D90+tamron 17-50/2.8=strange results

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by theodora_manusaride, Nov 1, 2008.

  1. Hello! I was wondering if you could help me figure out what's wrong with me, my settings or my equipment. I've
    had a Nikon D40 for about 1 year and I really wanted to upgrade due to the not-so-great high iso preformance in
    my D40. I've just got a D90 and a Tamron 17-50/2.8 with built-in motor (have had no af troubles so far). Read the
    manual almost entirely, figured out the settings pretty much. I've shot around 800 pictures yesterday on my first
    trip with the new equipment and 700 look oof, soft, can't quite explain...and I have no idea why because I also
    produced some great shots on this trip. He are a couple of examples, straight out of the camera, the exif is
    still there. Please take a look and give me your opinion! Thanks!
  2. And another one...
  3. And an ok one...
  4. On the first, your EXIF data doesn't contain focus point info, but let's assume it was focused on something
    appropriate. I'm seeing a few things:
    1) You're shooting straight to JPGs (which reduces your opportunity to fiddle with this after the fact), but you've got
    the camera set to "vivid," which is deliberately boosting constrast and saturation in a shot that also looks a bit over-
    exposed (notice the blown-out hightlights on the light pole, for example).
    2) Looks like some camera motion blur, to me. At 1/200th of the second, a little movement on your part would
    definitely rob from the sharpness of the image.
    3) You've got the lens somewhat opened up, at f/4.5. Not a whole lot of depth of field at that aperture, which will also
    reduce sharpness, depending on where exactly you had things focused. Stopping down to something more like f/8
    on a bright sunny day like that will help get it under control... but that will also slow down the shutter a bit more. Your
    D90 will certainly produce nice images at a somewhat higher ISO (say, 320-ish), which would buy you back some
    shutter speed.
    The real issue for me though (presuming you can steady up the camera) is the oversaturation and contrast that the
    camera is doing to your image, because of how it's set (the vividness factor). A lot of subtle information gets lost
    when you shoot that sort of thing right to a JPG. But if you're trying to avoid any post-production fiddling - which I can
    understand if you're shooting hundreds of casual frames - then you might want to dial it back to a less aggressive
    processing mode, and just hit the few you want to see bolder/contrastier after the fact as you like.
  5. Thanks for your opinion...
    I've shot at f/8 almost the whole day, the second shot I posted is taken at f/8. I repeat that the first shot is not the only one that came out like that. I have 700 shots like that taken even at f/8, 1/250...in the first shot the focus point was on the old man sitting in the grass. I have shot in that place before with my D40 and 18-55 and never ever experienced this. I don't think I managed to move while taking 700 pictures that much.
  6. I agree with Matt about the "vividness" probably robbing some detail in an already contrasty setting. However, there is also an overall softness that seems a bit off, plus possibly a white balance issue. A quick question, though: Do you have a filter on that lens?
  7. I had a hoya circular polarizer but I took it of, put it back on, just trying to figure out if it was the problem and the results were the same. The wb was set to daylight.
  8. If you've controlled for the filter and the white balance, then I think Matt's got it right about the JPG settings and the technique. With twice as many pixels as the d40, you may find that what was acceptably sharp at 1/250th requires an even faster speed on the newer camera to seem as sharp when viewed 100%.
  9. So, the solution would be to change color settings (which I already did - standard, +5 sharpening, +1 saturation)? That's is? I shoot RAW when on a job. For my trips and casual pictures I don't feel the need for RAW.
  10. A quick test you can do now with your current lens is to take a shot with your preferred settings and then take another identical shot with the camera's fully automatic 'green' setting. Compare the results.

    I shoot vivid all the time and don't have sharpness issues. Beautiful colors by the way!
  11. Well I've been doing that since last night. Changing settings all round. Still inconsistent results. Some pictures came out ok, some came out horible. That's why I can't see to get a grip on the problem. I like the colours too, standard looks washed out to me...
  12. Theodora, do you have access to another lens, possibly a Nikon lens so you can do some side-by-side testing?
  13. I'll speculate that the lens is not per manufacturer's spec, either due to a knock or something else (I assume that's a decent lens, no direct experience).

    Zooms have complex alignment issues that vary with focal length and focus distance. Yours might be 'perfect' at a given focal length and range but truly awful at some others. I was looking at corner sharpness in your images and thought "not great". The focal length / range issues might account for a minority of your shots looking great but the rest are not great.
  14. Yes, Elliot, I have a Nikon 50/1.8 and I've done some side-by-side testing last night.
  15. Why +5 on the sharpening? Seems like in-camera overkill. Second photo definitely looks over-sharpened on my monitor. First photograph does look soft. Stop the lens down to f/8-11 whenever possible, and of course as much camera motion as possible must be eliminated. Of late, I've got my cameras set in Aperture mode, and I leave the f/stop at f/8 whenever possible. I do this with all of my lenses, and I let the camera chooses the shutter speed (nature travel photography - and obviously there are times when I need different f/stops and/or need to control the shutter speed). Open wide the lens, or stop it down, and a photographer risks a image that will be less than the sharpest possible. And I make sure my camera is as motionless as possible when I depress the shutter. For example, when hand-holding the camera, I gently release the shutter - I don't push down on it. I try to find something on which to support the camera if shutter speeds are low. And I use a remote release when my camera is on a tripod.
  16. And the tamron...
  17. Theodora, it appears to me that the Nikon shot is sharper and has more detail but the Nikon lens was stopped down 2 full stops and the Tamron only one. There is not a huge difference but there does appear to be a difference when the two images are put under the microscope.

    Is you Tamron lens new or did you have it prior to your D90 purchase?

    Also do you find it is focusing correctly (meaning it is not front or back focusing)?

    Have you taken any outdoor shots with the 50mm and if so are you satisfied with them?
  18. The Tamron is new, I got it the same day I got the D90 and it doesn't seem to have any focusing problems (I was afraid of that too). I haven't taken any outdoor shots with the D90 and the 50mm, only with my D40.
  19. Looks like faulty optics to me...Try another lens from your merchant...I had this happen many years ago and found an element was loose, would focus sometimes and not...Since, I have never bought any lenses but Nikkor...
  20. theodora, i have the tamron 17-50 as well. first of all, it's a pretty sharp lens as is, probably the sharpest wide open out of any lens i own. +5 sharpening is definitely overkill.

    doesn't seem like it has a focus problem from your shots.

    in the examples you posted, it seems like the combination of vivid setting and over-sharpening resulted in some un-naturalness. look at the trees in those shots, they aren't soft at all, but rather oversharpened and oversaturated. in the first shot, the man by the trees is a bit overexposed, dialing down the EV to -0.7 might have helped. i'm guessing you used matrix rather than spot here. (fyi, the d90 tends to overexpose, just like the d80, especially in matrix metering) the comparison with the nikkor 50 looks fine.

    so i think the problem is with your camera settings, not the lens. i use the tamron on a d80 and d300 and it works fine on both. in general, though, spot metering is better for shots like your third one with the guy holding a camera, and matrix is good for scenes without a central focal point or with a lot of contrast. you may want to play with your area-AF settings as well, and if you are not shooting action, use AF-A not AF-C.

    offhand, it's hard to pinpoint exactly what you need to change without knowing your exact settings, but i'd turn down the sharpness in-camera a lot, ease up on the vivid, and dial in some negative EV. were you also using active d-lighting? i've found that ADL with vivid can produce strange results, especially at high ISO.
  21. My guess would be that it might be a poorly aligned lens, but...

    Think about the possibility of camera shake. When you press the shutter release, do you tense up and punch the button?
    Or do you relax and squeeze lightly? That can make a big difference. The first image there looks like camera shake. It isn't
    easy to cause that at 1/200th of a second, but it's certainly possible if the force of pushing the button causes the front of
    the lens to dip down as the shutter releases.
  22. Stephen, thanks for replying but I don't think it's camera shake. I also found a picture at 1/800 that looks the same and I have very steady hands. I've got pictures at a much lower shutter speed that have no shake in them
    Eric, thanks! I hope the change in settings would produce good and consistent results. I really hope it's not the lens because I have a job coming up and would have liked to use this lens instead of my kit one. I will go out again tomorrow with new settings and see the results. I'll be back with good news (hopefully). If not, monday it's going back.

    Thank you guys for your help! I'll be back tomorrow with new shots.
  23. Theodora, I must be missing something. Yeah, your settings sound like they come right out of KR and there is some overkill but looking at the optics, they seem okay to me.

    I have a dual monitor setup so I looked at your last two photos side-by-side. Both were shot f/4 with ISO 800, I assume with a tripod. The Nikon is a tighter shot, hence you have a bit more detail but not by much. Both look pretty clean to me.

    You might want to try a similar test outside, shot at maybe f/8 or so, again with a tripod. That will give you a better idea of how your lenses are performing. Just an IMHO, try a test without any filter.
  24. Didn't I read somewhere that certain UV filters can throw the AF off ? It could be internet myth, but it would be easy to test.
  25. I just bought the D90 so I have had some experience with this as well. Turn off active d lighting for now for sake
    of adjustments. If you are using vivid ..tone it down a bit. I agree that this camera tends to blow out highlights..and
    it needs a lot of tweaking in beginning to get it right..I use standard for most pictures or neutral for portraits..they
    also have a portrait setting in picture controls which works nicely. The fall scenes I am using vivid..bumping up
    satuation +1.There is also a setting within the menu..b4 which changes the matrix meter ..steps it down..or
    up...some say don't touch this..thtas baloney.Nikon says its there for a reason..some like a more subltle
    tone..less highlight blow out...I have set mine to -1/6 but others have gone as low as -1..try it and see if it makes
    a difference. Nikon has a toll free number and they are very helpful. ALso turn off the iso sensitivity and adjust it
    yourself..as the scene dictates. Try going to full manual..meter to the sky on those really bright back light
    scenes..and drop the exposure to -0.7 as well. I have managed to tweak the d90 over the past several days..to
    adjust to my eye..and the pictures are getting better. Hang in there with this camera..it requires a bit of
    adjustment unfortunately ..but my D80 was the same way..the other thing to watch for is the Af mode..a1.. take it
    off 3d tracking and use auto or single or dynamic based on situation. Read the manual for this recomendation. I
    also set the ae-l af-l button to AE (f4) to AE lock only..so I can meter sky or whatever then hold it and go back to
    subject and shoot. Nice feature..but I don't lock it becasue I find I forget to take it off lock..for next shot...so I just
    hold the button down..and shoot.

    I hope this helps..what I did was when I got everything the way I liked it.I put everything in "My Menu" so I could
    change it quickly if need be..nice feature..I also put the My menu ..picture control on my function button to bring it
    up quickly. White balance is set to auto but I tweaked it a bit..to A3..try that too..but use your own preferences.
    Maybe you like A 2 better? I a lovin this camera..but its taking time to get use to it..day three for me.
  26. The DPreview testing of the D90 indicated the normal recommended default sharpening setting of this camera to be very conservative, resulting in rather soft JPEGs straight from the camera. They do suggest an increase to +5 or 6, or thereabouts. See page 15 "features" from the test.
  27. Problem solved! The vivid +3/sharpening +6 combo was, indeed, overkill. Today I only went as far as vivid+2/sharpening +5 and it went well although I can't seem to get the colours I want. At least the over sharpening is gone. Thanks guys! Thank you Eric!
  28. theodora, good to hear it wasn't the lens's fault. :) i think you will find the tasmron is a very capable performer. btw, i dont like the vivid setting for people pics. ok for landscapes when you want the colors to pop, but sometimes you can forget to switch back. i have +3 sharpening/SD as my default picture style, shooting JPEG. here's a 17-50 pic from earlier today:
  29. settings were ISO 200, 1/800 sec, f/9 @17mm.

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