Focus Issue

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by marypar4, Jun 22, 2008.

  1. I have been trying without much success to get a sharp picture from my D80. I have tried just about everything..changing various latest attempt at roses is clearly NOT sharp. ANy advice would be welcome. The Picture is located in my portfolio "Roses" I took this picture on a tripod..VR off..
  2. At 200mm or so, you have pretty shallow depth of field. Unless your subject is literally blowing in the wind, you might want to take advantage of the fact that you're using a tripod, and go with a slower shutter speed so that you can stop the lens down to more like f/11.

    Speaking of tripods... is it a nice solid one? You may also be introducing some camera movement just by touching it on the tripod as you take the shot. Do you have a remote release? If not, try the self timer on the camera, once you have things composed.
  3. Yes I actually tried some shots at F9 and I got similiar results.I used a remote relase on this shot..earlier in the day.
  4. According to its EXIF data, your photograph was exposed with the foll0wing settings:

    # Exposure Time (1 / Shutter Speed) = 10/1250 second = 1/125 second = 0.008 second

    # Lens F-Number/F-Stop = 53/10 = F5.3

    # Exposure Program = aperture priority (3)

    # ISO Speed Ratings = 100

    # Focal Length = 2100/10 mm = 210 mm

    Longer focal lengths decrease depth of field, which is the z-axis of the photograph that is in focus.

    You can increase the depth of field using aperture priority, where you set a higher aperture and let the camera
    determine the correct shutter speed for that aperture setting. Try taking a series of shots at f/6.3, f/8, f/11,
    f/16, and so on, and compare the depth of field in each.

    Another way to help insure maximum focus, and focus at the desired location in the photograph, is to use manual
    focus point selection, and to use the C (continuous) focus mode. Even though the photograph is a still life, a
    small breeze can move the object ever so slightly, and de-focus an object focus with S (single shot) focusing mode.
  5. I will try suggestions..and hope to get something acceptable. I looked at Matt's portfolio..and now I am really depressed..LOL. Sharp pictures are my goal. This appears to be almost as illusive for me as breaking 80. Thanks to both of you for advice.
  6. Are we to understand this is with the 18-200,? Which doesn't have a very good reputation at the long end. Nevertheless, it looks to me like there are spots that are sharp, but that the depth of field isn't sufficient to spread the narrow focus zone across the distance the picture needs.
  7. No was a 70-300Vr which I have had some good success with..probably some dumb luck involved..but obviously this depth of field thing is more complex then I had realized..I just simply thought if you want to blur the background open up the aperture..and you have a nice sharp picture with a blurred background just like Bryan Peterson explains in his book "Understanding exposure" Obviously there is more to this aperture thing! As you said..the depth of field in not sufficient to spread the narrow focus..across the distance of the picture.
  8. rnt


    Take a 12" ruler and focus on the 6" mark. Take a picture. Is the 6" mark in focus? If not, where does the focus fall? Try all your lenses. Is the focus off on all of them? If so, contact Nikon for adjustment.

    In a complex subject such as a rose blossom your camera may be focusing in an unexpected place. Try a simple subject to see if there's truly a problem.
  9. The problem with depth of field is that it's not a situation with absolute boundaries that expand with smaller stops, within which everything is sharp. There's really only one critically-focused spot, and everything in front and in back becomes progressively unsharp. The smaller the stop, the broader the range over which this happens. So in order to make a thicker subject appear in focus, it's inevitable that things in the background that you don't want in focus will become gradually sharper.
  10. Well, to make matters even more complicated, it's also a function of the focal length of the lens, the distance between the camera and the subject, and the distance between the subject and the background. All of these interact for an apparent depth of sharpness around the subject, and the apparent isolation from the background.

    Mary: in your second attachment, you'll notice that it's not a matter of sharpness (since there ARE areas that are sharp). DoF, in this case. Try moving closer, and using the lens at a shorter focal length. The laws of physics dictate a deeper DoF when you do that.
  11. Another couple notes:

    1) Be certain to turn VR OFF if you are using your VR lens on a tripod.

    The motor in a VR or IS lens goes berzerk when placed on a tripod, its gyroscopes look for non-existent camera
    shake and create blur because the camera isn't moving.

    You can find information about this on Nikon's web site:

    2) The additional sharpness you may see in some photographs on the web can also be the result of sharpness added
    during digital post processing, using one or more of many available techniques and algorithms.
  12. Mary, at 200mm with the Nikon 18-200mm, I find that I have to stop down to f11 before sharpness is acceptable to me. It's
    just the nature of the beast, or an 11x zoom lens.
  13. Robert, Mary is using the following 70-300mm VR lens:
  14. One thing these guys are not telling you is that the really COOL photos of flowers, bee's etc.. in their portfolio is done with VERY expensive Macro Lens. Not the 70-300mm VR. They won't admit this.
  15. Jerry, what lens would you recommend to crisply capture an axe being ground? :)

    Mary: there's no reason you can't increase the depth of field you're getting, working with the lens you have. The
    comments above really do point the way. If you find yourself wanting to specialize in ultra-detailed studies of certain
    sized objects (flowers, for example) that will be printed on thirty-inch pieces of paper, then a specialized lens might
    be appropriate. A $110 Nikon 50/1.8 could well be all of the "sharp" you need, depending on your shooting style. But
    even a very expensive macro lens won't change the problem you encountered (which is just getting DoF right for your
    situation and subject).
  16. No one needs an expensive lens to take a solid macro shot. You just need to work hard!
  17. You can even do it with THAT lens! (AF-D 50mm f1.8; with a set of $10 extension tubes)
  18. Mary, Please note. Your getting suggestons now of getting a new lens. At least they're not telling you spend the $500 to $1,000 for the lens they problably use. They should have done that at the start. If I didn't throw my 2 cents in they'd have you running around in circles for days.
  19. Your photos looks plenty sharp to me. Before buying new lenses, I suggest you to play with the light source and exposure, besides that DoF increase. Sharpness, contrast and saturation increase considerably with good illumination and proper exposure.
  20. Summer,

    Thanks, for clarifying that fact. Now I can't imagine what made me think Mary was discussing a Nikon 18-200mm.


    Thats a pretty broad assumption on your part, Jerry. Not that I would say that the images in my gallery are "cool" but
    almost all of them were shot with consumer lenses; Nikon 18-70mm, Nikon 18-200mm, Nikon 12-24mm, Sigma 70-210.
    The exception is a few telephoto close up shots of the Halema'uma'u steam vent on the Island of Hawaii. I understand
    the shortcomings of my consumer lenses and work around them by doing such things as bumping ISO when necessary
    to to us a smaller f stop for better sharpness. I don't sell my work any more, but I wouldn't have a problem selling these
    images if I wanted to. Amateurs using consumer equipment can produce amazing results with a little know how.

    Still part of what you imply is correct. If I were to return to professional photography, I would use the best equipment
  21. Robert, Thank you for your response. Those are very good photos and done well with the consumer lens you were using. I did not intend to insult or belittle your ability. I actually never looked at your gallery until now.

    I was actually thinking of Matt's Photo Gallery. I really doubt he use the 18-55mm on those photos.
    But it general, I bet if you thought about it, most of these pro's here do use the expensive glass for their gallery photos.

    It would be nice if the photos were notated with the lens used.
  22. Even with a macro lens (e.g. a Micro-Nikkor) you still have to contend with the finite depth of field, subject movement (wind), and accurate focusing. And there are so many of these available second hand that you really don't need to pay all that much for one. Look for a 105mm Ai-S Micro-Nikkor at KEH if you want one.
  23. Jerry,

    I think you may be new to so you may not be aware that some while ago Elliot Bernstein put some comparison photographs up on this site. Some were taken with a D40 and the 18-55 and others with a D200 and the 17-55 f/2.8 (there was a D80 in there too). People were invited to identify which were which. I don't think anyone got it right. The photographs were considerably larger than most of those discussed above.

    When you look at the photographs Elliot references you need to click on "larger."

    Any differences between the 18-70, 18-55 and more expensive lenses certainly won't be visible at the very modest sizes we are talking about here. In fact if you look at you can see some objective measurements. You'll see that the differences are usually small and yes the 18-55 actually shows up pretty well, but then those of us that actually use it knew that already.

    This is confirmed by well regraded writers such as Thom Hogan, see for example:
  24. Richard, So your saying I really wrong about the lenses you guys use?
  25. Some how I missed all those threads about saving up to by the 18-55mm lens.
  26. As regards lenses, I think the point Elliot's experiment is making is that you buy a 17-55 over an 18-55 to get extra durability, the f/2.8 aperture at all focal lengths and possibly a bit of extra image quality, though in practice it may be hard to detect that extra image quality if it does indeed exist.

    I can quite believe Elliot's conclusions since they agree with objective measurements I've seen elsewhere. That's all.
  27. It seems to me, based on this thread and one other, that Jerry believes a lot of people play hide the ball on this forum. He seems
    to think everybody has secret high end glass and that they want everybody else to buy high end too. While he is entitled to his own
    opinion, I simply do not believe this to be true. I have found this forum to be filled with helpful, honest people who offer advice to fit any budget. In
    fact, many people on this forum recommend against acquiring new gear unless current gear is absolutely lacking such that one cannot take the
    photos one wishes to take.


    First off, I am a beginner. I am not a pro by any stretch of the imagination.

    At any rate, Mary, I think you have received a number of excellent suggestions in this thread.

    I dont really have much to add. I do think that the 50mm f/1.8d with extension tubes (mentioned above) is a good combination. I
    recently purchased the lens and a set of extension tubes. While I havent had much time to work with it, I think that my results so
    far have been pretty good. I only have 3 photos uploaded that used this setup. See -

    All three photos were taken with my NIkon d70 on a tripod. I used a homemade lightbox made of cardboard and tissue paper
    and two 250W construction lamps. The first two photos were taken with only the 12mm extension tube on. The third, with the
    20mm extension tube.

    The first photo was taken at ISO 200, f/11, 1/20 sec.
    The second was taken at ISO 200, f/11, 1/40 sec.
    The third was taken at ISO 200, f/11, 1/5 sec.

    The reason I mention this is, if you are photographing roses outside, the wind could cause plenty of blur with those shutter
    speeds. You may want to bring some cardboard panels with you to minimize the effect of wind, just take care with your lighting
    of course. Also, note that even at f/11, there is some blur in the first two photos due to depth of field. That was fine with me since
    I wanted the focus to be on the watch face itself and not the strap. However, for sharpness throughout, I would have had to stop
    down even further - hopefully without losing sharpness to diffraction. The photos received minor sharpening in Lightroom.

    For a look at subject matter closer to your own, feel free to check out this gallery.

    Here, all the photos were taken with the 50mm f/1.8 and handheld. The lens has pretty good close focusing capabilities of its
    own. Some of the photos in the gallery are cropped - a few, significantly so since I couldn't get too close to the subject. Still
    made fine prints though! Most photos received minor sharpening in Lightroom.

    Hope that helped a bit.

    I think you have everything you need to take sharp, great photos. Just experiment with your gear and your subject, and
    have fun! Enjoy!
  28. More than 50 percent of the threads on this board are you guys discussing your high end professional lenses. Did it not occur to you that somebody might read them?
  29. Elliot -- We back to my original point. 50mm f/1.8. She needed a different lens to get her results. From what I've seen and read, the 50mm f/1.8 is a pro lens though it may not cost that 1,000 dollars. Still I'm not convinced all those flower and bumble-bee pictures are not taken with expensive macro lenses. In fact many of them are posted with the notes on the nice lenses they have and used.
  30. Different track, imho... First off, take a bunch of really boring test images with your lens on a tripod at every f-stop on your lens from f3.5 (or 5.6 or whatever is wide open) ALL the way down to f22 (which will look soft due to diffraction btw) and then you will actually learn for yourself what works best. Second, for flowers (which don't move) you are, imho, MUCH better off with an old manual 55mm micro lens (manual focus) f2.8 or f3.5 (AI mount of course). You will have to guess exposure and do your focusing manually, but you put the camera in full manual, use a flash if you need to (I've had GREAT results with an SB600 with a flower, you don't need a micro flash), and look at the display till you get the exposure just right. Shoot in RAW and do all your sharpening in Photoshop if you can. You can get great results with a cheap lens and it will become one of your favorites in the bag.
  31. I wonder how poorly illuminated, low contrast, DoF lacking, unsaturated, sometimes overexposed images could be improved even with the most expensive lens in the world; surely it will be a little tad sharper, thought but... is it really worth it?

    I was in the believing that good photographers use light and skill, not money, to have good photos. Equally mediocre results can be obtained (at least by me) with a consumer zoom or the best prime, especially when light is not taken into account.
  32. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Mary, I have three suggestions for you.

    (1) Study your compositions: you are shooting flowers from the side. Those are 3D subjects and the shallow depth of
    field will always be an issue. A lot of good flower close ups are shot from the front so that the flowers will appear
    as "flat" as possible, parallel to the sensor plane. I would also try to avoid out-of-focus leaves in the foreground; they
    are very distracting.

    (2) If you do a lot of close ups, get a dedicated macro lens that is optimized for close focusing. Regular lenses such
    as the 70-300 are typically optimized for focusing to or near infinity. The good thing about macro is that you don't
    need fast AF or wide aperture. I still use a 105mm/f2.8 AF macro from 1990. You can even use an older AI/AI-S
    macro, but you won't have metering with your D80.

    (3) A very good book for close up work is John Shaw's Closeups in Nature, originally published in 1987, but most of
    the techniques are still applicable today:

    Pay attention to John Shaw's compositions. A lot of his examples were shot at f11, f16, but diffraction may become
    an issue on your D80.
  33. Jerry: Come now! I have absolutely never been coy about which lenses I use and when, and why. With possibly a couple of exceptions (due to sheer laziness), every one of the dozens of images I have posted here are complete with precise reporting of what lens, body, and exposure settings were in use. I'm not shy about that. So not shy, in fact, that I'm not shy about reporting when I used a decidedly consumer-oriented lens. On, I might add, some of the images that foot traffic, ratings, and comments here seem to suggest are some of the more compelling ones I've managed to stumble through producing. Nikon's 18-200 rides around with me most of the time. I've done a LOT of work with 20-year-old 50/1.8 that you can still buy (new) for $100.

    The only time I advocate here for the purchasing of spendy lenses is when it's obvious that someone has exhausted what they can do with what they have, and they have the actual need and budget for something that buys them the extra marginal difference in capability. Anecdotally, I'd say that I've spent far more time trying to talk people into using much less expensive equipment than they think they're going to need. Mary is a great example. What was my reaction, here? Some pointers on techniqe. I didn't link her to a similar image shot with a D3 and an $1800 tilt-shift macro lens and try to shame her into melting down a credit card. And nor do I try to pass off shots with a more expensive rig as something that could have come from her gear. As Shun points out, she's got all sorts of room to maneauver with what she's currently shooting, and can make great strides without spending another dime (except perhaps on some books!).
  34. Very simply the DOF needs to be deeper
  35. Jerry, I think you're missing the point. First one needs to get the technique, lighting, composition, subject right, and then, if one desires, better equipment can add something to an already good photo. If one is on a budget, then buying older prime lenses especially in this case is a good option, in fact in the case of macro lenses, many of the experts say that the older lenses are actually better in field use than the current autofocus ones. They're easier to focus precisely, offer greater working distance, and according to many reports, are even sharper than many of the autofocus lenses at macro distances. Since Micro-Nikkors have been made for many decades, and many people have moved to the new designs, older lenses are readily available in the $300 price class. Peter perfectly illustrates the point with his image taken with the classic 55mm f/3.5 lens.
    If one has the money, newer items offer convenience advantages, such as the ability to go 1:1 without added extension (but with lost working distance), autofocus (useful for general photography), and VR (for snapshots of gadgets in the science museum and for field work by researchers who are not primarily photographers and can not carry a tripod in these conditions), i-TTL and metering support on budget DSLRs, and zoom in one case. They do not help at all with making a good flower close-up - sometimes the opposite.
    The advice on the 50/1.8 is right on the mark. It can produce very good close-ups on a limited budget. It can be used with close-up lenses, bellows, extension tubes, and it can be reversed with good image quality. This allows a broader investigation of macro photography gadgets, which can be educative.
    Many of us do use high-end equipment, but if you're willing to sacrifice convenience and focus on specific subjects then you can get really good results within a budget.
  36. Lighting, lighting, lighting!

    It's not sharpness that's your real problem (though your DOF is a bit narrow), it's that your subjects are poorly lit with very diffuse light. Textures need to be brought out with directional light- that will give you the 3d depth you're lacking.

    I'm certainly not saying you should set up some kind of flash or light rig around these flowers. Something as simple as a piece of white paper acting as a reflector perpendicular to the camera plane would be a tremendous help. Experiment with controlling the angle of light across the surfaces you are photographing and you will certainly see an improvement.
  37. I have a Canon 20D, and the first few times I tried it out, my pictures were fuzzy too. I found out that there is a little wheel located by the eyepiece viewer that, when turned, will focus/unfocus. I'm not sure why this is there. Maybe you have one of these on your camera, as well. Marianne
  38. It is a diopter correction device. You must regulate this wheel to your eyesight.
  39. ... this diopter correction device has nothing to do with the AF system on the camera. It must be correctly regulated in order to have the sharpest viewfinder, and obviously, for easier manual focusing.
  40. Mary, as has been stated already, it is indeed largely a matter of DOF. The closer the focus, the more DOF is reduced. And, as Matt and others have said, a longer FL like 200mm also greatly reduces DOF. Small areas of your composition are sharp. The same with Andy's examples. But he was working within that very small DOF. To get much more of your composition sharp, you'll need to work with a shorter FL and a smaller aperture. You'll then need to find just the right setting to still blur your background, according to how far away the background is behind your sharp area. A macro lens will generally have a DOF scale to help determine these factors.
  41. That you. I do respect those you that do admit the use of the higher lens and help other with without the buget for them. I still think there are a few here who would fight the death on the value of consumer lens while shooting with using 1000 dollar lens themselves. Those seem to be the one's that make the most condencending comments (No I do not have a 1000 lens). If Mary asks, I'll tell her my technique for DOF in close-ups.
  42. Nick, of course, is right on about the light. If the light is interesting (or at least pleasant), then some of the aching need for surgical, razor-like, electron-microscope-grade sharpness fades away a bit because the image has become interesting.

    As I'm typing this, we've got storm clouds rolling in. I was about to step out on the patio and take an available light shot of some honeysuckle that's handy... but the sky suddenly turned dark and ugly. With literally five minutes before the rain set in, I unfolded a $25 reflector, popped my Nikon SB800 speedlight into slave mode (just good ol' TTL flavor), and told the camera to run it at +0.7. I then just set the strobe on the table, pointed it at the reflector, and set the angle so it would provide some nice diffuse light on the flowers... but from slightly below them. That causes the light to directly enter the blossom, and gives them a nice glow.

    Attached here is a slightly distant shot of the setup. Note that the camera's meter was including the illuminated reflector in the frame, and so dialed back the exposure in an attempt to preserve detail in that hot white area.
  43. Now, when you get up close to the flowers, the camera's meter is looking to expose for the light that's actually getting the flowers. Things look much nicer that way. And, since I'm trying to keep Jerry happy, here, I did this hand-held with a Nikon 18-70 "kit" lens, which you can get for WAY under $200.

    It's not magnificent, but it's not (terribly) boring, either. Note tiny spider web filiments, bits of pollen, etc.
  44. And, from exactly the same rig, using the same kit lens. Using the reflector as the backdrop. Would a macro lens produce sharper flowers? Of course. Would it matter? No. Because what you're looking at is composition, or the slightly unusual lighting - not whether you can see dust mites reproducing (as exciting as that is!). So, when you don't have spendy lenses... spend FIVE MINUTES, instead. Time is precious, but it's also something you can make available when you're in the mood to experiement. Kit lens, kit lens, kit lens. Did I mention it's a cheap kit lens? Relax and have fun. I think there are exactly twelve people in the entire world who sold flower pictures this month. The other 12 million who were fussing over taking flower pictures were (theoretically!) doing it for the pleasure of doing it. It can be done with modest lenses, and think of how much fun you could have if you took, say... FIFTEEN minutes. And used a tripod. And got the exposure right. Happy shooting, all.
  45. Matt,
    I think you've just gave about the best demonstrations of close up photography I've seen here. Showing the setup and stating the equipment you used. No, misconceptions here. Thank you. Much better than just silly batter Iメve seen. AAA+++. The amateur, including myself, can actually see what's needed and determine the costs involved. And if they didn't get the results they wanted they can say "Well, I just did not want to spend that extra money. And it wasn't because I'm incompetent"

    18-70mm lens $150 - $250 on ebay
    SB800 about $300 on ebay
    The reflectors seem to range for $5 to $100.
  46. Thanks, Jerry. Obviously, there are a thousand ways to skin that cat. And frankly, that shot would have looked nicer with something like the inexpensive 50/1.8 than it did with the kit lens. But the kit lens will AF on any current Nikon body, so I thought I'd stick with that in the interests of a simple demo.

    Full disclosure: in the example I just set up, I was using the D200's native ability to use its built-in flash to control an SB800 remotely. The D40 and D60 bodies won't be able to do that, but in the example I just showed (where the camera is only a few feet from the strobe and the action), one of Nikon's hot shoe strobe cables would have done the job. The remote slave commanding features that are built into the D80/200/300 are quite handy, though, I have to say.
  47. Mary, I don't think anyone has discussed sharpening in regards to images that are soft. I did use USM and the Ist
    photo did look sharper.

    One thing I did notice is the multiple "layers" to your rose photo. (I errantly do this all the time) The in focus layer is the
    part where the petals are sort of drooping down with the water droplets on them. There are then some leaves in the
    foreground at another layer which are out of the plane of sharp focus. Then there are some flowers and leaves in various
    layers behind the target flower.

    It looks like there is only a small area (narrow plane) of sharp focus in the target flower because of the orientation of the
    petals. As someone mentioned above, the petals are not in the same plane as the camera back.

    Notice the photo of the Crocus, at f/3.5 the top part of the flower is in focus but the bottom gradually falls away from the
    camera and becomes blurred even though that flower looks almost completely flat.

    I think a modification in technique would help a lot.
  48. Thanks Matt that was great.

    A question.

    I guess you used the SB800 as a wireless slave. Could I have used an SB-400, 600, 800 flash on an SC-17 cable?

    I only ask because the D40 won't act as a wireless commander and I do have an SC17 (though no SB-XXX yet).
  49. Oh sorry - I see you just answered the question!
  50. Yes you can use an SB-400/600/800 on an SC-17 cable.
  51. I need to refresh before answering :)
  52. Matt, Another thought I just had with your demo. It also shows the limitations of the the kit lenses. We've all seen those photos using the expensive Macro lenses. We can look the sample photos and some may decide to spend the money for those better lenses. Rather than trying to push the kit lenses beyond their capablity. Again, I appreciate the effort and honesty you put into your demostration.
  53. ...or a Coolpix.
  54. Well, I sure HOPE that nobody is looking at my slap-dash examples above as a formal gauge of what one can do with the kit lenses. I was attempting to make a point about the value of goofing around with light and composition, rather than stress-testing a kit lens, hand-held, in a shot to which I'd given essentially no advance thought. There are obviously gazillions of pixel-peeping pages out there that will compare that same 18-70, at the same distances, focal lengths and apertures to lenses X, Y, and Z, ad nauseum. What such comparisons can't do is very well take into account the creativity or circumstances of each prospective photographer.

    The intersection of budget, experience, technical hair-splitting, intended use, likely care in handling over the life of the equipment, and so on, ALL add up to a lens decision. I maintain that most people (myself included) can benefit from better equipment, but can generally benefit far more better technique and a bit of non-boring thinking.

    I can't stand the ol' "it's not the equiment, it's the photographer" platitude (since, sometimes the photographer without certain equipment can't do certain things - especially when it comes to sports, specialized studio work and so on). But of course there's a strong element of truth in that old saw. So many images that might get 10% better with a better lens or less noisy sensor would be 50% better with a small change in the lighting, or a photographer than bothered walking around a little more or keeping a short step ladder in the car.

    Those changes in approach are SO much more important than the quality of the equipment for most normal, exploratory, learning-curve work.
  55. Matt, I have what suggestion that would be a waste of your time and unnecessary, but I'm curious so I'll ask. So do not feel compelled, I probably would not waste my time with it myself.

    It would be educational to see what you could produce with the same shot using the very best equipment you have available to you.

    I'm sure you honestly do it, and report the equipment and the cost.

    You could save the results for macro tutorial for people with questions on macros as equipment.
  56. WOW..I guess this issue struck a cord..which I am please I am the one to benefit from this lively and very informative discussion. I actually have a 18-70 and a 50. mm lens 1.8. I ofcourse realize the flower was just a test shot..not composed an example of blurry shot. I have learned much and will work on DOF and experiment with this and sometime in the near future maybe I will have a picture worthy of a post! Thanks to all for the great advice and for taking time to help. I had looked into buying a dedicated marco lens but thought I would give my 70-300 vr lens a shot first to see if I could get a good result. I have a Canon Pro One(with a fixed lens) with a macro capability on's ok and i have taken some spectacular pictures at times with that camera but just love the "big" camera feel so tend to use the D80 more. I looked at a 28- 105? used lens with a macro switch on it..the camera shop says is great..hmmm..not so sure about that? ANy ideas on that was $220. They don't make the lens any more. I realize the camera equipment can make a big difference..BUT sister .who has no photgraphic skills..takes the most beautiful pictures..with a camera I bought her for christmas..a canon 540..I might mention..she is a professional artist! So you put a point and shot in the hands of an artist and some amazing things happen. I realize there are some gearheads out there who have to have the best equipment and God Bless..they keep the econmony going in the right directions..and allow the rest of us to buy used equipment as a fraction of the let us not discourge them..LOL! If I had unlimited wish list would be a D3..with some very "big glass" to go along with it but that is for another lifetime. I am signed up for a great course in the fall at my local community college so I am hoping to learn the meantime I will struggle along and keep reading and experimenting.
  57. Here's some Links to some sample close ups I made.
    I left them in the 10mbit size you can zoom in one them.
    The lion is 7 inches tall.

    1) Done on my D60 with the 18-55mm lens F8 (kit lens)

    2) Done on my D60 with the Micro Nikkor 55mm 2.8 AIS F8 (20+ year Old cost me about $150.00)

    3) Done on my P5000 Coolpix. F5.6 (the best of them all) Note: the depth of field.

    My lighting was just 2 Lamps with compact floresent lights.
    Nothing really professional about any of this.

    These are my best shots. Most could probley do better.
    I'm waiting for Matt's best shots.

    Mary, For some unknown reason, all the threads I get involved in seem to be lively.
  58. You're just a provocateur, Jerry! I'll probably give a dabble in the morning, but right now it's time to reset the meat computer. It's been a 20-hour day.
  59. Well, I didn't really have time to do this justice, but I did have time to throw four different lenses on the camera. The wind was blowing, so long, dangly, vine-ish flower are nigh on impossible to do right. Never the less, here are some converstaional examples. What are these images? These are NOT four "identical" shots attempting to show the differences between each lens as if it were a race between them. These are NOT images meant to show the best that each lens can do, or to show the best technique, composition, or artfulness that one could muster with more time to do it. Rather, these are an attempt to show some of the character of each lens in this particular situation, and to compare it roughly, from the gut, to the images a bit farther up in this thread (taken with the 18-70 kit lens). These are shots that most anyone might walk up to a flower and shoot, more or less on the fly. I've just added some light control to help make it more predictable for me, since the wind was blowing the overhead tree branches in and out of the sunlight. First, a cheesy labeled snap-shot to provide a little context. Strobes are NOT firing in this setting shot. Note that I brought out two Nikon speedlights to help fill shadows. The SB800 is on the lower table, pointing into the large gold-tone reflector. This is to provide some soft fill light. The SB600, sitting up on the fence, is banking off of a small white reflector, to give a little rim lighiting.
  60. First, a shot with the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 HSM. This is a "normal" focal length prime lens. It's NOT meant to be a macro lens, but it's actually quite sharp. You just can't get right up close. It's more of a people and landscape lens. Still, a lot of people have one (I like it a lot, but it's not what I'd choose for this sort of thing).
  61. Then, for a real change of pace, the Nikon 70-200/2.8 VR. This is my go-to sports lens. Again, not something I'd choose for this purpose. My main reason for doing it was to show how shallow the depth of field is, even at f/9, when you're at 200mm (from about 6 feet away, in this case).
  62. Then, something a little more appropriate for the job. Nikon's 60mm Micro 2.8. This is NOT the newer AFS version. Just the old screw-drive focus version they made forever. It's at f/10, but we're so close that we still wind up with very shallow DoF.
  63. And lastly, the very humble Nikon 50/1.8. Available for less than the cost of four fairly good delivery pizzas. Shown here at f/4.5 to try to balance the DoF on the flowers with a desire to partially obscure the background.
  64. And you know what? I actually like the second shot done with the kit lens (on the sold grey background) the most. It has the most interest to me, visually. Just sayin'.

    And before anybody gets on my case... no, I didn't make any attempt to make the light perfectly consistent from shot to shot, or even feel obliged to shoot the same individual flowers from lens to lens. This is utterly, completely subjective and seat-of-the-pants qualitative. There are plenty of places to go see the math and particulars about all of those lenses. Do I have a real point here? Yes:

    The kit lenses are a great way to learn and produce interesting images - many of them real keepers. The modestly priced 50/1.8 can produce stellar results if you don't need to be three inches from your subject. OK, that's it for me. Back to pictures of dogs and whatnot.
  65. As I suspected are truly a very good make a crazy Randy Jackson from
    American Idol says.."you could sing the phone book and make it sound good or in your case ..shoot with a $100
    lens and make a beautiful image! LOL ...I am going to get out that 50 mm lens and see what I can do with it!
  66. Matt, this is an excellent job. Best ever I've personally seen on the net of showing macro photography!!!
    We get to see the comparison of the lenses and the equipment used.
    I've only seen before the final photo and note of which lens was used. But never a comparison of several lenses at once.

    Lighting is something I need to start dealing with. My own architect lamps and compact florescent bulbs provide enough like for the camera to click. But thatメs where my lighting ability ends.

    Personally, I like the 50mm 1.8 and the Sigma 30mm/1.4 the best. The perspective on the 2d Kit lens shot is too different than the others for me to include in my evaluation. This is just my personal (layman) opinion and not based on any sort professional knowledge.

    Again I know you spent a lot of time and effort with these shots. I can speak for others but I think they and myself owe you something for the work you put in here. Thank you.

    ps. I'm still (even more) a believer in Coolpixs for macro shots.
  67. Now I am excited..just went out before dark..took a very quick picture..cropped but no other manipulation..just a leaf to show what a fantastic lens this little 50 1.8 is..very sharp and certainly doable as a macro as Matt showed us with his demo. I would have to say before going out and buying a dedicated macro..try this lens to start. I am also thrilled that my D80 is not defective..glad to say its the shooter..not the gun!
  68. Matt,
    It sure sounds like you solved Mary's dilemma. I'm sure a lot of other peopleメs too. This post is going down it history as a true educational experience. You may even what to create a separate web page for this but edit out some of the more "lively" dialogue.
  69. Mary: delightful! That's a very pleasant image. Sometimes the shots you fuss over the least are the ones that produce the nicest results. You're going to enjoy finding the sweet spots offered up by that 50mm lens. There's a reason it's so often praised in this context. Get to know its limitations, and you'll start to see that subjects well suited to it will jump right out at you.

    Jerry: Ah, the world's full of demos like that! If I were to actually do up a tutorial geared towards a more permanent display, I'd probably tackle it a bit differently. I think the real lesson here is that this forum - and the cultural tone that cultivates and seeks to maintain - is unlike any other spot on the web. This is why you see people here, at every level of experience and expertise, who've been here for many years.
  70. Matt, They're not as good as yours.
  71. Truly Jerry the pic of the leaf was just a demo to illustrate the sharpness of that little 50 1.8 The picture is not the subject in this discussion..its the focus problems ..and how to get a nice focus. Some of the problems I had have been well... roses do not have a lot of definition as do leaves..thus the example. Thanks again Matt.

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