Nikon D5100 Review – Part 4

I just finished with the 4th part of the D5100 story.

Click here to get directly to page 4, or click here to get to the start of the D5100 review.

Covered topics:

  • Battery life
  • A quick rather technical approach to low light AF performance
  • A not so serious exercise to do continous shooting in low light to track cars

    ~Andy

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

Nikon D5100 Review – Part 2

Hi out there,

I did add the next page to my Nikon D5100 review journey.

Covered topics today:

  1. Images of planes in flight with the AFS 55-300mm VR
  2. Some quick remarks about the performance of the AFS 18-200mm VR
  3. A night “shootout” between 7 different bodies. 52 high resolution ISO images to download for personal comparison. (D5100, D50, D90, D3100, D5000, D7000 and D3S)
    As allways, I welcome your remarks and comments.

enjoy, 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

How much resolution do I need? 21 Nikon D-SLRs compared

Welcome to another round of comparison on this website. A while ago, I compared 21 Nikon D-SLR bodies out of my personal interest. How much resolution is necessary with the usual output devices and print sizes. Of course the level of post processing impacts results. As those requirements vary widely, I decided to upload all NEF files from the cameras, so that every interested reader can download the files from cameras he is interested in and apply his very personal post processing and scaling to the size he needs/wants. And THEN assess if he really needs the next resolution level.

I’ve tried very carefully to use the 21 bodies in similar ways in a stable setup to make the comparision as valid as possible. Covered bodies: D1, D1H, D1X, D2H, D2X, D3, D3S, D3X, D40X, D50, D60, D80, D90, D200, D300, D300S, D700, D3000, D3100, D5000, D7000 and as a special guest – P7000.

Further reading is in the article

Enjoy,
Andy

Using the D7000 with the Ai-S 58mm/1.2 Noct

I don’t know why, but today I mounted the old Noct  – one of Nikon’s legendary Nikkor lenses – on my D7000. On my way home – it was already dark – I passed by an old tram garage. A good opportunity to check out how well the legendary lens copes with the modern body.

Please read here the short story and view some photos from this quick encounter.

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~Andy

D7000 – Video mode is temperature sensitive

I am currently in the mountains. I used the camera (D7000) during New Years night to video capture some rockets. Ambient temperature was about –10 degrees (approx. 14 degree Fahrenheit). Only later, when I tried to watch the video on my PC, it became evident that my copy of the D7000 was not able to record any video at this temperature.

Next day, at around  zero degree (32F) –> null problemo.

I am fully aware that the official temp range of the D7000 according to Nikon is between 0 and 40 degrees (32 – 104F). I am not blaming Nikon for anything with this behavior of the D7000. It is just interesting that the consumer cameras can record still images well below their spec, but don’t do so with video mode. Same chip, same electronics – different behavior,

Tonight, the temperature was even lower. –20 degree Celsius (-4 F) – a bit chilly. After two hours out there, rather very chilly.

This time I switched the video mode to the smallest version (640×400), checking if the camera had only issues with the full resolution mode. Battery was full. But no. my copy recorded lots of artifacts. To me, they look like software artifacts. It was absolute no problem to shoot still photography with the camera – it worked flawless. BTW, I also did a long time exposure shot (4 minutes) and due to the excellent power consumption, the battery went only 2% down. Which is way better than the other Nikon bodies I have experience with.

The D3s video mode worked flawlessly. The D3100 joined the D7000 and stopped working at this temperature. getting the camera’s back into normal temp ranges restores the video mode immediately. Would be great, if others could either confirm this or report their better experience in this temp range,

I did not want to upload a crappy video to youtube, but you can download it from here (8 MB)

Capturing photos was easy, but cold. D7000, AFS 70-200mm/2.8 VR II, 8 sec, f8
 

It doesn’t come across with 640×400 pixel images, how well the D7000 performs. The image resolution and graduation is excellent. Don’t want to post the huge original image in here, but for those interested, a 100% crop is included below. (To find: About middle top-down and 1/3 on the left)

Take away: If it is cold and you have have a D7000 like mine, take pictures – you will enjoy it. leave the video mode for summer ….

~Andy

First Impressions with the D7000

This posting is a rough translation of several comments I wrote in diverse internet fora about my first impressions with the D7000. The camera arrived on Nov 5th and in the following 3 weeks, I’ve basically “blogged” in the german NFF forum about my experiences with the newly introduced camera. Others from the english speaking community asked about a translated version of this. A good opportunity to start my small project over here. I love to learn and I love to share. Maybe some people find the content useful.

With that, enjoy my first article about the D7000, (watch out it is rather long)

~Andy