View Full Version : Not sharp..

06-04-09, 20:31
I have recently bought the Nikon D40 and (so far) only have the kit lens (18-55) with it. I don't know if it's the lens, or me, but every photo I have taken I have needed to sharpen (the photo hasn't been really blurred, just enough to need sharpening), afterwards by editing on Adobe etc. It's not because the shutter speed has been too slow, as I have the same problem with every manual setting I have used. :confused: I have been manual focusing all the time and have really tried to focus the ring properly, but it hasn't seemed to work. :( I did read a review somewhere with someone saying that the 18-55 lens was a bit soft, so I'm hoping it's not just my focusing technique that's wrong! :o

06-04-09, 20:54
Many shots taken on a DSLR need a bit of sharpening as they are not sharpened in camera to the extent that a compact does so maybe it is that. The 18-55 is probably a bit soft as all the 'kit lenses tend to be but they are not awful. Post a few shots and see what people think.

06-04-09, 21:40
Thanks for the reply Mike, I will post a few (before editing) tomorrow, as I have just used up my 'four in a 24 hour period only' quota, by posting some edited pics! :)

07-04-09, 08:07
Also consider the aperture you are using. Kit lens, wide open, at either end of its zoom range will not get the best out of it. USE A TRIPOD, use mirror lock up (if the D40 has it), use the self timer, stop down the lens to about f/11, use the lens in the middle of it's zoom range, see what difference it makes.

Aperture at between f/8 and f/16 on most lenses, zoom at the middle of the range, this will optimise the sharpness of your pictures. Regardless of the shutter speed you are using, your movement, and any movement of the subject, WILL give some softness. Use a tripod and take pictures of static subjects to determine if it's your technique or the equipment that's the problem. Wouldn't want you to go buying new kit to find it doesn't make a blind bit of difference.

07-04-09, 11:46
Your D40 (like almsot all digital cameras) has an anti-aliasing filter, which is there to stop the jagged edge effect that digial can give on clearly defined lines. The net effect is a more natural looking image but it will also make it slightly softer too, so the vast majority of digital images will require some sharpening to make them look right. If you want to know more have a look here - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-aliasing

That said the AA filter may not be the only cause of the softness you are seeing. Clearly not all lenses are equal, and the kit lenses that ship with entry level DSLRs are not the sharpest. I know the Canon 18-55 kit lens is often slagged off for being soft but with a bit of work it can deliver good results, as Duncan mentions stopping down and bit and using a tripod will almost certainly improve things.

08-04-09, 19:49
Hi Sally,

Have you checked the dioptre viewfinder adjustment?

I ask, as you say you've been manual focusing the lens. Ideally this camera/lens combination isn't particularly brilliant for manual focusing, as you have no viewfinder focus aids, and the gearing on the lens focus ring is quite coarse. However, in most cases you should be able to get reasonably sharp photos. Most reviews magnify the results to such a level in many cases users will not notice too much of a difference for regular use. Your D40 should be quite capable to produce results you are happy with.

Before reading the lens reviews and messing on photoshop, please put the camera in auto focus mode and see if you get the same soft results.

Start at base level to eliminate the easier possibilities for the softness first.

08-04-09, 21:36
Thanks for all your replies. I just think though, as has been said, that the lens is a little soft, after all it is just a kit lens.

Joe, I have checked the diopter adjuster and it seems fine, also I would like to carry on using manual focusing, so to just use auto will not help, in the long term (if that's what you are meaning?). My partner is currently looking at a couple of lenses for me, on ebay though, so hopefully I should have at least one better focusing soon! :)

08-04-09, 23:52
Sally, the point I was trying to make is, are you getting sharp images by using auto focus? or is it just manual focus where focus is missing slightly? The answer would find out whether it is just a bad 18-55 lens example you have (yeah, heard there's one or two about too)....Same has happened with Canon's 18-55 lens too. Wife's 18-55 is really sharp, but mother-in-laws is soft, yet on paper they should be identical.
If you're looking around for lenses, make sure they are Nikon AF-S ones (ie ones with the AF motor built in) if you ever want to use AF option with the D40. AF-D ones from Nikon (or any other manufacturer like Sigma, Tamron etc) should give you the auto metering etc, but no AF. Some of nikon's AF-S lenses are truely amazing tho, and the range is constantly growing as nikon replace the older AF-D designs
Older manual lenses will also physical fit, but you'll loose metering with them.

Also, as you're looking on ebay, I think there was a few chinese sellers on there with 'split screen' type focus screens for sale. Not sure if you have the option to change the screen on the D40, or if it's only something a camera technician can do. Just thinking the screens really help loads when manually focusing. I used them on my older D1 kit when I was using manual lenses with great success.

Good luck