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Why not sharp?

I took some night shots last night when out with Julian, but when I came home and looked at it on my laptop, it didn't seem that sharp (particularly details in building windows in the distance).
I used a sturdy tripod (055 ProB + 322RC2 head), remote switch and mirror lockup, however it still isn't that sharp.
I'm starting to think that my expectations from the gear is too high, or that I'm doing something wrong Smile

I'm also trying to find a suitable example, but in doing so (when trying to make a 100% around the focussing point I used), I found that either it was on manual focus (perhaps why?), or that my focussing point was somewhere that didn't have something I wanted to focus on) - because if the subject doesn't fit into the focussing grid, I'd just focus-lock-recompose.
How should I go about getting the sharpest image possible? I know it might sound strange, but it might also be because I'm becoming dissatisfied with my gear! (or just too-high-expectations).

I was using a Tokina 12-24 with 30D body, shooting at f/8 with shutter speeds ranging from 10-30 seconds.
I'll try to find some suitable examples Smile
Is it just recently, or have you never bee satisfied with that lens/camera combo ?

/Paul L.
Strives to make photos instead of taking them...
I want to look at my old photographs to compare, because I used to be happy with it - but I lost many in the hard disk crash, and I'm away from home at the moment.

I think it's mainly since last night! :O oh no
Any exposure that long is not going to be razor sharp, wind or even you moving your feet can vibrate the tripod through the ground, no matter how sturdy.

If it was manual focus, make sure the eye piece a adjuster is correctly adjusted. When I got my new camera I was complaining that when the camera thought it was focused, the images were blurred to me in the eye piece, when i focused manually the files were blurred on the computer, I finally realised the eyepiece diopter wasn't centered!
It sounds like your gear setup was appropriate for the job (tripod, slow speeds, cable release), but I am interested in what you said about finding out that you were sometimes set on manual focus or your auto focus selection spot was not as expected. If this was the case, and you weren't manually focusing, it might explain your issues.

I had a problem in France last year when for a whole day, I wandered around with the lens set to manual focus (the lens can be set separately from the camera as it has a switch to move between manual focus and Auto). Most of the shots from that day are close to in focus because I was shooting at a reasonably high aperture number and with a wide angle, but they lack critical sharpness - and that sounds a bit like what you are describing.

Another possible issue if you are manually focusing is the diopter setting on the eyepiece. These can often be *tuned* to your vision, and if yours has been accidentally moved, maybe your perception of manual focus is off somewhat.

At least I knwo why many of my Melbourne night shots are soft focus - they were hand held at 1/8 to 1/30 sec... :/
Craig, Rob, interesting point about the diopter setting. I don't take off my glasses when I shoot, which means that my eye is further back... I wonder if this would affect my manual focusing or not? Hm... I've got to try it out... Big Grin

One thing with my D50 which sometimes affects my focus - I use single point AF, and pressing the 4 way controller shifts the focus point. Sometimes I bump it accidentally, and it shifts to the side without my knowledge... and voila - blurry photos! Big Grin

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