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Author Topic: f16 - too soft?  (Read 8441 times)

trevarthan

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f16 - too soft?
« on: August 01, 2014, 03:08:51 pm »

I've been using my 24mm PC-e on a Nikon D810 with a 105mm Polarizer on the Lee Foundation Kit front ring adapter (usually with two slots installed on the lee kit, but no filters in them). I've shot two scenes at f16 using the DOF scale on the lens to keep everything in "reasonable focus" with a 15 to 30 second exposure recently, in RAW, and edited using Lightroom CC. Both images were too soft for microstock.

This waterfall photo, in particular, was abnormally soft, I thought (I actually took this with the third stack of filter holders installed in the Lee Kit - would that make a difference?):
Benton Falls by Trevarthan, on Flickr

The guy at Shutterstock was kind enough to send me a 100% crop so I can be lazy and not make one myself:

(I can just barely see some blur there - it makes my brain hurt a bit for some reason)

I recently submitted that file for the third time, this time downsampling from full res to 24mp, hoping that would be adequate.

Is f16 just too soft for stock? Or am I doing something wrong? Should I be using f8 and focus stacking instead? What's the best way to get the best result in the majority of circumstances?
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Bart_van_der_Wolf

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Re: f16 - too soft?
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2014, 03:23:09 pm »

Is f16 just too soft for stock? Or am I doing something wrong? Should I be using f8 and focus stacking instead? What's the best way to get the best result in the majority of circumstances?

The D800/800E/810, will start losing microcontrast with f5.6 or narrower apertures. A lot of that can be restored with proper Capture sharpening. F/16 is pushing it, and is much more difficult than f/11, because some detail can no longer be recovered in most cases.

Other than that, a bit of deconvolution sharpening will drastically improve the image, without producing offensive (to stock agencies) halos. See attached example.

Cheers,
Bart
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trevarthan

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Re: f16 - too soft?
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2014, 03:59:50 pm »

The D800/800E/810, will start losing microcontrast with f5.6 or narrower apertures. A lot of that can be restored with proper Capture sharpening. F/16 is pushing it, and is much more difficult than f/11, because some detail can no longer be recovered in most cases.

Other than that, a bit of deconvolution sharpening will drastically improve the image, without producing offensive (to stock agencies) halos. See attached example.

Cheers,
Bart

That looks quite good. How did you do that?
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Bart_van_der_Wolf

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Re: f16 - too soft?
« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2014, 04:08:57 pm »

That looks quite good. How did you do that?

FocusMagic to restore resolution from diffraction blur, and a Blend-if layer at 80% reduced opacity, both to mitigate the risk of clipping the sharpened high/low lights. There is more that could be done, but that would require the 16-bit/channel source image, rather than a JPEG as input.

Cheers,
Bart
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trevarthan

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Re: f16 - too soft?
« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2014, 04:20:48 pm »

FocusMagic to restore resolution from diffraction blur, and a Blend-if layer at 80% reduced opacity, both to mitigate the risk of clipping the sharpened high/low lights. There is more that could be done, but that would require the 16-bit/channel source image, rather than a JPEG as input.

Cheers,
Bart

This FocusMagic? http://www.focusmagic.com/
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Bart_van_der_Wolf

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Re: f16 - too soft?
« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2014, 04:33:08 pm »

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trevarthan

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Re: f16 - too soft?
« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2014, 04:39:26 pm »

Yes!

Ok. Looks fairly inexpensive, so I'll consider it. I'd like to focus on how to get better images in camera though. Could I have used tilt on the PC-e and maybe f8? Or maybe focus stacking? The PC-e doesn't have a DOF Scale mark for f11, just f16 and f8, so I'm not sure how I could use f11 reliably.
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BernardLanguillier

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Re: f16 - too soft?
« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2014, 05:25:39 pm »

This is a very easy case for DoF stacking.

I would think that 5 images at f6.3 will have enough overlap.

Helicon focus is a bit expensive, but V6 works real well and would crunch a perfect image in less than one minute.

Cheers,
Bernard

Theodoros

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Re: f16 - too soft?
« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2014, 05:33:16 pm »

How many degrees did you tilted your lens?  ::)
 
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fdisilvestro

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Re: f16 - too soft?
« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2014, 06:53:26 pm »

The PC-e doesn't have a DOF Scale mark for f11, just f16 and f8, so I'm not sure how I could use f11 reliably.

Do not rely on the DOF scale mark on the lens. The criteria used for those scales is a 8"x10" print viewed at a distance of 10" ~ 12". That is far (very) from 100% in a 36MP image.

new_haven

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Re: f16 - too soft?
« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2014, 06:58:34 pm »

I agree with the previous post.

It doesn't seem like you're using tilt. The dof scale on the lens is calculated for a film standard. If someone is viewing the file at 100%, it would be better to calculate dof with a smaller circle of confusion. Instead of a hyperfocal distance of 4' for 24mm, for a d800 it could be closer to 8'. But using live view with magnification is probably the best way to make sure everything is sharp enough.
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Theodoros

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Re: f16 - too soft?
« Reply #11 on: August 01, 2014, 07:34:55 pm »

The D800/800E/810, will start losing microcontrast with f5.6 or narrower apertures. A lot of that can be restored with proper Capture sharpening. F/16 is pushing it, and is much more difficult than f/11, because some detail can no longer be recovered in most cases.

Other than that, a bit of deconvolution sharpening will drastically improve the image, without producing offensive (to stock agencies) halos. See attached example.

Cheers,
Bart
But Baaaart...., ...you've ended the "subject"!  ;)
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trevarthan

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Re: f16 - too soft?
« Reply #12 on: August 01, 2014, 10:04:17 pm »

This is a very easy case for DoF stacking.

I would think that 5 images at f6.3 will have enough overlap.

Helicon focus is a bit expensive, but V6 works real well and would crunch a perfect image in less than one minute.

Cheers,
Bernard



So.... this waterfall image would work well for focus stacking because the light is pretty consistent, but would sunsets work? Wouldn't the light change too quickly?

According to this, I don't need Helicon. I just need Photoshop, which I already have: http://digital-photography-school.com/getting-landscapes-sharp-focus-stacking/
« Last Edit: August 01, 2014, 10:18:32 pm by trevarthan »
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BernardLanguillier

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Re: f16 - too soft?
« Reply #13 on: August 01, 2014, 11:13:33 pm »


So.... this waterfall image would work well for focus stacking because the light is pretty consistent, but would sunsets work? Wouldn't the light change too quickly?

According to this, I don't need Helicon. I just need Photoshop, which I already have: http://digital-photography-school.com/getting-landscapes-sharp-focus-stacking/

You need to keep the exposures reasonably short, but it is often not a problem because
1. You use an aperture like f8,
2. Raising the ISO up to 400 ISO is often manageable from an image quality standpoint,
3. You can capture the sky in a single image (several if you combine this with a stitch),

Cheers,
Bernard

trevarthan

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Re: f16 - too soft?
« Reply #14 on: August 01, 2014, 11:48:01 pm »

How many degrees did you tilted your lens?  ::)
 

I didn't, because I'm not very good with it. I'm useless with it outside a studio tabletop environment or simple perspective corrections. Takes forever to get the focus plane right. I thought I could get away with f16, but it looks like that won't work if I want the best quality images. I'm starting to think I just need to master the tilt shift lenses I have for now. Maybe that would solve my focus problems in the majority of landscape scenes by allowing me to use f8. I was brushing up on my movement theory this evening. Might be time to just practice until I'm proficient.
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BernardLanguillier

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Re: f16 - too soft?
« Reply #15 on: August 02, 2014, 01:14:15 am »

I believe that the split screen zoom capability of the D810 in live view in portrait mode makes it really easy to use with T/S lenses.

I need to try that with my 24mm.

Cheers,
Bernard

MrSmith

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Re: f16 - too soft?
« Reply #16 on: August 02, 2014, 04:15:18 am »

Does the 810 not have focus peaking? That's the best way to see the plane of sharpness move across the image as you tilt.
Not used photoshop to stack for landscapes but in the studio I found helicon focus did a far better job than photoshop and with less errors especially for complex images.
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BernardLanguillier

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Re: f16 - too soft?
« Reply #17 on: August 02, 2014, 08:30:40 am »

Does the 810 not have focus peaking? That's the best way to see the plane of sharpness move across the image as you tilt.

No, it doesn't unfortunately.

Cheers,
Bernard

Herbc

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Re: f16 - too soft?
« Reply #18 on: August 02, 2014, 12:18:28 pm »

Focus peaking is available if you spend the $500 for the Sony 5 inch EVF - as my eyesight deteriorates,
it is a godsend on my D800E.
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trevarthan

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Re: f16 - too soft?
« Reply #19 on: August 02, 2014, 12:58:13 pm »

Focus peaking is available if you spend the $500 for the Sony 5 inch EVF - as my eyesight deteriorates,
it is a godsend on my D800E.

Do you have a link to that? I'm intrigued.

I believe that the split screen zoom capability of the D810 in live view in portrait mode makes it really easy to use with T/S lenses.

I need to try that with my 24mm.

Cheers,
Bernard

I've been playing with my 24mm PC-e and the d810 live view today, using my dining room table as a subject. Yeah, split screen only works for portrait orientation because the split is locked on the horizontal axis. Stupid limitation, IMO. I hope they fix that in a firmware update.

I really, REALLY miss live view zoom with wheel functionality from my D3s. Pushing the zoom in and out buttons repeatedly is way slower. Only a matter of time before they're using electrostatic touch pads like the ipad and double tap zoom.

I found the exposure meter/preview in live view (OK button). That helps a lot.

Also found the accelerometer level in live view. That thing is awesome. I think that eliminates the need for a flash shoe level.

Wish zebra stripes from the video mode live view worked on still frame live view. Another silly limitation I hope they fix in a firmware update.

I also swapped my 24mm PC-e with a screwdriver to shift and tilt in the same plane. I think that will help for landscapes. Luckily I didn't strip any screws. Tried the same thing on my 85mm PC-e and stripped two screws. I'll have to either drill them out or send them to Nikon for service. Too much lock tite. Lame. This needs to be a button feature, not a service call.

My gear head for my tripod hasn't arrived yet, so I had to measure the camera angle with a protractor. I think I finally got a successful tilt focus at 55 degrees tripod tilt and 3 degrees lens tilt. I'm trying to wrap my head around how the heck I'm going to use this to photograph landscapes in the field. Practice, I guess. I need a lot of practice. Also, is there a chart or something? Or an app for iphone to preview tilt DOF?
« Last Edit: August 02, 2014, 01:15:01 pm by trevarthan »
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