My First 85/1.4 Portrait

Joined
Jul 22, 2008
Messages
40
Location
Dallas
I had a chance to try this lens out today (on a D3) for a portrait assignment at the Dallas Four Seasons Hotel of the head chef. Just a one-light with umbrella, and fill card, slow shutter, pretty wide-open shot.

I have to say I had somewhat of a hard time with this lens for my first round with the AF. Maybe because I was using a strobist setup, hence no modeling light and therefore low-light and wide open, but about half the time the lens/camera just refused to lock on. I ended up trying manual part of the time, and winged the rest.

I guess to be fair, I need to work with this lens a little bit to get a better feeling for the focusing in lower light situations. Anyone else come across this type of sluggish AF?

chef.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
 
Joined
Jun 5, 2008
Messages
6,091
Location
Alberta
Sal: Great capture. You caught the chef in a very light hearted and pleasant expression. His eye's light up. Very nice. Im sure you client will love it. As far as AF sucking in low light. It's the the nature of the beast. The good part is your working with a D3 and for me at least I have no trouble focusing in low light. And judging from your attempt at "winging it ", so are you . Welcome to the forum.

Gregory
 
Joined
May 5, 2005
Messages
22,200
Location
Idaho
Well, for having trouble you sure got a great result!! I'm waiting for my 85 1.4 to arrive from B&H. Can't wait. I hope I can do as well as you did. I think your lighting is fantastic. It looks so natural. I would have guessed that it was a really great natural light photo. I've definitely got to learn more.
 
Joined
Jul 22, 2008
Messages
40
Location
Dallas
Hi Terri:

Thanks.

It is just a simple Nikon SB-800 with an umbrella (left front) and a silver fill card (right) both on stands. I'm in a position a bit lower so as to use some of the ceiling lamp shades for a bit of warm OOF background.

I really like the "strobist" style of lighting for these types of shoots (when I have no assistant handy) as you can go TTL with the Nikon CLS flashes. Makes it easy to move the main light wherever you want quickly, and not have to do a whole lot of thinking about balancing the lighting, etc.

Plus, lucky for me, the chef is an aspiring photographer who loves the process and was an eager subject and fun to shoot!!

I will say the 85/1.4 has a bit of a learning curve (IMHO.) Notice I said "a bit" as this is the first time I used it on a job, and like anything it takes a bit of practice, but I'm sure I'll feel better about it with a few shoots behind me.

More later!!

:)
 
Joined
Oct 23, 2007
Messages
300
Location
Austin, TX
Looks like a great shot with nice lighting to me Sal. The 85 1.4 is a great lens..
 
Joined
Jan 26, 2005
Messages
1,011
Location
San Jose, CA
I had a chance to try this lens out today (on a D3) for a portrait assignment at the Dallas Four Seasons Hotel of the head chef. Just a one-light with umbrella, and fill card, slow shutter, pretty wide-open shot.

I have to say I had somewhat of a hard time with this lens for my first round with the AF. Maybe because I was using a strobist setup, hence no modeling light and therefore low-light and wide open, but about half the time the lens/camera just refused to lock on. I ended up trying manual part of the time, and winged the rest.

I guess to be fair, I need to work with this lens a little bit to get a better feeling for the focusing in lower light situations. Anyone else come across this type of sluggish AF?

I'd think the problem is related to the camera, not the lens. There just wasn't enough light/contrast for the d3's AF system to lock on to anything, and it probably would have had the same problem if you had used the 85mm setting on a 70-200mm AF-S zoom. The d3 doesn't have an AF assist lamp, but if you are using wireless ttl, both the sb800 and su800 Commanders have built-in AF assist lamps. All you need to do is enable that feature.

I really like the "strobist" style of lighting for these types of shoots (when I have no assistant handy) as you can go TTL with the Nikon CLS flashes. Makes it easy to move the main light wherever you want quickly, and not have to do a whole lot of thinking about balancing the lighting, etc.

Yes, wireless CLS is awesome. But just to correct the terminology, it is not "strobist style". The Strobist (Dave Hobby) is a Nikon shooter, and uses CLS for some of his own work. But since he writes for all camera platforms, his tutorials involve manually setting the power of the remote strobes.

I will say the 85/1.4 has a bit of a learning curve (IMHO.) Notice I said "a bit" as this is the first time I used it on a job, and like anything it takes a bit of practice, but I'm sure I'll feel better about it with a few shoots behind me.

To speed the process, I'd suggest you move into the lense's sweet spot, which I feel is f/2.0-3.5. DOF is still very narrow in this range, but the in focus stuff will be sharper, and you'll have a better chance of getting all the important parts of your subject in focus. Here's a somewhat similar shot of a restaurant worker taken at f/2.2.

original.gif
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Joined
Jul 22, 2008
Messages
40
Location
Dallas
Frank:

Thanks.

I agree about the body vs. lens regarding AF.

I usually do stay in the 2.8-3.5 range. Since this was a first shoot I guess I was more or less messing around to see what results I would get. Next time I will stay in the more reasonable range!!

:)

SAS
 
Joined
Jul 22, 2008
Messages
40
Location
Dallas
I usually do stay in the 2.8-3.5 range.<<

And, TBH, I did flip around the aperture ring just a bit, with this maybe being a bit more realistic. More of an issue for me was the fact that even though the D3 has 51 AF points, I could not get one high enough to put "right on" the eye or bridge of nose, while camera was on a tripod.

Usually hand-held you could focus and recompose, but in a fixed position it became a problem, hence my going to manual a few times to overcome this.

chef2.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
 
M

Mark in St. Louis

Guest
Very nice work. Is nice to see how a professional uses this. I'm still in the learning curve with mine.
 
Joined
Jul 28, 2008
Messages
507
Location
Chicago, IL
Great capture. for the first post personally I find the foreground table a bit distracting, but that's a good pose, the only way around that would be to shoot a little higher.
 
Joined
May 11, 2006
Messages
1,002
Location
CHARLOTTE
Real Name
Randy
IMO:
the crop at the top is too close to his head....
too much light from the right side of the image
and his face is soft on both sides, more so on the left.....

the bg is awesome

anyway, what do I know, I'm a sports shooter....
 
Joined
May 5, 2005
Messages
22,200
Location
Idaho
Hi Terri:

Thanks.

It is just a simple Nikon SB-800 with an umbrella (left front) and a silver fill card (right) both on stands. I'm in a position a bit lower so as to use some of the ceiling lamp shades for a bit of warm OOF background.

I really like the "strobist" style of lighting for these types of shoots (when I have no assistant handy) as you can go TTL with the Nikon CLS flashes. Makes it easy to move the main light wherever you want quickly, and not have to do a whole lot of thinking about balancing the lighting, etc.

Plus, lucky for me, the chef is an aspiring photographer who loves the process and was an eager subject and fun to shoot!!

I will say the 85/1.4 has a bit of a learning curve (IMHO.) Notice I said "a bit" as this is the first time I used it on a job, and like anything it takes a bit of practice, but I'm sure I'll feel better about it with a few shoots behind me.

More later!!

:)

Thanks so much for your explanation. I need to get my sb800 out more. I'm mostly taking photos of my grandkids who are very young. Positioning a flash isn't always an option then.
 
Joined
Jan 26, 2005
Messages
1,011
Location
San Jose, CA
Usually hand-held you could focus and recompose, but in a fixed position it became a problem, hence my going to manual a few times to overcome this.

Try to avoid focus/recompose with the Cream Machine (aka 85/1.4) at wide apertures. The DOF is so thin that you'll usually end up with results that are less than critically sharp. But if you continue having problems, an su800 Commander will be an excellent solution It has a powerful af assist lamp, and since it operates in the infrared range, neither af assist or command signals to the remotes will distract your subjects. Jmho.
 
Joined
Jul 22, 2008
Messages
40
Location
Dallas
>>Yes, wireless CLS is awesome. But just to correct the terminology, it is not "strobist style". The Strobist (Dave Hobby) is a Nikon shooter, and uses CLS for some of his own work. But since he writes for all camera platforms, his tutorials involve manually setting the power of the remote strobes.<<<

BTW, "strobist style" is a much-used term to describe the process, as seen on your own website!!


Picture%202
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


I believe the term would be more associated with just using "small strobes vs. studio lights" basically. For those not familiar with some of the pretty cool ways you can use "small strobes" here is his website which has a ton of great tips: http://strobist.blogspot.com/
 
Joined
Jul 26, 2008
Messages
54
Location
Colorado
My .02

I manual focus all portraits. I don't trust AF for these shots. I focus where I want.

I only use AF for sports, candids, or the initial focus for like landscapes. I always fine tune with manual. Gotta love the manual override.
 
Joined
Feb 19, 2006
Messages
120
Location
Toronto, Canada.
I usually do stay in the 2.8-3.5 range.<<

And, TBH, I did flip around the aperture ring just a bit, with this maybe being a bit more realistic. More of an issue for me was the fact that even though the D3 has 51 AF points, I could not get one high enough to put "right on" the eye or bridge of nose, while camera was on a tripod.

Usually hand-held you could focus and recompose, but in a fixed position it became a problem, hence my going to manual a few times to overcome this.

chef2.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


I notice on this image the shutter speed according to the exif info is 1/20th. I think that is way too slow, you can see motion blur in most of the image. The blur is probably caused by a combination of subject movement and shutter/mirror bounce from the camera. Speeds around 1/30th for me have always been a problem with shutter/mirror vibration.

With that D3 bump up the ISO to 400 at least, the images won't suffer much at all.

I like the photos, very nice light.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Joined
Jun 5, 2008
Messages
6,091
Location
Alberta
There is a old expression about learning from your mistakes. There is a "other" side to this saying. Learn from your success. Dont fix what isnt broken. Great captures:smile:. Stick with MF there are an Infinite number of focusing points..OO
 

Latest threads

Links on this page may be to our affiliates. Sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
Nikon Cafe is a fan site and not associated with Nikon Corporation.
Forum post reactions by Twemoji: https://github.com/twitter/twemoji
Forum GIFs powered by GIPHY: https://giphy.com/
Copyright © Amin Forums, LLC
Top Bottom