D7100 Sharpness/Focus?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by april_beatson, Jan 17, 2014.

  1. Hi everyone,
    This is my first time using this site & I don't know too much about professional photography so bear with me. I have recently acquired a Nikon D7100 and took it out for some test shots over the past 2 days. I have set the quality to "JPEG- FINE", and compression to optimal quality. My mode varied from auto/landscape/sunset (I haven't quite gotten into the Manual settings yet so I left everything at default). I was using a Sigma 10-20mm lens with both a Kenko polarizing & protection filter attached. I wasn't using a tripod, but holding the camera as still as possible.
    The first thing I noticed was the lack of clarity/sharpness/focus in the images I took. After today's shooting, I easily deleted over half the photos just for this reason. I'm not sure if this is just the way the camera is, there is an internal problem, or it's something that can be easily fixed through manual adjustment. That's why I came here. This is my first DSLR, and I wasn't expecting miracles, but did envision much higher quality images from such an expensive camera. I hoped upgrading cameras would give my pictures a more professional look but to be honest, so far the D7100 is less reliable than my FujiFilm F55EXR digital camera, and the quality doesn't seem to be much higher, if even on par. Also- I have a Nikkor 35mm prime lens which I tested but still getting similar results.
    Below are 3 photos I took with the D7100 (These were the clearest pictures I've gotten, Sigma 10-20mm lens, same settings as mentioned above; no editing), then another 3 I took with my FujiFilm F55EXR (with editing) for comparison. I'm hoping what I'm experiencing is due to my own amateur level haha… any advice/opinions/comments/etc would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
    D7100- 1: http://i443.photobucket.com/albums/qq160/apeinvegas/1.jpg
    D7100-2: http://i443.photobucket.com/albums/qq160/apeinvegas/2.jpg
    D7100-3: http://i443.photobucket.com/albums/qq160/apeinvegas/3.jpg
    F550EXR-1: http://i443.photobucket.com/albums/qq160/apeinvegas/Kites%20Posters/Test%20Images/B1.jpg
    F550EXR-2: http://i443.photobucket.com/albums/qq160/apeinvegas/Kites%20Posters/Test%20Images/B2.jpg
    F550EXR-3: http://i443.photobucket.com/albums/qq160/apeinvegas/B3.jpg
  2. I am no expert and I am sure others will chime in with much better suggestions, but I just wanted to address 1.jpg for a moment. You shot it at 1/40th of a second at ISO 800 handheld with a polarizer *and* a UV filter and it still looks pretty good, I would be extremely pleased with that image under those conditions, just speaking for myself. I personally would never stack filters, and I would also never use a polariser if my shutter speed was so low and I couldn't use a tripod - you have lost a lot of shutter speed due to the polariser.
    I also am unsure what your issue with the photos is - you say 'clarity' which is a little vague, but that first image at least looks like it's pretty sharp all things considered - perhaps you could be a little more explicit as to exactly what you don't like about the image? Is it because it is a little dark?
  3. If you want the Nikon images to look more like the Fuji images, the first thing you need to do is shoot in the same amount, quality and direction lof light, April.
  4. Welcome to Photo.net. You`re in the right place :D
    "I hoped upgrading cameras would give my pictures a more professional look but... "
    This is the first and common mistake, professional cameras doesn`t automatically give the images a professional look (maybe to the user... :), is the photographer behind the camera the one that set the camera in the right way to take that images.
    Some basic cameras have limited controls and features, so it could be hard to get what we are looking for. Advanced cameras are made to have a more precise control over the image, to have higher performance (focus, metering, image quality... ), or to have more custom options.
    Your photos seem "right" to me. Are Photobucket images full sized? Do you want more contrast? A sharper look? Brighter images?
    If so, you have to check the camera, and set your preferences. Or just edit your images (RAW files are much better for post processing, as the camera settings can be modified in all ways after the shot). BTW, are you comfortable with the basics? (metering, exposure control, shutter speeds, DoF, digital edition, etc...)
    Your photos seem fine, but maybe they lack a bit of contrast, brightness and sharpness; P&S cameras use to have this settings on the high side, while DSLRs on the medium or low side. It could explain the feel of many digicam users when they jump to DSLRs. Just learn how to get the most of your camera, which for sure is way more capable.
  5. April, I sort of have to echo what's been said already: You can't compare cameras or lenses unless you take the same subject under the same conditions and allow us to see the images at a sensibly large size. A little 640 x 480, or 1024 x 682 web snap is just too small to judge image quality from - especially sharpness.
    A good tripod is pretty much essential to eliminate camera shake when assessing lens quality; and make no mistake, it's the lens that contributes 95% to image quality, not the camera body. So I'm sorry to have to tell you that the Sigma 10-20mm lens isn't the best of lenses. There's a reason that it's about half the price of Nikon's own 10-24mm zoom, and that's basically that it isn't as good. Stacking two filters on the lens definitely won't help either.
    My advice would be to buy or borrow a sturdy tripod, remove all filters from the lens and try again. You may have a bad sample of lens, but from the look of those little pictures you've posted it seems of about the standard I'd expect from a lens in that price bracket. Also, reviews of the lens aren't at all complimentary about its sharpness at the widest end of its zoom range.
  6. I bought a D7100 and the first thing you'll find is that it needs good lenses to utilize it well. DPReview says your lens has inconsistent sharpness, so you need to learn the best way to use your lens too. Shooting in RAW will help you to be able to control more in post production and you need to understand how the focusing points work on the camera. Leaving it on automatic is usually not what you want. This camera requires time to learn and it's going to take some time. But that's ok, that's the fun part.
  7. April ...
    Welcome aboard and you do have a great camera now, so it's time for "school" :O). The responses you've gotten so far are good.
    A small issue, the polarizer only helps when your view is at 90 degrees to the sun (max effect).
    The sun is just off the camera view in the first two images and it is in the third.
    All that polarizer is doing then, is lengthening your exposure (possible camera shake, etc.), possibly inducing flare, ghosts and reflections and not really helping you.
    Also, a 10-20mm lens with a polarizer is asking for uneven polarization, as it covers so much territory with respect to the field of view.
    All the above posts are right; it boils down to light. "Photo" "graph" = "light" "picture". Bad light > bad picture. Over-simplified a tad, but close to the truth.
  8. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    The D7100's 24MP APS-C sensor is very demanding on your technique and lenses. Recently I noticed that I had to AF fine tune my 200-400mm/f4 lens on it.
    If you would like to check sharpness, I too would first remove those filters. Hopefully you have a tripod. I would set the D7100 on a tripod and use live view to manually focus your lenses. That is how you determine their true sharpness. The live view focused image should be your reference. After that, you fine tune your AF to match that reference.
    It'll take some practice, but it is not that much work.
  9. While all sage advice - I think the point is being missed here. All images are at f/8 or f/9 - so AF fine tune shouldn't really be the issue here. 2.jpg and 3.jpg are being focused rather close (even though the subject is certainly farther away), 6.3m and 2m - maybe the OP was attempting hyperfocal focusing? The DOF in all cases extends from front to back in the images and the 10-20 should do just find at these apertures. And as we all know, hyperfocal is a compromise that doesn't give the best sharpness at infinity (and the trees in 3.jpg are certainly at infinity; the house in 2.jpg seems farther away than 6m too).
    Another issue is the image size - they are all 2172 x 1448 pixels, which isn't any of the sizes native to the D7100 - so the question is, how did they get that way? In conjunction, since JPEG was recorded - what are the in-camera sharpness settings? Has additional been applied when the images were resized?

    Some responders apparently haven't even seen the 2172 x 1448 images; and the smaller ones on photobucket look indeed soft - maybe just due to the lack of sharpening applied when the uploaded image was down-sized and downsampled? The "original" size images do look fine to me, but given there size, it appears that "some editing" was done to them.
    I agree that stacking two filters is almost never a good idea; certainly not stacking a polarizer and a protective filter. Those F550EXR images are way too small to allow for sharpness judgement - I also expect that they come over-sharpened out of the camera anyway.
    So I'm sorry to have to tell you that the Sigma 10-20mm lens isn't the best of lenses. There's a reason that it's about half the price of Nikon's own 10-24mm zoom, and that's basically that it isn't as good.​
    I doubt that there is any significant difference between the Sigma and the Nikon 10-24 or 12-24 at around f/8. Let's first see what the original "unprocessed" images really look like before we start blaming the lens.
  10. If it's the 10-20mm f3.5, it's as good as the Nikon around f5.6/8 from frame centre to the edges.
    Definitely dump the 'protection' filter when using a polarizer.
    ISO 800 is going to be a bit noisy and have much lower Dynamic Range.
    Monopod maybe for the more walk-round stuff?
  11. If it's the 10-20mm f3.5​
    EXIF says it's the 4-5.6
    I had another look and took the liberty to download 2.jpg for a closer look. IMO, the image is severely underexposed - and as a result looks muddy. I upped the exposure by 1.5 EV and tweaked some other settings in ACR - a comparison between "original" and "tweaked" is shown below. The images look soft - mainly because I did not add any additional sharpening beyond what PS does when "save for web" is used. In the size as downloaded sharpness looked fine to me.

    I never liked the scene modes - so many settings are changed in camera that I can never remember them all and hence can't predict the outcome. Maybe the hyperfocal focusing was used because the camera was using landscape scene mode?
  12. April I use my Sigma 10-20 on my D7000 a lot, and I get nice sharp images with it. As others have said, stacking filters is never really a good idea and Kenko filters aren't very high quality filters. Nikon and B+W make really good polarizers in the 77mm size, though they aren't cheap. Also, most DSLR's need some sharpening added in post-processing to get those really sharp images like you see in magazines, etc. I'd try taking the filters off and borrowing a really good tripod from someone to test out and possibly calibrate the AF on your D7100 and Sigma 10-20 lens combo.
  13. I agree with the comments about stacking filters. I'm pretty happy with the results from my Sigma 10-20, but I wouldn't go putting low quality filters on it except maybe for special effects.
    I don't know much about the F550EXR-2, but I suspect most of the apparent difference in sharpness is down to the Fuji sharpening more aggressively in camera.

    DSLRs generally come set up for photographers who prefer to do the sharpening themselves not leave it to the camera. Having said that you can increase the level of default camera sharpening in the D7100's menus and make the jpegs look more like those from the Fuji.

    However, IMHO you would be much better off shooting in RAW and learning to sharpen in software. Not a simple as it seems. People have written whole books on how to sharpen images properly!

    I wouldn't dream of releasing a photograph that I haven't "finessed" on the computer (except the odd Facebook snap perhaps); even if its just a slight tweak to the contrast and a touch of sharpening. They are simply not finished!
  14. the good news is your issues are almost certainly due to user error and lack of proper technique. there's almost no need to use a polarizer on a wide angle lens, except maybe for water shots. it's really difficult to get even skies. and any lack of sharpness could be due to camera shake from not using a tripod. defintely an issue to watch out for on a 24mp camera with a non-stabilized lens. also, you dont really want to shoot in scene modes. that's part of the problem--using amateur settings and expecting professional results. for landscape photos, i would shoot in aperture priority on a tripod at base ISO, where you can manually focus using live view (like shun said). your next steps might include taking a class and/ or getting a d7100 book.
  15. I would do everything people are suggesting, such as getting rid of the filters when testing the camera, using a tripod, etc. Shoot at low iso, aperture priority (raw is best). I would try more than one lens on both far and near subjects. You will then get a better feel for what is going on. If you do all these things and the images are not sharp with multiple lenses, then contact Nikon for possible camera repair/adjustment. These cameras are very complex, and sometimes they are slightly off even when new. But, first do the testing as everyone is suggesting.
  16. Thanks for all your responses, I will look into things…. there's so much to learn and I'm pretty overwhelmed haha. I do have D7100 For Dummies & am reading through it. I bought the wide angle lens for architecture and landscape shots, and I thought that would be the most important time to use a polarizing filter… if not, what's an example lens which would be more fitting with it?
  17. I have a D7000 and a Sigma 10-20 and found I had to use the in-camera autofocus fine tune for each of my lenses, including the Sigma 10-20 and my Nikon lenses. This helped a great deal. It will be even more important on your D7100. I was surprised at the variance between lenses. It didn't seem to matter who the manufacture was. The Nikon lenses were not anymore likely to be on center than Sigma.
  18. 2 problems no tripod and using a sigma lens.
  19. Alan B, could you add a few more words about what's wrong with either this Sigma lens or all Sigma lenses? ............or is it just that any non-Nikon lens won't do?
  20. I find my 10-20 Sigma lens every bit as sharp as the similar Nikkor lens it replaced when used properly and at half the price. However, I've only got about 10,000 images to compare, so I may not have an adequate sample as yet.

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