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Need the Experts....D300 Softness

Discussion in 'Nikon DX DSLR Forum' started by NostalgicDad, Sep 25, 2008.

  1. Alright, I need some help here. I recently picked up the 70-200VR 2.8 and have been shooting with it on my D300. I've felt as though the images have been somewhat on the soft side. So, I got out my D80 and did a "non-scientific" comparison just to see if it might be the lens or if I'm possible screwing something up in the D300 settings. Although, I'm not sure what that could be since these are RAW files in the comparison. I didn't need to take the test to any greater lengths after the major difference between the 2 was apparent right off the bat. To me, it doesn't look like a focusing issue but I could certainly be wrong.

    I'm using a tripod with VR off on the 70-200. The focal length is 200mm. Both cameras are shooting RAW. Matrix metering is used on both. ISO is 200 on both cameras. The other EXIF is as follows.......

    1/320 sec


    This is a screen shot while the NEF images are open in Capture NX2 and viewed at 100%. Nothing has been done and they are straight out of the camera. Picture Controls in the D300 are set to "flat". What the heck am I dealing with here?

    D300 on the left. D80 on the right.

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
  2. Danny,
    It looks like there must be some differences in the settings. Rather than going "straight out of the camera"
    set everything identical in capture just in case the D80 is sneaking something in (as I expect may be the case).
    The D80 shot, besides looking sharper also has more contrast, this is also telling me NX may be doing something.
    It just looks too good for a pure RAW image.

    Can you process the D300 shot to look as good as the D80?

  3. ibcj


    Dec 19, 2006
    New York
    Have you used the fine tune feature on the D300 ? Perhaps you adjusted it at 70mm and it is different at 200mm ? Not saying you did, just throwing out ideas.
    Seems like pretty drastic differences there.

  4. Don.....Looking at the metadata for the D80 shot in NX, it shows Saturation as Normal and Sharpening as Medium high under Optimize Image. For the D300 shot, there is no Optimize Image sections but everything under Picture Control is 0. D-Lighting is also OFF.

    I've tried to process the D300 shot to look like the D80 shot but have not been able to. I get close if I use the Vivid setting but the black numbers still look faded and a bit "fuzzy".
  5. scooptdoo

    scooptdoo Guest

    just sayin

  6. Chris......I thought about this as well but I have not touched the fine tune feature for this lens yet. :confused: 
  7. ultimind


    May 13, 2007
    Cleveland, OH
    AF Fine Tune made a huge difference when I had a d300 for work. my 180mm F2.8 went from being soft like the sample above to being tack sharp.

  8. My 70-200 did the same. Might be time for a tune up.
  9. Did you tell NX to turn off Optimize for the D80, or at least set everything back to none?
    Those optimize settings can well account for the difference.

    Rather than messing with pic control on the D300 shot try using levels & curves and unsharp mask to adjust the image. In L&C start by clicking the black eyedropper on a black letter.
    I don't think you've got anything quite white enough to use the white dropper, but if an area looks to be in the
    240 or so range you can try it.

    Is the tripod VERY sturdy? That can make a difference, especially with a long heavy lens hanging off the end.
    Did you use a remote release or the self timer?
    If not, I'd try it again and if you can get the shutter speed up higher to help eliminate the possibility of shake
    which the more I look at your shot appears to be the case.

  10. Lots of good info here. I think everything mentioned thus far might be playing a part in this situation. I'm not real familiar with the AF fine tune but I have used it on my other lenses. I'm just not real sure that I even did it right for those, however. I'll definitely put forth the effort to see if it helps with this. What do most of you do with this feature.......leave it on or off?

    Don.....I knew I wouldn't be comparing apples to apples going into this but my thinking was that a NEF is a NEF in NX2 and I should get a good idea between the 2 shots. For the D80 shot, I went back into NX2 and made sure everything was off. The picture did degrade. As such, I used L&C on the D300 shot and got some decent results along with USM. Still looks a bit washed out/blurred towards the numbers near the bottom of the frame. That being the case, your point about shake seems probable. The tripod is VERY sturdy and I weighted the top of the lens but I also tripped the shutter as normal......no remote used. I also did a comparison at ISO 500 on both which resulted in 1/500 shutter on both as well. Still the same results.......strange softness with the D300, although to a lesser degree, and a decent looking D80 shot.

    Before I got the D300, I was uber-comfortable with my D80. I know I'm still learning my way around all the settings on the D300, but this little test has me feeling somewhat discouraged, mainly with my ability to take nice photographs. I know I have a great camera, but I don't like the fact that my picture quality is suffering.
  11. jfenton


    Jan 26, 2005
    Haverhill, MA
    It's early and my eyes aren't completely fired up yet, but the D300 shot sure looks to have motion blur in it and not a simple OOF issue?
  12. I'll be very interested to hear if you get a solution to this, I too have found the D300 soft at times but have never really looked into it too much, perhaps its time for me to Fine Tune my lenses.
  13. When I get time hopefully later today, I will work on this some more. I'll update with any new findings.
  14. Ok, a bit more controlled test this time. I used my remote shutter release and made sure there was zero sharpening in the D80 in addition to the D300. A little more daylight available as well. I think I'm feeling a little more comfortable with the D300 at this point as the results now seem much better. Below are the comparisons, first at 200mm then at 70mm, both using f/2.8, ISO 200, Matrix metering, VR off. Again, no processing done on these NEF's in Capture NX2. D300 on the left, D80 on the right.

    1/2000 sec

    1/3200 sec

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    1/2000 sec

    1/2000 sec

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    I think it's obvious as to which one wins the "non-scientific" side-by-side comparison. One thing that really stands out is the larger in-focus area in the D300 70mm shot. I'm not sure how to explain that. So, although I feel much better now, there is still one more lingering issue I've discovered that is in fact lens related. I'll hold off until the discussion subsides on these results before mentioning that. Let me know your thoughts.
  15. Much more like what I would expect to see.
    Looks like it was motion blur all along.

    On you second example I see one very important thing... the D80 shot says "updating image"... that means that pokey old NX2 has yet to get around to displaying the fully rendered version of you photo.
    Go have a smoke, or read a good book and maybe it will be finished by the time you get back.

  16. Eyaldar


    Dec 21, 2007
    "Go have a smoke, or read a good book and maybe it will be finished by the time you get back." XD, nice one

  17. Good catch about the updating image thing there, Don. I didn't even notice that but I can say that I looked at it several times after it finished and there was still no change.

    I have to say I agree with you regarding motion blur. I should have known better the first time around but I constantly find myself doing things in haste. Thanks again to everyone who chimed in on this. As far as the other issue I mentioned.........

    When I mounted the 70-200 the first few times on the D300, I noticed there was just a slight amount of "play" between lens and camera. I've only had this lens about a week and a half and it wasn't so much that I put much credence to it until I did this test. I noticed it also on the D80. That got me to thinking........there really shouldn't be any "play" when mounted on any camera. I compared with other lenses, Sigma included, and none of my other lenses do this.

    So, what is everyone's experience with this? I have a few days to return this to BH but they of course don't have any more in stock at the moment. What is the proper tolerance on this lens when mounted to the D300, etc? Should I be concerned or is this a common thing and I'm possibly over-reacting? If I need to start another thread to gain more attention from cafe members, then I might do it.
  18. cleoent


    Dec 21, 2007
    San Jose, Ca
    i'm giong to be sending my d300 and 70-200 lens to nikon next week. I dont like having to use the fine tune feature but it seems all my lens work better with a -2, SO the d300 goes back for calibration.
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