BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: What's Wrong With My Photographic Technique? : Problems with Images

Photography Question 
Tom R. Fleeman

camera focus

  not crisp!
not crisp!
Shot in part sun,f/5.6,1/1250,ISO-500,112MM, 5:31PM.
© Tom R. Fleeman
Nikon D7000 Digita...
Hi everyone. I think I have a focus problem with my camera or lenses. Most of my shots don't look crisp like I see a lot of shots online. How would I be able to check if I have (back or front focus) I have heard about online with Nikon cameras. I have D7000 and shoot with a #1986 80-200mm f/2.8 lense and hardly ever are my photos real crisp. Please help with any ideas. Thanks Tom

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8/6/2012 10:50:32 AM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
  First I'd like to find out if you're new to using digital cameras and know about the sharpening that needs to be done, and is done, to all digital shots because of the filter over the sensor that helps to prevent moire. Some people just don't know that you have to add some amount of sharpening to give a digital shot that edge sharpness.
You can check your focus by using a stationary object, something linear, and focusing on a point and seeing how it looks on the monitor. You can set up a line of objects on a table, use a tape measure, a pole or post outside, anything that you can see if the point of focus matches to where the camera picks.
Your baseball photo doesn't seem to be off. I'm not seeing a point of focus on the ground that is too far behind or in front of either of the players. You didn't indicate if that is a uncropped photo, auto focus or not. I'm also wondering if you're comparing that particular photo to something you've seen that was a tighter shot. If you're closer physically or closer because of a longer focal length, you're going to be able to see more texture detail, like in the glove, the hair, or fabric, than you would in a photo that's framed like your sample.
I don't spend much time browsing thru forums, but I've never heard of Nikons having a habit of having focus accuracy problems.

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8/6/2012 1:13:55 PM

Lynn R. Powers   As Gregory mentioned I also do not see anything wrong with your focus. For that matter your 26 year old lens that was designed for film does a superb job.

I believe that you are expecting results that are the same as those taken by experienced amateurs that specialize in Sports photography or Professional sports photographers. Both use both the best cameras and the highest quality lenses that they can get for their cameras. They operate their equipment without even thinking about it because they have done it so many times it is only natural for them.

Most use Full Frame cameras or in case of Canon some use the 4D which has a 1.3x crop whereas your camera has a 1.5x crop. The smaller sensor DOES make a difference. Their lenses start at 400mm and go up. In some cases up and up. $$$$$ :=) They also shoot wide open to make the DOF smaller therefore isolating the players even more. Also they have a little more room to move around which comes in handy especially when you are stuck in the bleachers.

Here is what you could have done to improve your photo. First shoot wide open. Second; the person in the background adds nothing to the photo. And finally third; zoom the full extent of your lens or nearly so. Do not be afraid to shoot in the vertical format although for this picture and your angle I doubt if it would have worked in this situation.

Considering your equipment and where you were, you did a fine job of capturing the action of the moment.


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8/6/2012 8:57:58 PM

Lynn R. Powers   Oooops! The Canon should have been the 1D Mark IV. Also shoot RAW and when you sharpen have the photo at 100%. Be careful not to over sharpen. That is a problem we didn't have with film because we focused on the film grain.


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8/6/2012 9:07:05 PM

Tom R. Fleeman   Hi Lynn and Gregory. Thanks for your response. I have been shooting for about two years. Sports is my favorite but getting ready to do portrait photos also. Maybe I am too critical of my photos. I have Lightroom 3 for post processing, but haven't had to long just learning how to use it. And yes I am aware of sharpening, but just getting into lightroom. I think it will probably do a much better job of everything than what I have been doing. Thanks again both of you for the help and advise, I will use it to improve my skills. Thanks Tom.

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8/8/2012 7:28:11 AM

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