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Author Topic: Focusing landscapes with the nikon D800E question  (Read 4247 times)
nlred
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« on: July 17, 2014, 11:31:34 AM »
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Can someone please explain in a step by step manner where and how to focus landscape pictures with the D800E?

Live view /Manual focus??
Focus 1/3 rd into the frame/ hyperfocal??

I am otherwise using a steady tripod, exposure delay, mirror lockup. Also staying at apertures below 11.
I am having issues with the bottom of the picture being out of focus and unsharp. Tried reading numerous tutorials.

Simple straightforward advise is much appreciated.

Thanks!
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Jim Kasson
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« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2014, 01:52:59 PM »
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Can someone please explain in a step by step manner where and how to focus landscape pictures with the D800E?

Live view /Manual focus??
Focus 1/3 rd into the frame/ hyperfocal??

I am otherwise using a steady tripod, exposure delay, mirror lockup. Also staying at apertures below 11.
I am having issues with the bottom of the picture being out of focus and unsharp. Tried reading numerous tutorials.

Need to do a diagnosis before prescribing treatment. Can you post examples?

If the back of the image is in focus and the front third is OOF, you can:


focus closer (although this can only help so much)
stop down
use a tilting lens
focus stack

But first let's be sure what the problem is.

Jim
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nlred
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« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2014, 09:08:28 PM »
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I chose an autofocus point on the top of the black tombstone.

I find the foreground oof. Here is an image shot at f/11, tripod mounted. This was with a 14-24 Nikon lens.
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Steve Verrall
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« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2014, 10:20:33 PM »
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Hi,

I use the D800E (and the 14-24) and if I want a sharp shot my starting point is to:

  • use a solid tripod
  • use an aperture from f/8 to f/11
  • use a wireless shutter release (or the timer)
  • turn off autofocus
  • turn on Live View
  • zoom in using Live View
  • manually focus on the desired area
  • review the shot to check the results

Of course each scene is different, but this seems to do the job in many cases. If your shots are still not sharp with this basic approach, then you need to do some more troubleshooting. You need to be careful with the 14-24 as it has significant field curvature and focus shift.

Hope that helps.

Cheers,
Steve.
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Colorado David
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« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2014, 11:00:32 PM »
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I chose an autofocus point on the top of the black tombstone.

I find the foreground oof. Here is an image shot at f/11, tripod mounted. This was with a 14-24 Nikon lens.


Did you post an image that I am not seeing for some reason?
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Jim Kasson
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« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2014, 11:06:00 PM »
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I chose an autofocus point on the top of the black tombstone.

I find the foreground oof. Here is an image shot at f/11, tripod mounted. This was with a 14-24 Nikon lens.


I don't see the image either.

Jim
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nlred
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« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2014, 12:06:52 AM »
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I apologize, I made many attempts to upload a picture, tried downsizing it too, but am just not able to get one up. I will retry.
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LawrenceBraunstein
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« Reply #7 on: July 18, 2014, 07:28:02 AM »
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Quote
I am otherwise using a steady tripod, exposure delay, mirror lockup.

Did you perhaps mean "...exposure delay, or mirror lockup"? You don't need both. If exposure delay's 3 sec. maximum isn't enough, simply use mirror lockup for as long as you need. Not both. Exposure Delay Mode is nothing other than MUP for 1, 2, or 3 sec. Just asking because I've found quite a bit of confusion about this on numerous forums (no, not this one!).

Best regards,

Larry
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nlred
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« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2014, 07:58:53 AM »
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Hi

(I'm still unable to post pictures...)

Yes, I use one of those options to minimize chances of shake. My troubles at the moment lie on 'where' to focus and camera technique on 'how' to focus. I will detail it a bit more.

I am a newbie and I thank you for your patience!

"Where" to focus? Is it 1/3 rd of the way up the frame or 1/3rd into the scene? Are hyperfocal distance calculators passe now? And with my zoom lenses and limited lens markings, what is the best way to use a hyperfocal chart?

Regarding camera technique to focus....

I have been composing my frame, adjusting to my required aperture etc settings, switching the camera to manual focus, turning on live view, zooming in with the '+' button to magnify the image on live view, choosing an area I want to focus on, and adjusting the lens manually to my perceived sharpness level and then taking the picture.

I have however just come across a post that says that it's preferable to open up to the widest aperture of the lens, focus manually and then go back to my desired exposure settings. Is this right??

Also, the live view is extremely hard to view in ambient light, I cannot see much and have been making serious focus errors. What is the best way to go about this procedure??

With the 800E, what is the best way to achieve corner to corner sharpness?

TIA!
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LawrenceBraunstein
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« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2014, 09:27:27 AM »
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Unfortunately, there aren’t any hard and fast rules governing where to focus to achieve “...corner to corner sharpness”. What you’re talking about is depth-of-field. The 1/3rd rule is just an approximation, though it sounds to me like you’re demanding more of yourself (and your photography) than just that. Besides, the 1/3rd rule doesn’t hold up at all distances. Whether something is perceived as sharp or not depends on several factors including the amount of enlargement and, of course, your own criteria for sharpness. Using the smallest possible aperture will certainly give you the maximum depth-of-field your lens is capable of producing, but it will also increase diffraction resulting in a photograph with great depth-of-field but lousy sharpness. There’s no free lunch (certainly not in photography!).

If ‘corner to corner sharpness’ is what you want, stitching might be your best bet. Depending on the scene, a tilt & shift lens (for Nikon, PC-E lens) can also help quite a bit. It is easiest to determine optimal sharpness at (or near) max. aperture because it is here where your depth-of-field is at its smallest. However, inaccuracies can result from lenses which have a considerable amount of focus shift. Concerning your LCD in bright light, a loupe is really an indispensable accessory. Those from Zacuto are generally considered the best (and also the most expensive). However, I’ve had good experience with the Hoodman loupes.

As far as your technique is concerned, everything sounds quite correct (with the possible exception of focusing at max. aperture). Live View with the D800E isn’t a pretty matter (I’m hoping the D810 improves on this).  Using a loupe and focusing at 100% magnification helps considerably. By-the-way, if you change your ‘AF activation’ setting in ‘custom settings’ (A4) to ‘AF-ON only’, you don’t need to switch to manual focus each time you take a shot. Assuming your lens is set to M/A, the manual override will allow you to focus, and the ‘AF-ON only’ setting will prevent any re-focus when you release the shutter. I’ve gotten so used to using the AF-ON button to focus, I would hate to have to do without it.

All the best with your focusing efforts,

Larry
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PeterAit
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« Reply #10 on: July 18, 2014, 09:53:47 AM »
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All the responses suggesting self-timer or remote release are nonsense. It's only the bottom part of the image that isn't sharp, and camera shake would affect the entire image. Please, people, think before you respond!

I suspect the problem is focusing at infinity. If you were to focus a wee bit closer, the depth of focus would extend out to the most distant objects and into the closer foreground. This is the hyperfocal distance, and while it can be calculated, that is totally unnecessary.

Here's a hypothetical example. Suppose I am photographing a meadow that has some flowers on the ground about 10 feet away, a treeline 100 feet away, and mountains in the distance. If I focus on the mountains the flowers may be out of focus. But, if I focus on the trees, everything will be in focus.
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Peter
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NancyP
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« Reply #11 on: July 18, 2014, 11:23:46 AM »
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Herein lies the reason that people willingly pay over $2,000.00 for a tilt-shift lens.  Sad

I ran into that problem recently, and have a bunch of differentially focused shots to play with post-processing blending/stacking.
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EricV
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« Reply #12 on: July 18, 2014, 11:36:53 AM »
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Here's a hypothetical example. Suppose I am photographing a meadow that has some flowers on the ground about 10 feet away, a treeline 100 feet away, and mountains in the distance. If I focus on the mountains the flowers may be out of focus. But, if I focus on the trees, everything will be in focus.
Your example is a good illustration of why the hyperfocal concept can be useful.  The focus distance between 10 feet and 100 feet is very much larger than the focus distance between 100 feet and infinity.  If you focus on the trees, the flowers will still be way out of focus.  If you want the flowers and trees to be equally well in focus (or more probably equally blurred by defocus), you need to focus around 20 feet.
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #13 on: July 18, 2014, 04:44:14 PM »
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FF cameras offer less DoF compared to smaller formats, all other things being equal.

There are 3 options in increasing order of complexity/value:
- stop down to f16-f22, focus close enough and sharpen adequately to compensate for the loss of sharpness resulting from diffraction,
- use a tilt lens such as the 24mm T/S,
- use DoF stacking which means take several shots at different focusing distances and mix them in software such as Helicon focus.

Good luck.

Cheers,
Bernard
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luxborealis
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« Reply #14 on: July 20, 2014, 07:01:03 PM »
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Can someone please explain in a step by step manner where and how to focus landscape pictures with the D800E?

Live view /Manual focus??
Focus 1/3 rd into the frame/ hyperfocal??

I am otherwise using a steady tripod, exposure delay, mirror lockup. Also staying at apertures below 11.
I am having issues with the bottom of the picture being out of focus and unsharp. Tried reading numerous tutorials.

Simple straightforward advise is much appreciated.

Thanks!

Simple and straightforward here we go... For a surprising number of landscape photos (certainly not all, but many), using the central focus point works for one simple reason: a strong, three-dimensional landscape is often made with a wideangle lens tilted slightly downwards to capture a detailed foreground as well as the grand vista behind. In tilting down, the central focus point is now about ⅓ into the landscape. With the aperture at f/11 (or 16 and sometimes 22 if the foreground is really close) make an exposure then check your sharpness by magnifying on the LCD. If needed manually adjust the focus forward or back as needed, but just slightly, and reshoot. Then check the LCD again. Do this 20 times or so and you will begin to recognize where to focus.

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Terry McDonald
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« Reply #15 on: July 21, 2014, 07:13:10 PM »
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Harold M. Merklinger can help you  Cool
http://www.trenholm.org/hmmerk/
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Alan Klein
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« Reply #16 on: July 21, 2014, 10:49:39 PM »
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Although I don't have a Nikon but rather a medium format manual film camera, here's the process I use when shooting landscapes.  Calculate the hyperfocal distance for the DOF you need to cover near and far objects.    Manually focus on the hyperfocal distance calculated.  Stop down one additional stop from the calculated f/stop for good measure.  Don't worry about diffraction.  Adjust shutter accordingly.
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #17 on: July 22, 2014, 01:35:26 AM »
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Don't worry about diffraction.

The great value of this part of your recommendation is that it will ensure you are never tempted to buy more resolving bodies or lenses. Wink

Cheers,
Bernard
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Hans Kruse
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« Reply #18 on: July 22, 2014, 08:43:20 AM »
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I chose an autofocus point on the top of the black tombstone.

I find the foreground oof. Here is an image shot at f/11, tripod mounted. This was with a 14-24 Nikon lens.


It is always a good idea to use a DOF calculator to get familiar with the actual DOF given the lens, focal length and aperture and also how much you want the picture to be enlarged. The default CoC is not always adequate.

So when you have calculated the DOF and the hyperfocal distance and made sure that you use an aperture that will give you the needed DOF then it is simple: You focus at the hyperfocal distance and take the shot.

A couple of comments on this:

1) Focus at hyperfocal distance means that you will have infinity included in the DOF for the given CoC, Aperture and focal length. But, if you focus just a bit shorter then you will no longer have infinity included. Try and do some calculations with a DOF calculator and you will.

2) Having a D800E it is really simple to check if you will get the DOF needed. Simply shoot in live view (which btw. is a good idea anyway to avoid mirror slap) and on the D800E live view shows you the picture with the stopped down aperture. So you simply first move the the focus square to where you think the hyperfocal distance is and zoom in and hold the AF-ON button until the square becomes green. The zoomed in you move the square to the foreground and see if it is within DOF and then to the background and see if it is within DOF. If not stop down. Don't go any further than f/16 unless you really have to since f/22 will loose a lot resolution and f/16 too. For f/16 I use the sharpening parameters in Lightroom fo the D800E amount=50, radius=1, detail=100 and masking=30 (for all other fstops below f/16 (f/11, f/8 etc)) I use the same except radius=0.8 and detail=70. You can iterate the focus checking to make sure you have all needed within DOF and not stopping down too much. And shoot in live view! With a focal length <100mm I have found that even continuous shooting in live view does not create any blur on a sturdy tripod with a strong ball head and an L-bracket.

3) Make sure you do not focus with the shutter button and setting this is done in a4 which you set to AF-ON only.

If you need to go beyond what is possible by stopping down then use focus stacking or tilt/shift lenses.

Some examples:

Canon 5D III and Canon 24-70 f/2.8L II at 28mm, f/16, 1/20s, ISO 100
http://www.hanskrusephotography.com/Workshops/Abruzzo-Umbria-June-2015/n-c5QGR/i-DfVVZ7m/A


Nikon D800E and Sigma 24-150 f/4 OS at 24mm, f/16, 1/320s, ISO 100
http://www.hanskrusephotography.com/Workshops/Abruzzo-Umbria-June-2015/n-c5QGR/i-X4F4ZSg/A


Nikon D800E and Nikon 14-24 f/2.8 at 14mm, f/16, 1/8s, ISO 100
http://www.hanskrusephotography.com/Workshops/Abruzzo-Umbria-June-2015/n-c5QGR/i-c9tXqcV/A
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PeterAit
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« Reply #19 on: July 22, 2014, 08:55:41 AM »
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FF cameras offer less DoF compared to smaller formats, all other things being equal.


This is not actually true, although you hear it stated often. The sensor size itself has no direct effect on DOF. Is is "true" only because with a larger sensor, one has to either get closer to the subject or use a longer lens to get the same field of view. It's the shorter distance or longer focal length that reduces the DOF.
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Peter
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