Not happy with pics from Nikors best lens 85mmf1.4 using D80.Guidance please.

Discussion in 'Digital Discussion & Q&A' started by waavman, Aug 30, 2009.

  1. waavman

    waavman TPF Noob!

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    Hello experts,

    My question is related to photos I took with my Nikon D80 DSLR using one of Nikon's sharpest & fastest lenses the AF NIKKOR 85mm f/1.4D IF
    I rented the lens and took several snaps and I was expecting the photos to be ultra sharp as is discussed in most of the forums on the web and also after looking at the sample image shown on Nikon.com taken with the same lens and with the same camera at http://chsvimg.nikon.com/products/imaging/lineup/digitalcamera/slr/d80/img/pic_004b.jpg
    But none of my photos turned up that sharp and one the other hand were even softer than my cheap regular general purpose 18-135mm lens. I also have additional gripes about pictures taken in this classic lens listed below. Please guide me in identifying what I could have done wrong in each of these pictures and how could I get shots like the sample image from Nikon.com above whne using the 85mm f1.4.
    All the pictures I took were using a tripod and remote control to eliminate effects of hand shake .


    (Image 1 : Why did it get over exposed. Shot in aperture priority with the metering information given below with the focus areas on one of the 3 kids faces . Obviously the camera selected the shutter speed. Why did the photo get overexposed. )

    http://lh4.ggpht.com/_V8l4JqSrAMw/S...1600/nikor-85mm1.4_aug152009e-.3_DSC_0943.jpg

    Metering info for this

    Compressed RAW (12-bit)
    Image Size: Large (3872 x 2592)
    Color
    Lens: 85mm F/1.4 D
    Focal Length: 85mm
    Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority
    Metering Mode: Multi-Pattern
    1/100 sec - F/2.8
    Exposure Comp.: 0 EV
    Sensitivity: ISO 100
    Optimize Image: Custom
    White Balance: Auto
    AF Mode: AF-A
    Flash Sync Mode: Not Attached
    Color Mode: Mode Ia (sRGB)
    Tone Comp.: Auto
    Hue Adjustment: 0°
    Saturation: Enhanced
    Sharpening: High
    Image Comment:
    Long Exposure NR: Off
    High ISO NR: Off


    (Image 2: I had set the cameras focus area on the lady in the photo and was shooting in aperture priority mode with the metering info given below. But even then the lady's face was not sharp and the baby's face was overexposed. I shot with tripod and remote control . What could have gone wrong with the settings ? )

    http://lh3.ggpht.com/_V8l4JqSrAMw/S...600/nikor-85mm1.4_aug162009_e-.5_DSC_1023.jpg

    Has the following metering info
    Image: DSC_1023
    Compressed RAW (12-bit)
    Image Size: Large (3872 x 2592)
    Color
    Lens: 85mm F/1.4 D
    Focal Length: 85mm
    Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority
    Metering Mode: Multi-Pattern
    1/25 sec - F/2.8
    Exposure Comp.: 0 EV
    Sensitivity: ISO 100
    Optimize Image: Custom
    White Balance: Auto
    AF Mode: AF-A
    Flash Sync Mode: Not Attached
    Color Mode: Mode Ia (sRGB)
    Tone Comp.: Auto
    Hue Adjustment: 0°
    Saturation: Enhanced
    Sharpening: High
    Image Comment:
    Long Exposure NR: Off
    High ISO NR: Off

    (Image 3: Camera's focus area was set on the face of the lady on the right. But both of them turned out blurry. I shot with tripod and remote control . Shooting mode was aperture priority. What could have gone wrong with such a razor sharp lens. )
    http://lh5.ggpht.com/_V8l4JqSrAMw/S...1600/nikor-85mm1.4_aug162009e-.3_DSC_1031.jpg

    Has the following Metering info:
    Img: DSC_1031
    Compressed RAW (12-bit)
    Image Size: Large (3872 x 2592)
    Color
    Lens: 85mm F/1.4 D
    Focal Length: 85mm
    Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority
    Metering Mode: Multi-Pattern
    1/30 sec - F/2.8
    Exposure Comp.: 0 EV
    Sensitivity: ISO 100
    Optimize Image: Custom
    White Balance: Auto
    AF Mode: AF-A
    Flash Sync Mode: Not Attached
    Color Mode: Mode Ia (sRGB)
    Tone Comp.: Auto
    Hue Adjustment: 0°
    Saturation: Enhanced
    Sharpening: High
    Image Comment:
    Long Exposure NR: Off
    High ISO NR: Off


    (Image 4 : Focus area was perfectly on the center of the baby's face in aperture priority mode . I used tripod and remote control and the terrific lens 85mm f1.4 as all my other pics given in this posting. Even then the baby's face was not sharp. What could have gone wrong here ? )

    http://lh4.ggpht.com/_V8l4JqSrAMw/S...600/nikor-85mm1.4_aug162009_e-.3_DSC_1016.jpg

    Has the following metering info
    Name: 1016
    Compressed RAW (12-bit)
    Image Size: Large (3872 x 2592)
    Color
    Lens: 85mm F/1.4 D
    Focal Length: 85mm
    Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority
    Metering Mode: Multi-Pattern
    1/60 sec - F/2.8
    Exposure Comp.: 0 EV
    Sensitivity: ISO 100
    Optimize Image: Custom
    White Balance: Auto
    AF Mode: AF-A
    Flash Sync Mode: Not Attached
    Color Mode: Mode Ia (sRGB)
    Tone Comp.: Auto
    Hue Adjustment: 0°
    Saturation: Enhanced
    Sharpening: High
    Image Comment:
    Long Exposure NR: Off
    High ISO NR: Off

    (Image 5: This was shot in aperture priority as well with the camera's focus area on the baby using a tripod and remote control. The camera used a shutter speed of 1/125. The image is still soft. What could have gone wrong with such a sharp lens ? )

    http://lh3.ggpht.com/_V8l4JqSrAMw/S...600/nikor-85mm1.4_aug162009_e-.3_DSC_0997.jpg

    Compressed RAW (12-bit)
    Image Size: Large (3872 x 2592)
    Color
    Lens: 85mm F/1.4 D
    Focal Length: 85mm
    Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority
    Metering Mode: Multi-Pattern
    1/125 sec - F/2.8
    Exposure Comp.: 0 EV
    Sensitivity: ISO 100
    Optimize Image: Custom
    White Balance: Auto
    AF Mode: AF-A
    Flash Sync Mode: Not Attached
    Color Mode: Mode Ia (sRGB)
    Tone Comp.: Auto
    Hue Adjustment: 0°
    Saturation: Enhanced
    Sharpening: High
    Image Comment:
    Long Exposure NR: Off
    High ISO NR: Of

    Would greatly appreciate your guidance for problems described with each of the above pictures.


    thanks
    waavman
     
  2. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    I cannot see your images, but I see your EIF information,and there are some warning signs: 1/25 second at f/2.8, 1/30 second at f/2.8--those are some bad settings for a lot of things--subject motion blur, mirror slap, poor shutter release technique, as well as shallow depth off field. In other words, even tripod-mounted, those speeds and that aperture are "marginal" settings for people photography.

    Shooting with Enhanced color and AUTO tone curve is a good way to get overly-saturated, perhaps overexposed-looking images. The D80's light meter is known to expose many scenes a bit "hot".

    I wish I could actually "see" your images. I own an 85/1.4--it's a sharp lens when used appropriately and well. But it does take a bit of experience to use a new tool as well as it's possible to be used; maybe with a bit more experience with it, you'd have better luck.
     
  3. waavman

    waavman TPF Noob!

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    Hi Derrel,

    I donot know why the URLs' of the images I have posted have been shortened with dots instead of the complete URL. So I have uploaded the images to my 'members' gallery under userid 'waavman' on this website. The image names I have used are similar to the ones in my earlier posting. So you will be able to correlate which EIF information in my earlier posting corresponds to which image.
    If you could take a look at the 5 images and let me know what could have gone wrong with them, it would be really helpful. In one of my images, the shutter speed was 1/125 but even that image turned out to be soft.
    BTW the shutter speed setting of 1/25, 1/30 etc. were selected by the camera in aperture priority mode and it was around 6 PM and was pretty bright.
    Let me know if you have any problems viewing the images in my members gallery

    thanks in advance
    waavman.
     
  4. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Okay, I went and looked at the images. So sorry to see such nice family pictures not turn out well...here are my comments,now that I have seen the images.

    Photo1_dsc997 woman holding infant--focus point is behind the subjects.

    Photo1_dsc1023--back focus. Notice how SHARP and well-defined the grass is at a point about 3 feet behind the woman,about where the line goes across the sidewalk? And notice how the small girl at the bottom of the frame is out of focus? That is what the front out of focus look of the 85/1.14 is. Every single blade of glass is rendered clearly and sharply. Given her height, I can tell this was shot at around 30-34 feet away,and the lens and your camera have ample resolving power,as shown in the grass blades.

    Photo1 dsc_1031--the two women side by side appear very slightly blurred at their faces, but the PANT LEGS appear to be sharp. Knowing that this was shot with an 85mm lens on a DX format camera, that tells me this was photographed from about 20 feet away. THe aperture is very wide, and the focus appears soft on their faces--almost as if the lens is a bit out of alignment, but I think you just mis-positioned the point of focus about six inches off,and that's about all the margin for error that you would have at f/2.8 at that close of a shooting distance; f/4.5 would have NAILED this shot.

    Photo1_dsc1016--baby boy on his tummy, wearing brown shirt with white-trimmed cuffs. Insufficient depth of field. The focus is spot-on and very sharp on his shirt collar area, but nowhere else. The aperture needed to be closed down at least three stops to get adequate depth of field,and at such a high magnifcation/close range, four stops smaller an aperture would have been better,so as to get his forehead and eyes in focus,a well as maybe a bit of the green lounge chair or pad he was on into focus.

    Photo1_dsc_943 young woman in red blouse with boy and girl. Moderately close range, such as 10-12 feet away. Wide aperture. Notice that her necklace is in focus, but the face of the little girl is out of focus and only 6 or 7 inches closer to the camera. Aperture is too wide, shutter speed is too slow, background looks very blown out. If this photo had ben made at f/5.6, you would have had enough depth of field to "pull focus" on everybody in the shot.
     
  5. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    The image links are still broken.

    Tack sharp professional images are usually made:
    • with the camera on a good stable tripod
    • using a remote shutter release
    • with the lens set to it's sharpest aperture (neither wide open nor the smallest possible)
    • and with the mirror locked up.
     
  6. waavman

    waavman TPF Noob!

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    Hi Derrel,

    Thanks for observing all my pictures and pointing out the possible errors with shooting the pictures. I went over your observations. Further to those points you made I have the following queries:

    Photo1_dsc997 : woman holding infant: Here you mentioned that focus is behind subject. But in aperture priority mode, I actually set the focus area rectangle on the women / baby's face not anywhere else. And I actually see the background is pretty blurry. So even tho I set the focus area rectangle on the subject why is the image sharpness in the woman and the baby soft ?


    Photo1_dsc1023 - In this picture actually I had set the focus area rectangle on the woman's face while the shooting in aperture priority at 2.8 aperture so that both the woman and the child appear sharp. I am ok with the girl in the foreground appearing blur since she was not the subject of this picture. But how come the blades of grass 3 feet behind the women near her feet got focussed. The focus area rectangle was no where even close to the grass blaes. Isnt the lens supposed to focus on the area specified by the focus area selector ?

    Photo1 dsc_1031 - In this photo of the 2 women, as you identified, the distance was about 20 feet. But I had set the focus area perfectly on the face of the woman on the right while shooting in aperture priority mode. So how could I have mis-positioned the point of focus by 6 inches as you said when the focus selector was right on the right woman's face as far as I could see ? Also how would have been able to identify an optimal aperture as for this shot as 4.5 ? Is there some method of figuring this optimal aperture out. Also a 4.5 aperture would have brought down the shutter speed further from 1/30 that the camera used for this shot at 2.8. In that case what could I have done. All these clarifications with respect to this photo would really help me with people photography.

    Photo1_dsc1016 - In this photo of baby boy on tummy, you suggested closing at least 3 fstop to get adequate depth of field. I shot at 2.8. So do you mean around 4.5. Once again I have the same question. The focus selector rectangle was on the baby's face. I wonder how the collar came to focus.

    Photo1_dsc_943 - I used 2.8 aperture for this one and shutter speed was 1/100. If I had set the aperture to 5.6 as you suggested the shutter speed would be slower right. Wouldnt that blow out the background even more ? In the photo of the 2 women shot at 20 feet you suggestd aperture of 4.5 and in this shot which was shot at around 10 feet you suggsted 5.6 . So what is the method of calculating this number ? Wouldnt 5.6 cause a slower shutter speed and softer image ?

    Finally I uploaded a new picture titled 'Nikond80-85mm-sample' from Nikon website listed under their D80 samples to my member gallery. You could take a look at that. This image was shot by the pros using the 85mmf1.4 using the same camera as mine D80, at aperture 2.8 as they have mentioned on the website. It must have been taken from pretty good distance. The picture is razor sharp. I wish to take photos like this. How did they manage to nail this shot with such a wide aperture ? It was actually based on this sample I used 2.8 in all my shots :) but didnot work out :(

    Forgive me for my long queries. But I would love to get these clarification from experts like you so that the next time I rent the 85mm f1.4 I could know the proper logic to use to vary aperture according to the situation rather than use fixed aperture as I have been doing so far.


    thanks
    waavman
     
  7. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    You know, I looked again at your EXIF info, and in every photo, you used the default AF mode of AF-A. I do not have a NIkon that uses AF-A mode; the danger in AF-A mode is that is alternates between AF-C mode and AF-S mode; the *camera" determines if the subject is moving or not.

    AF-S will not allow you to shoot a photo that has an out of focus area under the selected AF bracket. AF-C will allow you to release the shutter at ANY time,no matter if the correct focus has been achieved.

    AF-A to me sounds like a dangerous and unpredictable blend of AF-C and AF-S focusing. If you really want to permit the camera to shoot *only* when the subject under the active AF bracket is in-focus, you need to switch to AF-S, or single-shot, focus priority autofocusing.

    In terms of getting to a better or more-optimal f/stop, you also shot at ISO 100 with a camera that has excellent image quality at ISO 400, on what looked like a nice, but overcast day. Shooting people at f/2.8 demands absolutely precise focusing,and slow-ish shutter speeds like 1/25 to 1/100 will not stop human subject motion all of the time. The benefits of an ISO 400 setting vastly outweigh the slight noise increase; you gain two full stops' worth of either aperture or shutter, or one of each,or any combo. That's six 1/3 stop 'clicks' of precise adjustment,depending on what is needed the most.

    Dx sensor image captures are very,very small,and must be magnified many times to make an image. f/2.8 offers very little room for error, and ISO 100 on dull days can drag your shutter speed to dangerously slow levels. ANd yes, I did look at the official Nikon sample. It was shot at ISO 200 with a D80; look very closely though and you can see that the woman's eyeglasses and face are sharp, but the left edge of the chair she is sitting in is OUT of focus. The difference is about 10 inches between what is razor sharp,and what is out of focus.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2009
  8. Dao

    Dao No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I agree. It seems that the photos were focus on a different spots. I do not know much about the Nikon camera. But in Canon, I can select my focus point.

    My friend had a similar issue in the past and ask me for help. He told me some of the photos were soft. He said he focus with the center point and then re-compose the shot. Later on, I found that he did not select the center point as the only focus point. So the focus point was determined by the camera (based on the 9 AF points)

    It may not be the case, but just want to make sure that when you point the rectangular area (center) to the subject, the camera did use the center rectangular box as the focus point, not other area.
     
  9. IgsEMT

    IgsEMT No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Just by looking at the data you provided, you're shooting at wide apertures. Shooting at such is GREAT for small objects, like flowers, rings but not really portraits unless you want to keep the eyes in focus while blur out the rest of the face. Shoot at F5.6 and see the results.
    I was only able to see this image http://chsvimg.nikon.com/products/imaging/lineup/digitalcamera/slr/d80/img/pic_004b.jpg, others didn't load, and it seems as sharp as the lens is supposed to be.

    It is a common misconception that shooting at wider apertures make the pictures better but it is a misnomer, especially if you don't really appreciate what each aperture can do at what circumstances.

    You commented that your picture was overexposed, google Doug Gordon, and see if you can watch his approach to portrait photography. It'll be of great help and will improve your skill in the future.
    Good Luck
     
  10. UUilliam

    UUilliam TPF Noob!

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    Looks like your aperture is off...
    I would consider those images pretty sharp though...
    Just over exposed, lower your Ev to about -1 of -1.5
     
  11. waavman

    waavman TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the suggestions folks.

    (1) I have not tried shooting apertures smaller than 2.8 with this lens yet since I had rented it earlier and at present dont have it with me and will try as soon as I get it in future.
    As suggested by Derrel, I should try setting the Autofocus mode to Continuous Servo AutoFocus AF-C in future and see how that helps.

    (2) The thing I enjoy most about and what this lens is most popular for, is its bokeh. Thats the reason I chose 2.8 aperture, so that I could get stunning bokeh's in the background of the subject(s) thereby making the subjects appear even sharper at the same time giving an artistic touch with the bokeh.
    But if you are suggesting an aperture of 5.6 would the bokeh be good enough since the DOF gets deeper ?

    (3) The speciality of this lens is its wide aperture. But if I stop down the aperture to around 4.5 to 5.6 would the images from this marquee 85mm f1.4 lens end up being similar to other regular slower general purpose lenses or would they still be distinguishable from the rest of the Nikor herd ?
    The reason I am asking this is if I buy this lens in future spending $1300 and have to shoot at smaller than 2.8 apertures like f5.6, would the amount spent be justified or would the images end up looking like my normal 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 general purpose lens at 84mm and 5.6 aperture ? Just looking for positive aspects of this lens at narrower apertures.

    (4) These pictures were shot at 6 PM when the Sun was not directly over the head but it was pretty bright and not overcast . I have heard that early morning and evenings an hour before sunset are golden moments in photography. Based on that I chose this time because had it been earlier like 3PM or 4 PM, the Sun would have been right on the face and the subjects would have come out bad despite fast shutter speeds. So at 6 PM if I have to use smaller apertures as has been suggested by you experts, I guess I will be forced to use ISO 400 and above and somehow I have not been happy with higher ISO pictures from the Nikon D80. They have lot of noise. Probably 200 is the max I could push to. I guess early mornings might result in higher shutter speeds than evenings. What time of day do you think is good for getting fast shutter speeds and at the same time doing great people photography ?

    thanks
    waavman
     
  12. 5DManiac

    5DManiac TPF Noob!

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    Remember to keep your shutter speeds (general rule) at 1/focal length or faster.

    So if you're using an 85mm lens (assuming on a full frame Nikon FX body), use 1/85s or faster or you'll get blur. If you're using VR, I'm sure you can get away with slower. Further, if you're pics are underexposed, compensate! That's what M is for or exposure compensation is for in AV mode. I'm sure you do know this right?
     

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