Go Back   Steve's Digicams Forums > Digicam Help > What Camera Should I Buy?

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old Jan 14, 2011, 7:24 AM   #11
Senior Member
 
TCav's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Washington, DC, Metro Area, Maryland
Posts: 13,543
Default

I'm sorry that you're having trouble with your D200. It was a fine camera in it's day, though there are certainly better ones now. You did not elaborate on the lens(es) you've got, and that information might help with identifying the problem, along with seeing some of the photos you've taken and are less than satisfied with. Also, if you've got any really good lenses, it would be a shame to abandon them by switching to a different brand with your next dSLR purchase.

Can you list your current glass, and post a few of your more recent shots that didn't turn out as well as you would have liked?

In general, any mid-level dSLR set on P-Mode, AUTO, or any of the Scene Modes (if it has them) should produce more than just acceptable results, when paired with mid-level glass.

I'm curious about how your eyesight might affect your results.
Quote:
Originally Posted by PeterD View Post
... I don't wear my glasses when I'm out shooting so having 2000 pieces of miniscule information in the viewfinder is pointless. ...
Have you adjusted the diopter on the viewfinder for your eyesight? Does it's range include a setting that might make the viewfinder more clear? If not, are you using or have you considered any of the correcting eyepieces?
__________________
  • The lens is the thing.
  • 'Full Frame' is the new 'Medium Format'.
  • "One good test is worth a thousand expert opinions." - Tex Johnston, Boeing 707 test pilot.
TCav is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jan 14, 2011, 8:13 AM   #12
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: south-central PA
Posts: 55
Default

Peter, I can't recall this or not, but did you say you've tried just using your "auto" settings and are still not getting good results?
amc654 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jan 14, 2011, 8:25 AM   #13
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 9
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by TCav View Post
Can you list your current glass, and post a few of your more recent shots that didn't turn out as well as you would have liked?

In general, any mid-level dSLR set on P-Mode, AUTO, or any of the Scene Modes (if it has them) should produce more than just acceptable results, when paired with mid-level glass.

I'm curious about how your eyesight might affect your results.


Have you adjusted the diopter on the viewfinder for your eyesight? Does it's range include a setting that might make the viewfinder more clear? If not, are you using or have you considered any of the correcting eyepieces?
As to my glass, I have four lenses at present. The original-issue 18-200 f/4-5.6 VR (not the new VRII), the 12-24 f/4, and two $50 cheapies: 50mm f/1.8 and 85mm f/1.8. I rarely use the two primes for anything PITA factor of lens-swapping is too high, and both lenses are far too long for what I love to shoot, namely landscapes and cityscapes.

As for the diopter setting, that's all fine if I'm wearing my eyeglasses when shooting--but since the only thing I need glasses for is close-in vision, I have to focus and frame the subject without the glasses, then put the glasses on to mess with the settings and view the results afterward. It's a massive PITA and I only go through the whole rigmarole if I'm shooting something spectacular.

I will try to upload some pictures early next week (I'm currently packing for a business conference that will last the weekend) and see if perhaps the kind folk on this forum can figure out what's going wrong. Most often times the images just don't have any pop to them. They're flat, dull and lifeless. I'm also not sure I know how to describe this, but when I'm talking about focus issues, in my mind there's "in-focus" and "razor-sharp focus." I've never once gotten the latter with my digital gear.
PeterD is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jan 14, 2011, 8:32 AM   #14
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 9
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by amc654 View Post
Peter, I can't recall this or not, but did you say you've tried just using your "auto" settings and are still not getting good results?
I usually use Aperture Priority for DoF control and I sometimes switch to Shutter Priority to capture motion and in the low light I usually experience on cloudy days.

My "geezer-factor" kicks in at this point, though, and I simply forget I've switched modes until I've fired off 20 or 30 frames in the wrong mode and they're all blurry. Having lots of cool toys on a camera is a great thing if you have the presence of mind to set them all before shooting. I'm generally not that on-the-ball most days, I'm sorry to say .
PeterD is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jan 14, 2011, 8:43 AM   #15
Administrator
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Savannah, GA (USA)
Posts: 22,378
Default

It sounds like you're mostly interested in Landscapes, so things like ISO speed are probably not a factor unless you're taking them in lower lighting.

If you're trying to use the D200 in the same way you used your older manual focus cameras, then I can understand having some issues (as the focus screens are really not good enough for manual focus). I'd stick to Autofocus with it.

What happens if you just set it on Auto and take the photos?

Note that if you're using Aperture Priority, make sure you don't stop down the Aperture too much (as you'll end up with softer images from diffraction). Rarely would I stop down a lens to more than around f/11 using a camera with an APS-C size sensor for something like a landscape photo.

Also, for what it's worth, the 18-200mm is not the greatest lens in the world. It's not really bad considering the convenience factor of being able to cover a wider focal range, but there are better lenses around. You'll tend to get better photos from a zoom with less ambitious focal range from wide to long.

But, I'm not convinced the lens is the issue.

As others have suggested, I'd post some samples of images you're having issues with. I'd downsize them first using something like the free Irfanview. Get it here:

http://www.irfanview.com/

Basically, just open an image (File>Open) and go to the Image>Resize/Resample menu choice. Then, make sure the "Preserve Aspect Ratio" box is checked and plug in something like 800 pixels for the longest side and click Apply.

Then, use the File>Save As menu choice and give it a new filename (so that you're not overwriting the original), using a JPEG quality setting of about 80% (you'll see a slider that pops up for that purpose when saving a jpeg image).

Then, if you type a new post, make sure to click the "Go Advanced" option you'll see here and use the Paperclip icon to browse for the new filename and attach it to a forum post here.

That way, we can get an idea of what you're seeing from your D200.

Also, what viewing sizes are you using? A lot of 35mm camera users are trying to look at their digital camera images at 100% viewing size on screen, wondering why their images don't look as good as the prints they were making from their 35mm camera. Keep in mind that a 100% viewing size on screen is a "huge" image (think poster size). View it at the sizes you'll use (and even then, you really need to print the images to see the quality the camera can produce).

How about filters on your lenses?

It's not uncommon for some filters to degrade image quality with digital. For example, I personally never use a UV filter, as they're not really needed with modern digital cameras and can do more harm than good (for example, increased veiling flare, causing a "washed out" look to images if brighter light sources are near the frame). That could be partially responsible for your "flat" images. Make sure to use a hood to shield the lens optics from direct light sources when possible, too.

Note that your camera does have settings so you can change things like Contrast, Sharpening, Saturation and more.

Most dSLR models in the same class as your D200 leave those types of things at relatively conservative settings. That's because you can cause issues like loss of shadow and highlight detail if contrast is set too high, sharpening artifacts at high contrast edges if sharpening is set too high, blown channels if saturation is set too high, etc. Most point and shoot models use much higher defaults for the way they process images.

Given that you don't like the default images, I'd try increasing some of those values and see what you get.
JimC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jan 14, 2011, 8:55 AM   #16
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 9
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by peripatetic View Post
I think possibly the thing that you are missing is on the processing side. Unless for some reason there is actually something wrong with your D200 you should be getting exceptionally sharp images with what you already have. A program like Lightroom or Aperture would probably solve all your problems, but they are not zero-effort, you do need to invest a little while in learning how to use them.
I use Lightroom for cataloging and tweaking exposure but it can't make a blurry or even slightly-fuzzy image jump off the page/screen.

Quote:
Originally Posted by peripatetic View Post
I guess my first question is what kind of output you need? Web only, viewing on an iPad, 4x6" prints, 8x12" prints, 20x30" prints?
75% Web only (to illustrate points I'm trying to make or to post "look at this!" images on Facebook; 20% 8.5 x 11 prints to show friends and 5% will make it to large-format enlargements to hang on the walls and get framed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by peripatetic View Post
My inclination is to say simply this:
Nikon D700 + 24-70mm f2.8 + Adobe Lightroom + Luminous Landscape Lightroom Tutorial Videos. Shoot RAW only in Program or Aperture mode with Auto-ISO and you will absolutely get what you are looking for.

(Add a 70-300mm VR zoom if you think you will need occasional telephoto shots. Keep your 12-24. Sell the D200 + 18-200.)
Wow. If you're buyin', sure . This first kit came courtesy of State Farm insurance after my beloved F2/FM2 got nicked in a burglary. Cost will be a consideration. I'm not a professional-quality shooter. I take holiday snaps, pics of our kitties, the aftermath of snowstorms, our yearly back yard garden escapades and that's about it. I don't "make photographs," I take snapshots. I just want crisp, sharp snapshots!

Quote:
Originally Posted by peripatetic View Post
Two slightly off-the-wall options:

1. Get a Leica M9 and a couple of lenses. Manual focus only and rangefinder, but if you can live with that limitation a truly spectacular camera. For your purposes possibly ideal.

2. Go back to a film camera. Get your images processed and scanned at the same time. For the volumes that you shoot this is not going to be expensive, and may indeed end up being quite a lot cheaper. You could go for a Nikon F6 (new) or a used older Nikon. Keep your 12-24, and possibly add a couple of new or used lenses to suit. Once again the 24-70 f2.8 is a real cracker. Or of course a Leica M7 or MP would be fine too.
I do like the Leica M9 or M7 suggestion actually and I may seriously consider going that route as soon as the lottery ticket hits or your cheque arrives . Seriously, though, a rangefinder with the highest-end glass is probably just fine for my needs and that would probably be my best route.

Film is an option, but costs would be nasty. I shoot thousands of pics in the week or two I'm on hols. In Colorado three summers ago I fired of 3800 frames in four days. I think I got 100 printable keepers out of that whole thing and about 10 are on the wall. Electrons are cheaper than silver!
PeterD is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jan 14, 2011, 9:09 AM   #17
Administrator
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Savannah, GA (USA)
Posts: 22,378
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by JimC View Post
Note that if you're using Aperture Priority, make sure you don't stop down the Aperture too much (as you'll end up with softer images from diffraction). Rarely would I stop down a lens to more than around f/11 using a camera with an APS-C size sensor for something like a landscape photo.
If you look at this review of your 18-200mm, you'll see a blur index chart you can click on that has a sliders for focal length and aperture. Note that once you go much past f/8 or f/11 at wider focal lengths with that lens, it starts to get softer. You'll see similar results from most others lenses on cameras with an APS-C size sensor at the same focal lengths.

http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showp...uct/250/cat/13

So, if you're trying to do something like use f/16+, that's probably a bad idea unless you really need that much depth of field (macros or when you're trying to capture something very close and very far away and have both sharper).

Note that because your D200 uses an APS-C size sensor, you'll have more depth of field for a given aperture and subject framing, as compared to a 35mm camera. Select your camera model using this tool to get a better idea of how that works (keeping in mind that you'll have a narrower angle of view, which would mean you'd need to use a shorter focal length lens with a 35mm camera to get the same angle of view from the same focus distance).

http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html

The smaller the sensor or film size, the greater the depth of field for a given aperture and subject framing (and the sensor in your D200 is smaller than 35mm film). The larger the sensor or film size, the shallower the depth of field for a given aperture and subject framing.

Personally, when shooting landscapes, I'll usually just stick to around f/8 or f/11 with most wider lenses, then focus part of the way into the scene (versus trying to focus to infinity), then lock focus with a half press of the shutter button, reframe and shoot.
JimC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jan 14, 2011, 9:10 AM   #18
Senior Member
 
frank-in-toronto's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Toronto Canada
Posts: 1,083
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by JimC View Post
...Most dSLR models in the same class as your D200 leave those types of things at relatively conservative settings...
I think this is it and a little batch pp will make everything ok. but, of course, let's wait to see a typical "pop-less" image.
frank-in-toronto is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jan 14, 2011, 11:32 AM   #19
Senior Member
 
zig-123's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Posts: 5,145
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by PeterD View Post
Hi all. This post may be a bit long but I'm at my wits' end trying to find the correct solution to a complex camera question.

I took the jump into the DSLR world with a D200. I haven't taken a good picture since.

There is simply too much to learn. I'm older, I have ham-hocks for hands, I need strong reading-glasses but have perfect far-vision. In my older gear I had a great needle exposure meter that worked for me. Put the needle in the middle and press the button. Voila. I don't wear my glasses when I'm out shooting so having 2000 pieces of miniscule information in the viewfinder is pointless.

I don't know how to use 99% of the gadgets and doodads on the D200, nor do I wish to learn them. I read the books and sometimes I think I "get it," but since I only use the camera 2 or 3 times a year, by the time I need to to take a quick picture, I've forgotten it all .

This year I'm going to Europe for what will probably be the last time in my life. I want to explore some great French villages, Swiss mountain towns and do some fun stuff in Germany. I do NOT want to spend all my spare time memorizing esoteric features and taking pictures of test-patterns just to take holiday snaps.

I don't mind spending money if the results will be razor-sharp images, but I am unable to achieve this result on my D200 with either the 18-200 or 12-24 lenses that I spent a freakin' fortune on 6 years ago. My wife's pocket camera takes sharper pictures for heaven's sake!

I've been told to fix it in "post." Nope. Don't wanna. Tried unsharping in Photoshop. Too fiddly, too time consuming and I'm just too darned old to get all this.

Is there a digital SLR equivalent of my beloved F2 and FM2? I'm not married to Nikon and will gladly look at other makers. Only result that counts is razor-sharp landscape images. I don't take pictures of people, just my cats and lots of mountains and places I don't want to forget.
Hi Pete,

After reading your post, as I see it, you're a stubborn old coot and I hope you don't mind my saying so as I'm 61.

Buying another hi end camera isn't necessarily the answer as the newer models have more bells and whistles, gadgets, menus, etc. than the camera you have now. It will be just a new camera with a completely different set of menus to learn.

By the way, the camera you have now is really a great camera- one that many people on this forum would love to get their hands on.

(I know this isn't what you want to read)
You may consider joining a camera club in your area or taking some workshops on how to use what you already have. Because the 200 is capable of what you're looking for.

The other alternative, if you really would like to start fresh, is giving serious consideration to an Olympus E-PL2 camera. It is a mirrorless camera that produces amazing results in Auto mode. there are excellent lenses available for it. And, with adapters, you can put on any fancy lens you want onto it.

I have an older version- E-PL1 with an electronic viewfinder and 9-18mm wide angle lens that I use for landscape, seascapes, etc. It produces remarkably sharp images with almost no user intervention. In fact, most all of the time, I set it to auto and fire away.

Not the Leica, but you don't have to hit the lottery either.

I hope you don't mind my good natured ribbing at the beginning.
Zig
__________________
http://scortoncreekgallery.smugmug.com/

So you want to be a better photographer? Open your eyes and take a look at what is all around you.
zig-123 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jan 14, 2011, 12:54 PM   #20
Senior Member
 
TCav's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Washington, DC, Metro Area, Maryland
Posts: 13,543
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by PeterD View Post
As to my glass, I have four lenses at present. The original-issue 18-200 f/4-5.6 VR (not the new VRII), the 12-24 f/4, and two $50 cheapies: 50mm f/1.8 and 85mm f/1.8. I rarely use the two primes for anything PITA factor of lens-swapping is too high, and both lenses are far too long for what I love to shoot, namely landscapes and cityscapes.
The other lenses you've got far surpass the quality of the 18-200. It may be convenient to use, but it's not a very good lens. Can you correlate your satisfaction with the images you capture with the lenses you've used to capture them?

Quote:
Originally Posted by PeterD View Post
As for the diopter setting, that's all fine if I'm wearing my eyeglasses when shooting--but since the only thing I need glasses for is close-in vision, I have to focus and frame the subject without the glasses, then put the glasses on to mess with the settings and view the results afterward. It's a massive PITA and I only go through the whole rigmarole if I'm shooting something spectacular.
The image you see in the viewfinder is from the focusing screen. The indicators in the viewfinder should be justa s clear as the image. If you can take off your glasses to compose, but need to put them back on to see the indicators in the viewfinder, I suggest you set the diopter to see the indicators clearly, and see how sharp the image appears.
__________________
  • The lens is the thing.
  • 'Full Frame' is the new 'Medium Format'.
  • "One good test is worth a thousand expert opinions." - Tex Johnston, Boeing 707 test pilot.
TCav is offline   Reply With Quote
 
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 4:02 PM.