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

FutureFocus

Leominster, US
64 posts

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FutureFocus Registered since 18th Feb 2013
Mon 13-May-13 08:37 PM | edited Mon 13-May-13 08:39 PM by FutureFocus

Unexpectedly soft images- Please bear and read through - Thanks!

After roughly 2k's worth of shots and almost a month of ownership, I'm not getting the degree of focus or sharpness to be expected/hoped for especially when directly compared to what I've seen online. Yes, my budget does not allow for more expensive 1.4/1.8/2.8 optimal glass nor have I yet mastered professional technique, however things can be improved with your seasoned advice. My main all-purpose lens is the 24-120 f4 & use Lightroom 4.4 for processing. My goal is to pinpoint & to incorporate whatever combination of factors it will take within reason in order to yield significantly better output/results! Here's where we all can pitch in synergistically to get this accomplished.

I have multiple tripods and still need a corded or remote release control soon. For example: the Nikon MC36-A @ $160 is too pricy. What do you use? The device doesn't have to have every bell and whistle! My particular area of concern is the 800's performance when handheld. I handhold most of the time. Tripods make a large footprint and can't be used in a museum or crowded area.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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?

5) Does the Auto Distortion control have any relevance or potential impact?

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.

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?

8) For the average enthusiast: At what shutter speed triggers the threshold/edge of shakiness?

Thanks in advance for any comments, pointers, tips or recommendations.

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