Nikon 85mm f/1.4 sharpness

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by Buy_Sell, Jun 4, 2008.

  1. Buy_Sell

    Buy_Sell Guest

    I finally bought the Nikon 85mm f/1.4 lens and for about a week now, I
    wasn't too impressed with the sharpness. My 80-200mm f/2.8 and
    35-70mm f/2.8 lenses seemed sharper.

    I thought that there must be something wrong with my new lens until I
    decided to switch the lenses around on the cameras. I forgot to
    mention that I bought a camera for each lens to help minimize the
    cleaning of the sensor. The theory was that the D70s cameras are
    cheap enough now, that it has become affordable to fit a dedicated
    camera to each lens. Anyway, today I discovered that there is nothing
    wrong with the 85mm f/1.4 lens and it turns out that it is the camera
    that is the problem.

    When I moved the 85mm f/1.4 lens over to a different camera, the wow
    factor occurred. This is definitely one fine lens. The next step is
    to calibrate the other camera that seems to be always slightly out of
    focus. Its not the diopter adjustment, so I am suspecting that it
    must be the internal cam screw adjustments for the mirror, etc. I
    have saved a web page to my hard drive on how to adjust this, it is
    just a matter of finding it, in my archives.

    I've often wondered when I read lens reviews about how some people
    give a lens a 10 out of 10 and others are not happy with their lenses
    at all. Is it possible that they might have a camera that is slightly
    out of adjustment? Just a thought...
    Buy_Sell, Jun 4, 2008
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  2. WARNING! Don't adjust that Allen screw! I've read the same article as you
    about doing this to correct backfocus issues. It does take care of the
    problem but introduces new ones. This problem is resolved in software and
    you need to send the lens and camera back to Nikon for calibration. Again,
    don't touch that screw.
    Congrats on the new 85/1.4 as I know you will love it. As for people liking
    and disliking lenses, like anything else you read on the internet you have
    to take into consideration most have never used the lens in question and are
    just parroting what they read that someone else is parroting.

    Stamping out Internet stupidity one idiot at a time. Never empower the
    idiot, embrace it and stimulate it. For more details go to the Usenet
    Stimulus Project page.
    Rita Berkowitz, Jun 4, 2008
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  3. Buy_Sell

    Buy_Sell Guest

    Thanks for the warning. However, the lens works absolutely perfect on
    one camera but not so perfect on the other. I don't think that there
    is anything wrong with the lens itself. I think that only the one
    camera is out of calibration. I'm curious to know more about how the
    software corrects an optical focus. Can you provide me with more
    information about this or even a web site article on the subject?
    Buy_Sell, Jun 4, 2008
  4. I agree, there's nothing wrong with the lens. If you make any adjustments
    to the mirror it will affect focus other lenses for better or worse when
    used on that body. From what I have read and I'll attach an forum post is
    that it affects the focus points as well since you are changing the geometry
    by adjusting the mirror stop. As for correcting this in software, Nikon
    takes the focusing point information and uses this to tell the lens at what
    physical position it need be in for optimal focus. The software fix, which
    we can't do, corrects this without changing the mechanical geometry of the
    focusing system which most likely isn't the problem.
    It's been a while but I can't find the exact article I've read on it.

    Here's a snippet from someone that did the adjustment.

    "Have you tried the lenses on a properly working film body to see what
    happens? I own the 35-70/2.8 and have never encountered a back focus issue
    on my properly calibrated F100 or F4. As I recall the 50/1.4 should work
    fine. My F100 has a separate mirror stop adjustment posts for the main
    mirror and AF mirror that can easily be adjusted by the user with a small
    hex wrench. I've done this myself to get maximum sharpness with my lenses in
    AF or screeen MF. One needs to understand a little about lens performance at
    various apertures and run some trial shots with bracketing focus to
    determine the sharpest lens setting on film (or digital). Once exact focus
    is determined on the distance scale, adjust both mirrors until the
    electronic rangefinder (AF indicator dot) and optical focusing aid agree
    with that setting. To complicte things a little, adjusting the mirrors will
    also shift the apparent position of the AF sensor focus point in the finder
    up or down so you shouldn't overdo it. Oddly, there are a few Nikon lenses
    inwhich the AF and focus screen do not exactly agree but fortunately, most
    do agree. I think this has to do with how the AF system "sees" the image as
    opposed to how we focus the image on the screen. I can't imagine the lens
    being at fault especially if it's with a prime as well as a zoom."


    Stamping out Internet stupidity one idiot at a time. Never empower the
    idiot, embrace it and stimulate it. For more details go to the Usenet
    Stimulus Project page.
    Rita Berkowitz, Jun 4, 2008
  5. I didn't know that Nikon users are paranoids
    suddengunfire, Jun 4, 2008
  6. Buy_Sell

    Buy_Sell Guest

    Thanks for the information, Rita. I have three identical D70s

    The 85mm f/1.4 is not very sharp on camera 1,
    so I switched it with the 80-200mm f/2.8 on camera 2.

    The 85mm f/1.4 is extremely sharp on camera 2,
    the 80-200mm f/2.8 is not very sharp on camera 1.

    I've noticed that even when manually focusing camera 1,
    the image thru the viewfinder is not as sharp as that of camera 2.

    I've adjusted the diopter as best as I could but the image is still
    not as razor sharp as when mounted on camera 2.

    PS: I can almost read your mind, but I can't justify buying the D3
    yet but I've certainly been thinking about it. The D70s has such an
    incredible battery life and currently meets my requirements.
    Buy_Sell, Jun 4, 2008
  7. Buy_Sell

    adm Guest

    FYI - the D300 (and D3 presumably) have a feature that allows you to
    individually calibrate the focus of individual lenses to the body, and
    also has memory settings for up to 10? lenses. This should solve your
    problem as each of your lenses could be calibrated perfectly with the
    body. It also has built in sensor cleaning so your issue with dust on
    lens changes might be somewhat mitigated.
    adm, Jun 4, 2008
  8. Buy_Sell

    Bob Guest

    Congrats on buying the 85mm F1.4

    Can I ask you does the 85mm F1.4 display a lot of purple fringing when
    shooting wide open . Im considering going down the 85mm F1.8.
    The Bokeh must be amazing and the you can achieve very narrow DOF
    Bob, Jun 4, 2008
  9. Buy_Sell

    Buy_Sell Guest

    I've read about the purple fringing on the 85mm f/1.4 but I haven't
    noticed anything yet. I've been experimenting with the lens wide open
    and it is amazing how easy it is to control the depth of field.
    Between this lens and the 80-200mm f2.8, I'm not sure which one I like
    the best. My next lens will be the 17-35mm f/2.8 I've been slowly
    collecting the lenses that I wanted. This is just a hobby for me. I
    almost got rid of my 35-70mm f/2.8 but it is also an extremely sharp
    lens. I'm not fond of the push-pull one touch lenses and I own two of

    35-70mm f/2.8 (very sharp but not fond of push-pull style)
    80-200mm f/2.8 (very sharp but not fond of push-pull style)
    80-200mm f/2.8 (very sharp, twin ring style and faster autofocus)
    85mm f/1.4 (latest purchase and worth every penny)
    50mm f/1.8 (very inexpensive and very sharp) used for selling items on
    28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 (recently acquired with third camera)
    18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 (still used fairly often for landscape shots)
    70-300mm f4-5.6 (almost never used anymore)

    Three D70s cameras + SB600 flash
    both wireless and cabled remote controls.

    Manfrotto 134 Professional Monopod
    Manfrotto 055B Professional Tripod
    Manfrotto 488RC2 Ball head

    Recently acquired books on photography.
    - Light, Science and Magic. An introduction to photographic lighting.
    - Nikon Creative Lighting System. Digital Field Guide.
    - Nikon Capture NX. Industrial-strength production techniques.
    - Exposure and Lighting. for digital photographers only.
    - Understanding Exposure. Revised Edition.
    - Ansel Adams. The camera
    - Ansel Adams. The negative.
    - Ansel Adams. The print.
    Buy_Sell, Jun 4, 2008
  10. Buy_Sell

    frederick Guest

    be careful making assumptions about back-focus etc when comparing the
    85mm f1.4 to the 80-200 and 35-70 f2.8 zooms.
    Both of those zooms tend to back focus on Nikon slrs at close focus
    distance - in the case of the 80-200, at the 200mm end (it is perfect at
    135mm and below). It is partly documented in the manuals - though they
    mention that the "digital rangefinder" (focus confirmation light) cannot
    be relied on for accurate manual focusing, and to focus using the screen
    (not easy on a D70). They don't mention that the digital rangefinder
    and AF system use the same focus sensors, so logically AF is also
    inaccurate at close focus distance.
    I've seen it explained that spherical aberration in these lens designs
    is the cause. I've tried several 80-200s on several different Nikon
    dslrs, and they all show the same problem.
    On the D300, this *could* be corrected using AF fine tuning, but the
    problem then would be that AF is perfect at distances of over about 5
    meters / 200mm f/l, and if corrected for close distance, then it will be
    out at longer focus distance.
    At 85mm, I wouldn't be surprised if the 80-200 was sharper than the 85mm
    f1.4 at f2.8. The 85mm f1.4 is not a particularly sharp lens - but the
    80-200 is pretty good. I don't own the 35-70, but understand that is
    also pin sharp.
    If you were to check and adjust focus calibration with the D70 cam stop
    adjustment, then I'd suggest using a sharp prime - a macro or a 50mm
    f1.8, and make sure you try to focus on a target at 45 deg, as the AF
    sensors are unlikely to be centered in the brackets in the viewfinder,
    and DOF at f2.8 is shallow enough so that it will matter. Then look at
    the other lenses - but bear in mind the inherent close range focus
    errors with the zooms.
    As much as I like the D70, it is not a good camera for manual focusing.
    It's not just the size and brightness of the screen, there's something
    else about the texture of the screen. In reasonable light, I can manual
    focus the 80-200 at close range easily enough with the D300, but even in
    really good light, I can't with the D70.
    frederick, Jun 4, 2008
  11. Buy_Sell

    Bob Guest

    Best to sell the push pull lens and the 70-300

    The 28-105 is supposed to be quite decent, I think it can do some close up
    work too ( not true macro)

    The lens are good investments they are the business end of the picture
    making process.
    I would encourage anyone to buy some good glass. Its a great feeling when
    the glass delivers top notch results.
    My Fav lens is the Nikon 180mm F2.8 and the 60mm Micro F2.8 next couple of
    months I will have a 85mm F1.8 the smaller brother to your F1.4 .
    I did order a Nikon AFD 85mm F1.4 at a price I could not believe but the
    shop called me and said they made a mistake on their website .. oh well
    People think they are dear . but considering edge to edge performance at
    apertures you can only smile at.throwing the background out of focus is a
    peice of cake.
    Low light work where for others would mean a lot more noise or harsh flash
    lights . For you with F1.4 its a breeze possibly without even using the

    I too am a hobyist .
    16mm f2.8 AFD
    24mm F2.8 AFD
    50mm F1.8 AIS
    60mm F2.8 AFD micro
    135mm F3.5 AIS
    180mm F2.8 AFDn
    35-105mm F3.5 AFD ( exceptional low light contrast)
    16-85mm Dx VR11 F3.5 still testing this one

    next purchace will be Nikon 85mm F1.8 AFD and possibliy a 10-20 Dx lens
    these are shod on a D300

    Bob, Jun 4, 2008
  12. Buy_Sell

    Frank Arthur Guest

    I didn't know that Nikon users are paranoids.

    That Nikon user is not only paranoid but not too bright. He could have
    bought a far better DSLR for the cost of 3 D70 bodies.
    Frank Arthur, Jun 4, 2008
  13. Buy_Sell

    Buy_Sell Guest

    Hey guys, play nice... There might be another reason for wanting more
    than one camera?
    Buy_Sell, Jun 4, 2008
  14. Buy_Sell

    Don R. Guest

    Yes, but the D300 will suddenly develop the Dead Battey Syndrome and refuse
    to autofocus your lens.
    Don R., Jun 4, 2008
  15. Buy_Sell

    frederick Guest

    Yeah - it's "battey" all right.
    One guy keeps on hammering all the on-line forums, keeps it up for 6
    months, and a myth is created. Despite the rational explanation, it's
    already given a tla - the "dbs".
    frederick, Jun 5, 2008
  16. Buy_Sell

    ASAAR Guest

    It's gone far beyond myth. Though there appear to be a very large
    number of cameras affected (based on forum chatter, and the D300 is
    just one of several bodies reported to have the DBS problem), what
    we don't yet know is what percentage of bodies are experiencing the
    DBS. For all we know it may be a very low percentage, but perhaps
    not . . . FWIW, Thom Hogan has his own plausible theories, and is
    doing a good job debunking some off-the-wall theories. Additionally
    (although he can't say too much about it), he indicates that Nikon
    is not only aware of the problem, but is actively researching it.

    The "hammering" chimps can be easily ignored. What one should do
    is find a comfortable spot somewhere between "The sky is falling"
    and "What, me worry?" :)
    ASAAR, Jun 5, 2008
  17. Buy_Sell

    Alan Browne Guest

    Between lens variance, mirror error, focus matte not flat error and
    technique, you're bound to get some people who chain up a loser combo.

    I'd be surprised if that particular lens were not good.

    And the dust thing? Don't over do it. I've had one digital camera for
    3+ years. I change lenses all the time, and often in poor conditions.

    a) 90% of dust specs don't show 'cause i] you don't shoot stopped way
    down all of the time (I hope) and ii] they are usually lost in the
    detail of the image.

    b) It takes a few minutes with a blower bulb to get the dust off the
    sensor filter.

    Alan Browne, Jun 5, 2008
  18. Buy_Sell

    frederick Guest

    I think it's mainly myth - my reasons being:
    I get occasional "dbs" with everything from torches to cameras I've had
    with drives/grips, ram on my PC. etc.
    The middle signal contact on the EN-EL3e is very low voltage, and is the
    likely culprit - you'll get "dbs" if that contact is slightly dodgy.
    IMO that's not great design - and Nikon's fault for making the camera
    not work unless a "genuine" (or smart aftermarket) battery is fitted.
    It's probably exacerbated by the fact that the middle contact is
    recessed more deeply - and is a trap for dirt and dust. (I'd rather the
    camera was designed to keep working even if the charge data circuit is
    "broken", but Nikon would make much less $ selling "genuine" batteries)
    I've dropped a genuine EN-EL3 (not "e" - the old black one) and contacts
    broke inside (I pulled it apart and fixed it). I bet intermittent
    faults with dropped batteries are an occasional problem.
    I've got a knock-off EN-EL3e here, and it looks _exactly_ the same as a
    genuine one - except for the label - you could almost guarantee that
    there are fakes around on Ebay etc with Nikon labels on them. Mine
    seems to work in the D300 - sort of - it never reports full charge (in
    the menu - but it does on the top lcd). I don't use it and don't trust
    it - except in my D70.
    Tied in with the "dbs" posts are posts about focus suddenly not working
    on AFs lenses and some posters reporting that as a camera body problem
    have admitted that they've had the same problem with other bodies (iirc
    including the guy who started this all off). That happens - AFs lenses
    die, lens/body contacts can be a problem.
    frederick, Jun 5, 2008
  19. I understand how software can fix autofocus problems, but not
    real (sensor vs TTL viewfinder) problems. That's a mechanical problem.

    Doug McDonald
    Doug McDonald, Jun 5, 2008
  20. Buy_Sell

    Paul Furman Guest

    Another hobbyist here...

    10.5mm f/2.8 fisheye
    12-24 Sigma full frame
    16mm f/2.8 Ai fisheye
    24mm f/2.8 Ai junker
    28mm f/3.5 non-Ai converted to a plungercam
    28mm f/3.5 Arsat fisheye (medium format, mounted for tilt on 35)
    28mm f/2 Ai junker (nice)
    35mm f/2 Ai sold
    35mm f/1.4 (my walkaround lens)
    45mm f/2.8 Ai-P black (can cram the D200 in my coat pocket with this)
    50mm f/1.2 (fun/useful)
    lensbaby 1.0 (lost it somewhere)
    70-200 f/2.8 VR
    75-150mm f/3.5 Series E (small old cult tele push pull)
    85mm f/2.8 D Micro T/S (my standard plant portrait lens)
    85mm f/1.4 (not actually all that useful for me)
    105mm f/2.8 VR Micro
    135mm f/2 Ai junker (converted to plungercam)
    300mm f/4 Jena Sonnar (without focusing helix, so used on bellows)
    300mm f/2.8 ATX Tokina (cult classic manual focus)
    500mm f/4.5 Century Tele-athenar (old junker came with big tripod)
    1.4x TC
    2x TC
    extension tubes
    PB4 Bellows
    Spiratone bellows (old tilt shift model)
    77mm Canon closeup filter
    77mm polarizer
    MC20 remote
    Gitzo Basalt tripod (fits in my day pack)

    What next? Hmm, D3 would be great but too big & expensive. 24mm f/2.8
    T/S would be nice but hard to convince myself it's worth that much & not
    sure it would actually be useful. My 85 T/S is an exceptionally sharp
    lens though so presumably the 24 would also be. I am absolutely certain
    the 28mm f/1.4 would be useful if anyone wants to give me one. I
    wouldn't mind trading the 85/1.4 for a 105mm f/2 DC (defocus control)
    but I guess that's silly. I wouldn't want the new 14-24 just because I
    prefer to be more subtle in the urban settings where that would be
    useful and too heavy for hiking. I'd like to check out a 200mm f/4
    macro. Lots of possibilities but I think I've mostly exhausted my lens
    curiosities :)

    Paul Furman

    all google groups messages filtered due to spam
    Paul Furman, Jun 5, 2008
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