Have I reached the limit of sharpness


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Dec 7, 2011
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Tampines, Singapore
#1
Good Day Fellow CSers,

I have a question with an image that I captured recently and I was hoping for some advice.

I shot the image below hand held, the settings are as follows. Using a Nikon D300, f/2.8 1/4000 s ISO 800 @ a focal length of 200mm on a Nikkor 80-200 f/2.8D. I tried using single point focus and attempted to focus at the eye of the bird. The image was taken approximately 5-6 meters away from subject.



My Question is: What can I do the make the image sharper, would a tripod help? Am I at the limit of sharpness due to the equipment/lens used or should I something else? My Intent is to bring out the details in the birds feathers. Should I be using a longer lens (perhaps a 400mm focal length) to achieve the desired image?

I tried to using smart sharpen / Unsharp mask the image but after a certain point I'm starting to see artifacts in the image.

Thank You for your time.
 

Ian

Senior Member
Feb 20, 2002
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#2
A tripod will help no end, so will stopping down the lens 1-2 stops as that will increase the depth of field that is in focus. You can also play around with USM in Photoshop as it is capable of some very good results. Getting closer to your subject will also help.
 

nedy77

New Member
Jun 21, 2005
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#3
The bird doesn't looks to be in focus; hence not sharp

The focus point could have shifted the moment you clicked
 

CamInit

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Nov 3, 2009
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#5
Looks rather soft actually. Any 100% crop?

I just plug your figures into dof calculator. At your settings (5m distance) you only have a DOF of 7cm (3.5cm front and 3.5cm back). Given you are focusing at the eye, there's no way the 3.5cm depth can cover all the feathers of the bird. This is assuming there's no handshake and no front/back focusing issues.
 

Rashkae

Senior Member
Nov 28, 2005
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#6
Looks rather soft actually. Any 100% crop?

I just plug your figures into dof calculator. At your settings (5m distance) you only have a DOF of 7cm (3.5cm front and 3.5cm back). Given you are focusing at the eye, there's no way the 3.5cm depth can cover all the feathers of the bird. This is assuming there's no handshake and no front/back focusing issues.
Also, the D300 is not the best at High ISO. You are shooting at ISO 800, where there will already be some degradation of the details. I would suggest ISO 200, or 400 at most. Your shutter speed is already quite high.
 

donut88

Senior Member
Nov 14, 2008
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#7
nkartikeyan said:
Good Day Fellow CSers,

I have a question with an image that I captured recently and I was hoping for some advice.

I shot the image below hand held, the settings are as follows. Using a Nikon D300, f/2.8 1/4000 s ISO 800 @ a focal length of 200mm on a Nikkor 80-200 f/2.8D. I tried using single point focus and attempted to focus at the eye of the bird. The image was taken approximately 5-6 meters away from subject.

My Question is: What can I do the make the image sharper, would a tripod help? Am I at the limit of sharpness due to the equipment/lens used or should I something else? My Intent is to bring out the details in the birds feathers. Should I be using a longer lens (perhaps a 400mm focal length) to achieve the desired image?

I tried to using smart sharpen / Unsharp mask the image but after a certain point I'm starting to see artifacts in the image.

Thank You for your time.
U got to understand the sweet spot of your lens. Yr lens is f2.8, and it doesn't mean f2.8 will give you the sharpest detail. U got to step down at least 2 stops, to get the sweet spot.

U can try taking a shot of anything with different f stops to see the difference in sharpness. Once u understand where are the sweet spots of ur lens, u will know how to adjust in future

As a beginner, like myself, use either A or S mode first and understand how it works. Full manual control will be later, when u fully understand how the "trinity" works.
 

Prismatic

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Feb 25, 2003
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#8
Your settings are kind of extreme; if you have reduce the shutter speed to 1/2000, you could have shot at f/4.0. This will give you plenty of d.o.f to enclose the entire bird. If you have reduced further to 1/1000, you could have shot at ISO 400 too. 1/1000 should be more than sufficient to eliminate handshake and blurring due to subtle movement of the bird.
 

Dec 7, 2011
78
0
0
Tampines, Singapore
#9
Thank you everyone for your valuable advice. Yup, I guess I was over zealous with creating the soft backgrounds that I didn't consider depth of field too much when taking the shots. Possibly, I was over excited and the focus point might have shifted. I will play around with DOF calculators to learn more about my limitations.

I hope for another opportunity to take more shots and test out these suggestions again. Yes, I think stopping down to f/4 and decreasing the ISO should still give me a fast enough shutter speed to ensure a clear shot.

I was kinda aware of this, but I guess this experience helped my to understand and work with limitations better. Looking forward to take more good shots and share them with everyone. :)
 

Sispecho

New Member
Sep 11, 2006
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Clementi
#10
nkartikeyan said:
Good Day Fellow CSers,

I have a question with an image that I captured recently and I was hoping for some advice.

I shot the image below hand held, the settings are as follows. Using a Nikon D300, f/2.8 1/4000 s ISO 800 @ a focal length of 200mm on a Nikkor 80-200 f/2.8D. I tried using single point focus and attempted to focus at the eye of the bird. The image was taken approximately 5-6 meters away from subject.

My Question is: What can I do the make the image sharper, would a tripod help? Am I at the limit of sharpness due to the equipment/lens used or should I something else? My Intent is to bring out the details in the birds feathers. Should I be using a longer lens (perhaps a 400mm focal length) to achieve the desired image?

I tried to using smart sharpen / Unsharp mask the image but after a certain point I'm starting to see artifacts in the image.

Thank You for your time.

Optimal conditions give optimal settings and optimal sharpness.

Most lens are sharpest at f8.
Most sensors produce best output at Base iso. Not sure abt your cam. Maybe iso 200 or 100?
Most times VR dnt make your images sharpest. If somehow your shutter speed drags, use a tripod. But in your case, shooting a bird it shouldnt drag too long, else u get motion blur. Then choose your trade off of either aperture or iso to increase shutter speed.

Good luck and hope it helps.
 

photoart

Senior Member
Feb 21, 2009
2,601
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Singapore
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#11
Thank you everyone for your valuable advice. Yup, I guess I was over zealous with creating the soft backgrounds that I didn't consider depth of field too much when taking the shots. Possibly, I was over excited and the focus point might have shifted. I will play around with DOF calculators to learn more about my limitations.

I hope for another opportunity to take more shots and test out these suggestions again. Yes, I think stopping down to f/4 and decreasing the ISO should still give me a fast enough shutter speed to ensure a clear shot.

I was kinda aware of this, but I guess this experience helped my to understand and work with limitations better. Looking forward to take more good shots and share them with everyone. :)
Yes,way back when I first got my first macro prime lens, I also got over zealous and shot insects at the widest aperture. It was after several unsatisfactory results and learning from the experts in Clubsnap that I finally learnt the trick.

Shoot more and don't give up :)
 

r0n1n

Senior Member
Mar 9, 2009
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Wild Wild West
#14
Most times VR dnt make your images sharpest. If somehow your shutter speed drags, use a tripod. But in your case, shooting a bird it shouldnt drag too long, else u get motion blur. Then choose your trade off of either aperture or iso to increase shutter speed.
Shooting handheld at 200mm is subject to cam shake and VR helps a lot, specially if got shaky hands like me. But it doesn't apply to TS' problem since 80-200 doesn't have VR ;)


I hv the same lens, a little soft wide open, close down to f4 for 200mm.
yes agree with you, a little soft wide open. i usually shoot f8-f11 back then
 

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