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How do I get sharper, in-focus pictures? Want to learn!

ajdooley

Waterloo, US
3330 posts

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"RE: How do I get sharper, in-focus pictures? Want to learn!"

ajdooley Gold Member Nikonian since 25th May 2006
Tue 14-May-13 02:46 PM

Bruce -- First, welcome to Nikonians. I think you will find this group to be the most important accessory you have for your D800. Before I go on, yes indeed -- fill out your profile. It helps to understand what you are using -- camera, lenses, software, etc. Sometimes someone may suggest an alternative or other use of what you have.

I am going to address your question in order. I may not have much to say on some, so I won't make up answers!

1) Will tweaking the diopter help achieve, have any bearing on or aid this mission in any way? Did you leave it at the factory position?
**The diopter adjustment has no effect on autofocus. It sharpens your view of the information on the screen and helps if you are manually focusing. It also helps you to see your image batter. Just pull the little knob out, look at a blank wall through the viewfinder and twiddle with the knob until the info on the edges of your screen is tack sharp. It's kind of like testing reading glasses at the grocery store!

2) AF-fine tune with each lens. Mandatory, optional or worthwhile? Is this difficult to do with a zoom lens? That's all I have. The manual recommends to leave it alone unless absolutely necessary. So, how do I know if it will help and if so how to properly utilize it for best results. Unfortunately, diagnostic testing (being a non-tech person in some respects) is not my forte.
** I agree with Nikon's recommendation and that of others. Unless you have primes (single focal length lenses), I have found AF tuning pretty limited use. Zooms are susceptible to some focus shift when you zoom them. To this point -- and I just added a D800 to my pair of D700s two weeks ago -- I am getting mostly sharp images from my zooms.

3a) In camera sharpening. Just found out this existed! Applies only to JPEGS. Factory default seems to be 4. Sufficient as is? Boost a couple of notches? I use Vibrant.
** I shoot RAW, so this isn't my forte. You can both sharpen and make images more vivid in post processing. This is why, incidentally, we'd like to see your profile. What do you use to process images?

3b) For RAW processing: How is Lightroom used to achieve a satisfactory degree of sharpness with noise/artifacts masked? What does clarity slider do compared to that of the sharpness section? What is the proper technique to obtain the right level and not overdo it? A online tutorial may well be in order.
** I am using CS6, but the RAW processor is identical to LR4, I believe. Don't overdo clarity, and sharpening is a separate function. I do not add any sharpening in my cameras because it does not apply to the RAW images I use. I do record a basic jpg with each RAW NEF, but that's just to take a quick look for a desired image when I am doing newspaper work and time is important.

4) Do you use Mirror-up mode to get sharper shots? Does it really help?

Will this mode work with handheld shots? Are there any cons or any other advantages to using this over the factory default position?
** I use MUP only for macro work -- and not always for that.

5) Does the Auto Distortion control have any relevance or potential impact?
** It should have no impact on sharpness.

6) Under what conditions/circumstances should I use manual instead of auto-focusing? Maybe auto focus didn't work properly or as needed in some cases.
** I use autofocus -- various types -- virtually all the time. The D800's autofocus capability is superb. I'd use it if I were you.

7) Disable in camera noise reduction? I never shoot at ISO's above 800. Does it really have any real significance at 100 or 200? Anything appreciably to be gained here?
** I agree with another comment. ISO 800 is not even approaching the "wall", let alone exceeding it. Experiment Bruce. Electrons are after all, free! Today -- find a low light situation and start at 1600, then go to 3200 and 6400. Don't stop there. Noise will become evident first in shadow or dark areas. But there are softwares for dampening it down.

8) For the average enthusiast: At what shutter speed triggers the threshold/edge of shakiness?
** The old rule of thumb was 1/focal length: a 50mm lens could be handheld at 1/50th of a second. As I have moved up to the D700 and now the D800, I have gone from 1.5/FL to 2/FL. This is because the greater pixel density is able to discern slight camera movement -- and also focus errors.

In summary, I hand hold 98% of my work. I suggest that any problems you are encountering will gradually or maybe all of a suddenly, succumb to practice, attention to detail and more practice. Remember again -- electrons are free. Also, learn from mistakes, show them to those who will help, and hide them from others! Just kidding! I have told several people that handholding a camera is much like shooting a rifle -- hold it firmly, take a breath, let it part way out and squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeze.

I also recommend reading good books on photography. The one recommend here at Nikonians for your D800 is superb, as I Dave Busch's book on the sD800/D800e. I hesitate to say it here -- but I like Busch's version better.

Good luck, and again, welcome to Nikonians!

Alan
Waterloo, IL, USA
www.proimagingmidamerica.com

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

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