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D7000 AF / softness issues


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pdeys

US
8 posts

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pdeys Registered since 20th May 2011
Sun 22-May-11 10:20 PM | edited Sun 22-May-11 10:28 PM by pdeys

I appreciate your patience as I walk through my findings so far - maybe this will help others with similar issues. I will get to my questions at the end. The general issue is that I can't get really sharp shots with my D7000 and Nikkor AF-S 18-200mm lens. I've taken mostly shots of my kid's little league team while sitting down and I have a fairly steady hand. I need to be nimble so a tripod won't work.

I've been reading various posts and advice for the past week and I'm still not sure what, if anything, I'm doing wrong. According to most of what I've read, I either have a lens that's not good enough for the sensor and/or I'm moving too much when I shoot. I've heard that my lens (above) is not the sharpest but it's a great walkaround due to the huge range. It worked great on my D5000 and took super sharp shots.

So, what I've learned about the D7000 is that due to the higher MP, it is far more sensitive to movement. Even at a high shutter speed and with VR on, you need excellent technique to get sharp shots. (Interestingly, Nikon support told me to turn off VR at high shutter speeds.) I also picked up that you don't want to max out aperture as that can reduce sharpness (obviously, need to reduce shutter speed to compensate). There is also a sharpness setting you can adjust (not that easy to find - it's under Picture Control and you drill into the setting you want to use). Finally, I read that turning on ADL (Active D-Lighting) can help. Then somewhere else I read that it should be turned off.

Okay, so here are my questions:
1. Should I be looking at a new lens? I looked at the Nikon site and really couldn't find a compelling replacement for my 18-200mm. I'm up for buying a lens that is really sharp at 55mm (DX) for my cityscape shots and I'll just live with the 18-200mm until the next upgrade. I'd even do an FX lens since I'll be upgrading at some point. Any suggestions?
2. Are there other settings I should be looking to change? As I said, I've upped the sharpness to +6 and contrast to +1 per others' advice. ADL is back to OFF. I'm going to try slightly lower aperture and shutter speed at the next outing. Should VR be on or off, assuming ss of around 500-800? (And yes, I did look at Chris's settings guide - it's great but I'm trying to find out if there's something else I can do specific to sharpness)
3. Is there a final verdict on the AF "issue?" Some insist there is an issue and that you need to fine tune every lens via a tedious and eye-straining process. Others say it's all user error and if you're steady with perfect technique you can take sharp shots. I think I'm going to try MF vs. AF and see if I can figure it out for myself, but any guidance is appreciated.
4. On the AF issue (I was getting a lot of soft/blurry shots), Nikon support suggested using AF-S. That so doesn't make sense to me if the subject is moving. Isn't that the point of settings like AF-C and the 3D mode?
5. Any links to sites with guidance on technique (especially specific to this camera) are also appreciated

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