D3 wide angle comments

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by ilkka_nissila, Jan 24, 2008.

  1. For months I kept telling myself how heavy the D3 is, and how expensive it is,
    and yet on the first available opportunity I bought one. A few comments after
    brief testing.

    Wide angle corner darkening test: Lenses that I tried by shooting a white wall
    with: 25/2.8 Zeiss, 28/2 Ai-S Nikkor, 35/2 Zeiss, 35/2.8 PC Nikkor.

    There is some darkening in corners using all of these lenses at wide
    apertures. It is most severe on the 25/2.8, where it disappears by stopping
    down to f/5.6. On the 28/2 and 35/2, f/4 is sufficient. So it's two stops down
    on all these lenses. I will need to experiment with correcting the 25/2.8 in
    Capture NX. On the PC Nikkor, wide open f/2.8 was sufficient when centered or
    at max shift along the short axis of the 24x36 frame. Max shift along the long
    axes required stopping down to f/4 for even illumination (by just visually
    looking at the images). Otherwise seemed perfect. The only disappointment was
    the 25/2.8. But it has other redeeming qualities (very close focusing, low CA,
    high sharpness).

    I also tested a few other things. I shot with the 35/2 on the D200 and 50/1.4
    on the D3, the same subject at f/2 at iso 200 and iso 3200 with both cameras.
    I wanted to see how much difference there was at iso 200. Well? I don't think
    I will be shooting with my D200 any more, low or high ISO! Accurate manual
    focusing on the D3 is much easier (with my eyes) even though I have the Katz
    Eye screen on the D200.

    I could not see any vignetting greater than I've gotten used to with 35mm film
    shots using the same lenses and apertures. Sharpness was excellent basically
    with all of these lenses at all apertures.

    I did some testing of the screw drive AF. It is quiet and focuses accurately
    on my 105mm DC without adjustment even at f/2. AF on a still subject with no
    movement was very secure and sharpness good. My D200 by contrast does not
    autofocus the 105mm DC adequately accurately with it - I had to stop down to
    f/3.5 to get good results (by which they were excellent).

    A motion test involved walking towards a wall with the 105mm lens set at f/2.8
    and with the camera on continous AF and 9fps. Focus accuracy on this test was
    a bit variable. Some shots were really sharp and others were slightly out of
    focus. AF-S focusing (with the 70-200) was secure and fast with essentially no
    out of focus shots in the same test. However there was obvious vignetting and
    even the center of the image was darker than with the 105 prime, like it was
    not a true f/2.8 lens. I then tried changing the priority to focus+release
    with the 105 mm DC and that seemed to fix things - slightly variable timing
    between the shots but excellent consistent focusing accuracy! So with AF-S
    lenses release priority looks sufficient but with AF lenses with moving
    subjects (or in this case, a walking photographer shoting a still wall)
    focus+release priority gives really good results. I am speachless.

    The 50/1.4 Zeiss displayed phenomenal sharpness at all apertures. No
    difficulties with manual focusing on still subjects. A most impressive lens. I
    think the bokeh is fine as far as I can tell.

    Colors at the vivid setting were really vivid, the and contrast was higher
    than on the D200. The vivid colors were visible at all ISO settings with some
    decay in the quality of colors at 6400. I had to dial saturation 2/3 to the
    max in Capture NX to get similar saturation on the D200 (which was on
    enhanced). I was surprised by this.

    I did some real life shooting of casual portraits with the 70-200 and the D3.
    They turned out really well - and the lighting was atrocius. No great works of
    art but nothing like this I could have done before. Good light is still needed
    to get great shots but in poor conditions this camera really does have
    something extra to give.

    I have to say that this has been a most impressive experience, my first
    evening with the D3. It looks like my AF primes are back in the game, and with
    a vengeance!
  2. By the way the wall towards which I walked to was very detailed so that did not affect focusing results - basically there was detail all over.
  3. Congratulations on your new camera Ilkka.

    You said that the 70-200 exhibited "obvious vignetting and even the center of the image was darker than with the 105 prime". It is my experience that shooting more wide open tends to cause exposures to get hotter, so I am wondering if you compared both the exposure from both lenses at the same apertures or if you are comparing them wide open. I have also heard numerous reports of vignetting on the D3 with the Nikkor 70-200; I would not be surprised if this issue is addressed when the lens is eventually updated.

    My guess is that with your AF wall test that if you stopped the 105 down to f/2.8 (to match the 70-200) that the two would perform the same.
  4. Congrats, Ilkka. I am glad you finally committed and I think you'll enjoy it; especially, the wide end of your lenses.
  5. Thanks! It seems the 70-200 was optimized for DX. I hope if they do make a new version that it won't be much more expensive. I am through with spending ...

    I think I have to take back what I said about the perceived darkness in the zoom shots at f/2.8. There was still some light coming in from the window and it changed while I changed lenses. I thought I was only using artificial light but turned out incorrect. That seemed to have affected the results. I wasn't shooting with a controlled exposure, just matrix on aperture priority. Casual tests to get an idea of where we are. Doing more controlled tests I'll save for another day.

    I did use f/2.8 on both lenses in the autofocus-during-walking test. In the still test I tried both f/2 and f/2.8, and both were good. I am impressed by how the camera could shoot 9fps and keep up. Not that I ever need it, but it's a technologically impressive performance.

    I have some really nice indoor portraits which I got with the DC Nikkor at f/2 on Portra 400BW some years ago - this lens has been a disappointment with the D200. Looks like there is some CA wide open with it on the D3 also, but sharpness is good and it seems to be easier to focus. All is well.
  6. Arthur, yeah, it looks like I'm going to enjoy it a lot. I think I will try to get a 28mm PC Nikkor if I can find one. There aren't all that many of those in the shelves in Finland. And when new it was too expensive. Now I think I want one, having seen how well the D3 handles the 35mm PC.

    I am going to NYC and London some time in the summer so maybe I will have recovered from this purchase enough to buy a 28mm PC.

    I love how the live view with zoom allows one to manual focus precisely. How come it took them so long to implement this! :)
  7. "I am through with spending ..."

    Yea, right!

    Enjoy your new camera.
  8. Ok, no 28 PC then (feeling guilty for thinking about it).
  9. Interesting post but a little disappointing since I own the D200 and cant afford the D3.
    Sounds like a great camera, have fun with it.
  10. Some shots were really sharp and others were slightly out of focus.
    Funny post, Ilkka.:) Glad to know that you have purchased a D3. :)
  11. Ilkka, congratulations!

    I didn't see any mention of THAT lens anywhere in your post. You know, the one we all exchanged a lot of words over at FL.

    I'll bet you a bottle of fine Slovenian wine vs the Finnish variety that before too long the 14-24mm sneaks into your bag.

    PS. I'm still waiting to see some of your work.

    (aka Studor 13)
  12. "Sadly" (for non D3 owners), even being so similar to a D300, the D3 is a much better camera. "Small details" makes it more desiderable than the D300 even at the cost of size and weight (and money!). It doesn`t matter if you enjoy it. Congrats.

    "... It seems the 70-200 was optimized for DX... " I agree. Probably you`re right, it was released with the D1 on the market, probably at the time the D2H was ready to be shipped. It is a "young" lens, looking at the Nikon`s timing, I`m afraid we will have this lens for a while... if the FX format spreads as desired, probably we`ll have first an 80-400 replacement.
  13. Andy, I don't plan on buying the 14-24. It's as I said - I'm not an ultrawide person. I am much more interested in the 28mm and 85mm PC Nikkors, and if Nikon decides to upgrade some of their prime telephotos to AF-S, I will consider them. I will one day find my way to Slovenia and help myself to your wine - thanks for the offer! :)

    John, don't take me too seriously. The D200 is a great camera, probably better than the D3 for telephoto and close-up photography. It's also a lot smaller, lighter, and cheaper.

    Jose, the 70-200 is a central lens in any pro's or serious amateur's kit and Nikon has updated it more frequently than any other lens. I would not be surprised to see a new version in 1-2 years, as FX picks up. Based on my initial impressions of the D3, it will.
  14. Noticed one glitch. When I switched from a manual focus lens to the 60mm Micro, the camera would not let me change the aperture in manual or A mode. I turned the camera off, removed the lens, rotated the aperture ring a bit, put it back, and it started to work. This has never happened to me on a previous Nikon. The problem so far hasn't repeated itself. Seems like even a few months after the initial production runs, there may be some bugs to be ironed out. Or it could of course be just a contact problem.
  15. I finally got outdoors tonight. Testing the crazy high ISO characteristics of the D3. This was taken through a restaurant window (from the outside) with the 105 DC at f/2, 1/320 s, ISO 5000. I don't really know what to say. A lens which I was thinking was damaged because it gave such soft images at f/2-f/2.8 on the D200 has been given a new life.
  16. Ilkka, With all the best of intentions- please try the camera/lenses in good light. Store display lights with sodium vapor or halogen lights are really poor and will do no justice to the fantastic combo you have.

    Even the 50/1.2 AIS and Harvey's "favorite" 30/1.4 HSM do very well for me with D40x, 200/300 (yes manually focused at f/1.2).
  17. Store display lights with sodium vapor or halogen lights are really poor and will do no justice to the fantastic combo you have.
    Most cameras are good in good light, but the real challenge is when the light is bad but you have to take a picture ;-)
    In Ilkka's defense, there hasn't been too much light around here recently.
  18. Oskar, If you study the images from the D3 that Nikon showed off, they were all shot in good light (may be very low light to demonstrate the high ISO performance).

    The basic concepts related to photography have not changed with the advent of D3.

    The frustration due to lack of light is quite understandable, especially when one has a top gear in his hands.
  19. Vivek, you're talking about the aesthetics of the light. I was trying to demonstrate something technical.
  20. An update about the 70-200 and vignetting at f/2.8. No obvious vignetting at 70mm, by 105mm the corners have fairly quick transitions to darkness. As one zooms on to 135mm and 200mm, darkness spreads from the corners towards the centre. But towards the long end the darkening happens so smoothly that it's not as visually noticeable. So when I use this lens with 35mm film or FX, at 105mm it's a good idea to stop down to f/4 or more. Even stopped down there is a bit of darkening. I will have to experiment software solutions to this problem until they make a new version.

    So, if you're going to buy the D3 and 70-200 be aware of this issue.

    On the other hand image sharpness is wonderful even at 200mm at f/2.8 on the D3. The large pixels at work, again.
  21. With some experimentation, I figured out that the vignetting can be easily corrected by using vignetting correction in the lens tools of NX. Problem is that with my 70-200 it's asymmetrical with a somewhat stronger effect in the lower right hand corner. A control point with +20 brightness setting plugged in that corner fixed it beyond my ability to visually recognize it. So in the future if I use this lens at a wide aperture I need to spend time fixing images individually. That's basically ok, but it does retract from the convenience of this otherwise nice lens. The sharpness, bokeh, colors & everything else appear exemplary.

    It might be possible to fix the slight asymmetry in service but I just had its diaphragm fixed so I don't want to take it back so soon. If the vignetting were symmetric then an automatic action would be easier to apply for a group of images. In any case it's only a problem when a homogeneous bright area, such as ice, or the sky, is present in the corners. Most people photography situations would not need correction I think.

    All my prime telephotos by contrast display very even illumination to the corners.
  22. I often burn in the corners a bit when I print in my darkroom. A little vignetting often looks

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