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Help With D300 Photos

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I recently upgraded from a Canon XTi to a Nikon D300. I had a year to learn the Canon and was getting fairly comfortable with it. After my first dives with the D300 I'm uncertain why I'm unhappy with these photos. Every shot seems soft and low on contrast. The dive conditions were fair for Hood Canal, 20 - 25 ft visibility in 50 degree water. I'm in my drysuit so already limited in handling my Ikelite housing with two DS-125 strobes. I'm not sure if this is my settings, the conditions or a little fogging. I wasn't using any desiccant but have some on order. I noticed a little condensation inside the housing but didn't see any on the lens or port.

 

The first shot was with a Nikon 60mm macro behind a flat port. It was shot with TTL flash, 1/60th @ f/8. I used ISO 200, center weighted metering, continuous focus on 21 point around my initial focus point, adobe RGB.

 

b57fa00a44.jpg

 

 

The second shot was with a Nikon 12-24mm @ 24mm behind a 6" dome port. It was shot with TTL flash, 1/60th @ f/11. I used ISO 200, center weighted metering, continuous focus on 21 point around my initial focus point, sRGB.

 

5546040552.jpg

 

I was getting as close as I could and would appreciate any suggestions about improving sharpness and contrast.

 

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Edited by nopro

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Are you shooting RAW and using any kind of RAW convertor / processing or are these JPEGs straight out of the camera?

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Did you use your Canon UW too? Just wondering if you had a better experience before.

 

I use AF on S and a much higher shutter speed for all my shots. For Macros, I tend to use between F16-22 with shutter speeds at 1/125, letting TTL do the rest. For WA, as I can get decent DOF smaller apertures, I can usually work with much higher shutter speeds.

 

I too would like to hear what the more experienced photogs here have to say... I shoot a D300 too. However, I find myself happily shooting at ISO400 with no noise issues with this baby.

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Hi,

I had same issue when I first changed from d200 to d300. d300 has known low contrast you described & Nikon came out with a solution. Basically, you have to load 'picture control' file to your camera & fine tune it as you like or take photos in RAW mode & convert it.

 

More info is on ; http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/d300/picture-control.htm

 

Sam

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The first shot was with a Nikon 60mm macro behind a flat port. It was shot with TTL flash, 1/60th @ f/8. I used ISO 200, center weighted metering, continuous focus on 21 point around my initial focus point, adobe RGB.

 

b57fa00a44.jpg

The second shot was with a Nikon 12-24mm @ 24mm behind a 6" dome port. It was shot with TTL flash, 1/60th @ f/11. I used ISO 200, center weighted metering, continuous focus on 21 point around my initial focus point, sRGB.

 

5546040552.jpg

 

I was getting as close as I could and would appreciate any suggestions about improving sharpness and contrast.

 

The Nikon 12-24 is well know for softness around the edges, and I don't use it underwater anymore. (It's a favorite lens out of the water however.)

 

I'd suggest sticking to F7.1-F8 on the 12-24 for best results. If you are doing an open water background, meter it to -1 or so and probably stay between 1/50s - 1/100s. If you are doing a CFWA like your shot below, you may want a faster shutter.

 

For the 60 is normally shoot it at F16-22 for macro. If I am backing off and doing a fish portait from 24" or more then I'll drop it to F13 or so. You really should stick with a shutter speed for 1/125 or faster in most situations with this lens.

 

You will get sharper shots with a faster shutter. If you are not looking to pick up ambient light and background, never drop below 1/125.

 

As for D300 color settings, I did a lot of experiments and found that Neutral with Saturation +1 give me the best results. If you shoot raw then you can change this to any possible setting in PP with CaptureNX and experiment on your own.

 

Someone mentioned Ken Rockwell. His advice is to set for intense clown colors and it totally will not work underwater.

 

Dave

Edited by davehicks

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My thanks to everyone for your feedback.

 

I was shooting raw + jpeg. What you see is the uncorrected photo converted without adjustment in Photoshop elements 6. I don't notice the low contrast on land photos but the subject is in fairly dark water 65 ft down with 20-25 ft vis is really only lit by the modeling lights and flashes. It seems like I got more contrast with the canon but it did use scene files to add contrast in the camera. I haven't set up shooting banks or made any significant adjustments in the D300 yet. I have enough flash power to increase the f stop and improve the DOF. The only reason I would have increased the shutter speed was if I had more available light to worry about. Could part of this be motion blur from the shooter or subject movement?

I didn't think it was a problem with the low natural light level.

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Hi,

 

There are several picture control files not just to fix color but, also, helps contrast & sharpness and/or you can pick one

& increse shatpness & contrast using picture control utility in Capture NX and upload to camera.

 

You can check following Nikon site to change contrast using Nikon capture program;

 

http://support.nikontech.com/cgi-bin/nikon...amp;p_topview=1

 

Sam

Edited by shchae

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You can use the in-camera DLighting feature on the D-300 to improve contrast and color. It also available in CaptureNX as a post processing option.

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Just running auto levels and one Smart Sharpen pass in PS. Nikon generally has a reputation of having a less 'processed' look out of camera than Canon, this can be a preference or a hindrance depending on your perspective. D-Lighting does seem to be a nice new option in Nikons.

post-5478-1213540108_thumb.jpg

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Did you use your Canon UW too? Just wondering if you had a better experience before.

 

I use AF on S and a much higher shutter speed for all my shots. For Macros, I tend to use between F16-22 with shutter speeds at 1/125, letting TTL do the rest. For WA, as I can get decent DOF smaller apertures, I can usually work with much higher shutter speeds.

 

I too would like to hear what the more experienced photogs here have to say... I shoot a D300 too. However, I find myself happily shooting at ISO400 with no noise issues with this baby.

 

 

Yes I started underwater with Sealife cameras for several years then used the Canon for a year. The Canon XTi does a great job underwater. I converted to the Nikon to push myself to the next level. I know it can far surpass by capability. Always striving to improve.

Edited by nopro

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You will get sharper shots with a faster shutter. If you are not looking to pick up ambient light and background, never drop below 1/125.

 

......

 

Someone mentioned Ken Rockwell. His advice is to set for intense clown colors and it totally will not work underwater.

 

Dave

 

If you aren't picking up ambient light, then your shutter speed doesn't matter at all. Same with metering.

 

Intense clown colors don't work well on land either, unless your shooting intense clowns... like Ken Rockwell. :P

 

 

 

I prefer a low contrast shot with muted color, but properly exposed. This is the canvas I try to begin with. It is very easy to add apparent contrast and color to exactly what I want and where I want it as opposed to trying to reduce them.

 

I'm not sure if Elements does curves. If not, you will want to do more tweaking in the raw converter.

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I was shooting raw + jpeg. What you see is the uncorrected photo converted without adjustment in Photoshop elements 6.

If this was a converted raw, that is your problem. Just about all raw converters (other than CaptureNX) will not apply any of the camera defaults on conversion and will give you a very flat image. As suggested, download a copy of CaptureNX (which you should have got free with the camera) and view the images with that.

 

My D300 gives me beautiful images that are not flat at all when viewed with CaptureNX. I have to do quite a bit of manipulation in Lightroom to get them to look as good as the image I see in CaptureNX.

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I see references to using CaptureNX, rather than other software to convert from RAW to JPGs, and this has me wondering. I have a D300 and Aquatiica housing (haven't gotten it underwater yet though) and I've been shooting all RAW images and then working with them in Photoshop elements 6 on my MAC. Does anyone know if the RAW converter in Elements reads the 'camera defaults' and applies them? Is there a difference with CaptureNX?

 

Also, as I recall, when I purchased my camera, CaptureNX didn't work on the MAC (except for viewing - don't save).

 

What sort of workflow (software tools) do others use with Nikon DSLRs?

 

Thanks,

Greg

 

PS I can't wait to get the camera underwater, I've had everything for 2 1/2 months, but haven't been able to make it to the water. :-(

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I see references to using CaptureNX, rather than other software to convert from RAW to JPGs, and this has me wondering. I have a D300 and Aquatiica housing (haven't gotten it underwater yet though) and I've been shooting all RAW images and then working with them in Photoshop elements 6 on my MAC. Does anyone know if the RAW converter in Elements reads the 'camera defaults' and applies them? Is there a difference with CaptureNX?

 

Also, as I recall, when I purchased my camera, CaptureNX didn't work on the MAC (except for viewing - don't save).

 

What sort of workflow (software tools) do others use with Nikon DSLRs?

 

Capture NX can configure all of the same settings you can make in the camera, and change the impact of those settings even after you have taken the shot. For example, if I set the Picture Control settings to Vivid and then don't like the results, in Capture NX I can change the settings on that photo (or a batch of photos) to Neutral or Standard. This is an amazing feature to have durning post processing, and no version of Photoshop / Apeture, etc can do this. It also really lets you see the impact of these in camera settings and better learn what preferences you like best.

 

Capture NX is available on both Windows and Mac with identical features.

 

Personally, I use Nikon ViewNX to reveiw, tag, delete photos, and then Capture NX to do color corrections and croping. Capture NX can then batch convert the keepers to JPG & sRGB, resize for web, etc.

 

I rarely doing any content editing that would require something like Photoshop, and the Nikon tools seem to do a better job at the other tasks.

 

Dave

Edited by davehicks

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Does anyone know if the RAW converter in Elements reads the 'camera defaults' and applies them? Is there a difference with CaptureNX?

I don't "know" for sure, but I am confident that it does not read the camera defaults. CaptureNX definitely does. If you shoot raw+jpeg the raw and the jpeg shots look identical when viewed with ViewNX and CaptureNX. With anything else they will look different. I come from a slide background and so I make an effort to get the shots correct in the camera. One of the great things about CaptureNX is it preserves that for me. That said, I don't often use CaptureNX for my workflow now.

 

What sort of workflow (software tools) do others use with Nikon DSLRs?

My previous workflow was to use:

* Nikon Transfer to get the images from the card to the PC

* Nikon ViewNX to browse and review the image to decide which ones to process

* Nikon CaptureNX to convert from raw and modify basic things that I got wrong at the time of capture like exposure, white balance, D-lighting

* PaintShopPro 9 for cropping, resizing, sharpening, EXIF updates and adding watermarks

 

This worked quite well but was a memory hog (and my PC has 2GB of memory) and didn't do any cataloging.

 

I have since switched to:

* Nikon Transfer to get the images from the card to the PC

* Adobe Lightroom for everything else

 

I really hate the Lightroom raw conversion because the defaults are all wrong, but I have a couple of presets that get close, and I can still use CaptureNX for difficult shots. Lightroom is brilliant for cataloging and keywording and the automation in the export module is excellent and saves me heaps of time.

 

Here's my review of Lightroom: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

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This is very interesting, so I've gone and tried a couple of things. First, though, I opened Nikon CaptureNX on my MAC, and tried to update it. There are no updates. Unfortunately, there is a warning that states:

 

"Capture NX Ver. 1.2.0 and 1.3.0 are not compatible with Mac OS X version 10.5.

As image files may be corrupted when they are saved, this software should NOT be used under Mac OS X

version 10.5. We are currently investigating a means to resolve this isssue."

 

Since it has been about 3 months since I got the software with the camera, and there are no updates, I'd say they aren't working on this very hard. :-(

 

Next, I switched my camera over to record both JPG and RAW and took a few pictures of a tree frog that has decided a flower pot on the front porch is home (I scared him out earlier when I first stumbled on to him, and when I went back a bit later, he was back in the pot. He really seems to like it). Anyway, I adjusted the color to 'vivid' and shot a few pictures. Then I opened the files in Adobe Bridge, which comes with Elements 6 for the Mac, and sure enough, the NEF files don't have the setting, while the JPG does.

 

[small screams...]

 

So now I'm forced to wonder if I'm better off shooting RAW, RAW+JPEG or just shooting JPEG from the start. I don't know when I'll be able to use Capture NX. Is there a short list of settings in the camera that can't be read from RAW/NEF files by anything other than Nikon software, or is it pretty much everything?

 

Anyone have any idea when Nikon might get their software to work on the current version of Mac OS X?

 

Thanks,

Greg

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Greg,

 

I'm not sure where you have been looking, but CaptureNX 1.3.1 is compatible with Mac Os X 10.5 (just not fully supported).

 

CaptureNX 1.3.1:

This download is a Full version installer for all Mac OS X users, but corrects an important data corruption issue when using OS 10.5. This will also update version 1.3.0 to version 1.3.1. Installation is possible on Mac OS X Leopard, however, full operation and support is not guaranteed.

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I have now downloaded CaptureNX 1.3.1. When I checked for updates from version 1.3.0, the software claimed there was no update. Until the previous post I never thought to go to the Nikon website and try to download the software (appearantly Nikon doesn't understand what 'checking of updates' means... ;) ).

 

Once again this forum helps me out! Thank-you!

 

Greg

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I have certainly discovered that different software (RAW converter) can make a big difference to your final output. I have noticed this simply through passing through CS, CS2 to CS3. Pictures that I took on my Fuji S2 Pro look a lot better when converted on CS3 than they did with CS. I think a lot of people under rate the importance of this stage and I daily see results from people using cheaper alternatives.

Edited by John Bantin

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I have certainly discovered that different software (RAW converter) can make a big difference to your final output. I have noticed this simply through passing through CS, CS2 to CS3. Pictures that I took on my Fuji S2 Pro look a lot better when converted on CS3 than they did with CS. I think a lot of people under rate the importance of this stage and I daily see results from people using cheaper alternatives.

It makes sense when you think about it. The camera company should be in the best position to interpret the digital information from their instruments. One of the reasons I chose Aperture over Lightroom was because I preferred the RAW conversion in Aperture (especially 2.1) to Lightroom or Camera Raw. Capture NX is better yet, and I am trying not to be lazy and making myself go through the extra step of converting in NX then saving for cataloguing etc in Aperture.

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Just got my new computer running and checked the thread. ;)

 

Quite a few new things to consider. I usually shoot raw + jpg. The pictures were 14 bit raw files converted in photoshop elements 6.0 without adjustment so I could see what I actually shot. I no longer have the original jpg files to compare because I wrote over them with the photoshop files.

 

So now I need to know if Photoshop even handles 14 bit files and if I should load the Capture NX & viewer software. I never bothered with my Canon because I also have a high end Nikon point & shoot for my wife and for times I didn't want to take my dslr out of the housing. Too much software already.

 

Thanks for all the thought provoking feedback.

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I have now downloaded CaptureNX 1.3.1. When I checked for updates from version 1.3.0, the software claimed there was no update. Until the previous post I never thought to go to the Nikon website and try to download the software (appearantly Nikon doesn't understand what 'checking of updates' means... ;) ).

 

Once again this forum helps me out! Thank-you!

 

Greg

 

Have you tried downloading NX2 - its available as a free trial.

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So now I need to know if Photoshop even handles 14 bit files and if I should load the Capture NX & viewer software.

Thanks for all the thought provoking feedback.

 

CS3 handles 8-bit, 16-bit (14-bit) and 32-bit files. Like CS and CS2 it comes with Bridge, a browser that allows you to see what's on your RAW files. I tend to do all my work in 16-bit and then convert to 8-bit (CMYK) TIF for the printer's PDF at the final stage.

It may not be the best way to work but that's what I do. You can of course open your RAW files directly as 8-bit.

 

I hope this helps and I hope someone doesn't now tell everyone I'm doing it wrong!

 

I tried NX but found it was less intuitive but then it could be simply to do with what I'm used to.

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Have you tried downloading NX2 - its available as a free trial.

 

I haven't tried NX2. Is it an improvement, or easier to use? Has anyone used both, and have enough experience with both NX and NX2 to state whether it is worth going to NX2?

 

Capture NX doesn't seem to be as easy to use as I'd expected. And it does more than I expected. That means I'm just going to have to spend time with it, and see how I like it. For now I'm considering buying an 8GB card (versus the 2 4GB cards I currently have) and shooting both Raw and JPEG for a while. I can probably shoot until the battery dies with that, so I can make it through a day of diving without having to open the housing up.

 

My fear is that if I got to JPEG I'll end up with some fantastic shot, and I'll then realize that it would be better or more marketable if I'd shot it in RAW format in the first place. [Feel free to tell me I'm being paranoid, or down-right stupid.]

 

If I didn't enjoy this so much I'd really be put off by all the work and learning I have to do!

 

Greg

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For now I'm considering buying an 8GB card (versus the 2 4GB cards I currently have) and shooting both Raw and JPEG for a while. I can probably shoot until the battery dies with that, so I can make it through a day of diving without having to open the housing up.

 

My fear is that if I got to JPEG I'll end up with some fantastic shot, and I'll then realize that it would be better or more marketable if I'd shot it in RAW format in the first place. [Feel free to tell me I'm being paranoid, or down-right stupid.]

I don't see a problem with shooting raw+jpeg - in fact that is exactly what I do. The jpeg files don't add that much more space. That way you have the best of both worlds. An alternative would be to shoot just raw and use CaptureNX to batch convert the raw files to TIFF. I considered this, but you'd lose some of the raw conversion options if you had a difficult picture - slightly over or under exposed - although as you still have the raw you could manually process it with CaptureNX.

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