Nikon 17-55mm Camera Shake?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by nick herbert, May 14, 2009.

  1. Every now and then I will take several shots using my D200 and 17-55mm f/2.8 which all turn out to be 'out of focus'. There just doesn't seem to be anywhere in the image that is in focus. I originally thought there was a problem with the lens/camera. However, I have had plenty of ultra-sharp images from this lens. The only explanation I can come up with would be blur from camera/lens shake due to the lens being very heavy. I don't seem to have this problem with any of my other lenses.
    Does anyone else have experience of this problem with this lens?
     
  2. If you can post a 100% crop from one of those troubled images, including EXIF data, and with the cropped area showing some detailed features - that will usually provide the forensics to see what's going on. Certainly, at slow enough shutter speeds, you could absolutely be introducing enough camera wiggle to do the deed. For me, though, heavier lenses actually help me to reduce movement. But then, I'm an orangutan, so you never know.

    It is also possible that you've got your D200 set up for shutter release priority, not focus priority, and you're actually getting the shot off before focus has settled down.
     
  3. Does your other lenses have VR. If so, that could be the difference.
     
  4. What aperture are you shooting at? I know 17-55mm is fairly wide angle, but if you're using f/2.8 a lot the range of focus isn't going to be terribly deep.
    The reason I bring this up is that I recently tried some concert photography with an 85mm f/1.8 and, naturally, cranked it open to f/1.8. Even though I was shooting from distances of 10-15 feet, f/1.8 left too little in focus and most of the shots looked *off*. The next opportunity I had with the same band I used f/4 and things were much better.
    Now I'm thinking I need a newer generation body with good ISO 3200...
     
  5. Hmmm, could it be because you have been shooting for quite a while and your arms ache? I know I have that problem once in a while when shooting events; especially with the SB-800 on too.
    But as Matt suggested, a photo with the EXIF data would certainly help us better understand what might be the problem.
     
  6. Matt... :) I won't argue about you being an orangutan or not... :) but I am slim and not tall but I also feel my camera more stable when using a heavy lens like my 17-55 than when using a small prime. Also the heavy lens and heavy camera combo helps me to stay grounded when the wind blows to hard. :) Before I thought that was strange but here in P/N I heard about many people who think the same way as we (you & I) do.
     
  7. I have the same problem. I just took about 400 pictures of my kids today for their 9 month pictures using a D90 and the 17-55. Almost half of them came out blurry. Nothing in the photo was in focus.
    Earlier this week I took probably 30 pictures of the inside of a house that was flooded. D90 and 17-55, most of the time at 2.8. I was photographing entire rooms, so I know that everything wouldn't be in focus. There are plenty of those pictures where nothing in the room is in focus. I came home that night and put the camera on a tripod and took a bunch of pictures. I had the same problem, even using smaller apertures.
    I have no idea what the problem is. I feel like I might be doing something wrong, like introducing camera shake, but I got the same results on a tripod.
     
  8. So, Jason... same request as above. Can you provide a 100% crop of a revealing part of one of those, and make sure the EXIF data is on board?
     
  9. I hope this is correct. I had to read up on 100% crops, as I didn't know what that meant. Here is a picture. I used auto focus, aimed between the eyes, then slightly recomposed the photo. The center of the picture was on his right cheek.
     
  10. I hope this is correct. I had to read up on 100% crops, as I didn't know what that meant. Here is a picture. I used auto focus, aimed between the eyes, then slightly recomposed the photo. The center of the picture was on his right cheek.
    00TMSs-134667784.jpg
     
  11. Sorry for the double post. I forgot to say that this is the best example I had. All the other pics that were more blurry than this I already deleted.
     
  12. That looks out of focus -- not a result of camera shake. I'm not sure what to say. Was it in-focus in the viewfinder when you took this shot? Are you using manual override after it autofocuses? Are you in AF-A, AF-S or AF-C mode?
     
  13. You need to aim at something with a structure, some graphical structure or edge the AF can focus on (forgive the pun). See the camera manual for examples. There is not much between the eyes, just skin. Try to aim right to one eye. Note that recomposing can destroy your focus, particularily when shooting wide open.
     
  14. I have occsionally been caught out with an AF-S lens with an out of focus image like this. My exposures were sometimes just out of focus - I worked out that it was my handling / lens skills that were at fault. I was using AF to focus on my desired spot but my left hand was on rare occasions brusing the manual focus ring just after the AF had set itself thus taking the subject out of focus. Maybe this is the same habit occuring in these two instances?
     
  15. Jason,
    Also... 1/50th on that lens at 48mm might be slow for getting things sharp, too (also in the mirror-slap range, I believe). I generally use the 35mm equivalent focal length to determine my exposure in the 1/xxx formula where xxx is your focal length and 1/xxx is your shutter speed. I round up. Which means that I would have considered 1/100 the right speed indoors without flash for that image. Could've bumped up the ISO.
     
  16. I shot in AF-S. No manual override or fine tuning by me. All my pictures look in focus when I take them. Of course, seeing something in focus in the viewfinder doesn't always translate into an in-focus picture on the screen when you blow it up. I don't see how people can manual focus. I can turn the focus ring very slightly one way or the other and not notice a difference in the viewfinder. My eye sight was 20/40 last time I had it tested.
    Michael, I have tried focusing on everything. The focus always snaps into place immediately like it has a sharp focus lock. When I try to focus on something less contrasty, like a wall, it will hunt and never find a focus point (understandably). Can recomposing from a front-on shot where the new center is on the same plane only inches from the original point (between eyes to upper cheek) really matter that much? I was probably 6 feet away while taking these pictures. The aperture of 3.5 for this picture (I think) should give me enough DOF for the whole face to be in focus.
    Peter, I'm not sure what you are talking about. I'm new to DSLRs. I'm not sure what shutter speed has to do with sharpness, other than camera shake. What is mirror slap?
    Thanks for the ideas.
     
  17. Jason, thank goodness I am not alone. I fully understand your frustration.
    I took over a hundred shots of my daughter on her 4th birthday the other day. She was dressed up like a princess when I took some full length portrait shots (indoor, ISO200, f4 with flash). Not one of them turned out in perfect focus. I was gutted - I may get away with them printed at 6x4. No chance of any larger. (The shutter speed was 1/60th - but she was stationary/posing for the camera).
    We then went outside where I took plenty of shots of her on her new bike (f5.6, ISO200). Again, every one of them blurred. (Shutter speeds ranged from 1/80th to 1/100th).
    Since reading the responses in this thread, I've since taken some test shots to see if it was in fact possible for me to be 'nudging' the focus ring as I press the shutter. Impossible. My hand is no-where near - its actually gripping/supporting the lens hood which I find is the most comfortable and 'sturdy' place to steady my aim.
    The only thing I can put it down to is camera shake. Maybe my grip with this particular lens is not that sturdy after all. I have never seemed to have this problem with any other lenses.
    I'm going to try some more shots but bump the ISO up to see if the faster shutter speeds make any difference. I hope to god they do - this thing cost me a fortune!
     
  18. And again, do take note of whether you have the camera set to focus priority or not in the shutter release settings.
     
  19. Matt,
    The camera is always set to 'Focus Priority'. I never change this.
     
  20. Does nobody else see what looks like some vertical shake evident in this photo? I could be wrong but I'm seeing this at the tops of the ears, for example, and in the light's reflections in the eyes. 1/50 at 48mm on DX is prime shutter speed for this kind of shake. In fact, I'd be surprised if your shots were sharp.
    It is possible to get sharp shots at 1/focal length shutter speeds but it requires steady hands and excellent camera holding technique.
    My advice is to use higher ISO or wider apertures (is possible, not sure what this was shot at), or use a little fill flash to up the lighting, when shooting in this kind of environment. To be safe your shutter speed should be something like quadruple the focal length the lens is set at, and even then you have to take at least a little care.
     
  21. What are you referring to with focus priority? I looked all through the camera menu and didn't see anything about it.
    Nicholas, did you try shots on a tripod? I did, and it didn't seem to make much of a difference. I just got this lens a couple of weeks ago. I want to love it, but I have much better results with my 18-105mm and 50mm 1.4 lenses.
     
  22. Maybe your shutter speed is long or you don't have VR on your lens
    I recomend you to buy a tripod
     
  23. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Jason, I don't see motion blur in your baby image. It is simply out of focus.
     
  24. Jason, if your 18-105 is a VR lens (I'm not aware of any other version), then I would again suspect camera shake. A tripod does not necessarily rule this out. Tripod technique is a discussion to itself and a cheap tripod - if that is what you're using - is just as bad as no tripod within a fairly broad range of shutter speeds.
    Focus priority is only a settable function on the higher end bodies. If you're using one of the consumer bodies it is not user-selectable and varies with other focus settings you choose. With the camera set to AF-S, you should always get good focus before it will let the shot be taken.
     
  25. I had trouble using my 17-55mm f2.8 on a D200. When I moved to a D300, the problem went away. Now I can shoot f2.8 - f4 without any problem.
    It could have been a camera problem, or it could have been a personal problem, I don't know.
    Just my 2¢
     
  26. I have had a problem with my D200 where it did not focus, it has happened twice to me and once to my brother in law when I loaned him the camera. The first time I was on holiday in France, I was a bit annoyed to say the least and I eventually took the battery out to clear the problem. The other two times switching the camera off and on was sufficient. I am not sure my problem was the same as yours I was using a Sigma lens, my brother in law a Nikon lens. I am not offering a solution just saying for what it is worth I have had a similar problem and it might be a camera fault.
     
  27. Dear Nicholas.
    You said; . . . .
    "D90 and 17-55, most of the time at 2.8. I was photographing entire rooms, so I know that everything wouldn't be in focus"
    -You totally wrong! You learned something in a wrong way. If you shoot with lens full open, like 2.8, you going to have a very shallow dpf. To get a lots of depth of field, you has to close down your lens to f16 at list. Highly recommended, to pick up a book of basic photography to learn.
     
  28. Just out of curiosity, what was your focus area selection? Based on the posted sample, it doesnt look at all like camera shake, at least not to me. I might suggest that as a test, set your autofocus to single point focusing (make sure to center the focus point in the view finder), and aim for a high contrast region such as the near eye or tear duct.
     
  29. Bela, I was the one who said that, not Nicholas. I believe you misread my statement. Wide open, I know that things will be out of focus. I am fairly new to this, so maybe I am the one who is misunderstanding you. But I know that a big aperture gives a shallow DOF.
    I have been shooting with single point focusing centered.
     
  30. Bela,
    Highly recommended, to read the forum posts correctly to learn exactly who has said what.
    Jason, I shall try some shots with a tripod to see if it makes a difference. I will also try some similar shots using the lens on my D70 to see if that makes a difference. I'll let you know the outcome of both experiments.
    Because I have also obtained seriously sharp images with this lens, I still believe the blur has to be caused by shutter speed/camera shake.
     
  31. If I remember correctly Nikon software NX2 allows you to see the selected focus point when loading the image for post processing. In case you have no licenced copy you can try an evaluation copy for I believe 30 days.
    Your image appears to me quite out of focus. Looking at the selected focus point can give you a useful hint.
    For testing you could use a flash then out of focus would still be there but camera shake would be absent. Don't burn the eyes of the baby use ISO 800 .-)
     
  32. View NX will also indicate the focus point.
     
  33. 100% crop of an event-portrait using flash. This lens is brutally sharp and AF is fine .-)
     
  34. Cannot exchange the image on edit. Was wrong color space. Should be ok now.
    00TMvA-134859584.jpg
     
  35. Hi Jason.
    Hopssss..! Sorry! I made a mistake, mixing up persons statement.
    But! "D90 and 17-55, most of the time at 2.8. I was photographing entire rooms, so I know that everything wouldn't be in focus"
    This statement clearly indicating, you shooting full open, witch is 2.8 according the above. Closing down the lens, to smaller aperture, f4 f8 f16 f22 give you more df, when you need it. Bigger the number, smaller the aperture opening. Full open, with a lens f2.8 is a totally open lens, and let the most light go trough. But you has a shallow df.
     
  36. VR lenses require a settling time before the image is stabilized if the gyros detect motion when the shutter-release is half-pressed. I am wondering if the unsharp shots are because you are not waiting about a second or so at the half-pressed shutter before clicking all the way through? Just a guess.
    You might try some shots with VR off and shutter speed set to faster than 1/focal-length. The 1/focal-length speed is a guideline only and varies person-to-person, but is a good point to start.
     
  37. The lens in question does not have VR.
    Walter, I don't think I've ever gotten an image that sharp with mine.
     
  38. I have had this happen to me a few times with the D200. Each time I found it to be that I had knocked the lever just beside the lens mount from AF-S to AF-C and when I recomposed after focussing the AF-C setting started hunting for focus and my pictures came out blurred. Because of the shape of the 17-55 lens this happened to me mostly with this lens on. If the battery attachement is on this moves the lens support hand to a different position and I didn't have it happen then.
    This could be the problem you are experiencing.
    Bill
     
  39. Jason,
    A 100% crop is what Walter posted - a slice of the image that's at 100%, not 100% of the frame.
    Your lovely child appears to have been photographed in somewhat low light - that might be a hint. Note how much more light was used in Walter's image. That doesn't mean you have to add more light, but lower light situations are harder for the autofocus sensor to respond to. The direction and diffusion of the light between yours and Walter's is also very different. Your scene might not have enough contrast between light and dark areas for the autofocus sensor to lock on as rapidly as if it were brighter.
    Perhaps, as an experiment, you could try outside in open shade, or even a wall in bright sunlight, to push the image quality to a higher level so you can get a handle on what is possible. There have been many good responses to this thread, and each of them brings up something different and worth exploring. But overall, I suspect its a combination of a slow shutter speed and subject movement.
    Until I got some practice reading natural light levels, there were a lot of situations where my eyes thought it was bright, but to the camera, the scene was decidedly low light.
    Focus Priority is a setting in the menu system that instructs the camera on what to do if the subject is not in focus. When set to Release, the shutter will fire when the shutter is pressed no matter what, when set to Focus, it will only fire when focus is achieved, and Release + Focus is a compromise where it tries its best but will trip the shutter. An interesting experiment would be to try Focus, meaning you'll get instant feedback on if the camera thinks the subject is in focus. Generally its a good idea to leave it on Release + Focus. Depending on the camera features, there are independent choices for Focus Priority in each focus mode, such as AF-S and AF-C.
    b
     
  40. Your pic is out of focus. Plain and simple. What focus mode are you using? i.e. did you put a focus point on the cheek of the infant? Contrast detection focus methods require a difference in contrast to properly align focus. A cheek, well, lacks that. I'd think for razor sharp you would need to put a focus point on a boundry between say the cheek and eye... Also, if your vision was 20/40 when you were last checked, how long ago was that, how old are you, have you dialed in any diopter correction in the viewfinder? I had a problem where my vision had changed and I did not realize it. My d200 is pretty good at saving me and delivering a sharp pic most of the time, but I noticed that sometimes when I was trying to make critical focus decisions that I was missing the correct focus.. At the time my corrected vision was 20/30.
    2cents.
     
  41. Your pic is out of focus. Plain and simple. What focus mode are you using? i.e. did you put a focus point on the cheek of the infant? Contrast detection focus methods require a difference in contrast to properly align focus. A cheek, well, lacks that. I'd think for razor sharp you would need to put a focus point on a boundry between say the cheek and eye... Also, if your vision was 20/40 when you were last checked, how long ago was that, how old are you, have you dialed in any diopter correction in the viewfinder? I had a problem where my vision had changed and I did not realize it. My d200 is pretty good at saving me and delivering a sharp pic most of the time, but I noticed that sometimes when I was trying to make critical focus decisions that I was missing the correct focus.. At the time my corrected vision was 20/30.
    2cents.
     
  42. Nicholas,
    Just another idea... Do you use filter such as UV, Skylight or polarizing on your lens while taking pictures. Sometimes, cheaper or - I say- bad filters could cause taking blurry or out off focus photos. I had a similar experience with a 70-300 mm VR with UV on a D100 and 16-85 mm VR with polarizing on a D300.
    So, I advice you, if you are using filters, to take some pictures without filters and see the result.
    Best Regards.
     
  43. Jason Richardson , May 15, 2009; 09:35 p.m.
    The lens in question does not have VR.​
    Sorry, my mistake, for some reason I always thought 17-55 had VR.
     
  44. I think it is mirror or focusing screen misalignment. The defect is more pronounced when using wide angles (depth of focus is shallower) Take out the focusing screen and put it again very carefully. If the defect remains you've got to send the camera to a camera repair shop to realign the mirror. I hope this works.
     
  45. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Nikon's AF modules are placed at the bottom of the mirror box under the mirror. Behind the mirror, there is a secondary mirror that bounces part of the light down to the AF module. Unless you focus manually, the focusing screen is not part of the AF mechanism and has absolutely nothing to do with any AF issues.
     
  46. further, the OPs camera does not have a removable focusing screen
     
  47. I think this problem, pictures taken turning out to be out of focus (OOF) with the 17-55, that is simply because the lens just did not focus. The lens is quite heavy and disproportionately weight more at the tip. Probably the lens contact got loosened and were not in exact contact position with the contact points on the camera's lens mount. So the lens simply did not focus.
    I got this problem happened on my Fuji S3 Pro couple of time. When it happened, I pressed the shutter button and the lens did not move to AF. (If you are hurry taking pictures, you might not notice that the lens did not AF). The pic taken would be OOF, of course.
    My solution is to turn the lens to "dismount" it just a little, and then turn it back in, and the lens' AF would work again.
    I always thought this problem only an isolated incident that only happened on my Fuji, maybe the lens mount on the Fuji was "weakened". Now I think that the reason that the lens is tip-heavy, and this sometimes drives the lens contact loose. So now if I hold the camera with the 17-55 on it, I would hold the lens and not the camera body. I guess if you hold the camera body, you might swing the lens loose again.
    It is not the lens shake, for sure!!! even though you have to be careful with your technique to hold the camera still (the lens is really tip heavy, and you feel it more with smaller camera body :)
     
  48. Looking to the photo you had posted, I think you have problem with camera or lenses, I don't see any blur on photo, it is out of focus. Try to take picture with 1/500 or 1/1000 shutter speed, you can not have motion blur with such short speed, that will eliminate your concerns about motion blur.
    Take your lens to nearest camera store and ask them to make few shots on different camera body,
    they should have at list one demo on display.
    Then you will know what is not working, lens or camera.
    Good luck.
     
  49. So I guess there is no concensus as to the what the problem is. Some say out of focus, some say shutter speed is too slow (camera shake), some say camera and/or lens is broken, some are asking questions that have already been answered, so if I answered them again, I'm not sure anyone would notice.
    People mention that the light was probably too low. Isn't that one of the selling points of getting a pro-level 2.8 aperture lens? The low-light performance? I had the sun shining almost directly in the window at 5pm. The auto-focus snapped into place instantly on all my pictures. No hunting involved like a very low-light picture would include.
    The point to me is this: I have a great camera and a professional level lens that takes blurry and soft pictures more than half the time I use it. My ~6 year-old Canon G3 point-and-shoot takes far fewer blurry pictures than the D90/17-55 combo. I guess I'll have to either learn to live with it, or sent the camera and lens to Nikon to see if there is a problem. Thanks for all the suggestions.
     
  50. Jason if the camera and lens are working properly you can expect results similar to what I posted above.
    Several suggestions have been posted how to attack the problem.
    Here is a simple test that can be done in 10 minutes.
    1) Place a large book (with a cover showing good contrast letters and graphics) on a table illuminated by a lamp at about 45 degrees.
    2) take an image of the book cover and use the flash.
    set the operating mode to manual
    use 200 ISO
    use 1/250 s and f8.0
    step back about 1 meter (3 feet).
    focus on large letters with good contrast
    set the active AF indicator in the center
    focus using AF
    shoot
    3) transfer to the PC and look, prepare a 100% crop image for posting
    You should get an image with excellent focus.
    4) Come back and report .-)
    This can be worked out to the point to solve the problem or to send the gear to Nikon with the confidence that something is broken.
    Take it easy - it will all work out .-)
     
  51. Jason,
    There are only three possibilities, the camera moved, the subject moved, or the camera didn't focus. But any one (or combination) of those possibilities contain in themselves a half dozen possible causes, everything from low light to lens defect. Hence the long laundry list you've seen here. Each needs to be evaluated to narrow down the list of suspects until you know the cause, then fix it. No consensus has developed because there isn't enough information to reach a conclusion. I suggested low light as the most likely cause, in my opinion, because there isn't obvious directional blurring that would indicate movement. But softness is often subtle, and I've learned that the more certain I am of anything, the more likely I'm wrong.
    The point to me is this: I have a great camera and a professional level lens that takes blurry and soft pictures more than half the time I use it​
    One of the selling points of a violin is that it can make beautiful music; but it demands much more skill than pressing Play on an iPod. The reason your G3 takes so many wonderful sharp images is because it's depth of field is so, well, deep - its nearly impossible to get the blurry backgrounds that make wide-aperture lenses and SLRs so attractive to so many photographers. As a consequence of the deep depth of field its very difficult to take an out of focus image. Contrast that to your 2.8 lens, which has a depth of field at f2.8 which is far shallower than the G3, as a consequence the focus subsystem has to work a lot harder, the tolerances the camera is working with are much narrower. Lower light, the tolerances narrow even farther. Its like threading a needle compared to hitting the same needle with a hammer. Pro equipment isn't easier to use, or take better inherently better photographs, it merely takes you to places you cannot otherwise go. There is uncountable number of situations where a D90/17-55 can work magic while the G3 would not be capable of even making an exposure.
    I hope you keep working on this problem until its solved. Everyone here who has taken the time to answer your question really wants to see you succeed, and are genuinely curious as to what went wrong. We can all learn something from your experiences. In any event, I wish you the best of luck. Any child that photogenic deserves to have his photo taken - a lot!
    Best,
    Bob
     
  52. Walter, I performed the test you described. The photos came out sharp and in focus, no need to post them. Then I turned around a few minutes later, under almost identical lighting, and took a picture of one of my kids. A crop is below. I was using Auto for the child pic, the auto focus indicated 3 focus areas straight up and down on the center of the face (multi focus points as opposed to the single focus point I use for manual mode). I was also using the SB600. The hand, which was closer to the camera than the face, was in focus, and not what was indicated by the auto focus of the camera. It shouldn't be this difficult to take an in-focus picture, should it? I have multiple pictures where objects closer than the focus point are in focus, instead of what was indicated in the viewfinder.
    Bob, I do appreciate all the responses. I am frustrated, but I understand that something like this can't always be diagnosed over the internet. I don't intend on giving up. The thing is, people pick up cameras all the time and shoot pictures of children. It shouldn't take a controlled environment to get a picture that is in focus. I will give you the point you made on the G3 regarding DOF. But, in the shooting that the first picture I posted above came from, I had plently of pictures that should have resulted in over a foot of sharp, in-focus subject, according to DOF calculators I used (after the fact). I can't show you an accurate picture of the sun light that was entering the room. However, I can say that the available light during that shoot was greater than the light I had shooting the book in Walter's example above (available light for focusing, not the actual exposure since I used a flash for the book picture and I didn't use a flash for the baby pictures).
    I'll keep trying other things. I'm also going to experiment between the 17-55 and the 50 1.4. The D90 and 17-55 are new to me. I had a D80 and the 50mm for about 3 months. I never had these focusing problems using the D80 and the 50mm. I no longer had the D80. Wish I did, as it would make for easier testing, swapping lenses around on different cameras and viewing the results.
    00TO9p-135465584.jpg
     
  53. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Jason, it looks like the hand is in focus. I would suggest you use single-point AF. The D90's Multi-CAM 1000 has only one cross-type AF point in the center. If you use any other AF point indoors, AF could be a problem. The D200, D80 and D5000 all share that same AF module.
     
  54. Well the tests are great news, it sounds if its not at all related to an equipment defect. As for how easy or hard it is, I agree it should be easy to pick up and shoot, but its simply not going to be using that camera and lens in available light based on what I can infer by looking at the sample image's light qualities.
    I second Shun's suggestion. Setting a1 AF Area Mode to Single Point. Then, put the center focus point on your child's eye to lock focus, recompose, shoot.
    For what its worth I suspect that in the last image you posted, the child's hand is in focus because the flash AF assist lamp did the heavy lifting instead of the assist lamp on the body, and the short duration of the flash froze any movement. Because the image was shot in full auto and the camera thought the flash was necessary, that underscores the likelihood that the light level is a bit low. The first image was f3.5, and in the second, f4 - both are slowing the lens down quite a bit compared to if the camera was in A mode at 2.8. I'm half-guessing, but think that switching to A mode, f3.5 and using the flash might get closer to your desired goal.
    b
     
  55. Jason,
    There is hope:
    After my last post I went away to experiment. I was determined to get to the bottom of this and I refuse to accept the fact that this ‘pro-quality’ lens that I had wanted for so long (and had paid so much for) was letting me down for some reason. Just like yourself, if I took a hundred shots and only 50 came out sharp – that’s not good enough. Especially when I know that if I took the same shots with my 18-70mm then I would get a much better success rate.
    Anyway, I took a large number of shots of several different subjects, under various lighting conditions (both indoor & outdoor), using various combinations of aperture and shutter speeds, and at different focal lengths.
    The results were as follows:
    The sharpest aperture I found was between f5.6 – f8 (no real surprise there)
    I could not seem to get a handheld, sharp image at speeds of less than 1/100.
    At speeds of between 1/100 and 1/250, 50% of the shots were blurred, 50% sharp.
    At speeds of 1/500 and above, the results were consistently sharp. In fact, I took several shots of my girlfriend outside at f5.6 at 1/500, and every single one came out extremely sharp. I couldn’t get a blurred/out of focus image if I tried!
    At no point did I encounter any ‘out of focus’ problems.
    My conclusion (for what it’s worth) is this:
    I believe that the problems I have been experiencing are purely down to camera shake during the exposure. The reason why I seem to have this problem with the 17-55mm on my D200 rather than any other lens, can only be down to the size/weight of the camera/lens combination, and my ability to ‘steady’ it when I pressing the shutter.
    I am now happy after seeing that this lens is capable of producing consistent, sharp images if used correctly. I guess practice makes perfect. As a result, I will not be selling it on e-bay after all.
     
  56. Jason,
    D90 handles AF-A differently from other Nikons, when you press shutter release button halfway AF is not locked and picture can be taken with subject out of focus. And with one cross sensor it is not perfect in low light. Switch to single serve AF (AF-S) mod it will fix your problem.
     
  57. Nicholas, I suppose that is good news if you are happy with it. I am not. I will continue to practice, maybe it is camera shake, although people in this thread simply state that the picture is out of focus, and there is no camera shake evident in the pictures. I bought this lens for the sole purpose of photographing my twins, which, right now, is probably 90% in doors. I'm not going to get shutter speeds that fast in doors, so it doesn't help me any. I'm also not going to put the camera on a tripod every time I pick it up to take pictures of babies. Like we've both said earlier, we have other, cheaper, less professional lenses that we get better results with in low light. It just doesn't make sense that a constant 2.8 aperture lens that is known to be a great lens takes worse pictures inside than a kit lens with variable aperture.
    Others, I'm not sure what AF I was using during the Auto picture I posted of the hand and face. My first picture that I posted on May 14th was shot in AF-S, as were the other 400+ that I took that day. More than half of the pics that day were out of focus.
     
  58. Jason,
    The problems you are having are quite strange. I own the 17-55 f/2.8 and it is one of the sharpest, most accurate focus (except at infinity) lenses that I have used. I had the kit lens for a while and it didn't perform as well on any level, just for comparison. I infrequently use a tripod, unless I'm shooting at less than 1/60th of a second, or need ultimate sharpness and have the luxury of a tripod. I'm afraid there are a couple things you might want to consider here -
    First, it sounds like you might have a defective lens. Perhaps an exchange or repair is in order. This lens WILL focus on any point that you give it, in any condition short of darkness. And it will do it very quickly.
    Second, if your lens is not defective, then you may want to practice aiming your focus points at your subject. Again, if your lens is not defective, it will focus on any point that you give it.
    Also, make sure that your ISO and aperture are not going to make your photos blurry. The higher the ISO the less detail that will be captured. The bigger your aperture (smaller F-number), the more sensitive the DOF. (covering the obvious here)
    Since you are shooting babies (photographing, to be clear), I might also recommend turning your camera on to continuous-focus (the 'C' on the front lever that reads M S C). Keep the focus point in the viewfinder on the part you want to be most focused by pressing the shutter half-way down, then when you see the moments you want to capture, press the shutter the rest of the way down, all the while, holding as still as you possibly can.
    Make certain that your focus mode is set to single-point focus and that the camera is set to only release the shutter if focus at the point you select is found (focus-priority). This will prevent you from firing the shutter if the lens is not focused (and unless your body is defective, it truly will not, and will show you if your lens is defective by the number of times the shutter won't release). I have rarely, if ever had this lens not find focus, and prevent the shutter from releasing (out of numerous thousands of pics).
    Finally, be certain that you are not moving when you're taking pictures, and that your shutter speed is above 1/60th (or faster, depending on how able you are to hold still).
    So, in my message here is kind of a check-list. If you complete these steps, and are still getting blurry pictures, your lens and/or camera may be defective. The D80/90/200/300 &17-55 f/2.8 is one of the sharpest camera/lens combos you can get, and is highly geared toward event/people/low-light photography. If you can't get it to work, you have a defect in equipment or user. It's that simple.
    Richard Wood
     
  59. Could it be a back or front focusing lens? Google 'lens back focus' or 'lens front focus', download a focus test chart, and run the test. I had to return an 80-200 2.8d because it was back focusing and my d300 could not compensate enough. i would adjust at 200mm but 80mm will be off. I returned the lens but i'm still not sure if back/front focus is a camera or lens issue (or both). The symptom is that the focus looks good in the viewfinder but when shot and viewed at 100%, some pictures were blurry even when taken on a tripod. I also found that 135mm is the sweet spot on my copy and hardly affected by the af fine tune on the d300. I concluded that it was back focusing after shooting a focus test chart. I've read that a calibration (nikon service) might be able to remedy a back or front focusing lens.
     
  60. Laseng, I have suspected a front focus problem for the last couple of days. I tried a few pics with my 50mm lens and achieved similar results as the 17-55: things closer to the camera are in focus more than the actual focus point. I have gotten some good pictures with the 17-55, so maybe it is related to different focal lengths like you describe. I actually printed off a focus test chart yesterday, hopefully I will be able to perform the tests today or tomorrow. I'm going to do it with all my lenses at different focal lengths to see what I come up with.
     
  61. Set to aperture-priority, f2.8, shoot at 17/35/55, and then enable the focus point indicator in View NX as someone suggested above.
     
  62. Well, it does appear that I have at least a front focus issue with the D90 and 17-55. I did a few quick tests using 2 different focus charts and got the same results. Set the tripod to 45 degrees, used the timer on the camera, plenty of overhead light for focusing. Initially, 55mm seems to be fine, it not a very small amount of back focus. 35mm is off a good bit, and 17mm is getting closer to normal again. I will conduct more tests with other lenses later today.
    00TPEG-136017784.jpg
     
  63. Jason, it's good that you were able to finally nail down the problem on your 17-55. I just want to add that when i did my focus test on the 80-200, I saved the af fine tune setting on the d300, turned the camera off, and turned it on to try the next shot because the manual is not clear on when these changes take effect... if on the fly or not. Anyway, I was able to discern the change in focus area/clarity after making the af fine tune changes but fine-tuning it at 200 negatively affected 80. I have a trip coming up so I do not have the time to send the lens to nikon for a diagnosis/calibration. My next question is what's next? Can a lens be really calibrated? Should the body be calibrated? Or both? I also have the 17-55 but I haven't tested it like the 80-200. I'm reluctant to focus test it using the chart right before the trip :) I've shot hundreds (if not a few thousand) of pictures with it already and I don't have a reason to think that it has focus issues because I've been very satisfied with the results. Please continue to let us know regarding your next steps. Good luck.
     
  64. Wow, I just spent almost 2 hours on the phone with Nikon service. They seem to think there is nothing wrong. I opened a ticket and sent them blurry pictures. The service guy on the phone said they were out of focus because I was using a big aperture. He told me that even 5.6 is too big to get a focused picture???
    One of the pics I sent was of 4 bottles, each a little closer to the camera than the last. I focused on one, and the one near it that was closer to the camera is what was in focus. He said that is normal. See crop below. I had a hard focus lock on the bottle on the left. One on the right was in focus. He blamed it on the wide aperture, even though ViewNX showed focus lock on the left bottle. I had to go to a manager, who eventually said she didn't think it needed to be sent in for repair. Level 3 techs ? are supposed to look at all the blurry pics I sent and get back to me tomorrow.
    How disappointing.
    00TPMa-136093684.jpg
     
  65. Jason,
    If your focus point was truly on the left-most bottle (say, on the text), even at f/5.6, these images should be sharp. One reviewer, from the past, said that f/5.6 was the sharpest point for this lens (for what's in focus). The right-most bottle is clearly more in focus. It looks like there's some cyan fringing around the glare on the top of the bottle, too - I'm not used to seeing fringing with this lens, so perhaps that's another point to hit them with. It isn't radical, but something.
    Is there any possibility of exchanging the lens with the dealer that you got it from? That would fix your problems. If you have other lenses, perform the same tests and see if you get identical results. That would help identify any body/user issues, if the results come out the same.
    Richard Wood
     
  66. The bottle picture was taken at 2.8. The focus was clearly on the left bottle, verified in the viewfinder and in the ViewNX Nikon software. The help desk guy at Nikon used 5.6 as an example of a still-too-big aperture to get the left bottle in focus. I don't care what aperture I used, the left bottle wording should be in focus, not the bottle on the right.
    I did more tests with 3 of my 4 lenses (17-55, 50 1.4, and 18-105). The 17-55 experienced front focus. The 50 and 18-105 experienced back focus. The 18-105 was pretty bad at 50mm. I sent them more pictures using the different lenses. I heard back from tech, and they want me to send in the camera and lenses for testing/adjustments. I will go so far as to say that I am convinced it is the D90 body. I had no problems with the 50mm and 18-105 on my D80 body.
    I bought the 17-55 used, so it cannot be returned, although if it becomes a warranty issue, the seller said he would take care of it. We'll see.
     

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