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Photo not as clear/sharp when uploaded to computer

edited April 2016 Posted in » General Discussion
For awhile now my photos haven't really been clear when I upload them to my computer. I'm barely getting into photography and I've played around with the shutter speed, aperture, image size, ISO (not sure if any of those even matter for sharp/clear photos), and it always comes out the same when importing them to my computer. Am I doing something wrong while shooting? I feel like my focusing is at a good level.


  • edited April 2016
    To start with, it may depend on the computer itself, and on what software you're using to view, and even on what size the software is using. Some image viewers make poor edge choices at some sizes and not at others.

    To start with, I'd try getting the sharpest possible image off the camera. For a test of that, use the lowest ISO possible. Put the aperture at something around f/8, no smaller than f/16 (to avoid diffraction blur). Use Aperture priority to start with. Set focus at single point, single servo, set the image type at Raw, and try to use a shutter speed faster than 1/30 for the kit lens. Set picture control to normal. If you can't get a fast enough shutter speed, up the ISO, but try to keep it below ISO 800. Manual ISO is better, but if you use auto ISO, make sure that it does not go up to the very high ISO levels, which reduce clarity and add noise. Try shooting a still subject using single servo, single point AF. For practice purposes, something like a brick wall can be very handy. If you have a tripod, use it. If your lens has VR (or stability control), use it for hand holding and turn it off on the tripod.

    Now if the camera is a Nikon, use the View NX2 program if it came with your camera, or get Capture NXD from the Nikon web site. Something that reads Nikon Raw files well. If it's not Nikon, there should be some similar software that comes with it.

    If you cannot find any of those, I recommend the freeware program Faststone Image Viewer. Make sure you have the necessary raw reading codec for your computer, which may or may not come with it (I don't remember, and it may depend on your OS). This program generally produces a very nice full screen image that is reasonably sharp, and has a magnifying capability as well.

    Open the file at full screen view, and you can then magnify as needed.

    If you get a nice sharp image then, the camera passes the test, and you can start figuring out what may or may not be contributing to poor computer viewing.

    Many things can contribute to poor sharpness. Make sure that you can hold the camera steadily at the shutter speed you use. Make sure that you know where it is focused, and have control over focus. Shoot raw or, if you must use JPG, use the largest and least compressed image size.

    When you view a file the program you're using makes a conversion to JPG using the information embedded in the file, even if the file is Raw to start with. Different programs may read a file better or worse, and some programs, as well as monitors, may sharpen a little or do other operations that make an image look much better. If I look at a picture on my crummy little traveling netbook, it's pretty poor. If I look at the same picture on a big Apple monitor, it looks much much better.

    Consider the possibility (we hope not) that your lens may not be autofocusing accurately. Try if you can to compare images taken with the viewfinder and Live view. Live view is hard to hold steadily but the AF is done differently and is not subject to the same errors. Some lens and camera combinations may have a focusing error in viewfinder mode, and one way you can test that is if you lay a yardstick or tape measure on the floor. Now get down low, and shoot at an angle, focusing on a very specific point on the yardstick, with your aperture set as wide open as it will go, for the shallowest depth of field. You can use a row of bottles or cans or candles or the like on a tabletop, too. Use the viewfinder for AF, not Live view. Now study the picture. If your focus is accurate, the point you aimed at will be clear, and those ahead and behind it will be fuzzy. If the clearest spot is not very close to what you aimed at, there may be an error. Unfortunately, most lower-end cameras do not allow you to correct such errors, and if it's bad enough you may need to seek service. Among the DX format Nikons, only the D7xxx family allow focus fine tuning. Luckily many of the lower end ones are pretty carefully put together, and errors are not too common and rarely bad enough to worry about.
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