Help: Image quality concerns!
Hey guys! So I've been to this location several times now, and every time I go, my images end up turning out like the attached image. I'm pretty new to shooting at night, but I'm so far off the mark right now from where I want to be as far as overall image quality is concerned. My question is, what am I doing wrong? The image is grainy, not sharp at all, contrast is crappy. I want the lights to be sharp and the colors much more vivid.
My setup at the time was: tripod, D40, 55-200 nikon nikkor vr lens, SS was 2.5" at f/22 with a 400 ISO @ 55mm. There was no post processing on this image. I can't imagine it's my equipment, I mean I don't have expensive things but they should be able to produce a better image than this. So obviously I'm doing a lot wrong. Any help is greatly appreciated.
Last edited by LBGChris; 02-11-2010 at 12:31 PM.
If I were to guess, f/22 is your problem. Widen the aperture a bit to F/12 or so and it may help.
Tightening the aperture does sharpen the images, but only up to a certain point. After that it softens again.
Plus this also depends on the lenses you are using as well.
Normally the sweet spot for lenses are around f/8 to f/12 or so.
Also if it is on a tripod, use the lowest possible ISO. ISO 100 if available.
I think the lowest I can go on my D40 is ISO 200. But thanks for the recommendations! I'll make sure I experiment between f/8 and f/12 next time. Just for fun I post processed the hell out of the image and this is what I came up with, a C+ shot at best. haha.
I think Elisha pointed you into the right direction: Lens diffraction sets in at that kind of aperture. See here for hands-on examples how this affects images:
Scientific background (fear not, lots of illustrations, very little math):
On a DX camera, it sets in somewhere between f/13 and f/16. In landscape shots like your example, you focus on infinity anyway, so you don't gain too much (if anything) from a smaller aperture. f/11 or f/13 should do just nicely. Or even just f/8, for that matter.
Nikon D700, Sony R1, Sony T10
Nikkors: 24-70 f/2.8 +++ 70-300 VR f/4.5-5.6 +++ 18-35 f/3.5-4.5
+++ 20 f/2.8 +++ 24 f/2.8 +++ 35 f/2 +++ 50 f/1.8 +++ 85 f/1.8
Sigma 150 Macro f/2.8 +++ Sigma TC 1.4 +++ Metz 54i
Don't forget smog as a reason for other than clear shots.
I would lower the jso to the minimum. Shooting long exposures increases noise anyway.
Lower the f stop (lowering that and the iso will result in similar exposure time to what you are getting now).
I assume the VR is off on your lens (if on a tripod)?
Looking at SLRGear's detailed review (http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showp...ct/1088/cat/13), it looks like the 55-200VR is sharpest at about f/8-f/11 at the wide end, so that's probably the best aperture to use, unless you want particularly deep or shallow depth of field.
Are you using the noise reduction for the longer exposure?
When you get long exposures at night, eg 5+ seconds then turn on "long exposure noise reduction"
Originally Posted by fotogmarc
As everyone else said
Make sure VR is of
Make sure the tripod is stable
Don't let light shine in the back of the viewfinder
Use the timer to set off the release otherwise hand wobble will F the shot up
Iso 200 (shutter speed is unimportant when a tripod holds it still)
F8 (everything is equally far away from the cam (infinity)
If your exposure goes into 1/30-1/60 second consider changing something as I believe mirror slap in that range can become a factor
D800, D300, D90, 24-70 f2.8, 70-200VR f2.8, 300 F4, 105 micro, 16-85VR, 50mm 1.8, Tammy 90 macro, 70-300VR, SB900, 2xSB600, MB-D10, 055XPROB 322RC2. New computers to run photoshop faster. C&C always appreciated. PhotoGallery
Pressing the shutter is the start of the process - Joe McNally ... Buying the body is the start of the process - Dread Pirate
What time of night did you shoot this?
5.6 would be fine. The important one though when doing this is to bracket.
Stephen: Another kiwi bumming around Aussie welding shit up missing home....