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My D200 and 18200 mm lens and 1224 mm lens have arrived

don_c

Member
The UPS man finally brought what I have been waiting on since the first part of November. It was here waiting on me Friday night when I got home and I am loving all of it. I have a million questions to ask but AM going to read the manual first and ask quesitons later rather than like I normally do..ask and then read.
 

olebojensen

Active Member
Hi Don

Congratulations on your new gear. I just finished a 2 week vacation in Mexico with exactly the same equipment, and I must say, that I've never travelled with a more versatile camera/lens combo. Totally I've pressed the shutter 4000 times, and the exposure of the D200 (on aparture priority) never failed once.
The 18-200 is a very ideel lens, good close-up distance, vere effective VR and nice to have a 300mm (eqvi) to frame a stunning sun-set og isolate an interesting face.
I've used the 18-200 on 90% of my shooting, and those shot I made with the 12-24 was inside markets, in narrow streets and in various transportation-vechicle.

In a few weeks i'll put up some of the results from Mexico on my website:
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Regards

Ole Bo Jensen
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ed_raduns

New Member
Hi guys: I have been using the D 200, 18-200 VR Zoom for about 3 weeks, and have shot abouyt 400 pictures. MOST of the photos are not sharp, without using photoshop sharpening. Yes if you want a 4x6 print they are fine, but if your gonna go to 13 x 19 you got a problem. I have been shooting the finest JPEG at the highest resolution but the results Not critically sharp. I wonder if its the Lens,camera,me or a combination.
 

lnbolch

Well-Known Member
Try some using a tripod. One of the prime destroyers of sharpness is camera movement. It will reduce the sharpest lens and most accurate focus to mush.

In 35mm photography, there is a rule of thumb on shutter speeds. The minimum speed one should attempt to hand hold is 1/focal length. Therefor if one is shooting with a 200mm lens, anything below 1/200th of a second gets chancey. Since the D200 has a 1.5x cropping factor, that would translate into 1/300th for a 200mm lens. Obviously, the longer the focal length, the more difficult it is to hold the camera perfectly steady. The VR lens should grant you at least two or three EV slower shutter speeds with VR working. However, it has its limits too.

It is the nature of digital imaging that sharpening is pretty much universally required. The sensor is a mosaic of tiny photosites usually with red, green and blue filters. They read the colour information for each pixel from slightly offset positions, plus there is generally an anti-aliasing filter over them. With film, all colours are read by layers sensitive to red, green and blue. Since they are layers, they read the colours at the same axis spot relative to the film's dimensions.

I really have never liked the sharpening built into any camera I have used, or any scanner for that matter. I keep it turned off, and apply it to images in Photoshop, optimizing it for the needs of the individual image. I get very good results in Lab colour mode.

Lab mode deals with lightness and colour independently. If one sharpens in RGB mode - in camera or in Photoshop - it tends to put bright desaturated haloes around detail and the picture looks "sharpened" rather than sharp.

Go into Lab mode [Image->Mode->Lab Color].

Select the Lighness channel either from the Channel Palette or by hitting [Ctrl+1]. You should see a B&W image.

Select the Unsharp Mask filter [Filter->Sharpen->Unsharp Mask] and set the threshold to zero, the radius to 0.25 (yes, sub-pixel level) and the amount to the minimum to make the image look sharp. This is generally between 100 and 500 depending upon a whole slew of factors. Use the least that will do the job. Return to all channels either through the palette or [Ctrl+~]

Film accutance is defined as edge contrast - it is what makes film look sharp far more than high resolution. This closely resembles the look of accutance and makes the image look sharp rather than sharpened. Since you sharpen ONLY the lighteness channel, the colour channels retain their colour and saturation.

This method will not save a shot with terminal motion blur however, though it may help a bit. The key is to keep your shutter speeds up when shooting on location. Use a tripod or monopod as much as possible, and if not possible try to rest your hands on something or even lean against a wall, post or tree for added steadiness. Do careful testing with the VR lens, to determine what the actual limits are at various focal lengths. In fact the first thousand or so shots with a new digital body should be devoted to testing and fine tuning the settings to your preferences and requirements.

Always be aware of your shutter speed. Over the decades unless shooting with manual cameras, I have shot almost exclusively on aperture priority, which will always give me the highest possible shutter speed in any situation. Even so, I am always aware what the shutter speed is.

larry!

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ICQ 76620504
 

olebojensen

Active Member
Hi Ed

Sorry to hear about your problems. I have now taken 5000+ pictures with the combo with no problems.
I wonder though, if this is your first D-SLR and if you are used to compact digital cameras. I ask you because I myself had a similar problem, when I entered the D-slr world (D70 + kit) after having been using a Coolpix 5400.
I then asked myself and others why the images from a D-slr was more blurry than of the CP-5400. Tha answer I got was that generally the D-SLR images was less sharpened than from the more camera-to-printer oriented Coolpix, and that the usage of the pictures from a D-SLR often would need post-processing to get to their finest of presence.
1. Try shooting in RAW, there is a very big difference in the way Nikon Capture processes your images compared to the built-in computer.
2. Set the camera sharpening to high.
3. If this doesnt work, send me an image and I'll evaluate the result compared to my own combo.

Regards

Ole
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gjames52

Well-Known Member
Don:

When following Larry's good advice, be sure to turn off the VR when using a tripod.


Good Luck:

Gilbert
 

don_c

Member
Thanks Gilbert I will do that but this time it wasn't me that was having the problem. I did read what Larry had to say and it made a lot of sense however.
 

coyot

Well-Known Member
I have read that you should use the unsharpen mask for better images at the camera level. My D200 is sharp w/ the 17-55, but the colors are a bit muted ... which is fair since I am just using the "normal" color capture mode w/ adobe colorspace.

This shot is straight from the camera w/ no corrections. Taken at 5.6, 1/20th with a tripod ISO 100.


Michael.
 

lnbolch

Well-Known Member
Darkroom 101 says that every shot should have at least a little white and a little black for reference. In practice, this is not always the case, but most images need a full dynamic range or they look dull. In this case, your highest luminance value is only around 220 out of 255. There are a few specular highlights in the 220 to 255 range which need to go to pure white anyway. Setting the luminance for about 225 makes the picture come alive. A slight bump of the gamma opens up the shadow areas and does away with any harshness. A bit of added saturation will also help.

This is NOT something the camera should do. The subject was of limited contrast range and the camera reproduced it accurately. Film would have provided similar results. This is what you want. It is an excellent exposure - an ideal starting point for fine tuning in Photoshop or your image processor of choice. Image processing and shooting are simply the inseperable two sides of the same coin and have been, since Fox Talbot make the first negative/positive print 170 years ago. Some things are best done with the camera, others in processing.

Photoshop should not have to make major corrections, but simply fine tune the image, as in this case. No different than working in the fume-room. The key is to get excellent exposures such as this on site. When shooting, concentrate on the capture of the content at this quality level. In the digital darkroom, you have the time to contemplate and refine the image. In musical terms, Ansel Adams stated it so well: "The exposure is the score, but the print is the performance". In this case, you have an excellent score to perform

As I stated in an earlier message, I really don't like the look of in-camera sharpening. It uses RGB and tends to look phony. Doing it in the digital darkroom allows one to fine tune it to the needs of the individual image. In many cases, I do not do sharpening globally, but in the case of a person of mature years, may confine it to the eyes, eyebrows. teeth and hair.

larry!

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ICQ 76620504
 

coyot

Well-Known Member
Larry,

Great comments. Thanks. When you said "your highest luminance value is only around 220 out of 255.
There are a few specular highlights in the 220 to 255 range which need
to go to pure white anyway. Setting the luminance for about 225 makes
the picture come alive", what tool did you use to determine the range? Photoshop?

Yes, this was the original image w/o any photshop changes. I made a 2x3 foot print which was very sharp, running it throug Genuine Fractials to produce a 200 megabyte file. I only slightly bumped the contrast to give it a bit more "pop".

I also have always resisted "sharpening" in the camera and leave it to photoshop. I read a review which did, though suggest better results using the unsharp mask in the camera.

Thanks for your comments.

Michael.
 
T

tomh1958

Larry, you have been a big help to me in the past and wondered if you could recommend a good source of info for the use of the unsharp mask. I am especially unsure about parameters and how they affect the image. I use Corel Paint Shop Pro X and find some of their info confusing. Do you know of a link or book that goes into digital editing clearly with detail? Thanks. Tom
 

lnbolch

Well-Known Member
Nope, but perhaps I can help. Unfortunately, PSP does not use Lab Mode like Photoshop, but the following does take up some of the slack. On the unsharp mask dialogue, there is a selection that says "Luminance only" make sure you click it. If you don't, sharpening will make changes in saturation and overall tonality.

There is also a little tab in the lower right hand corner of the window that allows you to pull it to get a much larger view of the two windows to compare - do so.

While I would recommend at starting radius of 0.25 with Photoshop, that radius seems to have little effect in PSP. Instead, set the radius for 0.5 or 0.6 and the strength at 500. I have never found much use for the clipping setting, so leave it at zero.

Now watch the right-hand window and begin reducing the strength to the minimum point where the picture looks sharp. You can tug the strength slider back and forth until it looks right to you. You can be fairly bold with it, since at a sub-pixel level, large changes make quite subtle differences.

To compare the subtlety of sub-pixel sharpening, try one with a radius of two pixels instead. Things get REALLY ugly as the radius grows larger. Grain or noise is also much more emphasized with larger radii. However, if the picture is still soft at 0.6 and 500, the only course of action is to go to 0.7 or higher. Do it 0.1 at time.

Practice with it on a variety of images, and in the end trust your eyes. Hope this will do it for you.

As an aside, the term "unsharp mask" seems an oxymoron. It comes from the film darkroom. Kodak made a film called "Unsharp Masking Film", which when exposed and developed produced a soft fuzzy negative image. This was put in contact with the original image in perfect register and the sandwich was printed on somewhat higher contrast material. It worked just like the digital version.

You can actually try it virtually in PSP. Duplicate the background layer, and select the duplicate. Reverse it to negative, and blur it - say a 3 pixel Gaussian blur. Pull the layer slider to around 40% and you will see a rather muddy version that is positive. Merge the layers and use Histogram Adjustment to bring it back to full dynamic range. You will have a much sharper image, using an ACTUAL unsharp mask, just as dye transfer printers used on a daily basis in their darkrooms. It is a lot more bother, but does a decent job.

larry!
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ICQ 76620504
 

don_c

Member
I have had on order the new Nikon 70mm-300 mm lens. Has anyone seen this lens yet or even better has anyone used it yet?
 

ncee

Member
So far I love my 18-200 and I have printed dozens of prints at 13x19 without a problem.

Most shots have been hand-held, and most with VR on.

Here are the last 2 I took and printed out. Not great shots, but they printed out great.

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Epson 4000 series printer

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ncee

Member
70-300 lens

I have that lens, and so far, it's very nice. I haven't spent the time with it, that I want to, but I do like the lens.

I'll check and see if I have any shots I can post later.

I'm just a beginner at this, so don't expect much … the doctor told me to have fun, and I am.

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lnbolch

Well-Known Member
On the subject of lenses, I was quit delighted with the ease with which I can use my old manual lenses - some of which are superb. One needs to tell the camera what lens is mounted, shoot in aperture priority - which I do anyway - and they meter just fine. When first mounting the lens, select the "Non CPU Lens Data" item from the menu. A sub-menu shows three ranges so one need not page through dozens of focal lengths. Select the focal length and the widest aperture of the lens you are mounting.

In subsequent uses, when you select the focal length, it will remember the aperture making mounting quick. The Non CPU menu item will also show on the Recent Settings menu, which also cuts mounting time.

I was worried about the focusing screen, since most dSLRS regard the screen just as a viewing screen. There have been many reports of difficulty in focusing manual lenses. There is a third party replacement screen, but so far I have had zero problems focusing the D200. It also has a green LED as an "electronic rangefinder" that glows steadily when the lens is perfectly focused.

My f-2.0 24mm lens produces low contrast. I was never very happy with the lens on film, and it probably sets up reflection feedback between its real element and the sensor. The 28mm PC-Nikkor is an early one and the manual said it should not be used. However, if one enters the f-stop at which one plans to shoot, it works well as a super-sharp semiwide-angle lens. The shift does not work well at all.

All other lenses work fine. The 35mm f-2.0 becomes a very sharp normal lens. It also works perfectly with my Pentax Stereo Photography attachment, doing stereo pairs without vignetting. The 55mm MicroNikkor an 82.5mm macro-capable all around lens. With the fast aperture of the 105mm f-1.8 now functioning as a 157mm lens, it is very easy to isolate a subject from both foreground and background. The 200mm f-2.8 becomes a fast 300mm lens.

I needed a super-telephoto a long time back to compress perspective, filling the whole frame with the signs of Las Vegas for a travel magazine. As luck would have it, Perkin Elmer had set out to create the ultimate 600mm telephoto, which the marketed through Vivitar as a Series I. (Perkin Elmer also built the Hubble Space Telescope.) It is a mirror lens that is almost solid glass, so can not go out of alignment.

I had rarely used it after the assignment, but have been having a blast with it on the D200, where it is now a 900mm in effect. Using the middle of the image circle, the images are amazingly sharp. Of course, a high shutter speed is needed - even off a monopod - and focus is critical.

Finally, I dug to the bottom of the box and came up with a neat lens I bought a very long time ago. It is a soft-focus lens from Spiratone - not sure if they are even still around. It is basically just a 100mm focal-length magnifying glass with every kind of aberration one could imagine, on a simple focusing mount. Works fine and I used it for some informal portraits over the weekend that came out quite nicely. I think it cost all of about $25US at the time I bought it.

So with the reservations above, the manual lenses that have been gathering dust for the past half dozen years are back in service. As top-notch primes, their performance is little short of stunning when it comes to sharpness and detail.

larry!
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