Nikkor 80-200 f/2.8D AF - do I have a "soft" copy?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by mattb|2, Dec 10, 2009.

  1. I recently purchased this lens, and I'm not very happy with the sharpness wide open, but I'm not sure if I have a bad copy, or if this is what I should expect of this lens.
    The test shots below were taken on a tripod with the self-timer enabled to make sure I wasn't getting any camera shake. I was shooting at a focus target with the lens zoomed to 200mm, ISO 200.
    I don't have a local shop I can ask about these things, so I'm hoping to get some feedback here - is this a dud, or am I being too picky?
  2. I'm not sure I understand what I'm looking at. What's the left/right difference, here?
  3. Matt - The chart is a back/front focus chart, so the dark line is the focus point, and the subject is at a 45 degree angle to the focal plane with the the right hand side furthest away and the left closest to the camera.
  4. Try using the lens for some real photography. Then look at the images and see if you are happy with them. A test chart at the minimum focus distance may not be the best thing to judge focus with
  5. It's interesting that f/2.8 and f/8 look the same for focus -- the biggest difference between them is contrast. Is each of these pictures a large part of the frame, or a small part?
    Have you tried manual focus with focus bracketting, just to verify that the focusses where the camera thinks it does? Or LiveView, if digital?
  6. Michael,
    I did use the lens for some real photography, and I wasn't happy with how it was performing wide open, which is the whole reason I set the thing up to do this test.
    It's a relatively small part of the frame - I cropped so that I could show a 100% magnification. I've tried playing with the focus adjustment in my D300, but at f2.8 the image is soft enough that it's tough to see any difference. I originally thought the focus might be off a bit (front/back focus), which is why I set this test up in the first place, but it's just so soft that it's hard to tell exactly where on the chart is most in focus.
    I'll play with manually focusing in live view and post some results later on.
  7. Did you buy a new lens or a used one? If it's new and you have serious sharpness issues with it, I'd go back to the shop where you bought it.
    I thought the 80-200 was one of the top performers in the Nikon line up.
  8. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Matt,which camera body you used for your tests; is it the D300?
    I wonder why you used the self timers to prevent camera shake? Instead, if it is the D300, I would suggest using the 1-second shutter delay. And what shutter speed was used to capture those test images?
    I am afraid that camera shake and focusing error may play a role here also, in addition to any lens optical issues. To me, the focus seems to be on the far right side of the images.
  9. Right, your AF is backfocusing. It is the main problem.
    If you cannot see the sharper lines in a focus test, just look at them at a distance... soft images become even softer when you are looking at them close to the screen. Don`t try to find the sharpest line... just try to know where is the center of the blur. You`ll probably need to test it several times. If your test image isn`t good for evaluation, try another one.
  10. Agreed. Seems very back focus (assuming you are shooting from the left side of the image). If your camera body has AF fine tune, try to tune it to far "+" side. If +20 is not enough, which sometimes happens, and if it is new, have it exchanged or send it in for warranty service. Your closest authorized servicer will send it to Nikno service factory anyway for warranty repair.
  11. This certainly looks like a focus issue not an optics issue. Is it the push pull version? I had the original AF push-pull and it was quite the back focuser on my D200. I just moved up to the 2 ring though and it focuses fine. Is amazingly sharp at 2.8. Really I find the only reason I ever stop down from 2.8 is to get rid of the very slight purple fringing around brilliant highlights. (and for depth obviously)
    Unfortunately I don't know what so say about actually fixing the focus error...
  12. The 80-200 often backfocuses on closeups (below 2m) on newer bodies. But it's also quite soft @ 200mm at closeups, so I'd say the samples here are OK.
    I was just shooting some trees today and it again struck me the lens is not that much amazing - but very good, it's just the hype elevating the expectations.
    Well actually it's not really soft, but produces some halos and aberations @2.8, so it rather 'seems' soft. The images usually sharpen up nicely.
  13. How far away is the target? The minimum focus distance for the 80-200 could be very significant.
  14. The fact f/22 is sharper than f/8 means you means you missed the focus on your test target. F/22 should be obviously softer due to diffraction.
  15. There are several possible issues here. As others have mentioned it could be a focusing issue. How far away was the target? The two ring 80-200 has a known issue with back focusing at 200mm and close to minimum focusing distance (mine certainly did)! It also could be a shutter speed issue. Even if you used a tripod if your shutter speed was in the 1/4-1/30th second range you could have unsharpness due to mirror vibration. As you stop down the lens the shutter speed gets slower and mirror vibration has less effect on the image. Finally if this was shot near the lens's minimum focusing distance, then you are using it where (in my experience) it is at it's worst. Even when carefully focused manually my copy was noticeably soft when used near 200mm and near minimum focusing distance, though it was fantastic anywhere else. I actually got noticeably sharper pictures with mine when it was focused at infinity with a Pentax T132 diopter on it than I did with it at minimum focusing distance, (magnification and working distance were nearly the same in either case).
  16. As Peter K said I also tried a push/pull version of this lens on the D200 and couldn't get it to focus sharply at minimum distance, so I bought the two ring version also. The two ring was excellent. This to me looks like a focus not optics issue.

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