Defocus Control, it's no gimmick

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by Doug, Jul 28, 2007.

  1. Doug


    Jan 17, 2006
    East TN
    Did a little test with the 105 2.0 DC. Both shots 2.8 aperture, one is 2.8 defocused to front, and one is 2.8 defocused to back. Focal point is edge of rim of center leaded glass piece.

    Lighting is flourescent day lights through light tent, and SB-800 bounced and reflected through white cloth umbrella/light stand.



    I should do one without any defocus too, I'll add it later tonight...
  2. Nice example, one of the better I've seen Doug.
  3. kgill


    Jul 25, 2007
    I can't see the difference!!! Maybe I shouldn't be buying this lens!
  4. Doug


    Jan 17, 2006
    East TN
    Thanks Mike.

    At 2.8, the depth of field is narrow anyway kgill, so you have to note the amount of out of focus forground and background is of the "in focus" plane. Actually, your comment is not real thoughtful sir, regardless of if you can see the defocus or not, the 105 is one of the sharpest prime lenses around, do your homework. You can set it to neutral and pretend it's not there.

    But there is a distinct difference if you truly look at the out of focus plane, not the in focus center- But if you can't see it, well, maybe it's not the lens for you.

    The trick for the skilled photographer is utilizing it to blur close objects to the in focus field front or rear, it's quit simple.

  5. ZBaum

    ZBaum Guest

    Nice examples Doug. For anyone who can't see it, try comparing the object in the background on both shots. One is clearly more blurred than the other, especially when you check the highlights. The same goes for the object in the foreground, but it is a bit less obvious.
  6. Doug


    Jan 17, 2006
    East TN
    Thanks Zach, you are spot on! I think the lighting on the front piece clear glass had effect of lessening the blur look even.

    Incidentally, if anyone wondered about the pieces here, the angel in background was my daughters, the other pieces are in my glass collection. I have a small glass collection dating to early 1900 pieces, along with some modern pieces including Bola glass, as well as replicas of Tiffany windows in painted glass.

    You would not believe how heavy that middle piece is. It's quite beautiful, as well as one of those pieces you just love to rub your hands over. The undulations of the glass, the weight, quite an amazing piece of leaded crystal. Value? Perhaps in the 500.00 area now. Maybe... Put it this way, I would not take 500 for it. My fascination with glass comes from having done some stained glass previously.

  7. Its for sure not a gimmick, but i bet the majortity of the 105/2 DC dosent really use this feature all that much. The diffrence isnt supposed to night and day, its suppose to be subtle and give the photographer the ability to fine tune the image rendered.

    The posted examples shown here is a fine example of just that.

    With that said, i dont care for the feature my self. And if Nikon decided to make a 105/2 without DC ill bet they sell alot more of it. since the DC feature often miscalibrated out of the box.
  8. kgill


    Jul 25, 2007
    Hi Doug,

    Don't get all bunged up over my comment, it wasn't personal and never is. And in fact, it was VERY thoughtful. As much thought went into my comment as went into you arranging and shooting that photo. The point of the shot, I understood from the title, is not an appreciation of the sharpness or optical quality of the 105 DC, but of the defocus control, and it is on that that I have commented.

    I sat here scrolling up and down for ten minutes analyzing every piece of the photo, foreground, background, middle ground, and everything in between, before coming to the conclusion that I can't see the difference and deciding that maybe now isn't the time for me to buy the lens if I can't appreciate what it can do (I was considering buying one which had been put for sale at the exact time you posted your images).

    It is not an indictment in any way of *your* photography skills, but an indictment of my own photography skills (or lack thereof). Maybe it's the reflective surfaces? I don't know. But I've seen pictures with little stuffed animals also and I can't tell the difference. I'm sure over time I will have a more critical/capable eye, but now I'm just not at the skill level to be able to use a lens like this, as I'm still learning the basics.

    By the way, I'm not a sir, I'm a "ma'am".

    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 29, 2007
  9. Kristina, its funny you mention the stuffed animal lol, i belive thats the worst test example iv seen to display the DC effect. (yet its probebly the only one aswell)

    Not trying to push it down your throat, but if you look closely on the glas peice on the right you see a diffrence in the specular highlights.

    Personally i never see my self using this feature for any application. Thats why i would love to have it without DC so i dont have to worry about the dc feature affecting the IQ. My copy was only focusing correctly with the DC activated, if not it would front focus. Nikons answer was simply that it was within spec, and many times you need to activate the dc to get the sharpest images.

    Only problem for me was that i didnt care for the DC effect/look i wanted to be able to use it without it. So i returned it.

    I just placed an order for the 100mm/2 Zeiss Makro planar and im quite confident it will surpass the IQ of the 105/dc.

    Just my 02 cents Ma'am. .-)
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 29, 2007
  10. kgill


    Jul 25, 2007
    But that's my point...if I am having such a hard time seeing it, there's no way I could take advantage of the lens. Actually, I have Doug to thank for saving me the money I would have spent on this lens, even though I had located one at an excellent deal. I need to improve my photography skills and critical eye before I embark on the 105 DC. I have miles to go before I'm up to it.

    Doug's example just proved to me that my novice eyes can't justify the purchase of this special lens when I could get a wide angle for less and use fully immediately until I learn enough to move on to the 105 DC later....
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 30, 2007
  11. Doug


    Jan 17, 2006
    East TN
    Paul, maybe it will, it's also purely a manual focus lens, and by design a macro lens, which puts it more in competition with the 105VR, if it was in competition. But I have both the 105VR and the 105 2.0DC, I don't worry about it, I use them both for different things. I've heard some good things about the zeiss quality. But manual focus all the time isn't really very desirable to me. I have 1 lens, the 85 PC that way, so I do know from experience that I prefer autofocus myself.

    Kgill happy to assist. In no way is my post an advocation for everyone to need this lens.

    It was only a test, pure and simple to show that defocus control DOES work, and it does. The test validated it's purpose. I know I remembered someone saying it was a gimmick a while back, and I wanted to dispell that myth.
  12. Was it me? I am not sure, although I wouldn't call it a gimmick.
    My opinion was (and still is) that too many people use this feature only for tests and rarely to actually improve a picture.
    I used to own a 135 DC many years ago and I was mostly doing the same :wink:
    Thanks Doug for this test, it shows exactly the subtle differences that DC can make.
    No doubt that the 105 DC is a TOP lens, with or without the DC use :smile:
  13. Well af isnt really a "must" for me. Not for my studio work nor for my portraits. So im sure the Zeiss will fit the bill more then well. Even though when needed i have 3 of nikons pro zooms to do the job. But surely i can understand people who cant utilitize manual focus in their photography. Wich probebly is the majority lol.

    As for comparing manual focus from the 85mm/2,8 PC (wich i recently acquired) its not fair.

    Because the build and feel is so far from each other. Not saying the 85mm/2,8 PC is flimsy in anyway. Its one serious chunk of glas, but it does fade in comparison. I was suprised how much easier it was to mf with the zeiss then a any of my Nikkor put in manual focus.

    As you might already know the Zeiss Makro planar is used for various diffrent applications, look at the excellent mf glass they produce. Their design differs a little from Nikons wich often is a very clincal and neutral.Also the 100mm/2 is the only lens of the ZF that features ARRI/ZEISS Master Prime optics, thats got to count for something. .-)

    The 105/2,8 vr being an excption. it is a great allrounder, but dosent really excel at anything.

    Either way, happy shooting with your obviously very fine copy of the 105/dc.

    Ill make sure to post some portraits for you to examine with the 100mm/2 Zeiss when it arrives. :wink:
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 29, 2007
  14. I like mine a lot but I am probably not a typical user. My intention was never to use it as a portrait lens. I never do portraits. It's sharpness is well-known and I was most interested in its use for outdoor imagery. On long distance landscapes it provides large prints with a real painterly look especially when used with a D1X. Otherwise, I use it for flowers and such where I can control (??), if only to a small degree, the specular highlights. My one niggle with it is the close focus distance, a bit far for my likiing. Most probably wouldn't care though. If mine is properly adjusted then it is the most unusual lens I have. The OOF areas of images I take with it are very different from any of my other lenses. I can pick them out of a group easily. Here is are two I took of a Bleeding Heart and then a Tulip sometime ago. I do'nt have another foreground or background element so focusing was a little confusing. The outcome was unprdictable because I had no experience. The lens was new and I was trying to get both a sharp and a soft image. I think it didn't work so well in the first one as I was trying to get some front defocus. It doesn't appear to be any different than any similar FL might do. Maybe a wrongheaded approach. Still, the IQ of this lens is unmistakeable. The second was done with a Canon 500D attached. Your thoughts?


    View attachment 108417
  15. Here's another sample of the DC effect in use, this time with a 135/2.


    It's good at producting an exaggerated transition between in-focus and out-of-focus, which I hope is visible in the sample above.
  16. Nuteshack

    Nuteshack Guest

    well Paul ..i sure like the samples u posted from your new 50mm version gosh what dreamy glass! wish they made those in AF, they would sell a ton of them:biggrin:
  17. Nuteshack

    Nuteshack Guest

    nice sample Doug ...think i'm the one that said it was a "marketing trick" i still think it'sa gizmo i really wouldn't want ona lens ...matter of fact it pushed me over to the 85 1.4 (and i'm happy it did) ....;-))
  18. rvink


    Mar 21, 2006
    New Zealand
    I don't think it is a marketing trick, although the results can be subtle. I guess it depends on whether you are a bokeh connoisseur. I can clearly see the difference between the two test shots, especially on the glass figurine at the rear. On the first shots the out of focus blurs are hard-edged, on the second shot they are smooth. This shot perhaps does not show this affect to advantage. If the background were more "busy" and distant, such as sky filtering through trees or sunlight glinting on foliage, the DC lens would be able to render it into a smooth and pleasing background blur. If I had a DC lens I would certainly use it where-ever possible.
  19. Yes i really like it, and 2 more coming on wensday/thursday.

    Zeiss 100mm/2 and the Zeiss 85mm/1,4.

    I never thought i see the day when i parted with my Nikkor 85mm/1,4 D.But it has come.:redface:

    Iv been using my 85mm/1,4 for over a year, and it has produced excellent results. But if i can get even higher IQ with the only penalty being Excellent mf/or lack of AF (depends how you wanna twist it.-) Well for thats a no brainer for me.

    I will be sure to post some snaps as soon as iv gotten to know them.:biggrin:

    /Paul L.
  20. Ok, maybe here's a little more evident...

    105 DC Neutral - F2 (focus on the red label of the middle bottle)

    105 DC FRONT - F2.2 DC 5.6 - focused as above

    105 DC REAR - F2 DC 5.6 - idem

    As you see, in one case the focused area "tends" to shift backward, in the other case forward, closer to you. In my experience, I tend to use the DC rear, focusing the ear of the subject to have eyes nicely half-way between focus and blur.

    P.s.: Of course this is the MOST evident case among the possibilities allowed by the DC ring on the lens. Stopping down the aperture or rising the DC, the effect is always more subtle.