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Photography Question 
Nick Jones
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/18/2008
 

Can't stop blur in movement shots!


I've had my Nikon D70s for 3 years now. It came as a package with 2 lenses- one of which being a Nikon 70-300mm, the other an 18-70mm. Within the first year of using the camera, I took shots of moving subjects (with the 70-300mm) and if I used a fast enough shutter speed I could freeze the action. Within the last year or so, I've found it almost impossible to freeze action- no matter what shutter speed I use. I believe it's only a problem with this lens, although I only seem to use this lens for action shots so I can get close enough. I'm using a UV filter and have the camera set to continuous focus. I usually rest the camera on something stable while shooting, but I'm not sure this matters if shooting at 1/8000s(!?) Is the problem in focusing speed? Do I need to have the camera serviced (it hasn't ever been)? I'm confused because I didn't have this problem when the camera was new. Please help!


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8/18/2008 3:38:36 PM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  I don't see how you can't freeze anything at 1/8000. A dragging shutter should show some exposure problems.
You talk about freezing movement and focus, so which blur is the problem? Because they're two different things. Your avatar is out of focus.


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8/18/2008 7:49:25 PM

 
Nick Jones
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/18/2008
  Ha ha... I'm aware the avatar is out of focus, thank you. That one's unrelated though :o)

One example of my problem is a picture in my gallery called "The Joust". Shutter speed on this one was 1/3200. The foreground subject doesn't appear too bad at this size, but when you see a larger size it's terrible. I'd really appreciate it if you'd take a look. Thanks, Nick.


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8/19/2008 8:12:08 AM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  That looks more a problem with optics more than shutter speed.
A 70-300 probably isn't the greatest towards the 300 area(going by what I've seen in other brands of the same type), and you're getting some heat distortion looks like, from the heat waves coming off the ground. I will get that when I use an extender with my telephoto at certain times on a hot day. You won't have a clear focus point.
And the uv filter may add some fuzziness, if it's not a good one.
You should experiment on a car during a different part of the day, when it's not as hot. Use any shutter speed that you could freeze a car going by, while panning or not, and look at the picture.


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8/20/2008 1:56:22 AM

 
Mary S. Secord   Nick I have to question, why are you use such a high shutter speed......Are you shooting in shutter priority? If so at that speed you are getting the widest f-stop possible for that lens. Have you tried using manual? Just seems to me that you would have a clearer sharper photo if you had more control of the f-stop.

I have no idea why you were able to shoot sharper photos when you first got your camera and can't now. Maybe both camera and lens need to be sent in for ajustment, but I still think its something to do with your settings. I can stop a race car at a 250 shutter speed and f-11 durning the day with my 70s.

MsM84


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8/21/2008 9:13:33 AM

 
Nick Jones
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/18/2008
  Hi Mary, your post made me go back and check the exposure info from all the photos I took that day of jousting- at least the ones I kept! First of all, I shot in manual for most of the day. I did at some point try the camera's sports setting, but it never shot at much over 1/1000s, and so produced extremely blurry shots. So I switched back to manual to up the shutter speed. Looking through my photos, it seems I was shooting at between 1/2000s and 1/3200s. The aperture varied from 4 to 6. Because of the blurry pictures, the last thing I wanted to do was use a smaller aperture as this would mean increasing the shutter speed even more. Is this wrong? Are the shots only blurry because I'm using too big an aperture? I was also shooting most of the time at the lens's longest focal length- 300mm. I know the problem is exacerbated by longer focal lengths (on this lens anyway). The picture in my gallery called, "The joust" was: 1/3200, f4.8, 190mm. Thanks for your help Mary.

Thanks also to Gregory. The UV filter I have probably isn't a good one as it came with the camera package. I'll have to look into that. I also have an extender- 2X. I used it a couple of times with this lens and gave up. 80% of the time the lens wouldn't focus and when it did, it took so long that my subject had gone! I will experiment with exposures on moving subjects though- at a different time of day and see what happens and I'll let you know. Thanks again.

As I write this, it's making me question whether I have this problem with my shorter lens at all. Hmm... does sound like a lens problem. Rats. I'd planned on my next lens being a super wide angle....


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8/21/2008 12:03:33 PM

 
Mary S. Secord   Nick I think it is coming down to the fact that your lens just isn't fast enough. Especially with high SS settings. Action shots need a fast lens (2.8 through-out or lower) for clear sharp photos. I have no experience with the lens you used, but try shooting moving cars like suggested in another post and change the settings after each shot. I'd start at SS 350 and F-12 if its a nice bright day and adjust the settings up/down from there. Also are you hand holding the camera or using a tripod? Myself I hand hold because a tripod is to cumbersome for me, but might help you because shake can definately make a big difference in how sharp your photos come out.


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8/21/2008 2:05:51 PM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  He said the shutter speed was at least 2000.


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8/21/2008 2:11:55 PM

 
Connie J. Bagot
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/6/2005
  I looked at the joust and it looks like camera wobble to me (I've shot a lot of blurry wobbly shots with my long lens and am something of a sad expert in this area, lol). When you are shooting at 300mm then the tiniest movement of your camera/lens translates into a relatively large movement of your distant subject. I think if you use a tripod and a remote shutter release then most of your problem will go away.


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8/21/2008 2:56:17 PM

 
Mary S. Secord   Connie I think your right and that is why I brought it up. I still think he needs a faster lens. He will have alot better success and alot more keepers ;o)


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8/22/2008 1:40:47 PM

 
Nick Jones
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/18/2008
 
Ok. Research complete. Test shots complete.... well my exhausted "dog chasing a ball for test shots" says they're complete anyway!

For action shots, I hand hold. Just because the action is unpredictable and using a tripod won't give me the freedom of movement. But I'm usually resting the camera on something stable. On the jousting day, I was using my Gorillapod with it's legs wrapped around the arena gate. Connie, I agree with you- "When you are shooting at 300mm then the tiniest movement of your camera/lens translates into a relatively large movement of your distant subject". If you're far away from the action and your subject doesn't even nearly fill the frame, (or if you're shooting landscapes) then a tripod and remote shutter release would work/help. But if you're close in on the action, you're moving the camera to some extent and a remote just won't work. And at such high shutter speeds, surely the movement of the camera shouldn't matter?

So I went about searching the net for problems with this particular lens. Well, it seems this is just a budget lens if you REALLY want a telephoto but can't REALLY afford one. Here's one review I came across:

"Pros: Cheap
Cons: Poor optical and build quallity, only 5.6 at 300mm, rotating front element, extremely slow autofocus

Of all my lenses, this is by far the worst. Sure it's cheap, but wide open or even stopped down it's not sharp at all and the build quality is poor. You can use it for portraits with a nice out of focus background, but don't even think about action shots or bird photography. You will be disappointed. I think it gets sharp if you use at f/8.0, otherwise at the 300mm end and wide open be prepared for some serious softness and chromatic aberrations. Another problem is the autofocus. It hunts like hell and you will have difficulty locking on to moving subjects. Moreover, the front element rotates during autofocus, which complicates the usage of polarizing filters. I'd only recommend this lens if you have a tight budget and if you are desperate for a telephoto lens".

I am a true believer in, "You get what you pay for." So when I found my lens- brand new- on Amazon.com for $80, it told me everything I needed to know. So, I have a piece of crap. Ha! I did want to take some test shots though, as I'm not about to replace it before purchasing a super wide angle and figured I could still learn from it while I have it. Unfortunately, I live on a dirt road and traffic, let alone constant, is hard to find. So I played fetch with one of my dogs. I got enough shots at 300mm to help me. I would have loved to compare those to similar exposures at shorter focal lengths, but my dog quickly got tired of playing in the Southern Californian sun.

After studying some pretty poor photos of my running dog, I've learnt that an aperture below f8 at full zoom is a waste of time. At f11 and 14, the depth of field is increased just enough to compensate for the (by today's standards) sluggish autofocus. It seems that the action is being frozen but, a combination of poor focusing and chromatic aberrations are creating the blur. I've also learnt that when using this lens I'll get a clearer shot if I increase ISO before I increase aperture.

Thank you all for responding. You've all helped me reach my conclusion. Mary, yes. I need a faster lens! Gregory- I couldn't even find a brand name on the UV filter... They were obviously real proud of their work! For the sake of $80 glass, I think I'll be losing that filter. The avatar? That's a cat problem more than a glass problem! :o)

Nick.


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8/22/2008 3:05:23 PM

 
Nick Jones
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/18/2008
  Oh, forgot to mention that I did use a tripod for the test shots as that would at least rule out one possible cause of the blur.


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8/22/2008 3:13:48 PM

 
Mary S. Secord   Nick it sounds like you figured it out ;o) Yes a faster lens will make a BIG difference, but they are not cheap. I use the Nikon 80-200 2.8 for shooting as a track photographer and it cost me $900 when I got it 3 years ago. Its a non VR which is fine for what I do because it would be turned off anyway in my case. I also have the Tamaron 28-75 2.8 which is alot cheaper at around $300. I keep them on the my 2 70s I have so I don't have to change lens at the track. There are other lens I would love to own, but just can't afford them right now. One would be the 85 2.8 at about $350. Action shots require fast lens....its a simple as that.

BTW, I saw in your gallery you had photos in Ramona. I just live down the hill from you to the south and yes it can get warm here in the east county *lol*


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8/22/2008 4:42:37 PM

 
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