D800 not consistent with sharp images

turbohardtopturbohardtop Posts: 5Member
edited July 2013 in D6x0/D7x0/D8x0
I have the D800 that I bought about 4 months ago and I noticed that I am not able to get sharp images consistently. I am fairly new to this hobby so the camera is mostly left in the P mode and auto focus. When shooting stationary subjects I do not get sharp focus in all the pictures. The lens I am using is 18-300/f3.5 VRII. The camera is set at AF-S and and is set at 51 points of focus. Where should I start to troubleshoot this problem. My wife believes that the camera was more consistent when we just bought it.

Comments

  • ghadiardjaghadiardja Posts: 25Member
    edited July 2013
    Hi turbohardtop, a camera's auto-focus accuracy should not degrade over time, unless the lens/body has taken a hard knock. Can you please clarify what you meant by "The camera... is set at 51 point of focus"? Are you manually selecting the focus point or letting the camera auto-select the focus points? If it's the latter, it sounds like the camera may be focusing around the subject rather than on the subject itself. The quick fix to this is to switch to manual focus point selection so you can aim it at the subject rather than let the camera decide.

    The following information may help us further pin-point the problem:
    - Are you shooting with the camera on a tripod? Having VR on when shooting from a tripod may actually cause motion blur as the VR system compensates for handheld shake that is not present
    - What shutter speed has the camera selected for the photos that are not in sharp focus? Shooting handheld with slow shutter speed in low light or when shooting at long telephoto (e.g. 300 mm) may cause motion blur. The rule-of-thumb is to shoot at min. shutter speed of 1/(focal length) to prevent hand-shake from affecting the shot (e.g. if you are shooting at 300 mm, then min. shutter speed should be 1/320th of a second).

    Keep us posted and I'm sure someone here can help work out a solution!

    Good luck!

    G.

    Edit: posting some of the shots that you think are not in sharp focus would be useful too :)
    Post edited by ghadiardja on
  • PapermanPaperman Posts: 469Member
    You are aware you are using a DX lens on an FX body, right ?
  • AdeAde Posts: 1,071Member
    @turbohardtop

    Using P-mode is not a good choice: it will tend to pick a shutter speed that is too slow for your lens (especially when zoomed in.) As as result, you will often get blurry looking pictures due to motion blur -- which may be part of the issue.

    P-mode is a very simple mode, not like the "auto" mode on Point & Shoot cameras and consumer DSLRs. There is a lengthly thread elsewhere in this forum about what exactly P-mode does (and doesn't do).

    I hope you are enjoying your new hobby and will learn to properly use the other exposure modes. The D800 is a superb professional-grade camera but it also demands good technique to be used. There are great resources online, books, etc., to help you get the most out of your camera.

    In the meantime, if staying with P-mode for the time being, you may want to turn on the "AUTO-ISO" setting under the "Shooting Menu":

    - Go to the Shooting Menu
    - Select ISO sensitivity settings
    - Turn "Auto ISO sensitivity control" to ON
    - Make sure the "Minimum shutter speed" option is set to "AUTO"

    This will help the camera set a higher shutter speed when zoomed in. Making sure the VR function of the lens is turned ON will also help when shooting hand-held.

    Lastly, I believe the 18-300 is a DX lens? You will probably want to upgrade to an FX lens to get the most out of your D800.
  • turbohardtopturbohardtop Posts: 5Member
    Thanks everyone for the comments. The lens is actually Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-S ED. The camera is actually at factory setting which it picks auto ISO and shutter speed. I do notice that sometimes the face is a little smooth and bright while the hair is in detail. Although, other times the face is in focus. Could it be a sharp contrast in the hair and facial color? I am going to try to use manual focus and report back. Most of the time I shoot family portrait photos.
  • turbohardtopturbohardtop Posts: 5Member
    also, the camera is set at 51 point auto focus points.
  • FlowtographyBerlinFlowtographyBerlin Posts: 477Member
    @turbohardtop: If by that AF mode you mean that you let the camera pick the AF point (Auto Area AF), then there's no wonder it will sometimes be wrong. What you were describing:
    I do notice that sometimes the face is a little smooth and bright while the hair is in detail. Although, other times the face is in focus.
    is not unsharp images, but wrong focus point selection. Since you're using a mode where you let the camera guess where you'd like to focus, you can avoid mistakes simply by choosing it yourself, by using single AF point mode and then focus on what you want in focus. Also, make sure that you don't use AF-C mode since this will lead to the camera taking an image even if it's not in focus (release priority). It will lead to more out-of-focus images. If you want to use AF-C anyway, you can modify this behavior in the camera settings.

    But for a start, just choose single-point AF mode, center point and get acquainted to focussing on whatever you want in focus, holding the shutter button while you re-compose the image and then taking the picture.
  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    @turbo, are you pressing the shutter halfway and allowing the camera to acquire focus before pushing the shutter all the way to snap the photo? Page 40-41 in the D800 Manual.
  • JJ_SOJJ_SO Posts: 1,158Member
    edited July 2013
    I have the D800 that I bought about 4 months ago and.... I am fairly new to this hobby so ...
    As new hobbyist you just go for the big gun. Impressive @-)
    :)

    I like to recommend you to watch some of Nikon's tutorials (Digitiutor) for D800. Also, find out if there's a possibility to learn it with an experienced trainer. This product is far away from entry level. You spend a lot of bucks for it and you need to spend some more otherwise you will always have basic problems and can't enjoy this fantastic camera.
    Post edited by JJ_SO on
  • haroldpharoldp Posts: 984Member
    Unless it is broken, the only limits of the D800 that matter are the skills and craft of it's user.

    ... H
    D810, D3x, 14-24/2.8, 50/1.4D, 24-70/2.8, 24-120/4 VR, 70-200/2.8 VR1, 80-400 G, 200-400/4 VR1, 400/2.8 ED VR G, 105/2 DC, 17-55/2.8.
    Nikon N90s, F100, F, lots of Leica M digital and film stuff.

  • turbohardtopturbohardtop Posts: 5Member
    "are you pressing the shutter halfway and allowing the camera to acquire focus before pushing the shutter all the way to snap the photo? Page 40-41 in the D800 Manual."

    Yes, I am aware of the button half depressed to get the focus on the subject before the shot. I have played with shutter and aperture priority before to get affected on long shutter opening and boke shots. I upgraded the camera from the D300s. I guess I have to take the camera out more.
  • turbohardtopturbohardtop Posts: 5Member
    "Can you please clarify what you meant by "The camera... is set at 51 point of focus"? Are you manually selecting the focus point or letting the camera auto-select the focus points? If it's the latter, it sounds like the camera may be focusing around the subject rather than on the subject itself. The quick fix to this is to switch to manual focus point selection so you can aim it at the subject rather than let the camera decide"
    I let the camera select the focus point automatically but I will try to manually set the focus point next time. I was having problems taking shots at the beach when secondary subjects were moving and the camera was trying to focus on those instead of the main subject. for portraits, should I usually set a single focus point and select the focus point manually?

    Thanks again for all your imputs.
  • SymphoticSymphotic Posts: 704Member
    Hi, turbohardtop!

    I"ve been photographing for 40 years but I still have blurry pictures more frequently than I should. A lot of it comes from asking too much from the physics of photography. (A good thing I no longer have to consider the chemistry of photography!) Any photographer who pushes the limits will get some less than perfect photos.

    All the advice above is good, and I think you might be well advised to move to shutter priority mode and single point focus control. Actually, it would be really good for you to start with a fixed focal length, manual focus lens and only work in manual exposure and manual focus mode for a while. (Get a 50 mm f/1.4 Ai-S on e-bay for around $100.00) Set the ISO to something like 400 and leave it there. Then shoot a LOT and inspect your photos carefully to see what happens at the different settings.

    My thought is that if you turn off or minimize the camera's automatic features for now, you will not only get a better understanding of the photographic process, but you will probably take better pictures because you are doing the thinking. You are much smarter than your camera.

    Jack Roberts
    "Discovery consists in seeing what everyone else has seen and thinking what nobody else has thought"--Albert Szent-Gyorgy
  • FlowtographyBerlinFlowtographyBerlin Posts: 477Member
    should I usually set a single focus point and select the focus point manually?
    Just to clarify: When you set the mode to single-AF point, you don't have to manually select the focus point each time you focus. Just set it to the middle one and use that all the time to focus. Just for special occasions, you will sometimes want to select a different point, so you don't have to go through the focus-recompose-presstheshutter process for each picture. Like when you're in a studio-like portrait situation, for example.
  • FlowtographyBerlinFlowtographyBerlin Posts: 477Member
    My thought is that if you turn off or minimize the camera's automatic features for now, you will not only get a better understanding of the photographic process, but you will probably take better pictures because you are doing the thinking. You are much smarter than your camera.
    Very well said.
  • Benji2505Benji2505 Posts: 521Member
    edited July 2013
    Which focus points are you selecting? Just the center one? Do you shoot on single exposure mode or continuous shooting (5 frames per second)?
    Post edited by Benji2505 on
  • FlowtographyBerlinFlowtographyBerlin Posts: 477Member
    edited July 2013
    @Benji2505: Who are you asking? The TO doesn't select any focus points but uses the auto-area AF mode with all 51 points activated.

    It's already been mentioned that AF-C mode will lead to out-of-focus shots with no modification of the camera settings.
    Post edited by FlowtographyBerlin on
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