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Soft/grainy images with D300

sarmour 11 81 Scotland
20 Jul 2011 8:28AM
I have recently started to notice that my photos, even at 100 or 200 ISO, are very soft and grainy. I have tried different lenses and the problem doesn't go away. It is much worse in photos that are a touch under-exposed. Any suggestions? Or is it a case of sending the camera back to Nikon?


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TimMunsey 7 86 United Kingdom
20 Jul 2011 8:59AM
How about posting a sample? What lenses do you use, have you taken shots with a tripod (sharpness issue)? Do you underexpose (grain issue)?
Need more info. Also at what level of magnification are you looking at your images, how much of a pixel peeper are you, 100, 200 or 300%?

Nick_w Plus
10 4.3k 99 England
20 Jul 2011 9:39AM
I had 2 D300s one had an accident and couldn't be repaired. I recently looked at some RAWs from the first and they were spot on, the second I was never happy with. Grain in sky areas like you describe, quite soft at anything over F11 and very soft at F16.

Looking back I should have had it serviced by Nikon.
strawman 14 22.1k 16 United Kingdom
20 Jul 2011 9:49AM
A generic thought, sometimes the dynamic range optimiser or extender (name depends on camera brand) can affect the noise levels. It may be worth experimenting with that off.
cameracat 14 8.6k 61 Norfolk Island
20 Jul 2011 10:31AM

Quote:A generic thought, sometimes the dynamic range optimiser or extender

Agree with John, Double check your settings, Look at what level " D Lighting " option your using.....!

Also ( Though at ISO 100/200 it should not be required ) check you " NR " setting, I generally have mine off 99% of the time......!

Test using the " Middle " aperture on whatever lens is used, Too smaller an aperture can lead to diffraction issues.....!!

Test only on a tripod at a fixed target, Something with plenty of detail to examine, Some peeps recommend a newspaper.......!!!

During T pod tests use a remote release or mirror lock up, To help avoid any movement induced blur....etc etc.

If all this fails to resolve the problem, Send it to Nikon ......Wink
sarmour 11 81 Scotland
20 Jul 2011 10:37AM
@ TimMunsey

here is an image from a wedding on Saturday taken with the Tamron lens. Zoom into 100/150 to see the problem sta-6074.jpg

I use a number of lenses (sigma 70 -200 f2.8, 18-250 os, 70mm f2.8 macro, Tamron 28-75 f2.8) I have also taken some test shots using a tripod in case it is my shaky hands but there is no great difference. The grain is much worse when the image is underexposed. Normally I zoom to 100% if amending sharpness etc, more if doing detailed cloning
TimMunsey 7 86 United Kingdom
20 Jul 2011 10:52AM
I can't see much wrong with this photo in terms of pic quality, it does look a "high contrast" day so perhaps you pulled these out of a shadow leading
to noise issue. I agree with the turning off of the D-Lighting as that can add noise, small apertures can result in loss of sharpness due to diffraction but this takes serious pixel peeping to see. Another thing to check is the camera AF fine tuning, has this been altered?
Do you know someone who is happy with their D300 and so can compare results of the same shot?
Photozone de is a good site for checking optimum aperture for your lenses on the D300.

PS as part of my work flow I use noise reduction software even with the D3 at all ISO's.
cameracat 14 8.6k 61 Norfolk Island
20 Jul 2011 10:58AM
Some questions...!

This image, Is it straight from the camera.....? Has it been mangled in any way.....?

Have you got your D Lighting set on high, Or worse on " Auto " ....Because here we have a strong background light, Couple in shade under a tree, Yet both the brides dress and the dark suit of the man are well exposed, Without a hint of any shadows in the tree or anywhere else.....!!!

So just where is the focus point and whate " Metering " mode where you using......?

More questions than answers I'm afraid.....Grin

Just one last point, At this sizew the image does not look to bad, As Tim said a tad contrasty perhaps, What kind of display are you viewing the images on....? ? ?

For photography work, The monitor or display you use, Is almost as important as the lens or camera you use, On that note have you got any Nikon lens....!!!!!
TimMunsey 7 86 United Kingdom
20 Jul 2011 11:03AM
Another thought, have you turned your in camera sharpening up to compensate for your loss of sharpness? This can add noise.
Sharpening unless applied selectively needs to be used along side noise reduction software.

User_Removed 8 4.6k 1 Scotland
20 Jul 2011 8:50PM
You're not, by any chance, shooting Jpegs, are you?

If you are, then there are umpteen possible in-camera adjustments that could be giving you poorer quality images. (such as the in-camera sharpening mentioned above).

If you shoot in Raw and pay particular attention to the histogram to get the optimum exposure for your subject, then, provided you are using manual exposure and manual focus, the D300 should be capable of giving excellent results. Try some tests with everything on manual and then try to replicate the shots with AE and AF separately and then together. It's really only by that sort of process of elimination that you can ultimately see where the problem might lie.
aftertherain 13 4.2k 2 United Kingdom
20 Jul 2011 9:47PM
I had the exact same experience with my D300, the images suddenly were looking very grainy especially with the sunrise and sunset shots I take.
I had taken about 70,000 shots with it and think it's just wearing out.
It has been serviced regularly and no settings were changed.

I bought a D7000 to see me through until the D300s replacement and that highlighted just how bad the D300 had become.

I know they say the sensor is good for 150,000 shots but maybe there's a sliding scale of deterioration.
strawman 14 22.1k 16 United Kingdom
21 Jul 2011 9:56AM
The sensor will age, but I would not expect noise more stuck/hot pixels. The service life of 150k is more for the mechanical bits like shutter and mirror for noise to get worse it is more likely that the internal electronics like filter capacitors are ageing and to be honest I would not think that very likely in something as young as the D300. Could be worth trying a new battery just in case it is electrical noise.

Anyway regardless it is not likely to be the sensor, far more likely to be settings or software changes. No changes to your editor SW etc?? In the life of your camera it will have updated a few times. Electrical noise is worse in the D300 than the D7000 so it could be a clue.
Paul Morgan 16 19.1k 6 England
21 Jul 2011 8:41PM
Silly question, have you used, played with or borrowed a newer model, maybe that grain has always been there and its just that you have`nt noticed it before.

And would electrical noise increase grain, or would it look more like banding.
aftertherain 13 4.2k 2 United Kingdom
22 Jul 2011 10:07AM
Well I'm sure the techy people on here know how the camera works and can give hundreds of reasons for grain/softness, but mine was from experience of the camera itself and like Samour my D300 suddenly started to give results that were grainy and softer than they had been. Maybe like all other goods these days it's a built in obsolescence.

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