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85mm 1.4 help

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by ChrisC, Sep 17, 2008.

  1. ChrisC


    Jan 7, 2008
    I just bought this lens and I am not getting very sharp pictures. I have tried setting the ss anywhere from 100-500 and the aperture anywhere from 1.4-3.2
    Without getting too complicated what is the best way to determine if it is the lens, the user or the camera. While I'm able to get pretty sharp shots with my other lenses they still don't have quite the sharpness I see in others pictures and the 85 is even less sharp than my 17-55 and 70-200 (all nikon)
    I'm not sure how much is attributed to post processing when I see such sharp photos others on here take.

    Can someone suggest a fairly simple way to judge the lenses and camera?
    Also, I have heard of problems with CA with the 85 but I'm not sure it is supposed to be as bad as I am seeing. For instance I took a picture of my grandson wearing navy blue sweatpants with white print on the leg, in the picture the entire white was outlined in red.
    I really want to love this lens and it's easy to see that I would if I could just see some hope.
  2. Use a tripod on a still subject to test sharpness. The CA on my copy is TERRIBLE. I don't use it wide open in direct sunlight anymore. My issue is purple fringing,however, not red.
  3. A good first step would be to post some samples along with the shooting data.
  4. ChrisC


    Jan 7, 2008
    I will do that. I have to leave for work at the moment but I will post the problems I am having this evening. Thanks
  5. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Chris :

    Firstly, if you're photographing people, always focus on one eye. If the eyes are not in a single plane parallel relative to the sensor plane, one will be OOF at large apertures, but the one you've focused on should be in focus. if not, perhaps there's a problem.

    Now, tests...

    Of course, you can download a scale to test with (Example), but a decent "real world" test is to set up a series of stuffed animals or dolls staggered over several feet and shoot from a tripod with the focal point being on one eye, increment the aperture upwards and review the shots.

    If you get furry stuffed animals, you'll have an excellent practical gauge as to sharpness down- or up-field of the focus plant by looking at the crispness of the hair on the fur.

    The scale will show some subtle issues pretty well, but testing with multiple objects are varying distances works better - for me. YMMV as they say. :wink:

    John P.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 17, 2008
  6. Gonna watch this thread. I have owned 3 of the 85's and was not pleased with any of them. Most are so giddy about it.
  7. ChrisC


    Jan 7, 2008
    Thank you John, I will try this, I really don't want to down this lens if it is me, I am willing to try whatever I have to to figure out the problem.
  8. ChrisC


    Jan 7, 2008
    I am posting a few at this time but I have more. Camera used is D200.
    #1 is a 100% crop of my grandsons leg. It was taken in a fairly well lit room (windows on 2 sides, sunny day and overhead light on). Settings wer 1/25 sec on a tripod, f/1.4, iso 320, no flash and I focused on the lettering on his shorts.
    The lettering was just white on navy, but it is outlined in red/purple.

    #2 is the original shot

    #3 was handheld in a very brightly lit bathroom 1/500sec, f/1.4, iso 400


    Is there something obvious I am doing wrong? I have taken approx 50 shots and only have a few that I can say are decent. I have the sigma 30 1.4 and while I 'm not great at it I have taken some fairly nice shots with that lens at 1.4.
  9. The only way to know if the lens is not up to par is to set it up on a tripod and manually focus it at f/1.4 with a shutter speed of 125 or more and see if the images turn out OK. Then try it in AF and see what you get. I recently purchased a Sigma 30 f/1.4 and it was terrible. I tried everything to get an acceptable picture. It produced the same results on my D300, D2x D200 and D100. Everyone of my Nikkors blew it away. I just sent it to Sigma to see if it can be adjusted. From what I see in your pictures, it looks like yours needs some help.

  10. My guess is it needs to go on a trip to Nikon Service or equivalent
  11. AntonioJV


    Aug 9, 2007
    Chris, before you send your lens to Nikon check your picture # 2:
    I can see that you used 1/25" for shutter speed that is too slow IMO (I can see some motion on the kid´s foot) also try another WB method like PRE so you can improve the color of your image. Maybe that red is caused by the AUTO WB depending of the kind of light you have in that room.
    Wish you good luck!
  12. Mine was front focusing. Tested using a magazine on the couch shot @ 45 degrees (a quick and dirty version of the test suggested above). D700 LCD is so good I adjusted focus +6 and now it's SHARP.

    This is hand held @ 1.4:


    100% crop:


    You are right to be concerned but don't send to Nikon just yet. Might be a simple AF adjustment (assuming you're using a newer camera with AF adj).
  13. VDMTom


    Jun 24, 2008
    CA, USA
    i agree. 90% of the time it works.
  14. dking99


    Aug 19, 2008
    Rockville, MD
    I just bought this lens and B&H charged me twice by accident and sent me two copies by accident.

    Both lenses have an extreem front focus on them. I have to adjust the AF fine tune to +20 to get a precise focal point. +25 would be desired if it was available, but the scale on my D3 only goes up to +20.

    I tried both copies that were sent to me, both result in a +20 fine tune. I took a few shots at the camera shop with one and I went back to the pictures I took...the eyeballs were soft and the nose was sharp. Once again, a very bad front focus.

    Problem is, my 105 macro is dead on, so is my 70-200. My 24-70 needs a +10, which I am fine with, but the 85mm at +20??? I am not fine with that. If Nikon repairs the camera body in any way, this may throw all the acurate lenses off.
  15. rsprouse


    Jan 25, 2006
    Encinitas CA
    Are you using a filter "for protection?" If so, TAKE IT OFF!

    -- Russ
  16. I had a 85mm f/1.4 until a couple of days ago. When I first got the lens last weekend and went out to take shots with it, the images were tack sharp. Then over the past weekend I was taking pictures of my kids and the lens just went soft. I took the lens into the camera shop where I bought it to exchange it for a new one, but no stock anywhere in the country. So... I got a refund and put my name on the list of those waiting for the next shipment. :frown:
  17. I don't see how the Cream could have soured so quickly. What changed? Did you drop it?

    The key may be in your comment that you got sharp results when you "went out to take shots with it". I'm guessing that means outdoor pictures in decent light. Were the pictures you took later of your kids taken indoors or in low light? If so, focus placement and/or camera shake might have been the culprits. Jmho.
  18. bradNYC


    Mar 28, 2008
  19. GBRandy


    Feb 28, 2006
    Green Bay, WI
    That red / purple fringing is called Chromatic Aberration (CA) and it happens on all lenses that are super wide. I have a Canon 85 f1.2 and that one does it as well. Some examples are better than others.....yours, like mine, looks to be OK. I have seen some nasty ones.

    The DOF wide open is pretty slim. The DOF Calculator link is a good one to reference just to see what little room you have.

    I suspect there is some AF float and if you shot at a ruler angled away from you and picked the same point and re-focused a couple of times, the results would float around a wee bit..... At f2 I bet it looks fine. If not, send the camera & the lens in and they can calibrate the two together. But be forewarned, that can toss the AF off on your other lenses :) 

    Most people who shoot these wide open do it in a studio and manually focus them.

    My 2 pennies worth.
  20. Nothing changed and I didn't drop it. I took it out and shot with it outdoors when I first got it, then it stayed in the lens case and in my lens drawer until this past weekend.

    You guessed right. :smile: When the lens 'crapped' out, I was at park with my kids and it was a sunny day with blue skies. The camera shop I do business with is about 500 meters from the from my condo block, so I took it there immediately. The shop manager tried the lens on a D300, then a D700 and a D3... all produced the same blurred results. He was also baffled, but thought it might be the focusing mechanism in the lens. :confused: 

    Anyhow, I got a refund and I'm waiting for a new shipment of the Cream... :frown:
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