Not doing so well new D700 and old lenses. Help!

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by lahuasteca, Apr 10, 2011.

  1. Hi,
    As I posted a few weeks ago, I have a new D700 that I'm trying to learn. Right now I'm using a 28-105 and some old AI/AIS primes - 24, 35 and a 50 1.8 AF. The 28-105 is very soft, and the two primes, while quite sharp, quite frankly the color is very flat and lacking any pop. Jpegs from the camera aren't too good, and I'm not having much luck processing in ACR using D2X curves. My D80, when shot in NEF, and using either the 35 mm 1.8 and 50 mm 1.8 had very good color definition when using the D2X curves. Any idea on what I'm doing wrong? For a trip I'm taking north in May for deep forest photography, I'm renting a 16-35, hoping that the new nano-coatings or designed for digital may help. I'm going to try and post two images from this morning from my back yard. We've been having a heat-wave combined with a horrible drought - that combined with a hazy sky may somewhat be affecting the images.
  2. And here's the same tree, RAW file, processed using D2X landscape curves, some adjustment to white balance which seems to be way off in ACR.
  3. Forgot to mention, the above shots are Nikon D700, 35 mm f 2.0 AI lens, ISO 400, 1/200, f 8. Thanks for any comments and suggestions.
    Gene, Brownsville, Texas
  4. Id say dont shoot in Jpeg format, looks to me like you took one image, then enhanced it, claiming one was Jpeg and the other was shot in RAW , I have the D700 and the D2x pic control, ive never even come close to this kind of difference.
    If it is in fact two seperate images then you must have a magic ability to make time stand still.
  5. Steven, I assume Gene was shooting in RAW+JPEG mode so he could compare the D700's JPEG to manual RAW processing.
    It seems like the real complaint here is that the D700 is producing rather washed-out JPEGs, rather than anything to do with the AI lens that was used. I'd be inclined to set the picture style to "Vivid" and try again.
  6. Craig,
    You are correct - I shot in RAW + JPEG to compare the two. The JPEG is in neutral Picture Control so I'll try the Vivid tomorrow. FWIW, even with a windy day, the images are very sharp. It seems to me that there is a learning curve with the D700 that I didn't have with the D80.

  7. Suggestion: shoot one frame in NEF. Then shoot one frame in Large, Fine .jpg.
    (I think) Nikon has the NEF file down good, but using the .jpg image taken at the same time is not going to quite what you are expecting for editing later.
  8. I know this was a quick shot and I know the D700 is recommended as a good high ISO camera, but you could easily shoot something like this scene at ISO 100, f8, and 1/50. My DSLRs sit at ISO 100 until I need to boost it, which is rare. Shooting at the lowest ISO possible will impact the overall impression of an image significantly.
    I shoot "raw" RAW from my D2X and make all colour, sharpness, and contrast adjustments myself, and yes the RAW files are of course flat.
  9. Indeed, shoot raw if at all possible. In Lightroom, it's not even any more difficult to process. Paying all that money for a D700 and then shooting JPEG doesn't make a lot of sense to me, unless you're a sports photographer or photojournalist working on a very tight deadline.
  10. Jerry, do you think that the jpg file taken alone is different to the jpg file taken with the NEF+jpg setting (obviously with jpg settings the same)?
  11. Why do you have the camera set to "soft(1) for in-camera sharpening? Why not shoot in both RAW and JPEG? Have you tied using NX2 or maybe even ViewNX2 to do the processing of the NEF to jPEG?
  12. Lorne,
    I think that's the next step - NK2 or View, I'm going to give it a try. The reason for RAW + JPEG is that I want something processed in case something goes wrong in working the RAW file, like in the past when I scanned a slide, I'd have the original there for comparison in post-processing. I do think that from here on it will be NEF files only. ACR seems to be missing the white balance a lot, giving me 4300 K when in daylight when it should be somewhere between 5000-5500 K. so I will look at Nikon software.
  13. Gene, I shoot in RAW + Fine JPEG all the time. Most of the time I can use the jpeg as is, but I use the NEF file as input to NX2 for anything I need to play around with. I have the CNX2 software and the ViewNX2 software (its free, why not) as well. I've never had an issue with the white balance processing in NX.
  14. I don't find the 28-105 to be soft with the D700. I only have a couple of images from mine online. One is a handheld macro which unsurprisingly I'd only call acceptable, the other is this image taken at f/16:
  15. For comparison, here's the handheld macro (this is a crop from a slightly larger photo):
  16. Gene,
    Not always more saturated colors equal better image. Dull colors of your first image correspond well with conditions of drying vegetation photographed in hazy mid-day sun. Your image colors are close to truth - aren't they? Is it good or bad? Personally, I dislike oversaturated greens in second image.
  17. Thomas K.,
    That is exactly what I'm trying to find out - the camera/lens, my photography skills (or lack of), or just the horrible climate/sky conditions resulting in bland IQ. Here in South Texas, we haven't had any rain since basically Oct., 2010, then a freeze in mid-Feb. to dry the vegetation even further, and right now hazy/dusty skies with temps. in the 95-100 degree range. I'm hoping it's the latter and that would explain a lot, especially the 28-105 lens which was my favorite with the F100. I'm going to borrow a 24-70 tomorrow and if that returns similar colors, well, then I'll know.
    Thanks for the comments.
  18. Gene,
    I attended recently a seminar by Art Wolfe - accomplished wildlife/travel/scenic photographer. He said that when light conditions are bad in mid-day, he simply do not photograph - hi scouts the location and plans for late in the day or next morning shoot.
  19. I don't think you are shooting at a good time of day. I use a D700 in RAW and had a 28-105mm for awhile on it. I got what I saw, color wise with the combo. 28mm was a bit weak for me and a much used focal length so I purchase a lens with better performance at 28mm, miss the 105mm though. I do a bit of PP using NX2.
  20. "...neutral Picture Control" You are shooting with the neutral picture control setting and getting neutral colors. Makes sense to me.
    "Nikon has the NEF file down good, but using the .jpg image taken at the same time is not going to quite what you are expecting for editing later" Doing this and opening the file with Nikon's software will yield identical images. It is only when you open a RAW file with 3rd party software that you get the 'unprocessed' RAW file to work with.
  21. I believe that is how it is, D700 images when "properly" shot will look more washed out than others. I believe that is the 14bits of contrast as opposed to only 12 bits.. kind of like a HDR before tonemapping. Also, I've noticed that white balance appears to be more important with the D700 than with my D200. Using a whibal especially with also the white and black points gets me the right contrast and color. These problems also happen with certain lighting conditions and not others... high contrast subjects look washed out while low contrast subjects are fine. The image improves with vivid, or especially landscape, mode when it does look washed out. If your camera is set to adobeRGB, the jpeg is probably adobergb too, so hopefully you're using something to view that's color managed.
    As for sharpness, you can fine tune the auto focus for each lens. It helps a lot. Do it for the distance setting you'll be using most.
  22. As mentioned, the 'Neutral' picture setting means neutral colours, and not 'Normal.' I've been extremely happy with most of the Nikon gear I've used (including the D700), but I do find their picture styles to be a bit off for my tastes. I strongly recommend taking some time with whatever subjects you like best, and keep shooting and tweaking the picture style until you like it. Then save that as user preset #1, and make that your default .jpg setting.
    Also, your AIS lenses will very likely be lower contrast on the D700 than newer lenses, due to the older coatings. I prefer the look of the AIS lenses myself, but your mileage may vary.
  23. Gene,
    I know exactly what you mean. When I first got my D700 I was very displeased with the colors and skin tones. Foliage and trees looked desaturated, skin looked either puke-green or magenta....very cartoon-like. My results were so varied and inconsistent that I seriously considered selling my D700. I thought "why are all these photography experts raving about the D700?!". I tried switching white balance modes but they didn't make much improvements. I found many people on photo blogs complain about this with the D700. So, I dug deeper and deeper into this matter. Some said to shoot in "Neutral" in certain situations and "Standard" in other situations (Picture Control). Some say shoot in sRGB and others in Adobe-rgb. I tried these things but I still wasn't completely satisfied.
    Then one day I found somebody on a particular blog who suggested something that changed my entire experience with the D700----you must manually change white balance every time you shoot with the D700 because Auto White Balance (AWB) on the D700 sucks! Even the presets like sunshine, cloudy, shade, tungsten...etc are not very good. Most professional photographers shoot in RAW and always adjusts the white balance themselves during postprocessing. But if you shoot jpeg like me, then you must manually set the white balance in your camera every time you take your camera out of the bag. Read the manual or check youtube on how to do this. You'll be pleasantly surprised.
    --Jon Park
  24. Gene, a circular polarizer will increase saturation in the leaves and more likely will give you the results you're looking for. The leaves in the first two pictures show specular reflections from the sky. The polarizer will block them and show the true green surfaces on the leaves. Give it a try, you will see a nice difference.
  25. I find NX2 gives the best quality raw conversions from D700/D3 files; I recently got LR 3.3 which has improved handling of noise and the color profiles allow you to imitate picture control settings to some extent, but still I think NX2 is the easiest way to get good results with these cameras. Try it at least. Nikon software tends to be crash from time to time but the algorithms are very good. Even after tweaking and playing with settings in the Adobe raw converters, I still prefer the "feel" of the images from NX2 in many cases.
    D700 images from the 50/1.8 should be anything but drab. That lens has a lot of "pop".
  26. OPK


    that is nature of D700. no matter what, it is unable to render colors in jpg's as crop Nikons. but you can do anything from NEF level and alter pictures just as you wish. try NX2 or ACR with installed Nikon profiles. that will do the job
  27. The "neutral" picture control is the best approximation of a linear capture -- a capture with no tone curve applied. It is used for when one wants the maximum control over post processing in photoshop, since it is the closest thing to the original sensor data. So it is best to think of neutral as "linear" rather than "neutral colors".
    If you don't choose neutral (or linear in Capture One terminology), you're committing to a tone curve. Which tone curve you like (or hate the least) is a matter to be decided. You might like to download a trial version of Capture One to compare with NX2 and other RAW converters.
    The devil is that the linear data is the only data that is clean. Working with any tone curve involves getting to know the collateral damage that it does along with the positive benefits it can bring you.
  28. Auto white balance on the D700 sucks?
    Not really. But doesn't really matter as I use Aperture to adjust white balance in post and commonly a neutral gray area in the image or a gray card to help out.
  29. Much of the advice posted is helpful to more than just the D700. Having partial color blindness makes me dependent on using the histograms (and wifes help) when color is really important. One of the writers on Luminous Landscape had a suggestion that can be used some of the time. In unsharp mask set the amount at 20, radius at 50 and threshhold at 0. This will perk up the image without overcooking it. I copied your jpeg pic and applied the unsharp mask as well as minor histogram adjustments. If exact representation of the colors is required, insert an 18% grey card in the frame and use it to adjust the image in post.
  30. One problem not mentioned by others (other than Zack) is that just as cameras have changed over the past~ 30 years when your lenses were made, so have lenses. The old lenses have older designs, older types of glass, and (most important) older coatings. The modern Nikon lens coatings are simply outstanding in what they do! Do not underestimate just how critical lens coatings are. Lenses designed for film generally don't have coatings on the rear element, and on a digital camera the shiney sensor reflects back a bit of light, causing subtle flare. As you've noticed, old lenses just don't have the contrast and color saturation that modern lenses have. The other problem I've run into is lots of CA (chromatic aberation) in many of the old pre-digital lenses. For these reasons, I only use lenses designed to maximize performance on modern digital cameras. It makes my life easier.
    Kent in SD
  31. Just to be very clear on one thing: when you're using NX2 to open up RAW files, you can see what the camera's settings would have made when creating a JPG, and you can non-destructively simulate every other possible in-camera-to-JPG setting after the fact, in a controlled session, with one image. That's how you discover what in-camera settings will get you the JPGs you like right out of the camera. And since storage costs essentially nothing these days, shoot RAW+JPG anyway, so that you have complete latitude later if you need it.
  32. I rarely read a thread in it's entirety, but since I have a D700 I was interested in this one.
    There is a lot of information in this thread, some quite good and some not quite right. I rarely shoot JPEG, and when I do I shoot RAW+JPEG so if I don't like the JPEG out of camera I can process in NX2 and get it exactly the way I want it.
    FWIW, I use Capture NX2, Lightroom, and PS CS5 for post production in that order. I find that I get exactly what I want out of my RAW conversion and do the rest of my processing in JPEG.
    I think I've found the most interesting comment the one about the time of day the shot was taken. Based on the info from the OP and the shooting conditions, I believe that the unprocessed JPEG Neutral is exactly how the scene should look. Personally, I would prefer to see a shot during the "golden hour" to find out how the lighting would effect the shot.
    Keep us posted about your experience with the 24-70mm and remember to shoot both lenses within a few minutes of each other so we can really see the differences. (Also try at different times of day so you can see the difference quality light makes).
  33. Gene,
    I went though a similar series of experiences moving from a D40 to a D300.
    The D700 is less forgiving than the D80 in the same way that a subcompact car is less forgiving than an 18-wheeler. The D80 was tuned a certain way by Nikon to please the lion's share of customers who were likely to purchase a D80. The same with the D700. What you're seeing isn't anything "wrong" with your technique, its that the D700 drives differently than the D80, and has to be approached differently in much the same way you adjust your driving technique based on the kind of car you happen to be driving.
    The good news is that as long as the frames are properly exposed, those raw files likely have the same information that the D80 was recording, its just that your not seeing it yet. With one big exception, lens flare. Contrast-killing flare is going to appear in situations on the D700 that would not be present on the D80 because there is a lot more room for light to bounce around inside the full frame body. Moreover, those older lenses, while fine, are going to "break down" in bright lighting situations perhaps a bit more quickly than lenses which were built to a different standard. (And I don't just mean the brand new coated lenses. I use mostly older lenses myself, although they are all fast 2.8's.)
    If you want to know what's missing, I'd humbly suggest that it may be a lack of understanding of how light behaves. I based that conclusion on the photo you chose as an example, its biggest challenge is a rather unfavorable lighting condition. That harsh mid-day light blasts away any subtle differences in shooting technique, and is probably creating just enough lens flare to muddy the contrast a bit. However, as subsequent posts have shown, there is plenty of data in the file to process a solid image. The softness you're seeing is probably more intrinsic to the light itself than to shooting technique or lens choice. Any lens will break down in extreme light.
    My suggestion would be to experiment in spectacular light. Wait until seconds after sunset, when even a clear sky is a big softbox, and use that as a baseline, rather than the mid-day sun. Or in the shade. And try avoiding auto white balance, also as an experiment, to see if you like the results.
    As for pop, Nikon tends to flatten the contrast curve on images the higher up on the camera food chain. The reason for that is simple, a flatter curve baked into the image gives more flexibility in post production.
  34. Gene,
    Apart from trying with vivid what color space are you using for your Jpegs?
    Sorry if I ask the question (as most probably you may know it) but Nikon indicates that unless sRGB is set to the camera work with the user is supposed to edit the RGB files to get the image's color right.
    You should also consider that for Jpeg capture there is not just the vivid question, and the set of controls that can change the result includes sharpening, contrast, luminosity and saturation.
    I also notice that in your two examples you use 2 color spaces: RGB for the direct D700 and sRGB for the one with the D2x, and this can make a difference when you see the image here, as the browsers use sRGB.
    When it comes to lenses, there is also a difference when you move from DX to FX, as this one uses almost all the image circle and it is much more demanding regarding the image borders/corners and internal reflections.
    One last point, I'd suggest you to try Adobe Camera Raw lens profile correction, if your lenses are already in the database (I would tend to think they're already).
  35. Antonio's observation about the difference in color spaces between the OP's first two images is right on the mark. The EXIF data for the OP's 1st image says that it is in Adobe RGB, whereas it says that the 2nd image is in the sRGB color space.
    The factors mentioned by other posters certainly contribute to a lackluster image, but a color space problem can make even the best capture look strange, and is almost certainly the root cause of the OP's complaint about "dull" colors.
    To further confuse the issue, some browsers and image viewing software correctly display images that are not in sRGB, while others just ignore color space information and interpret all images as if they were sRGB. For example, when I look at the OP's 1st image using Firefox (3.6.16, with color management enabled), in the latest version of IE (9.0.8...), and in Safari 5.0.4, the greens of the central tree look reasonable and fairly similar. However, when I view it in Chrome (11.0.6...) the greens look desaturated and yellow. In contrast, his 2nd image looks absolutely the same in all browsers. This is because it is in sRGB.
    Basically, the OP should have converted the 1st image from Adobe RGB to sRGB for viewing in non-color managed applications and for web posting. sRGB is the "standard" space for web posting, and failure to convert to this space before posting always creates a problem.
    Another problem with the OP's 1st image is that it appears to have been posted without any output sharpening (ie, sharpening after it was downsized to 700 pixels wide for posting). This gives it a soft appearance. Cranking up the in-camera sharpening (ie, sharpening at full rez) can not compensate for lack of output sharpening. Output sharpening is always needed after an image is down-rezed.
    Below are a series of images showing the various steps described above.
    For reference, I have re-posted the OP's 1st image without any modifications.
    Tom M
  36. The same image after conversion in CS5 to sRGB. This version should appear the same in all browsers and non-color managed image viewing software.
  37. ... and finally, here is the previous image with output stage sharpening (ie, at the final resolution of ~700 px wide), plus some subtle tonal adjustments. I intentionally went slightly overboard in the sharpening to make the effect clear. Because this image is in sRGB, it should look the same in all browsers.
    Tom M
  38. Of course, the sky is the limit if you want to get into full battle-of-the-postcards mode, where all days are intensely sunny, all skies are deep blue, and reds aren't worth posting unless they are saturated, so there is always the option of treatments like this ... ;-)
  39. "Lenses designed for film generally don't have coatings on the rear element" - This is sheer nonsense Kent, as one glance at the back of any AiS or film-era AF Nikkor would show you.
    From the 1980s onward, most decent film camera lenses were multicoated on all surfaces, and Nikon was at the forefront of introducing multicoating way back in the early 1970s. Nikon's Integrated Coating (NIC) technology was designed to give neutral colour by matching the coating to the glass used. So don't be suckered by all the recent "made for digital" hype that's fabricated to scare people into replacing perfectly good lenses with newer ones.
    As a matter of fact prime lenses have fewer air-glass surfaces and are therefore usually far more flare resistant than the ubiquitous modern zoom. There is no reason why older (post 1980) lenses should give inferior contrast or colour as long as they're in good condition and kept spotlessly clean. One fingerprint on the glass and all the fancy coating in the world won't help. The lenses mentioned by the OP are still as good as, or better than, their modern AF equivalents.
    All I can suggest is that the OP turns down their internal saturation control, because their apparent idea of "good colour" makes me wince with eye-pain. How violently green do you think a tree should be?
  40. Converted to sRGB in capture NX2...
  41. Added a single neutral black control point under the roof and converted to sRGB in capture NX2...
    (The D700 does require white balance and contrast correction, but maybe you can post the NEF somewhere to check if landscape mode makes a difference.)
  42. Oh dear!
    I've just realised everything in my portfolio has been posted in AdobeRGB :-(
    Perhaps that explains the ratings!!!
  43. Hi!
    I'm Gene, the OP. Wow! I never expected so many responses - some very good info. here. First, I'm going to print the entire post responses, so I can take them and study. Second, the 28-105 - I'm going to do AF fine tune with the D700. Third, I'm staying with ACR, but it looks like I'm going to have to "sharpen" (excuse the pun) my skills on curves, color space, and unsharp mask. I'm going to WV/PA in May for the purpose of waterfall photography. I'm hoping for rainy/overcast skies - if not I'll be out there at sunrise/sunset. For the time being I'm staying with the 28-105, but am adding the 16-35 for wide angle. The grapefruit tree image was taken around 10 AM CDT - that's how bright the sun is here in South Texas during this catastrophic drought. It sure makes for difficult situations for practicing with the new D700. Again, I have a lot to learn and thanks for the responses.
    Gene, Brownsville, Texas
  44. For those wishing to stay with ACR/LR for editing, it may be good to also have a handy reference to the embedded jpeg. I know that at least photo mechanic shows these (very fast). For some "well tuned" cameras (like the olympus E-P1, where LR mangles the colors beyond recognition) it brings back memories of watching slides on a projector, without giving up any of the benefits of RAW.
    Gene, shots of leaves in the mid day sun are theoretically supposed to benefit greatly from a polarizer, but I haven't tested it out.
  45. a) Sharpness: Please let's just ignore suggestions to fine tune the focus on the OP's lens. His image was taken with a 35 mm lens at f/8 and 1/200. Any lens that Nikon ever made will be very sharp at f/8, *certainly so* when viewed as the small scale (700 px wide) images displayed on In addition, the depth of focus of that lens at those settings will be miles beyond the maximum range of the focus fine tuning. Focus fine tuning comes into its own around f/2.8 and below, and when viewed as 100% crops. At f/8 on a 35 mm lens, I doubt you would see any effect at all as you swing the focus fine tuning adjustment from one extreme to the other in this situation. The problem is almost certainly the lack of sharpening after down-rezing to 700 px wide.
    b) Overcooked greens: I don't think the OP ever asked for over-the-top saturation and contrast. I think he just wants his image to have a reasonable amount of these quantities. As he and others were searching for a better rendition, his 2nd image and some of the responders came back with clearly overcooked greens, and I even posted an over-the-top version (mostly, to get his response), but I don't think he ever said he was looking for this.
    I strongly suspect that some people assume the OP wants an over-the-top rendering because these people are looking at his 1st image in a color managed application, and hence, it looks quite reasonable to them, so they see little need to ramp up the saturation and contrast. However, as I pointed out earlier, because his 1st image is encoded in the AdobeRGB color space, it will definitely have weak saturation and contrast when viewed in non-color managed applications (or ones where color management has been disabled).
    To drive this point home, attached is what his 1st image looks like when viewed in a non-color managed application, ie, one which ignores the color profile tag and assumes the image data is encoded in sRGB.
    Tom M
  46. As Rodeo correctly pointed out, there have been quite a few erroneous comments made in this thread.
    One that I just noticed was the suggestion that the difference between 12 and 14 bit NEFs will cause a loss of contrast. This is utter nonsense. Just Google {"14 bit"} and you will see many discussions of the difference between 12 and 14 bit. The conclusion is that one is hard pressed to see the difference, except, perhaps when trying to pull detail out of deep shadows. For example, scroll down to Shun Cheung's expert comments a bit over a month ago in:
    I also just realized that there was a suggestion to try focus fine tuning on the OP's 28-105, not just his 35/f2. Unfortunately, as far as I can, not a single 100% crop of an image from that lens has been posted by the OP, so, IMHO, such a suggestion is based on almost nothing. It was far from the best lens Nikon ever made, but if the OP intends to use it to shoot waterfalls, he probably will be just fine as he is likely to be shooting at least at f/8 to get adequate DOF, and probably even smaller apertures to get blurring of the water. As I pointed out w.r.t. his 35, the depth of focus under such conditions is going to be much larger than the focus offset afforded by the focus fine tuning control.
    Tom M
  47. Tom, the suggestion to fine tune AF for the 28-105 was probably based not on the picture but on Gene's comment, at
    the very beginning, that "[t]he 28-105 is very soft." Of course, if it looks soft at f/8, then something besides AF fine
    tuning might be wrong.
  48. suggestion that the difference between 12 and 14 bit NEFs will cause a loss of contrast. This is utter nonsense​
    possibly, but I cannot substitute logic for observation. Although, I haven't compared with 12 bit on the D700 itself. I'll do that and get back on this.
    some of the responders came back with clearly overcooked greens​
    If this includes me, well... neutral black point is what neutral black point is (although a white balance card would have been better). If that's what shows up, then that's how the green was, and the eyes are wrong. As nobody knows this better than you, this is no magic.
  49. 1. "I cannot substitute logic for observation" -
    I presume you meant to discuss substituting the claims of a person (ie, me) or people you don't know for your own personal observation. This is an absolutely fine course of action if you are willing to spend a lot of time personally re-doing the work of knowledgeable people who have already studied such issues. The issue really boils down to how do you determine which sources (eg, found by doing Internet searches) to trust. All I can say is that I have done tests of 12 vs 14 bits, I teach digital / image processing at the college and grad school level, and many of the people in the threads on this topic on are among the most knowledgeable on However, if you have the time, have fun doing the test yourself -- just make sure that you do them correctly and not make simple conceptual errors like the one discussed below in #2.
    2. Re your comments about setting neutral black and white points, you are missing the point that even if one sets these points perfectly, one still has complete freedom to adjust the saturation of colors between these extremes. The comments about overcooked greens are essentially saying that the saturation of greens (ie, in the middle tones) is too high in many of the tweaked versions.
    Tom M
  50. I did the tests, and Tom is right (obviously), I see no difference between 12bit and 14bit contrast and color from the same camera (D700). In my haste I forgot to take shots with the D200. As for point 2, I spot metered the gray area (+1ev) and the mango (0ev), at aperture priority. Picture control set to landscape mode for all shots as I did not want to mess with the maker's design. Standard and Neutral modes at 12 bit are at the bottom. Lighting conditions are mid day at Calcutta, which should be close enough to the OP's location (give or take a couple of months). No black or white points have been adjusted, only a marquee of the gray area in CNX2. All images are composited and saved to sRGB jpeg in CS2.
    From the CNX develop panel, it does seem that picture control settings are applied after white balance, so mid tones can be altered after the white balance is being set. For neutral black points however (pictures above), they are added manually later, so picture control settings are not expected to selectively alter midtones.
    Summary: Use nikon picture controls and a white balance card (which is common knowledge anyway).
    pic 1: 14bit without and with white balance correction (in CNX2 on raw files)
  51. 12 bit without and with white balance corrections in CNX2 on raw
  52. For reference, 12bit wb corrected in standard and neutral picture control modes. This is a 100% crop. The ones above are resized in CS2.
  53. Here is a shot with the 28-105 I just took. Finally we had a cloudy morning so I went outside and took a shot of palm trees. This is on a tripod, f11, with a polarizer - trying to duplicate the situations I will find in Pennsylvania. The focal length is 55 mm, shot a RAW, processed using ACR landscape curves and smart sharpening in Photoshop. I do think the images look soft - the first is the whole scene, the second is a crop at 100%.
  54. And here is the central crop at 100%.
  55. Does not look too soft to me, for a zoom lens. Your focal plane seems to be on the wheel of the black sedan. Mostly, only the leaves look fuzzy. You can try the AF fine tune anyway, although I'm not sure if it'll be any better with a zoom lens (and may even be worse). In my experience (oh, again!) the fine tune works better if calibrated for a distance that you'll be shooting at (say if you'll be shooting birds mostly 30ft away). Also at F11 there may be diffraction effects for a non macro lens.
  56. Gene - I agree with Indraneel's comment that your image does not look unusually / unacceptably soft. One question, two suggestions:
    1. Did you do intake sharpening (ie, on the full rez file), AND separate output sharpening (ie, after down-rez'ing for posting on at each of the two resolutions that you posted? If not, give that a try.
    2. You shot at 1/80th sec. When pixel peeping (ie, 100% crops), one can often still see traces of camera movement, even when the camera is on a tripod, but fired without using a remote release. With a d700, you could easily go up to ISO 400 or 800 with almost no loss of quality. Why don't you give that a try and see if that sharpens things up. If it does, buy yourself a cable release or a better tripod.
    3. With the click of a button, one can now zoom in to an extent that was hardly ever done before the advent of digital photography. Because of this, it's now vastly easier to see sharpness issues at the level of individual pixels. Consider carefully the intended final image / print size and viewing distance before one is too hard on a lens or body.
    Tom M
  57. PS - I'm not at my Photoshop computer, so I don't have all my usual sharpening tools available, but I just did the equivalent to an output sharpening pass on your 100% crop using a freeware program called XnView, and it sharpened up nicely, so I take back my earlier comment about the possibility of camera movement.
    Tom M
  58. Gene, your EXIF indicates inifinity focus on this shot! Even though it's a small distance on the focus scale from 50ft to infinity, it is a long way. You might try to fine tune your focus with live view, just to see how much you can nail it. Then we'll have a better idea of whether your lens is to blame.
  59. Luke, my god, he shot it at f/11. We are not talking about tweaking the focus on a 1.4 lens. His focus could have been off by a country mile and he would still have been within the Depth of Field for a 55 mm FL focused at infinity. Specifically, shows that everything from 44 feet to infinity will be in focus. Worrying about focus is a red herring unless his lens or mount is damaged.
    Tom M
  60. Tom, and deities -- If someone is running a test of the sharpness of their lens, and they want to do it right, the best thing to do is to use live view and focus on an object in the scene critically, and evaluate that part of the image after capture. Whether Gene used f/11 or not, I think it still makes some difference. I might have recommended f/8 BTW. These lenses do focus beyond infinity, so the depth of field may or may not be adequate for a critical evaluation.

Share This Page