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 Post subject: 16-85mm or 18-200 mm
PostPosted: Thu Oct 22, 2009 9:29 pm 
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Joined: Thu Oct 22, 2009 9:23 pm
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Location: Norfolk, England
I have a Canon 40D and a Canon 17-55 f2,8. I am not pleased with the sharpness of my pictures. I would like to buy a Nikon D300S, but my problem is which lens. Should I go for the 16-85 or the 18-200. I want a lens that is really sharp.

I know the D300S just have got 12,3 MP and the new Canon EOS 7 D has got 18 MP, but I am just thinking that because I am not pleased with the Canon equipment, I should change to Nikon.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 22, 2009 10:02 pm 
Is your Canon 17-55 f2.8 an L lens or one of the cheaper one?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 22, 2009 10:20 pm 
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Location: The Netherlands
Remember that sharpness mostly depends on how big you see your photos and how much you sharpened them (and how, high-pass v.s. unsharp mask).

Also, welcome to cameralabs :)

As far as lenses go, the 16-85 is sharper than the 18-200 mm ;)

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 22, 2009 10:58 pm 
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Posts: 366
Going by the reviews, the Canon 17-55/2.8 is really sharp.

As pleased as I am by my 16-85, it's no sharper, and doesn't have the wider aperture.

I know this is a Nikon thread, but if you want greater sharpness, you might really be worth testing the same lens with the Canon 7D, though ultimately FX would be the way to go if critical sharpness or big enlargements are your goals.

Otherwise, I believe that the 40D has slightly soft JPEGs, and raw performance may be better. A lot of this sort of thing has to do with the JPEG program the particular manufacturer uses, and some may even be down to the anti-aliasing filter (which is usually stronger on Nikons than Canons, I think).

There may be other reasons you wish to switch to Nikon, in which case you can disregard my comments.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 22, 2009 11:27 pm 
i believe 16-85mm is sharper than 18-200mm. anyway, i was surprised when you said 17-55mm isn't that sharp. :shock:
AFAIK, it's damn sharp in reviews.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 1:12 am 
Yea... unlikely that you will find the 16-85 to be much sharper than the 17-55 if at all.


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 Post subject: Re: 16-85mm or 18-200 mm
PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 4:20 am 
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Joined: Wed May 23, 2007 8:38 am
Posts: 357
Erik wrote:
I have a Canon 40D and a Canon 17-55 f2,8. I am not pleased with the sharpness of my pictures.

but I am just thinking that because I am not pleased with the Canon equipment, I should change to Nikon.


Wait, wait.

Are you sure you are not encountering any or a combination of the following:

1) hand-holding
2) slow shutter speed
3) too small an aperture (i.e. diffraction induced softening)
4) manual focusing (our eyes don't necessarily see the best point of focus)
5) noise reduction set too aggressively and/or shooting at too high an ISO sensitivity

Consider determining the reason for lack of sharpness before jumping ship.

For instance, try the following:

1) Use self timer & mirror lock up & a tripod
2) Use autofocus
3) Use liveview and zoom in to the picture area and manually focus until maximum sharpness is obtained
4) Using a faster shutter speed


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 4:34 am 
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If you're looking for razor sharp images with that lens, you have to shoot at F4. F2.8 will always be softer on an APS-C camera. I dont shoot F2.8 too much other than outdoor portrait or lowlight. I prefer F4 since it is about the sharpest that lens can get.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 7:01 am 
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Joined: Thu Oct 22, 2009 9:23 pm
Posts: 18
Location: Norfolk, England
Thank you all so much for all your comments.

Most of my shots are handheld. The ISO is normally 100-200. AF is always on. I try to shoot at f8. IS is on.

I have tried to put my camera on a tripod using the self-timer, but the result are the same (not very sharp). The camera and the lens has been checked by a Canon repairshop and they were found to be "spot on".

I shoot JPEG and I do some sharpening (unsharp mask) in Photoshop Elements 7.0 I also enhanche the pictures by gently changing the saturation, exposere, contrast etc.

The Canon lens is not a L-lens.

In the past, when I was shooting on film, I always used Nikon, but I bought the Canon when I got into "the Digital World".


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 7:51 am 
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Posts: 357
I suggest a test where you afix the camera to a tripod and turn off image stabilization and use live view to manually focus exactly aligning the object to center AF point on something which has a strong profile, such as a frayed piece of fabric or a leaf. Use self timer to take the shot.

Then repeat the test with AF on. Using Mirror lock up and self timer still on the tripod and keep image stabilization turned off .

Compare both shots.

If the AF on shot is blurry, then perhaps your AF focus needs a micro tune adjustment for the particular lens.

I also recommend seeing this discussion someone has posted about their 40D with a 17 - 55 needing micro af adjustment!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 8:51 am 
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Joined: Wed Oct 01, 2008 6:32 am
Posts: 512
Citruspers wrote:
Remember that sharpness mostly depends on how big you see your photos and how much you sharpened them (and how, high-pass v.s. unsharp mask).


I would recommend reading this article on image quality basics to better understand sharpness in photography.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 1:30 pm 
So in conclusion, its the not the lens it's the original poster/photographer. So my advice is before blaming your gear, look at what you are doing wrong yourself.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 2:18 pm 
It sounds like Erik has taken the basic troubleshooting steps to confirm that it's not his technique that is the problem.

I assume that you've seen some samples and reviews of the 17-55 online. How far off is what you are getting from what you see online? The 17-55 isn't the sharpest lens around but it's not slouch either.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 3:12 pm 
Shoot RAW then come back and tell us if your photos are not sharp.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 3:49 pm 
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Hello Erik, and welcome to the friendly Camera Labs forum!
To enjoy your stay here please have a look at the house-rules!
----
The Canon lens should give you very decent sharpness if everything is a-ok. capital has already given you some good advice as how to test what may result in soft images. Dirty front-/back-lenses or smear on the sensor also belong in this category. Look carefully.
The next best thing would be to post some of the images (100% crops) that you are dissatisfied with. That would give our evaluation some real good fodder.

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