Why do 80-400 shots look like they need USM?

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Apr 15, 2006
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The focal range of this lens interests me a great deal but the web images I've seen all look like that need a fair amount of USM. They just don't seem critically sharp, not compared to say the 300 2.8. Am I imagining this or what? Thoughts or images to prove me wrong??
 
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Do you expect the 80-400 to be as sharp as a 300/2.8?

I don't.

Well...I was hoping that it would be acceptable. I guess I wonder how much operator error I'm seeing on the posted pics for this lens. I assume that it is owned by mostly those who photograph for a hobby instead of for a living (it's cheaper). That said, I imagine things like to slow of a shutter speed, lens not stopped down enough, etc, are issues that are more likely to pop up. Is there anyone out there producing outstanding images with this lens? Is it possible?
 
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It just could be that those images need some USM. All digital images need some USM - that's the state of the art in digital today. Some cameras don't apply a lot by default (D100 being a notorious example), and some folks don't even know they need to do so.

There are a lot of images around from the 80-400 VR that are very sharp indeed and don't look like they could withstand much USM.

And of course it also depends on the subject. Some demand more than others, some withstand more than others.
 
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Not really sure . . Maybe I'm lost . . ! !
The focal range of this lens interests me a great deal but the web images I've seen all look like that need a fair amount of USM. They just don't seem critically sharp, not compared to say the 300 2.8. Am I imagining this or what? Thoughts or images to prove me wrong??
Hi, I can't pass comment on the 300 f2.8, to expensive for my wallet, £3000/$5800 here in the UK. But I'm very pleased with my 80-400vr. Please let me know what you think of the sharpness of pics...These guys are doing approx 130-150mph
Both pics D200+80-400vr, 400mm, f13, 1/400, iso200

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I agree. They look good to me Jewson. Anyone have a sharp example from a static subject?
 
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This is D2x + 1.4TC + extension tube + 80-400 vr
What do you consider sharp?
There are some quirks to this lens that need to be learned. I'm still in the learning stages.

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Not really sure . . Maybe I'm lost . . ! !
Here's a static one...or two..
D200+80-400vr

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D50+80-400vr

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I am using the Sigma 80-400OS, optically very similar to the Nikkor (I compared both extensively thanks to a colleague of mine). I selected the Sigma because of the faster AF (built-in motor). I sometimes see the same discussion about the impossibility to get sharp pictures... I think this is all about technique and knowing the soft spot...

Here are a few examples (my A3 printouts are very detailed). The 300 2.8 plays in another league (one of the next lenses on my list) but the 80-400VR/OS lenses do deliver quality pictures.
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Cwilt,

I think Jewsons lens sample is sharper. Look at the fur on both pics.


Jewson,

This level of quality looks acceptable to me. Any tips on achieving good results with the 80-400? (Min. shutter, min stops?)
 
C

chinesestunna

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Hi, I can't pass comment on the 300 f2.8, to expensive for my wallet, £3000/$5800 here in the UK. But I'm very pleased with my 80-400vr. Please let me know what you think of the sharpness of pics...These guys are doing approx 130-150mph
Both pics D200+80-400vr, 400mm, f13, 1/400, iso200
Great shots!

Are these scaled down or 100% crops? IMHO scaled down shots are moot when discussing sharpness since shots always become sharper as you reduce the size.
 
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I agree with chinesestunna, you need both the EXIF and 100% crops of the focal point for each picture without any processing or sharpening otherwise any comparison is invalid.
 
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... without ... sharpening ... otherwise any comparison is invalid.
I don't agree with this part. Sharpening is a fundamental part of digital imaging today. You would not make a display-quality print and not sharpen it in some way. Sharpening is an entirely valid step, and it doesn't need to be equal. What counts at the end of the day is not what the intermediate NEF file looked like - what matters is your best effort that goes on the wall. If one lens can only withstand 20% sharpening and another one can take the same subject and withstand 140% and look better then who cares what the numbers in the process were?
 
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I don't agree with this part. Sharpening is a fundamental part of digital imaging today. You would not make a display-quality print and not sharpen it in some way. Sharpening is an entirely valid step, and it doesn't need to be equal. What counts at the end of the day is not what the intermediate NEF file looked like - what matters is your best effort that goes on the wall. If one lens can only withstand 20% sharpening and another one can take the same subject and withstand 140% and look better then who cares what the numbers in the process were?
My point is people sharpen their pictures differently, therefore you can't compare them. There are too many different sharpening techniques and when the differences between lenses are small, all you're comparing is the quality of the sharpening!

Remember, I'm talking about comparing the raw resolution of the lens itself, not the final overall picture (while of course it counts, when you're talking about how sharp a lens is rather than the overall IQ, it's the unsharpened raw picture that's important).
 
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I don't agree with this part. Sharpening is a fundamental part of digital imaging today. You would not make a display-quality print and not sharpen it in some way. Sharpening is an entirely valid step, and it doesn't need to be equal. What counts at the end of the day is not what the intermediate NEF file looked like - what matters is your best effort that goes on the wall. If one lens can only withstand 20% sharpening and another one can take the same subject and withstand 140% and look better then who cares what the numbers in the process were?
I agree completely with Brian, with the caveat that sharpening is not something new with digital. The unsharp mask was invented for film, long before digital was even a dream. :smile: 100% crops only mean something when you intend to print at that size, plus they only compare on equal sized sensors, where all else is equal, such as the AA filter. That's one of the big problems comparing different cameras, especially JPG output. 100% crops from a d50 JPG would likely appear much sharper than crops from a d2x, when using default settings.

My d70's produce "sharper" photos out of camera than do my d200's. But, the d200 files can take a lot more sharpening, which gives me a lot more control of the process.

As Brian said, it matters not at all, at least to me, if I sharpen one image at 75% and another at 150%. I only care about the end result. :biggrin:

To the topic at hand, the 80-400vr is a quality lens, IMO, fully capable of producing very sharp photos, when used properly. Seems to me that the samples provided demonstrate that. :smile:
 
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