Controlling DOF on 50mm f/1.4 G and other newer lenses

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by leicaglow, Nov 11, 2010.

  1. A couple days ago I shot a small group image for an organization with my new 50mm f/1.4 G. I only had time to set up one soft box, but it still gave me f/8. Then the problems started. How on earth do you use a new G lens' DOF scale to figure out what is in focus. I thought f/8 might give me the DOF I needed, but as it turned out, it was just short of sharp on the back two people. Unlike the AIS lenses, there is no color coding (well, there is no aperture ring). There are just some obscure tick marks. It would look a bit foolish to consult the manual with every lens I use. I think it's a defect in the design of these new lenses. I'm not asking a question so much as complaining, in order to see if others find this to be problematic. I don't think the client will notice, but I did. Thank goodness for Photoshop<g>.
  2. The ideal focus point for this setup would probably be somewhere in between the face of the person in front an the face of one of the people in the back (like where the woman's watch is). Knowing where to focus and DOF on any lens requires practice and experience when no DOF scale is present.
    Three quick fixes to help you in the future. 1. check your display at magnification after taking a shot. 2. Stop the lens down further - f11 would have probably been OK. 3. Select the best AF location for the subject matter to get everything in focus based on the selected lens/aperture and repeat step 1 to verify.
  3. Not sure what body you are using or the focusing distance, but on a D700 at 6 feet, you have about two feet of acceptable DOF. F11 gives you about 3 of inches nearer and 8 inches further DOF. On a D300, you'd have less DOF with f11 being about the same as f8 on the D700 at the same 6 feet camera to subject distance (due to the lens being, in effect, a 75mm). As Elliot suggests, focusing on the watch looks about right.
  4. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    If you are using one of the newer DSLRs with live view, the best way to check depth of field is using live view. Or you can always capture a test shot first and check depth of field on the captured image. The hard part is to get your subjects to stand still waiting for your to check.
    If you are not using digital capture, that is a different story.
  5. I agree - I just checked an online product image of the "G" lens versus my ca 1972 Nikkor 50/1.4. You have every right to complain - the DOF scale is now completely useless due to the requirement of a short focusing throw for fast AF. You are probably not expected to want to scale focus that lens...

  6. What DOF ?? :)
    Absolutely lovely! Reminds me of my 2 daughters when they were that age. They're now in their late 40s. How time flies.
    What a wonderful time of life, when it seems just fine to put silly clothes on.
    I want to hug her, JD
  7. “I'm not asking a question so much as complaining, in order to see if others find this to be problematic.”
    Yes, I too find it problematic. Even though I own two G lenses, I detest them.
    No aperture ring means I cannot use it in aperture exposure mode or manual exposure mode on my F4 and N70/F70 film cameras.
    No aperture ring means I cannot use it in any mode on my F2 film cameras.
    No depth-of-field scale means I cannot easily find the hyper focal distance.
    No distance scale on some G lenses means I cannot easily preset my focus.
    If I ever again pay over $1000 for a lens, it better well have an aperture ring and a depth-of-field scale.
  8. John: Exactly. I hate them too. I wasn't so much looking for speculation on why I screwed up my DOF<g>, as much as making a point that they just don't work well for me. After posting this, I was driving to an appointment, wondering why and how this could "fly" with photographers. Is it because Nikon views their photographer-following as the point and blast crowd? I wouldn't fit into that any more. I do still shoot with a lot of film. I need to use new lenses on old film bodies. I'm holding onto my AIS lenses, but I hope they still keep making a crop of manual lenses, though I keep seeing the supply of new ones dwindling, which makes me think they're just selling what they have in stock.
  9. Michael, if you already haven`t it yet, I think you need a small computer with a DoF program on it. I like to use a Palm device, looks like there are Macintosh apps to be used with iPods and all that stuff.
    Although not as practical or "ready to use" as the scales, this devices are invaluable for real and precise calculations, taking into account the final printing size and format used. I think that for people who regularly use different formats is a must-to-have (like the hand held meter!).
  10. The manufacturer could design a feature to display DOF in the viewfinder, but they don't. Until they do, the solution is "Practice, practice, practice"
  11. Isn`t there a databack from any camera (F5???) that after focusing in the nearest and farthest planes, it automatically selected the optimal aperture to shoot keeping that DoF? - (I try to remember it... although I wonder if it was a dream... )
  12. Are you thinking of the Canon DEP mode?
  13. Jose, I think you're on to something. If Sinar and others can calculate DOF given a non perpendicular tilt of a view camera lens, the ability to focus on a close point, and one on a further point, and have it set the lens focus and aperture to properly capture the image. The problem is that DOF is relative to some sort of acceptable standard.
  14. I refuse as a point of principle to buy G lenses. I like to stop down manual focus to get it right. the 1.4 is more difficult in this regard than the 1.8 in my experience.
    My humble opinion is that if you are doing studio shots then they should be very carefully manually focussed, and the f8/f11 aperture is about right.
  15. John, you`re right. Maybe what I heard is about that DEP mode (I have already checked it, I`m not used to Canon), and unconsciously applied it to Nikon... I have just searched the F4-F5-F6 databack instructions and found nothing about this feature.
  16. I agree that it is very unfortunate that aperture rings are gone now, as well as DOF scales. Really too bad.
  17. Aperture rings near the mount are very hard to use with bodies that have integral vertical grips. Also with macro lenses and with zooms that have variable aperture, they are a pain as the exposure varies as you focus and zoom, respectively (in manual exposure mode). The sub-command dial control from the body solves all three issues.
    The DOF scales are compressed on virtually all autofocus Nikkors; this has little to do with "G" or not "G". I think most high-quality G lenses are nicer to focus manually than most AF Nikkors without SWM.
    As for the OP's shot, setting the focus somewhere between the front and back subjects would have allowed a better result with regards to the distribution of sharpness. I think for shots with multiple people subjects in the studio, f/11 is a good choice of aperture on FX (f/8 on DX). With digital cameras, you can take test shots to verify the sharpness is adequate. They reveal much more than any DOF scale ever could.
  18. I don't want an aperture ring to use it on a new DSLR, I want it so I can use the lens on my old FG.
  19. I applaud the move to get all those silly modes -- portrait, landscape, sports -- of the selector dial and just give us M, A, S, and P.
    But it sure would be nice to get some d-o-f aids put into the camera. For example, if one decides to go hyperfocal, it would be nice if we could have the following feature:
    1. photographer sets f-stop
    2. photographer pushes a button
    3. camera focuses on nearest object in focus to show photographer
    4. photographer pushes a button
    5. camera focuses on hyperfocal distance
    6. shooting can proceed with everything in focus fron nearest object to infinity
    Another possibility would be:
    1. photographer focuses on nearest object, pushes button
    2. photographer focuses on farthest object, pushes button
    3. camera picks f stop and focuses inbetween.
    If they take the d-o-f aids away from us, why in the age of microchips can they not give it back to us with software?
  20. “With digital cameras, you can take test shots to verify the sharpness is adequate. They reveal much more than any DOF scale ever could.”
    Even with digital cameras it is hard to take test shots of a touch down pass. With a depth-of-field scale, I can easily pre-set the camera so that anyone in the end zone is in focus.

  21. It's funny so many folks want a 1.4 portrait lens and then realize how much one has to stop down sometimes. In this case at F8 a compromise focus point somewhere between the front and rear subjects might get you what you want.
  22. “If they take the d-o-f aids away from us, why in the age of microchips can they not give it back to us with software?”
    I agree!
    Give me back the useful stuff like depth-of-field aids, focus distance scales, interchangeable viewfinders, and easy to change view screens. Stop giving me the crap that I do not need like movie mode in a still camera.

  23. The DOF scales are compressed on virtually all autofocus Nikkors; this has little to do with "G" or not "G".
    --Ilkka Nissila
    Are you sure this is a true statement? There is no compressed DOF scale on either of my G auto focus Nikkor lenses.

  24. Dear Michael.
    "How on earth do you use a new G lens' DOF scale to figure out what is in focus. "
    Very simple. Use the depth of field button, and you can see, what is in focus for a chosen aperture, (Like f/8 ) and what is not. If you don't have one on your camera, learn, and estimate.
  25. John -
    I think what Ilkka meant was that AF lenses are increasingly engineered with very short focus throw in order to increase the speed of focus capture. Even if there was a DOF scale printed, it would be so compressed as to be nearly useless.
    At least that's how I took it.
  26. Actually scales were dramatically compressed in the AiS versions... Ilkka is right, on AF lenses the scales use to suffer an added slight compression.

    Anyway, I don`t see a huge step backwards on the ltest 50mm lens versions. The useability of the scale is not so different between an AiS, AFD or G versions.

    I like to use and to advice Ai lenses for those who use this scales; here there is a noticeable difference. They works great for wide angle lenses. Standard lenses are at the limit, thought.

    Things have changed. Focus speed has killed the scales, I`m afraid. I`d say the aim these days is a perfectly focused subject, rather than to have a focused area based on DoF.

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