Newbie Question on Lens

METALBLADEMETALBLADE Posts: 51Member
edited June 2014 in D3x00
Hello!
I am brand new to this site and just got into photography the past 2 to 3 months. Ive been taking a bunch of pictures and editing them and i feel as though my sharpness or quality isnt as i guess you can say as good as i would hope. I currently shoot with a NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II and a Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM with a NIkon D3300 body.

Now i was wondering to get a better sharper picture would it be best to think about upgrading lens or think about possible getting a higher end camera possibly a full frame. Which of these would get the best results, spending 2,000 on a new camera or maybe getting better lenes? I primary shoot Landscape photos and i notice the sharpness issues when it comes to the trees in the background.

If the lens may be a better bet are there any suggestions as to what top nikon lens would be when it comes to getting a clearer sharper picture?

Thank you so much for your time and im sorry for the beginner question.
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Comments

  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,089Moderator
    edited June 2014
    Welcome to the forum!

    As you say both lenses are giving you a problem, I'd bet the problem is pilot error. The D3300 and 18-55 is capable of excellent results. If you don't have a really good tripod, get one and try again. Also make sure your shutter speed is high enough to stop any motion of the subject, then you should be good to go.

    If you don't feel the above is correct, post again with lots more information regarding range used, subject and settings.

    HTH.
    Post edited by spraynpray on
    Always learning.
  • METALBLADEMETALBLADE Posts: 51Member
    Thank you for the welcome and the reply!

    Its not really a problem as much as i guess its an expectation. I agree that some of it is pilot error on my end. A lot of the landscapes i shoot are at f16 but when i do that i have to go down to 1/20 to 1/50 of a second which i believe is causing a slight blur of the trees in the background. Its something im going to need to work on and maybe bump my f stop down a bit so i can raise the shutter speed. Havent gotten a chance to try that yet but maybe that will help.

    I think part of my problem is expectations. Im a member of 500px and i look at some of their pictures and im like OMG its so clear and crisp and almost... light and airy feeling where as mine done seem as crisp or clear as theres are. That why i was wondering if possibly getting better lens will help or if its the difference between a 600 camera with lens vs a 2,000 camera body itself.
  • manhattanboymanhattanboy Posts: 1,000Member
    A lot of the landscapes i shoot are at f16 but when i do that i have to go down to 1/20 to 1/50 of a second which i believe is causing a slight blur of the trees in the background
    Raise your ISO and increase the shutter speed at that aperture. With a DX your shutter speed needs to be a little higher than common rules suggest. On FF hand held I try not to go below ~1/80 with IS enabled, but even then its hit-or-miss. I would try keeping the shutter speed if hand held to >1/100, and if really windy, etc. then 1/200 for better sharpness.

    Regarding lens versus camera: some of the primes are very cheap and may give you good results, but unfortunately most of them are not image-stabilized so you will be shooting from a tripod or flat surface. Hand holding these non-IS lenses at your aperture is practical only in the brightest of daylight. Ultimately, I will venture that it sounds like you love landscapes which means that a FF camera might be what you desire. You could wait for the D800 to come on sale after the 810 announcement; they might have some good deals refurbished. Also if you are going to throw down a pile of cash for a good lens, look for the lensrentals sales and try out some of those expensive lenses before you buy.
  • METALBLADEMETALBLADE Posts: 51Member
    Thank you so much!

    Yes i do love mostly landscapes overall. I just always go to f16 from what i heard for landscapes and felt as though if i went any lower it wouldn't be as clear overall. With that it was making my shutter to slow which i think is making the slight blur or un sharpness that ive been having. I am going to have to try to bump up my shutter one way or another to 1/100 plus and i hope that works. Other then that maybe i will have to move my way up to a full frame at some point if i can get the cash together in the next year or so.

    Do you think a FF vs non FF makes a very large difference in the clarity of the picture overall?
  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    edited June 2014
    Open your lens up to f/8 or wider, there is plenty of DoF on a DX for landscapes at that aperture. In fact at f/16 you are likely loosing sharpness due to diffraction. Full frame will only make your DoF smaller and not make your pictures any sharper. Also I suggest using live view focusing or manual for landscapes.

    This was shot at f/4 1/800 ISO 100 using a D3100. I think it is plenty sharp:
    DSC_0238
    Post edited by Ironheart on
  • henrik1963henrik1963 Posts: 559Member
    @Metalblade: You have been shooting for 2-3 month. You have a very good camera and a OK lens. Don't buy a new camera just now. Shoot with what you have. You need to learn :-) I have been shooting for decades and I am still learning :-) Keep at it.

    Are you shooting RAW? If yes remember that RAW pictures look very flat out of the camera. You might start out by shooting some JPEGs for a start. Try Vivid - and your pictures will pop. You will soon find them a bit too much. Thats OK you can try some of the other settings for JPEG. When you know what look you want from shooting JPEGs you can go back to shooting RAW and work with them.

    Try shooting at F11 or F8 next time. See if it takes care of your unsharp pictures.
  • WestEndBoyWestEndBoy Posts: 1,456Member
    Or even 5.6. I would study "hyperfocal distance", pick a few preferred focal lengths and memorize the figures for those. This will all make sense when you study "hyperfocal distance".

    Then try to figure out where your lens is diffraction limited. On my 20mm prime it is f/8 to f/11. On my 28mm prime, it is f/5.6 to f/8.0. This means that you will lose sharpness shooting at a higher f-stop due to diffraction. My rule is to always shoot at f/8 and f/5.6 for my 20mm and 28mm respectively at the hyperfocal distance when shooting landscapes etc. If the shutter speed is less than triple the focal length, I pull out a tripod if it is not already out (a tripod almost always helps sharpness). Are there exceptions? Sure! Maybe there is water or clouds in the scene that I want to blur a certain way.
  • METALBLADEMETALBLADE Posts: 51Member
    @IRONHEAR

    Thank you so much! I think im going to do that and open that bad boy up i do think that is my problem. When you say FF cameras will only make your DOF smaller what do mean exactly? Non full frames wont allow you to change DOF or do you mean there's not as much of a difference, such as if i was using a FF then every aperture f stop would do more?

    @henrik1963

    Thanks for the response. Yes i know im still new it was more of curiosity then an actual me going out and buying one. I see what you are saying about using the JPEGS however will it b a large difference between that and shooting raw when i edit. Means i shot in RAW and i overall like the way the pictures come out after editing them in light room it was more of a sharpness problem.

    @westendboy

    Thank you so much for the Technical of it. I find it surprising that you go so low i guess when it comes to your aperture everywhere ive read online they are always like go 2 stops from the highest F stop. So i was going down 8 just to make sure down to f16. I will definitely have to try this lower f stop of 8 to 11. The embarrassing part i guess is im not sure where my diffraction limit is an i dont know how to i guess see it or what i would be looking for when it comes to that.

    From what ive gather so far since im shooting mostly landscapes where there things are all at a distance and im using a low mm distance then the f stop i use wont do much to blur the picture where as if im doing a portrait and someone is very close and i use a low F stop it becomes blurry in the background because there is a larger DOF.
  • WestEndBoyWestEndBoy Posts: 1,456Member
    If you study hyperfocal distances at your focal lengths, you will see how low you can go. One point that will come up when you study this is that a little blurriness in the far distance is OK (only a little), but not for the closer elements in the photo.

    The better quality the lens, the lower the "diffraction limited f-stop". F/8 to f/11 is likely a good range for you and your depth of field will usually be fine when shooting wide (say 30/20 or less for FX/DX, but this is arbitrary). Where you will run into issues is when you have subjects that are "really close". Then focus stacking is likely the way to go, but I have not tried this.

    This will all be evident when you study hyperfocal distance.
  • METALBLADEMETALBLADE Posts: 51Member
    @westendboy

    Thank you i think im going to have to start looking into this to find what f stops will be best with the focal lengths of the lens i have. Stupid question is there any kind of chart or something out there that people have tested these lens and can say hey the best to shoot with this lens would be this? Otherwise google and good old research will be the weekend project. :)
  • manhattanboymanhattanboy Posts: 1,000Member
    When you say FF cameras will only make your DOF smaller what do mean exactly?
    For a given "view" (i.e. 50mm on fullframe or 35mm on crop), there is a a smaller DOF where things will be in focus. Imagine a fountain with people behind and in front of it. Shooting the fountain at 50mm on the FF camera will put less of those people in front and behind in focus versus shooting the 35mm on the crop camera. BUT, putting the 35mm (let's assume its an FX lens) on the FF camera gives more dof than the crop camera, and provides a much wider "view". The other thing about a FF camera and sharpness is that they generally have larger pixels allowing for more slop from the lens focusing onto each pixel. This has been discussed to death in the FX versus DX threads in the forum if you are interested.
    @westendboy
    Stupid question is there any kind of chart or something out there that people have tested these lens and can say hey the best to shoot with this lens would be this?
    The lens test charts can be useful, but remember that you are the photographer and it is you who are adjusting the aperture for what you are interested in shooting. The MTF curves from Nikon will tell about the contrast and sharpness for a lens wide open, and unfortunately they don't provide stopped down curves like the Canon ones. Remember that contrast also plays a role in what is commonly perceived as sharpness; faint lines can be sharp, but the overall picture may still look "soft".
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,089Moderator
    Thank you for the welcome and the reply!

    Its not really a problem as much as i guess its an expectation. I agree that some of it is pilot error on my end. A lot of the landscapes i shoot are at f16 but when i do that i have to go down to 1/20 to 1/50 of a second which i believe is causing a slight blur of the trees in the background. Its something im going to need to work on and maybe bump my f stop down a bit so i can raise the shutter speed. Havent gotten a chance to try that yet but maybe that will help.

    I think part of my problem is expectations. Im a member of 500px and i look at some of their pictures and im like OMG its so clear and crisp and almost... light and airy feeling where as mine done seem as crisp or clear as theres are. That why i was wondering if possibly getting better lens will help or if its the difference between a 600 camera with lens vs a 2,000 camera body itself.
    Yup, you need a good tripod. f16 is prolly too far into diffraction territory so come back to f8, leave the ISO at 100 and turn off the VR then mount it on a tripod and you will get way better results.
    Always learning.
  • METALBLADEMETALBLADE Posts: 51Member
    @MANHATTANBOY

    Thank you so much for the in depth response to my questions. This has really helped me a lot when it comes to choosing my F stop. I thought there would be more of a difference between f8-f18 but as i can see that isnt the case really when it comes to my dx. I think shooting at a lower f stop will help me with raising my shutter speed up which will help with the background blurriness with the trees.

    @spraynpray
    Thanks again! I think that is the problem i am going to start using a lower aperture f stop and i think that will solve a lot of my problems.

    Thank you guys so much for all the help with this. Im still new and i know it was a stupid question but being able to ask questions has really helped me with seeing that a lower F stop aperture and raising my shutter speed will really help with the clarity and sharpness
    of the picture. Also using the tripod i have more often im sure will help as well :)
  • METALBLADEMETALBLADE Posts: 51Member
    @spraynpray

    Real quick. You say to turn off the VR? Isnt that suppose to help?
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,089Moderator
    Turn it off when using a tripod, on for monopod or hand-held.
    Always learning.
  • donaldejosedonaldejose Posts: 3,199Member
    edited June 2014
    Simple fix. Read owners manual to find JPG and Picture Controls. Set camera for and shoot JPEG. Figure out how to work picture controls. Enter picture controls in the menu scroll to the right, select VIVID, scroll to the right again and move sharpening up to +7 and shoot some shots. Try changing to Landscape and set sharpening to +7 also. Try Standard. Decide which coloring you like best. Learn to hold the camera still and squeeze the shutter button. Try to shoot between f5.6 and f8. You will be amazed at the difference these things make.
    Post edited by donaldejose on
  • henrik1963henrik1963 Posts: 559Member
    @Metalblade: The reason behind shooting JPEGs to begin with is that you can shoot a lot of pictures and not having to do a lot of work in post. That way you can shoot a lot of subjects in different light and see how it works. Shoot the same subject using every F-stop on your lens - see how that works. Start at 18mm. Move back and shoot the same subject only this time at 55mm.

    See how changing the F-stop changes your final image. See how low you can keep your shutter speed before you get motion blur - that sort of thing.

    Coming from a point and shoot camera to a DSLR will leave you confused. Try to minimize complexity - change one setting at the time and see how that change your image.

    Its digital - you can delete the pictures you don't like :-)
  • METALBLADEMETALBLADE Posts: 51Member
    Thank you all for your help!

    I am going to try some of these techniques out and try to get a better feel for my lens and i think lowering the f stop will help a lot! I learned a lot from this forum post and i appreciate all the information and ideas as to what i may be doing wrong and the best way to move further to make crisper sharper pictures. I cannot wait to get out and shoot now! :)
  • PapermanPaperman Posts: 468Member
    @Westendboy
    Then try to figure out where your lens is diffraction limited. On my 20mm prime it is f/8 to f/11. On my 28mm prime, it is f/5.6 to f/8.0. - ...
    The better quality the lens, the lower the "diffraction limited f-stop". F/8 to f/11 is likely a good range for you

    Sorry, I know you are trying to be helpful but the information is incorrect.

    Diffraction is not lens dependent. The diffraction limit will be the same for the $50 lens and the $5,000 lens. There are aperture dependent "degradations" that change from lens to lens but diffraction is not one of them.
  • WestEndBoyWestEndBoy Posts: 1,456Member
    edited June 2014
    @Westendboy
    Then try to figure out where your lens is diffraction limited. On my 20mm prime it is f/8 to f/11. On my 28mm prime, it is f/5.6 to f/8.0. - ...
    The better quality the lens, the lower the "diffraction limited f-stop". F/8 to f/11 is likely a good range for you

    Sorry, I know you are trying to be helpful but the information is incorrect.

    Diffraction is not lens dependent. The diffraction limit will be the same for the $50 lens and the $5,000 lens. There are aperture dependent "degradations" that change from lens to lens but diffraction is not one of them.
    You are correct on your narrow point but missing my wider point. I am talking about at what point the other aberrations in a lens become greater than the diffraction. Diffraction decreases with decreasing f-stop and most other aberrations increase. The lower the other aberrations, the lower the f-stop where they are roughly equal.

    Of course this is massively simplistic, but the principle is sound.

    No worries, I did not take the time to explain in detail what I meant.
    Post edited by WestEndBoy on
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
    I would suggest shooting with one of your lenses at a single focal length and varying the exposure parameters…. from wide open to fully stopped down. Use a tripod for these tests. Be careful not to jar the camera when the release is pressed or use the remote release.

    Once you have your series of different exposures for a single scene, examine them and determine for yourself which ones you prefer. We all learned this stuff by shooting a lot of images and throwing away most of them.
    Msmoto, mod
  • METALBLADEMETALBLADE Posts: 51Member
    Thank you @msmoto

    I actually do do that. I take a few pictures around what should be proper exposure and pick out the best one and edit from there and trust me i have been shooting a lot of pictures to try to figure out what works best and what doesnt.
  • TaoTeJaredTaoTeJared Posts: 1,306Member
    @Westendboy
    Then try to figure out where your lens is diffraction limited. On my 20mm prime it is f/8 to f/11. On my 28mm prime, it is f/5.6 to f/8.0. - ...
    The better quality the lens, the lower the "diffraction limited f-stop". F/8 to f/11 is likely a good range for you

    Sorry, I know you are trying to be helpful but the information is incorrect.

    Diffraction is not lens dependent. The diffraction limit will be the same for the $50 lens and the $5,000 lens. There are aperture dependent "degradations" that change from lens to lens but diffraction is not one of them.
    Sorry Paperman - that is false what you stated. Lenses do have different diffraction points. There is some very, very incorrect information floating here and on the web that tries to say it is not, but it is all based on the simplest basic lens designs and assumes that every lens it just that. There is also a bunch of articles based on simplistic home telescope designs that somehow flowed into photographic information. We now have 8, 10, 13, 22 element lenses with ED, APO, and all the other specialty designed elements that can and do push various unwanted distortions and features all sorts of directions. Think of it in practical terms, Diffraction on 8x10 field cameras didn't start to happen until f64. I have also seen a lot of tests that showed the Sigma 35mm Art shows diffraction between f5.6-8 instead of the usual f8-11. They in essence "pulled" the sharpness forward in f-stops, but sacrificed it on the smaller end of the range.

    Zeiss gives an option of sending in Leica mount lenses to "pull" the sharp focus to wide open instead of "standard" for around $100 (and two weeks). It comes with a huge disclaimer from them that diffraction will appear at f/5.6 though.
    D800, D300, D50(ir converted), FujiX100, Canon G11, Olympus TG2. Nikon lenses - 24mm 2.8, 35mm 1.8, (5 in all)50mm, 60mm, 85mm 1.8, 105vr, 105 f2.5, 180mm 2.8, 70-200vr1, 24-120vr f4. Tokina 12-24mm, 16-28mm, 28-70mm (angenieux design), 300mm f2.8. Sigma 15mm fisheye. Voigtlander R2 (olive) & R2a, Voigt 35mm 2.5, Zeiss 50mm f/2, Leica 90mm f/4. I know I missed something...
  • henrik1963henrik1963 Posts: 559Member
    Metalblade has been shooting for 2-3 month and wants some beginner advice and you are talking about diffraction - That is the charm of this forum :-)
  • WestEndBoyWestEndBoy Posts: 1,456Member
    We are certainly getting detailed. To TTJ's point about diffraction. He may be right. I never thought about it that way.

    However, if I was teaching a one day course on basic photography that included a handbook for somebody to take away and work/practice off, I would definitely include 10 minutes on diffraction within one hour on sharpness. The idea of this one day course would be to provide a road map with tools, more than teach per se.
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