Getting maximum sharpness with the Nikon D800

The D800 is my first full frame camera, and when you shoot it with fast lenses wide open, getting images 100% sharp can be a bit tricky. The very high resolution also adds to the difficulties I guess. To take great and sharp images home from a shooting requires two things of course:

1) Take sharp shots

A lot has been written on the sharpness of the D800, and taking sharp images involves many things like proper focus and avoiding camera shaking. The tip which I found works best is to work at low shutter speeds around 1/125 when shooting handheld. This is suggested in this great post by Jason Odell on D800 sharpness here. This may involve using Auto-ISO (and thus higher ISO settings), but the Nikon D800 performs pretty well with reasonably high ISOs so that’s fine with me.

Another suggestion that I read in a couple of places is to set the AF-C autofocus priority to Focus instead of Release, and I’ve been using this during the last few weeks and liked it. To set this on the D800, do this: MENU — Custom Settings — (a) Autofocus — (a1) AF-C Priority Seelection — Focus — OK.

Of course, the general methods for getting sharper shots (like using a tripod whenever possible) also apply to the D800. 😉

A Nikon D800

2) Verify sharpness during the shooting (in liveview)

When you’re at home, you can improve things in post on a large screen, but ensuring you have sharp shots before you leave is of course better. Bringing a laptop or external screen is an option sometimes, but being able to quickly judge the sharpness of a shot in liveview is also very important.

I found a very helpful tip on how to get a quick preview of image sharpness in liveview at the website of Ken Rockwell. He suggests to map a button (the multi selector center button in the example, but you could use others of course) to a 100% preview in image playback mode. On the D800, this can be done like this: MENU — Custom Settings — (f) Controls — (f2) Multi selector center button — Playback mode — Zoom on/off — medium magnification — OK.

Now you can press that button while viewing your shots and you get a great detail preview with the click of a single button.


About dfspspirit

PhD student in bioinformatics, interested in photography, level design, digital image manipulation, architecture and, of course, bioinformatics.
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