Update #3: Focus issues with pro-lenses

Just a quick note.

Nikon support wrote today, that they could not reproduce the (lack of) quality of the images like my D7000 and the AFS lenses I submitted via some NEF files showed. For me this is good news. Of course I have to bring my gear to the next Nikon service point, but this does not matter. Important to me is the fact, that it seems to be a sample variation or calibration issue. In an ideal world, everything would have been perfect from the beginning, forever and always. C’ome on. Understanding that people are assembling the cameras and lenses, errors are inevitable – a fact of life. Can be fixed, I assume.

It would have been way worse, if Nikon’s investigation would have identified that this is the performance “by design” – nothing to do about.

So Nikon, please calibrate my gear and you still have a happy user in your camp.

~Andy

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Update #2: Focus issues with pro-lenses

A quick update on my original post with the D7000 focus issues with the new high-end AFS lenses (24mm, 35mm, 85mm). Nikon support responded on friday afternoon, that they have opened a support case will look ito it early next week but would welcome more information.

After the initial surprise on friday, I did some tests at home yesterday and to be able to have some images to share with Nikon I did some shots at the Schönbrunn palace.

To cut a long story short. It is not a D7000 issue. It is a broader issue. Please don’t conclude from my experiences to a generic design or Q&A problem – there is just no evidence for this kind of speculation.

What is not speculative is the result of some test shots taken in the last 2 days with my Nikon gear and the action going forward.

Ok, lets start:

I am still suprised, that this “problem” of a significant focus inaccuracy with fast lenses shot wide open at long distance did not get my attention earlier in my life. Thinking about those years it is true, that I seemingly never shot under these conditions (fast lens, wide open, long distance). With fast I mean everything faster than f2. Ok, let me be more precise with my attestation: I’ve never shot with a high end fast lenses under this conditions. I did it with “cheaper” lenses like the AFS 35mm/1.8G and AFS 50mm/1.4G (or the AFD), but when I saw the medicore results it was easy to attribute it to the mainstream lens class –  as I was under the impression that there should be some difference between these classes.

Talking about wide open – free hand night photography is usually on short distance objects. Long distance night sceneries are usually taken from the tripod and stopped down. I did few images wide open and long distance. But with night photography these abberations did not get that clearly out, among all the other potential night issues.

Topic resolution. People used to view images at typical web resolution (900×600) won’t find any issues stemming from those high res sensors. If you don’t need more, stop investing your time in this article and move happily on. These artifacts are imho clearly visible above something like 2000  x 1300 pixel images (no hard numbers here). Every resulotion in between is dependent on the viewer.

Nikon positioned the new AFS 24mm/14.G and the AFS 35mm/1.4G explicitly as versatile tools coping with such broad shooting situations like portrait, still life , landscape and astro photography with “world class” low abberations for wide shots. With this kind of positioning, I didn’t feel completely out of place to use my lenses for shooting at distances of more than 100 ft (30m) wide open. At least “astro” sound awfully far away.

Some insights:

  • All 3 fast & new AFS lenses exhibit this focus inaccuracy and distortion with more cameras: I tested it on the D3, D3s, D3x, D700, D7000, D2x, D300 and D300s. I did not use the other consumer bodies, but there is no reason that it would work there either. Anyway, I wouldn’t want to use these lenses with the remaining bodies.
  • The AFS 24mm/1.4 is hit hardest by this problem at f1.4. At f2.8 most of the abberations are gone, at f5.6 it is on save grounds in this respect
  • The AFS 35mm/1.4 is following the 24mm closely
  • The AFS 85mm/1.4 is also affected at f1.4, but not as significant as the wide angle brethrens.
  • The AFS 200mm/2, one of the best Nikkor lenses does not AF properly with the D7000 at f2 (this is also true with the D3x)
  • The D7000 has AF issues with many more lenses (I did not test other camera/lens combinations): AFS 17-55mm/2.8, AFS 70-200mm/2.8 VR I, AFS 24-70/2.8, AFS 28-70/2.8 to name a few.
  • Based on its higher resolution sensor, the D3x is more affected that the other FX cameras (but they are affected as well)
  • I’ve also checked the AF fine tuning in close range with wide open lenses.

I did send Nikon some test photos to help their support team, but to me it looks like I have to ship a pretty big box to Nikon. I trust Nikon that they will figure out what is wrong here.

If any of the readers have images shot under similar conditions, I would love to hear from them and see those images (preferred NEFs), be it perfect in focus or not.  Many thanks.

If you are interested in the original NEF’s – please download them here. (take the image number as download index)

~Andy

Some images:

Schönbrunn palace, all focus test images taken from a tripod, remote, mirror up, …
This was shot with the PC-D 85mm/2.8 – intentionally blurring the palace
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Nikon D7000 (100% crops)

 

(D7K_3291) D7000 & AFS 24mm/1.4

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(D2K_3294) D7000 & AFS 35mm/1.4
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(D7K_3297) D7000 & AFS 85mm/1.4
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(D7K_3300) D7000 & AFS 200mm/2
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Nikon D3X (100% crops)

(D3X_1171) D3x & AFS 24mm
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(D3X_1174) D3x & AFS 35mm
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(D3X_1177) D3x & AFS 85mm
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(D3X_1205) D3x & AFS 200mm/2
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2 Images taken at a shorter distance.

As I said before: This problem is strictly a long distance/wide open issue between many camera bodies and lenses. All the mentioned bodies and lenses are able to deliver excellent images in different shooting styles.

D7000 & AFS 200mm/2 @f2, about 40 ft, handheld
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100% crop
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or from the zoo in Schönbrunn
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100% crop
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Finally – AF focus test with the spyder lenscal

 

D7000 & AFS 24mm
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D7000 & AFS 35mm
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D7000 & AFS 85mm
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D3x & AFS 24mm
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D3x & AFS 35mm
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D3x & AFS 85mm

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Comparison of sharpness and contrast of 4 lenses

While waiting for Nikon’s response to my weird D7000 image quality issue with fast AFS lenses, I keep on translating some older comparisons between new lenses and old lenses. At least, they were new, when I originally did the comparison last late summer 2010.

Nikon presented last september its brand new and highly anticipated FX super zoom  – the AFS 28-300mm VR – which triggered in many discussion forums hot debates about the merits and drawbacks of a 11-fold zoom. Most discussions were based on hearsay and speculation or, on viewing some small images on the web and deduct their qualities from there. Plus the imho grossly overlooked AFS 55-300mm DX VR came along as well

It was time to put more meat into the debate …..

Here we go. We have 4 lenses waiting on the starting line, 2 are new, 2 are well known:

  • AFS 28-300mm VR – In Nikon’s marketing terms: AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm/3.5-5.6G ED VR
  • AFS 18-200m VR I –  (AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-200mm 1:3,5-5,6G IF-ED VR)
  • AFS 55-300mm VR – (AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR)
  • AFS 70-300mm VR – (AF-S NIKKOR 70-300 mm 1:4,5-5,6G VR)
    Please read here the article and get the NEF files
    ~Andy

D7000 – blurred wide open images with fast pro-lenses

After some inital issues, I’ve enjoyed using the D7000 as a kind of sidekick camera. Small, compact and líghtweight, the D7000 is able to produce decent images, sometimes even superb images.

I was interested how the D7000 would perform with Nikon’s recently introduced fast pro-lenses – the AFS 24mm/1.4G, the AFS 35mm/1.4G and the AFS 85mm/1.4G.  I thought – excellent.

This was my believe – and I was wrong. Severely wrong.

Please read here the article. I will update it accordingly, when I’ll get a response from Nikon’s support team on my issue.

~Andy

D7000, AF-S 24mm/1.4G, 100% crop, @ f1.4 – not even close to what I expected

Blog started. The way forward.

Dear readers,

Those first 10 days of my blog was an interesting exercise to get this long standing idea started. It was of course a significant effort, but nevertheless a lot of fun as well. Please don’t forget, that this site is a pure hobby site. It is not (ab)used for generating advertising revenues or other financial income streams. My intention is to maintain this site as long as I enjoy creating content for it. Given that my day job in a different field is very demanding (at least it seems to me …), I will not be able to keep the posting cadence of the initial first days, which was largley possible that I spent some night hours during my x-mas holidays. Tomorrow, I am back to work ….

I do have some other material in deposit for the future and depending on interest and my time availability, I will contine to add articles and content at a slower pace going forward. For instance, similar to the D7000 review, I did a similar article for the P7000, or some computer related articles. Some lens and body comparisons are in the wings as well. Some stuff need to be newly created, some other need only be translated. This site is not intended to be run as a news aggregator, or a rumor mill. I will predominately write about stuff I do have personal experience with, or are able to cover it because I have access to it.

Please do not forget, that I am not a pro photographer, with seemingly hundreds of years experience, who is able to spend the majority of his time building up knowledge in this field. I love this hobby, it is not my only one (but my favorite), but there is another family and professional life around, which is hugely important to me. It’s all about balance to keep enjoying things longtime.

With that, I thank those first readers (10.000 page views, based on wordpress stats) sincerely, who visited my small project site  in these first 10 days. I really appreciate your level of interest and look forward to walk our mutual journey with this wonderful hobby together.

with kind regards to the global Nikon and photo community,
~Andy

Article – Nikkor Ai-S 180-600mm/8 ED

In the spirit of my website and blog, I’d like to alternate between stories taken with Nikkor lenses and Nikon cameras and sometimes showing and displaying those great pieces of engineering as main attraction.

Today I’d like to write about the famous Ai-S 180-600mm/8 ED, the smaller brother of the even bigger Ai-S 360-1200mm/11 ED lens. It is one of those old gems, which perform with contemporary bodies remarkably well. Some would be tempted to say – excellent.

If interested in the article and some photo’s, please click here

~Andy

A walk during a foggy night in Vienna

Yesterday night, we had quite heavy fog in Vienna. After walking with the dog, my dog decided to stay home – but I could not. The mood of fog in a city was just too tempting. It was already approaching 1am, when I started to pack my backbag and left home for a night walk in the city.

Please join me on my nightly trip through my beloved city.

~Andy