Unsharp images, what am I doing wrong?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by joemig, Jul 5, 2014.

  1. In October, I bought a Nikon 24-70 f2.8 and I have been having major issues with getting sharp images with it. I didn't think the problem was with the lens at first, my first thought was camera shake, even though I almost always use this lens in a studio, at 1/250. So, I started using a tripod all the time. I thought maybe it was still an issue with the camera moving, so I tried using a remote to trigger it. Same problem. I ended up replacing the D300 I originally had with a D7100, but the problem still existed. So finally I sent the lens back to Nikon to have it fixed. It was under warranty, so they never really said if they found a problem, just said they made some adjustments, calibrated and cleaned it. Well, yesterday I did the first shoot since getting it back, and... same problem. I want to point out that I also have a NIkon 70-200 f2.8 and I get perfectly sharp photos with it, but I use that lens outdoors. So the only real difference is that with the 70-200, I'm shooting in natural light most of the time while with the 24 70 I'm using strobes (Einstein or White Lightning strobes).
    I cannot figure this out. The image I've attached to this is a 100% crop of a typical image. Virtually every shot I took yesterday has this same issue. It LOOKS like the camera is moving, but I don't see how. It's mounted on a Vanguard tripod, I'm positive that the focus point in the camera was directly on her face, this particular shot was taken at 1/250 at f4 but I've had the same problem at f5.6, f8 etc.
    Any ideas? I don't know what else to do, I cannot figure out why this is happening.[​IMG]
  2. I suspect you need to set the camera's AF micro-adjustment value for that individual lens on that specific cameras to
    something other than zero.
    Hod you see the issue when you shoot using the live view mode?
  3. I want to point out that I also have a NIkon 70-200 f2.8 and I get perfectly sharp photos with it, but I use that lens outdoors. So the only real difference is that with the 70-200, I'm shooting in natural light most of the time while with the 24 70 I'm using strobes​
    Have you tried shooting the 24-70 outside in exactly the same conditions as your 70-200? If so, how are those results; if not you should try that as well--preferably using no flash. What shooting mode is your camera in when you are using the flash? How are the strobes triggered?
  4. Question 1: Where did you focus? On this woman's face, or on something else? And did you recompose the shot after you focused?
    Question 2: Is your camera set to AF-S or AF-C? If you're in AF-C (Continuous auto focus), you might have focused on the woman, then moved, and the camera focused on something else, such as the window frame or the background.
    I'll wait for your answers before commenting further, but it looks to me like a focus problem rather than a camera movement problem.
  5. It's on Single-point auto focus and I used the closest focus point on her face (or her eye if I was close enough) and recomposed slightly if needed, but the focus lock was on her face. While I can see possibly somehow losing focus after setting it once in a while, this problem is on virtually every single shot. It does often seem as though it's focusing on something behind her though, that's one of the things I said to Nikon when I sent the lens back for repair. What they did about it, I have no idea. I have double checked the mode to make sure I didn't somehow put it into continuous, etc.
    It was thinking there might be a focus problem with the camera itself that was one of the main reasons for switching from the D300 to the D7100, but the problem remains.
    While using the flash, camera is in manual mode, at 1/250, different apertures depending on subject, but the problem exists regardless of aperture. I'm triggering the lights with a Paul Buff cyber commander remote trigger.
    I have NOT tried using it outside, I suppose that's something I need to do as well. In a way, it does almost look like a kind of double exposure, but I can't imagine the flash is somehow going off twice that quickly.
  6. For me it looks like shake
  7. The look reminds me the VR background bokeh on the 70-200VRII.
    You should check the lens at the right shutter speed, without flash. It will tell you if the lens is right or not.
  8. Looks like you need to AF Fine Tune the lens, because the actual focus appears to be behind the model’s head. Also there is noticeable evidence of vertical camera movement, so you need to increase shutter speed (and possibly ISO speed), or use a tripod or monopod, to reduce camera shake. Alternatively, check on your handholding technique to see if it can be improved. See http://vesnakozelj.com/photography/support-camera-with-hands for tips on proper handholding stance and arm position for maximum stability.
  9. As I mentioned above, this was shot on a tripod using a remote. If there is camera movement, I don't know what's causing it. It's a good tripod, it's solidly mounted. I do agree that it seems to be focusing behind the model, this is what I told Nikon before I sent the lens back. I will have to try to fine tune, but it seems like it's further out of whack than that would correct.
  10. With the camera mounted on a tripod, how are you tripping the shutter? Cable release, self-timer, depressing the shutter release by hand?
  11. AF fine tune!? If that blur is entirely due to a focus error it's a mile out! There's no way that AF fine-tuning will compensate for that amount of focus blur. Try magnified Live View focusing, make a note of where the focus scale is, and then go out of Live View and see where the camera's AF takes the focus to unaided. If the Live View image is no better, or if there's a focus discrepancy then I think it might be time to return the lens from whence it came for replacement, not a simple adjustment.
  12. There is clearly vertical shake, just look at the doubled upper edge of the
    lips. That needs to be fixed before you can deal with any focus issues.
  13. Joe - I have the same camera\lens setup as you. I mounted the combination on a 40 year old tripod in portrait position and had to hold the lens as I manually fired to eliminate the shake. The results where tack sharp. You might try shooting in Live View mode and see if that makes a difference. The camera is way out of balance with this lens when mounted on a tripod and it does not take much to cause movement.
  14. +1 Stefan
    Just look at the 'nose ring' or the eye catch-light. that's about 15 pix up-down shift.
    Somethings way hinky.
  15. It's mounted on a Vanguard tripod​
    Which Vanguard tripod ? , Which head ? on what kind of floor ?
    i may be mistaking, but to me it looks like :
    - either the camera moves because the tripod may be to light for the camera - lens setup,
    - or the balhead does not proprly lock / is properly locked ( on friction only ?)
    - or mayb the tripod is not based on a solid floor.. ( carpet..).
    this is not a light lens
  16. I'd agree that it certainly looks like camera shake at first glance because of the double image, but we've been here before. A previous post a couple of years ago showed a similar effect, which turned out to be a severe lens fault. In fact you can get a similar double-image result from any lens by partly obscuring the subject with a branch or other thin object across the lens. Although I'm not suggesting that that's what's happened here. There's also quite a bit of purple fringing around the eyelashes and iris of the eye; I wouldn't expect to see that in an in-focus image normally, and camera movement would tend to further obscure it.
    The shutter speed was 1/250th according to the OP, so it'd take some camera movement to produce that amount of blur - even on the flimsiest of tripods. My money is on a lens fault, despite Nikon's agents' declaration that the lens has been "adjusted" to specification. I doubt that their adjustment procedure runs to completely realigning decentred elements or replacing faulty ones.
  17. Sorry double post for some reason.
  18. Have you tried switching lenses on the same tripod with the same setup?. Process of elimination.
  19. I agree with Rodeo Joe. Even in my shaky hands a strobe shot @ 1/250 sec would not be blurry. Send it back to Nikon with a sample image and ask for a replacement lens.
  20. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    If you would like to test a lens, I would shoot some static objects rather than a person, as the person could move regardless of how sturdy your tripod may be.
    This could well be a lens optics issue. I have had similar issues with a couple of refurbished Nikon lenses that produce problems like motion blur. I am sure that the OP has captured a lot of sample test images, but if you ask me, I would like to see a few more samples to be certain.
    I would expect Nikon repair to pick up such issues the first time around.
  21. To test autofocus accuracy, choose a non-moving subject (not a person). Take one shot with normal autofocus. Take a second in live up
    view, which uses a different type of autofocus.

    If the live view shot is sharper than the first shot, you have a focus problem. If neither a sharp, you have a vibration problem, possibly due
    to mirror slap.
  22. Just to answer some of the questions posed above. The tripod is an Vanguard Alta Pro 263AT and the ballhead is a Vanguard SBH-250. I use this same tripod with the same camera body with a Nikon 70-200 VRII, which is a much heavier lens and have no issues with it. As for triggering it, when I was still using the D300, I had an electronic cable release, with the D7100, I've tried using an optical remote. I realize that it looks like motion blur, but I swear to you, the camera is as solidly mounted as I can make it, and the problem occurs regularly whether I push the shutter by hand or use a remote.
    A few things I have not tried, but will try in the future are using the live view focus,and using the lens without the flash. Is it at all possible that the flash could be somehow at fault? I know it seems unlikely, but is there some chance the flash is being triggered twice in very close succession? I can't see how that's possible, but at this point I'm running out of options. If I do send the lens back to Nikon again, how do I get them to fix or replace the damn thing? I sent test photos with it the last time along with a detailed description of the problem, but I can't really tell if they did anything.
  23. Looks to me like you are too close to your subject
  24. Interesting problem...I'm curious to see if you can repeat it outdoors at higher shutter speeds.
    I'm seeing directional displacement of pixels vs 'circles of confusion' ie blurriness. I see this when I try to a hand-held macro shot at too slow a shutter speed--camera motion during the release.
  25. If I do send the lens back to Nikon again, how do I get them to fix or replace the damn thing? I sent test photos with it the last time along with a detailed description of the problem, but I can't really tell if they did anything.​
    Before sending it back to Nikon, please do a few more tests. For example, try a still subject @1/125s or higher; try shooting in daylight without flash; try both auto-focus and manual focus, etc. - Just to be sure that it is totally the lens' fault and not a user error or other-equipment error.
    Please let us know how you make out.
  26. If you are using more than one strobe, they might not fire in sync - thus double exposure result. See if you are getting same result with one strobe, also make sure that there is no other strong (video?) light on your model.
  27. A couple of things
    1. It looks like camera motion or subject motion since nothing is the field of view is in focus (double catch light, funny looking nose, and a couple of strands of hair that are clearly doubled). What was the shutter speed for the picture above? It may help to see a few more pictures with the details of picture. If you have clearly ruled out camera motion, I suggest you shoot an non-moving subject, like text on a piece of paper. If you are on a tripod and the subject is not moving, and you still get similar results, one of the lens components may be misaligned a bit.
    2. On some Nikon camera's it is possible to release the shutter without the camera actually in focus.
  28. ok, here is another shot from the same series. This is a 100% crop, and this is a completely unedited RAW file from ViewNX showing where the focus point was. Clearly the window behind her is what is in focus in this image, correct? Is there anything other than a lens problem that could cause this?[​IMG]
  29. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Joe, may I make the following suggestions again?
    1. Please use a static subject, a wall, a sign ..., no human or animals.
    2. Use sunlight, no (double) flash
    3. No AF. Use live view on a tripod to manually fine tune your focus to eliminate any AF issue. Newer DSLRs such as the D300 and D7100 all have live view.
    If the lens is fine with manual focus via live view, try to focus fine tune your lens, with the manual-focussed image as a reference to see how well AF performs.
  30. Agreed with Shun, static target, tripod, manual focus, you have 24-70 and 70-200, put both on 70 and try both, should see if it lens or camera problem.
  31. Yes, in this latest photo, I see there is a strong back focus. Anyway, I don`t remember the 24-70 to have such double image bokeh at front (first photo). Maybe.
    What is mentioned above; with just two pics, you`ll know if the problem is due to your lens and/or to the AF.
  32. mm Since the background is ok and the model seems moved :
    Maybe stupid questiosn because i do not own a D7100 :

    - Is it possible that you have HDR switched on, since this combines two pictures taken in one shot ( depressing the release button fully once takes 2 shots) ?
    - Is it possible that Multiple Exposure is switched on for 2 pics ?
  33. - Is it possible that you have HDR switched on, since this combines two pictures taken in one shot ( depressing the release button fully once takes 2 shots) ?
    - Is it possible that Multiple Exposure is switched on for 2 pics ?​
    also a good input
  34. No, neither multiple exposure or HDR is are on.
  35. Is it possible that you have the VR turned on while it's mounted to the tripod?
  36. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Is it possible that you have the VR turned on while it's mounted to the tripod?​
    That is a good thought, as I have had "motion blur" issues due to VR malfunction, however, not with the 24-70mm/f2.8 AF-S, which has no VR.
  37. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    What happened to Shun's suggestions? Or is the only test going to be this one, not very useful photo?
  38. There are actually two photos which show the problem pretty clearly. I see no point in posting a bunch more that all show exactly the same thing.
  39. Joe--nobody is asking you to post a bunch of photos. There are really two potential causes of your images looking the way they do: technique or equipment. What people are asking is to see if we can eliminate one of these two. You have said that your 70-200 mm lens works fine on that camera body--shooting under different conditions (i.e., outside with no flash) and it has been suggested that you essentially do the same thing with your 24-70 mm lens (outside, lots of natural light of a static image--nobody is looking for great art here--it's a test of your equipment). If the camera focuses fine in this situation, we can reasonably eliminate the lens as a culprit.
    Regarding your flash shooting on a tripod, you said that you used to use the electronic cable release when using a D300, but that option was not available to you with this body. Are you mounting the camera on the tripod and depressing the shutter release using your finger (possibly introducing camera shake) or is there some other way you are taking the shot?
    Also, while I tend to be a big tripod user, there really shouldn't be that much of a need to use the tripod in this situation. Shooting at 1/250 of a second -- with a flash firing of a much shorter duration-- your image should be sharp if you locked in the focus before firing. Are you using any sort of modeling lamps (which can help significantly in focusing) or are you focusing in a very low light situation just before the flash goes off? Do you have any shots from this session where the camera is not mounted on the tripod?
  40. Is it possible that the switch on the lens is at M?
    Forgive me if I say something too naive
  41. The reason I started using a tripod all the time, and using a remote was because of this problem. My first thought when it started was that it had to be camera shake. I use a tripod with the 70-200 because it's heavy and awkward to hold, and those pictures are sharp as a tack. So, it was an attempt at process of elimination, first using a tripod all the time, when that didn't solve the problem, trying the remote (and you're correct that the D300 cable doesn't work with the D7100, but an IR remote does). Believe me, I have no desire to have to always use a tripod, I hate doing a regular portrait shoot with a tripod. In answer to another question, yes there are modeling and room lights on when shooting in studio, so there is enough light to focus. I have noticed that there are some photos where the camera is close to the subject that seem to focus fine, so it must have something to do with how much of the viewfinder the subject being focused on takes up, if that makes any sense. And no, the lens is not on manual focus.
    In any case, I have not had a chance to try the live view, etc. or the other tests mentioned here, the time I can really devote to photography is limited, but I will do it first chance.
    Thanks for the help everyone, if I sound rude it's just frustration with this. This is a lens I wanted to get for years, and it was a gift from someone close to me who has since passed on, and so this has some added resonance to me. It is also a colossal embarrassment to have to tell someone after a long shoot "I'm sorry, but most of these photos are out of focus", it just makes me look like an incompetent moron.
  42. It looks to me like the focus is way out of whack. The window frames in both pics are more in focus than the face. I would return it.
  43. It's on Single-point auto focus and I used the closest focus point on her face (or her eye if I was close enough) and recomposed slightly if needed, but the focus lock was on her face.​
    And you are using a tripod with a ballhead and a remote trigger.
    Is it anyhow possible that you do not actually have "focus lock" on her face? This seems to be the case.
    How is your camera set up - closest focus point? Try to eliminate this by using a single focus point you choose and control by yourself. (This is my bet.)
    Is it possible that those samples are from center focused and reframed shots so that reframing takes the focus plane backwards from the intented subject? (Possible too and more pronounced with wide angles.)
    A simple suggestion, as pointed to by others: try manual focus and or live view on static subject matter first to check the lens. Try a simple setup maybe without flashes.
    Flashes: is it possible that the two flashes are not synchronized the same way? A delay between the flashes or similar allowing the subject to move during the exposure. (Not the main issue, but maybe worth to check.)
  44. The camera is set to use only a single focus point. While it's possible that she may have moved in some way between the time focus was locked and the shutter was pressed, I can't see that happening for such a huge percentage of the photos. They are really are almost all like this. As for the flash, there was only a single flash used, an Einstein, using a paul buff transmitter to trigger it.
  45. A quick test: center focus point, static subject, focus, take the picture without reframing - check the result.
    Do the same with live view - check the result.
    Check for differences in two cases above. There should not be major differences.
    If they differ a lot, then send the lens for checking again. In this case in might be that the lens internal phase detection AF paramaters are off. This might lead to a situation where the lens is sharp -background- but defocuses severely. And you did check the AF- micro adjustment setting for your 24-70 in the menu.
    Not any possibility Paul is interfering with camera-lens communication - test without Paul being present ;-)
    Also, do a quick test with that lens outdoors, just for a reference.
  46. You have to learn, how to hold the camera steady or use a heave, sturdy tripod with cable release. You will notice a sudden increase of sharp punctures.
    It is also a good practice to learn how to trigger a rifle, to get an accurate shoot. Learn from a sharp shutters. Slow trigger pushing and hold your breath.
    Never use a shuter speed lower the the lens focal lenght +0.5 +1.0 ( 50mm = 125s. minimum )

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