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The Little Green Dot - Does it work, how, how well?

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by dgh3, Aug 9, 2009.

  1. dgh3

    dgh3

    366
    Mar 13, 2006
    Syracuse, NY
    On my D80 I tried out my Nikkor-N (Ai'd by John White - highly recommended) 35mm 1.4 at 1.4, relying only on the green dot for focus confirmation. I shot at ISO 400 (which I would normally do in dark shooting), from a tripod. I want to know if I can rely on the green dot with MF lenses. I shot at a close object, about two feet.

    I shot two trials using three different focus protocols. Front - focus in front of the subject, dial in and stop when the green dot stays on, Back - focus behind the subject, dial in and stop when the green dot stays on, Middle - adjust the setting between Front and Back as nearly centered as I can by feel (which I would also do in the dark). I repeated the center setting twice for each trial to check consistency. The focus point is the shiny arrow. I know, this doesn't meet with Nikons manual on AF, but it isn't much different front what I want it to do, so this is a "real world" test.

    [​IMG]

    My conclusions?

    1) The green dot really does work.

    2) Don't use the front method, start from behind the subject.

    3) Stop when the green dot comes on, and it's ok to overshoot just a little bit.

    I first reached this conclusion with my 105 macro while I was setting the diopter on the viewfinder (hint: shoot at min foucs distance, wide open, check LCD, adjust diopter focus to agree, repeat), and on a couple of other occasions when I'd shot MF.

    Your mileage may vary, try it out, try different lenses.....

    If I have time, I'll do a more rigorous test.

    Dave Harris
     
  2. Longshanks

    Longshanks

    701
    May 16, 2007
    Netherlands
    Thanks,

    I never managed to get a decent mf shot, I tried it your way at close range / 1.4 and I nailed it at first attemp.:eek: 
     
  3. Julien

    Julien

    Jul 28, 2006
    Paris, France
    Just tried it this instant and both methods worked just as well for me.
     
  4. TheStranger

    TheStranger

    64
    May 20, 2009
    California
    A few weeks ago, the green dot saved a shot for me - I was trying to take a flash exposure in near-total darkness and autofocus completely refused to lock on for my 35/1.8, so I fiddled with the manual focus ring, got the confirmation, and got the photo I wanted. :biggrin:

    I spent a whole afternoon and evening at Calistoga Speedway taking racing photos using ALL old manual focus lenses - including my people shots, which I chose to keep the 35/1.8 in the bag in favor of my Nikkor-S 50/1.4 for the challenge - and was very happy with the results I got. A few misses here and there but for the most part, the green dot was a huge help (especially as a guide in low light).
     
  5. jerryshenk

    jerryshenk

    538
    Jan 8, 2009
    PA
    I've messed with the "green dot" also a bit on my D90. The times I need it the most, with my big lens (manual vivitar 120-600) it's been less than helpful. Maybe I should do some more scientific testing and learn the limits and what it does do better. It's interesting that it seems to work better bringing the focus in from the back.

    One question about "Aid by John White" - do you have TTL metering now? I would LOVE that! I have a number of 20 year old lenses...that would be nice.
     
  6. kanzlr

    kanzlr

    Jun 18, 2007
    Vienna/AT
    this is similar to my experience. The dot works better if you start from behind the subject and turn focus towards you.

    Still, a manual focussing screen trumps the AF every time.
    the green dot is fine, because if it doesnt light up, you can be sure it is OOF, but just because it lights up doesn't mean you are there.
     
  7. bill-e

    bill-e

    516
    May 10, 2008
    New Hampshire
    This method worked for me as well. thanks. I do have a Katz Eye on order for my D90 though.
     
  8. jerryshenk

    jerryshenk

    538
    Jan 8, 2009
    PA
    Bill, are you getting the "optibrite" (something like that) treatment?
     
  9. kanzlr

    kanzlr

    Jun 18, 2007
    Vienna/AT
    optibrite is available for the D700? it wasnt a while ago.

    that beeing said I had the optibrite version in the D200 and it does reduce the viefinder pop (how nicely and distinctively the image jumps into focus). I wouldn't order it even if it where available because it reduces the usefulness of the matte area.
     
  10. bill-e

    bill-e

    516
    May 10, 2008
    New Hampshire
    Jerry, yes.

    I currently have one for my D40 which I'm trying to sell which has the Optibrite treatment also and while I never used the non-optibrite version, I was very happy with its bright performance on my D40 (which I've since given to my son and he has no use for the split screen).

    With my old eyes I find it indispensable for manual focusing and it really is a cinch to install.
     
  11. goffer

    goffer

    Nov 22, 2007
    San Diego
    still no optibright on the D700... I went from having D300 with optibright to a D700 without, and though there is a difference, the difference is not enough to make me wait for a screen with optibright treatment.

    another good trick if you don't have a focus screen is to use live view and zoom into your point.
     
  12. dgh3

    dgh3

    366
    Mar 13, 2006
    Syracuse, NY
    When you get it, perhaps you could compare it with the green dot. I'm curious as to whether they work as well as each other. I think low light might prove a problem with any focusing screen, it certainly gave me fits in the "old days" of split image focus screens, which are, generally, very good.

    Dave Harris
     
  13. When using the D3/D700 with oh so bright viewfinders, it's easy to MF my CV 58 f1.4
    I'll glance down occasionally at the green dot and it usually confirms I've done a decent job. :biggrin:
     
  14. A little knowledge about hyperfocal distances can also help you nail the focus but the green dot is useful indeed.
     
  15. I don't have documented evidence, just my experiences, but on my D40, the green dot is pretty unreliable when using the outer two focus points, which really really sucks. The center point is pretty good. I would also concur that going beyond focus and coming back in results in a bit better result.
     
  16. kanzlr

    kanzlr

    Jun 18, 2007
    Vienna/AT
    well the center sensor is cross-type, the outers arent, right?
     
  17. Adkid

    Adkid

    818
    Jan 3, 2009
    Portland
    I thought I read in Thom Hogan's Fuji S5 guide that the only focus point that works with manual focus lenses is the center one. I would assume that this might be true for all Nikon cameras. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong.
     
  18. I trust the in-focus dot for MF lenses, especially the center focus point, which I use most for MF.
     
  19. kanzlr

    kanzlr

    Jun 18, 2007
    Vienna/AT
    for the same reasons I guess?
     
  20. jerryshenk

    jerryshenk

    538
    Jan 8, 2009
    PA
    I believe that all the focus points work similarly (well or not, ymmv). I did a quick test with a manual Soligar 35-140 and tried the green focus dot with a few different focus points and they all seemed to work the same.
     
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