Portraits with Nikon 18-200mm VR

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by sergio_leal, May 3, 2008.

  1. Why can't I get some at least reasonable sharp portraits with this lens ????
    Every time I try I have to delete a few and heavily sharpen the others.
    My fault? Lens fault?
    What a deception....
     
  2. You have to understand that no one can answer that question if you aren't telling us how you're actually using the lens.
    <br><Br>
    1) Handheld, or tripod mounted?
    <br>2) VR engaged or not?
    <br>3) How are you lighting your subject?
    <br>4) How are you metering?
    <br>5) How are you focusing (how is the camera set up)
    <br>6) What shutter speed?
    <br>7) What aperture?
    <br>8) What focal length?
    <br>9) What ISO setting?
    <br>10) What CAMERA are you using?
    <br>11) Aperture priority? Shutter priority? Program mode? Manual mode?
    <br>12) Shooting RAW, or straight to JPG?
    <br>13) What software are you using to work with your output?
    <br><br>
    Post a 100% crop of a section of the sort of image you're not happy with. That will help narrow it down.
    <br><br>
    Deception? How about you hold off on that conclusion for the moment. The fact that it didn't occur to you to provide just a little more information about how you're actually using your equipment, and didn't provide any examples of what you're talking about for other people to see... that tells me that you may be sort of new to the whole topic, and may need to first deal with some basics.
    <Br><br>
    While that lens won't be as sharp wide open as a high-end prime lens, it is perfectly capable of producing a satisfyingly sharp portrait. But you have a LOT of other ground to cover before you blame the lens. So, fill in the blanks, and then you'll get some more specific responses.
     
  3. Deception, in Spanish, means something like disappointment, and that usage may have crept into some varieties of English as well. But maybe Sergio will clarify.

    Matt is of course correct that no one can tell why portraits aren't coming out the way Sergio wants without knowing how they were made.
     
  4. I am posting an example, taken with my Nikon D300, handheld, center-weight metering, dynamic focus, at 200mm with f/5.6 + /1/30s, difuse light (shadow), ISO 800, VR-ON, 8Mb Fine JPEG. no flash. Yes Hector, you are right about "deception". In portuguese it means disappointment
    00PNDy-43283184.jpg
     
  5. BTW, I use PS CS3 for Macintosh and I had set the camera in Program Mode.
    I'd greatly appreciate your feed-back.
     
  6. Looks like a combination of camera shake and/or subject movement.

    The usual rule of thumb for _minimum_ shutter speeds for full-frame cameras is the reciprocal of the focal length. For DX sensors, increase the shutter speed by the crop factor. Again, this is the _minimum_ recommended speed and a faster speed is always better for sharpness.

    Your 1/30 shutter speed is a bit slower than the recommended minimum even after accounting for the 3 stops that VR provides. However, for poor camera holding technique, you should increase the shutter speed even more.

    Use aperture priority to take this shot at 100mm with the lens open to its maximum aperture and an increased ISO of 1600. That should get the shutter speed fast enough where your example would be sharp. (The D300 will be fine at 1600 and you might not want to use it for aesthetic reasons. Just try it for a while to see the difference in sharpness.) 100mm is also in the middle of the zoom range and is probably optically sharper than the long telephoto end.

    Proper lens technique means cradling the lens in the palm of your left hand instead of just the thumb below and forefinger on top - something that I see people do a distressing amount of time. Also keep your elbows close in and pressed to your chest as reasonably comfortable as possible. If available, lean against a doorway or other object. Press the shutter in a relaxed manner and avoid jabbing it.

    Try the above suggestions and let us know how things improve.
     
  7. Don't use Program mode. Put the camera in Aperture Priority mode, and try stopping down a but more than f/5.6. At 200mm, on a fairly nearby subject, you're not getting much depth of field.

    Don't use dynamic focus.

    Single, spot focusing for portraits. That give you control over exactly what part of the frame is in focus. And VR or not, you still need to hold the camera as steadily as possible.
     
  8. Sergio... I know some of the members here will jump on me BUT you are using a pro model camera with a snap shoot lens. Yeah! Many people love that lens, all in 1! Great! The way I see it is for that lens a D40 will do! Now if you want decent shots from a more that decent camera please use a decent lens! Doesn't have to be a 1,000 USD lens! a simple 50 f1.8 will do the job! That is concerning the equipment! Now we don't know the way you are using it and that is another different world coz if you don't use it right no lens will do the job.

    You guys! Be nice to me! But too many people want that lens so they don't have to change lenses all the time and then they aren't happy with it! Over and over again! And yet, people still recommend it! Sorry! Thanks! Rene'
     
  9. I'll try and post it back. Reading Ken Rockwell's review about the shapness of this particular lens I really felt dissapointd as he consideres it as good as most of his best lens and (close, macro and long range) but I can't see that happening to me... I'll post a better exmple with higher ISO.
    00PNF4-43284784.jpg
     
  10. I have a few good lenses well suited for portrais, includin 105mm, 85mm and 50mm, BUT,
    I just putchase it and had to try before using for other matters. I consider myself to have a
    very steady hand for camera holding and don't think this is the main problem in my case.
    I'm posting another example.
     
  11. Forgot the photo....
    00PNFU-43285084.jpg
     
  12. Sergio... Ken Rockwell must be right! Coz he is an expert photographer! he knows the limits of the lens and he got the experience to get the most of it! Also he got lenses for every task. for me photography is a hobby and I am not a pro. In my case for me is easier just to change lenses. Yeah! sometimes i miss a shot while changing lenses. So what? I am not loosing any money! The problem I see is that many people go to the store and they are recommend it to buy that lens as kit lens with a camera. for first timers it sounds great! just one lens can do everything but then they are disappointed with it. Are you very advance in photography? Do you have any other lenses? Is this your first DSLR? Please give us some background not only the samples! Rene'
     
  13. I certainly hope you have stead hands! You are a neurosurgeon!

    The flip side of steady hands is a steady subject. That does look to be the case here and slow shutter speeds will kill you.
     
  14. Use ISO AUTO, Soot again at 170 mm and at 1/200 f5.6
     
  15. Rene I've on the road for more that 30 years.
    Back in the fim days I used my F100 and F2A I had good results. I also have a large
    colection of Nikon lenses, primes and zooms, for all purposes,
    I had had a D70 (great camera and my 1st, DSLR camera) for a few years and than
    moved to the D300 (which is also brand new).
    Maybe I shoud try my other lens, although I already know what to expect from all of
    them.
    The only reason I purchased this 18-200mm lens is because I travel a lot and my bag
    gets preatty heavy so I thought I could do it with only a 18-200 and a 12-24 lens + SB800 frash when traveling abroad.
    It happened that I decided to test my new D300 and new 18-200mm at the sime time
    and got disappointed with the lack of sharpness.
    I have a few pictures in my portfoilo if you can spare some time and take a look...
    http://www.photo.net/photodb/member-photos?user_id=258452
    Those taken with this lens were all sharpened.
     
  16. I already tried ISO auto and Aperture Priority.
    How can I be sure my VR is really working?
    Any clues?
     
  17. Well guys, here where I live it's 2:32a.m. and I must get some sleep now.
    I'll come to your answers and suggestions as soon as I wake up later, OK ?
    Keep posting if possible .......
     
  18. I just played with my 18-200mm set around 50mm and a a good old fixed 50mm f/1.8 that I got on eBay for ~$50. I have a hard time seeing the differences in the center of the pictures, but the 50mm is *obviously* sharper towards the edges in my quick handheld test.

    I don't know what people expect. The 18-200mm lens works over a huge zoom range and is small and compact. It's not the sharpest lens in the history of the world, but you have to compromise somewhere.

    Think about it this way.
    18-200: 16 elements in 12 groups
    50mm:6 elements in 5 groups

    The light in the 18-200mm lens is passing through almost 3 times as many elements and they are doing a lot more stuff than the 50mm elements are. That's just one tiny reason it isn't as sharp.
     
  19. Tom, don't you worry , my hands are steady like a rock! heheheheheheheheeh........
     
  20. I love the shot of the little girl picking up her nose! :)

    I don't have any VR lenses. I tried the 18-200 once and didn't like it. I was using it on a tripod so the VR was off. According to what people say here is that when you press the shutter half way you can here the VR spinning around or something like that. Check other threads about it. Some other members will tell you about it here too. Another option would be to go to a store next you and try a different VR lens so you get the feeling of it. Rene'
     
  21. All the shots that you have posted here are taken at slow shutter speeds, i think it's camera shake. I know VR is supposed to help, but i would suggest turning VR off and trying a shot at 1/200th of a second. Use flash if you have to, just to see if the lens is bad
     
  22. acm

    acm

    Hi everyone,

    I have used the 18-200 extensively and am very happy with it. 70% of my portfolio on photo.net is 18-200. used well one cant tell the difference from the so called pro lenses.

    As for using it with D300, Nikon itself promotes this camera with this lens as can be seen from many ads.

    As far as sharpness goes, here I am posting a shot taken with 18-200 just last month. Nikkor 18-200 Dx VR, 70 mm 1/200 sec, f/8, ISO 800, hand held.
     
  23. acm

    acm

    P.S. No sharpening used here.
     
  24. acm

    acm

    By the way last month I purchased two primes AF-S Micro Nikkor 105 mm 2.8 and AF-D Nikkor 50 mm 1.8. I am now anticipating even more sharpness with these in my planned photography.
     
  25. The shutter speeds appear to be too low for the selected focal lengths, even for a VR lens.

    For handheld shots, the general rule of thumb for minimum shutter speed is at least the reciprocal of the focal length to avoid unsharpness. The unsharp samples shown above were shot at 200mm and 170mm respectively at a much lower speed than the recommended minimum of 1/200 and 1/170.

    Better luck next time,
    Mary
     
  26. LOL! Sergio's "nose picking girl" photo just went on my list of favorites. I love photos of kids just being themselves.

    Sergio, just use a faster shutter speed, stop down and ... aww, heck, just do what everyone else already suggested. ;>
     
  27. portrait? tripod if possible, higher shutter speed for sure.

    18-200? FANTASTIC lens for what it's designed for. Portraits ain't it. I'd use a 50mm f1.8
    in there. But you are certainly NOT getting the sharpness out of your 18-200 that I am
    getting out of mine. I think it needs an adjustment.
     
  28. I would also think that the shutter was way to slow, especially with a moving subject. I have experienced similar problems with my 70-200vr and have been able to iron out the "problems" by jacking up the iso and attaining a higher shutter. Keep in mind that these adustments are subject to quality of lighting and just how fast your subject is moving.

    Michael
     
  29. I use this lens on a D200 and do not have a problem with sharpness. I use Aperture priority, Auto ISO, and have the camera set to not use a shutter speed slower than 1/125 second. If it can't get a correct exposure at the f stop I select and ASA100 with a shutter speed of 1/125 second it will increase the ASA to compensate. You might try this approach. You also have to do some sharpening in processing the RAW for all images.
     
  30. What image quality would you expect from a 10x power zoom? It's for convenience not for sharpness. The optical design is definitely comprised when designing a 10x zoom at a reasonable price.

    For top IQ, choose a prime or at least 70-200/2.8 VR.
     
  31. I use the this lens with my Nikon D200 , and i like it ,is sharp and quite fast ..ok is not a telezoom f/2.8 - but for f/3.5 is fine .
     
  32. An 18-200 first of all Binyuan is not a 10x zoom. It's more like a 6x. Take your D300
    outdoors into some decent light. Use normal focus setting and "NOT" dynamic
    focusing. If you are shooting a fairly static subject. Use normal 3D matrix metering.
    Set ISO to about 400 to make sure you are getting enough shutter speed. Pre-focus on
    the subjects eye and fire away using VR normal setting. If you don't get a reasonably
    sharp image take the lens back.
     
  33. I agree with Peter. I got this lens with my first DSLR, a D70s, and now use it with my D200. Later this year, I'll get a D300, and I'll use the 18-200VR on it, too. I'll give up my 18-200VR when they pry my cold, dead fingers from around it. It's a great, great lens, but like anything else in photography, it's a compromise, and it does have its limitations, and anyone shooting this lens needs to learn the limitations. It's not a phenomenal portrait lens, but it should be OK at that, and certainly is capable of delivering better results than you're getting.

    VR is not a panacea or a fixall for faulty technique or not understanding the VR system. Using it at full zoom (300mm equivalent to 35mm film) wide open handheld at 1/30 is asking for problems. Rockwell and others that espouse the 18-200 don't ever say all shots will be tack-sharp at slower shutter speeds because of the VR. They say more photos will be usable at slower speeds because of the VR, and that sharpness is good with this lens. You still have to do your part, both in technique, and knowing how to operate the system and the limitations of the system.

    Are you certain you understand how to use VR correctly? Please have a look at this: http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/18200/18200-vr.htm Your VR might not have been active.

    Have you tried test shots to see if the autofocus is working correctly? Try the camera on a tripod, with VR off, and auto-focus on something (a tree is best). Then play with the manual focus ring. Any difference in correct focus? With the VR still off, try some shots of a tree from the tripod at various focal lengths, and evaluate these for sharpness. Still have problems with sharpness? If there are problems with the autofocus or non-VR sharpness from a tripod, your lens needs attention from Nikon.
     
  34. Sorry Binyuan! I just realized you were talking about the zoom difference between 18
    and 200mm. Not the optical total zoom of the lens at it's high end. My apologies.
     
  35. "I know some of the members here will jump on me BUT you are using a pro model camera with a snap shoot lens. Yeah! Many people love that lens, all in 1! Great! The way I see it is for that lens a D40 will do! Now if you want decent shots from a more that decent camera please use a decent lens! Doesn't have to be a 1,000 USD lens! a simple 50 f1.8 will do the job!" ---------- again same thing ...paint brush or the painter makes great paintings ????? .......................................
     
  36. This is the sharpest I can get....
     
  37. Now the same picture taken with Nikon 50mm/1.8
     
  38. I bought it when it first came out then sold it a few weeks later.

    Two reasons why it's rotten for portraits.

    1) It's not sharp. You noticed. A good consumer lens but that's all.

    2) (And most important) You can't open it up wide enough when shooting long to get a good blur in the background. That's essential for portrait work.

    So there it is. It's not sharp enough for the foreground and not soft enough for the background.

    For what it does, which is to try to be all things to all men, it's a great lens. It's just not a good lens.
     
  39. Sergio, you really have to show us a one-to-one crop. It's also helpful when posters are able keep the EXIF information intact. Since you appear to be shooting jpegs, the picture control settings can significantly affect the final result. Nothing looks wrong with your latest example, especially after adding some unsharp mask and lightening shadows. These are things you can do in-camera.
    00PNQa-43290684.jpg
     
  40. Sergio, all your examples are interior shots, with available light, shot at circa 200mm, with speeds of about 1/30, and maximum aperutres ! You cannnot complain about blurry pictures taken under those conditions. For indoors, test it with flash, test it at 50mm. You want to test the 200mm end, test it outdoors, test it with a far higher shutter speed. And don't use program mode, thats for braindeads that don't know much about photography. Use shutter priority, or aperure priority, its still auto but gives more control and understand about what your doing.
     
  41. Edward says it best. There's really no way the 18-200 is going to be as sharp as the 50/1.8 And it's pretty much impossible to precisely compare the two samples you posted. EXIF information is missing and we don't know if the exposure data is the same. The images are different sizes and that will change perceived resolution. And the lighting is different. The shadows are not the same. For someone with your critical eye, It really seems that you'll be happier with using your primes. (You might find the 70-200/2.8 adequate to your standards, but you'll have to trade the convenience of the 18-200).
    00PNQx-43290784.jpg
     
  42. Here we go again! I don't know what the problem with Sergio's portraits might be. His lens might be a dud in need of adjustment. He might need to use a faster shutter. It's at least worth a try. But the notion that "all" 18-200mm. VR zooms are "not sharp" is just plain wrong. Mine is fabulous, and I have used many, MANY lenses in my day.

    Of course it's not as sharp as a 50mm. f1.8, but for portraiture one doesn't necessarily want absolutely top-level sharpness anyway--and the 18-200 is plenty sharp enough (at small levels of enlargement the difference should not even be noticeable.)

    The 18-200mm. should be fine for portraits, with a few caveats. A zoom, and especially a wide-ranging zoom, is going to be prone to focus field curvature, which will make across-the-plan sharpness difficult wide open in some circumstances, particularly at close focusing distances. If you stop down a bit this problem is eliminated.

    ALSO: when I have found certain lenses to be "unsharp," particularly wide open, sometimes it turns out that the focus point is just a bit off. This was true of my 80-400mm. at f5.6 I was sure that it was "noticeably soft" at maximum aperture, then I tried double-checking the focus manually. Turns out that the AF can sometimes be a little funky and at full aperture this causes problems.
     
  43. Indeed, 100% crops will help to tell the tale. Sized-down JPGs are very deceptive.

    Never the less, let's see here...
    An 18-200 face shot from Tim Keller at f/4.8, 50mm, and another at a slightly longer focal length. In fact I think everything in that particular gallery was shot on walk-about with that lens. Of course, Tim's careful in how he uses it.

    Of course, those were outdoors in fairly good light. Here's one taken in some less-good, but still adequate light, but at 200mm. Stopped down to f/8, we're resolving individual whiskers at the far end of this "snapshot lens's" range. How about bad light? In a poorly lit room (with a badly backlit subject), I was forced to go to ISO500, at 200mm, f/5.6, and could only get 1/25 out of the shutter on this casual shot. It's not razor sharp, but that's from subject movement, mostly... I was careful in my own handling of the body for that one, and VR absolutely made the image possible. That image printed very nicely at 12x18.

    For shots like these for me, Sergio, it's ALWAYS single-focus. I'm using a camera with a LESS sophisticated focusing system than yours. You just need to get the camera out of point-and-shoot mode, and take contol of it, and your own holding techniques (think: scalpel!) in challenging light. You can get very good results when you've had the practice.

    Full disclosure: I own and gladly use lenses that are absolutely faster and sharper than the 18-200, as well. But it's on the camera any time I leave the house. Very versatile lens.
     
  44. Perhaps the lens VR is not working properly. Test your lens with VR off, camera on tripod, all manual setting, and manual focus .. see if there is a difference... and then, introduce your digital technology factors one-by-one to see if you can duplicate the dull appearence.

    If you are impatient in testing, pop that 80-200 on your F100 and shoot a roll of film .. lens VR is a tricky thing to measure, they tell you it helps but to what degree most people can not quantify .. and of course, with anything electronic pinning down a electro-mechanical fault can be a difficult task.

    Love your shots of the child .. nicely done.
     
  45. Rene wrote: "Sergio... Ken Rockwell must be right! Coz he is an expert photographer! he knows the limits of the lens and he got the experience to get the most of it! Also he got lenses for every task. for me photography is a hobby and I am not a pro."

    While Ken's website can be a good informational resource, people need to realize that Ken neither is, nor ever was a professional photographer. Ken is an engineer, his wife is a high end real estate agent... hence how they have the money to own every camera and lens ever created.

    The original poster said he bought the lens because of Ken's comments of its sharpness. One has to rely on more than just "Ken's word" when it comes to purchasing equipment. Ken's opinions are based on what he uses cameras and lenses for... mostly nature and hobby. One should also do independent research on their own and test drive equipment if they can get the chance. Look to rent lenses from rentglass.com or connect with friends who may have what you're looking to purchase.

    I own the 18-200 VR myself... use it often on my D70s. Its a great all around lens, but I don't use it for portraits. It's just not as sharp as good prime portrait lenses.
     
  46. Sergio, I use the 18-200 with the D300 but my experiences with this lens are different than some here. Overall, it works pretty well and gives some nice results. However, there are some limitations with this lens, especially at the long end. Comparing results of the 18-200 to the 50mm prime is nonsense. They are totally different lenses for different purposes. Yes, the prime is noticeably sharper but I find it stinks if you are shooting 18-49mm or 51-200mm. Each has their place. IMO the 18-200 is a poor lens choice for portraits at 200mm, much better at 00PNTn-43291884.jpg
     
  47. Bruce, what the heck is that? It looks like some sort of cross between an animal and a tree stump! By the way, in addition to using single spot focus mode, select an AF point that is on the near eye. This can work really well if you have a shallow depth of field. For some reason, my 50mm works best with single-servo mode. But I get better results with my 85/1.4 set to continuous-servo mode. (I think that's because the DOF is so narrow, that when I compose I inevitably move back or forward a few millimeters and change the plane of focus.) Whether using single-servo or continuous-servo modes, I almost always have both set to AF Priority instead of Release Priority.
    00PNUQ-43291984.jpg
     
  48. Would somebody just send me their POS 18-200 VR and put it out of their misery? Heck, I'll pay shipping. ;>
     
  49. Dear Sergio
    this one http://www.photo.net/photo/7017968 is using D200 with 18/200. All I can say it is a great all round lens. and so far 18/200 never let me down.

    cheers

    Antoine Dagobert
     
  50. It's very likely your lens is out of alignment. While that isn't the only reason for some of your posted examples, it's a contributing factor. If you have the means to send it to Nikon, do so. Even the high-end lenses suffer from this problem.
    <p>
    Sadly, quality control isn't what it used to be.
     
  51. Rafal.... "---------- again same thing ...paint brush or the painter makes great paintings ?????"

    The painter!

    Photography is a different field! I used to think it was ONLY the man behind the camera but now I'm sure that money and equipment has a lot to do with it. My own experience is that I've been taking better pictures now with a D300 and an AF-S300 f4 than what I used to with a D80 and the older AF-300 f4. I haven't even get to learn all that my D300 can do. I also took better pictures with an 80-200 f2.8 than with the 18-200 which means is not just the man behind the camera but what he hast to do the job.

    KEVIN.... Ken Rockwell is not a professional photographer? So why is everyone always talking about his reports and stuff? i thought he was! Well, every single Nikon lens I have bought so far I always ask here first and after YOUR recommendations I go to the store. So far I have never been disappointed with what YOU guys had recommended me! Sorry for that!

    LEX... You should had said that long ago! I had 1 for a month, I only used it 1 afternoon and I gave it away. I gave it away coz I got it for free on the first place! I would had never bought it to start with.

    Rene'
     
  52. Sergio, The 18-200 VR can be a very effective portrait lens. Here are two of the first images that I shot with this lens on my D300....
    00PNZV-43294784.jpg
     
  53. Here is the second image....
    00PNZd-43294984.jpg
     
  54. Thanks for your answers guys. Wow..!!!
    Did any of you guys (Tom, Matt, Bruce, Antoine, Richard) do any post processing
    (sharpening) in PS before posting your images?
     
  55. BTW, is the Nikkor 105mm/2.8 micro a good lens for portrait and/or candids?
    I know it's not designed for this purpose but what can I expect in this specific situation?
     
  56. Sergio, Here is a photograph taken with Nikon D50, Nikkor 18-200 mm, VR on, 1/25 sec at f5.3, 95 mm, no flash, indoors, handheld, ISO 1600. Its not terribly sharp, but not out of focus either. Of course, D50 is much lighter than D300, but this is a personal judgement -- I used to dream about D300, but after holding it in my hands realized that it's too heavy for me. Perhaps something is wrong with your lens.
    00PNcP-43296884.jpg
     
  57. P.S. No sharpening, no post-processing beyond converting from NEF into jpg
     
  58. Mikhail, I don't know about the focus but she is a gorgeous young lady!
     
  59. Tom, the animal is a three-toed sloth, from a trip to Costa Rica a couple months ago. It is not a tree stump. :)

    But you brought up a good point. If I had the time to really set up the shot, I would have preferred spot metering. For that matter, I would have loved to whip out a 70-200VR, too.

    My point, sometimes photo ops happen very quickly, especially when traveling. I had seconds to get this shot or miss it entirely. I went with what I had and hoped I could fix in later in PS.

    And a comment about Richard's images.......

    Yes, the lens can be a decent for portraits but as his shots show, they are toward the wider end or middle. If you can stay down around 100mm or less, the quality is pretty good as long as there is sufficient light. At 200mm, it is much more difficult for portrait work.
     
  60. Sergio,
    Thanks. She is not my child or grandchild though...
     
  61. Sergio,
    I imported these as JPEGs into iPhoto because it was all I had when I first got the camera. I adjusted the contrast and highlights slightly, no sharpening was required.
     
  62. Sergio, Here is a "portrait" of a bird at 200mm, f6.3, iso 200, 1/250 sec with VR on handheld. This was slightly sharpened in Aperture 2.
    00PNfr-43300084.jpg
     
  63. Sergio: Any time I reduce the number of pixels in an image (as I would when reducing them to sizes that are suitable for display here, of course I do a little bit of sharpening. Gently.
    <Br><br>
    I shoot in RAW, so any time that I produce a JPG from one of those NEF files, I always do some sharpening. Just as your camera, if you have it producing JPGs directly as you shoot, is also doing.
     
  64. Nice capture Richard. It is reasonably sharp in my opinion.
     
  65. I do the same Matt, except that I find it easier to shot in Hi resolution JPEG right from the
    start (it saves me time).
     
  66. Sergio - to me, your examples make me think there was too much camera movement. I love my 18-200 lens for portraits, particularly the kind I like to make, which are informal images of "found" subjects. When I can see individual hairs on someone's head in my photograph, I know the image is sharp enough for me. Here is a photograph of an old woman who posed for me in front of the house where author John Steinbeck lived as a child, in Salias, Caifornia.
    00PNjK-43301984.jpg
     
  67. 85mm f1.4, there is no substitute.
    00PNjs-43302384.jpg
     
  68. Dave,

    Great example! You sure can't beat this lens for being versatile as a "walk around" lens. I'm happy I chose it and have used it extensively at home and on vacation.
     
  69. Seeing the really nice shots here, this is an example of why I say using 200mm for portraits is a stretch unless you have real good light. This was shot inside a small church in Greece. The only light sources were candles way to her left and an open doorway with harsh sunlight on her right. Closing the doorway and using fill flash would have been ideal. Unfortunately, the rule was no flash inside the church. And, I wasn't allowed to get too close to her because she was a widow in mourning. Bottom line, the composition was what I wanted but the photo came out a bit soft, unlike the others I see here that were shot around 100mm or less where you have more room to play with your exposure.
    00PNm6-43303684.jpg
     
  70. Dave, maybe you're right (I hope so...).
    It's a brand new lens and I took only a few shots, so I'm not yet familiar with it.
    I'll try some new combinations and expect less from VR 'cause it sure does no miracle.
     
  71. If you want a longish telephoto try a 135mm f2.8. It's manual focus but very cheap, small, sharp, contrasty. Picked one up for about 35GPD on ebay which was about $70, it's an unbelievable value for money.
     
  72. What do you say about the old manual 105mm/2.5.
    Is it still considered a good portrait lens?
     
  73. There are Lots of discussion between 105 and 135. I personally haven't used 105, but it is still regarded as great. It really comes down to your preference on focal lengths, I wanted little bit longer and settle on 135, also it tended to be cheaper.
     
  74. >I'll try some new combinations and expect less from VR 'cause it sure does no miracle.<

    Sergio, the more a lens magnifies something, whether it is magnified with a telephoto or a macro lens, or even something like a close-focusing 35mm lens, the more difficult it is hold the camera steady enough to eliminate blur and create a sharp photograph. A shot at 1/30 sec. at 200mm is asking too much of even the 18-200mm VR, unless the photographer has very, very steady hands and some luck.

    Keep experimenting with technique. Unless there's something wrong with your lens - like the VR not working - you should be able to make the kinds of photographs you want with your lens. I'm not saying there aren't "better" lenses from Nikon or the other lens makers, because there are. The one you have, though, should be more than good enough to make very satisfying images.
     
  75. One more, this time made at 200mm, 1/250 sec. at f/5, ISO 200. I don't think good portraits are limited to a particular range of focal lengths, including with the 18-200mm VR.
    00PNsc-43308684.jpg
     
  76. If you want a moderate telephoto that's sharp wide open, yup, it's hard to beat the 105/2.5 AI or AI-S.

    Personally, I prefer to stop down to f/8-f/11 for portraits where I can choose the background to minimize clutter, or when background clutter *is* an integral part of an environmental portrait. So just about any lens will do when stopped down this way.

    But for occasions when shallow DOF is desirable, or you simply need a faster lens, the 105/2.5 is an excellent value. Mine is as sharp wide open as at f/4, altho' contrast improves even at f/2.8, mostly due to reduction of internal flare. Oddly, it's actually slightly less sharp at f/5.6, then sharpens up again by f/8.
     
  77. I have not read thru this whole thread, but I use this lens on a D80, and I have noticed that if I turn on the VR, my shots tend to have a bit of blur to them. So I have found that it is best for me to only turn the VR on when I am in a position that I know will require it.
     
  78. Great shot Dave.
     
  79. BTW, I am trying to upgrade my D300 firmware (It purchased in the US - gray market), and
    I have no ideia of what country it was made for.
    Based on my serial number can I find it out?
    Nikonusa only lets ferforming firmware upgrade if it's an USA made model (It doesn't
    accept my serial number).
    How can I peform my firware upgrade now? Is it possible?
    Any ideas anyone?
     
  80. Sergio - My shots were processed with LR. Only a little sharpening added but not enough that I think it shows up at 500 pixels wide. I'm partial to very shallow depth-of-field, but I don't know if that increases the perception of sharpness in the in-focus areas.

    One more tip on getting sharp images - Shoot multiple frames at 6fps and you'll have better odds of getting at least one frame that is both camera steady and subject still. Your first example probably has both.
     
  81. To test (or blame) a lens with justice, please use a tripod and a remote shooter (cable MC 30 or similar). AF in single mode, made too very light corrections on the Focus to asure focus is absolutely perfect. If testing the lens in this way improves a lot over previous results, then it is not the lens fault.

    Juan Parm鮩des
     
  82. Dave, that was a really nice shot but I would love to know how you did it with the 18-200. Your photo was f/5 but the lens is f/5.6 at 200mm.
     
  83. Dave,

    Another beautiful example of what you can accomplish with this lens!
     
  84. my 18-200 are sharp enough with or without VR but not good enough for indoors shots without a flash. I am considering a purchase of the 50mm f1.4. It is a lot more expensive than 1.8, does it really make a huge difference in quality?
    00PO3o-43313784.jpg
     
  85. Since we're all posting some of our favorite 18-200 shots we've taken, here's mine. :) This was taken at 170mm, 1/60s, f/5.6. I don't recall the ISO, but it was probably 800, on a D70. This was one of the performers during the night show at XCaret eco-park in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico.

    <P><img src="http://kombat.org/Photography/Mexico2007/images/FullSize_600Wide/0310_Bugler.jpg">
     
  86. Yanko, Give the Sigma 30mm f1.4 a look if you are interested in a fast prime. I have been pleased. See attached image at f4, 1/1250sec, iso 100...
    00PO4U-43313884.jpg
     
  87. Just got this lens and one of my first shots. So far very pleased. shot in 'A'perture priority (raw) . F11, 160 ISO 200.
     
  88. Sergio,
    I have the 18-200 and I do not use it mainly because the lack of quality particularly on sharpness ( iam not saying that is bad, it is simply not very good quality in terms of results). I originally used it with the D200 and the combination was very unfortunate (at least with my sample). Then I changed for the 17-55 which is a very good lens (and a different league, of course, save for the CA) in comparison. Now I am using a D300 (a huge improvement in terms of autofocus) with the new 24-70 which is a dream lens (for me, particularly for portraits) and lives in the camera most of the time.

    In any event, and speaking on other issue, I am not as satisfied as many when taking about noise in the D300 (in general). It is better tahn in the D200, that?s clear but I am not enthusiastic (and yes, I know the D3....)

    Frankly, after some time using VRs I realised that I do not need VR?s at all.

    regards
     
  89. Sergio,

    You got a lot of responses, mostly about lenses. I think it is not the lens, since you
    have shown in your own portfolio that you get sharp images with this lens, and every
    one else seems to agree. (No not as sharp as a pixel peeping foto of a 85mm prime,
    but sharp enough). Since you have used many cameras to good effect, I doubt your
    camera holding technique is bad. So that wouldn't explain this either.

    How about the AF system? The D300 has an AF that is a little different from any of the
    cameras you have used before. It is better and once you are familiar with it you will get
    better results, but you may need to get familiar with it first. I would try to stay simple at
    first, the "s" (single shot) setting, choose your own AF point (one of 15 cross points or
    just take the center one), nothing fancy. If the sharpness of your photos improves and
    is more like what you are familiar getting, then you know what part of the manual to
    start studying :).

    Your candid shots of children requires quick focussing, since a moment like that nose
    pickin' girl won't last long. So you need to have a good understanding of the AF.
     
  90. Shot with 18-200mm VR
    00POBk-43317584.JPG
     
  91. another one...lol..everyone's posting their pics...might as well post more :p
     
  92. You shutter speed is too slow for your lens. You can do this with a 50mm f1.8 and other fast lens but not with your 18-200 unless you have a super steady hand... "The rule is to choose a shutter speed that is equal to or more than your focal length. So if you have a 100mm lens then your shutter speed should be at least 1/100. If it's a 200mm lens then shutter speed should be at 1/200 or less." Rule Can't find the original article that I read but the above is pretty similar...
     
  93. Good point, because one of the first rules of physics is that the longer the lens, the more likely it is that your subject will move faster. So while a 1/30 sec. shutter speed is fine with a 28mm lens, the subject will move faster when you use a 200mm lens, so you'll need to use a faster shutter speed.

    This is because according to the Jenkins Corollary to the Heisenberg Principle, observing a subject with a 500mm lens causes the subject to move faster. This is proven by the fact that every time I try to photograph my blonde neighbor through her window at night using my telephoto lens, she runs as fast as possible for the telephone to call the cops.

    A corollary to that law is that with a wider lens you don't need a fast shutter speed. In fact, with a 10mm fisheye you can literally spin around with your arms outstretched and there will be no blur with the shutter speed set to 1/10th of a second. But if you use a 1/125 sec. shutter speed with a 300mm lens, it will look like you were standing in a paint mixer while taking the photo.
     
  94. Understood that the ultimate goal is portraits, but perhaps see if some stationary subjects (still) shot under similar conditions are satisfactory. Then improve the conditions (better light for more speed possibly add tripod and see where the quality improves (or doesn't), then you can find out where the problem is. We all know that even a sometimes-maligned superzoom is capable of sharp-looking images in good light at web resolution!
     
  95. >Dave, that was a really nice shot but I would love to know how you did it with the 18-200. Your photo was f/5 but the lens is f/5.6 at 200mm.<

    Bruce, that's a good question, and I don't have an answer. It shouldn't be possible. I tried to duplicate the feat at 200mm and couldn't.

    Not to be deterred, However, I zoomed in and out, made some test shots, and was able to get the exif data to record slightly different maximum f/stops at the same focal length (around 50mm).

    So I'm not sure why the anomalous reading at 200mm, or why I couldn't duplicate it. However, whether f/5 or f/5.6, the photo was certainly sharp enough.
     
  96. I would have to agree that a combination of low shutter speed with possible subject movement the cause of the unsharp portrait photos Sergio posted. Here's one I took a few weekends ago at ISO360, 200mm, f11 at 1/80s: [​IMG]
     
  97. Here is a great detailed article addressing the sharpness and (solution) to the problem.

    http://naturephotoadvisor.com/Articles/Nikon%2018-200mm%20Lens%20Review/Nikon%2018-200mm%20Lens%20Review.htm

    The author of this article did an incredible amount of work and research and I am very grateful I found this article.
     
  98. Good article, but I hope Nikon is not moving in the direction predicted, i.e. cheap
    consumer optics in a pro package.

    The recent introduction of the 16-85 shows that Nikon still intends to provide good
    quality optics in their less than pro (i.e. not f/2.8) lenses. The introduction of the D3
    shows that Nikon is not going to provide only APS-C sized cameras. So I think we
    need to not read too much into the production of one lens.

    On my own tests of this lens (two copies that I tried) it was quite a bit softer than
    the 70-300 ED, which is not such a sharp lens either. And yes, I did use RAW
    processing. But sharpening, even on the RAW image, can only go so far to fix the
    issues with the lens.

    I returned my 18-200 and got the 16-85 VR. I only just got it, so I need to see if it
    lives up to it's test reports, but so far so good.
     
  99. i use a D300 with a 18-200 and love it. for sure it would be foolish to compare a 70-210mm 2.8 to this all-in-one lens. but hey, it all depends. i travel a lot, walk around with the set-up a lot, and actually come back home without a sore arm. and considering i don't take pics for a living, i am pretty happy with the results - after some post-processing of course. yes, the D300 is an expensive camera, but i don't think there's any rule that it cannot be used with a cheap lens such as 18-200. i love the options offered by the D300 and like the convenience as well as the results obtained by the 18-200. needless to add, i don't go over my images with a magnifying glass.
     

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