Hi all, I recently purchased a Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VRI used. The body I am using is D7100. Any action shots that I take with it are always soft and not crisp. If I take a picture of something stationary they shots are more in focus but not as sharp as I hope for. I can switch over to my Nikon Prime 300mm f4. and the shots are crisp no comparison. I am thinking of sending this lens in to get calibrated to Nikon Canada. Any suggestions in regarding my situation would be great appreciated. Thanks Bro
I agree with Michael, I'd see if I could return the lens. I use one of those lenses with a D7100 and there is no reason why you shouldn't get sharp shots with it if it's working properly. But the 70-200 is one of the most mechanically and electrically complex lenses Nikon makes; there is a lot that can go wrong in it.
Here is one example of a shot with that combination. Here's the full image, followed by a 100% crop (JPEG with no additional sharpening):
Before sending the lens in for recalibration or returning it to the seller, I would try setting up an autofocus fine-tune value for it. Search the internet for 'autofocus dot tune'. There is a Youtube video that explains how to use this method and you won't need any additional equipment to do it. You will probably find that the fine tune value is different at different focal lengths, so you may have to pick a compromise value, or use the best value for the focal lengths you use the most. If this doesn't net you sharp focus, then you will have to choose whether to return the lens or not.
>Before sending the lens in for recalibration or returning it >to the seller, I would try setting up an autofocus fine-tune >value for it. Search the internet for 'autofocus dot tune'. >There is a Youtube video that explains how to use this method >and you won't need any additional equipment to do it. You will >probably find that the fine tune value is different at >different focal lengths, so you may have to pick a compromise >value, or use the best value for the focal lengths you use the >most. If this doesn't net you sharp focus, then you will have >to choose whether to return the lens or not.
Toby01,thanks for the suggestion auto focus dot tune. I spent about a hour yesterday with the lens tuning it. I went out in the afternoon to take some shots I feel there has been improvement in the focusing. Thanks for all of your responses, I have added some photos for you to see and critique
I believe they could be sharper yet. How much experience do you have with the D7100 and moving subjects? I ask because the pixel dense sensor is rather unforgiving and its not hard to bobble shots without even realising it. I've got a pretty good background with action work and the D7100 taxed my technique at first until I settled in and concentrated a bit more. I, too, was getting a disturbing number of slightly soft pics that were close but no cigar.
I recently shot a 3 day sled dog race with the D7100 & 70-200 f2.8 as my primary rig. Here's an example:
The initial problems I see are with your setup - not your lens.
These images are all cropped pretty heavily. When you crop heavily you'll see flaws that are not normal. You might simply need a longer lens.
The 70-200 is not at its sharpest at f/2.8 - it's actually soft. You'll need to stop down a little for better results. F/4 should work better. That does not mean you should not use f/2.8 - f/3.5 - just know that you are compromising sharpness a little.
I'm seeing you use Dynamic AF - both 21 point and all sensors. The AF point is not on the subject in any of these images. AF Single point is the best way to know which sensor is being used. For testing and AF Fine Tuning, the central AF sensor is the one to use. The other sensors work - just not as well as the center. If you have a subject that is tough to track - like these images - it takes a lot of practice. You can start by using Dynamic 9 Point AF - and the camera will choose the sensor withing that group it thinks is best.
For context, the 70-200 is not at it's sharpest at 200mm focal lengths. It's good and you should use it at 200mm - but at 200mm you get better results stopped down to f/5.6 to f/8.
Shooting a fast moving subject - dog or pigeon - takes practice. You're going to miss a lot of images. That's normal but can be improved with practice. But still - you're going to miss way more than you get right.
AF Fine Tuning is for static subjects under controlled conditions. Yes - it can help with moving subjects, but it's not a panacea. The issues you are facing are unlikely to be related to AF Fine Tuning.
Sorry not trying to highjack someones post but just wanted to use the opportunity to say how much I appreciate Erics reply, always so concise and easy to understand, I learnt something from this one when I didn't know I had a problem.
My comments about aperture and focal length are not the same for the 70-200 VR II. It's surprising how much these two lenses differ. The VRII model is quite good at 200mm and a little better more open than f/4. I think the VR II model is better with a teleconverter, but it is also very likely that's because the VRI model needs to be stopped down quite a bit to be sharp and that is counter to the way the lens is used or tested.
I also have found that if I don't need to crop to much, I can use sharpening to make up for a little softness. The 70-200 is my favorite lens. The VRI model is quite good on DX, but for FX the VR II model is worth the added cost.
Eric, Thanks for taking the time to explain to me about my setup. I went back out and took a few more shots with AF-S settings I am happy with the sharpness as you pointed out getting the subject in the proper position will take practice. Bro
Just to be clear, I use AF-C and with AF Area Mode set for Single. I get frustrated if the camera won't fire because it thinks it is not in focus and AF-C uses Releaase priority and is better for a moving subject.
I don't see a disadvantage of AF-C compared to AF-S. AF-S is better if you require good focus above good timing and can take the shot again.
Stay with it. A couple of weeks ago I was out with my fast moving dogs and the 70-200. After 50-60 frames I started to figure out what to do to capture good images, but there is a big difference between sharp for the web and sharp for a large print. Practice makes a huge difference.
VR turned off, focus limit at 2.5m-∞ Aperture Priority Matrix metering Auto ISO, max ISO 1600, min shutter speed 1/1250s Frame rate at Continuous High AF-C Dynamic with 9 points AF-C set to Release Priority (a1) Focus tracking lock set to Off (a3) AE-L/AF-L button set to AF On (f4)