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  ronners 2009-06-16 16:24

Hi Dan,

I'm not sure how easy this will be to take, but the quality of your composition is much better than the quality of your equipment. I'm struggling to find any sharp part of this image - the flat metal has some detail but there is a lot of sharpness fall off in the top right and lower left hand corners (which I wouldn't normally expect at that focal length) and the cabling is particularly flat. I think it may be a good time to upgrade to better glass my friend.

Ron.

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Old 06-17-2009, 02:26 AM
Wandering_Dan Wandering_Dan is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 451
Default To ronners: Sharpness is a sore point

Hi, Ron -

You touch on a longstanding sore point with me; sharpness has been an issue I've been struggling with for some time, and even now I am researching various different lenses. However, the Nikon 18-70 f3.5/5.6, even though a kit lens, has a reputation for being one of the sharper.

A number of things to keep in mind about this photo: First, dirt and rocks in the crevices will mute the sharpness. Second, although I was shooting at f11, it was a close-in shot, so DOF was more shallow than you might have expected. Also, images in RAW are going to be softer than JPEG (no in-camera sharpening, and the sensors also sacrifice some sharpness for color). And finally, like many others here, I post my images at 72 dpi, which also cuts sharpness.

But none of that necessarily negates your comment. I looked at the original RAW image under 100% magnification (which is really the only way to tell, and not available to the TE viewer), and I am troubled by the lack of sharpness, which I think goes beyond the effect of RAW. (Though the dirt issue still remains valid, I think.) I have posted another image from that same trip, a bristlecone pine tree - a closeup of the tree rings, which should be a better test of sharpness.

I would appreciate it if you would check that image out and give me your opinion.

Thanks,
Dan
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Old 06-18-2009, 03:48 PM
ronners ronners is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 350
Default Re: To ronners: Sharpness is a sore point

Hi Dan,

First of all, thanks for taking the critique in the spirit it was intended :)

What I've found over the years is that sharpness is influenced by a number of factors - light conditions, exposure settings, lens, processing (whether in-camera or not), etc. etc. Your Bristlecone pine shot is much better, and it's definitely helped by the exposure (i.e. you're not losing detail in highlights).

About a year ago I actually switched from my 'ancient' Nikon D100 to a Mamiya 645 with prime lenses, and even with manual focus my images are significantly sharper with more depth. On a trip late last year to Arizona/Utah I actually took the D100 as a backup and I had the luxury to compare the D100 RAW shots with the Mamiya film scans (a mixture of Kodak TMax 100 and Portra 160VC). There's something intangible about the film results that I was never able to quite capture in 6 years with the D100. Prints are also fabulously detailed - I've tried many up to 11x14 so far but could no doubt go further. It's also worth noting that I don't do much sharpening of the Mamiya scans - a little perhaps in the scanner but not too much afterward in post-processing.

In the gallery on my web page (http://www.ronaldcraig.com/galleries/black-and-white/index.html) there's a detail shot taken at Canyon de Chelly in Arizona (the second image in the B&W gallery). There is a huge amount of detail with glistening quartz etc. in the 11x14 print.

All in all, my point here is that options other than digital are available to you if you are prepared to get your hands dirty with a few chemicals. Excellent quality equipment can be picked up used at bargain prices these days (the 80mm standard lens I used for the Canyon de Chelly image goes for about $150 or so). My feeling is that this is an option that should be considered seriously if you are interested in taking your work to the next level. If you are interested and want more details on the 'hybrid flow' I use let me know.

In the meantime keep up the good work. If you ever find yourself on California's Pacific Coast I can probably point you to some good spots.

Cheers,

Ron.
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Old 06-18-2009, 04:47 PM
Wandering_Dan Wandering_Dan is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 451
Default Re: To ronners: Sharpness is a sore point

Hi, Ron -

First, thanks for your comments, both this one and the original one.

I started to write a long reply here, but I decided it was getting too long, and personal enough that it was no longer really appropriate for a public TE discussion where others are expected to join in. I would definitely like to continue the conversation, but via email. I've posted my reply via your website's email page; if you don't get it, let me know.

For public consumption, then, let me just say that I've seen your website, as well as the one photo you've posted here, and ask: Why aren't you posting more?

OK, one other public point: The D100 could never rival film; however, advances in digital technology since then (even the D70 and the D80 are better, and the D3 is superb) have made a number of film people (not the medium format ones, though) switch to digital full or part time.

Best,
Dan
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