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07-30-2015, 03:44 PM   #1
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Photos not sharp - why??

I ran into some frustrating issues today with focusing and sharpness. Unfortunately I deleted the photos so am not attaching any samples for reference. I was using my K-5 II, with the DA 55-300. I was about 30-40 meters away from my subject (a seagull on a post in the ocean). My lens was at maximum zoom (300mm), shutter speed was 1/4000 (I think), and aperture was 5.6. I used a tripod for maximum stability, set the self timer so I would not have to touch the camera, and regardless of how many shots I tried the subject was still slightly out of focus (not tack sharp). I'm just wondering if this is a problem with the lens? Something I am doing wrong? Or, could it be the slight wind that existed? I was doing my best to shelter my camera from the wind during the shots. I'm using a pretty good tripod (Sirui T-025X).

Any thoughts / advice is appreciated. Thanks!

07-30-2015, 03:50 PM   #2
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Should've saved a picture to post here, then we can look and analyze what's wrong.
07-30-2015, 03:54 PM   #3
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If you were using a tripod, Shake Reduction should have been turned off. Other than that, it may be a front or back focus problem. There are ways of testing that (see here Front- and Back-Focus - Articles and Tips | PentaxForums.com ) and the K-5 II allows you to set in-camera adjustment for it. But if you can take some more images and post them, others may have some idea of the issue.
07-30-2015, 03:57 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by slr_neophyte Quote
I ran into some frustrating issues today with focusing and sharpness. Unfortunately I deleted the photos so am not attaching any samples for reference. I was using my K-5 II, with the DA 55-300. I was about 30-40 meters away from my subject (a seagull on a post in the ocean). My lens was at maximum zoom (300mm), shutter speed was 1/4000 (I think), and aperture was 5.6. I used a tripod for maximum stability, set the self timer so I would not have to touch the camera, and regardless of how many shots I tried the subject was still slightly out of focus (not tack sharp). I'm just wondering if this is a problem with the lens? Something I am doing wrong? Or, could it be the slight wind that existed? I was doing my best to shelter my camera from the wind during the shots. I'm using a pretty good tripod (Sirui T-025X).

Any thoughts / advice is appreciated. Thanks!
Let's see the photo! I would bet it's either softness due to the lens itself (which was wide-open) or a focusing issue. Even stopping down by a little bit would greatly increase the sharpness and using a slightly slower shutter speed shouldn't cause any issues in this case.


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07-30-2015, 04:10 PM   #5
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My 55-300 was never sharp wide open, but take it to f8 and it's very sharp. Just one of those lenses that I didn't use wide open very often.
07-30-2015, 04:34 PM   #6
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also many lenses are only sharp wide open typically in the wider portion of the zoom rather than the longer portion of the zoom (there are exceptions but not generally for non-pro lenses). So if you are experiencing softness at say 300mm but not 50mm then that is by design.

Michael
07-30-2015, 04:52 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by PJ1 Quote
If you were using a tripod, Shake Reduction should have been turned off.
QuoteOriginally posted by slr_neophyte Quote
set the self timer so I would not have to touch the camera
Shake reduction is automatically disabled when the self-timer is used (at least that's how my K-5 works), so that wasn't the problem.

QuoteOriginally posted by slr_neophyte Quote
shutter speed was 1/4000 (I think), and aperture was 5.6 ... wind
1/4000 is a very fast shutter, probably fast enough to ignore the wind as a factor. I wonder if that shutter speed made your ISO go very high. Image noise from high ISO can blur fine detail.

As others said above, the 55-300 is a good lens but is at it's best stopped down a little. I almost always use Av mode for mine to keep it at f8.0. I shoot in raw DNG and apply a little bit of sharpening in Lightroom.

How were you focusing, liveview (contrast detect), viewfinder (phase detect), or manual? Your camera+lens combo might benefit from the autofocus fine tuning menu.
07-30-2015, 05:03 PM   #8
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My 55-300 HD is not really sharp at f5.8 @ 300mm. At 300mm I really need to stop down to F8 to get maximum sharpness. Since you stated that you were shooting at 1/4000 I would suggest stopping the lens down next time. As others have stated shake reduction needs to be turned off when on a tripod. I have been a victim of this myself. Also remember even with the self timer the mirror still has to flip up unless you are using live view. If using the self timer I suggest using live view other use a remote with the remote setting set to mirror lock up with delay. At 300mm all sorts of things start to show up that you would never see at shorter focal lengths. Last thing is you may have a front/back focus issue.

Michael

07-30-2015, 06:38 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by DeadJohn Quote
Shake reduction is automatically disabled when the self-timer is used (at least that's how my K-5 works), so that wasn't the problem.



1/4000 is a very fast shutter, probably fast enough to ignore the wind as a factor. I wonder if that shutter speed made your ISO go very high. Image noise from high ISO can blur fine detail.
Was using AV mode and kept my ISO between 100 - 400 so I don't think ISO was a factor

QuoteOriginally posted by DeadJohn Quote
As others said above, the 55-300 is a good lens but is at it's best stopped down a little. I almost always use Av mode for mine to keep it at f8.0. I shoot in raw DNG and apply a little bit of sharpening in Lightroom.
I always shoot in RAW as well, it's unfortunate I didn't save the photo because I don't remember the exact settings I had. I normally also try to keep my aperture at around 8.0, but because the photos weren't coming out sharp (when cropping and zooming on the subject in camera - after taking the shots) I think I might have increased the aperture, as I felt a faster shutter speed may have compensated for any camera shake from the wind.

QuoteOriginally posted by DeadJohn Quote
How were you focusing, liveview (contrast detect), viewfinder (phase detect), or manual? Your camera+lens combo might benefit from the autofocus fine tuning menu.
I was using center point focus (AUTO) - through the viewfinder. I have never tried the fine tuning that is available - as I'm not quite sure how to use it.

If I get the chance, I'll try some similar scenarios tomorrow and post examples.
07-30-2015, 06:55 PM   #10
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Ditto on the post above for a front/back focus issue. It is very possible the calibration is off. An idea: Focus using Live View (use manual focus to make sure it is sharp) and not the viewfinder. If the photos are sharp through Live View you could have a front/back focus issue. If the images are still not sharp, your equipment has another issue. Another idea is to shoot up to 20 images (burst away) of your subject while moving the focus ring very slowly as you shoot (e.g., from slightly back focus though slightly front focus). If one image is really sharp (which is what should happen), the automatic focusing is off. If no image is sharp you could have a bad copy of the lens, which is no big deal if it is under warranty. I believe "bad copies" of lenses are a dirty secret of the photography business.

If you want to see where the lens is sharpest, see the Photozone review here: http://www.photozone.de/pentax/396-pentax_55300_458?start=1

Last edited by quant2325; 07-30-2015 at 07:20 PM.
07-30-2015, 07:20 PM   #11
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Here's a later photo I did - sharper than the ones I had originally complained about, but still quite blurry when you crop and zoom in. This has been unedited, as I just wanted to show you the photo in its original form. Settings were ISO 400, 300mm, F 6.3, and 1/2500. Self-timer was used, on a tripod. I would normally use a remote control but that was forgotten at home.

Last edited by slr_neophyte; 05-01-2016 at 07:07 AM.
07-31-2015, 02:23 AM   #12
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It looks slightly underexposed a little as well. What was the metering mode? It looks like the rock has been picked up as a point of focus rather than the gull itself (bottom right hand corner seems to be what it's picked up). Spot metering on a "grey" rock, shooting manual exposure will help to get exposure right in these situations. The reflected light from the sea makes the camera think there is more light there than there is. I'd certainly try again, without a tripod, put SR on, meter off a grey rock and stick the aperture to f8-f11 (depends on how it is set up in the camera). I've also got a K5-II, but not this lens though. Being hand-held at 300mm would need a shutter speed of 1/450th sec min so this isn't a problem in what you've shown here. You have talked about using the centre point for AF earlier on.
07-31-2015, 02:58 AM   #13
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Just another thought..... the situ 25x tripod is a relatively light travel tripod (I have one)...... can have quite a bit of vibration especially if the centre pole is raised....especially with wind.
07-31-2015, 04:34 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by slr_neophyte Quote
Here's a later photo I did - sharper than the ones I had originally complained about, but still quite blurry when you crop and zoom in. This has been unedited, as I just wanted to show you the photo in its original form. Settings were ISO 400, 300mm, F 6.3, and 1/2500. Self-timer was used, on a tripod. I would normally use a remote control but that was forgotten at home.
I own the DA 55-300, and I can say for sure that it can deliver much-much better than that, even wide open at 300mm
Regarding the unsharpness of your sample photo, taking in consideration the exif data (shutter speed, f-stop) it can be tripod vibration (wind, or simply the tripod is too light, and the self timer is not necessarily long enough to get rid of the mirror-up vibrations) or the lens needs to be calibrated to your K-5II

Here are a few older sample photos (actually snapshots...) , shoot with very similar parameters [Pentax K20D, Smc PENTAX-DA 55-300mm f/4-5.8 ED @ 300mm, f/5.8 (wide open, and the flower at f/6.7), ISO 400, various shutter speeds]

The links under the photos are pointing to dropbox, full size files, and all of my samples are jpg-s out of camera (less the flower which is processed from raw with basic settings, as I dont have the jpg anymore) feel free to download and check them at 100% magnification if you want.


https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/72661506/INGP0099.JPG


https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/72661506/INGP0001.JPG


https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/72661506/INGP0125.JPG


https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/72661506/IMGP9352-DEV.jpg
07-31-2015, 12:15 PM   #15
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If your lens is calibrated properly for front and back focus I'd send it unfit repair. There is a thin piece of plastic lens in between the glass ones that can warp and cause focus issues. If your in Europe send it in to Alan Marlow in the UK for repair. It shouldn't cost too much
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