My Nikon D700 is not sharp!!!

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by paul_rankin, Feb 10, 2009.

  1. I purchased my D700 in late July 2008 along with a new 24mm-70mm lens. I was using a D80 with a 18-200.
    I was hoping for better low light capability and sharper image quality. The low light ability is awesome, but the image sharpness is not good. At first I thought it might be that the new lens is very heavy and doesn't have VR, so it was camera shake. However, I did some test shots on a tripod and still felt they weren't as sharp as my business partner's D300. She uses a 50mm 1.8 and everything is SHARP as a tack. So, I bought a 50mm 1.4 (nikon lens) for multiple reasons, one is its light weight and two the great aperture or 1.4. This still hasn't seem to cure the problem. Are any others having this same problem? Are there some adjustments in the camera settings to address this? Do I need to send it to Nikon to be checked?
  2. what are your settings?
  3. Got any high resolution sample photos online with complete EXIF data? Flickr, Photobucket, Picasa, etc., can be used for this. Or make a crop from a full resolution photo (don't resize or resample) and attach it to this thread. Be sure to preserve the relevant EXIF data.
  4. Paul, don't worry, I had the same impression when I moved from a D300 to a D700. There is just no noise, which does make the image look slightly softer than the D300 did, which had noise even at ISO 200. Try adding some noise in Photoshop. Suddenly your images will look "sharp" to you. I think all of us who grew up with photography in the film era, are used to seeing film grain when an image is "sharp". No film grain, and our brains say "hey this isn't sharp".
  5. The 50/1.8 is an amazing lens especially stopped down to f/4-8. It's not surprising that the 24-70 can't quite match it.
    Tou can increase the sharpness in raw conversion or post-processing. Try setting sharpness to 4 in picture control.
  6. Paul, I have the same rig as you and my experience is completely the opposite -- the combination is razor sharp. Right now there are 2 degrees of freedom: camera and lens. I might suggest that you do a little test: invite you friend over and swap lenses so that you can isolate your problem to the camera/settings or the lens. And dont be frustrated - you will eventually get to the bottom of things.
  7. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Pual, without seeing some sample images, it is impossible to discuss any sharpness issues. Typical problems are camera shake, subject movement, and focusing errors.
    Equiment problems are not as common as photographer errors, but if it is equipment, it is more likely to be the lens than the camera body. However, the AF system on a body could be off.
    Are your subjects moving? Have you exchange cameras with your business partner to see whether she can capture sharp images with your camera and you with her camera? That seems to be a "test" I would try.
  8. bms


    You may want to use one of these focusing charts, e..g I found one here and see if there is any back focusing issue. I have not used it, and there is a whole debate about this test which is told in the linked document, so maybe use some caution, but this might be the issue....
    Also, if you open up the 50/1.4 all the way, it WILL be soft.... at least mine is
  9. Paul, I had the same thoughts as you, moving from a D2x to the D700. These are a couple of ideas that people have put forward about this;
    1 - the same number of pixels in a larger sensor means there is not the acutance (sharpness of the edges) of the D300 (or the D2x). This is just on a pixel-peeping level.
    2 - the lack of noise of the D700 gives the images a 'softness' (don't know what would cause this).
    I have found that by using different sharpening techniques than the ones I used on the RAW files from the D2x, I can acheive the same degree of acutance (sharpness) but with far less noise. This gives superb results, and I am now very happy with the improvement over the D2x. I suggest you experiment with using a pre-sharpening software as you convert the RAW file.
    BTW, I also have the 24-70 and find that the 50 1.8 is superior at equivalent apertures. I am sure the 50 1.4 is similar.
    Good luck, and don't give up of the D700.
  10. David, that is an excellent reply. I've fallen in love with the D700 and the quality of images it produces.

  11. 1 - the same number of pixels in a larger sensor means there is not the acutance (sharpness of the edges) of the D300 (or the D2x). This is just on a pixel-peeping level.​
    This certainly has to be the reason. I have done several tests between a Canon 40d and a 1d MkIII - both of which have 10mp - and the "prosumer" 40d outresolves the MkIII every time. In fact, in Bob Atkins/Hannah Theim's 5dII review on this site they present a chart that shows the 21.1MP 5dII is much lower resolution than the 50d. (Sorry about the Canon analogies... the principle still applies, though.)
  12. That is very strange. I did the same upgrade from D80 to D700. Without doing any serious tests, my impression is that image quality went from sometimes dissappointing (noise) to spectacular. I am still mostly using the same lenses though (AF-S 17-35mm f/2.8, AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8 VR, 50mm f/1.4D).
    How do you focus? Can we see some samples?
  13. I dont think my D200 is as sharp out of the camera as my D70s was either. But I figure this is in camera processing associated with AA, noise reduction etc. It sure sharpens up acceptably in Photoshop.
    When you say "it is not sharp" - are you pixel peeping? I try not to get too obsessive about this. What counts is the image quality after YOU have finished processing it in your software of choice. I do not believe ANY shot straight out of the camera is worth a damn (and this includes the D70s shots which as I said to my eye were "better" than those from the D200.)
  14. I've read several complaints of B/F front focussing of the (first?) 24-70 on a D3, so maybe that is happening and you concorrect that yourself or send the lens to Nikon.
    I have the idea that the pics of my D700 are crispier than the ones of my D300.
  15. IMHO... I upgraded from a D200 to a D300 recently.
    I really love the D300 and have some great lenses. I find that when I push the ISO my images look pretty grainy.
    I am attenpting to do swimming events and have used the 50mm 1.8 (sold it) and replaced it with a 17-55 2.8 which is awesome.
    I thought the high ISO performance would blow me away. While it does give me the ability to up the shutter speed and extend the range on my SB-800, there is still objectionable noise, especially when cropping moderately.
  16. 2 - the lack of noise of the D700 gives the images a 'softness' (don't know what would cause this).
    It your brain. It selectively filters noise in a way that is nearly impossible to achieve in image processing. Your brain ignores the noise on flat parts of the image, while it uses it to better imagine where the edges are. If you zoom in too far, this mechanism stops working. When there is no 'bigger picture' you see the noise for what it is. That's why pixel peeping is so bad for you.
    Apart from this, it is important to realize that when comparing sharpness between different image formats you should do a fair comparison. You can either compare same subject distance or same framing, depending what you are after. For the rest, use the same settings, same lens, same subject and same light. And of course, the same in-camera and post-processing. Be aware that a sharpness setting of 'medium' may not mean the same on two cameras, so it's best to compare NEFs developed in the same way.
    I would be very surprised if the outcome of such a test is that the D700 is less sharp when comparing the same framing. In good light with a good lens the D80 may come on top when comparing same subject distance.
  17. Hi, Paul,
    First, please let me express sympathy that you're having these issues with a new camera.
    I'm a new D700 owner, a recent convert from Canon, and -- although I'm using a different lens -- have been quite satisfied with the sharpness of the photos it produces.
    The D700 offers an important feature, found (to my knowledge) on only a handful of relatively new cameras: AF fine tune, which can correct front and back focus issues specific to a camera - lens combination. Michael Reichmann on Luminous Landscape has a terrific introduction in his review and tutorial of LensAlign, a product that helps make the most out of AF fine tune. The link:
    LensAlign costs about $140, but there are much less expensive solutions available.
    I'm sharing this information because it might be related to your problem -- or perhaps one of the others responding has the answer.
    Good luck.
  18. 1 - the same number of pixels in a larger sensor means there is not the acutance (sharpness of the edges)
    This doesn't make any sense. By increasing the sensor size while retaining total pixel count, the contrast of the detail should be going up because the lenses MTF is sampled at lower spatial frequency. Only if the corner performance of the lens is poor or the lens doesn't match well with the sensor optics, would there be an issue. But generally speaking the details are reproduced with higher fidelity on a larger sensor. This of course assuming that the focal length with the FX camera has 1.5X the focal length of the DX camera, so that the angles of view match.
    The improvement is very substantial at wide apertures with a fast lens, as the MTF is typically low wide open at high frequencies. By reducing the spatial frequency by a factor of 1.5, the FX sensor displays a better defined image. That said, there are also lenses which have extremely poor corners outside of the DX area; in this case it might be better to use a DX camera if you're concerned about corners; whereas in the center the FX would always show superior detail contrast. Again, this requires a 50% greater focal length for the FX camera, which one would normally choose.
    Also if the microlenses, low-pass filters are designed differently in the two cameras, different results can be observed. Another aspect is the raw conversion and post-processing which plays a considerable role and it's rarely exactly comparable.
  19. Thanks for all of your help! I'm going to try the focus test charts and test shots with my partner's d300 and 50mm 1.8...... then my d700 and 50mm 1.8. I would like to narrow it down to either my camera body or the lens. I will keep you posted and thanks again.
  20. Paul, just FYI, if you wan't your test to be more "scientific," use the same 50mm f/1.8 (be it yours or your friends) on both cameras. This elliminates the chance of any sample variation between lenses - so your pictures should be a tiny bit more consistent. - unless of course your intention is to test the entire imaging system, or the lens for deficiencys... I might not have understood your intentions completley.
  21. Mine's darn sharp, this is a 50% crop from an ISO 3,200 file, the poster is 2 feet high, the banner at the race tent is 6 feet high, 70-200 VR at around 150mm:
  22. Paul,
    D700 is definitely sharper and cleaner than D300, you have to remember that the DOF for identical setting is narrower so you need to stop down to get the same DOF as the cropped sensor. That said I did find that the D700 AA filter is a bit on the strong side compared to my Canons, see my thread here but nevertheless it is sharper than D300. It also depends on your sharpening work flow, I found that NX2.0 RAW sharpening is not very optimal and ACR produces better results. again, see the linked thread. If everything is normalized and your photos are less sharp than that of a D300 you are doing something wrong.
  23. 1 - the same number of pixels in a larger sensor means there is not the acutance (sharpness of the edges) of the D300 (or the D2x). This is just on a pixel-peeping level.
    This is actually against the laws of optic and image processing, everything including the optical low pass filter (AA filter) being the same the sensor with larger pixel will deliver better sharpness because:
    1) larger optical fill factor and less aberration due to the more relaxed curvature of microlense on top of each pixel compared to APS-C.
    2) smaller optical cross talk at a given wavelength due to larger pixels area.
    3) larger full well capacity and thus better dynamic range preserving sharpness at contrasty edges.
    As some people pointed out some of the "texture" you see in D300 photos even at ISO 200 is just noise and not real texture.
  24. I know this isn't my thread, but I'm still trying to get somethig out of it so:
    Just so I get some things straight, Arash - your saying that the larger pixels are sharper due to all the aforementioned physical properties- however, this in no way entails that the camera has a higher resolution/resolving power, correct? Or am I just dead wrong on my facts?
  25. Mike,
    Resolution and sharpness are two different concepts,
    First, resolution as a term in image sensor engineering is defined by areal pixel density so D300 has a higher resolution sensor but that doesn't mean that D300 can capture more detail or a sharper image from a particular scene compared to D700 because the sensor areas are different. At equal FOV both cameras have 12 mega pixels of information from a particular scene so the level of detail should be identical on paper but for the mentioned reasons above D700 wins due to its larger pixels. Also a higher pixel density means that the lens should have a tighter margin in terms of lpm (line per mm) resolution to cope with smaller D300 pixels, while D700 is more forgiving on the lenses.
    In photography resolution is usually measured in terms of lpm or lph in the final image of a standard test chart produced by the camera/lens combination. This measured resolution in the final image will be slightly higher for D700 as confirmed by the tests done by
    D700: 2200/2650 and D300: 2100/2600
    These are in ideal studio ISO 200 conditions, in real life when light is not perfect and as soon as the ISO is cranked up the gap opens quickly as D300 loses signal to noise ratio and fine detail is dissolved in noise.
    Now sharpness is a different and somewhat subjective concept, sharpness in a digital camera is a function the optics of the lens as well as the optical low pass filter which filters out the higher spatial frequencies to prevent aliasing as a result of interference with pixel array on the sensor or what is known as moire. Assuming the lens is not the bottle neck for either camera and that the low pass filter is the same, again for the mentioned reasons the perceived sharpness from D700 image will be slightly higher than D300 at base ISO and noticebly higher at high ISO.
  26. "There is just no noise, which does make the image look slightly softer than the D300 did, which had noise even at ISO 200. Try adding some noise in Photoshop. Suddenly your images will look "sharp" to you." Dave Lee​
    Hello Paul
    I probably can unstand your problem. I had the same experience when I switched from D200 to D700. At first I thought, the D700 is out of focus with my 50mm 1,4. But I think Dave Lee is right. It is because there is so less noise on the D700. Some people think it is texture, when they look at images from a D200 or D80. But I think it is just noise.
    I've made some crops for you: three steps of sharpening in PS. Objektively you would say the first pic is the sharpest, but there is only more noise and contrast. The third is the original without any changes and noise. Please notice the noise in the backround of the first two images:
    pic1: very sharp
    pic2: sharp
    pic3: original
  27. that's quite impossible..D700 is the sharpest camera i've tried (d80 and d300) to match with nikkor 24-70. the lcd is even clearer than d300. you can see right there on the lcd the difference between the two cams (d300 and d700). .with or without noise, d700 still has the sharper and cleaner image. i love the tones of this cam as well.
  28. Is it possible you've got a dirty sensor?
  29. so D300 has a higher resolution sensor but that doesn't mean that D300 can capture more detail or a sharper image from a particular scene compared to D700 because the sensor areas are different.​
    Yep, we're on the same page. awesome, thanks for the info!
  30. I purchased D700 one week ago from company A.
    The very first shot I took, literally, frame number 1 - I noticed it wasn't as sharp as my D300. I thought may it was due to shallower depth of field which I wasn't used to. I must mention here that I shoot a lot - as of today I clocked 50k shutter actuations on my D300. So, I'm pretty used to chimping and a quick look to LCD is often all I need to estimate image sharpness quite well.
    Next few hours were spent pixel peeping. I shot close to 100 images with D300+24-70 and D700+24-70 side by side, with the same settings, same lighting, even attempted to frame the subjects in the same manner so that they appear the same size at 100% magnification on each camera. Most of the shots were with the cameras resting on some sort of a surface, higher shutter speeds and some with speed lights. Out of those 100 images only few were more/less similar in terms of sharpness. To my royal disappointment majority of the D700 shots were softer than D300. Next morning I returned the camera back.
    The following day I purchased D700 from company B (could have exchanged the first one, but was worried about potentially faulty batch so decided to purchase it from a different store, even though it was almost $100 more)
    The day it arrived I ran countless tests and almost all D700 shots were as sharp as D300. Few a little sharper. No D700 shots exhibited lesser sharpness that D300. I'm keeping this one :)
    I shoot raw, factory defaults, use Capture NX2 for pixel peeping.
  31. I bought my D700 about a month ago along with the 24-70mm and 14-24mm 2.8 lens, took it with me on a road trip to Utah, Arizona and Nevada, I used mostly the 24-70mm, tried to avoid changing lens in the very windy and dusty desert, I think my pictures came very sharp, well I upgrade from a Nikon D60, unfortunately I don't have any other high end camera to compare with, I got some pictures posted on the
    Only those desert and canyon photos are taken by the D700, feel free to leave me comments, thank you!
  32. Hi Paul, I've had my D700 for about 2 months now, and was initially very disappointed with the results I was getting compared to my D50! I mentioned it to my friend, who is a printing boffin; he suggested I bring him a file over for printing, the resulting print (@ISO 1600) was superbly detailed and ended all my concerns. If anyone is interested in joining I have started a D700 owners website and forum at
  33. Hey Pal, very simple solution to your problem, put it on a tripod then try a few shots, if its sharp then its your unsteady hands that are the problem, if not, send it back to nikon!
    I have this very same lens and body, high iso or whatever, even if there was a bad day going on, this set-up is dead nuts SHARP!
    Id also ask if you are using cheap filters of any kind, i am using a B+W UV filter(0) Good quality .
    good luck!
  34. Paul--I bought a D700 for the same reasons you did. I traded in my D90, and am now sorry I did; it was a super camera. The D700 is just not as sharp with a variety of pro and amateur Nikon FX lenses. The D90 was much better. I bought my D700 grey market, which might make a difference. There are a couple of other problems with it, too, which leads me to believe that the seller (Adorama) sent me a used or defective unit. Given some other experience I've had with Adorama, I wouldn't be surprised. Anyway, I'm reasonably sure I got cheated, and I don't know what to do about it. This is discouraging enough to turn me off to photography altogether, something I had dreamed of doing in my retirement. --Jim
  35. I really wonder why, Jim, you chose to ignore all the excellent advice given in this thread.
  36. Any D700 body(!) claimed to be "unsharp" must be defective or technique/ optics may be at fault.
  37. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    No offense, if your use a D700 and it is not sharp, the first thing I would check in photographer technique. While the problem could come from elsewhere, in most cases the problem is the photographer. If you can exclude that, then look elsewhere.
  38. Jim
    I was extremely concerned to read your posting and firstly would like to offer a sincere apologogy for any disappointment or frustration that may have been caused.
    The receiving and dispatch units in the Adorama warehouse are quite separate from each other,
    and while the used department warehouse is in New York, all new items are warehoused in new Jersey.
    We don't of course open boxes up to test the contents or they would have to be sold as 'used' or 'open box', but it is entirely possible that a less-than-perfect unit slipped by on the Nikon conveyor belt.
    This is why you have a full Nikon warranty with all new items, which includes a 30-day returns period to Adorama, to ensure your complete satisfaction.
    Could you please email me with your order number and a couple of shots, which I can get one of our Pro Department team members to take a look at for you and advise whether it needs to come back to us - if you are within the first 30 days from purchase (or to Nikon if longer than that).
    Of course, if it is defective and you send it to us we will cover the shipping costs and return it to Nikon, and you can choose either a full refund or an exchange.
    You can contact me here:
    Helen Oster
    Adorama Camera Customer Service Ambassador
  39. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I bought my D700 grey market, which might make a difference. There are a couple of other problems with it, too, which leads me to believe that the seller (Adorama) sent me a used or defective unit. Given some other experience I've had with Adorama, I wouldn't be surprised. Anyway, I'm reasonably sure I got cheated, and I don't know what to do about it.​
    Wait, Jim claims that the D700 he bought from Adorama is gray market. Does Adorama sell gray-market Nikon DSLRs?
    Any new camera can potentially be defective; in that case it is not Adorama's fault. I wonder why Jim doesn't get in touch with Adorama for an exchange. If he think the camera is used, the EXIF data should indicate the shutter actuation count.
  40. You are right, Shun!
    I was so falling over myself to apologize that I missed that he said it was direct import completely....
    No, we don't sell direct import Nikon bodies. So either Jim bought a used unit from us, or he bought it GM from somewhere else.
  41. What aperture was used on the D300. Try the same lens on both cameras set at the same focal length AND aperture.... maybe f/5.6. I have the 24-70 f/2.8 zoom and almost without exception the images are tack sharp to 16 x 20, using auto focus. Do the above, with the metering a autofocus set EXACTLY the same way. I'll bet that if you look in an area of fine detail, the D700 with Nikon's latest 24-70 f/2.8 lens you will see better results with the D700, even though the D300 and D700 have a similar number of image sites (pixel count). If you'd like to see some examples of what the 24/70 Nikon lens can do, check out some photos I took. All EXIF data is there for each imagee. Check out the outdoor shot of a church I shot in Oklahoma in my Fine Art Photography Set.
    Joe Nowak

Share This Page