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brian09223

Concord, US
154 posts

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brian09223 Gold Member Nikonian since 24th Aug 2009
Thu 24-Jan-13 10:05 PM | edited Fri 25-Jan-13 04:44 PM by brian09223

I just purchased a Nikon D800 from B&H last Friday. I've been shooting off and on for a week. 10-20 images at a time. I'm not happy with the results. Everything seems to be soft thru out the picture. I was using a 24-120 F4 and a 24-70 F2.8. I'm going to shoot the heck out of it this weekend just to make sure. Has anyone heard of focusing issue's with the D800? I heard about a left focusing issue but would that effect the whole picture?

Brian Padraig O'Connor
Nikon D810...Tamron 24-70 f/2.8...Nikon 24-120 f/4.0
Nikon 70-300...SB-800

ttoolan

Sacramento, US
953 posts

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#1. "RE: D800 and Soft images" | In response to Reply # 0

ttoolan Silver Member Nikonian since 16th Jul 2004
Thu 24-Jan-13 09:24 PM | edited Thu 24-Jan-13 09:25 PM by ttoolan

Take some shots with the shutter speed high enough to rule out motion blur. If your shot are still out of focus odds are you have focus issues. If you're pixel peeping at greater than 100% you might have unrealistic expectations. My D800e has been tack sharp since day one.

Tom
D800E, D3, D200, D70, F6, F3/T, F2AS, FM2N


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mklass

Tacoma, US
7421 posts

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#2. "RE: D800 and Soft images" | In response to Reply # 1

mklass Platinum Member As a semi-professional involved in all manner of photographic genres including portraiture, sports, commercial, and events coverage, Mick is always ready to help Nikonians by sharing his deep knowledge of photography and printing. Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 08th Dec 2006
Thu 24-Jan-13 09:50 PM

Ditto, The D800, when handheld, needs a fast shutter speed. My results indicate a minimum of 1/1.5xfocal-length sec for guaranteed success.

Mick
http://www.mickklassphoto.com
or
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brian09223

Concord, US
154 posts

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#3. "RE: D800 and Soft images" | In response to Reply # 1

brian09223 Gold Member Nikonian since 24th Aug 2009
Thu 24-Jan-13 10:23 PM | edited Thu 24-Jan-13 10:24 PM by brian09223

I plan on doing that this weekend. I was using a VR lens at a static subject so there should be no blur. I will try and post one tomorrow. I have heard the D800e is sharper but comes with issues. Could you explain.

Brian Padraig O'Connor
Nikon D810...Tamron 24-70 f/2.8...Nikon 24-120 f/4.0
Nikon 70-300...SB-800

jrp

San Pedro Garza GarcĂ­a, MX
38687 posts

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#4. "RE: D800 and Soft images" | In response to Reply # 3

jrp Administrator JRP is one of the co-founders, has in-depth knowledge in various areas. Awarded for his contributions for the Resources Charter Member
Thu 24-Jan-13 10:43 PM

Camera shake is possible, even with static subjects and VR.
The D800 resolution demands a steadier camera.

Have a great time :-)
JRP (Founder & Administrator. Mainly at the north-eastern Mexican desert) Gallery, Brief Love Story
Please join the Silver, Gold and Platinum members who help this happen; upgrade.
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mklass

Tacoma, US
7421 posts

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#5. "RE: D800 and Soft images" | In response to Reply # 3

mklass Platinum Member As a semi-professional involved in all manner of photographic genres including portraiture, sports, commercial, and events coverage, Mick is always ready to help Nikonians by sharing his deep knowledge of photography and printing. Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 08th Dec 2006
Thu 24-Jan-13 11:09 PM

The subject may have been static, but you could have been moving, even slightly. As JRP says, the high resolution of the D800 makes any camera movement more apparent in the image.

Just for an experiment, take a lens in the 50-100mm (no VR) range, shoot in light bright enough so you can shoot at f/5.6 to 11, a shutter speed of at least 1/500sec and ISO 100-800. See if you images look sharp.

If so, then back down the SS until you start seeing blur.

Mick
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or
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brian09223

Concord, US
154 posts

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#6. "RE: D800 and Soft images" | In response to Reply # 5

brian09223 Gold Member Nikonian since 24th Aug 2009
Fri 25-Jan-13 12:28 AM | edited Fri 25-Jan-13 12:29 AM by brian09223

So, am I losing focus because of the high resolution? This never occureded to me. I will follow your instructoins this weekend and see what hapens. This could greatly changed my shooting procedures.

Brian Padraig O'Connor
Nikon D810...Tamron 24-70 f/2.8...Nikon 24-120 f/4.0
Nikon 70-300...SB-800

mklass

Tacoma, US
7421 posts

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#7. "RE: D800 and Soft images" | In response to Reply # 6

mklass Platinum Member As a semi-professional involved in all manner of photographic genres including portraiture, sports, commercial, and events coverage, Mick is always ready to help Nikonians by sharing his deep knowledge of photography and printing. Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 08th Dec 2006
Fri 25-Jan-13 01:26 AM

Your focus is probably fine, but your images are not sharp because of camera movement. That's my surmise anyway.

The D800 required me to me far more careful to control shutter speed and movement of the camera.

Keeping the shutter speed up provides less opportunity for the camera to move.

Mick
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or
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critidoc

Kingsville, US
297 posts

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#8. "RE: D800 and Soft images" | In response to Reply # 7

critidoc Silver Member Nikonian since 27th Feb 2007
Fri 25-Jan-13 08:58 AM

I agree with the others that shutter speed is critical. For slow speed a good tripod is essential I recently shot some great pictures with the 28-300 had held and my 800e. I posted them in the wildlife forum. Shutter speed was around 1/1000. f 5.6-8

I do shoot it underwater at slower shutter speeds but use 1/125 as my minimum with my 60mm lens or 105 lens. I prefer 1/250 or faster for uw shots. hope this helps

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agitater

Toronto, CA
4527 posts

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#9. "RE: D800 and Soft images" | In response to Reply # 6

agitater Gold Member Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 18th Jan 2007
Fri 25-Jan-13 02:05 PM

>So, am I losing focus because of the high resolution? This
>never occureded to me.

Not exactly. It's likely that focus is soft because your shutter speed is too slow. The more megapixels that are used to record and given subject, the greater the likelihood that tiny amounts of movement will be recorded by the sensor. Increasing shutter speed reduces the effects of those tiny movements (heart pumping, slight hand movements, slight body shift, slight movement when the shutter is pressed, and so on).

It's possible for me, personally, to grab a series of consistently razor sharp, handheld shots of a static object at 100mm, VR on, 1/60s with my D700. For me, personally, to be able to grab the exact same series of shots of the given object with my D800 with the same lens at 100mm, VR on, handheld, I personally need a shutter speed of at least 1/160s.

That's a huge difference, and a very graphic demonstration of how much more and finer detail the D800 can capture as long as I'm using a shutter speed equal to the task. High resolution doesn't equal soft focus. High resolution + inappropriately slow shutter equals soft focus when shooting handheld.

Note too that even a tripod setup for the D800 must respect the effects of very slight movement of the rig caused by wind, footfalls, slightly unstable positioning, dangling camera strap, and so on. Higher resolutions come with a penalty, which is basically that several aspects of shooting technique have to be addressed to take full advantage of the high resolution.

Best analogy I can come up with is this. Everybody can drive a Volkswagen Jetta. It's a perfectly good car. I own the TDI clean diesel version. Love it. Millions of people drive the things safely and well. Put those same people behind the wheel of a Corvette though and an enormous percentage of them will be fishtailing, squealing the tires, having trouble with braking, struggling with peripheral visibility, oversteering because of the rapid ratio/response of the wheel, and be really uncomfortable with their low driving position. They'll have to adjust their driving techniques and practices quite significantly in order to get safe control of the vehicle. There's nothing wrong with the hot car (or the hot camera), but the drivers' and photographers' practices and techniques need to improve in respect of the greater power and precision of the vehicle and in respect of the greater power and resolution of the camera.

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brian09223

Concord, US
154 posts

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#10. "RE: D800 and Soft images" | In response to Reply # 9

brian09223 Gold Member Nikonian since 24th Aug 2009
Fri 25-Jan-13 03:44 PM

I will experiment this weekend with increasing my shutter speed to see if that's my problem. Would you say that shooting handheld at 1/125, f8 would now be at least 1/250 or more to get tack sharp images? I will also shoot with a tripod just to make sure I didn't get a bad copy. I will post images when I get them and maybe you could judge the quality. I'm hoping this will be the answer.

Brian Padraig O'Connor
Nikon D810...Tamron 24-70 f/2.8...Nikon 24-120 f/4.0
Nikon 70-300...SB-800

Timeshifte

Dayton, US
206 posts

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#11. "RE: D800 and Soft images" | In response to Reply # 10

Timeshifte Gold Member Nikonian since 10th May 2012
Fri 25-Jan-13 04:16 PM

I also found the newer glass helps, my wife bought me a 70-200 VrII for Christmas , I was unhappy with the D800E thinking everything was soft compared to my D700. I was using an 80-200 2.8 and on the d700 the pix were tack sharp, just not quite on the D800E. After improving my camera holding and getting the new lens my pix are tack sharp again ( thats what I told my wife anyway, thats my story and Im sticking to it ! ) Good glass, good technique = tack sharp !

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agitater

Toronto, CA
4527 posts

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#12. "RE: D800 and Soft images" | In response to Reply # 10

agitater Gold Member Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 18th Jan 2007
Fri 25-Jan-13 07:06 PM

>I will experiment this weekend with increasing my shutter
>speed to see if that's my problem. Would you say that
>shooting handheld at 1/125, f8 would now be at least 1/250 or
>more to get tack sharp images?

At f/8? I'd say 1/320s at least at any focal length up to 120mm or so. Faster still for longer focal lengths and smaller apertures. And much faster than that for any subject exhibiting movement

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LMMiller9

Potomac, US
1168 posts

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#13. "RE: D800 and Soft images" | In response to Reply # 0

LMMiller9 Silver Member Nikonian since 18th Dec 2005
Fri 25-Jan-13 07:08 PM

There may be another explanation. How do you have the focusing mode set? I suggest you put the camera on a tripod keep the camera aimed at a constant subject, then try setting the camera to Single point focus. Then look and see whether the pictures are clear on the exact point of focus.

My experience is that when I get soft pictures it has more to do with exactly how the camera is focusing. If you have the camera on dynamic area focus, 51 focus points and continuous focusing, I have found that I am likely to have a picture NOT focused on what I want it focused on. It is always focused on something, but not necessarily my target. That is why I almost always use single point focus.

Larry Miller, Potomac, MD
DF/D810
http://lmmillerphotography.smugmug.com/

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trialcritic

Palo Alto, US
43 posts

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#14. "RE: D800 and Soft images" | In response to Reply # 0

trialcritic Registered since 17th Mar 2012
Sat 26-Jan-13 04:09 AM | edited Sat 26-Jan-13 04:10 AM by trialcritic

I tried my D800 hand held for a long time and moved to tripods. My handshake is more than average, this camera is not forgiving. It is a different kind of camera. I tried to photograph San Francisco from a moving boat and had to do some post processing to make the images reasonable. Since the pixel area is much smaller, the smallest issue seems pronounced, this includes lens quality. Sadly, we have now shifted from a sensor limited system to a lens limited system. And performance of lenses on the D800 is very different to how they performed on other bodies. I would not use the 24-120 lens on this body.

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agitater

Toronto, CA
4527 posts

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#15. "RE: D800 and Soft images" | In response to Reply # 14

agitater Gold Member Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 18th Jan 2007
Sat 26-Jan-13 11:29 AM

>performance of lenses on the D800 is very different to how
>they performed on other bodies. I would not use the 24-120
>lens on this body.

Perhaps the old 24-120 versions are soft on the D800. Quite a high percentage of the old VR versions, in particular, were soft on every Nikon body. Howver, the newer 24-120 f/4 VRII is a superb choice for the D800. It's a great lens.

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ajdooley

Waterloo, US
3330 posts

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#16. "RE: D800 and Soft images" | In response to Reply # 15

ajdooley Gold Member Nikonian since 25th May 2006
Sun 27-Jan-13 02:00 PM | edited Sun 27-Jan-13 02:02 PM by ajdooley

Howard - I agree the old 24-120 was softer, especially the edges. I was pretty satisfied with it on my D200, but when I shifted to a D700, edge definition was visibly lower. I'm not talking about photographing test charts and brick walls. So I bit the bullet for the 24-70mm f2.8. The new 24-120 was at least a year away when I made that choice, but I do love the 24-70 and have no thoughts of changing to the newer 24-120, although I sort of envy that extra 50mm sometimes. BTW, if you wanted to see a soft Nikon zoom, the old 43-86 was such a dog you could hear it barking in your camera bag. Even through the viewfinder, it approached sharp and then drifted out the other side, never having achieved sharp focus! Sometimes I wish I had another one to remind me of how far optics have come! May it rest in peace.

Alan
Waterloo, IL, USA
www.proimagingmidamerica.com

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agitater

Toronto, CA
4527 posts

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#17. "RE: D800 and Soft images" | In response to Reply # 16

agitater Gold Member Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 18th Jan 2007
Sun 27-Jan-13 05:38 PM | edited Sun 27-Jan-13 05:40 PM by agitater

>BTW, if
>you wanted to see a soft Nikon zoom, the old 43-86 was such a
>dog you could hear it barking in your camera bag. Even
>through the viewfinder, it approached sharp and then drifted
>out the other side, never having achieved sharp focus!
>Sometimes I wish I had another one to remind me of how far
>optics have come! May it rest in peace.

Amen to that. It was a dog. It brings to mind the 35-70mm f/3.3-4.5 AI-s. Goofy distortion at all focal lengths, wild CA up to about f/6.3, horrible bokeh. It was like some botched assignment produced by a student in his first shop class. I liked the focal range, so I kept trying to use the thing. The results usualy gave me a headache.

Same goes for the original 24-120 VR. I kept leaning toward my monitor and backing away and leaning forward again thinking there was something wrong with my vision - trying to get displayed shots in focus. Went through three different copies over the years before I just gave up on the zoom range. When the new version was announced, I said a silent prayer, placed an advance order, got it, loved it and haven't looked back. For travel and general purpose street photography, the new 24-120 VRII f/4 replaced my 24-70 f/2.8 on my D700 and now the lens is permanently mounted on my D800.

I could hope for an f/4 version of the 16-85 VR mounted on my D7000 but the lens mavens at Nikon seem to be getting ready to release a reboot of the 18-35 next?!? Like there are some significant number of Nikon owners pining for an updated 18-35?? Nikon must know what they're doing, but with a couple of glaring gaps in the DX lineup and some existing (and popular) FX lenses in desperate need of updates (80-400 VR, a standard f/2.8 zoom with VR), the announcement of the 18-35 reboot seems curious to me. I just think that between the 10-24 and the 12-24, the wide angle zoom is currently extremely well covered for DX, and that FX is extremely well covered by the 16-35 f/4, and that the old 18-35 was/is not bad at all. So why bother with a new version. Hopefully, Nikon will be vindicated quickly because a bunch of Nikonians will chime in on this thread to tell me that a serious number of them have been waiting very patiently for a better 18-35.

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km6xz

St Petersburg, RU
3559 posts

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#18. "RE: D800 and Soft images" | In response to Reply # 0

km6xz Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, including Portraits and Urban Photography Nikonian since 22nd Jan 2009
Mon 28-Jan-13 04:16 AM | edited Mon 28-Jan-13 04:17 AM by km6xz

Hello Brian, I hope you have figured out the problem already but if not, can you post some photos that demonstrate the problem of softness?
There is too little evidence to go by now in venture a reasonable conclusion. A photo with meta data intact would help a lot is diagnosing this problem.
It is all true that higher resolution requires higher shutter speed but that assumes viewing at larger magnification but if viewed at the same distance and size as a lower resolution image shot at the same shutter speed for both images, you should not be able to see a difference.
What brings out the differences is when viewing at the same magnification which covers a very different area of the scene between high and low resolution files. Viewing a 36mpx image on the screen with a 1 to 1, or 100% magnification is showing much finer detail than a D700 file at 1:1 so the same arch of camera movement would be showing a greater portion of the viewed area on a zoomed in as motion blurred.
To eliminate AF problems or settings from the list of possible causes, try a tripod shot using Live View and see it that is the same level of "unsharpness".
How are you post processing, the NEF RAW files are not read well for the D800 by older editing software so besure it has the updates for D800 camera profiles.
If it is a focusing issue and involves a complex scene of objects at many closely spaced focal planes, SOMWTHING should be sharpless focused even if the target is not.
One posted image would eliminate most of these possible reasons.
Once you and the D800 are seeing eye to eye, you will marvel at how good it is in almost all criteria of image forming such as AF in dim light, spot on metering, great color, AWB that really works, and almost HDR like dynamic range.
Stan
St Petersburg Russia

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jamesvoortman

Durban, ZA
1468 posts

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#19. "RE: D800 and Soft images" | In response to Reply # 0

jamesvoortman Silver Member Nikonian since 06th Sep 2004
Mon 28-Jan-13 03:11 PM | edited Mon 28-Jan-13 10:18 PM by jamesvoortman

Hi Brian

Not sure what cameras you have had before but the AF system on D800 is quite complex, what with choices between AF-ON activation or shutter release activation, AF-S and AF-C, single and multiple focus point selection etc.

It is worth reading up on it and setting the AF systems on your various banks of settings to give the responses required for different types of shots.

I agree with all the comments about high resolution and higher shutter speed. I have found this in practice myself after moving from DX cameras. Be aware also that FX format reduces your depth of field (relative to the wider field of view), To get the same effective depth of field as you might be used to from a DX camera, you need to shoot up to 1 f-stop smaller.

To see if your hand holding technique is the problem, try shooting a few pics as you normally would, follow with more by using successively faster shutter speeds each time. If you notice a significant difference between fast and slow speeds - your handholding technique may require improvement - or some additional support.

If your AF system is seriously malfunctioning - try mounting camera on a tripod - take a few shots using AF and then the same shots using Live View to focus. the normal AF uses the focusing screen under the SLR pentaprism while Live view uses the actual sensor. Again if you notice significant differences then your AF system may be faulty but if there is only a marginal difference then AF system is not likely to be the cause.

Finally, if it is clear to you that the lens is consistently focusing in front of (or behind) your subject on a regular basis then AF fine-tuning may be needed.

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bluerose

Lancaster, US
20 posts

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#20. "RE: D800 and Soft images" | In response to Reply # 2

bluerose Registered since 03rd Oct 2012
Mon 28-Jan-13 05:31 PM

>Ditto, The D800, when handheld, needs a fast shutter speed.
>My results indicate a minimum of 1/1.5xfocal-length sec for
>guaranteed success.
>
>Mick
>http://www.mickklassphoto.com
>or
>Visit
>my nikonians gallery>

I'd always heard that 1/1.5x focal length when handheld is a standard no matter what the camera/lens. Should I expect better especially due to the VR?
~newbie

agitater

Toronto, CA
4527 posts

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#21. "RE: D800 and Soft images" | In response to Reply # 20

agitater Gold Member Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 18th Jan 2007
Mon 28-Jan-13 06:06 PM

>I'd always heard that 1/1.5x focal length when handheld is a
>standard no matter what the camera/lens. Should I expect
>better especially due to the VR?

No. The situation is counterintuitive because the ultra-high resolution of the latest sensors is capable of recording the slightest movement. So at high shutter speeds - say, above 1/500th - the operational frequency of VR element shifting can sometimes be a source of softening.

VR is not really designed to be left on at all times. Photographers who do so run the risk of developing sloppy handheld technique because of the impression that VR can contribute to sharper, steadier shots of normal exposures and using a 1/1.5X setting.

I think VR is designed to enhance a photographer's ability to get something usable at slow shutter speeds which, absent VR or a tripod, would normally result in blur, and to get steady shots in low light while keeping ISO out of the stratosphere. Despite what I said just above, too, about the possibility of inadvertently creating a situation in which sloppy technique creeps in, VR can certainly be useful in situations where footing is slightly unstable or where a shot has to be made too quickly, and so on, even when good light provides an uncompensated shutter speed that is fast enough to freeze subject motion or overcome slight physical tremor.

A photographer who inadvertently presses down the whole camera slightly when fulling pressing the shutter button will almost always end up with soft or blurry shots no matter what sort of shutter speed or VR is being used.

There's more, but you get the idea.

I think the 1/1.5X 'rule' is like the Pirate's Code . . . "more of a guideline really."

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harleyd8

US
3 posts

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#22. "RE: D800 and Soft images" | In response to Reply # 21

harleyd8 Registered since 10th Aug 2012
Sun 03-Feb-13 12:45 AM

I have been reading this with great interest as I am entertaining the purchase of a D800 to supplement my D2X. All this info on shutter speeds is concerning. My question is this. If D800 users are having these issues, what are the MF guys shooting 40-80 MP backs doing with lenses that have a top speed of 1/500 second? Are all these folks using a tripod and Mirror Lockup for each and every shot?

Not trying to stir the pot, I dearly love my D2X and my D2H as well, but if I have to use a quite fast shutter speed, tripod, and/or possibly Mirror Lockup, would I not be better off with a Pentax 645D?

I know im missing something here so please inform me where I am going wrong. While I am not nearly as heavily invested in the Nikon system as lots of you, it is a somewhat sizeable investment that I would like to utilize. Perhaps I am somewhat skewed in my view as I try to shoot at the lowest ISO since I was a Panatomic-X shooter in my film days.

Any and all input would be most welcome as a D800 is a sizable investment for me.

My area of interest is Landscape photography as well as old farmhouses, barns, post offices, etc.

Grant

agitater

Toronto, CA
4527 posts

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#23. "RE: D800 and Soft images" | In response to Reply # 22

agitater Gold Member Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 18th Jan 2007
Sun 03-Feb-13 02:17 PM | edited Sun 03-Feb-13 02:30 PM by agitater

>I have been reading this with great interest as I am
>entertaining the purchase of a D800 to supplement my D2X. All
>this info on shutter speeds is concerning. My question is
>this. If D800 users are having these issues, what are the MF
>guys shooting 40-80 MP backs doing with lenses that have a top
>speed of 1/500 second? Are all these folks using a tripod and
>Mirror Lockup for each and every shot?

I'm not sure what you mean about medium format lenses with a top speed of 1/500s. Lenses don't have shutter speed settings, but I could be missing your meaning. A typical Phase One medium format camera offers shutter speeds up to 1/4000s. Typical medium format digital cameras used in professional studios are shot either handheld at very fast shutter speeds (1/1000s or faster) under at least enough light to also accommodate base ISO, or from a tripod using an equally fast shutter speed under the same lighting. Typical medium format digital cameras used in the field for professional landscape work are almost always shot from a tripod at whatever shutter speed accommodates something close to base ISO given the available light. The more light, the better.

>Not trying to stir the pot, I dearly love my D2X and my D2H as
>well, but if I have to use a quite fast shutter speed, tripod,
>and/or possibly Mirror Lockup, would I not be better off with
>a Pentax 645D?

Not necessarily. There are few practical reasons besides ultra low natural light (in a shooting situation in which a flash setup or a fixed artificial lighting setup is inappropriate or unavailable) that forces ISO into unacceptable territory, to use slow shutter speeds. Another exception might be a high contrast scene (e.g., which includes bright, moving water that you want to smooth out) which can't be knocked back far enough with whatever neutral density filter you've got on hand. In that situation you might have to drop your shutter speed below handheld threshold and make use of a tripod with any camera. One way or another - especially for photographers who plan on viewing and displaying their photos at something larger than laptop, web site or desktop monitor sizes and resolutions - printing at 16x20/A2/B3/C2 sizes or larger, and projecting at those sizes or larger will reveal every single bit of softness, blur and hazy detail in a photo shot a slower-than-optimal shutter speed and higher-than-optimal ISO.

There are always exceptions, but photographers who regularly print or who produce photos that are going to be printed in full page mag spreads or double-leaf spreads or posters or as fine art prints, sometimes have to almost turn themselves inside out to get the kind of sharpness and resolution of detail that holds up for high linescreen/high resolution/high ppi output when viewed at typical distances when reading a large format fashion mag, appreciating a photo hung in a gallery, or when taking in a photo exhibition at the sizes typically displayed in the best shows. The money to fund the acquisition of $30,000 medium format cameras (never mind the additional thousands of dollars/pounds/yen/euros needed to fund the acquisition of the best lenses) is found in the art, fashion, landscape and portrait photography dodges most often. There are certainly other uses for medium format shooting, but you won't find any of those photographers getting remunerative results out of handheld medium format shooting at the slow shutter speeds and the silly-high ISO settings that many of us get away with for photos that end up being used for tablet, laptop, desktop and web display.

>I know im missing something here so please inform me where I
>am going wrong. While I am not nearly as heavily invested in
>the Nikon system as lots of you, it is a somewhat sizeable
>investment that I would like to utilize. Perhaps I am somewhat
>skewed in my view as I try to shoot at the lowest ISO since I
>was a Panatomic-X shooter in my film days.

The more pixel density on a given sensor surface, the higher the resolution. The reason is basically that the smaller and more discretely that a light-gathering sensel can be created as part of the sensor surface, the smaller the detail that can be detected and recorded. The smaller the recordable detail, the higher the resolution. The problem raised by your question is answered by basic physics. Above a certain threshold - say, 1/125s on average - blur caused by slight, almost imperceptible movement of the photographer or the camera when the shutter is fired (e.g., caused by the downward push of the shutter, heartbeat pump tremor, slight hand movement, wind gust, etc., etc., etc.) is less likely to be visibly recorded in a 6-12 megapixel system. The reason is simply that the slight movement (below a certain amplitude) is insufficient to be recorded at shutter speeds of 1/125s which overcome the effect of such slight movement in that range of pixel density. The movement I'm referring to is natural enough in most photographers, and has formed part of the design basis on which recommended shutter speed/focal length ratios have evolved over the years in respect of detail resolution at typical print sizes and print viewing distances. Photographers who now have the option of only ever displaying their work at small tablet, laptop, desktop and web site sizes can push the shutter speed/focal length ratio a bit smaller (while still being cognizant of the softening effect of digital noise creeping in at high ISO settings), but as desktop monitor sizes and resolutions increase and as tablet resolutions increase, the older rules have reasserted themselves.

Now take the same shooting situation, but increase the camera sensor's ability to record finer detail using sensors ranging in resolution from 16-36 megapixels. What happens is that the slight movement that was insufficient to create recordable blur at 1/125s is now occuring while using a camera that has a lot more pixels per square mm of sensor area. The slight movement which was inconsequential at 1/125s in the 6-12 megapixel cameras is recorded as slight but visible blur in the much higher resolution cameras because 1/125s is not fast enough to overcome the ability of the higher resolution sensors to record the movement. The way to help eliminate the problem is to increase shutter speed. It's not a penalty - it's just what happens to be needed to accommodate a given sensor resolution and focal length being used in the lighting available.

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Howard Carson

gbheron

Cedar Falls, US
216 posts

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#24. "RE: D800 and Soft images" | In response to Reply # 22

gbheron Gold Member Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 22nd Apr 2007
Sun 03-Feb-13 02:42 PM

Good morning, Grant,

I try to support the camera when at all practical. I cannot even imagine shooting the equivalent of a 600mm telephoto lens on a medium format camera. My current lenses and supports are heavy enough, especially after walking a few miles over hilly ground! Much of my close-up shooting is done hand-held with the 200mm micro-Nikkor and SB-900, but the flash duration is acting as the effective shutter speed. The 300mm f/4 AF-S is often used for the shier subjects. Imagine these lenses scaled up to the sizes necessary to fill the frame of a medium format camera. My D200 and D800E are heavy enough with the telephotos, flash brackets, and speedlights. I toyed with the idea of trying MF equipment after I retired, but then considered my shooting style and the weight involved if everything was scaled up.

Happy Nikon shooting,
Randy

harleyd8

US
3 posts

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#25. "RE: D800 and Soft images" | In response to Reply # 24

harleyd8 Registered since 10th Aug 2012
Sun 03-Feb-13 05:57 PM

Thanks so much for the responses.

Howard,

When I mentioned lens shutters I was thinking of the Mamiya RB/RZ series as well as Hasselblad, Bronica, etc. All have leaf shutters with the Mamiya only going to 1/400 second. I was just curious how the PhaseOne backs were able to perform on these cameras at all. I realize the 645D has a top of 1/4000 and is also 3X the price of the D800. For me to go high pixel count it will most definitely involve a FX sensor vs MF sensor due to price, unless I find a screaming deal on a used sensor.

Really not trying to buck the system, I just like to use small apertures for maximum DOF, which necessitates a slower shutter speed. I'm just trying to determine if I would be better off with the D800 or possibly a used D3X for my particular needs. I only mentioned the Pentax 645D because I thought I saw a used one for about $4K USD. If I did it must have fallen off a truck.

I'm definitely not opposed to tripod use. Don't mind locking up my mirror if I need to. Again, just trying to understand the sensor resolution issue so that I can make the right choice for me and my style of shooting.

Randy,

I recently purchased a Bronica ETRS as well as a GS-1 system. While I do love shooting MF with film, I have come to realize that after factoring in the costs of "quality" processing to include film development and scanning, I'll have to take out a second mortage on the house to afford this route. My primary lens on my D2X has been a Tokina 20-35 since I got it about 3 months ago. Absolutely love it.
I do have 300mm & 400mm primes but as yet have not had a chance to use them.

Thank you again for taking the time to respond and help to clarify some of my concerns. It appears I have a considerable amount of research left prior to my next camera purchase.

Grant

JHzlwd

Calgary, CA
458 posts

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#26. "RE: D800 and Soft images" | In response to Reply # 0

JHzlwd Silver Member Donor Ribbon awarded for his support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 03rd Oct 2007
Sun 03-Feb-13 07:30 PM

Seems odd. I could see the 24-120 failing to exploit fully the resolution of the D800 but not the 24-70. My 800 delivers stunningly sharp images with the 24-70 and, indeed, all my other Nikkors. I am somewhat at odds with the view you need to use higher shutter speeds with the D800. Why not the D7000 too, which has almost identical resolution? I have not found any need to adopt a stricter regime of shutter speed management with the D800. Without VR engaged (you don't have it anyway on the 24-70) the old adage of shutter speed numerically equal to focal length for handheld works just fine.

If your most recent tests show no improvement I suspect you need to have Nikon take a look at the unit. Years ago in film days I knew another pro who had a lot of Nikon, Canon and Pentax gear. When he bought something new - lens or body - he would shoot a roll and 9 times out of 10 send the purchase back with a very snarky note demanding they "finish building it" by re-evaluating the entire unit. He claimed quality assurance at the factory passes equipment according to a fairly permissive standard compared to what the equipment can actually be made to do. In the shop they can frequently improve on that with visible results even though the product passed QA. If he saw *anything* even slightly amiss, such as with shutter speed or exposure, back it went with that sarcastic note. On occasion he would return something on warranty even before taking it out of the box - right there in the store ("I don't have the time to test everything I buy."). He bought enough stuff I guess they would put up with this.

Bottom line: Marginally performing units do make it to the store shelf once in awhile.

Best wishes,
JH

http://www.wolfwillow.com/Photo/WPhoto

agitater

Toronto, CA
4527 posts

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#27. "RE: D800 and Soft images" | In response to Reply # 25

agitater Gold Member Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 18th Jan 2007
Sun 03-Feb-13 09:13 PM

>When I mentioned lens shutters I was thinking of the Mamiya
>RB/RZ series as well as Hasselblad, Bronica, etc. All have
>leaf shutters with the Mamiya only going to 1/400 second. I
>was just curious how the PhaseOne backs were able to perform
>on these cameras at all.

If you haven't visited the site already, have a peek at the medium format discussion and support forums such the busy one at Luminous Landscape. Lots of authorities over there.

>Really not trying to buck the system, I just like to use small
>apertures for maximum DOF, which necessitates a slower shutter
>speed. I'm just trying to determine if I would be better off
>with the D800 or possibly a used D3X for my particular needs.

Personally, I don't think you're system bucking at all. Your questions are important. Anyway, I don't know of anyone who can point to specific image quality improvements provided by the D800 over the D3X or vice versa. Mind you, if I personally had to make the choice, I'd buy the less expensive of the two. The pixel density of the D800 sensor is higher, but the pixel density of the 24.5mp D3x is still very, very high too.

>Thank you again for taking the time to respond and help to
>clarify some of my concerns. It appears I have a considerable
>amount of research left prior to my next camera purchase.

One of the things offered by the D800, D3x and D4 when comparing them to medium format digital is the high ISO/low noise performance of the Nikon bodies. At 50, 100, 200 and even 400 ISO the latest medium format digital backs and bodies produce gorgeous results. In comparable shooting situations, the D800, D3x and D4 do precisely as well for print sizes anywhere up to 16x20 (and exhibition and fine art shooters are printing competitively even larger using D800 originals). For the studio and fashion shooters, medium format rules because they need res, res and more res for the retouchers (among other reasons). However, the D800 is showing up in studios now because it's a 36mp bargain compared to the cost of a 45mp PhaseOne. The thing is, the D800, D3x and D4 shine just as brightly when printing big photos made above ISO800, above 1600 and depending on the scene and subject matter) all the way up to ISO3200. Medium format can't touch that at this time. Get anywhere north of ISO800 with any medium format back or body and things fall apart real fast - unusably so. I think that's the best case I can make for the D800.

I think you can shoot a D800 for landscapes just as you would any other top-of-the-range digital body, and you can do it at whatever shutter speed and aperture provides you with both the depth of field you want at the ISO that works for the intended eventual output. Nothing new there, and you need a tripod that is properly footed and anchored, a shutter release and mirror lockup technique that reduces or eliminates vibration, still air, and the loan of some of the magic pixie dust that I'm convinced the best landscape shooters secretly sprinkle around their locations.

What I hope landscape shooters will glean from my explanation of blur is mainly that whatever technique has been used to get your best landscape shots in the past with lower res cameras, can still be used as the basis for fine results from the D800. However, if a photographer never anchored his tripod with a sand bag before and his tripod is just a light duty model, he might have to start using a sand bag when he shoots a D800 from the same tripod. If he was hand triggering the shutter with his lower res camera, he might want to consider a remote trigger or the self-timer to trip the shutter when using the D800 on a well-anchored tripod.

The point is that we don't see digital medium format landscape shooters successfully using anything other than well-anchored, heavy-duty tripods, and exposing with fastest possible shutter and low possible ISO for their chosen aperture. I think that serious D800 landscape shooters have to do the exact same thing and for all the same/right reasons.

I hope this helps your decision making process.

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Howard Carson

harleyd8

US
3 posts

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#28. "RE: D800 and Soft images" | In response to Reply # 27

harleyd8 Registered since 10th Aug 2012
Sun 03-Feb-13 10:05 PM

Howard,

Thank you very much for the in depth explanations! I too am becoming a believer in the pixie dust. My bag appears to have a hole it cause so far I seem to arrive on location with it empty.

Thanks.

Grant

G