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Optimize sharpness for Wildlife D7000

JohnE Nikon

New HArtford, US
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JohnE Nikon Registered since 15th Jun 2010
Fri 10-Dec-10 07:40 PM

I borrowed a 300mm 4.0 from a friend and tried pairing with my 1.7 TCE. I am trying to get sharper more detailed images and wanted advice.

All images handheld. I shot jpeg with +6 to +8 sharpening. Shutter mostly above 1500. I shot wide open either @ 4.0 without TCE or 6.7 with TCE.

Images are cropped possibly accounting for lack of detail.
The TCE maybe hurting image quality.

Do you think focus is dead on or a little off?

Should I try with monopod? Should I stop down aperture? Not use TCE?
Do I need to shoot RAW and post process after?

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JohnE Nikon
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wwt67

Warsaw, US
360 posts

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#1. "RE: Optimize sharpness for Wildlife D7000" | In response to Reply # 0

wwt67 Silver Member Nikonian since 07th Apr 2010
Fri 10-Dec-10 09:47 PM

I think the first 4 photos look great.
I found my 300mm f4 lens on either my D5000 or D7000 is equally sharp from f4 to f8, except f6.3, where it is noticeably sharper. with the 1.7 TC I shoot f8-f10 for optimal sharpness.
You asked about using a monopod. If you shot these photos handheld, you should be very happy, especially with a 1.7TC (500mm). I am able to hand hold w/o a TC and get good sharpness at 1/1000+ shutter. With the TC attached and a monopod I still struggle for sharpness.

How much did you crop these photos? Did you do any post sharpening?
Did you have NR on? If so turn it off. I find with the D7000, if your not cropping too much and resizing, you don't need NR for outdoor shots until you go above iso 1600.

Overall these samples look very close to my results, (not saying my results are perfect) and assuming you cropped and used higher jpeg compression to meet the file size limits for posting, these look good.

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wwt67

Warsaw, US
360 posts

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#2. "RE: Optimize sharpness for Wildlife D7000" | In response to Reply # 1

wwt67 Silver Member Nikonian since 07th Apr 2010
Fri 10-Dec-10 10:04 PM

Looking again at photos 1, 2 and 3 you may (I said MAY) have a very slight back focusing issue. In photo 3 the hair on the tail looks slighly sharper than the face or front legs. In photos 1 & 2 the ripples in the water to the duck's right looks slightly sharper than to it's left (or sharper behind the duck than in front). I'm referring to the ripples very close to the ducks, not in the background.
You could turn on AF fine tune and set for -2 or -5 and see if it helps. If not, set it back to 0.

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JohnE Nikon

New HArtford, US
932 posts

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#3. "RE: Optimize sharpness for Wildlife D7000" | In response to Reply # 1

JohnE Nikon Registered since 15th Jun 2010
Sat 11-Dec-10 03:00 AM

>I think the first 4 photos look great.
>I found my 300mm f4 lens on either my D5000 or D7000 is
>equally sharp from f4 to f8, except f6.3, where it is
>noticeably sharper. with the 1.7 TC I shoot f8-f10 for optimal
>sharpness.
>You asked about using a monopod. If you shot these photos
>handheld, you should be very happy, especially with a 1.7TC
>(500mm). I am able to hand hold w/o a TC and get good
>sharpness at 1/1000+ shutter. With the TC attached and a
>monopod I still struggle for sharpness.
>
>How much did you crop these photos? Did you do any post
>sharpening?
>Did you have NR on? If so turn it off. I find with the D7000,
>if your not cropping too much and resizing, you don't need NR
>for outdoor shots until you go above iso 1600.
>
>Overall these samples look very close to my results, (not
>saying my results are perfect) and assuming you cropped and
>used higher jpeg compression to meet the file size limits for
>posting, these look good.

Thanks for the kind words and encouragement.
I shot all hand held sometimes I braced my elbow on knee in a squat especially for squirrel. Many shots > 1/2000 sec
I will try and fine tune AF. I checked the 300mm without teleconverter and it was close, but I see what you are saying about water ripples.
I did open images in view nx where I could see AF points. I used release and not focus shutter release. Sometimes focus was on reflection and sometimes there was no focus.
I did have NR on normal. These were shot jpeg with in camera sharpening +8. No post processing.
I include a couple at original size to give you an idea re. cropping.


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JohnE Nikon
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ericbowles

Atlanta, US
10533 posts

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#4. "RE: Optimize sharpness for Wildlife D7000" | In response to Reply # 0

ericbowles Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge and high level skills in various areas, especially Landscape and Wildlife Photoghraphy Writer Ribbon awarded for for his article contributions to the community Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Nikonian since 25th Nov 2005
Sat 11-Dec-10 11:16 AM | edited Sat 11-Dec-10 11:20 AM by ericbowles

John

I think you have the right idea, but are shooting beyond the limit of the lens/TC. All of these images are a bit soft for me due to the low light, use of the TC, cropping, and shooting wide open. Now there may be some loss in converting for posting here, but none appear to have the resolution for larger prints.

I use the 300 f/4 and 1.7 teleconverter. I don't think that combination lends itself very well to cropping - especially for birds where you need detail. If you have very good lighting, it is better and can produce great images. With overcast conditions I would not use that combination and would stick with a 1.4 teleconverter or no teleconverter. The 4th image of the squirrel is the only one that has adequate light for a 1.7 teleconverter. Generally I would stop down a half stop if possible. I would always use a tripod for high magnification images like a 300 + TC 1.7.

I would not worry about front or back focus under these conditions. It's the wrong way to test. The whiskers on the squirrel look very sharp so any softness there is probably related to low contrast in teh squireel fur and a need to sharpen a little more. I would certainly shoot RAW to allow better editing. You might want to reduce your Threshold and increase radius to bring out fur detail.


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KnightPhoto

Alberta, CA
4954 posts

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#5. "RE: Optimize sharpness for Wildlife D7000" | In response to Reply # 4

KnightPhoto Gold Member Nikonian since 18th Dec 2006
Sat 11-Dec-10 03:29 PM

I don't think they are bad for Jpgs in terms of sharpness.

It's just that with Jpg you are at a disadvantage of not being in full control of sharpening, lighting and everything else as compared to RAW where you have full control and capability.

But even with Jpg you can still apply additional sharpening in post, so personally I would do so. My brother has some good success with this approach using ViewNX.

I think sharp photos and sharpening in post processing go hand in hand. SOOC sharpening is only a start.

Best regards, SteveK

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JohnE Nikon

New HArtford, US
932 posts

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#6. "RE: Optimize sharpness for Wildlife D7000" | In response to Reply # 4

JohnE Nikon Registered since 15th Jun 2010
Mon 13-Dec-10 02:27 PM

>John
>
>I think you have the right idea, but are shooting beyond the
>limit of the lens/TC. All of these images are a bit soft for
>me due to the low light, use of the TC, cropping, and shooting
>wide open. Now there may be some loss in converting for
>posting here, but none appear to have the resolution for
>larger prints.
>
>I use the 300 f/4 and 1.7 teleconverter. I don't think that
>combination lends itself very well to cropping - especially
>for birds where you need detail. If you have very good
>lighting, it is better and can produce great images. With
>overcast conditions I would not use that combination and would
>stick with a 1.4 teleconverter or no teleconverter. The 4th
>image of the squirrel is the only one that has adequate light
>for a 1.7 teleconverter. Generally I would stop down a half
>stop if possible. I would always use a tripod for high
>magnification images like a 300 + TC 1.7.
>
>I would not worry about front or back focus under these
>conditions. It's the wrong way to test. The whiskers on the
>squirrel look very sharp so any softness there is probably
>related to low contrast in teh squireel fur and a need to
>sharpen a little more. I would certainly shoot RAW to allow
>better editing. You might want to reduce your Threshold and
>increase radius to bring out fur detail.
>

Eric,
Thanks for your input. I am at the lake again today and it is overcast with low lighting. I hope to get a chance at lunch to get a few shots. I did not even bring TCE with me so it will be with only the 300mm. I even brought bread to get the birds closer. I hope they did not all already fly south.

JohnE Nikon
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"Cameras and lenses are simply tools to place our unique vision on film. Concentrate on equipment and you'll take technically good photographs. Concentrate on seeing the light's magic colors and your images will stir the soul." Jack Dykinga

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JohnE Nikon

New HArtford, US
932 posts

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#7. "RE: Optimize sharpness for Wildlife D7000" | In response to Reply # 5

JohnE Nikon Registered since 15th Jun 2010
Mon 13-Dec-10 02:35 PM

>I don't think they are bad for Jpgs in terms of sharpness.
>
>It's just that with Jpg you are at a disadvantage of not being
>in full control of sharpening, lighting and everything else as
>compared to RAW where you have full control and capability.
>
>But even with Jpg you can still apply additional sharpening in
>post, so personally I would do so. My brother has some good
>success with this approach using ViewNX.
>
>I think sharp photos and sharpening in post processing go hand
>in hand. SOOC sharpening is only a start.
>
>Best regards, SteveK
>

Steve,
Thanks.
I have been holding off on RAW due to large file size. I tend to shoot a lot of birds for a few keepers and tend to not want to delete anything unless they are real soft. I just bought another 16gb class 10 HD card and another 2tb hard drive. I now feel empowered to shoot RAW for wildlife. I'm sure I will be able to fill up some hard drive space shortly. Wildlife may start to become scarce where I live with the winter underway and hunting season on. I can't wait for my Florida trip in a few weeks and will hopefully get to some good birding spots. The 300mm was borrowed and I will have to manage with my 70-200 and 1.7 TCE. I think as long as I can get close I could get some keepers.

JohnE Nikon
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"Cameras and lenses are simply tools to place our unique vision on film. Concentrate on equipment and you'll take technically good photographs. Concentrate on seeing the light's magic colors and your images will stir the soul." Jack Dykinga

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ericbowles

Atlanta, US
10533 posts

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#8. "RE: Optimize sharpness for Wildlife D7000" | In response to Reply # 3

ericbowles Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge and high level skills in various areas, especially Landscape and Wildlife Photoghraphy Writer Ribbon awarded for for his article contributions to the community Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Nikonian since 25th Nov 2005
Mon 13-Dec-10 04:31 PM

John

I don't think you should be disappointed with cropped images not being sharp enough. Some of your crops were near 100%. I think it is great to understand the limit of what you can shoot with a given combination and under given conditions.

The 300 f/4 is a very good lens. It requires good technique, but at 1/800 to 1/1000 sec should produce sharp images. It does take some practice - even with the best lens every image is not sharp. The 300 f/4 is a very good lens for the money.

The other thing to keep in mind is that you have to lean what makes fur or feathers show up best. Some animals have great definition and others look soft in a tack sharp image. Many times it is the angle of the light that creates the definition and apparent sharpness.

Best of luck.

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waxart

Vallejo, US
67 posts

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#9. "RE: Optimize sharpness for Wildlife D7000" | In response to Reply # 6

waxart Registered since 16th Jan 2008
Mon 13-Dec-10 05:42 PM

I would say that all of these images (lovely though they are) lack the sharpness desirable for wildlife photography. I apply selective sharpening in Photoshop on a duplicated layer using the High Pass filter and the Soft Light blend mode. I add a black mask, then brush with white on the mask the areas I want to be super-sharp. By sharpening this way I avoid artifacts and emphasizing noise. As long as the eyes are sharp, most creatures look fine.

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JohnE Nikon

New HArtford, US
932 posts

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#10. "RE: Optimize sharpness for Wildlife D7000" | In response to Reply # 9

JohnE Nikon Registered since 15th Jun 2010
Mon 13-Dec-10 05:45 PM

>I would say that all of these images (lovely though they are)
>lack the sharpness desirable for wildlife photography. I apply
>selective sharpening in Photoshop on a duplicated layer using
>the High Pass filter and the Soft Light blend mode. I add a
>black mask, then brush with white on the mask the areas I want
>to be super-sharp. By sharpening this way I avoid artifacts
>and emphasizing noise. As long as the eyes are sharp, most
>creatures look fine.

Thanks. I'll have to try this technique.

JohnE Nikon
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"Cameras and lenses are simply tools to place our unique vision on film. Concentrate on equipment and you'll take technically good photographs. Concentrate on seeing the light's magic colors and your images will stir the soul." Jack Dykinga

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JohnE Nikon

New HArtford, US
932 posts

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#11. "RE: Optimize sharpness for Wildlife D7000" | In response to Reply # 6

JohnE Nikon Registered since 15th Jun 2010
Mon 13-Dec-10 05:55 PM

Today conditions were again poor.
I found the focus to be searching a bit in lower light and had small percentage keepers. Detail is again limited as all images cropped, some near 1:1. Only the crows went for the bread. I'll keep trying. I downloaded these at work and sharpened slightly in View NX 2.

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JohnE Nikon
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G