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I'm new to photography and got my new 50mm Nikkor f1.8g for my DX camera D5300.

I've taken first Portrait photoshoot of my friend in an outdoor park which looked nice on my camera screen. But when I move it to my computer, I could see the images were not sharp. I was inspired by many people's Portrait images with 50mm which thought I could replicate the same. But I assume I'm making some mistakes which can't identify myself.

I've taken various images of a subject with distinct settings and attached for your reference. Please advise me: what am I doing wrong?

Some info:

  • I used a tripod
  • All images are cropped 100%
  • Distance from subject to camera: 2 meters
  • no post-processing

You can see the grain on all images. Please help enter image description here

enter image description here

  • Are you shooting RAW/JPG? I also don't understand two apparently conflicting pieces of information... distance 2m & 100% crop. At 2m that model would be tiny in the frame & so would require a heavy crop to re-frame as your posted shots. Why not get closer to your subject; that lens ought to be OK at 20cm on a small subject like that. – Tetsujin Jan 15 '17 at 9:30
  • @Tetsujin All were Raw and converted into JPEG to upload here. Actually i used my friend with distance of 2m and results were not sharpen. So i replicated with this tiny object. This car size would equalise person's eye in portraiture. So i would like to know how to get that shot – Davey_31 Jan 15 '17 at 9:56
  • Sharpness decreases with widening aperture, that lens is at its sharpest at around f8-10 – Digital Lightcraft Jan 15 '17 at 10:51
  • @DigitalLightcraft is there any way to achieve sharpness at wide?? no cheat way to turn it ?? like flash? – Davey_31 Jan 15 '17 at 11:01
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As highlighted in the comment, all other things being equal, the sharpness of a lens depends only on the aperture. Of course, you need to use the suggestion of Why are my photos not crisp? to use the most of what you have.

As mentioned in this question (Is there a difference in sharpness between aperture stops?), lenses are soft (low sharpness) at their maximum aperture and sharpness increases as you stop down your lens (=as you are using a smaller aperture, for example from f/2.8 to f/8).

However, due to diffraction limit (What is a "diffraction limit"?), you can stop a lens indefinitely and after a point, sharpness decreases again (example : Why isn't this portrait taken at f/29 sharp?).

Single shot

If you want to have the sharpest image your lens can deliver with a single shot, you might want to look at charts made by people reviewing lens. For example, for your lens, you will find result such as this one (from www.photozone.de) :

Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.8 G MTF

This chart gives the MTF of your lens (see How do I interpret an MTF Chart?): the higher score, the better the resolution. So with your lens, the best settings should be around f/5.6 for a maximum sharpness.

Of course, with a given aperture and if your want to keep the same distance to your subject, the depth of field will be fixed too (look at What is aperture, and how does it affect my photographs? and What exactly determines depth of field?).

With an aperture of f/5.6, a focal length of 50mm and a distance to your subject of 2 meters, the DoF will be about (results from http://dofsimulator.net/en/), the DoF will be about 35cm (from 16cm in front of your focus point to 19cm after it). It changes to 50cm at f/8.

If the DoF is too shallow for your taste, you can use another technique.

Multiple Shoot

If you really want the best sharpness on all your object (or your scene), you can combine multiple images taken with the best aperture, each taken with a different point of focus. This is called "DoF stacking" and you can find more info here:

For a portrait, however (=moving person in the scene), I doubt DoF stacking is a viable solution (probably a lot of ghost effects).

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