Nikon 500 F5.6 PF - Soft Images

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Ralph Bruno

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Thank you for these inputs Andrew. Here are 3 images of Blue Jays (file names with DSC) on a sunny evening. The birds were pretty close, these are NEF files. All shots taken hand held though, 1/1600s, Auto ISO, f5.6, Manual Mode, Single Point Auto Focus


Do let me know your thoughts.
They look overexposed. Highlights are blown out.
 

Steve

Admin
Staff member
Supporting Member
They look overexposed. Highlights are blown out.
They all look like there's a bit of motion blur. It also kinda looks like they were shot through a window (I realize that's not likely the case, but they have that look). Where are you buying these lenses from? Some companies (and yes, B&H included), will resell customer returns if they don't think anything is wrong with them.
 

benomatography

New member
Yes, they still look to soft. Maybe there is an issue with the VR unit (with high shutter speeds).
If you could show some pictures without VR maybe we can narrow it down.
 

Kevin

Member
Thread starter
They all look like there's a bit of motion blur. It also kinda looks like they were shot through a window (I realize that's not likely the case, but they have that look). Where are you buying these lenses from? Some companies (and yes, B&H included), will resell customer returns if they don't think anything is wrong with them.
Hi Steve, you are right, these were not shot out of a window. I took these last evening at a neighborhood trail. I am buying from a local(fairly reputed) camera store in the North East called Hunt’s Photo and Video. I went with this option because the usual stores (B&H and Adorama) did not have the lens in stock. Looking back maybe that wasn’t the best idea :). Do you see any autofocus issues? Should I try the Nikon auto-tune once or would it make more sense to just return the lens?
 

Andrew Lamberson

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Something is a miss. Settings seem to be fine.

I would first take some shots on a tripod, so you can eliminate the variable of motion blur. I would go as far as to take the images using the delay timer so that any motion from pressing the shutter button has stopped. I always use a wired remote or my wireless CamRanger when I am sitting away from the camera so I don't spook the target.

What results do you get with another lens?

If they are fine, then I would blame the 500 PF

If they look similar, I would reset the camera back to factory settings and see if it is some mystery setting that is screwing things up.
 

Steve

Admin
Staff member
Supporting Member
Hi Steve, you are right, these were not shot out of a window. I took these last evening at a neighborhood trail. I am buying from a local(fairly reputed) camera store in the North East called Hunt’s Photo and Video. I went with this option because the usual stores (B&H and Adorama) did not have the lens in stock. Looking back maybe that wasn’t the best idea :). Do you see any autofocus issues? Should I try the Nikon auto-tune once or would it make more sense to just return the lens?
I'm not sure I'm seeing an AF issue - it just seems like there's more going on. I do see some minor motion blur, but that's not the entire story either. There's a "fog" to the image that seems like an extra layer of glass (you don't have a UV filter on, do you?).

I agree with Andrew and using a tripod for some shots. I'd also add that you should try something other than an animal - just a good, stationary test target - and see what happens.
 

Andrew Lamberson

Well-known member
Supporting Member
If you don't have a tripod, put the camera on an outside table or other flat surface and take a delayed shutter image of the grass. Do a couple of shots in Program mode.
 

Kevin

Member
Thread starter
Something is a miss. Settings seem to be fine.

I would first take some shots on a tripod, so you can eliminate the variable of motion blur. I would go as far as to take the images using the delay timer so that any motion from pressing the shutter button has stopped. I always use a wired remote or my wireless CamRanger when I am sitting away from the camera so I don't spook the target.

What results do you get with another lens?

If they are fine, then I would blame the 500 PF

If they look similar, I would reset the camera back to factory settings and see if it is some mystery setting that is screwing things up.
Hi Andrew, all the f5.6 vs. f8 comparison shots (from yesterday) are taken with the setup on a tripod with timer delay. I used my old 70-300 AF-P F4.5-6.3 for comparison and it seems to give better results quite honestly.
 

Kevin

Member
Thread starter
I'm not sure I'm seeing an AF issue - it just seems like there's more going on. I do see some minor motion blur, but that's not the entire story either. There's a "fog" to the image that seems like an extra layer of glass (you don't have a UV filter on, do you?).

I agree with Andrew and using a tripod for some shots. I'd also add that you should try something other than an animal - just a good, stationary test target - and see what happens.
Thank you Steve, I do have a clear filter on the lens, will remove it. Will try to take some more test shots of stationary targets.
 

Tom-Neth

Tom - The Netherlands
Supporting Member
Never knew, heard or noticed a quality degradation because of using a UV filter. Are you really sure ?
 

benomatography

New member
Well, it depends on the quality of the filter.
But to me it doesn’t make sense to screw a 50-100$ peace of glass in front of your 3000$ lens.
 

Tom-Neth

Tom - The Netherlands
Supporting Member
Use a Hoya 95mm filter, costed €185 so not really cheap. Just use it to protect the front lens of the 500 PF. But to be honest, never tested the lens with and without the filter. Give it a try once day.
 

benomatography

New member
@Kevin
Just for comparison, here is a shot with my 500 PF on my D500 (after AF fine tune). Although this is a processed JPEG, the files from your D7500 should look more like this, as the D7500 and D500 are using the same image sensor.
(Have a closer look on feather detail):

 

Steve

Admin
Staff member
Supporting Member
Thank you Steve, I do have a clear filter on the lens, will remove it. Will try to take some more test shots of stationary targets.
Worth a shot - some UV filters are better than others and it may be causing the issue.
 

Steve

Admin
Staff member
Supporting Member
Never knew, heard or noticed a quality degradation because of using a UV filter. Are you really sure ?
Some filters do degrade quality, but I've tested some where I can't tell a difference. I err on the side of caution and only use them if I'm actually in a situation where stuff (usually sea spray) might get on my front element.
 

Kevin

Member
Thread starter
@Kevin
Just for comparison, here is a shot with my 500 PF on my D500 (after AF fine tune). Although this is a processed JPEG, the files from your D7500 should look more like this, as the D7500 and D500 are using the same image sensor.
(Have a closer look on feather detail):

Thank you for sharing your image, its fantastic! I was expecting similar image quality from the lens, but alas.
 

Tom-Neth

Tom - The Netherlands
Supporting Member
@Steve that's a good approach. In most situations there is no need for extra protection, at least where I usually go. Will do the test myself this weekend and see if I see a difference.
 

Kevin

Member
Thread starter
Hello All, thank you for your inputs. Based on your advice I did a little DOE to test for effects of VR and the clear filter. Used a $20 bill as the subject, indoor test. Took 5 shots each (and used the sharpest for comparison) at 5.6 and f8 with the following setting constant - Manual mode, 1/1125s, Auto ISO, Camera on Tripod, Single Point Auto Focus-Center, 10s time delay.

I have uploaded the images (NEF original files) here. For comparing the images, I zoomed in 600% and compared the right corner (3 windows and tree branch with leaves) and the center of the images (the large lamp). The image nomenclature is pretty self explanatory.


Here are the conclusions:
1. VR vs No-VR has very little to no effect on the clarity at both f5.6 and f8
2. The clear lens filter significantly degrades image quality

Only variable that I could not control for is ISO (since I am using auto ISO), but it doesn't seem like it will make a difference to conclusion. While this doesn't conclusively prove that the lens (and my technique) is perfect, it does point to 1 big issue, which is the clear filter. I will try and shoot some more images outdoor this evening (without the clear filter) and let you know how it goes.
 

Tom-Neth

Tom - The Netherlands
Supporting Member
@Kevin amazing results !!! Think I like the pic no-filter 5.6 the most, at least on my laptop screen. Which filter did you use ?
 

Kenny88

New member
I use Hoya filters for years and I have not experienced the results as you have. This leads me to my next question - where did you purchase the Hoya? I ask because this brand has a lot of counterfeit products out there.
 

Andrew Lamberson

Well-known member
Supporting Member
@Kevin
Just for comparison, here is a shot with my 500 PF on my D500 (after AF fine tune). Although this is a processed JPEG, the files from your D7500 should look more like this, as the D7500 and D500 are using the same image sensor.
(Have a closer look on feather detail):

Now THAT would be my definition of sharp!!
 
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