1. Welcome to NikonCafe.com—a friendly Nikon camera & photography discussion forum!

    If you are thinking of buying a camera or need help with your photos, you will find our forum members full of advice! Click here to join for free!

My First 85/1.4 Portrait

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by sasdallas, Aug 12, 2008.

  1. sasdallas

    sasdallas

    40
    Jul 22, 2008
    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)
     
  2. Nikkor AIS

    Nikkor AIS

    Jun 5, 2008
    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
     
  3. 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.
     
  4. sasdallas

    sasdallas

    40
    Jul 22, 2008
    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!!

    :) 
     
  5. Matthias

    Matthias

    300
    Apr 13, 2007
    Central Texas
    Sal,

    great capture - the OOF is nice, and the upward angle helps too.
     
  6. Hotplate

    Hotplate

    300
    Oct 23, 2007
    Austin, TX
    Looks like a great shot with nice lighting to me Sal. The 85 1.4 is a great lens..
     
  7. 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.

    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.

    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: Aug 13, 2008
  8. sasdallas

    sasdallas

    40
    Jul 22, 2008
    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
     
  9. sasdallas

    sasdallas

    40
    Jul 22, 2008
    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.

    [​IMG]
     
  10. Very nice work. Is nice to see how a professional uses this. I'm still in the learning curve with mine.
     
  11. 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.
     
  12. 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....
     
  13. 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.
     
  14. 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.
     
  15. sasdallas

    sasdallas

    40
    Jul 22, 2008
    Dallas
    Thanks again. good advice....

    SAS
     
  16. sasdallas

    sasdallas

    40
    Jul 22, 2008
    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!!


    [​IMG]

    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/
     
  17. Bear78

    Bear78

    54
    Jul 26, 2008
    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.
     

  18. 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: Aug 15, 2008
  19. ArtO

    ArtO

    Jun 14, 2008
    Florida
    Very nice portraits. They look like happy folks.
     
  20. Nikkor AIS

    Nikkor AIS

    Jun 5, 2008
    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
     
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.