoot
>their lens without it. Most are Canon users simply because
>most of them are old timers that bought their Canon IS lenses
>back before Nikon had a VR model.

Why is the series five not used in the field?

>
>For that reason alone I would suggest you seriously try VR and
>determine if it helps or hurts. You will get varying opinions
>on that so you need to find out for yourself.

So far, I've used TRIPOD mode. To your point here is how a wildlife photographer described the VR modes on the 600:

"VR Performance: GREAT! I find that the VR function significantly extends the range of usefulness of this lens - whether on or off a tripod. When shooting using a tripod (moderately large Gitzo with Wimberley head) I ALWAYS use "tripod mode" except when panning birds. I have run numerous tests and have found that I virtually always get sharper results with VR on (tripod mode) than when the VR is off. When shooting off a monopod or hand-holding the lens (yes, you CAN hand-hold this lens, but not for long!) I use "normal" VR mode and have captured sharp images down to 1/100s. Note that one moose-like Nikon sponsored photographer states that the "tripod mode" of the VR should only be used when you're "absolutely locked down" - my experience is that this is NOT correct. Use Tripod mode whenever on a firm tripod (unless you're panning). Using "Normal" VR on a firm tripod CAN degrade image quality. Sorry moose - in my experience the manual IS right (and the info on your website misleading)."

So, yes, opinions vary.

I am now living in southern Utah, no duck ponds here. Zion is an hour away though.

  

Alert Printer-friendly copy | Reply | Reply with quote | Top

                
dm1dave Administrator Awarded for high level knowledge and skills in various areas, most notably in Wildlife and Landscape Writer Ribbon awarded for his excellent article contributions to the Nikonians community Nikonian since 12th Sep 2006Thu 31-Jan-13 02:21 AM
11307 posts Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin    Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this authorClick to view this author's profile
#34. "RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle"
In response to Reply # 32


Lowden, US
          

>>“Of course, now I have to decide to go to Yellowstone or not.”

Yes, go to Yellowstone! That park in the winter is a once in a lifetime experience for most people. No matter if you get 100 great shots or none at all experiencing Yellowstone in the winter is woth the trip.

>>“The other approach is to go to Yellowstone as planned and enjoy the view, take photos with this and my other lenses, and not worry so much about taking perfect photos.”

Sharpness – In my opinion uber-sharpness is way over rated. The ability to zoom into ridiculously high magnifications and the constant pressure exerted by our “peers” over the internet have caused us to become obsessed with sharpness to the point that loose site of what makes a great photograph.

Reading the internet, we are lead to believe that sharpness (or sometimes low noise) is the most important aspect of image quality. I respectfully disagree!

A great photograph is about combining your subject, the light and your composition to create a compelling image. If the image is not compelling or interesting or if it has no message to convey to the viewer, then it won’t matter how sharp it is – it only becomes a very sharp snapshot. On the other hand if you have an image that is a tad soft but it draws in and holds the attention of the viewer – that has the potential to be a great photograph.

Now, I strive to get the most out of my gear and I hope to get the sharpest image that I can, but I don’t worry all that much when an image is a little soft at 100% zoom. I have come to know, through experience, how sharp an image needs to be for my intended output.

Unless you print really big and then examine the print with your nose against the glass a lot of the detail and “perfect sharpness” we look for at 100% will not show in the print.

I don’t make my images for other photographers, who are the only people who closely examine photos looking for perfect sharpness and grain. I do not want the viewer’s putting their nose against the glass to examine minute details. My photographs are intended to be viewed as a whole – I want the viewer to absorb the entire composition. When we stand back and view the entire image, no matter how big it is printed, those tiny flaws that we obsess about at 100% on our computer screen just blend in and disappear.

Remember that on your computer screen at 100% zoom you are looking at a huge version of your image. My laptop screen is about 100ppi so when I view D300 image at 100% it is like looking very close at a 43 inch wide image printed at a very low resolution.

Also, I noticed that your first image, the bolt, is an unprocessed NEF shot using the Standard Picture Control. The sharpness setting is 3 in the Standard Picture Control. This is a fairly low value, it is a great start for post processing, but it is not a good judge of the sharpness that you can achieve with some basic post processing. (And No - I don’t recommend increasing the in-camera sharpness setting, sharpness is better controlled in post processing)

Try this; Take the best shot that you got of that bolt. Then post process the image, resize for printing and sharpen. Now make an 8” x 10” or even a 12” x 18.” Once you have the print/s view them in good bright light at a distance that your eye can take the entire photograph and judge your sharpness from those prints.

------------------->>>>>

Having said all of that – My advice...

Continue to work toward making images as sharp as you can - but try not to get caught up in the pursuit of (sharpness) perfection. Concentrate on capturing compelling well composed images. Your ability to consistently get very sharp shots will improve with time and experience.

When you judge sharpness – consider what you can do in post processing to increase sharpness – decide how you will eventually output (a print, on screen) the image and who the intended viewer is. Remember that you and other photographers are the only people who will be scrutinizing every little detail of the photo.

Don’t let the internet driven hype over sharpness (or making perfect images) detract from your enjoyment of the craft.

On any given day of shooting wildlife my goal is to get 1 “keeper” – anything more is a bonus. On a trip like you are planning to Yellowstone I would be more than happy to get 10 -15 above average shots and hopefully 2 or 3 truly great shots.

So, go to Yellowstone – have fun – get some shots – have more fun!

PS I agree with Neil about the 5 series tripod for the 600mm lens. The bigger tripod is not a magic bullet and it will not instantly solve all of your problems but it will help you to get more consistent results.

Dave Summers
Lowden, Iowa
Nikonians Photo Contest Director

Nikonians membership -
"My most important photographic investment, after the camera"

My Nikonians Gallery | SummersPhotoGraphic.com | My Crated Gallery
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Showcase your best work in any of our 7 Monthly Nikonians Photo contests.


Wildlife | Landscape | Macro | Sports | Travel | Online Assignments | Best of Nikonians 2014

  

Alert Printer-friendly copy | Reply | Reply with quote | Top

                    
bobpilot Silver Member Nikonian since 08th May 2007Thu 31-Jan-13 02:53 AM
3226 posts Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin    Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this authorClick to view this author's profile
#36. "RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle"
In response to Reply # 34


Washington, US
          

Thank you. There is wisdom in your words. Much appreciated.

  

Alert Printer-friendly copy | Reply | Reply with quote | Top

                    
Bump57 Silver Member Awarded for his high skill level in Landscape and Nature Photography and willingness to share his learning experiences to help others. Nikonian since 01st Apr 2007Thu 31-Jan-13 02:54 AM
6503 posts Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin    Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this authorClick to view this author's profile
#37. "RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle"
In response to Reply # 34


US
          

Very well written reply Dave! I agree with everything in it 100%.

.
.



Scott Martin Sternberg

Scotts Fine Art

  

Alert Printer-friendly copy | Reply | Reply with quote | Top

Bump57 Silver Member Awarded for his high skill level in Landscape and Nature Photography and willingness to share his learning experiences to help others. Nikonian since 01st Apr 2007Wed 30-Jan-13 01:37 PM
6503 posts Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin    Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this authorClick to view this author's profile
#30. "RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle"
In response to Reply # 0


US
          

Hi Bob,

Not sure if this will help or not but it is something I tried when I was shooting my D300 and 200-400 combo.

http://www.northlight-images.co.uk/article_pages/cameras/1ds3_af_micoadjustment.html

It is a little different then most of the other focus charts & methods out there. Turns out I didn't need any adjustment on the above combo and I have not used the chart since. It did seem like it was worth the effort though.

Any of the other here ever seen this type of focus adjustment?

.
.



Scott Martin Sternberg

Scotts Fine Art

  

Alert Printer-friendly copy | Reply | Reply with quote | Top

Jim Pearce Silver Member Nikonian since 02nd Mar 2004Thu 31-Jan-13 03:03 AM
4397 posts Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin    Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this authorClick to view this author's profile
#38. "Bob, did you re-shoot that bolt?"
In response to Reply # 0


Grimsby, CA
          

I still think you should eliminate the possibility that you do have a problem with the lens or camera. Just use mirror lockup and a reasonably high shutter speed. And Dave's advice is good - maybe output a 1200 pixel wide jpeg and see if you can sharpen it up.

I won't join the chorus on technique other than to say that I relax, breathe out while I release the shutter and often take burts of two to four shots. It's surprising how often one turns out to be appreciably sharper than the others.

Jim

  

Alert Printer-friendly copy | Reply | Reply with quote | Top

    
bobpilot Silver Member Nikonian since 08th May 2007Thu 31-Jan-13 03:15 AM
3226 posts Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin    Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this authorClick to view this author's profile
#39. "RE: Bob, did you re-shoot that bolt?"
In response to Reply # 38


Washington, US
          

I have not re-shot the bolt. Today was a dental appointment and medical appointment. The daylight was gone before I could do it.


Bursts, ah good idea, thank you.


  

Alert Printer-friendly copy | Reply | Reply with quote | Top

        
Lunastar Silver Member Nikonian since 06th Jan 2010Fri 01-Feb-13 12:56 AM
3070 posts Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin    Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this authorClick to view this author's profile
#40. "RE: Bob, did you re-shoot that bolt?"
In response to Reply # 39
Fri 01-Feb-13 12:59 AM by Lunastar

Mankato, US
          

The best advice I've seen here is Neil's suggestion that you take the rig outside and shoot and test it there. If it's cool outside and warm in you'll definitely get the "mirage" effect from the warm air hitting the cold. Also, I see you have both the 70-200 and 200-400. If you are a bit concerned about the 600 take those other two as they will both get a lot of work at Yellowstone. Matter of fact, a mobile photog friend of mine shot exclusively with a 70-200 there last March and came back with many great images. Good luck!

Mark


www.mercuryoutdoorcommunications.com

  

Alert Printer-friendly copy | Reply | Reply with quote | Top

            
bobpilot Silver Member Nikonian since 08th May 2007Fri 01-Feb-13 01:17 AM
3226 posts Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin    Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this authorClick to view this author's profile
#41. "RE: Bob, did you re-shoot that bolt?"
In response to Reply # 40


Washington, US
          

I hope to have some time tomorrow to run more tests.

I bought these items from B and H:

GIGT5532LS Series 5 6X Systematic 3-Section Tripod (Long)

GIG1410130B3 All terrain shoes for the tripod

GIG1220129L3 Extra long spike set

LELW514DC LegCoat Wraps 514 (Digital Camo, 3 Pack)


I plan to take all of my lenses; including a macro. The macro and 105 will probably stay in the case in my car.

My idea, is to set up both camera, each on a tripod.

I hired a guide for three days. (I suppose the a more accurate description is that he and are corresponding via email and we have tentative dates set; no money has been transferred so he is not hired, not yet).

If I get nothing this time, I'll try again later. Yellowstone will still be there in the fall and probably next winter also.

  

Alert Printer-friendly copy | Reply | Reply with quote | Top

            
bobpilot Silver Member Nikonian since 08th May 2007Tue 05-Feb-13 12:12 AM
3226 posts Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin    Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this authorClick to view this author's profile
#42. "RE: Bob, did you re-shoot that bolt?"
In response to Reply # 40


Washington, US
          

I apologize for being out of operation for a few days.

To everyone who helped me on this issue: Thank you!

I ordered a new tripod; 5532LS.

To prepare for the trip to Yellowstone I sent my D3s in for cleaning. It had not been cleaned since before my trip to Prague, where it saw a lot of use. Today, I received a note back from Authorized Repair. Three line items caught my attention:

Labor 292 impact/compression damage
Labor 2034 replace lens bayonet mount
Labor 3462 adjust focus accuracy

Their inspection of my camera resulted in finding damage to the bayonet mount. In addition, they found the focus out of Nikon tolerances. The gentlemen I spoke with said that the damage to the mount could cause the soft focus that I mentioned to him in the note that I attached. Of course the focus being out of tolerance will cause focus issues.

So, today, I put my D3x on the 600 and conducted some tests with the ruler.

1. Delay exposure with not hand on the lens.
2. Delay with hand.
3. No delay; with Mirror up and no hand.
4. Delay, Mirror up, with hand.
5. No delay, no mirror up, no hand.
6. Delay, no hand.
7. Delay, hand.

My observation of the photos is that there is no deference in sharpness with any of these techniques.


ISO 1250; 1/800; f/5.6





I conducted the tap test and was surprised to find out how long it took for the vibration to dampen out. The least time was when the tripod was tapped. (This is the same tripod used in the original tests). The lens, camera, and mount were about the same, the mount taking the longest time to dampen.


The bolt:

I loosened the gimbal mount so it was friction tight. None of these images is adjusted; no sharpening, no exposure adjustment, and no noise reduction adjustment. (One image has a Lightroom grad filter to remove a bright area). All but the last were shot several feet closer than in the first test. Here are the results:


ISO 1000; 1/2500; f/5.6




ISO 200; 1/400; f/5.6



ISO 200; 1/400; f/5.6



ISO 200; 1/800; f/5.6



This was shot from the same position as the first test a few days ago.
ISO 200; 1/400; f/5.6




Attachment #1, (jpg file)
Attachment #2, (jpg file)
Attachment #3, (jpg file)
Attachment #4, (jpg file)
Attachment #5, (jpg file)
Attachment #6, (jpg file)
Attachment #7, (jpg file)

  

Alert Printer-friendly copy | Reply | Reply with quote | Top

Dubes Silver Member Awarded for his high level of achievement and willingness to help others – most notably in wildlife photography. Nikonian since 16th Jun 2007Wed 06-Feb-13 06:06 PM
5935 posts Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin    Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this authorClick to view this author's profile
#43. "RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle"
In response to Reply # 0


Mississauga, CA
          

Your new images look significantly better, would say issues are more attributed to technique vs lens/equipment issues.

For those inclined in reading further about checking focus, link provides some interesting reading, proper set-ups and files to print your own chart(s).

http://regex.info/blog/photo-tech/focus-chart

Please Visit My Gallery and my website at www.richarddubiel.com
Richard

  

Alert Printer-friendly copy | Reply | Reply with quote | Top

    
bobpilot Silver Member Nikonian since 08th May 2007Wed 06-Feb-13 06:25 PM
3226 posts Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin    Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this authorClick to view this author's profile
#44. "RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle"
In response to Reply # 43
Wed 06-Feb-13 06:30 PM by bobpilot

Washington, US
          

>Your new images look significantly better, would say issues
>are more attributed to technique vs lens/equipment issues.
>


The shots you commented on were taken with a different camera, a D3x, and the same lens as the previous shots; the Nikon 600mm. Also, the place I sent the D3s for cleaning discovered damage to the lens mount on the camera and also found the focus to be out of tolerance. Does this not indicated that the problem was equipment?

This is not to say that my technique needs practice and experience, but in this case, the problem seems to have been the camera. Am I misunderstanding something?

Bob

  

Alert Printer-friendly copy | Reply | Reply with quote | Top

        
Dubes Silver Member Awarded for his high level of achievement and willingness to help others – most notably in wildlife photography. Nikonian since 16th Jun 2007Wed 06-Feb-13 06:27 PM
5935 posts Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin    Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this authorClick to view this author's profile
#45. "RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle"
In response to Reply # 44


Mississauga, CA
          

SOrry - I guess I should have read the whole post!!

Please Visit My Gallery and my website at www.richarddubiel.com
Richard

  

Alert Printer-friendly copy | Reply | Reply with quote | Top

Forums Lobby MASTER YOUR VISION - BY SPECIALTY Wildlife (Public) topic #151556 Previous topic | Next topic


Take the Nikonians Tour and learn more about being a Nikonian Wiki /FAQ /Help Listen to our MP3 photography radio channels Find anything on Nikon and imaging technology - fast!

Copyright © Nikonians 2000, 2014
All Rights Reserved

Nikonians®, NikoScope® and NikoniansAcademy™ are trademarks owned by Nikonians.org.
Nikon®, Nikonos® and Nikkor® are registered trademarks of Nikon Corporation.