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Noobie question: Sigma 90mm lens is too soft.
Topic Rating: 5Topic Rating: 5Topic Rating: 5Topic Rating: 5Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (2 votes) 
Jerry Pine
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November 26, 2013 - 3:16 am
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Hello All,

 

I'm really new to DSLR photography and choosing a lens so my apologies in advance. Also, I don't know if I'm posting this in the correct forum.  Anyway, I have a new Nikon D5200.  I bought an older 90mm Sigma 2.8 macro off eBay for very cheap.  I can't find a model number anywhere on the lens.  I will say that it is quite heavy and probably heavier than the my entry level Nikon 55-300 zoom lens.  In order to use the lens on my D5200, I have to turn the aperture ring to its highest setting, which is f20 (going by memory here).  

So here is the problem: Every image I shoot using this macro lens is "soft" to the point where it nearly out of focus.  I've experimented with different light conditions, as well as different combinations of ISO, shutter speed, and aperture settings.  The image is always soft when compared to the same scene/camera settings using the 55-300mm zoom.  Given my limited skill set with a DSLR, I'm thinking I have a bad lens, the wrong lens for the camera, or I simply don't know what I'm doing using an older lens on a newer camera.  Any thoughts?

Thanks!

Jerry  

Paul Williams
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November 26, 2013 - 6:17 am
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Why do you have to set for f20 as this will give you a soft image as it is at its limits. for instance if you set to say f12 iso 100 and turn the lights right down or move them back unless there is a problem with the lens you should get a good image. The only other thing I can think of is with it being a macro lens are you to close or to far away.

Why not post an image then maybe someone will have a better answer.

<<<<------Onwards and Upwards ------>>>>

gabadilla
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November 26, 2013 - 2:04 pm
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Can you explain this part a bit more?

 

"In order to use the lens on my D5200, I have to turn the aperture ring to its highest setting"

Paul Williams
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November 26, 2013 - 3:01 pm
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Are you using this camera on auto, aperture, or manual settings.

<<<<------Onwards and Upwards ------>>>>

Jerry Pine
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November 26, 2013 - 5:07 pm
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Paul Williams said
Why do you have to set for f20 as this will give you a soft image as it is at its limits. for instance if you set to say f12 iso 100 and turn the lights right down or move them back unless there is a problem with the lens you should get a good image. The only other thing I can think of is with it being a macro lens are you to close or to far away.

Why not post an image then maybe someone will have a better answer.

The camera will not work unless I set it the ring to f22 (not f/20 as I mistakenly mentioned in my OP). My D5200 gives the message: "Lock lens aperture ring at minimum aperture (largest/-number)". Here are 3 test images along with 2 photos of the lens, a wide shot of the old rose trellis so that you guys know what I was shooting, and one shot with the entry 55-300mm zoom for comparison at f20.  The tripod was on the stone wall about 12 inches (~20 cm) or so from the old rose trellis that is in the test shot using the macro.  I was probably 2 meters from the trellis using the zoom.  This is an older 90mm Sigma macro.  Lightworks says it is 92mm.  All the following images were shot in Aperture Priority mode on a cloudy day on a Nikon D5200at at ISO 200. If anyone needs more shots for comparison, just let me know.

DSC_0064 1/125th sec at f/2.8

DSC_0065 1/8th sec at f/11

DSC_0065 0.5 sec at f/20

 

DSC_0071 1/3 sec at f20 (This is the Nikon 55-300mm zoom)

 

DSC_74  Perspective picture for the above images

 

DSC_75  Image of the macro lens (Anyone recognize it?  There is no model number on it that I can find.)

DSC_77 Another Image of the macro lens.

 

Jerry Pine
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November 26, 2013 - 5:10 pm
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Ok, the attachments did not go through.  I'll make the images smaller and try again.  I'll also try a zip file.

 

Jerry

Jerry Pine
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November 26, 2013 - 5:25 pm
Member Since: October 21, 2013
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DSC_0077-1.jpg

Here is a try with smaller images.

DSC_0064.jpg

DSC_0065.jpg
DSC_0066.jpg
DSC_0071.jpg
DSC_0074.jpg
DSC_0075.jpg

 

Jerry

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charles sweigart
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November 26, 2013 - 7:16 pm
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this might give more info on your lens;

http://www.photosig.com/articles/1160/article

images you posted show just what should be expected from the lens, best sharpness at f8 – f11, so f11 was fully in focus.

f-2.8 is sharp at top but bottom is not because fence is slanted back and lower portion is moving out of shallow depth of field losing focus.

f-20 is soft due to diffraction caused by use of the small aperture.

explained here;

 http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/diffraction.htm

good example for you, lay a twelve inch ruler down, shoot on tripod and focus at 6 inch mark. shoot several shots starting at lowest f and increasing to highest. You will then see where your lens gets the best focus and how depth of field affects it.

 


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Flo
Nuremberg, Germany
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November 26, 2013 - 8:25 pm
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Jerry Pine said
The camera will not work unless I set it the ring to f22 (not f/20 as I mistakenly mentioned in my OP). My D5200 gives the message: "Lock lens aperture ring at minimum aperture (largest/-number)"…

This sounds very strange to me and doesn't make much sense. Are you in manual mode? Has the lens an Auto-setting on its aperture ring?

In my eyes you may have found the reason why the lens was so cheap on ebay^^

 

 

Jerry Pine
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November 26, 2013 - 8:47 pm
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Flo said

Jerry Pine said
The camera will not work unless I set it the ring to f22 (not f/20 as I mistakenly mentioned in my OP). My D5200 gives the message: "Lock lens aperture ring at minimum aperture (largest/-number)"…

This sounds very strange to me and doesn't make much sense. Are you in manual mode? Has the lens an Auto-setting on its aperture ring?

In my eyes you may have found the reason why the lens was so cheap on ebay^^

 

 

I'm in Aperture Priority mode.  According to some other forums, this is normal behavior for certain Nikon lenses on newer Nikon cameras.  The aperture is controlled by the camera so the lens aperture ring must be set to the minimum setting.  

After more experimentation, I think the core issue is my inability to provide correct lighting and choose the correct aperture.  Below is the figure I've been trying to shoot.  I took Charles's advice, set the camera at f/8 in Aperture Priority, and got the desired clarity I was after. But this time I shot outdoors with lots of light compared to the lights I have now.  Until I can justify the expense of a decent strobe system, I now need to learn to use my old ("Made in West Germany") Lowell lighting video lighting kit to light the image indoors.  It uses two 250 watt and one 500 watt halogen lights (continuous lighting).  I just need to PS the image to replace the background with white. :-)

Thanks everyone for your input.  I learned a lot today.

Jerry

 

 

Thor.jpg

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charles sweigart
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November 27, 2013 - 10:40 am
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Looking quite sharp now.

Until you get strobes, also remember the constant lights you are using will result in greater length of shutter being open to capture the light. Set your camera to the mirror up position as the normal mirror drop will introduce slight camera shake as well. It will help with obtaining greater sharpness.

good shooting to you.

 

At Flo;

My 1 year old Nikkor 50mm has an aperture ring. When it is in the unlocked position I sometimes accidentally  move it when removing the lens and when replacing it, the camera shows an error code and will not function, even in manual. Only when set at max f stop position will it function. When locked it is held at that position. So the lens is functioning as Sigma designed it and it was not cheap due to malfunctions.

Jerry Pine
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November 27, 2013 - 12:37 pm
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charles sweigart said
Looking quite sharp now.

Until you get strobes, also remember the constant lights you are using will result in greater length of shutter being open to capture the light. Set your camera to the mirror up position as the normal mirror drop will introduce slight camera shake as well. It will help with obtaining greater sharpness.

good shooting to you.

Thanks again, Charles.  f/8 really seems to be the "sweet spot" for this particular lens.  I have a lot more of these custom action figures to shoot, so I'm going to experiment with setting up a white background and white flat surface outdoors and not use the old video lights.  Those things are hot enough to cook dinner on.

As to setting my camera to "mirror up position," I'm going to have to pull out the owner's manual for that one. ;-) I hope the D5200 has that option.

Jerry

 

charles sweigart
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November 27, 2013 - 2:06 pm
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Was not familiar with D5200 so found this;

Shooting with the mirror in the up position is achieved in live view — newly designed, independently driven mirror mechanism [NEW]

 

Nikon newly designed the high-speed and highly precise sequential control mechanism for the D5200. It contributes to high-speed continuous shooting at up to approx. 5 fps with a release time lag of approx. 0.09 s*. This new sequential control mechanism drives the mirror independently. In live view shooting, the shutter is released with the mirror in the up position. Because the impact of the mirror's up and down movement is eliminated, smooth and quiet shooting can be expected in single-frame and continuous shooting (low-speed/high-speed).
Looks like live view is mirror up on this model.

 

more info;

Exposure Delay Mode

 
This mode is handy since the D5200 does not feature a Mirror Lock-Up mode specifically. This is generally used when taking long exposures to reduce vibrations in the camera which can cause a blurry image. 
 
This setting will allow for the shutter to exposure your image 1 second after the mirror has flipped up, so that the mirror becomes securely fixed and the vibrations from it moving cannot translate to your image and blur the picture.
 
Recommended Setting – OFF (unless shooting a long exposure)
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