Portraits at f1.2
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Ian Boys
Registered: Feb 09, 2009
Total Posts: 1652
Country: United Kingdom

Just took a Nikon 50mm f1.2 out for a test drive to see what it does wide open. It's VERY soft but I kinda like the effect. Not entirely sure yet but with practice ...







DTOB
Registered: Oct 07, 2010
Total Posts: 1359
Country: Canada

These don't look soft to me, they look like you've missed focus.

In the first, the strands of hair on the right side are sharper than the eyes.

In the second, the stitching in the hood at the top, just left of center and the hair at the far right side of the frame are also much sharper than the eyes.

What body are you using the 50mm 1.2 on? Achieving focus can be very tricky with the stock focusing screens. Most do not show changes in DOF below f2.8. You can verify this by setting the lens to f2 and hitting the DOF preview button. You will notice that there is NO change in DOF.

Personally, I shoot with the 55mm 1.2 and it is very sharp. There are aberrations that can detract from the sharpness, but with proper exposure, you can get amazing results.

I have changed the stock focusing screen on my D700 for one I salvaged from an old Miranda Spotmatic camera. Now, even changing from 1.2 to 1.4 and hitting the DOF preview button, I can see a (very slight) dimming of the viewfinder, and the DOF changes subtly. Before changing out the screen, it was pure luck to get the eyes in focus.

At minimum focus distance, it compounds the problem.



It gets easier at a distance.



And a crop:



Ian Boys
Registered: Feb 09, 2009
Total Posts: 1652
Country: United Kingdom

Thanks for the reply!

I'd love to change my focussing screen on my D700 to one with a split prism or a fresnel screen from an old Nikon F2 but I wouldn't have a clue how to do it. I use manual focus a lot. But I worry I'd break the camera completely.

As for the pics - I think in the first one the eye and hair have the same sharpness because they are equidistant. Not sure about the second. In any case it's very difficult at 1.2. I think DoF is about 1 centimetre so even breathing can throw you out.



Ian Boys
Registered: Feb 09, 2009
Total Posts: 1652
Country: United Kingdom

Love your Coke lady shot but it seems to me it's at f2.8 or so as there's decent DoF.



DTOB
Registered: Oct 07, 2010
Total Posts: 1359
Country: Canada

I can assure you that shot is at 1.2

Changing the screens isn't so hard. I was looking around the internet one night, looking to buy a replacement screen. Everything I saw was around $100 or more. I didn't like the sounds of that, so I went to the junk box and found the old dead Miranda camera. This was around 11:00pm.

Removing the screen from it was easy, as it has an interchangeable prism, like the F3. By 11:15pm I had both its screen, and the screen from my D700 removed, and I could compare them easily. The miranda screen was just slightly larger than the one in my D700. It being made from plastic made it quick and easy to sand down using standard sandpaper on a flat surface. By 11:30pm, I had it down to size and installed in my D700. It works perfectly. My wife ("coke lady") was yelling at me the whole time to come to bed.

It's not that tough if you are comfortable getting your hands dirty.

If you want a hand/some advice just let me know. Also, have you checked out the Manual Focus thread in the Nikon forums? It is a fast moving place to hang out, but AI/AIS users abound and everyone is very friendly. Great group of people.



Ian Boys
Registered: Feb 09, 2009
Total Posts: 1652
Country: United Kingdom

Thanks, I'll give it a look.

Was playing around with it on a couple of F2's and an FM over lunch and established that one of the focussing screens in an F2 was back to front. I must pay more attention! It was super easy to focus on the split prism F2 and FM, way way easier than on the D700.

So I'll have to have a look inside the D700.

Do you use a fresnel screen or a spli prism one please?



DTOB
Registered: Oct 07, 2010
Total Posts: 1359
Country: Canada

Mine has a microprism centre. It is not a split screen. It is most like the EC-A screen shown here (scroll down): http://www.focusingscreen.com/privacy.php

The toughest part for me was figuring out how to remove the screen from my D700. Looking at how-to's on the internet, none of the photos I saw showed precisely what to do. There is a little catch on the top of the mount, above the mirror. With a small screwdriver, you pop it open, and that's it. Once it is released, it all becomes clear how easy it is.