Nikon D5100 Review – Part 3

Here comes the next part of this review.

(Click here if you would like to start from the beginning of the Nikon D5100 review)

This time I’ll share some images and experiences with the 2 kit lenses – the AFS 18-55 and AFS 18-105mm VR. The bigger share of this third part is spend around night photography, how well the D5100 handles overall low ISO situations. But it is also a good opportunity to demonstrate the limitations entry level bodies have versus their more expensive companions in the pro camp.

~Andy

Focus issues with fast lenses: Status = solved.

Due to other obligations, I hadn’t updated my blog for a while. Before I start with other stories I’d like to share, I thought to sum up the old story of the fast lenses I started in january.

About 3 months ago, I had this bad experience with the D7000 and the 3 new fast prime lenses (AFS 24mm/1.4, AFS 35mm/1.4 and AFS 85mm/1.4). Images were really bad, when shot wide open. Trying to narrow down the root causes, unfortunately other bodies displayed the same behavior as the D7000. Looked like, it was a bigger issue.

To cut a long story short, after 2 visits at the Nikon Service Point, the problem is now solved. The worst combination I had, was the D7000 with the AFS 24mm/1.4. Blurred images independent of aperture, distance and focus accuracy.

During the second visit, all 3 bodies (D7000, D3X and D3s) and all 3 lenses were adjusted properly. One could argue, that Nikon should have shipped perfect producst from the beginning. My answer to this is :Yes and No. Yes, it would be great to see all components in the image pipeline like AF accuracy, tolerances to progress as well. No, as complex systems are hard to come by, and usually, customers and suppliers are intertwined in their desire to solve issues.

Anyway, after the adjustement, there is no need for any AF finetuning and the lenses and bodies are smoothly working together with very pleasant results.

Thanks Nikon,

~Andy

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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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

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

The limits auf automatic longitudinal CA correction

Isn’t the current world of photo tools fantastic? Just one click in modern applications like Capture NX2 and artifacts like color aberrations are magically eliminated. At least, that is what we are made to believe. Those tools have some big disadvantages – they did not accompany you while you captured your photo, did not get an explanation what your intend was, did not recognize the objects in the scene. That’s why they are sometimes limited in their utility or even worse, counter productive. Let me share an example.

Two months ago, Europe experienced heavy snowfall, which impacted air travel in the northern part. I got stuck at Berlin Tegel airport. Finally, after 6 hrs delay and 2 re-bookings, we were allowed to walk to the Air-Berlin plane around midnight. I took a couple of images with the AF-S 35mm/1.4 mounted on the D700, while waiting for boarding over the staircase.

I took the image below and was really surprised when I developed the photo via CNX2 and wanted to save the final image on disk. This was not the image I recorded originally. It was significantly different. All the letters were framed in black borders. The red “Air Berlin” letters on white background, as well as the white letters on the red background on the engines.

Triggered by this abnormal behavior, I started to investigate for the root cause. Finally the culprit of this strange thing was found. Turning on longitudinal CA removal in CNX2 “created” this black frame around the letters. Turning it off, removed it. It is a repeatable thing. Weird.

I don’t have insight into Nikon’s software algorithms, but based on the behavior of CNX2 with my image, I would think that the way how this algorithm works is based on edge detection with certain color values and halo ranges. By selecting the “remove this” button, the software replaces the CA halo with darkened pixels, i.e black. To me it looked like the company colors of the Air Berlin plane was not in line with the automatic algorithms of Capture NX – hence the letters were framed black.

It is easy to reproduce with this image. If your are interested to try it for yourself – click here to download the original NEF file.

~Andy

This the overall image

This is the image, when longitudinal CA removal is not used. (This is the way it should look like)

This is the image, when longitudinal CA removal is turned on. All letters are framed with a black border.

By the way, did I say I love the AFS 35mm/1.4 G ? I love it ….. (Taken from the staircase upon entering the plane)