D7000 and AF revisited

DWphotos

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Hello all. My name is Dave and I've recently (5 days ago) purchased a new D7000 and like many others on various internet sites, I'm having trouble with soft images. I realize this subject is a dead horse for many here and I apologize for revisiting this subject. But I have read and read hundreds of earlier posts on this forum and others.
Before I describe it, let me give you some background.
I am a coin dealer who also enjoys photography. I have been using my D70s along with my ~12 yr old Nikkor 105 mm macro lens in preparing coin images for the internet. One thing I absolutely need is crisp, sharp images. Although my D70s has been performing flawlessly, I've been envious of the D7000 and from all the reviews published, it sounded like an amazing camera. So I purchased it and am now finding my images are all slightly out of focus. Something I did not know was such a popular subject until I googled it.

Now before you jump to the conclusion it's mirror slap or that I'm using Live View, let me describe my set up and what I've discovered so far...

My camera is on a tripod tethered to a computer and I use Nikon Camera Control pro 2. The lens is a 105 mm f2.8 macro lens and is one of the old Japanese made lenses (I purchased it back in the N90 days). The D7000 has the latest firmware update (first thing I tried) and I am utilize the exposure delay mode and I fire the camera using Camera Control pro. I have tried each and every AF setting and have also tried wide area AF, normal AF. I have also read Darrel Young's book inside out. And sure enough I have fuzzy photos. But add to this some interesting findings...

When I position the coin such that the coin nearly fills the space I have these symptoms that seem independent of AF settings-

a) ISO 100, f4 = out of focus
b) ISO 400, f9 = focus (nearly perfect)
c) ISO 800, f9 = perfect focus
d) ISO 100, f22 = better focus than f4, but not as good as (b)
e) ISO 1000, f4 = almost in focus

Now here's the rub, if I reposition the coin about 8 inches further away from the lens and thus not fully utilizing the full exposure area then at ISO 100, f4 I have a very good focus and at ISO 200, f4 it looks almost perfect. How is it that high ISO and small aperture settings give me sharp images but if I reposition the coin further away I can use the low ISO and open lens? Shouldn't it be the other way around? And then what does it mean that when I move the coin further away from the lens the focus is also tight?

So I understand that I can use the fine focus adjustment to get the image to sharpen but here's the rub. I've a buddy with a D7000 and when I put my lens on his box and do all the above the photos are beautiful and crisp at out-of-the-box settings. If I had not tired my friends D7000, I would think fine tuning is the issue, however, I know the D7000 can produce sharp, crisp photos w/o resorting to fine tuning, does that mean my D7000 is out of alignment in some way? Is this simply a product of moving from up from a D70s? If so, how did the other D7000 achieve focused images? I'm confused...

I have 4 more days left to return the camera with a full refund. I also live in San Diego and about 3 mi from my home is a certified Nikon repair shop. My question for those who can stomach yet ANOTHER person having issues with their D7000 is this - should I return it and wait for another box to arrive, should I try taking it to the Nikon repair dealer or should I assume all can be fixed with fine focus tuning and go that direction? Ideally, I hoping there's a member out there who has had this issue and was able to resolve it. I love the way this camera feels, the sound it makes and the potential it has. I would hate to have to return it but a camera unable to take crisp photos is not what I wanted.

Thank you in advance
Dave
 

Bossy

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What are your shutter speeds?
 
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DWphotos

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I've allowed them to vary according to the auto focus, but generally they're around 1/750 or more. However, while mucking around with the aperture at ISO200 and f22 my shutter speed was as slow as 1/10 and the photo was not perfect but much better focus than when I was at ISO100 f4. Hence I do not believe it's a vibration issue.
 

Bossy

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I'm wondering if what your seeing isn't focus and just noise that makes the image look sharper. Can you post a few images?
 
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DWphotos

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I'll see if I can figure out how to post images, however, the noise be greater at ISO 400 than at ISO 100, right? I do understand noise vs. focus, so I'm fairly certain it's not noise. Nevertheless, I'll give it a try.
In the meantime I've contacted Nelson Photo (about the greatest camera shop in the world, IMO) and they're more than willing to swap this body with another and see if that doesn't solve the problem.
 

Bossy

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Yeah I'm sorry, I read that as ISO 1000.
It does sound like the focusing is off, obviously at F22 you'd have a much larger depth of field so pretty much anything in your frame would be in focus, but F4 should be pretty easy to focus too.
I'd probably not mess with it and return it, get another one and see if you have the same issue.
 

matthewo

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"Now here's the rub, if I reposition the coin about 8 inches further away from the lens and thus not fully utilizing the full exposure area then at ISO 100, f4 I have a very good focus and at ISO 200"

so, its all dependent on how far its away not really so much dependent on the iso or the aperture. i know this sounds silly, but are you sure your lens can focus as close as your asking it to?
 

KmH

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For most having auto focus issues the root problem is an insufficient understanding of depth-of-field (DoF), which determines how deep into the scene anything can be sharpley focused.

The distance the point of focus is from the camera's image sensor is a critcal value.

Visit thsi link - Understanding Depth of Field in Photography

DoF9x6-1.jpg
 
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