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PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2008 10:16 pm 
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One "parting shot" to show what happens if you shoot against a bright background wide open (f/1.8). The image was slightly overexposed (approx. 1/2 stop) to let the sky and the background wash-out to some foggy shades of gray. The RAW was converted with CaptureNX2 to jpg, then cropped in Lightroom. I also added a little contrast. The crop is at around 60% (magnification).

Image

The effect diminishes when you stop the lens down.

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Last edited by Thomas on Sat Dec 12, 2009 6:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 20, 2008 2:14 pm 
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How come my canon kit never does this 8)

Although to be fair, my 85mm f/1.8 gives me some jip with its lilac and green CA's, easily fixed in lightroom.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2008 2:59 am 
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Thomas

This is the best analysis I've seen on a specific lens. It teached me on what to look for in a good lens, and the difference between studio tests and what happens in the field.

As a matter of fact, I was considering getting a D90 and this lens (among others). Now, who knows?

The only additional view I can offer is from my darkroom experience. It seems to me that we can be much more critical about sharpness in the digital world than in the film world (working in a darkroom, that is). With film, there were many determinants of sharpness, such as film flatness and the accuracy of focusing an enlarger (even using a grain magnifier depends on the accuracy of that instrument).

So I wonder if the fact that digital lets us look critically at so many things has made us aware of tolerances that were not a factor in film. I have a 6 x 9 folding film camera that I thought was almost as sharp as a Rolleiflex when I enlarged in the darkroom (prints up to 40 cm on the long side) but looked much poorer when I was comparing scans that I made (at 50% to 100%). So maybe this lens and the autofocus systems worked well enough for film.

The other thing that I'm interested is is that the D90 has been criticised for only enlarging the screen image in live vies, not the sensor image as Canon does. You seemed to find live view satisfactory with the D300. Do you know if there is a different implementation here?

Thanks again. A fantastic piece of analysis.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2008 6:51 am 
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Thanks for the feedback, HilaryC! Yeah I do a lot of pixel-peeping these days. But I've also seen and tested quite some lenses and I try not to be too critical of every glitch a lens has: E.g. vignetting is seldom on my mind. But yeah: zooming in on an image and finding that the lens didn't live up to it's full potential because of less than optimal focus infuriates me.

As to your other Q:
HilaryC wrote:
only enlarging the screen image in live view, not the sensor image
Well, I must admit that I'm not getting what you're at: If you zoom in on live view with a Nikon you do it on the image the sensor delivers and the zoomed-in view is still updated live. At least on my D300 :?

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2008 10:31 pm 
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Dear Thomas

Many thanks for your response.

With the live view, what I was commenting on was that the reviews say the Canon magnifies the image from the sensor when you zoom in to check focus, whereas the D90, like the Pentax K20D, seems just to enlarge what's on the screen, so you don't get as clear a view of what's in focus. Gordon mentions this in the D90 review. I was just wondering if the D300 is the same (since it's also on my list, with the micro focus adjustment).

I didn't wish to imply that you were going "too far" into the image - after all, I do the same thing myself! Digital lets us do this and I don't see why we shouldn't, if it helps to obtain better images in the long run. One last thought I had was that, for some of the issues, the difference between a digital sensor and film might have something to do with some performance issues (film being a bit more "forgiving" with the direction of light), but I don't really know enough to be specific on this.

Once again, thanks - highly instructive.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2008 11:46 am 
Thomas wrote:
One "parting shot" to show what happens if you shoot against a bright background wide open (f/1.8). The image was slightly overexposed (approx. 1/2 stop) to let the sky and the background wash-out to some foggy shades of grey. The RAW was converted with CaptureNX2 to jpg, then cropped in Lightroom. I also added a little contrast. The crop is at around 60% (magnification).

<<image deleted to save space>>

The effect dimishes when ou stop the lens down.


I think this is an exaggeration to be honest and that Thomas is pushing the lens to expose it's flaws. Kind of like pointing the 14-24mm into direct sunlight to produce flare. Nobody takes a landscape shot at f1.8 in broad daylight.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2008 1:03 pm 
Gregory.Rotter wrote:
Nobody takes a landscape shot at f1.8 in broad daylight.

That's true,a prime for landscape photos is an awful choice,at large apertures. Even legenday Zeiss or Voigtlanger lenses have weaknesses in bright light.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2008 1:21 pm 
I think we're missing the point here. For a good review, it's a necessary to push the lens to reveal it's flaws. It would be quite bad to buy the lens ignoring the landscape shooting issues only to find out it has a similar problem with other styles of high contrast shooting.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2008 1:49 pm 
grahamnp wrote:
I think we're missing the point here. For a good review, it's a necessary to push the lens to reveal it's flaws. It would be quite bad to buy the lens ignoring the landscape shooting issues only to find out it has a similar problem with other styles of high contrast shooting.


I'm not ignoring anything. I'm simply stating that nobody goes around shooting landscapes, with mid day sun, with a prime, wide open. I mean this lens is a portrait lens lol. If you want to push the lens, then sure, push the lens, but do it within a context that you'll actually be using it.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2008 3:41 pm 
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I have another 66% crop here for your consideration:

Image

Shot at f/2.0, +1EV (!) but I'm sure that with the overall exposure of this image (remember, the crop doesn't show all), this shot is effectively even more overexposed at this particular part.
Looks much better, eh?!

Well, this is the Nikon 35mm f/2.0. This is just to explain why I was not amused to find much worse fringing on a lens of similar vintage, construction and price.

As to the comments about landscape: There are famous people shooting landscape with 200-400mm zooms :wink: So there's nothing strange about shooting landscape with a 85mm/1.8 lens which was only dubbed a "portrait-lens" because of its focal length. There are even people out there saying that this lens is "too sharp" for portraiture (those recommend the 85/1.4).

And using the lens wide open on landscape shots? Well, have you ever tried to render one specific tree sharp and the background oof? Well, at those distances where you need to stand to capture trees and the ensuing magnifications (about 1:500) you need the largest aperture you can lay your hands on to achieve any oof at all.
Btw. the same is true for many other subjects in nature...

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2008 4:33 pm 
No I can't say I have. And if I was trying to do so I probably wouldn't do it in what looks like mid day, bright, sun. At the end of the day, it's all down to what you consider to be a factor in buying this lens. If I was going for this lens, I wouldn't be shooting what you're shooting at F1.8.

I can see what you're saying, and all this means to me, is don't shoot landscapes with this lens, and if you are going to, shoot it at a different time of the day, and to properly expose the shot. And just as you say 'there are plenty of pro's who shoot landscapes with a 200-400mm lens, really? You mean the 200-400 lens is used exclusively as a landscape lens by this person? Name me one.

I wasn't stating that the 85mm was ONLY a portrait lens, I was saying that every lens performs best in certain enviroments. Sure you can use it for a landscape lens, but if you get these results, why would you?

The bottom line is use each lens for it's strong points, make your choice of what lens you're going to use for each shot accordingly. In any case, I'm pretty sure that NX2/Photoshop could clear most of this fringing up.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2008 4:55 pm 
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Well, if you know Bjorn Rorslett: This is not the guy for portraiture. His front-page reads: "Professional Nature Photographer".
Quote:
Sure you can use it for a landscape lens, but if you get these results, why would you?
Right. That's why I gave the lens back and mentioned it in my review so that people know what to expect from this lens and what not.
Quote:
In any case, I'm pretty sure that NX2/Photoshop could clear most of this fringing up.
Weeell: Both crops were developed with CaptureNX2 with automatic CA-removal ON.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 27, 2008 2:03 am 
Gregory.Rotter wrote:
I wasn't stating that the 85mm was ONLY a portrait lens, I was saying that every lens performs best in certain enviroments. Sure you can use it for a landscape lens, but if you get these results, why would you?


That's exactly why the test should be there, now that people now about this they wouldn't buy it for these kinds of purposes. Ignoring all the quality issues the 85mm is Nikon's affordable short tele lens.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 17, 2010 9:57 am 
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I had received a PM from another reader which I find interesting for this lens-review:
Quote:
Hi Thomas,

just wanted to say thanks for your insightful review into the 85mm 1.8D. Unfortunately for me, I only read it after I'd bought one used on ebay. I must say, I too am pretty disappointed with its performance. (To be honest, coming from Minolta MF lenses I'm disappointed with the build quality of more modern lenses in general, though having autofocus is a bonus.) I'm using the 85mm on a D90 and have been having similar AF issues to those which you described. It seems to be off more times than not compared with the kit lens. I know that the kit has a maximum of 5.6 at 85mm so the AF-D at 1.8 requires more care in focusing. However, even when I set the AF-D to 5.6 the focus was still off.

I wanted to ask you whether you'd had similar problems with the other AF-D lenses you've owned (or used). How do they perform compared with their AF-S counterparts? I need to get a 50mm and am wondering whether to get the AF-D or the AF-S, I don't want to end up squandering yet more money that I can't afford to waste.

It's a real shame about this 85mm as it can be sharp and having the aperture ring is great in the movie mode, but since I need it most for stills I think I'm going to sell it on.

Kind regards,

My answer was:
Quote:
That's a pity that you also have problems with your copy of the 85/1.8. As to the 50/1.4 I'd prefer the newer AF-S version as I definitely had issues with (un)reliable focus on the AF 50/1.4D.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 17, 2010 10:40 am 
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I don't know if I may add here, but setting a lens to a similar aperture does not change focus performance. The aperture stays opened wide until the shot will be taken. :-)

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