Nikon Lens Sharpness and Printing Poster Size

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by glen_woodman, May 29, 2009.

  1. Hello Everyone,
    I have the Nikon D300 with the DX AF S NIKKOR 18- 200mm 3.5 - 5.6 G ED Lens.
    I have a few questions.
    I don't seem to get real sharp Photo's. Has anyone else had experience with this lens and have they found the same situation with thier lens?
    I want to shoot portraits and basketball games. What lenses would be good to have?
    The next question I have is a print size question. I would like to print poster size prints which would be 18 x 24, 24 x 36, 36 x 48. Is it possible to get good prints with 12.3-MP?
    Thanks for the feed back.
  2. Hi Glen,
    1. You can get sharp shots with the 18-200 but you need to stop down a bit. Do some test shots at say 100mm @ f8. This lens doesn't perform at it's best wide open. But understand that a zoom with this range has to make some compromises.
    2. There are so many choices depending on the type of portraits and sports shots you're looking to get. I don't do sports but I do a lot of portraits (on a D300 also) and without doubt my best portrait lens is the 50mm 1.4D - others rate the 85 1.4 (I've never used it and it's a bit too long for the stuff I do indoors). My next best portrait lens is my 35-70 2.8D (discontinued but available 2nd hand). The 28-70 or 24-70 2.8's are also highly rated portrait lenses but are both quite heavy and expensive (for me at least). For sports you could look at the 80-200 or 70-200VR (both heavy and the latter quite expensive).
    3. Poster prints. I haven't printed that big on my D300 but I am sure it's possible providing you resize using good interpolation software such as Genuine Fractals (I once printed a life size print of a model from a 4mp E10 pic resized in GF - it came out great but it was B&W and this helps a lot). Perhaps others can offer you first hand advice on this question.
    Best of luck
  3. You have plenty of pixels to print that large, and the camera and lens combo is perfectly capable of making sharp prints. Lenses can make it easier in certain situations (indoor sports especially). However, if you're not getting the sharpness you want from your current equipment, I'd recommend studying technique first -- once you know how sharp a picture the camera is capable of, it'll be easier for you to figure out how best to get sharp pictures consistently in specific situations.
  4. First of all is the picture sharp on the computer?
    If not is it a shutter issue? Tried upping the ISO? Maybe it is a AF issue then - technique issue.
    Still want a faster and or shoot at a lower ISO you may need a faster aperture lens because sports is action but they can be pretty expensive, for sports I assume some kind of telephot is in order. Not done sports but you could try flash.
    The 18-200mm is a sharp lens fo still objects. Stopped a bit down or more stopped like f/11 or f/8 for landscapes and travel work.
    I don't do sports but I find the 50mm are pretty good but the bokeh I don't really like. I prefer the 85mm but then it can be long on digital indoors. I love the bokeh on that.. I have the f/1.8 version and see no real desire to get the 1.4. Too with a DX camera the depth of field is more, more stuff in focus.
    I have printed 20x30 on a 6MP camera but not on the D300 so I won't answer that.
  5. All the above is quite correct. You do know you need to sharpen the file either with an editing program or using the in camera settings. If sharpness is not added somewhere, digital files are quite fuzzy.
    I have gotten good resultsif I sharpen the file, increase file size 50%, sharpen, increase 50%, sharpen, until I get to a large size.
    Experiment with the resize step size , monitor resolution, and amount of sharpening, and the algorithm you use. I use bicubic smoother found at the bottom of the CS3 resize box.
  6. Are you using 'Unsharp Mask' in Photoshop or the equivilent in NX2 etc? This is to counter the effect of the Anti Aliasing Filter which is located in front of the camera's sensor. Nikon use quite a strong filter. Also, try shooting, if you're not already, in RAW. Whether shooting in JPEG or RAW try leaving your 'in camera' sharpening on 0 and do your sharpening post processing. Even a very sharp pro lens like the Nikon 24-70 benefits from using Unsharp Mask or similar.
  7. Glen,
    if I'm after really sharp looking pictures I use fast primes stopped down one or max. two f-stops. A blurred out background will emphasize the subject and will make it look „sharp“. I don't use USM for sharpening but for local contrast enhancement (amount 18/ radius 64/ treshold 0 and fade to suit) and „smart sharpening“ to bring out the details.
    Good looking postersize-prints have been made with early DSLRs so it's for the main part a matter of careful shooting and proper postprocessing.
    Please excuse my english, georg.
  8. This lens is a very good travel lens if you prefer versatility and light package over IQ. I've shot a lot of nice photos with that lens but I wasn't impressed with its sharpness. You can improove the IQ of your photos with DXO software. D300 and the 18-200 Nikkor are fully supported. If you want good IQ, you have to buy an additional lens or two. I would recommend FX lenses.
  9. Yes, I had the same lens. Even had it calibrated by Nikon and couldn't handle the softness of the lens. I ended up selling it. If you want a really sharp lens go with a prime lens like the 50mm 1.4, excellent portrait lens and is tack sharp.
  10. Maybe a sample would be helpful.
  11. IMHO, 18-200 nikkor is a good Jacks of all trades. It could do, for portraits and basketball but for that, it is more like an 8 of diamond. Unless you are shooting playground ball, a faster 50mm, 85mm, 105mm primes or a 70-200/2.8 zoom are much better. These also happen to be great portrait lens as well.
  12. A very nice supplement to the 18-200, I've found, is the Tamron 28-75 2.8, which is a FF lens but very light. It's almost distortion free, very sharp from f/4 up, has great bokeh, is much sharper than the 18-200 across the frame, and is a good range for walking around taking pictures. Of course, it's not as versatile in range as the 18-200, but since I got it the 18-200 has become my "backup" lens.
  13. I agree the 18-200 is a great all around lens; jack of many--master of none. It's great walk around and travel lens, but it will never elminate lenses for specific situations like portraits. I could live with the softness for street photography but I like tack sharp for portraits. I can't stand soft eyes.
  14. Glen, you can get very sharp images with the 18-200 VR. As noted above, all of the images coming off your sensor will require a bit of sharpening in post processing. If you shoot JPEG you can apply some in camera sharpening. I prefer to shoot RAW and adjust the sharpening to my taste on the computer. The 18-200 shines at versatility, great for walk around and travel. It is not the best lens for portraits or for sports. For portraits your most reasonable choice(from a cost standpoint) would be the Nikkor 50mm f1.8, although the 85 mm 1.4 is favored by many. For sports you need a faster lens like the excellent Nikkor 70-200 mm f2.8 VR...which will set you back a few bucks. Work with your 18-200, especially at f8 in it's midrange of zoom. You'll be able to get some good results. The following example is with the 18-200 at f8, 1/125 sec, iso 200, 150mm, handheld, 14-bit RAW, post processed and sharpened in Aperture 2.1.3, the VR was on.

  15. Here is the image...
  16. If you want truly sharp images for sports, as well as portraits, then get the unfortunately expensive yet IMO worth it 70-200.
  17. Glen,
    There are lots of great Nikon lenses, but running out and buying a new lens will not solve your problem. There are number of techniques involved in getting "sharp" images, especially at large print sizes - camera stability, focus, depth of field, shutter speed, optimum ISO settings, optimum exposure, sharpening approaches, resizing methods, etc.
    If you take time to learn to get the most out of the gear that you have now, you should have success with other gear as well. If you rely on a new lens or a new camera to sharpen up your prints you'll probably set yourself up for additional disappointments down the road. What you want to accomplish is more a matter of technique than gear.
  18. With all respect to 18-200 lovers, I don't think this lens is (at all) suitable for the things you are asking it to do.
    I recommend the 50/1.8D or the 50/1.4G AF-S for the typical head and shoulders to half body portrait. For a head shot a 85mm would be great.
    For basketball ... that's a tough thing to do; you don't have much light and the quality of the light in indoor sports venues can be poor. The 50mm and 85mm would also work for this if you can get right next to the court.
    Another possibility which works great for sports as well as portraits with a bit more distance between you and the subject is the 70-200/2.8 AF-S VR Nikkor, but it costs a bundle of money and may be a bit intimidating for your portrait subjects as it is a large lens. Results would be excellent though.
  19. Thank you all for your views and insights.
    I'm sure that my lake of experience both with the camera, software, and techniques contribute to the problems I'm having so increasing the knowledge base on all ends will aid in producing a finer product in regards to sharper images.
    It does seem, with some of the responses, that the lens itself may have a soft edge to it. With replies going both ways it may depend entirely on the roll of the dice. That being said I think it may be prudent to have the lens tested and calibrated. It is interesting that the camera does come with the capability of fine tuning the auto focus and until now that has been my primary mode of focusing.
    After one of my yearly checkups my optometrist told me that there are two type of people in the world. One's that don't mind having sight that has a softness to it and then the people like her and I. One's that want their sight to be as sharp as it can possibly be which I'm sure that photographers belong to as well.
    Thanks again for your feedback.
  20. As a Post Script I will also be looking into other lenses as well.

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