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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3 Responses to Update #2: Focus issues with pro-lenses

  1. James Knapton says:

    I bought a D7000 a couple of months ago after upgrading from a D70. I’ve been surprised by how many blurry shots I’ve taken with the D7000 with reasonably decent lenses (180 f2.8, 85 f1.8, 50 f1.8, 70-300VR, 20.f28). They’re not pro lenses but by no means poor. I generally put it down to taking time to get used to the D7000 and also the extra resolution, but now I’m not so sure. Even viewing the whole picture on the monitor the images are often noticeably soft. I shoot around f8 and keep the shutter speed well above the reciprocal rule, but still get a surprising amount of soft shots – more so than on the D70. I’m generally not a fan of the conspiracy theories but this is first time I’ve heard someone talk about a similar issue – I don’t get front or back focus – just soft focus. I can’t really explain it and it’s not consistent. Maybe it is just a better sensor showing up my lack of skill but I wouldn’t have expected 16MP images to look softer than 6MP images on a 2.5MP monitor! My 20mm 2.8 lens is the worst and maybe that lens just doesn’t perform well on digital bodies, but I used to find on my D70 that by the time you were down at f8, you could generally get pretty sharp images.

    • nikonandye says:

      James,
      sorry to read about your issues. One thing you might consider: If it is not consistently showing up, the likelyhood to have a bad copy of the D7000 is very slim. It is either soft or not, but not in between. I would not argue that is your shooting style, but would recommend that you check this out with some friends who might have advanced a bit more on the journey.

      Enjoy your hobby,
      Andy

      • Conroy says:

        Andy,

        Did nikon solve your issue completely? My D7000 with 35mm 1.4g is having same issue as your, i have compared the picture with D3S(same len) and D3S caught with nice image. i have sent it to nikon service centre and they could not solve it completely, the image is still soft with aperture 1.4. If can, could u send me the picture(1.4 aperture) which you have taken after nikon have fixed the issue.

        Best Regards
        Conroy

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