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Author Topic: D810 + fast primes handheld  (Read 26109 times)

trevarthan

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D810 + fast primes handheld
« on: August 15, 2014, 09:21:01 am »

I've had a D3s since 2010, but recently bought a D810 for images where resolution matters.

One thing that's really knocking my socks off in a bad way is how much my 85mm f1.4g sucks on the D810, handheld. I was taking pictures of my daughter playing with legos this morning, or trying to, and I thought, NAH, I won't use the 70-200mm f2.8 VR II. It's too big and heavy. I'll just snap that little 85mm f1.4g on there and sneak some pictures while her attention is on the legos. Total fail. I set the shutter speed to 1/250s and every frame turned out blurry.

At first I thought I was getting some back or front focus on the body. Eventually, after playing around with different things and focusing manually with live view as a test, I bumped the shutter to 1/400s. That seemed to be ok. I then got my 70-200mm VR II out and tested how low I could go. I was reliably getting sharp photos at 85mm and 1/125s. That's a HUGE difference. I bought that fast prime to assist in shooting low light scenes hand held, but if I have to crank the shutter speed up to 1/400s to eliminate hand shake (I think I have a pretty steady hand too), that means I have to lower my f-stop to f1.8 or f1.4 just to get the shot at the same ISO. That's a worse picture, not a better picture!

Granted, if there was some serious action going on, the 85mm 1.4g could out perform the 70-200mm f2.8 in low light, but that's a really narrow use case.

Why in the heck didn't they ship these fast primes with VR? That would make these lenses so much more useful.

None of this matters on a tripod, of course. I just felt like ranting this morning.  I think the D3s's resolution is low enough that I never noticed this before. Seems like the D810 just magnifies every little flaw in an image. You have to really be precise with it. Kind of a double edged sword.
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CptZar

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Re: D810 + fast primes handheld
« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2014, 10:00:03 am »

I have the same problem with the A7r. With the Sony, if you select Manual with ISO Auto you can choose Exposure Time and Aperture manually, and the camera will adjust ISO accordingly. I am sure Nikon offers that too, maybe a little different.

You will loose dynamic range this way, true, but for most situation, when there is not a dramatic dynamic range, like in landscape, I feel this is acceptable.

Cheers


Jan

joneil

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Re: D810 + fast primes handheld
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2014, 10:35:13 am »

          In my personal experience, and your mileage can and will vary, I find not just with my D800, but even my D700 and cameras before it, everything is sharper when I use a monopod, with or without VR.    If I do not have a monopod, I lean against a wall, lamp post, sit at a table with my elbows on top of the table, etc, etc, etc.    Even with VR and even shooting at speeds at or above 1/1000th, I have always found it helps.

      On the flip side of things, I have shot 4x5 film (Crown Graphic) hand held a few times in the past.  So for the record, I am a guy in a glass house throwing stones.  :)    
 
    IMO, one good thing about the D800 and other hi-resolution cameras is they are forcing people to really examine thier lenses, the way they shoot, maybe just everything about how they do photography.   For what it is worth, back in the "old days of film when dinosaurs roamed the earth", or something like that  (  :)  ), you would find that the first time a person tried something like Tech Pan 25 or Kodachrome 25 or any of the other, slow speed but very fine grained films that similar issues came out then.   That old grainy colour 1000 ASA film sure hid a lot of problems.  :)

      I once knew a guy who bought a Leica just so he had something "worthy" of Kodachrome 25.  Mind you, with hindsight, I also think the guy just wanted a Leica to begin with and would of found any excuse to buy one.   Just like how today some guys on other forums will post and million page message trying to convince themselves whey they need to upgrade to the D810 from their 3 month old D800.  :)

   One last thought - none of my lenses has any VR or IS or anything like it.  I use mostly Zeiss and Nikkor primes, and my one zoom, the 24-70, does not come with VR to begin with. Sold off the couple of lenses I once had that did have VR.  For my part, I do not miss VR lenses at all.
good luck


  
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b2martin

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Re: D810 + fast primes handheld
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2014, 10:36:56 am »

If you set the D810 to Auto ISO you can then set the max ISO and minimum shutter speed.  You can select Auto for minimum shutter speed, which will make the shutter speed a function of the f stop set for the lens.  There is a scale for minimum shutter speed where the middle setting is 1/f stop, but you can adjust the setting to make it slower or faster than this setting.  I shoot in aperature priority using these settings.  Don't know if this will solve you problem, but give it a try.  
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trevarthan

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Re: D810 + fast primes handheld
« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2014, 11:22:21 am »

The more I dig into this, the more unsure I am what is going on. I just shot a completely stationary object, consistently, hand held with arms not braced on anything but my body (I was kneeling though), down to 1/80s with the 85mm 1.4g. Of course, the 70-200mm has no trouble keeping up either.

I thought, maybe it's the AF motor in the 85mm 1.4g. I use continuous focus mode with these lenses since the DOF is so narrow. But in that case increasing the shutter speed to 1/400s wouldn't make any difference, and it seemed to. I'm going to have to keep testing with a live subject and see if I can figure out a pattern. Grumble grumble.
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trevarthan

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Re: D810 + fast primes handheld
« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2014, 04:09:27 pm »

I think I might have a defective lens. I attempted fine tuning per this guide:
https://nikoneurope-en.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/51633/~/how-to-use-the-af-fine-tune-function

and got +10 at f1.4, but that setting doesn't work at f2.8. I'm going to test with another body and make sure it's the lens.
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photodan

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Re: D810 + fast primes handheld
« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2014, 07:53:38 pm »

I used to have the 85mm f/1.4G. Like many fast lenses this lens has 'focus shift', which means the plane of sharp focus changes as you stop the lens down from f/1.4 to f/2, to f/2.8, etc.  So, in your case,  if the lens/body AF fine-focus adjustment is perfect for shooting at f/1.4, it's likey not going to be perfect at f/2.8 - you'll need a different af adjustment setting. At some point the increased depth of field may overcome the focus shift, but it might be f/8 or thereabouts.

It's a royal pain to deal with, but when you have a high mp camera like the D810 it's going to make a difference in  many cases. 

Also, sometimes the AF focus adjustment may need to be one value for close up subjects and a different one for subjects very far away. I don't remember if that applied that lens or not. Also, it can vary by lens sample, esp. if you have a defective one.

Those factors might be the problem you are having, but OTOH they might not be. Maybe it's just the shutter speed or something else like the continuous AF working better with your zoom than the 85mm lens.

To nail it down might require extensive testing on your part. For example you might get the Lens Align AF tool or use a finely detailed test chart (or just a newspaper or magazine page) tape it to a wall or window (assuming your main subjects of interest are of close to moderate distance), and carefully calibrate the AF focus at 1.4, do it again at f2.8, and then 5.6. Do this by having the camera on a tripod and using mirror up and/or faster shutter speeds with higher ISOs as desired (but not too high to cause much image degradation).  See if optimum af adjustment numbers are the same for each f-stop or not. You'll having to deal with the usual AF inconsistencies common to most all cameras and AF lenses, so shoot at least 3 shots at each f-stop/af setting, refocusing for each shot.

Then, using the optimum AF setting for f/1.4, take the camera off the tripod, stay about the same distance from the target and shoot hand held. Shoot at varying shutter speeds by varying the ISO. Then do the same thing for 2.8.  And, you might do similar tests with your zoom (but pick just one focal length for the comparison and stick with it). This should help identify the problem.
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melchiorpavone

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Re: D810 + fast primes handheld
« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2014, 09:29:57 pm »

Vibration reduction causes loss of image quality. Why would you ever want it?
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BernardLanguillier

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Re: D810 + fast primes handheld
« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2014, 09:47:16 pm »

I am usually shooting the 85mm f1.4 at 1/200s and have not noticed hand shake induced blur.

Now, shooting this lens at f1.4 for close subjects is difficult. You'll never have a 100% success ratio getting the eyes perfectly sharp simply because they may be smaller than the AF sensor area.

Even live view is not the perfect solution.

MF with MF lenses may be a better approach at the end of the day.

Cheers,
Bernard

trevarthan

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Re: D810 + fast primes handheld
« Reply #9 on: August 15, 2014, 10:24:22 pm »

I used to have the 85mm f/1.4G. Like many fast lenses this lens has 'focus shift', which means the plane of sharp focus changes as you stop the lens down from f/1.4 to f/2, to f/2.8, etc.  So, in your case,  if the lens/body AF fine-focus adjustment is perfect for shooting at f/1.4, it's likey not going to be perfect at f/2.8 - you'll need a different af adjustment setting. At some point the increased depth of field may overcome the focus shift, but it might be f/8 or thereabouts.

It's a royal pain to deal with, but when you have a high mp camera like the D810 it's going to make a difference in  many cases. 

Also, sometimes the AF focus adjustment may need to be one value for close up subjects and a different one for subjects very far away. I don't remember if that applied that lens or not. Also, it can vary by lens sample, esp. if you have a defective one.

Those factors might be the problem you are having, but OTOH they might not be. Maybe it's just the shutter speed or something else like the continuous AF working better with your zoom than the 85mm lens.

To nail it down might require extensive testing on your part. For example you might get the Lens Align AF tool or use a finely detailed test chart (or just a newspaper or magazine page) tape it to a wall or window (assuming your main subjects of interest are of close to moderate distance), and carefully calibrate the AF focus at 1.4, do it again at f2.8, and then 5.6. Do this by having the camera on a tripod and using mirror up and/or faster shutter speeds with higher ISOs as desired (but not too high to cause much image degradation).  See if optimum af adjustment numbers are the same for each f-stop or not. You'll having to deal with the usual AF inconsistencies common to most all cameras and AF lenses, so shoot at least 3 shots at each f-stop/af setting, refocusing for each shot.

Then, using the optimum AF setting for f/1.4, take the camera off the tripod, stay about the same distance from the target and shoot hand held. Shoot at varying shutter speeds by varying the ISO. Then do the same thing for 2.8.  And, you might do similar tests with your zoom (but pick just one focal length for the comparison and stick with it). This should help identify the problem.

I plan to do this tomorrow. Wanted to do it tonight, but wasn't in the cards. My plan was to contact Nikon once I have a clear picture of how the lens is performing. I've heard of people sending lens and body in for calibration and that fixing the problem, so I thought I would go in armed with data. I also plan to do the same on my other body and my other fast primes, just to be thorough.

Good plan?
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photodan

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Re: D810 + fast primes handheld
« Reply #10 on: August 16, 2014, 01:15:19 am »

I plan to do this tomorrow. Wanted to do it tonight, but wasn't in the cards. My plan was to contact Nikon once I have a clear picture of how the lens is performing. I've heard of people sending lens and body in for calibration and that fixing the problem, so I thought I would go in armed with data. I also plan to do the same on my other body and my other fast primes, just to be thorough.

Good plan?

It's probably a good plan.You'll have performed the tests that you can and you'll give Nikon the results. One slight caveat though is that sometimes a camera company will say a lens is performing 'within specs', and your particular lens may be at the farthest range of the spec'd range. Hopefully by performing the tests you'll find what is causing the problem and that it might something really simple like just the focus shift I mentioned, and you won't have to send your lens in. 
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PhotoEcosse

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Re: D810 + fast primes handheld
« Reply #11 on: August 16, 2014, 07:21:00 am »

Vibration reduction causes loss of image quality. Why would you ever want it?

I have always thought that - although Nikon deny it. Certainly, I have never missed VR on my 14-24mm, 24-70mm or any of my primes. I keep it switched off on my 70-200mm unless I think I actually need it.

But, let's be clear, image quality diminution from VR deployment is likely to be noticeable only at high magnifications. I don't think you will see it on an A3+ print from the full frame of a D810.
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Bart_van_der_Wolf

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Re: D810 + fast primes handheld
« Reply #12 on: August 16, 2014, 08:06:56 am »

Vibration reduction causes loss of image quality. Why would you ever want it?

Hi,

The loss of image quality from the additional opto-mechanical adjustments is very minor, and most likely dwarfed by camera shake (and can also help focus accuracy by providing a more stable image to focus on). The net gain of vibration control (either opto-mechanical, or a sturdy tripod and mirror-up locking) is very often a significant net improvement, especially on a high resolution sensor with good quality lenses.

The more stable viewfinder image also makes composing much easier.

Cheers,
Bart
« Last Edit: August 16, 2014, 08:09:07 am by BartvanderWolf »
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JohnBrew

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Re: D810 + fast primes handheld
« Reply #13 on: August 16, 2014, 08:41:03 am »

I am usually shooting the 85mm f1.4 at 1/200s and have not noticed hand shake induced blur.

Now, shooting this lens at f1.4 for close subjects is difficult. You'll never have a 100% success ratio getting the eyes perfectly sharp simply because they may be smaller than the AF sensor area.

Even live view is not the perfect solution.

MF with MF lenses may be a better approach at the end of the day.

Cheers,
Bernard

My experience echos the advice of Bernard. I have a much easier time hand-holding MF lenses such as the Zeiss 55 1.4. I almost have to shoot the 85 1.4G on a tripod. I also don't much care for the very short focus throw on the 85 in MF - it's a picky but fantastic lens when you nail it. I'm looking forward to reading the experiences with the new Zeiss 85 when it arrives.

trevarthan

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Re: D810 + fast primes handheld
« Reply #14 on: August 16, 2014, 09:40:41 am »

It's probably a good plan.You'll have performed the tests that you can and you'll give Nikon the results. One slight caveat though is that sometimes a camera company will say a lens is performing 'within specs', and your particular lens may be at the farthest range of the spec'd range. Hopefully by performing the tests you'll find what is causing the problem and that it might something really simple like just the focus shift I mentioned, and you won't have to send your lens in. 

I'd been reading that term "focus shift" all day, but I was having trouble understanding what it was and why it was. Luckily, I stumbled across this article last night during my research: http://photographylife.com/what-is-focus-shift

It has diagrams, which I found extremely helpful. So yes, now I understand that this is a function of the lens and if it is within spec, there isn't much I can do about it.

However, being a software engineer, I have to wonder if Nikon has settings within the firmware of the camera (or less likely, the lens itself) that they can tweak (and we can't) that compensate for this sort of thing. That would account for some of the lens reviews where people send the lens off and it comes back "perfect".
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CptZar

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Re: D810 + fast primes handheld
« Reply #15 on: August 16, 2014, 10:28:11 am »

Are you using the center focus point when you shoot wide open?

trevarthan

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Re: D810 + fast primes handheld
« Reply #16 on: August 16, 2014, 10:57:19 am »

Alright, I redid my tests with the 85mm f1.4g and the d810 in slightly more controlled conditions and with more variation. These are the results:

With the target 6' away, af tune +6 is perfect for f1.4 and f2.8. This also holds for the target 4' away.

With the target 16' away, af tune is +10 at f1.4 and f2.8 is fine there too.

So, I'm not really seeing focus shift for apertures, but distance. Is that still called focus shift?

I intend to redo this test with my D3s too, but it's out in the field this morning so I'll have to wait for it to get back.
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trevarthan

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Re: D810 + fast primes handheld
« Reply #17 on: August 16, 2014, 11:20:14 am »

Are you using the center focus point when you shoot wide open?

Yes.
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Some Guy

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Re: D810 + fast primes handheld
« Reply #18 on: August 16, 2014, 11:41:00 am »

Try using the 85mm in "manual focus mode only" in Live View and see how it goes.  The AF can be wonky.  I'm not a fan of Nikon's AF system overall since they only allow for one AF tuning number in the camera's menu for the owner, and they can set up to 6 in the lens on their bench from reading their service manuals.

I own a Sigma 35mm f.1.4 ART lens and their docking port to tune the thing.  It allows for 4 focus zones to tune and mine goes from a -13 to a -1 over the four zones, and even more in their ART zooms.  It wasn't linear at all out of the box on my body, but at least it is much better once tuned.  Problem is another body throws it all out the door as it is specific to that body once tuned.

How good Nikon tunes it if you send it in is a crap shoot.  Sometimes they just make it worse.  Two of my last three Nikon lenses had to go in right out of the box.  Their QC seems very iffy, imho.

SG
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trevarthan

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Re: D810 + fast primes handheld
« Reply #19 on: August 16, 2014, 11:57:21 am »

Try using the 85mm in "manual focus mode only" in Live View and see how it goes.

It's fine in LV modes, I think, but my understanding is that LV uses a contrast detect autofocus system and the viewfinder uses a phase detect autofocus system. I'm mostly interested in getting this lens fixed for viewfinder use.

In manual focus mode, I'm still using the phase detect system for the focus lock dot, so it makes sense that it would be off there too.
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