D800/E and manual focus lenses

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by iversonwhite, Jan 27, 2013.

  1. How is focusing with the D800 and manual focus lenses? Is the focus indicator accurate? Thanks.
  2. I can't speak specifically for the D800 but the focus indicator on my D700 is for the most part very good and I would anticipate the D800 is pretty much identical. Because I only own AIS Nikkors and did not ever anticipate every getting any autofocus ones, I got a microprism screen from focusingscreens.com and replaced the standard D700 screen with it as soon as I got it. In most cases the focus indicator lights up just about the time the microprism snaps into sharp focus however it will lag a little if you are focusing quickly. It DOES come in handy when using my 600mm f/4 AIS and the TC-301 because the microprism blacks out at f/8. Every time I have relied on it in that case the focus has been dead on.
    Hope this helps somewhat!
  3. I found the D800 AF indicator to be good to about f/2.8 for critical work, but for f/2 or faster lenses (in general, some lenses are better/worse than others) live view is required. It seems to have more precision than the D700 and works in lower light due to the f/8 capability of some of the AF sensors.
    Still, even with my long glass that is f/4 or slower I find that the AF confirmation dot gets me close and to get it to be critically sharp I must use live view.
    Also, for super-wides the AF dot is not very accurate for 100% sharp images because it thinks almost everything is in focus, thus sometimes live view is required as well.

    Remember that if you AF system needs calibration it will throw off the AF dot as well since it's using this system to confirm focus.
  4. No, it's not near as accurate as it should be! With a 12 or 16 meg sensor such discrepancies aren't as apparent while with the 36 meg sensor things change considerably. After testing and evaluating all my glass it became apparent that focus points had to be very carefully monitored and placed exactly where you want max sharpness.
    With manual glass, you simply can't see absolute sharpness and subsequently take slightly un-sharp images. Live-view will prove what I'm saying - because you will make a focus adjustment when you boot it up. Live-view of course is impractical to general shooting - so that leaves the DG-2 magnifier which has improved things immensely.
    The little green dot is just too course for the resolution of the sensor.
  5. lwg


    I find the AF indicator works OK, but not perfectly for longer lenses wide open. Surprisingly I have had good luck with just focusing on the screen and ignoring the focus indicator. Still, to get perfect focus a very high percentage of the time I need to use LiveView.
    I don't think you can replace the focus screen on the D800.
  6. When I use manual focus lenses with the D800e, which is most of the time, I close the eyepiece shutter and use live view. With the PC-E tilt shift lenses, it's much easier to manage focus and tilt with live view. I may be unusual but I basically use the D800e as a view camera. It's slow, but I am happy with my results.
  7. I strongly prefer to eye-focus. I'm used to the finders in the Nikon D3's I've been using for several years. Occasionally I use AF, but not often. AF, when it works, takes a little less time than eye focusing.
    After three months with the D800E, I have found that accurate eye focusing is possible---with a good to excellent success rate--- using the center area of the screen. My D3 is better away from the center area. Focusing the D800(E) way off center is not advised. The green dot is pretty much a loser.
    I have found that in shooting in very dim light (like 2 Footcandles) and a fast AF-S 35mm f/1.4 lens, the D800E AF system poops out and becomes inaccurate while I can still [more]accurately eye focus.
  8. I use quite many manual focus lenses on the D800. I do not however normally use the focus confirmation dot; I find it too imprecise. I focus by eye on the matte screen or live view.
  9. The focus indicator dot is adequate for lenses of f/2.8 and slower. For fast lenses (f/1.2 - f/2) Liveview is much preferrable. The residual spherical aberration of most high aperture lenses tends to fool both the eye and autofocus.
  10. For center focus point, it might be ok (just). For left or right focus points, it is off, don't even think about it. I use live view
    on MF lens.
  11. Surely the matte screen is of no use at faster than f/2.5, because of the fresnel? I've done reasonably well with the focus indicators, but I'm sure it'll depend on the lens. Live view is obviously the preferred option - especially for T/S lenses (mentioned above), for which I'd expect the geometry to be messed up with autofocus - certainly Nikon manuals have always said that the AF points shouldn't be relied upon with T/S. (That said, I used a T/S on a Canon with A-Dep and it wasn't far off.)
  12. Some lenses are easier to MF than others. My AF-S 35/1.4 is easier to MF than my ZF 35/2. Factors may include focus shift which is unique to each lens design. With applied judgement and experience, I can eye focus at f/1.4 and have it be accurate....especially if I'm not in a hurry.
  13. Never use the green dot. I always focus using the screen with excellent results.

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