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Nikon 85mm f/1.8G - Sharp Enough?
  
 
fetopher
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Nikon 85mm f/1.8G - Sharp Enough?


Hey folks,

I hope you can lend some extra sets of eyes to help me determine if my new Nikon 85mm f/1.8G lens is focusing as I should expect. I have two sample photos (and 100% crops) below.

First, some background...

Through extensive testing with FoCal over the past few months, I've come to learn my D800 has a front-focusing issue. My lenses require a fine-tune adjustment of +9 to +20. So, whenever I buy a new lens in the future, I plan to give it a good testing, both with FoCal and in the real world, so I can determine if I need to return it. With that established as a starting point, what I really need help with is figuring out if a newly purchase Nikon 85mm is focusing properly.

This is actually my second Nikon 85mm f/1.8G. The first copy needed more than +20 according to FoCal (as much as +36, which is not possible, obviously). So, I returned it for another copy. It's much better and within my fine-tune range. FoCal says it needs +12 when the subject is close (4 feet) and +18 when the subject is far (15 feet). I'm usually shooting close to 15 feet than 4 feet, so I settled on +16 as the fine-tune adjustment for this lens.

Then, I set out with my wife and son to take some test shots at the park. Here are two shots, with 100% crops after each. Note that these are straight out of camera. I applied no sharpening and no CA fixes, so these will improve once post processed, but I figure it would be most useful for evaluation to look at them untouched. Also, these two photos are about as any of the 200 I took. I'd say 3-5% are roughly this sharp in the batch.

Also, I'm not super comfortable at this focal length (50mm is my best), so I'm willing to accept user error. I also don't know if 3-5% keeper rate is good, but considering this was my first serious attempt at 85mm, I'm guessing it will improve.

So, looking at the sharpness of these photos, would you be happy with the results? I suppose another way to look at it is, would you load these in and say, "wow, tack sharp!" or would these samples leave you wanting more sharpness?

Thanks for your time!
- Chris





Subject far away, pretty stationary (not walking in any direction), focus on eyes.

  NIKON D800    85.0 mm f/1.8 lens    85mm    f/1.8    1/200s    800 ISO    +0.3 EV  







100% crop of previous.

  NIKON D800    85.0 mm f/1.8 lens    85mm    f/1.8    1/200s    800 ISO    +0.3 EV  







Subject near, walking towards me, focus on left eye.

  NIKON D800    85.0 mm f/1.8 lens    85mm    f/1.8    1/250s    800 ISO    +0.3 EV  







100% crop of previous.

  NIKON D800    85.0 mm f/1.8 lens    85mm    f/1.8    1/250s    800 ISO    +0.3 EV  



Edited on Jan 06, 2014 at 07:36 PM · View previous versions



Jan 06, 2014 at 07:02 PM
oiseau0001
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Nikon 85mm f/1.8G - Sharp Enough?


This lens is not sharp on your rig. It appears to be back focussing based upon your second, full-size picture (look at the ground) You also have alot of noise for ISO 200. Over sharpening OOF maybe?


Jan 06, 2014 at 07:21 PM
Steve Perry
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Nikon 85mm f/1.8G - Sharp Enough?


Looks like it's still front focusing to me. The 85 1.8 is sharp when it's spot on. In the second photo, sure looks like it focused in front.

Edited on Jan 06, 2014 at 09:33 PM · View previous versions



Jan 06, 2014 at 07:24 PM
oiseau0001
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Nikon 85mm f/1.8G - Sharp Enough?


I should probably add that virtually ever properly focused and exposed 85 f/1.8G shot I've ever seen was razor sharp. I mean, the D800 + this lens should be nearly as sharp as it gets period.


Jan 06, 2014 at 07:26 PM
fsiagian
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Nikon 85mm f/1.8G - Sharp Enough?


Why is it so grainy? ISO 800 for a D800? The focus seems off.


Jan 06, 2014 at 07:28 PM
fetopher
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Nikon 85mm f/1.8G - Sharp Enough?


oiseau0001 wrote:
I should probably add that virtually ever properly focused and exposed 85 f/1.8G shot I've ever seen was razor sharp. I mean, the D800 + this lens should be nearly as sharp as it gets period.



That's what I've read elsewhere, which is why I am a little disappointed at these results. I expected to be wowed. Instead, I'm searching for what went wrong.

The noise is due to ISO 800.

Do you think 1/250 sec. was quick enough? We're not looking at motion blur here, right? This is more of a soft focus/lens blur issue to my eye.



Jan 06, 2014 at 07:29 PM
fetopher
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Nikon 85mm f/1.8G - Sharp Enough?


I rechecked my export settings and I had accidentally left Lightroom's sharpen for screen on. I re-exported with no sharpening and edited my original post. Noise is less, but focus is not better (obviously).


Jan 06, 2014 at 07:38 PM
gugs
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Nikon 85mm f/1.8G - Sharp Enough?


The pictures should be sharper. There are several factors influencing the results: fine tuning is one. I think that in the example pics the shutter speed might be a bit too slow. There could be a slight motion blur decreasing the overall sharpness. I have the impression that we don't judge lens sharpness only here. Don't forget that the 'safety' speed is depending on sensor size and sensor resolution. The D800 will need a much higher shutter speed than a 12MP camera for instance if you look at 100% crops. Another element is the scene complexity vs the 'resolution' of the AF sensors. This will lower your 'hit' rate.

Guy



Jan 06, 2014 at 07:40 PM
lxdesign
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Nikon 85mm f/1.8G - Sharp Enough?


Agreed...something is not quite right. My 85mm is tack sharp on my D800


Jan 06, 2014 at 07:45 PM
snapsy
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Nikon 85mm f/1.8G - Sharp Enough?


Try Dot Tunning it at infinity and see if it improves. I've found that many primes with distance-specific tune variation work best at all distances when tuned at infinity. Based on what you described it'll likely tune at or beyond +20 - if it does there are workarounds for that as well. But try it first and we can work from there.


Jan 06, 2014 at 07:55 PM
 

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Frode
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Nikon 85mm f/1.8G - Sharp Enough?


At that distance I wouldn`t focus on the eye - too small area, not much contrast. I would use dynamic af (9 points), Focus Lock- on set to normal, and focus on his chest where his jacket and shirt meets (contrast). He`s moving, right?

If there is no user error regarding the posted pictures, I`d say your combo are frontfocusing.

And 3- 5% keeper rate is WAY to little - should be the opposite (95% keeper rate).

NB! D800 needs faster shutterspeed than cameras like f.ex. D3/D700 (12mp) in order to get sharp pictures.



Jan 06, 2014 at 08:26 PM
fetopher
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Nikon 85mm f/1.8G - Sharp Enough?


Great feedback, all. I really appreciate your time in helping me out.


snapsy wrote:
Try Dot Tunning it at infinity and see if it improves. I've found that many primes with distance-specific tune variation work best at all distances when tuned at infinity. Based on what you described it'll likely tune at or beyond +20 - if it does there are workarounds for that as well. But try it first and we can work from there.


I've read many of your posts and count it an honor you've jumped on this thread. I'll try your Dot Tune method, but may not be able to get to it for a day or two. I'm curious what workarounds might exist for tuning beyond +20? Perhaps you're referring to the default tuning with no lens-specific tune.

Frode wrote:
If there is no user error regarding the posted pictures, I`d say your combo are frontfocusing.

And 3- 5% keeper rate is WAY to little - should be the opposite (95% keeper rate).

NB! D800 needs faster shutterspeed than cameras like f.ex. D3/D700 (12mp) in order to get sharp pictures.


I'm willing to accept user error. It sounds like 1/250s may not be quick enough a this focal length on a D800. I went back through and found this shot of my wife at 1/320s. She was moving less than my son as well, so this shot has two variables going for it. To my eye, this seems sharper than the first samples, but I wouldn't call it "tack sharp."

Same thoughts on this one at higher shutter speed? If so, perhaps we can start to rule out user error to some degree.






Focus on subject's left eye.

  NIKON D800    85.0 mm f/1.8 lens    85mm    f/2.0    1/320s    200 ISO    +0.3 EV  







100% crop of previous.

  NIKON D800    85.0 mm f/1.8 lens    85mm    f/2.0    1/320s    200 ISO    +0.3 EV  




Jan 06, 2014 at 08:55 PM
OccAeon
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Nikon 85mm f/1.8G - Sharp Enough?


I agree, that is not as sharp as it should be.


Jan 06, 2014 at 09:19 PM
fsiagian
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Nikon 85mm f/1.8G - Sharp Enough?


You don't need 1/250 to get a sharp shot. The focus seems to be in front of the first nail (front focus). So, try the micro adjust.


Jan 06, 2014 at 09:20 PM
snapsy
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Nikon 85mm f/1.8G - Sharp Enough?


fetopher wrote:
I've read many of your posts and count it an honor you've jumped on this thread. I'll try your Dot Tune method, but may not be able to get to it for a day or two. I'm curious what workarounds might exist for tuning beyond +20? Perhaps you're referring to the default tuning with no lens-specific tune.

Nah, the honor is mine to help. Right, we can use the default tuning value in place of the lens-specific value since the default yields more tuning range. But before that we can use the defocused method to find how far the range extends beyond +20 (I described this method most recently here).



Jan 06, 2014 at 09:34 PM
workerdrone
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Nikon 85mm f/1.8G - Sharp Enough?


Your question is really, "do I have an AF problem?" - and it appears you do.

If you really wanted to know if your lens was sharp, you would test it under ideal conditions - base iso, mounted on a solid tripod and head, live-view manually focused, timer or remote triggered, mirror up. A few shots at different apertures and distances to get a solid baseline.

It's boring and technical, but before I got in front of such adorable and photogenic subjects, I'd establish a baseline of what my gear was capable of and then do my best to achieve that under (not)ideal conditions.

Some gear just works from the get-go and you don't need to bother with this, but if you're unhappy with something you need to get scientific about it before you waste too much time.



Jan 06, 2014 at 09:41 PM
oiseau0001
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Nikon 85mm f/1.8G - Sharp Enough?


The shot of your wife is also not sharp. The focus appears to be on her arm rather than her face. Either way, it's nowhere near where I would would expect with a D800 + 85 f/1.8G.


Jan 06, 2014 at 09:42 PM
fetopher
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Nikon 85mm f/1.8G - Sharp Enough?


workerdrone wrote:
Your question is really, "do I have an AF problem?" - and it appears you do.

If you really wanted to know if your lens was sharp, you would test it under ideal conditions - base iso, mounted on a solid tripod and head, live-view manually focused, timer or remote triggered, mirror up. A few shots at different apertures and distances to get a solid baseline.

It's boring and technical, but before I got in front of such adorable and photogenic subjects, I'd establish a baseline of what my gear was capable of and then do my best to achieve that under
...Show more

I agree! I actually went technical with this lens before doing any real-world tests. Testing with FoCal showed I needed between +12 and +18 depending on the distance to the subject. Looking at FoCal's results, the target chart looked quite sharp at +16, +17 and +18. So, I figured from a technical standpoint, this lens on my body can produce sharp results. My next step was to take it out into the field to try it in real life. The photos in this post are the result. Obviously, I'm disappointed, but I'm not ready to send this copy back and ask for another because there may be some user error on my part.



Jan 06, 2014 at 09:45 PM
fetopher
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Nikon 85mm f/1.8G - Sharp Enough?


oiseau0001 wrote:
The shot of your wife is also not sharp. The focus appears to be on her arm rather than her face. Either way, it's nowhere near where I would would expect with a D800 + 85 f/1.8G.


Thank you. It is these kinds of firm statements that help the most. I've spent a good deal of time searching the web for others posting 100% crop on eyes with my body/lens combination so I could compare side by side, but so far I'm not turning up much.

If anyone has any 100% crops with the Nikon 85mm f/1.8G handy, please do share!

Thanks!
Chris



Jan 06, 2014 at 09:47 PM
oiseau0001
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Nikon 85mm f/1.8G - Sharp Enough?


Looking at the EXIF gallery on here, below are two links to shots taken with the D800 and 85 F/1.8G. Better lighting for sure, but *much* sharper as well:

http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1197076/-1#11475514
http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1194095/-1#11386381



Jan 06, 2014 at 09:47 PM
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