Just got brand new D800 with 85 f1.8 and 24-120 f4. Moving from D7000. I spent 1 hour in the store playing with D600 and D800 and in the end chose the 800. Please, do not ask me why, the choice was more emotional, rather than rational.
Anyway, I mounted my 85 and took several pictures of my 14 months old son who was mostly running around just to test my new toy. Immediately noted that most of them were not sharp. Checked the files on my PC, most of them even did not have the focus point!
My settings were AF-C with 3D tracking, then I switched to Dynamic, 21 points, the custom setting for AF-C is focus and release. Most pictures were taken at 1/125s f/2.8 or f/4.
What am I doing wrong? Any advice would be appreciated.
#1. "RE: HELP: First day with D800 and already in panic!" In response to Reply # 0
Just for starters, let's say (as your message suggests) an image at 8 feet, 85mm, f2.8. With a child "running around." The depth of field would be 5-1/4 inches (13 cm).
So you have this really minimal depth of field, combined with a shutter speed of 1/125th second, and a target that's "running around," and a camera that's trying its damnedest to keep up with it. That's a formula for failure. (Not to even mention release priority?)
Think first about shutter speed, then a smaller aperture to get some focus breathing room --- both of which will likely require a much higher ISO (a factor of 4?) and/or probably flash.
#2. "RE: HELP: First day with D800 and already in panic!" In response to Reply # 0
Cape Coral, US
>What am I doing wrong? Any advice would be appreciated.
Don't assume you are doing it wrong so much as need some practice and familiarity.
>Anyway, I mounted my 85 and took several pictures of my 14 >months old son who was mostly running around just to test my >new toy. Immediately noted that most of them were not sharp. >Checked the files on my PC, most of them even did not have the >focus point!
I'm assuming that means in Capture or View NX, which can indeed be a sign you had problem obtaining focus.
>My settings were AF-C with 3D tracking, then I switched to >Dynamic, 21 points, the custom setting for AF-C is focus and >release. Most pictures were taken at 1/125s f/2.8 or f/4.
Personally I have found 3D to be rather pointless, but your results may vary. I would recommend at first starting with AF-C, single point, and see what you get. That way you know exactly what you are focusing on.
Then check the menus for AF-C Priority. I'd recommend starting with Focus, then eventually trying Release+Focus. If you are on release, it will release the shutter before it focuses.
Finally, if you still do not get the results you expect, put it on a tripod, point at something so you are sure where you are focusing, turn off auto-focus entirely, switch to live view (be sure it is PHOTO live view not movie), zoom in all the way (or maybe one less) and focus very precisely. Take a few images. Be sure you are at a high shutter speed or if not set shutter delay to 3 seconds (option d4).
This will show you what "sharp" is to compare to your handheld images, as it avoids the auto-focus system entirely and uses the imaging sensor, so focus is as good as it gets (well, if you are careful). Just be sure you have a steady shot with ample shutter speed.
If it's still really soft you may either have bad expectations, or something more seriously wrong. Upload a couple samples, maybe some 1:1 crops).
#4. "RE: HELP: First day with D800 and already in panic!" In response to Reply # 3
Guys, thank you all for your suggestions.
I am not a complete newbie and I am familiar with various autofocus modes of recent Nikon bodies being an owner of D7000 for almost 2 years. Please take into account, that I am talking about a specific scenario where I shoot my son who is walking or running around indoors. I use SB700, camera is in manual mode, spot metering in order to switch to TTL mode and ISO 400 or higher.
I think that my issue may be caused by 3 things : 1. Limited DOF. I should probably increase the aperture to at least f4 2. Low shutter speed. What would be your recommendation for the minimum shutter speed in this scenario for the 85mm focal length? 1/125s was OK with D7000 in a similar situation 3. Inappropriate autofocus settings for the specific situation. Please note that I use AF-ON button to focus, so I am always in AF-C mode.
Darrel, I do not think that AF-S would be the best mode to shoot a child who is constantly moving around. Again, I might be wrong. Now, which area mode shall I use? I used 3D on D7000 almost all the time and the results where acceptable. Shall it be different with D800?
I try to focus on the eyes. The trouble is, that by the time I press the shutter release, my son can move his head slightly or even start walking towards me.
#5. "RE: HELP: First day with D800 and already in panic!" In response to Reply # 4 Wed 26-Dec-12 01:31 AM by DigitalDarrell
For a moving subject AF-S may not be the best mode, unless it is not moving quickly. I use AF-S most of the time and have few problems with sharpness.
Anyway, I really wasn't suggesting that you use AF-S to shoot pics of a quickly moving child. You were complaining of lack of sharpness. I wanted you to set the camera for a more simple autofocus method to see if it will make sharp pictures. Shoot a picture of a piece of furniture, for instance.
AF-C and using multiple AF points (9, 21, or 51) can take some getting used to. You do need good depth of field, and the D800 has less than the D7000. Stop down and use a flash. Are the shots still not sharp?
#7. "RE: HELP: First day with D800 and already in panic!" In response to Reply # 0
Chula Vista, US
"I used 3D on D7000... I try to focus on the eyes."
I have not found that to work on either the D7000 or D800, the camera chooses the initial and final focusing points. AFS or AFC Single point has worked well for me when focusing on the eyes. Next choice would be AFC 9 points.
#8. "RE: HELP: First day with D800 and already in panic!" In response to Reply # 7
you have narrowed down on the possibilities ; methinks - f4 and iso 3200 should work indoors and give very usable shots. Try to keep shutter speed around 1.5 times focal length - if you have a reasonably steady hand that should do. And for Auto focus settings change from release priority to focus priority - that will prevent you from clicking away while the camera is still un-focussed. I got myself a D800 about 6 months back - the camera really challenges you to be perfect - its not to be used/treated like a point and shoot. Give it some respect and practice and the results can be astounding !
#10. "RE: HELP: First day with D800 and already in panic!" In response to Reply # 9
I tried the S area mode with AF-C and got more keepers. Thank you all for this tip. It was a very good suggestion. I read on another forum about the a3 setting, they recommended changing it to 1 and then to Off and see if it makes a difference. Sound advice?
By the way, I tried the new 24-120, boy, I miss my 17-55! The zoom ring is quite far from the body and my hands are not big enough for a comfortable reach. And the way the barrel extends when you zoom in... Well, now I have a better body and an inferior zoom. This is my price for moving to FX (just kidding).
#11. "RE: HELP: First day with D800 and already in panic!" In response to Reply # 10
When I "jumped" from a D700 to a D3x, I had the same apparent problem. I was so used to a very forgiving camera that I didn't see, at first, that I wasn't holding the new camera tight enough when shooting (specially in low light). At first I upped my speeds, using 1/250th where I used 1/125th, and so on. Results were much better... Then, I focused on my holding the camera, and after a while, I could get back to the speeds I was used to !
#12. "RE: HELP: First day with D800 and already in panic!" In response to Reply # 10 Thu 27-Dec-12 05:15 AM by Clint S
Chula Vista, US
The a3 focus tracking I have not yet figured out the best settings for. But by making the setting shorter the more likely the camera is to move focus to something I do not want. Especially with more focus points being used. One of the reasons I mostly only use 9 points or a single point.
Set at 1 I have had people just come into view in the viewfinder and the camera instantaneously jumps focus points. In another case I was tracking an F-18 flying perpendicular to me and getting ready to super accelerate, just as soon as the donut of vapor appeared the camera tried to change focus but could not focus quickly enough (maybe a 1/4 to 1/2 second). I've had similar things with race cars and I've missed my shot.
I briefly tried 21 and 51 points with a couple of possible subjects in the viewfinder, such as three planes flying at an angle towards me or a group of people walking, with the camera changing focus to what it wanted. The a3 setting only speed this up or slowed it down. So agin back to the 9 points.
I do a lot of event photography and may have several people in the viewfinder at a time, now my a3 setting typically remains at the default of 3. When I think someone or something is likely to move into the scene I'm more prone to move the setting to 5.
So I guess the more complicated the scene, the more movement, or the more background visible in the scene, the higher setting I move a3 to. Next year I will be trying the 5 setting at some automobile races and with some aircraft.
I did photograph some volleyball games last summer and having a setting of 1 really worked. I was close, and could clearly lock on the subject without many distractions, and it seemed as if the camera was reading my mind when I wanted the focus moved to another subject. And when I have fast moving subjects headed directly at me, I do prefer to be at a setting of 2 or 1.
And I've yet try just turning a3 to off. So I'm still working and learning.
#13. "RE: HELP: First day with D800 and already in panic!" In response to Reply # 0
Congratulations on the new camera.
Your comment about DOF possibly being an issue is important. Moving from DX to FX, you are losing about 1 1/2 stops of DOF. That's good if you want a soft background, but bad if your depth of field goes from 8 inches to 4 inches.
The D800 will reveal any softness in your choice of camera settings. The D7000 had a bit of this issue as well - thus the early complaints about softness. A 10-12 megapixel camera may not outresolve your lens, but a 36 megapixel camera is much more likely to show a clear difference based on aperture selection, lens quality, and use of teleconverters.
Don't get into the trap of automatically viewing images at 100%. It's okay, but when you look at just 1000 pixels of a 7200 pixel width, and blow it up to a 15 inch wide display - you are looking at the equivalent of a 7 foot wide image from just 18 inches. Viewing at 100% is okay - but slightly soft images can look just fine sized for normal use.
#15. "RE: HELP: First day with D800 and already in panic!" In response to Reply # 13
You are spot on. I am now convinced that the DOF in my case is the main factor contributing to the images being out of focus. Checked the DOF tables: f2.8 on D7000 at 55 mm has roughly the same DOF as f4 on D800 at 85 mm. I am now not going lower than f4 and the results are much better.
Still wondering about the shutter speed though. As I use my SB700, my settings are f4, 1/160s, iso 400. I am afraid to go below 1/160s and have VR activated as well. I think it is an overkill, VR should make a difference. Will try to go lower as I get more comfortable.
One specific question I have is about VR and AF-ON button combination. Say I am in AF-C mode holding the AF-ON button to track my son's movement. The instant I am ready to shoot, I press the shutter release button, but if I do it fast, VR will not have time to stabilise the picture. If I do it slowly, I am loosing the precious moment, e.g., my son is no longer smiling or he is looking not in the lens and the picture is gone. Is VR usefull in such situation?
#16. "RE: HELP: First day with D800 and already in panic!" In response to Reply # 15
VR is activated with the AF-On button and will continue for a few seconds. It activates pretty quickly. You have two options - continue to hold down the AF-On button and VR will continue and AF will track the subject, or focus and activate the shutter with activity and take your chances. I probably would simply hold down the AF-On button and shoot bursts of several frames if necessary.
You will have no problem using a higher ISO if necessary. Noise at higher ISO levels is very low. VR will help with camera motion, but not subject motion. 1/160 sec should be fine but if your son is very active, a faster shutter may be required.
#17. "RE: HELP: First day with D800 and already in panic!" In response to Reply # 16
Eric, we saw my grandchildren over Christmas. Two boys; a three-year old and a one-year old. They would challenge shooting at 1/1600 of a second and probably blur it! Of course, I do not yet know how to capture motion, bouncing off the walls.....
"Today is the tomorrow that yesterday you spent money like there was no"
#18. "RE: HELP: First day with D800 and already in panic!" In response to Reply # 16
Eric, I am afraid you have the wrong information. VR is not activated by AF-ON button, only with the shutter release button. My lens manual is very clear about it. This is one of the advantages of using AF-ON - it allows you to conserve the battery power when you use AF-C mode.
#19. "RE: HELP: First day with D800 and already in panic!" In response to Reply # 18
St Petersburg, RU
No, Eric is correct. the D800 has altered the way AF is initiated by the AF-On button. This is the first Nikon to start VR when the AF-On button is pressed. The battery issue is one reason the D800 has less battery charge life than expected. Stan St Petersburg Russia
#21. "RE: HELP: First day with D800 and already in panic!" In response to Reply # 20
I checked the manual for the D800, D600 and the new 70-200 f/4 but did not see a specific reference to VR activation using the AF on button. I did not notice any reference to VR activation half depressing the shutter button either in the camera manuals. But it works with all of my lenses. It also works using the D600 AF-L button (it does not have a separate AF-On button). You can hear a faint humming with activation - just like with the shutter release being depressed half way.
Sounds like a good design decision that needs to be updated in the manuals.
#23. "RE: HELP: First day with D800 and already in panic!" In response to Reply # 17
The AF system has a function called Predictive Focus Tracking in AF-C mode. What this means is the camera will anticipate the movement of a subject and adjust accordingly - not just when 3D mode is selected. If you are holding down the AF-On button to focus, or the shutter release halfway with that setup, predictive focus is engaged and AF adjusts to subject movement. Predictive focus tracking has been around for a while and it gets better with each new AF system.
It may struggle with motion based on shutter speed, but if a subject is walking across a scene it will be tracked nicely.
I've found that predictive focus tracking works extremely well. I find it easier to manage using the AF-On button for focus since you can easily track a moving subject and fire multiple frames.
#25. "RE: HELP: First day with D800 and already in panic!" In response to Reply # 23
Cape Coral, US
>The AF system has a function called Predictive Focus Tracking >in AF-C mode. What this means is the camera will anticipate >the movement of a subject and adjust accordingly - not just >when 3D mode is selected.
How does that interact with the A3 (Focus tracking with lock on) and how that affects ones need to release and re-touch the AF-On or shutter?
Consider basketball, if I'm tracking the ball from player to player (i.e. moving the camera between two players), And A3=0 and 9 point, I usually just pan to the other player and do not remove my thumb from AF-ON, and assume that it will refocus on the new player immediately.
With A3=5 (for example) I would assume there may be a lag as it delays shifting focus, and it would be better to remove and re-press the button. But with A3=0 (off) is that still true?
Put more succinctly, if you need to shift to another subject nearby very rapidly (not while shooting but preparing to), are you better off just shifting to it, or releasing focus, shifting, and re-pressing the button?
I should add that usually but not always VR is off when I'm doing this, but the habit comes more from when VR is on and I don't want it to be starting and stopping and not be "ready" when I shoot.
#26. "RE: HELP: First day with D800 and already in panic!" In response to Reply # 25
For changing subjects, or if your subject leaves the focus area completely, you should release the AF-On button and focus again. But it your subject is moving, simply holding down the AF-On button will do a good job of adjusting focus as the subject moves.
Tracking is slightly different in that tracking relates to objects obstructing focus. If another player quickly passes between you and your subject, AF Tracking can maintain focus on your subject rather than shifting to the passing player. With Focus Tracking Off, AF would leave the original player and try to switch to the new player. Your description of how to use A3 is correct about the lag.
What you don't want to do is continually press and release the AF button every time the subject moves as you will continually be focused on where the subject was rather than where it is at shutter release.
#28. "RE: HELP: First day with D800 and already in panic!" In response to Reply # 27
Monterey Bay, US
Coming from a D7000 the first thing I had to do was double the shutter speed on my D800 for each shot serenade. Fortunately the D800 is capable of much higher ISO so I was able to raise the Auto ISO limit as well.
In your situation, if I were you, I would increase the F-stop to 4 and shoot with the on-camera flash at at least 250s. What I do is shoot at 640s with out flash and with Auto ISO 6400, I only use flash as a last resort after the pictures in review did not turn out.