What Is Sharp, What Is Good?

Red deer stag in Richmond Park

This is a Red deer stag that I photographed in Richmond Park about three weeks ago. I photographed it with a Nikon D500 with a Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 AF-P VR lens. It’s actually a slight crop of about 70% of the frame to take out the plain sky.

I haven’t done a lot of shooting with this camera and lens combination. The last time it got a real outing was on safari on the Eastern Cape in South Africa. I had only just bought the camera and lens, and taken it out to test on the Common here in Cambridge. I photographed cyclists negotiating cows, and the results looked good. Then, in South Africa I wasn’t too happy with some of the results. Safaris tend to go out not long after dawn in order to catch the animals at their best. That means the light levels are low and I had to bump up the ISO.

The problem was that I didn’t know the camera well enough, and what I have learned subsequently is that the D500 does not like to be underexposed. I have exposure compensation set at +1 all the time now. I also have the ‘protect highlights’ exposure setting that the D500 has and some of the more entry level Nikons do not have.

And that brings me to the lens. I read that it was good, better than the price would lead one to think. And now, seeing the way it picked hairs out from the neck of a Fallow deer, I know it is sharp. Again, this photograph of a Fallow deer with jackdaws on its back is a crop from the full frame.

Fallow deer with jackdaws on its back

Which leads me to the next point, which is that in addition to the D500 I also currently I have a Fuji X-T2, and X-E3. I have a 27mm f2.8 Fuji lens on the X-E3, and in some ways it is too sharp. I mean it is incredible. All of which makes me realise that there is sharp and then there is satisfying. Something about the Nikon – the natural colours, the overall look – that I like. And I like it more than I did when I used it – badly – in South Africa.