I hope someone can help me with a problem I ran into last night. I was shooting an event with my D2X, 18-37mm 3.5-4.5 D lens and SB800 flash. After I got home and downloaded the photos I noticed that the majority were very soft and I had to use the "high" level of sharpening in Picture Project. Most of the shots were 5 to 10 feet (people shots), so depth of field was not a problem. This is driving me nuts! Has anyone else run into this problem with their D2X?
Thanks for any suggestions!
#1. "RE: D2X focus problem" | In response to Reply # 0DrJay32 Nikonian since 12th Mar 2003Mon 12-Dec-05 08:12 PM
I used to have some minor issues with the 24-85 AF-S because the camera would lock on the background and not the subject. No problems anymore, though since I made some changes to the way I shoot. I also found that moving to the 17-55DX lens has made focus way better because of the reduced DOF when focusing.
1) With flash shots, were you using Aperture priority? Try shooting at f/5.6 or f/8. I will often use Manual mode with the SB-800, f/5.6 and 1/125th of a second. Works really nice.
2) Are you in AF-S or AF-C mode? With AF-C, you could be changing focus without knowing it.
3) Do you use focus-priority release? Check out Darrell's CAM2000 article, if you haven't already.
4) Have you tried upgrading to firmware 1.01? It seems to alleviate some focusing issues.
Jason P. Odell
Jason P. Odell
Author, Moving to Lightroom: Image Processing and Workflow
#2. "RE: D2X focus problem" | In response to Reply # 1UnixMac Registered since 16th Dec 2004Tue 20-Dec-05 11:58 PM
I just did your step 3, the firmware update to 1.01 and also noticed better focus performace.
Be aware however that this update procedure requires that you use a CF card and not micro drive, even though the website makes no mention of this.. also on the Mac, the link didn't work to the download, so I used the PC link to the .zip file which did..
#3. "RE: D2X focus problem" | In response to Reply # 0
Can you be more specific about what you mean by "soft"?
With flash and a steady camera you should have had sharpness somewhere.
What you describe sounds like slight camera shake.
If your pictures are sharp somewhere I am going to speculate you did not use focus assist and the combination of a slow lens and low night time light levels took you below the minimum light level for good AF with this combination.
Another possibilities if the pictures are not sharp anywhere are you had significant minus compensation on the flash and ended up with a camera shake effect.
As this is a "1 off" it is most likely something you did not get quite right rather than a camera or lens malfunction.
Photography is a bit like archery. A technically better camera, lens or arrow may not hit the target as often as it could if the photographer or archer does not practice enough.
#4. "RE: D2X focus problem" | In response to Reply # 0
I've seen it happen, but in every case it was because I allowed the central sensor to span both the subject as well as parts of the background. The sensor is larger than the marked brackets, so you need to take this into account when shooting. If the subject isn't large enough to completely cover the marked brackets plus about 50% extra, I turn the camera vertically (presuming it's a photo of a person) and lock focus. Alternatively, I'll switch to manual focus. The large sensors of the D2X (and D2H/D2HS) are great in many situations, but can also be a problem in others. That's particularly true if your subject has low contrast (like parts of a face) and the background has sharp contrast (like trees or buildings). Using a DK-17M magnifying eyepiece has helped a bit, too. It makes it a little easier to see image detail and spot an out-of-focus condition; manual focusing is also a bit easier.
#6. "RE: D2X focus problem" | In response to Reply # 4Wed 21-Dec-05 03:24 PM
>> The sensor is larger than the marked brackets <<
I am sure you are correct on this, but where is this officially documented by Nikon? I would help to have a source to point people to, every time I mention this someplace they ask the question.
How does this compare in relation to the D2H?
#8. "RE: D2X focus problem" | In response to Reply # 6walkerr Nikonian since 05th May 2002Wed 21-Dec-05 05:22 PM
Mike, if you look up Popular Photography's tests on both the D2H and the D2X, they've got a really nice test results section that shows the actual size of the sensors vs. the marked areas. Here's the D2H test. They haven't put up the D2X one on-line yet, but it was in an issue a few months back. If I'm not mistaken (this is from memory), the ones on the D2X are large enough to form an almost seamless autofocus region across the central part of the viewfinder.
I've never seen an official statement from Nikon regarding the sensor size, but I can vouch for the camera performing this way. If you don't factor the increased sensor size into how you're shooting, you'll end up with some problems on occasion. Even though I know better, I did it just a few weeks ago when photographing my brother's family. The sensor picked up the higher contrast background, which constituted half of the real sensor size, and locked onto the background. When I'm careful to keep the total sensor (or at least the vast majority of it) on the subject, I'm okay.
#5. "RE: D2X focus problem" | In response to Reply # 0
>> Has anyone else run into this problem with their D2X? <<
Big time and so did a lot of people, some of them members here.
My first D2X gave me consistently out of focus/soft images, after spending quite a bit of time testing to see if I could get it to work I brought it to Nikon, they adjusted the autofocus mechanism and there was some improvement, but the results were still very disappointing. I brought the camera back to Nikon and they replaced it, the replacement was better, but still not quite there. Then the firmware update came out and all the problems are gone, the results now are outstanding. This came just in time as I was almost ready to give up my 27 year loyalty to Nikon and go to Canon.
Bottom line, update the firmware, test it extensively and if you are still having problems bring it back to Nikon. Better yet it you just bought it test it quickly and if it does not work get it replaced by the dealer. The D2X when it works properly gives you outstanding results, as it should for a $5k piece of equipment.
#7. "RE: D2X focus problem" | In response to Reply # 5briantilley Nikonian since 26th Jan 2003Wed 21-Dec-05 04:01 PM
I don't think we know enough about Alan's particular problem (yet) to judge whether it might be a faulty AF system, or some other cause.
I'd agree with the recommendation to update the firmware (if not already done) and re-test rigorously. Without wishing to re-start old debates, I'd just alter your last sentence to say...
The D2X when it works properly, and is used effectively, gives you outstanding results
#9. "RE: D2X focus problem" | In response to Reply # 7Thu 22-Dec-05 05:25 AM
>> I don't think we know enough about Alan's particular problem <<
Absolutely correct, I was just relating my personal experience and answering his query of whether anyone else has had problems. I apologize if this was not clear in my response.
>> and is used effectively <<
Absolutely correct again, let make sure we use it to take pictures, not type e-mails!!