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blurry pics--prime lens or vr??

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by oldnslow, Mar 27, 2007.

  1. oldnslow


    Sep 23, 2006
    I was taking pics of a birthday party in a gym (bad lighting) this past weekend and when i got home to p.p. the pics, almost all of them were blurry, they looked good on the lcd when taking them. I started out using my sb600 flash but didn't like the look of the subject lit up and the background very dark, so i took the flash off and used auto iso(d80) up to 1600, also the lens i was using was tamron 17-50 2.8, so long story short,in p mode 75% of the pics were at 1/30th sec. and 2.8 iso 1600 at 50mm, if i used s mode at 1/60th sec. they were underexposed.

    My questions are:

    would a 18-200mm vr solve this problem, or a prime(30 1.4 or 50 1.8) at 2.8 be sharper with the same shutter speed 1/30th sec.

    any other suggestions and or technique, let me know, thanks for your help.

  2. Hmmmm, cant see VR helping here, VR helps steady the image so slower shutter speeds can be used it wont help with suject motion only shutter speed is your friend here, but it sounds like subject motion was your problem here (im guessing seeing as it was a party!) with a focal length of between 17-50 with shutter speeds at 1/30 > 1/60 you should be getting acceptably sharp images that's if your subject was still enough.
  3. Interesting problem. Maybe you can post on of the images and a 100% crop of an image for us?

    What are the sharpness settings in the camera? I have mine on the D2X set at High for JPG's (I shoot a RAW or RAW+Jpg most of the time and can reset it.

    Are people moving around in the Gym? then the shutter speed you have wont stop their motion

    Some early suggestions:
    There are very few lenses that are sharp wide open, I dont know about the Tamron, have never tried it. I have a Nikon 17-55 F2.8 and it is sharp at F2.8
    As for using a VR lens that would have helped some, but the fact is that you cant help it when light is low, it is low, and faster glass would do better. If you want to test with faster glass the cheapest way to try is the 50mm F1.4 AF-D, it is not know for being super sharp at F1.4, but still good
    At that ISO it would not be surprsing to see a fair amount of grain to make the image even more soft looking.

    What I would do is toe set up the camera and Tamron lesn on a tripod in similar conditions and try to see if the combo is sharper then. If not you know it is shake and technique.
  4. Ciao David,
    this is what I can tell you:
    with the equipment you already have, try setting the shooting mode to M.
    Since you have a 50mm as focal lenght, you should at least get a 1/75 (1/100)s to obtain steady shots.
    With an aperture of 2.8, try to set a time of 1/125 and let your SB600 doing the rest, choose by yourself the better aperture. It will tell you it's underexposed but probably it isn't really, unless you are very far from the subject. Do some tests to become comfortable with this technique. Shoot in M, not A/S/P; it's better.
    If you still need other equipment:
    1) try to understand if depth of field can be a problem. If you are too close to the subject, you should be forced to set a smaller (F5.6, for example) aperture and this would force you to get the 18/200 that works very well with slow times from 1/5s to 1/60s (depending on the focal lenght);
    2) if it isn't a problem, maybe a faster and motorized lens can be the solution: cheaper and better quality than 18/200 VR. Of course, if you go down to F1.4 don't expect greatest sharpness, which can be usually achieved from f2 or higher. In this case, avoid shooting wide open if you are closer than 4-5m to your subject, otherwise you may get a perfect portrait but nothing really useful.
    3) If neither that solves, get a more powerful flash
    4) if you are here and didn't solve your problem... go and be blessed by the closest priest!!!! :biggrin: :biggrin: :biggrin:
  5. Based upon your comment about the results with the SB600, I assume that you did not use fill flash <BL> setting. The ambient light comes into play when you use fill flash. In the resulting image you can than see the background, while the flash lights the subject. IAW, the aperture is wider with fill flash, allowing more light in, while at the same time freezing the subject's movement.

    1/30th of a second is fine when you have steady hands, but most people will select a slightly higher shutter speed to limit picking up movement. The movement can be your own or the movement of the subject.

    VR does nothing to freeze movement of the subject, it only helps you when handholding your camera and provides you with the opportunity to use a slower shutter speed when taking a picture of a steady subject.

    f2.8 or lower with any lens will give you of course better opportunity to capture images in low light situations. That in combination with your SB600 could do wonders.

    It back to doing some experimentation I guess?
  6. This may be a little long and even confusing, but feel free to ask question if I'm not clear.

    A few things to try.

    You need to use the Sb-600 and not in fill mode, but in full power mode. But you need to set the flash mode on the camera to rear sync. What this does is fire the flash just before the shutter closes instead of just when it opens. Remember the flash duration is in the neighborhood of 1/1000's (or something like, in other words MUCH faster then your shutter speed).

    Set you camera to manual mode, f2.8 - f5.6, with a shutter speed in the area 1/20-1/30 based on light to expose the background.

    What you are doing here is something very specific. The aperture is set based on the flash power used and depth of field you are trying to get; this is what controls the flash exposure not the shutter. Then the shutter speed is set based on the aperture and the available light, this gives you the background exposure.

    To experiment try this:

    In a dark room set up a flower and a candle. With your camera on a tripod and in manual mode take a picture of the flower. I'll just guess for the explanation f5.6 @ 1/125. Now you probably see almost no "light” from the candle. Start slowing the shutter down until you start to see the light from the candle, probably under 1/30. Notice that if all you changed was the shutter speed you have very little effect on the exposure for the flower?

    Also use a tripod, not a ball head, but a tilt pan head.
  7. gugs


    Feb 24, 2006
    for indoor sport I am often using a 85mm 1.8; even the 70-200VR is sometimes not fast enough...
  8. At a given shutter speed, any aperture setting would result in the same relative blur from vibration and from subject motion. If the subjects are not moving quickly, 1/30th is usually sufficient...though it will go soft once subjects start moving around. Only way to get around it is to have a faster shutter speed. Nothing will give you that but higher sensitivity (iso) or a larger aperture.

    if you are shooting at 35-50mm or more, 1/30th will also GENERALLY show some blur due to motion. VR fixes this part. VR is excellent for situations where subject motion is rarely the source of the problem (mild subject motion may be effectively frozen by 1/60th in many cases, but a lens of 85mm or longer will often show motion blur at that speed due to most people's handholding limitations).

    If you can get fast enough to freeze motion but not enough to freeze your hands, VR is useful. If you're not fast enough to freeze motion...you need faster (which can suck when many focal lengths are restricted to f/2.8 or slower). Flash techniques may also be useful...slow synch for instance...but I'd take blur over flash under almost all circumstances.
  9. All of the information above is good and you should experiment with all of it.

    Let me try to simplify things.

    The flash only lights the subject.
    The background is exposed based on camera settings, just as if no flash was used.
    Repeat: the flash only lights the subject, background is exposed by camera settings

    When shooting with flash use M mode.

    start at ISO 400, 1/125 sec, f/5.6 with the flash in TTL (you'll also see this referred to i-TTL) if you have bright backgound lighting like outside, use TTL BL

    Take a shot. If the background is well lit, switch to ISO 200 for better color and saturation.

    If the background is dark, let in more light by opening the lens to f/4 or f/2.8 or more. Just watch DOF.

    If the background is still dark, try a slower shutter speed like 1/80 sec.
    Any lower than 1/80 and subject movement can cause blur. If the subject is motionless, then you can go 1/30 sec.

    If the backgorund is still dark and the flash emits four beeps after flashing, then the flash is at maximum output and the only way to increase the background lighting is to shoot with the lens wide open and jump to ISO 500 or higher.

    Other things to consider"

    Anything above ISO 400 will increase noise and should be avoided.
    Try a flash diffuser like Omnibounce, Lightsphere or Lumiquest Softbox.
    Evemtually try multiple flashes and CLS
    If your subject is too bright try exposure or flash compenstion
    If the subject has reflective bright spots, try a different diffuser.

    If you have a notebook computer and get a chance, take a quick look at the photos while you're at the shoot. This is the reason I recently bought the WT-3A wireless transmitter, I can see every photo on a notebook in full screen in seconds-wireless.

    I may not have made this simple, but I tried.
    I sure didn't cover everything, far from it.
    It can be a very complex matter that requires experimentation on your part.

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