Thursday, January 24, 2013

Nikon D5200 "sharpness issue" clarified.

Recently, the website reported that they were having "sharpness issues" possibly due to phase-detect (viewfinder) AF problems or mirror-slap vibration being magnified by the high-res sensor.

You can see their report here: pocket-lint: "not sharp when using viewfinder"

I am here to allay the fears that the D5200 is plagued with "soft" images. The images I have been producing with the D5200 are indeed tack sharp and there are no AF issues that I've found.

I tested my D5200 on a tripod using a variety of lenses at different focal lengths with different apertures at many different shutter speeds. Even at shutter speeds up to 2 seconds long I have found NO mirror-slap vibration related softness. I have found the phase-detect AF to be accurate on fast and slow lenses, pro lenses, kit lenses, zooms, and primes.

Here are a couple of example shots .The screen grabs show the images at 100%. The lens and exposure info is displayed. The images are displayed full size for easy viewing of the sharpness. These are straight RAW files. No sharpening, no exposure adjustment, Tungsten WB set in-camera.

The D5200 images are just as sharp as the images from my D600. If you're looking for a good sharp camera don't worry. The D5200 is so far excellent.

Stay tuned for a full review.

Screen Shot 2013-01-23 at 9.29.36 PM Screen Shot 2013-01-23 at 9.30.21 PM


Anonymous said...

Why don't you compare the jpeg because pocket lint have compared jpegs?

J. Dennis Thomas said...

First of all, if it's an AF issue it will affect both RAW and JPEG. Secondly, if it's mirror-slap vibration it will affect both RAW and JPEG. Lastly, the JPEGS look the same as the RAW files.

Remember that the camera records RAW and the EXPEED 3 processor converts it to a JPEG.

Luckily I shot RAW+JPEG Large Normal. Take a look. Even at less than optimal settings with No NR or sharpening the images are sharp.

webken said...

I think 1 sec is not a proper speed to test mirror slap. May you try to test it between 1/20 and 1/160. I had a test with d5200 and it had definitely mirror slap. The camera was fixed and I used self timer. Please check this:

J. Dennis Thomas said...

Apparently you didn't read this part :

I tested my D5200 on a tripod using a variety of lenses at different focal lengths with different apertures at many different shutter speeds.

If this were an actual problem there would be a lot more complaints.

Nathan said...

Stand-by for more complaints. I suspect that the use of a tripod tends to dampen some of this vibration. I've taken around 500 (handheld) shots with my new D5200 and consider 90% of them unacceptable. Please don't suggest that a tripod is required to achieve the advertised quality of this camera. If that's the case I'll have a slightly used one for sale soon.

J. Dennis Thomas said...

The D5200 has been on the market for over a year. The complaints are minimal. I haven't seen any surfacing on the web or in my flickr group in I don't know how long (if ever).

Have you considered the possibility that you aren't holding the camera with a steady hand? Maybe your technique could use some work? Are the shots deemed unusable only after viewing them at 100% magnification?

A tripod will not dampen vibration that comes from INSIDE the camera. That's why they have mirror lock-up for long exposures.

Nathan said...

I'm sure my technique could use some improvement. This is my first experience with a DSLR, but so far my point and shoot seems to take better pictures. I'm attempting to do some HDR with (3) bracketed (mode AP)images (AE2.0). I've varied the shutter release from Continuous L to H, but most of the +2EV frames are blurred, even on the tripod. Seems anything in the 1/200 shutter speed and below are blurred. I'd love to send you a few images and see what you think.

Nathan said...

You mentioned mirror lock-up: I don't find that option for the D5200 except for cleaning. Or does "Live View" lock the mirror up?

J. Dennis Thomas said...

I forgot the D5200 doesn't do Mup. But yes, Live View does lock the mirror in the up position.

Nathan said...

Thanks for the feedback. I really appreciate your expertise. Maybe I'm expecting too much in such a subjective area as "sharpness". You asked in an earlier post if I deemed an image unusable only after viewing it at 100% mag? But shouldn't I expect a crisp "No Parking" or street name sign at 50 feet in bright sunlight (28mm-f8-ISO200-1/800s), even at 100% mag? I'm rarely seeing that. Maybe I'm on the wrong track, but so far most of what I've shot can best be described as "muddy".

J. Dennis Thomas said...

Do you have a flickr or something I could look at?

Nathan said...


(2)sets of (3) AEB exposures, on tripod.

Thanks for looking.

Kevin Fitzmaurice-Brown said...

The problem with the D5200 and there is a very common problem is with sharpness and focussing. However these tests will not show the problem as it does not happen with close up images !
I tested wit 8 different Nikon lenses both AF and manual. All showed the same problem, but not close up.

J. Dennis Thomas said...

@Kevin Fitzmaurice-Brown: These aren't close-up images. The were taken at least 3 feet away. What you are looking at are 100% screen captures, not macro shots.

In any case I'm not sure why you think that close-up images would be immune. The closer the focus the higher the magnification, the more the vibration will be visible. It's physics. That's why the 1/focal length rule doesn't apply in macro and also why VR is less effective when doing close-up and macro photography.