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Photo Sharpness

edited July 2013 Posted in » Nikon D5100 Forum
Hi,
I just bought a D5100. It came with the kit 18-55mm VR and 55-200mm ED VR.

I have taken a whole bunch of test shots and I'm a little bit disappointed with the picture sharpness. The 55-200mm is a bit better than the smaller lens.

I should say that the pictures look sharp and the colors are great, but if I zoom in 100% using Picassa the edges are not really sharp. This reduces the cropping available.

I should say that I am comparing to my wife's Canon 550D which also has just kit lenses. All shots are razor sharp and can be zoomed and cropped while still getting really sharp pictures. The 550D has a few more megapixel sensor, but I would not have thought it would have made such a difference.

I have tried every tip on the forum and it makes no difference (i.e. hiking up the sharpness in the picture control).

Any ideas? I will probably get the 35mm prime lens at some point as it's said to be very sharp.

Is it noise I'm getting around the edges of the subjects? I'm fairly new to DSLR so I don't really understand noise.

Cheers

Comments

  • @evereti - If you could post some examples to Google, Flickr or Facebook and then link to it, I'd be happy to take a look and point you in the right direction. Without actually seeing a couple examples, it's hard to say what might be causing the lack of sharpness.
  • edited August 2013
    Hi Moose,
    I think I have put some samples in Flickr at this link.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/evereti/sets/72157634904722333/

    In the picture of the apartments with the red roofs, the roofs lose their sharpness when zoomed to 100% in Picasa. In the shot of the wee lad sailing at 100% zoom you can see the slight fuzziness around his black shirt.

    I have also added a crop to about 100% zoom. Not sure if this works as I have no idea how to zoom to 100% in Picasa then capture that.

    At 50% these shots are all great and at 75% they are still very nice.

    My other half says there is nothing wrong with my shots but that's OK for her to say with her razor sharp Canon 550D. It may be that these shots are all I can expect from the D5100 and the kit lenses. If so, that's fine and I will get a 35mm prime for Christmas.

    Cheers, Ian
  • edited August 2013
    Hi @evereti - I agree with your wife, your shots are fine until you start to pixel peep. Why would you want to crop the Villa Aqua photo anyway?

    As for the sharpness, I have looked very carefully at your photos and I think that part of the problem may be that you are not achieving a sufficient depth of field, but without knowing the settings you used, it is hard to tell.

    Could you possibly post the aperture settings for these pictures and the lens in use at the time.

    Regards, PBked
  • edited August 2013
    Hi @PBked,

    Exif as follows:

    DSC 0373 Villa Aqua f/10 ISO 200 1/400 FL=55mm
    DSC 0368 Yachting Lad f/8 ISO 200 1/1000 FL=135mm
    DSC 0356 Our Front Door f/9 ISO 200 1/320 FL=55mm
    DSC 0358 Corner of House f/8 ISO 200 1/250 FL=55mm

    All shots taken with Nikon 55-200mm DX ED VR lens.

    Cheers, Ian
  • edited August 2013
    Hi @evereti,

    Well with those settings, depth of field or camera shake isn't the answer because your shutter speeds are all in excess of the focal length. With shutter speeds like that you would not have needed to have VR set to on.

    Perhaps Moose can supply an answer because I cannot see a solution at the moment.

    Sorry, PBked
  • edited August 2013
    Hey @evereti - I took a look at your sample photos and in my opinion there aren't any sharpness or focusing issues. I'm assuming you're image quality is set to JPEG rather than NEF (RAW)?

    When shooting JPEG on a Nikon or Canon DSLR, you're basically allowing the camera to choose how much saturation, sharpness, contrast, etc... to apply to all of your photos.

    Most people assume that a 'straight-out-of-camera' JPEG photos are true unedited originals, however, that's not the case. The photo is first captured as a RAW file and then edited with the image processor.

    Canon traditionally applies a heavy amount of sharpening and color saturation to their JPEG's, while Nikon generally applies a low level of sharpening and more natural looking colors to their JPEG's.

    If you want to intensify the sharpness and/or saturation of your photos, I recommend...

    1. Set your image quality to NEF (RAW)
    2. Set your ISO to 100 when shooting in direct sunlight (in the example shots your ISO was set to 200)
    3. Use the included ViewNX 2 software program to process your RAW images

    If you don't want to shoot in RAW, then create or modify a Picture Control. Picture Controls allow you to apply different levels of sharpening, contrast and saturation to your JPEG's based on your eye. See page 91 of the D5100 manual for more info.

    All the best and happy shooting!

    P.S. Thanks @PBked
  • edited August 2013
    Hi Moose,

    I am pretty sure that I had adjusted the Picture Control for maximum sharpness. In the exif of the shots I uploaded the sharpness shown as hard. I assume that's how 9 on the settings shows in exif.

    I did try a few shots in RAW and used NX2. To be honest, the tiny improvement was not worth the effort of post processing. Might try it again.

    I have come to the conclusion that it is what it is and I will now love my D5100. I do really like the natural colors, the flippy LCD, selective color pop, and in camera HDR. Now that I am more used to how it handles and the controls, I find I prefer how it handles rather than the Canon 550D.

    Thanks for all your help, Ian
  • @evereti - Regarding the sharpness, you may think about investing in a good editing program like Lightroom. In addition to the number of default sliders for sharpness, contrast, clarity, etc...there are some really good plugins like Nik Sharpener (see here: www.niksoftware.com) that work with Lightroom to give you optimal sharpness both for screen and for print. All the best! :)
  • The problem with the Nik stuff is that, now it is owned by Google, you cannot buy in individual plugins anymore. That said, you can buy the lot for £95, which is a pretty big reduction.
  • edited February 2015
    Looking at the photos linked it looks as if the roof lines are pretty good, but the kid in the boat looks to me as if he's either been over-sharpened or suffered from JPG loss. If you're saving JPG images off of RAW, make sure you use the highest quality (at least for starters), and perhaps even try different programs. The algorithms for JPG compression vary greatly, some quite good, and some just awful. In general though, where you'll see the worst JPG artifacts is at margins, such as the boundary between the boy and the sky.

    One of the better JPG programs is the file convert in View NX2. You need not do any post processing if you don't want, but you can right click on an image and convert it to JPG of varying sizes and qualities, including full size and 100 percent. Try comparing this to in-camera JPG and see if one is any better than the other.

    If you're going to crop or post process an image, it is best often if sharpening is the very last thing you do.
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