D3 and 85 f1.4D focus question...
i recently got the D3 and 85 1.4D combination and was shooting a project yesterday and i noticed that at times i was not able to lock in focus and i need to focus something else than go back to the subject to refocus.
lighting condition was dim, and i have focus set to single focus, and happens when i try to shoot quickly.. i guess i am anticipatiing to lock in every moment.
is this normal or if something is not right, is it the lens or camera? is there a setting on the camera that i can adjust..
#1. "RE: D3 and 85 f1.4D focus question..." | In response to Reply # 0Noel Holland Charter MemberSat 15-Mar-08 09:11 AM
Sounds like a combination of two factors:
1) The distance between new focus points was narrow but not as narrow as the depth focus at f/1.4. At short distance the dof for the 85mm set to f1/.4 is extremely narrow. With single focus and no adjustment between frames few photographers just keep that still between shots hand held. If your subject is also human then they are also not likely to be perfectly still making it doubly hard to stay in the fractional dof f1.4 provides. I'd recommend either single frame shooting then refocus or else continuous AF.
2) Sounds like your subject didn't have a lot of surface texture making focus difficult. You never said what you were focusing on - a picture would help us to figure the issue out.
#2. "RE: D3 and 85 f1.4D focus question..." | In response to Reply # 1zoom2zoom Basic MemberSat 15-Mar-08 11:11 AM
i was shooting school portraits, one student at a time, using strobes and backdrops, i set the aperture at f7.1, speed 1/200s, ISO 200.. i ususally focus on the nose or one eye, but since i needed to shoot fast due to schedule, i noticed that at times, the focus would not lock or in fact, the lens motor doesnt seem to move, and i can see that its out of focus and shutter would not fire..
so, i have to quickly focus something else at a different distance, then go back to the subject..
it happens about 1 every 5 students, it may be dim lighting or i thought that the D3 have some menu options for adjusting the focus..
#6. "RE: Page 82 has the probably reason" | In response to Reply # 2Len Shepherd Nikonian since 09th Mar 2003Sun 16-Mar-08 09:28 AM
>i was shooting school portraits,
It is quite possible there was insufficient contrast for AF to read (example 1) or insufficient detail (example 6) some of the time.
I assume the focus light was fairly low. In portrait mode the upper and lower AF sensors read horizontal - combinations not ideal for good AF on a subjects facial features.
As each persons facial features differ the implication is with 80% of sitters AF could read the AF target, and with 20% AF could not lock on.
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.
#3. "RE: D3 and 85 f1.4D focus question..." | In response to Reply # 0
I had the same thing happen at an event last Sunday. D3 and 85mm f1.4 AF-D. Occassionally it would not focus. I use AF-C and focus with the AF-ON button. Priority is set to Release, so the camera fires regardless of focus. I was shooting at a social event so the subjects were relatively stationary. 3-4 shots out of 20 with the 85mm were out of focus. It was not that focus was on something other than the subject. Nothing was in focus. I was trying to isolate the subject so aperture was at f2. I have checked the focus of the 85 f1.4 and it does focus accurately on my D3.
The rest of the shoot I used my 28-70 f2.8. Aperture around f5.6. Of those 80 or so shots I had 100% accurate focus. When I noticed the focus issue I shifted from single area to dynamic area and did not have an out of focus shot afterwards. Don't know if that was a factor.
I use my D3 autofocus system just as I do that on my D2Hs and D2X. Tom Hogan's review of the D300 (which I believe uses the same autofocus system) suggests that it is different from the D2 series and should be used differently for good results. Tom says:
Be prepared to completely forget how you used to set autofocus on previous Nikon DSLRs and prepare to take considerable time figuring out how to optimize your use of the new system.
I guess I will have to do that. But this begs the question of why performance seems to vary with the lens that is mounted.
Edited to add:
I have seen this occassionally with other lenses, so I do not believe is is a D3 - 85 f1.4 AF-D "issue". My instincts suggest it is a settings or usage problem on my part.
#5. "RE: D3 and 85 f1.4D focus question..." | In response to Reply # 4ajdooley Nikonian since 25th May 2006Sun 16-Mar-08 12:02 AM
And the eye nearest the camera at that. If the PUPIL of the eye nearest the camera is in focus, the effect is that the photo is in focus. If it's not, it just doesn't seem to matter what, if anything else is in focus -- especially on large prints.
#7. "RE: D3 and 85 f1.4D focus question..." | In response to Reply # 0
We've noticed similar problems here. I first noticed it on the 24-70mm, and then more frequently on the 85mm1.4. Haven't got to the bottom of it though, because it's inconsistent.
I generally use single servo AF set to focus priority, and use single point AF, using the central point, locking the focus and recomposing. Other photographers have noticed it using different focussing points. Talked to Nikon UK and they said they hadn't come across the problem but that I could try 51 point 3D tracking. First had it shooting Iain Banks on Calton Hill above Edinburgh. Bright, clear day but the focus seemed to lock with it out of focus and it wouldn't shoot. It happened a number of times. Very embarrassing. Needed to switch the camera off to get it to behave, though some of the other guys that have noticed similar problems have said that moving to manual focus and back, or choosing a different focussing point kicked it back in again. Have had it a number of times now, but the pressure of the job usually means there's not time to experiment to find out what's going on, and when I get back I can't reproduce it. Its happed on both of our D3s. And I'm not certain of this but I suspect it happens more after the camera has been in use for a while. And no, it's not a full buffer problem. Maybe a heat effect?
Not much use for diagnosis this I'm afraid folks. When it happens again I'll try and pin it down a bit more.
#8. "RE: D3 and 85 f1.4D focus question..." | In response to Reply # 7Wed 19-Mar-08 01:23 PM | edited Wed 19-Mar-08 01:25 PM by Luke_Miller
>I generally use single servo AF set to focus priority, and use
>single point AF, using the central point, locking the focus
I shoot the same way, but with one difference.
If after you lock focus and recompose the focus point is no longer on an object that is in focus, focus priority will keep the shutter from releasing. That is its purpose. You need to go to release priority for his to work.
#9. "RE: D3 and 85 f1.4D focus question..." | In response to Reply # 8Wed 19-Mar-08 01:38 PM
No you don't Luke. The whole point in the focus lock when you are in AF-S is that you put your focussing point on the subject, press the shutter half down (or use the AF-ON button) and then recompose and shoot without losing the focus on your subject. It doesn't make any difference whether it's set to Release or Focus in the AF-S priority selection menu once the focussing has been locked manually. Try it.
#10. "RE: D3 and 85 f1.4D focus question..." | In response to Reply # 9Wed 19-Mar-08 02:13 PM | edited Wed 19-Mar-08 02:23 PM by Luke_Miller
Confirmed it before I posted. In Single Servo autofocus - Focus lock only means the autofocus system will no longer change the focus of the lens. The autofocus system continues to "look" at the subject after focus lock. If the subject subsequently goes out of focus because it moved or because the photographer recomposed, the body gives you two menu choices. Focus priority which means the shutter will not release, or Release priority which means the shutter will release.
On page 305 of my D3 manual it describes AF-S Priority Selection. Under Focus Priority it states "Photos can only be taken when the in-focus indicator is displayed"
Try locking focus so that the in-focus "dot" lights and then pan until an out of focus object is in the focus bracket. You will see the "dot" go out and the shutter will not release if you are in Focus priority.
#11. "RE: D3 and 85 f1.4D focus question..." | In response to Reply # 10Wed 19-Mar-08 02:38 PM
Did you actually try it Luke, or go by the manual. Because once the focus is locked the green light stays on when you recompose and the shutter fires. It makes no difference whether it's set to Release or to Focus. Unless there's a fault with my camera. Our other two D3s are on location at the moment so I can't check them but I'm pretty sure this is functioning correctly.
Check yours one more time.
#13. "RE: D3 and Focus Lock and Recompose" | In response to Reply # 11DVDMike Registered since 25th Mar 2003Wed 19-Mar-08 02:45 PM
Rob, I do not believe that our cameras are malfunctioning with regards to focus and recompose. Mine works just as yours does. It should work this way, the manual does not contradict our experiences, and we can both focus and recompose with A2 set to "Focus".
#12. "RE: D3 and focus lock and recompose" | In response to Reply # 10DVDMike Registered since 25th Mar 2003Wed 19-Mar-08 02:42 PM | edited Wed 19-Mar-08 02:46 PM by DVDMike
Luke, I am not sure if I just do not understand what you are testing, but I can certainly take a photo with nothing in focus after having locked focus and having subsequently moved the camera. I just tried it again and it worked just as I suspected. And I have menu item A2 set to "Focus".
I frequently shoot with AF-S, A2 set to Focus, and recompose my shots after lock. It works fine. When I recompose, the "in-focus" indicator remains as long as I leave the shutter half-pressed or set up the AF-ON button correctly in the menu and focus with it.
With A2 set to Focus, this simply prevents shooting anything before the lock on has been set. This does not contradict the quote listed on page 305. In other words, the manual does not support your conclusion.
As far as the original post goes, this problem sounds strangely familiar to AF issues that I am also having in less than ideal conditions, although lens choice has no effect.
#14. "RE: D3 and focus lock and recompose" | In response to Reply # 12Wed 19-Mar-08 03:26 PM
Well this is turning into a bit of a mystery. Here are my D3 settings:
A5 Off (using AF ON button)
With these settings I press the AF-ON button and achieve focus lock (in-focus dot lights). I release the AF-ON button. I recompose and the in-focus dot goes out. I press the shutter release and the shutter will not release. I pan back to the original subject and the in-focus dot illuminates and the shutter will release.
The only way I can duplicate the experience of Rob and Mike is to press and hold the AE-L/AF-L Lock button after I achieve focus lock.
My D2Hs/D2X bodies work exactly the same way as my D3 with these settings.
#16. "Mystery Solved" | In response to Reply # 14Wed 19-Mar-08 03:39 PM
We are all correct
I do not touch the shutter button until I am ready to release the shutter. In the scenario above all recent Nikon bodies work as I described.
However - If you achieve focus lock (either with the AF-ON button or a half press of the shutter button) and maintain a half press of the shutter button before you recompose the bodies work just as Rob and Mike describe. In other words maintaining a half press of the shutter button acts just the same as if you pressed and held the AF-L button.
The more I learn about the autofocus system the more there seems to be learned
#18. "RE: D3 and focus lock and recompose" | In response to Reply # 14Wed 19-Mar-08 03:42 PM
Haha. We're both right. I use focus lock on the shutter and you have to keep that held down to keep it locked. You can then take the shot after recomposing, when A2 is set to Focus. The same happens with your settings and using the AF-ON button, so long as you keep it pressed down. But this button keeps the focus locked after release, and then it won't fire if the area is now out of focus. Unless A2 is set to Release of course. Sorted.
Of course it doesn't help with my problem, but at least its kept us amused.
#15. "RE: D3 and focus lock and recompose" | In response to Reply # 12briantilley Nikonian since 26th Jan 2003Wed 19-Mar-08 03:27 PM
>Luke, I am not sure if I just do not understand what you are
>testing, but I can certainly take a photo with nothing in
>focus after having locked focus and having subsequently moved
On this topic, you may all be correct, because it all depends...
If you have AF assigned to the Shutter Release, focus on the subject then re-compose while keeping the Shutter Release half-pressed, AF will be locked on the original subject but the camera will let you take the picture even with the new subject under the AF sensor being out of focus.
On the other hand, if you AF using the AF-ON Button then keep it pressed while re-composing, focus will be locked but the camera will not allow you to take the picture if the new subject is out-of-focus.
On the third hand (!), however you initiate AF, if you lock focus with the AE-L/AF-L Button, the camera will again stop you taking the picture after re-composing if the new subject is out-of-focus.
I hope that helps
#17. "RE: D3 and focus lock and recompose" | In response to Reply # 15Wed 19-Mar-08 03:40 PM | edited Wed 19-Mar-08 03:50 PM by Luke_Miller
Thanks, Brian. You are right on target. We are all correct. Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks!
After additional experimentation it seems that there even more variables depending on the autofocus settings used. I get somewhat different results than you described, but I now believe it is due to the way I have my body set up. This is far more complex than I initially thought. To me the lesson is that I must spend the time to understand exactly how the system works in order to get the results I want
#19. "RE: D3 and 85 f1.4D focus question..." | In response to Reply # 7
I work as a journalist in New York. Last week at the Stock Exchange my D3 locked up with a 300mm, f2.8 on it and I had to turn the camera on and off to shoot. I know at least a half dozen news photographers in NY with focus problems on their D3. Nikon refuses to acknowledge that there is a problem. I'm a a loss what to do. As with my camera all the problems they're having are totally erratic, sometimes camera works great and then bam focus problems. Nikon suggests sending the camera in but I know since I know so many people with problems its a waste of time. Please don't lecture me on settings. I've done everything. Nikon needs to fix this problem. I suggest everyone do as I have and call the head of Nikon repair and complain.
#20. "RE: D3 and 85 f1.4D focus question..." | In response to Reply # 19briantilley Nikonian since 26th Jan 2003Mon 24-Mar-08 06:53 PM
>Please don't lecture me on settings.
>Nikon needs to fix this problem. I suggest everyone do as I
>have and call the head of Nikon repair and complain.
Why would you expect everyone to do that? Most of us here have not seen the problem you describe
Good luck, whatever you decide to do.
#21. "RE: D3 and 85 f1.4D focus question..." | In response to Reply # 20eastvillager Registered since 16th Dec 2007Wed 26-Mar-08 04:43 PM
Obviously I mean to say call Nikon and complain if you have focusing problems. I'm writing this from a corporate forum I'm shooting. The camera seems to be working better but there are many instances where the camera will not focus and you have to move the focus point. These should not be difficult situations. For some reason the camera seems to be working better in the last few weeks except for the focus just lockig up last week. Go figure.
#22. "RE: The explanation is likely on page 82 of your D3 instructions" | In response to Reply # 0
>i noticed that at times i was not able to lock in focus and i need focus something else
Page 82 explains what type of subjects AF may have difficulty in reading - if AF cannot read the subject is cannot focus right.
Sample images would help but all sounds "normal" if when the camera focused there was readable detail and when it did not there was difficult to read detail similar to 1 of the 6 examples on page 82.
Edited to add - when using the 2 generations old AF in the F100 alongside the D3 for landscape work there are a few AF targets that one AF system reads well and the other AF system fails. There are similar AF detection differences between F100 and F6.