Not getting the sharpness I want

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I was finally able to upgrade to the D300s from my D70 (I was having focus/sharpness issues) and I was hoping to see better results at agility trials with my 70-200 but my results are still shabby! What am I doing wrong? I prefocus on the jump upright nearest to me on servo then hold it there and go to where the dog will jump. I tried using the different focus areas too, not sure where I'm going wrong. The pictures are just blah without sharpness.

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I'll be back there and have another photog gig in a couple of weeks. Please help. :eek:
 
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You're focusing a little too far back and shooting at F4 @ 120mm creates DOF which is too shallow to capture the entire dog. Focus on the head of the dog instead to make the dog appear sharper.

(Exif is 120mm, f/4, 1/800s @ ISO 200, NIKON D300S)
 
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I'm always told that f/4ish will be sharper than wide open at f/2.8 was that wrong?
 
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I think the shutter speed is too slow for moving subject matter, I would increase the ISO to 320 or even 400, then set the aperture to f/5.6. Use this as a starting point next time and adjust from there.
 
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No...f4 will give you more DOF than f2.8........BUT.....f5.6 will give you more DOF than f4.....
Will I still get a clearly out of focus background at a f-stop that low?
 
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No...f4 will give you more DOF than f2.8........BUT.....f5.6 will give you more DOF than f4.....
With your lens set at a focal length of 120mm and the aperture at f/4, the depth of field of acceptable sharpness is about 9 inches. At f/5.6, that zone of sharpness increases to 1 foot, 1 inch.

So, you don't have much room for error here. Also, I agree with Frank that a higher shutter speed would provide more keepers with a moving subject. It would be worth giving up a little ISO to get a higher shutter speed in my opinion.

Glenn
 
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Will I still get a clearly out of focus background at a f-stop that low?
Not as easily. If possible, seek perspectives where the backgrounds are further away from the subject. That plays a large role in how blurred the background becomes. You are looking for separation between subject and background.

Personally, I would shoot at f/2.8...increase my shutter speed...and do some rapid bursts in hopes of nailing some nice shots (fully realizing that there will be a percentage of bad ones).

Glenn
 

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Depends....on the distance between the subject and the background......

Notice the OOF effect between image #1 versus #2....
 
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With your lens set at a focal length of 120mm and the aperture at f/4, the depth of field of acceptable sharpness is about 9 inches. At f/5.6, that zone of sharpness increases to 1 foot, 1 inch.

So, you don't have much room for error here. Also, I agree with Frank that a higher shutter speed would provide more keepers with a moving subject. It would be worth giving up a little ISO to get a higher shutter speed in my opinion.

Glenn
Thanks so much everyone! I will try this tomorrow and post what I get!

After having a D70 with terrible ISO performance I'm always hesitant to use ISO...what's the highest you think I should/could go with the D300s without getting any visible grain?
 
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Thanks so much everyone! I will try this tomorrow and post what I get!

After having a D70 with terrible ISO performance I'm always hesitant to use ISO...what's the highest you think I should/could go with the D300s without getting any visible grain?
Given the same lighting, you don't need to boost your ISO very much to acquire an acceptable shutter speed. You are currently at ISO 200 with a shutter speed of 1/800th. 1/1600th for a shutter would be more than enough--and that would call for an ISO of just 400. You could even drop the ISO to 320 and be fine.

If you wish to try f/4 along with the higher shutter speed--you might find yourself at ISO 500 or so--well within the acceptable range of the camera.

Glenn
 

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Try your camera and see! With my D300, ISO 800 began to show noticeable noise. Fixable in post, but noticeable. Really depends on how much light and shadows you have. But keeping shutter speed up for dog agility is key.
 
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Depends....on the distance between the subject and the background......

Notice the OOF effect between image #1 versus #2....

That's the thing, even at f/4 I'm not getting the results with the background I want.
 
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That's the thing, even at f/4 I'm not getting the results with the background I want.
You need more separation between the subject and the background...even at f/2.8. One way to accomplish that is to get much closer to your subject.

Think of it this way...If the subject is 20 feet away and the background is 80 feet away, you are accomplishing a 1:4 ratio of distance to subject and distance to background, But, if you move ten feet from your subject, you now have a 1:8 ratio...much better for isolation. Better yet, shift positions...or get really low...so that the segment of background in the frame is much farther back...perhaps creating a 40:1 ratio.

Glenn
 
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You need more separation between the subject and the background...even at f/2.8. One way to accomplish that is to get much closer to your subject.

Think of it this way...If the subject is 20 feet away and the background is 80 feet away, you are accomplishing a 1:4 ratio of distance to subject and distance to background, But, if you move ten feet from your subject, you now have a 1:8 ratio...much better for isolation. Better yet, shift positions...or get really low...so that the segment of background in the frame is much farther back...perhaps creating a 40:1 ratio.

Glenn

I'm already sitting on the ground inside the ring, getting as close as I possibly can without distracting the dogs. But that's a good way to think of the ratios, I'll have to remember that!
 
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Here are some examples of what I'm talking about...

With this photo of a burrowing owl, I initially had a high vantage point--which brought the ground (a close background) into play. By getting very low, I removed the closest background elements from the frame and selected a vantage point in which the background was a few hundred feet from the lens. Here's the result at f/7.1:

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f/2.8 works especially well for subject isolation when the background is far away:

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When you get very close to a subject, it is much easier to blur the background. This one is at f/8...but I am very close to the subject and the background is about three feet away. My ratio is high here:

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Glenn
 
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I'm already sitting on the ground inside the ring, getting as close as I possibly can without distracting the dogs. But that's a good way to think of the ratios, I'll have to remember that!
Another key is focal length. The EXIF indicates 120mm. If you want to maximize the background blur to achieve subject isolation, use 200mm! :smile:

It is far easier to accomplish that look at the longer focal lengths.

At 14mm for example, I can achieve a range of focus from just a couple of feet to infinity at relatively low apertures. Not so at 500mm...the range of focus can be very narrow even at small apertures.

Glenn
 
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another image, after editing (including high-pass to sharpen) and just so ICK! not sharp at all. don't mind the watermark, it was posted on facebook and people like to take my photos :eek:
 
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Gorgeous photos Glenn! I will try my best to get lower!
 

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