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PostPosted: Tue May 04, 2010 5:16 am 
I have a D90 and took my 70-300mm 4.5/5.6 vr lens to the zoo recently but upon coming home i was not impressed or happy with my final images ;(

Image
F/5.6
1/320
iso 160

I posted a few on flickr
http://www.flickr.com/photos/bills_d90/ ... 988268928/


I am still new to photography and am experimenting with different shutter speeds, iso and aperture settings, I am trying hard to stay in manual and learn vs going into one of the preset modes, but no matter what I tried it seemed I just wasn't able to dial things in for a solid sharp shot.

I was using single point focus hand held on the camera using the vr mode, and trying to stay aimed on the animals eye area, in the camera i had even upped the sharpness output as I felt the images were a bit dull from the lcd, confirmed once home too on pc.

I wasn't using a tripod or monopod but was using the cameras VR, in general most shots turned out but none were stunning images, I was hoping out of 100+ shots to get one or two really good sharp ones but all turned out like this one, nothing special lacks sharpness etc.

would a monopod help? Am i just not upping the shutter speed enough?

Any suggestions and or help appreciated, I have a zoo pass for the year and am hoping to go back and take more soon and will be trying to improve each time I go.

Bill


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PostPosted: Tue May 04, 2010 6:45 am 
Here's a couple of comments that would help you out in achieving "sharp" photos.

All lenses perform best when stopped down. The general rule seems to be 2-stops down from the maximum aperture, though this varies from lens to lens. In your case, the 70-300mm has a maximum aperture of f/5.6. You'll get better if you stop down to f/8 and f/11.

All the sharp photos you see online have been processed to a certain degree. For a quick and simple fix, apply an unsharp mask in your favourite image editing package. As a starting point I would go for an amount of 0.5, a radius of 5 pixels and a threshold of 0. This a technique called local contrast enhancement and helps make images look sharp. A more extreme form of processing would be to do the Dragan effect. This is considerably more involved, so I would suggest Google :)

Other things worth mentioning...

Your photo is over exposed. I'd underexpose it by at least 1 stop. I notice you've said you're using the manual mode. Why? I'd recommend putting it into "P" and then focus your effort into making good pictures (that means composition, lighting, post processing, etc). I do not mean to insult or discourage you in any shape or form, but stick to stick to the "P". That's what a lot of professionals do anyway and this mode is jokingly referred to a "P for Professional" ;)

You've taken a shot of the tiger in direct sunlight. This is going to be tricky at best. You notice how the whites on his front leg have gone white and there's no detail there? Also note the bright rock at the bottom right of the frame. For best results, take a photo of them when they're in the shade. You get more even lighting which will make your subject look better.


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PostPosted: Tue May 04, 2010 1:27 pm 
Thanks for the input it's all greatly appreciated!

I have read around how people buy a nice camera then never leave the auto modes resulting in a waste of money vs the ability to truly fine tune a picture, I have been playing in ap and sh modes too, but figured if i really wanna tinker (and learn) I will use manual and really just go out experiment and learn, so that in different settings I can learn what I need to do to get the "right" shot.

I used the P mode once by recommendation of a fellow camera person trying to shoot an indoor concert with my stock 18-105 lens and it was a disaster, altho the still shots came out fine, most everything in motion (arm movements etc) came out all blurred, i was really ticked so i gave up on P mode, but in this case the tiger and other animals overall were very slow moving so P mode might have helped alot here.

Over the next few weeks I am going to take this long lens to the ballfield and try and capture some softball, thinking to put it into shutter mode but might post a help question on basic ballpark settings so to speak vs mud this one up with more of that talk.

I will be returning to the zoo quite a bit this year with 2 kids and a season pass its the perfect chance to get out have fun and take some (hopefully better) pictures!

Bill ;)


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PostPosted: Tue May 04, 2010 1:49 pm 
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Location: Boca Raton, FL, USA
Good comments above, and I'll second those.

Also, just to add one more thing: Though 1/320 isn't bad for shutter speed, and will generally work, when animals are moving around or walking, you should try if at all possible to get the shutter speed a little faster - I try to set a minimum of 1/500 for a moving animal, even slow-moving. Even just the motion in the fur and feathers can cause softness in your photo - you froze the walking, but still can miss on fine detail that was moving. 1/1000 or better is what you generally want to target for anything moving faster than a turtle, unless you can't reasonably get it.

Since your shot above is overexposed, you could have either closed down the aperture a bit, OR sped up the shutter speed...or a combination of both ideally.

And don't be too afraid of higher ISOs if needed. You may see some noise in a higher ISO like 800 or 1600 when you're shooting in poor light, and that scares some people away from using it. But noise is also enhanced by underexposure and lives mostly in shadows...in good light, a properly exposed higher ISO shot can be virtually noise free. Your D90 is pretty good with noise at higher ISOs anyway, but in daylight, ISO1600 can look like ISO100 if properly exposed...and that can give you the leeway you need to stop down the aperture and still keep up your shutter speeds.

_________________
Justin Miller
Sony DSLR-A580 / Sony 18-250mm / Minolta 50mm F1.7 / Sigma 30mm F1.4 / Tamron 10-24mm / Tamron 150-600mm / Tamron 90mm F2.8 macro / Minolta 300mm F4 APO
Sony A6000 / 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 / 55-210mm F4-6.3 / 10-18mm F4 / 35mm F1.8 / 16mm F2.8 / via manual adapter, lots of Pentax K mount, Konica K/AR mount, and Leica M mount manual lenses

Galleries:
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PostPosted: Tue May 04, 2010 2:06 pm 
I couldnt be bothered to read the posts above so sorry if im repeating what they say, but I notice your at ISO 160. This is really low, pushing it up to ISO 1000 or even 1600 or so would help reduce movement.


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PostPosted: Tue May 04, 2010 2:10 pm 
So on my next trip to the zoo if I bring this lens, i should start ballpark range in the

F8 to F11 range with a shutter speed of at least 500 maybe upto 1000 even (especially since I am using a 300mm usually close to if not fully zoomed in) and experiment with the iso but surely go up maybe into the 400-1600 range to see what works best in the histogram?

Should i still stick to the Manual mode or try the P mode? Maybe im just stubborn or dumb (or both) but kinda looked at the dslr as something id want to learn to totally control so my mindset was keep it in manual and learn but if i use P mode it adjusts my ap and sh speeds automatically which i would think i would not want in this setting?

Sure have seen some amazing pics from the d90 out there, so am hoping with some more "dialing in" I can get at least a few with mine here eventually, heck trying is half the fun too though!

Thanks again for the input and suggestions...

Bill :)


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PostPosted: Tue May 04, 2010 2:19 pm 
On a D90 you can push our ISO way above 1000 safely :wink:


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PostPosted: Tue May 04, 2010 2:28 pm 
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Joined: Wed Nov 18, 2009 5:23 pm
Posts: 815
Location: Boca Raton, FL, USA
I guess whether to keep trying manual or not is up to you...it's admirable to try to learn these things, so as long as you're willing to have some misses while you try to get it right, then keep at it. If you'd rather make sure you don't miss an opportunity, then you might switch to another mode and let the camera make some decisions for you. If you don't want to give up entirely and go to P mode, you could always use A or S priority instead. These can still be useful in that you are setting one parameter through your own judgement, and letting the camera make up the other. Using shutter priority, you could set the shutter speed at 1/1000 or so, and let the camera choose the aperture needed - keep an eye on the camera's selection, and you could adjust the ISO up if necessary to avoid wide-open aperture.

Also, I don't own a Nikon so I can't tell you how to find it - but I'm pretty sure your camera may have an ability to set a shutter range in shutter priority - setting a floor or ceiling for it to choose within...it still functions like shutter priority and sets the aperture, but gives the camera more leeway to move the shutter speed a little bit as needed within the range or floor you set.

_________________
Justin Miller
Sony DSLR-A580 / Sony 18-250mm / Minolta 50mm F1.7 / Sigma 30mm F1.4 / Tamron 10-24mm / Tamron 150-600mm / Tamron 90mm F2.8 macro / Minolta 300mm F4 APO
Sony A6000 / 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 / 55-210mm F4-6.3 / 10-18mm F4 / 35mm F1.8 / 16mm F2.8 / via manual adapter, lots of Pentax K mount, Konica K/AR mount, and Leica M mount manual lenses

Galleries:
http://www.pbase.com/zackiedawg


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PostPosted: Tue May 04, 2010 5:08 pm 
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Posts: 8022
Location: UK
Having had a closer look at the sample photo, it is not over-exposed to me, or at worst may just be about to be. The leg is not clipped, and highlight recovery does bring out detail there. Having said that, as a precaution I tend to under-expose slightly myself, at the risk of introducing more noise into the final image.

Anyway, I'd have to ask, what were you shooting through for that shot? If it was glass, I've found the quality is generally far below optical standards and usually causes irregular distortion in the image leading to softness or worse. Try to move around to find a good patch.

Manual mode can be used with caution. I find it works great if the scene does not vary in lighting much, so if you're staying in the same location for a while you can get away with finding a good setting and leaving it.

For wildlife, I tend to use shutter priority myself with auto-ISO on, as that pretty much lets you set fast enough for motion blur prevention. I do tend to shoot with aperture wide open, but it does depend on the lens how much real benefit you get from stopping down. Do some tests elsewhere and see what's good for you.

_________________
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Lenses: EF 35/2, 50/1.8, 85/1.8, 135/2+SF, 28-80 V, 70-300L, 100-400L, TS-E 24/3.5L, MP-E 65, EF-S 15-85 IS
3rd party: Zeiss 2/50 makro, Samyang 8mm fisheye, Sigma 150 macro, 120-300 f/2.8 OS, Celestron 1325/13
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PostPosted: Tue May 04, 2010 5:09 pm 
Just wanted to say I really appreciate the input and advice here, I have been a part of a few other forums that were not so nice to a beginner like myself, i really enjoy trying to learn the ins and outs of the D90 here and have bought a few dslr dvds and the nikon d90 how to dvd as well as have read many articles about dslr and the d90 etc but putting it all into practice takes practice and some trial and error.

In the end i sure hope to gain knowledge and get better pics as I go, I do use sh and ap modes too depending on what i am shooting, for the softball game i am about to shoot i was thinking of using shutter mode so i can adjust it and see how high i have to go to get the still shot look i want, and let the camera deal with the ap, but ill probably go into manual a bit too and see what I can't accomplish with it as well.

I find every situation I am in i learn more and more about the limits of my lenses, the lighting, heck everything, and even tho it frustrates me a bit i am actually enjoying the hobby quite a bit.

Hope to have some good shots to share with everyone like the ones i see in the forums that inspire me soon.

Bill :)


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PostPosted: Tue May 04, 2010 5:13 pm 
Make sure you have your White Balance set to 'sunny' or 'shade' when taking these types of photos. Never use AUTO.

Also, use a quick shutter speed of over 100. Bump up your ISO to around 500-800.

Set your aperture to around f8 or f11.



Good Luck


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PostPosted: Tue May 04, 2010 7:21 pm 
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Posts: 1977
everything from what I read above is great advice... not sure what I missed but lets see if I can sum this up..

1) Shutter speed... go for 1/1000 for any movement with animals if you can... if you can hit that you are set.. if it is a bird in flight try to get 1/1600 to 1/2000.. again.. if you can achieve that you are set. Even with stationary animals a good breeze will ruffle feathers and fur causing motion blur.

2) Aperature... F8 to F11

3) Try not to shoot through anything.. in zoos this will be hard due to glass and fencing but these objects will effect sharpness.

4) ISO greater than 800 is just fine and having to go to 1600 or even more is fine as well.. the noise you might find, if any, can be removed in PP.

5) Try shooting AP - F8 -F11 and adjust your ISO to reach the desired shutter speed to start...

_________________
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Last edited by Wolfsong on Wed May 05, 2010 4:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue May 04, 2010 7:57 pm 
Wolfsong hit the nail on the head.


**i meant a shutter speed of 1000 not 100 in my last post**


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PostPosted: Tue May 04, 2010 9:26 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 1:01 pm
Posts: 660
Location: Ontario, Canada
Bill, I noticed on your flicker page all your shots have an exposure bias of +2. Why?
You also said you used single point focus, try using continues (afc) with the Af area mode switched to dynamic area for moving subjects.

Do what Wolfsong had stated on #5, you should be fine. Thats what I do.

One last thing your exif states you use Multi-segment metering, try center weighted.

I'll be intrested to know how you make out on you next zoo visit, let us know.


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PostPosted: Tue May 04, 2010 11:16 pm 
I had set that exposure bias to +2 and doing something else indoors and had just not re-adjusted it i believe...

I do have a lot better idea of what I want to set the camera for next time so am hoping with similar pictures I can get better results, it was really cold that day too so i didn't have a lot of patience standing and shooting.

Bill :)


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