I'm officially struggling with sharpness.(long/pics)

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with distant subjects. At first, I wrote it off to poor long lens/panning technique, but now, after getting exactly 0 keeper flight shots out of 100 at the zoo pond, in bright light, and 0 keepers out of about 40 at my own pond today, now I'm beginning to worry something's not right here. It's not like I've never done this before either. I'm using my standard full, Wimberley head on my Gitzo CF tripod, like always too. All of these badly focused flight shots were anywhere from 300-500 ft away. Anything much closer seems to be fine, it's those distant subjects that are giving me fits. This all happened while I had the 200-400VR + TC 1.7 mounted, and in AF-C mode. I did go to Focus +FPS rate or whatever that's called right before these shots, and have also recently started shooting with my new TC 1.7, where I used to shot with my TC 1.4 attached. Where do I go from here? (besides get a lot closer) :shock: Do I need to do some (damn) testing? I've tried several different focus reticule, all with the same disastrous results on the long stuff.

This is one of the VERY few shots that is even reasonably sharp, and it ain't that great. It's a static shot from about 400 ft away in fading light @ISO800. It's been about 1/6th cropped for artistic reasons. (It is kinda cool, since I got all 4 animals in the shot at once).

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Model NIKON D2X
Flash Used No
Focal Length 650 mm
Exposure Time 1/125 sec
Aperture f/10
ISO Equivalent 800
Exposure Bias +.50 (in Capture)
White Balance (-1)
Metering Mode matrix (5)
Exposure Program aperture priority
 
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Feb 25, 2005
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Hey Steve,

Hate to say it but your problem seems awfuly familiar.

If your comfortable with your skill set and you know those shots should have been razor sharp (especially with that lens!) then there's only one thing to do.

Send it in to Nikon Service (Torrance). I had the same problem you seem to be experiencing, sent it in and they adjusted the mirror and tuned the AF. From the day I sent it in to the day it came back was exactly one week (I did call them 4 days out of the 7). I did overnight it which is how they sent it back.

Bite the bullet and do it otherwise you'll always wonder if it's you or the camera.

Sorry to say it.

_/oe
 
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Just my line of thinking... I am purely an amateur here.

I would go back to what you knew worked before. Do you still have your old body? I would even drag that along and compare the two.

I think one thing that has struck me about moving to this camera from 6 and 8 MP cameras is that I am so drawn to 1:1 full res viewing of the results, that I immediately expected too much. That and I expected miracles from the new camera.

I don't shoot much long stuff, let alone birds. But I happened to see one today while goofing around in the back yard with a 70-200 + 1.4x. I quickly pointed the camera up and fired. It was continuous focus mode, focus priority.

Only trouble was the bird was a looong way off. :)

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But what amazes me is that the camera did focus on him quite well.

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Good luck getting it sorted out. If there is one thing one deserves for investing in this beast, it is great images!
 
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PS, mine first one went in for front focusing and a few hot pixels. They tried to fix it once, then I whined a bit and sent it back in.

Then then replaced it.

All trips were very quick and overnight. They seemed very interested in making it right.
 
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More examples of distant focus problem (broadband warning)

Could be that my TC 1.7 doesn't want to play well with my 200-400VR. I dunno at this point. So, more shot from yesteday, both near & far.
Far: could'a been a spectacular shot Dammit :evil: :

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Focal Length 650 mm
Exposure Time 1/250 sec
Aperture f/7.1
ISO Equivalent 400
Exposure Bias +1
White Balance (-1)
Metering Mode matrix (5)
JPEG Quality (6)
Exposure Program aperture priority


Near, ok (focused on the boy's head):

View attachment 9186

Focal Length 340 mm
Exposure Time 1/500 sec
Aperture f/7.1
ISO Equivalent 400


Far, again, bad:

View attachment 9187

Focal Length 650 mm
Exposure Time 1/160 sec
Aperture f/7.1
ISO Equivalent 800


Near again, np:

View attachment 9188

Focal Length 650 mm
Exposure Time 1/500 sec
Aperture f/7.1
ISO Equivalent 400


Far again, bad:

View attachment 9189

Focal Length 650 mm
Exposure Time 1/500 sec
Aperture f/8
ISO Equivalent 280

Another far, bad again:

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Focal Length 650 mm
Exposure Time 1/250 sec
Aperture f/8
ISO Equivalent 400
Exposure Bias +1/3


one more near, again ok:

View attachment 9191

Do you see a pattern here?
 
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No Scott, Nikon hasn't been contacted yet.

I'm still trying to figure out whether it's me or the camera! :? I do know that when I went from using the 1.4 tc to the 1.7 tc, my focal length went from 550 to 650mm! Could be the added focal length is requiring better technique. Many, if not all of these shots, were done with my cable release, so I'm not jiggling the cam with a shutter press.
 
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Steve

Like you....I questioned my techniques and then convinced myself through a couple thousand shots of testing that it wasn't me. What finally convinced me was that I shot someone Else's D2X and the results were like night and day.

Send it in pal...it's only gone for a week.

By the way...I shot 112 shots of ospreys flying the other day and only two were OOF to the point where they were throwaways.

Jim
 
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Weel, I guess I have no alternative

but to send it in. I've been suspecting this for quite some time now, but I guess I didn't want to admit it, since it does fine in close. Off it goes. Will keep you all posted.
 
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Corsicana, Texas
I'm keeping my fingers crossed while still testing mine out. The first batch taken with a 600 f4 and the 1.7 TC were not nearly as sharp as I'm used to with my D1X and the 1.4.

But, I'm afraid I did the same thing as you, Steve. I added another variable by switching to the new 1.7. BTW, Nikon disclaims that AF will work at all when using an f4 lens with the 1.7, so we both may have pushed the envelope a little too far. I'm going back out with just a prime lens, and then maybe the 1.4 (at least on the f4 600 and 200-400).
 
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Re: More examples of distant focus problem (broadband warnin

Steve S said:
Near, ok (focused on the boy's head):

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Are you sure? It looks like rear focus to me. :twisted:
 
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I keep thinking that you should really give what you know worked before a good try before sending the camera in.

As I said I do not do a lot of long stuff, but 650 mm @ 1/500 to capture a bird in flight sounds like something very hard to accomplish.

I happen to look across a valley to a nice hill outside my home office window here, and for that reason I just happen to take a lot of photos of trees that are really quite a distance from here. A tough subject. Lots of detail, movement in the wind, subject to haze, etc. etc.

So I compared the longer lenses I have (70-200 with the 1.4 and 2.0 & 70-300 ED) on my D2X and D70. Reason being this thread got me thinking, plus I had shot a few the other day to try out a new 1.4 and they were not very sharp.

And I found there isn't really a big difference between the two cameras. More detail, better exposure and nicer WB on the D2X, but that's pretty much it. They both produce about the same amount of softness, etc.

It is just a day with more moisture in the air, etc. Not a good day to be photographing small trees over a quarter mile away and expecting them to be sharp.
 
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Hmm, you may be onto something John Nikon quote

TexIndian said:
I'm keeping my fingers crossed while still testing mine out. The first batch taken with a 600 f4 and the 1.7 TC were not nearly as sharp as I'm used to with my D1X and the 1.4.

But, I'm afraid I did the same thing as you, Steve. I added another variable by switching to the new 1.7. BTW, Nikon disclaims that AF will work at all when using an f4 lens with the 1.7, so we both may have pushed the envelope a little too far. I'm going back out with just a prime lens, and then maybe the 1.4 (at least on the f4 600 and 200-400).
Nikon's quote for the tC 1.7:
"Compactible"(sp?)(Compatable) with:AF-S VR 200mm f/2G IF-ED, AF-S VR 70-200mm f/2.8G IF-ED, AF-S 300mm f/4D IF-ED, AF-S 300mm f/2.8D IF-ED II,AF-S 400mm f/2.8 ED-IF II, AF-S 500mm f/4D ED-IF II, AF-S 600mm f/4D ED-IF II"
I see that it doesn't mention my 200-400VR f4, but does mention the 300 f4. That's a bit odd, but does get me thinking. I also recently switched form a 1.4 to a 1.7. I think before I do send it in, I better make sure it's not just the TC to blame. thanks for the headsup!
 
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Hmmm... I thought their standard line was that they wouldn't recommend any TC/lens combination that yielded an effective aperture less than 5.6.

My 600 is not a version II, but it really had to hunt for focus lock with the 1.7 even in bright light and a static target - much more hunting than with the 1.4. Guess it's time for even more experimenting.

BTW, I haven't had the best of luck with my 200-400 and the 1.4x on my D2H, although I really haven't given the combo a fair workout in good light.
 
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Steve S,
Take off the 1.7 TC and shoot with the 200-400 by itself. I think you will see a big difference; I know I did. As another poster pointed out, when you are shooting at 650 mm you need a very high shutter speed; also, the quality of the 12.4 megapixel sensor really brings out the limitations of the 1.7 TC. Ron Reznick told me to try shooting without any TC's to see if the problem was with them, and I think for the most part it was. The 1.4 TC seems to work okay, but the 1.7 on the 200-400 is marginal with the D2X in my opinion, especially for moving targets (e.g. flying birds).
 
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Scott

Mine was not repaired satifcatorily after the first attempt.

Nikon ultimately opted to keep mine for "further study" of the issues and replaced my camera.
 
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Bernie, you've got some great stuff on your pbase

Saratoga Lefty said:
Steve S,
Take off the 1.7 TC and shoot with the 200-400 by itself. I think you will see a big difference; I know I did. As another poster pointed out, when you are shooting at 650 mm you need a very high shutter speed; also, the quality of the 12.4 megapixel sensor really brings out the limitations of the 1.7 TC. Ron Reznick told me to try shooting without any TC's to see if the problem was with them, and I think for the most part it was. The 1.4 TC seems to work okay, but the 1.7 on the 200-400 is marginal with the D2X in my opinion, especially for moving targets (e.g. flying birds).
You should be showing some of it off here, (if you're not already). The Quail, Great Egrets, and Snowys are great! Have you had any sessions w/Ron? I'm trying to make the transition over to Matrix metering, having always favored Center-weighted, and it's been a difficult one to learn. Thanks for those thoughts on the use of TCs with the 200-400. I'm going to do some tests w/o the TCs attached before making a final decision to send it in.
 
Joined
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Steve S,
Thanks for the compliments. I really haven't posted much on this forum yet. I've had my D2X since the first shipment and I'm still trying to decide if I have an alignment issue or not but I'm reluctant to send it to Torrance yet. I went to the Bosque Del Apache session with Ron last December and I have stayed in contact with him since then quite a bit. Missed the Yosemite session but may be able to go out and shoot with him soon. I studied his ebook extensively and still go back and refer to it from time to time. I try to keep my processing to a minimum; no fancy stuff, just use Nikon Capture for the majority of adjustments, photoshop primarily for cropping and downsizing for the web, and Qimage for printing 12x18 prints for club competition. I'll be interested to hear how your 200-400 VR does without TC's.
 
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