Ease of focus 50 f1.2

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by joseph_panico, Jan 23, 2016.

  1. I read the many PN posts about the limitation of manual focus at f1.2. But due to NAS ( any support groups for this? ) I picked-up one anyway. Seems the focus takes a little effort but nothing too burdensome even in low light situations. Do the newer auto focus - using focus confirmation - such as the Multi-CAM 3500II in the D750, or the improved versions in the D5/D500, contribute to easier manual focus compared older versions?
    Zoe remained still for her photo which, judging from her expression, may tell the entire story. Unsharpened, unembellished from DxO 10.
  2. It is a great lens, not free of niggles, but I very much like mine.
    The problem with focussing at f/1.2 at closer distances is not only that there is extremely little DoF, it also seems to shift a bit at the widest aperture. The focus screens (and AF) in DSLRs are optimised for ~f/2.8, so sometimes it's just slightly off, but you won't notice. At f/2, this issue is gone, and other fast primes, I also do not see this problem as easily as I see it with this lens (hence I feel it's focus shift, not only me being clumsy). It's also not a lens where I really trust the focus confirmation dot - same story basically. On my F3 and FM2, it's much less of a problem, so I just think the main issue is that modern viewfinders aren't bright enough.
    Of course, you get it right often enough, and the widest apertures have a funny rendering, not very clinical nor supersharp, but nice moody. Then at f/2, things go normal, and seriously sharp. The way I see it: it's an extremely usable good allround performer, with funky f/1.4 and f/1.2 thrown in for fun.
  3. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Old trick --with my old 55/1.2 AI, I would use the scale on the lens and set at f4, hyperfocal -- at 7 feet I would have almost a foot and a half DOF, certainly enough for a portrait. If you get used to doing that, particularly at greater distance, with smaller apertures, you can shoot quickly without focusing.
    I think your sample shot works quite well, with the eye in sharp focus.
  4. I doubt AF sensors (which drives the green focus confirmation) has much bearing on how easy it is to focus the f1.2 lens. That is not where Nikon focuses it's technology.
    A good focusing screen made for manual focusing makes it a lot easier though. As does a camera with good optics in the viewfinder.
    On film the difference between in sharp and not sharp is not so abrupt. I believe it has to do with the emulsion being thicker and also that the grain softens the image a bit. So I find almost all lenses easier to get in focus on film than on digital.
    I have the AIS version, bought it new from B&H about 10 years ago.
  5. I never have an f/1.2 lens but back in the late 70's when I was shopping for my first camera I thought one advantage of the fast lens is that you can focus easier even if you don't want to use the large aperture.
  6. Katz eye makes a focusing screen for modern DSLRs for this kind of usage.
    here is a link.
  7. Seems like they are going out of business, very unfortunate!

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