Why does this photo IQ look terrible?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by jeff_becker, Nov 12, 2011.

  1. This is from the Nov 12, 2011 game of Michigan St vs Iowa.
    Nikon D300
    Tamron 70-200 2.8 IF
    1/2500, ISO 250, f/2.8....white balance on auto.
    Look at how terrible this photo looks. The bokeh is terrible, the image isn't crisp. The 10 images from this sequence and most others are very similar. I need suggestions on my problem here. Is it because I'm shooting wide open at 2.8 and not getting a crisp image. Is there a chance my sensor or lens needs to be cleaned? The images I used to take with this lens and camera were much better than this....and my D7000 + 300mm f/4 lens performed far superior today... Even the bokeh looks 'shaky' below...not creamy.
  2. You're shooting into the sun. Not only are you taking pictures of the parts of the players that are in shadow, but you have the sun shining on your front lens element, killing your contrast and colors. That guy in the neon shirt, on the other hand, probably has a Sports Illustrated-worthy photo :)
  3. It's a little hard to tell what's really going on. Can you crop out a piece (say, around the helmets) and show it at 100%?

    Is this an optically stabilized lens? Hopefully you have that feature turned OFF, at those shutter speeds, since having it on can cause what appears to look like camera motion blur if that mechanism is still lurching around when that fast exposure takes place.
  4. 70mm , F2.8 , 1/2500th of a second.
    I wonder if the camera and lens are communicating properly ? That doesn't look like an f2.8 depth of field.
  5. Matt - here's a cropped version of the next photo in the set. This lens does not have OS. I was hand-holding the camera in this instance anyway, no monopod. Thank you.
  6. Is there a filter on the lens? Did the lens take a wack, recently?
  7. Yes, there is a Zeikos UV filter on the lens...and no it hasn't taken a wack that I know of. What's your thoughts on Alex's opinion that I was shooting into the sun? Here's a photo taken minutes earlier with the same lens and same camera and this one looks much better in my opinion...so I'm trying to figure out if there is indeed a problem with my lens talking to my camera or vice versa...or if I was being dumb by shooting too much into the sunlight and wide open?
  8. You have a bad case of out of focus backlit flare glare off the audience. Combined with blur from panning to get that shot. The sun is at the exact wrong angle.
  9. my advice? go with the crop and pretend the original shot never happened.
    next time: dont shoot into the sun with so much background. also, at 1/2500, you should be able to stop down to f/4.
  10. This is the EXACT reason that I don't put a $2 piece of glass (like your Zeikos filter) in front of my $1,500 camera with $700 lens. What did you think was going to happen? If you MUST use a filter (I shot college football for years, and my front lens elements still look as good as yours, even without any protective anything in front of it besides a lens hood), at least get one that is made with good glass. That cheapo Zeikos filter just reinforces my initial observation.
  11. You can't always be in the ideal position when shooting sports. I suspect, (as Ariel stated), a big part of your problem is the Zeikos filter. Purchase a better quality filter, such as the Hoya Pro 1 Digital.
  12. The crop shows everything has a halo around them. The people, the helmet, the ball. I suspect flare. If that is a not so good filter, THAT could be the cause.
  13. I suspect the filter is robbing you of iq in this shot as well. It's tricky because it may only show up in some of your pictures and not
    others. The halos are a good indication.
  14. Here's another example from an angle with the sun to my left versus facing right into it. This is 1/1600 at 2.8, ISO 200 at 200mm. Same camera and lens (D300 and 70-200 2.8). I think this one looks mostly fine.
    It sounds so far that my problem was twofold - a bad filter and bad positioning of looking into the sun...causing flare.
  15. Besides the filter possibility...
    You are also using the lens wide open at its softest... which is often necessary and even desireable, but maybe not in this case. I don't know what your photos are being used for, but you could easily push your ISO to 400 of 800, stop down to f4 (probably still give you good bokeh) or even f5.6 (that might be pushing it for bokeh, though). I don't think 1/2500 was necessary to catch that action, so you can work that, too. Perhaps half that speed will give the same results. And at 1/2500, I doubt there's any panning blur as was mentioned.
  16. Did you have the lens hood on? They are difficult conditions but removing the filter and using the hood are the two most
    important things you can do to help the contrat.
  17. Scott, yes I had the lens hood firmly in place the entire time. I wish now that I would have shot the game without the filter, obviously.
  18. My 2cw- Agree completely that the Zeikos filter is causing a majority of the "softness", note the artifacts around every out of focus color edge on the major crop.
    Also, this is the kind of bokeh one would expect to see on an image taken with a 70-200mm, even at 2.8-taken with the subject at this distance. The more separation between your subject and background, along with a subject in closer proximity to your position will increase the effect.
    As others have noted, shooting into the light with the shadow side facing the camera yields a very flat, low contrast image. There are always going to be times when the subject will be in les than an ideal spot, but if this happens consistently, you have to choose better positions relative to the prevailing light.
    Lens hoods are a must, at the very least they offer some degree of front element protection, at their best they prevent off angle light from hitting the lens, even under articicial lighting conditions.
  19. The flare around the highlights in the second post seems to indicate a dirty filter or sun is striking the filter. When ever the sun hits the front element or filter, contrast and clarity often suffer....IMHO.
    Loose the filter. Throw it away.
  20. You might also consider renting a Nikon 70-200 VRII from borrowlenses, lensgiant or one of the other reputable rental places for a weekend and try and make a bunch of the same shots at a game that is a little less critical. You can probably be all in with shipping and insurance for under $135.
    Try both wide open (the only way to shoot football imho, particularly with 1.5 crop which yields 4.0 type bokeh in the first place) with both lenses, with and without that filter then possibly a really high quality filter if you feel that you must have one in place.
    I use the the B+W f-pro, but Heliopan and the top of the line Hoya filters are all excellent. Don't consider anything that isn't the top of line in their respective line-ups. I think no matter what filter you use, IMHO you'll have a bit of image degradation. I have found that I cannot notice it, though with my B+W filters.
  21. Jeff -
    I tend to agree with most of the comments already made - however there are some tricks that you can do in post - such as cropping (already suggested) and perhaps some filters / actions in PS that will improve the photo - if you really want to spend the time to fix it.
    Color Efex Pro 3.0 or 4.0 has several filters that will help this image.
  22. Not saying anything new here: lose the filter. Flare is one of the aberrations any lens must overcome and any filter on the front of the lens makes this more difficult. I wouldn't shoot the Tamron lens wide open, the Nikon would be a better choice wide open, but even with the Nikon lens I would try to stop down to f/4.
  23. I agree that a cheap filter and shooting against the light isn't going to help, but I also think you've got some front focus in that shot too. Nearly all wide aperture lenses show some ambiguity in the point of best focus, caused by residual spherical aberration. Couple that with a razor thin depth-of-field and it's easy to understand why not every shot is going to be a winner!
    Below are two highly cropped (100%) shots I took while trying to fine-tune the focus on a 35mm f/1.4 lens. As I discovered, it doesn't take much of a focus shift to get that "flared" effect seen below and in the OP's football picture.
    As has been said before, stopping down by just 1 stop improves the IQ no end - and simply because your lens opens up to f/2.8 or f/1.4 doesn't mean you always have to use it there. Nobody's going to be impressed by that large aperture if the pictures aren't any good!
  24. I wouldn't shoot the Tamron lens wide open, the Nikon would be a better choice wide open, but even with the Nikon lens I would try to stop down to f/4.​
    john, have you done a 1-1 comparison with the nikkor 70-200 and the tamron? i own the nikon, but i've heard the tamron has stellar IQ and not-so-good focus speed (which is the good news for the OP here, since even with the focus shift, the focus is reasonably accurate). i try to use multicoated filters on expensive lenses since they do offer more glare protection. the nikon also has that nano crystal coat business which would further reduce flare. but, i'm not convinced its better @2.8 than the tamron. i also have the sigma 50-150 II, whose performance @2.8 is virtually identical to the nikon (on DX), so assuming that nikkors are always better may not necessarily be the case. i usually try to shoot the 70-200 @ f/4 especially when there is contra-light.
  25. Well, I'm surprised there wasn't more discussion of it, but...
    Is it because I'm shooting wide open at 2.8?​
    Aside from any other issues, this means shallow DOF with a telephoto. It's expecting a lot of AF to guess what thing or part of thing is what you (as a human) want in sharp focus. It looks to me something like the player's butt being the sharpest focus in the image.
    For critical focus, MF is really necessary for complex subjects, or you have to stop down a little to let the DOF cover for you in AF.
  26. One more possibility has just occurred to me. Condensation! If you're in the habit of supporting the lens by the very end, try to break yourself of it. It's easy to get perspiration from your hand condensing on the front of the lens or filter, and it doesn't take a lot to ruin the definition of the lens. It can easily go unnoticed, because by the time you look for it, it's evaporated away. A fingerprint or smudge on the filter would have much the same effect too.
    Not saying that's definitely what happened here, but it could explain an apparent swift and dramatic change in image quality a few shots apart with the same lens.
  27. I use the Tamron 70-200 2.8 on my D7000 ..its one of my favorite lenses..beautiful bokeh..nice and sharp even wide open...and reasonably fast. I agreed you could certainly stop down..you must have had some very bright light as I did a football game this weekend..at /1000 f5.6 ISO 125 with a tiffin uv filter on it which I paid $25..no problems. I think 1/2500 is a bit of overkill. Before you go trashing that little Tammy try shooting from opposite side of field..go invest in a better filter.(.Helipans are very good) and practice with various f stops..lucky you to be shooting a college game..looks like you were on the field?
  28. Also, while AF is incredible, and more consistent than manual tracking, it's not foolproof. Razor thin DoF and lens differences aside, AF is not 100%, especially on a moving subject-by it's very nature it is predictive. In AI Servo (or the Nikon equivelant) it's anticipating where your subject WILL BE from the time it locks to the time of shutter release. Moving subjects can play havoc with this, especially those that move erratically. Toss the filter, stop down a notch when it's possible, watch your light and keep shooting, from what I've seen you'll do fine.
  29. Hi Jeff! There are so many things that happen when we get crappy images and the same is true when we get those images where we look and say: Wow, did I do that! Light, subject, technique, equipment, all play into it. I'm not trying to sound arrogant, I’m just suggesting that it is to be expected sometimes to get images like these and not to take it too seriously! You can go out the next day and the slightest change in angle or lighting (a cloud covers the sun) or whatever will get you different results. Just keep on clicking away. To your specific problem, I would look at a few things: First, you are shooting in RAW format, yes? JPG will add its thing to your images so always shoot in RAW. Second, you are using “c” focusing, yes? This is especially important with action shots. Third, check where the sun is (if it is sunny) and if you can position yourself so that the sun has its angle over your shoulder (sometimes hard for mid-day events, I know). Otherwise, use your lens hood! I think the biggest problem with your image is that your subjects look smeared. As a bird photographer, I can tell you this is usually caused by camera shake. We get excited when we see something exciting and as a result we can think that the harder we hit the shutter the more chance we have of capturing the moment. You may not be doing this, but I do! Just be aware that you need to gently squeeze the shutter and let serendipity take over from there. Also, I think there is a point where a wide open lens and high shutter speed compromises the sweet spot of your lens (typically two stops down from wide open). This sweet spot is where everything comes into play, including clarity and contrast, which your images are lacking. So, consider stopping down a bit and using a monopod, and remember to squeeze the shutter. If you are finding motion blur while doing this, then bump up the ISO on your D300. Experiment and see what happens. Try spot metering or exposure compensation (in your case possibly de-compensation). Try all the other great tips that have already been mentioned in this post. But, whatever you do, remember that there are days where we simply are not going to be able to capture an image the way we would want. And in most of these cases, it is the lighting conditions that are the problem, not us or our equipment. And lighting conditions can change from one second to the next! All best of luck, Jeff and let us know how you make out.
  30. The shot doesn't look that bad, shooting with a non nikkor into the sun. I mean the composition isn't great I
    wouldn't have done any better ;-) but actually the crop you posted is much better. Go with it!
    The flare gives it a wintry look. I am surprised how well my bargain grade 10 year old nikkor lenses with ED
    glass handle shooting right into the sun or other light source maybe get a used nikkor instead of the
  31. Great advice Robert M..it actually helped me to read your response as I have had days like that..where the pictures are just horrible overblown messes. Usually it 's on a days with harsh light..or flat light..or poor light..glare from water etc. There is a reason porfessionals get up at 4am...lol. Thanks for your insights.

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