Nikon 600mm f5.6 Manual with moving subjects

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by jainamishra, Jul 22, 2011.

  1. Hello,
    For shooting people in an outdoors procession that I will not be able to get close to, I will be using this heavy lens that has only manual focus.
    I am not used to manual lenses, so have begun practicing using this lens and getting used to all the aspects.
    At the same time following are my thoughts on the settings that might help in achieving focus.
    Data: The body is a D3s, the procession will be in bright sunlight with people who will be walking or dancing. I will be just a common spectator at a distance (no special photographer stands or facilities) and getting closer may not be an option. Will use a monopod.
    Here's the plan:
    1. To reduce motion blur of the subject the shutter speed would be set at 1/800
    2. To ensure that the subject is in focus even if the subject moves a bit in that time, the setting would be f16 or f22, to provide a thicker focal plane.
    3. So if flexibility is needed, ISO will be the variable to play with, given that the D3s doesn't result in noise until really high ISO.
    Am not too sure if this is the way to go about solving the problem of 'bright sunlight - moving subject - distance' and so would appreciate any feedback - particularly if I am totally wrong in the logic or if I am missing something altogether.
    thanks in advance
    (p.s. am no expert in photography - its all self learnt and my ignorance is far greater than my knowledge in this field)
  2. i like your plan jaina. set two of the three variables to constants and then use the one which gives you the most leeway. i dont think f/22 would be necessary, and shooting at that narrow an aperture will result in diffraction which could rob your shots of sharpness. i personally probably wouldn't go lower than f/13; if anything i'd boost shutter speed if necessary. depth of field is less of a problem than lens vibration; at 1/800 motion blur shouldn't be an issue, but if the lens vibrates excessively you could conceivably need a faster shutter. if any nikon body can reap good results with that lens, it's the D3s. just remember to focus just a bit in front of your intended target so they walk into the shot. as far as ISO, i would say don't use auto-ISO and dont raise it higher than you have to.
  3. Unsure of the weight of your lens, but if you plan on shooting more than 10 minutes or so, you might consider using a tripod over your monopod. The *steadiness* of your long lens will be a factor in getting good images. The bright sunshine will either give your faces dark eyes or the squinty face outlook.
    If you focus on a point, then wait for the person to get at that spot, the focus issue may be easier. You may need to test a few shots at f16 or f22 to make sure the lens is doing what you expect it to do. Usually, f11 or so will make for better images on a digital sensor....f22 may be a problem.
  4. Well, here's what I would do...
    Rent a d7000 (more MP and Dx) and a 70-300mm or 80-400mm VR. This solution will have AF, VR and allow you to be more mobile...not to mention zooming:)
    The FX d3s is great but not really advantageous for day light tele shooting...
  5. Jaina, you have it absolutely right. Stopping all the way down to f/22 (or f/32 if you are using the newest 600 f/5.6, or f/64 if you are using the rare 600mm lens head) is a good way to prevent sharpness loss due to mis-focusing. It's hard to manually focus those long lenses.
    You will absolutely NOT have to worry about diffraction robbing sharpness. The amount of diffraction is dependent only on the absolute size of the aperture. The f/number is the relative aperture, and is relevant for luminance, but not for diffraction. A 600mm lens at f/22 would have about as much diffractive effects as a 50mm lens at f/1.8 (i.e. none). You have to worry about diffraction most with wide-angle lenses. With super-telephotos it's never an issue. And with the D3s you will not have to worry about the ISO. If the scene is mostly bright anyway, even ISO 6400 will look fine.
    If you are focusing in bring sunlight, you might want to bring a dark cloth (at least I find I need one if I try to use my 800mm ED lens head in bright sun). You may be able to use the focus indicator of your D3s, at least with the center focus point. If you use a tripod (a very steady tripod) you could use Live View to obtain better focusing. On a monopod or a flimsy tripod the image will dance around when zoomed with Live View.
    Good luck! Let us know how it goes.
  6. Do *not* listen to recommendations of stopping this lens all the way down. You *will* record suboptimal images due to the much enhanced diffraction plus the slower shutter speed(s) caused by the small aperture(s). Even at f/32 will the depth of field be surprisingly narrow.
    I'd say set the lens to f/5.6 or at most f/8, and practice manual focusing. This will be easier by putting the lens on a decent tripod. Being a novice long-lens shooter and using a monopod is a challenge to put it mildly.
  7. Your assumptions appear to be good. With a bit of practice, it shouldn't be all that difficult to successfully track a slow moving subject with a lens of this focal length and get spectacular results with your D3S - The large viewfinder makes MF pretty easy with a 600mm lens. As DOF increases quite a bit (is actually surprisingly deep) when stopped down to the range you intend to shoot at, you will get great results even if your focus is off.
    I use the 600mm f4 version (AIS). Based on the results I get with it, I believe that your lens can easily handle f16 and f22 and still deliver exceptional IQ. At least mine does. Am I correct?
  8. I happen to take these test shots earlier this month to learn more about the DOF and IQ of my 600mm f4 AIS lens. I focused manually on the bench. It was about 600 feet away. The seawall on the far side of the Intracoastal waterway is probably 200' or more behind the bench. I am guessing that the palm tree on the right is about 100' in front of the bench.
    The shot on the right was shot at 1/1000, f22, ISO 4000. The middle shot was taken at f11, 1/1000, ISO 1000. The left shot was at 1/1000, f4, ISO 200. RAW files were opened in CS5 with no processing at all.
  9. Detail is surprisingly good even when stopped down to f22 and even at high ISO.
  10. I apologize, I made a major error in my previous statement. I could blame it on the late hour, but I just wasn't thinking it through clearly. Although it's true that diffraction is dependent on the absolute size of the aperture (and f/22 in a 600mm lens has a diameter of more than 27mm, almost exactly the same size as the aperture of a 50mm lens at f/1.8), as focal length increases, the distance to the focal plane also increases, which means that the Airy disk will spread out as well. To first order, the compensation would be exact, and we can think of diffraction depending only on the f/number. The real invariant quantity, however, is the numerical aperture, not the f/number, and while they are generally thought of as inversely proportional, this first order approximation may be off quite a bit for a long telephoto lens. From both optics theory and from my own experience with my long lenses, I'm not surprised by Elliot's test, but what I wrote before was just wrong. Sorry! The details of the design of each lens becomes important here, and so you shouldn't use small apertures (and expect sharp results) before doing a test like Elliot's with your own lens.
  11. I have to ask first, how close can you get to the event and why can't you get to the midst of it? It may be better to negotiate access rather that shoot from very far away. Of course, the long lens adds variety to the coverage but still most likely the best shots will be from close.
    I tend to think that with long lenses, visually the image looks best at the widest aperture and one stop down (in this case this would be f/5.6-f/8). If you stop down a lot the people at different depths will be stacked on top of each other and there is no clear visual separation between them; many will be "almost sharp but not quite". So I think it's best to select the aperture so that one person or one person is just within the depth of field (whole person) and then the next row will be clearly out of focus. I would base the decision of aperture mainly on visual attractiveness of the final result. As to focusing ... well ... take lots of pictures and I'm sure some will be in focus. ;-) I would use a solid tripod and an even better head. It will relieve you from the duty of holding onto the lens just to keep it pointed towards the subject and concentrate on focus, composition, and timing.
    As to the D3s, well that's what the long-lens wielding pro photojournalists use these days, so it should be pretty good. What I like about my D3 is the consistency of good results.
  12. Hello and thanks everyone for the inputs.
    To summarise the suggestions:
    1. Set the f/ number to between 5.6 and 11.
    2. Use a tripod
    3. Practice the manual focus
    Some questions that arise from the answers :
    1. What would an aberration caused by diffraction look like? Any examples - so that I know what to watch out for?
    2. Eric / Jerry: about focusing on an anticipatory spot and waiting for the subject to arrive there, I tried it with a girl on a swing and missed the focus on every single shot. Maybe its because ti was my first day with the lens, or that she was too fast. What in theory seemed intuitive to do, couldn't be executed well, because the anticipatory focusing was at a point that was only 'air' ... totally devoid of an I couldn't "see" if the focus was okay or not. Any way around this? In the next round, I tried to move the focus ring just a little more in the correct direction and 'hoped' for the best. But hoping and guessing is only getting me shots like the girl on the swing that I have attached!
    3. Jerry : The direct sunshine is probably a given - can't change that. So I will have to do the best I can. I am reading up on ways to deal with this high contrast setting.
    4. Samuel : What should I do with the black cloth ....I haven't the faintest idea ...
    And some answers to some questions that arose:
    a. I will be attending cultural festival which will have a street procession as well as street performances. Going by my past experience in Nagaland, while the tribal dancers were actually performing, it was not possible to get close to them without being disruptive and disrespectful and coming in the way of dancers and other guests. I did not take any long lens on that trip and lost out on good performance shots.
    This time, I plan to set aside separate time slots for the various kinds of shot-taking - and definitely some of it will have to be shots of the whole group taken from a distance, for which the 600 should be handy.
    Ikka, I will also be carrying other lenses which will be used for close-ups and mid range shots.
    b. The lens weighs about 3kg over 15 inches ....I am all of 5 feet 2inches the difficulty is obvious but it is worth taking the trouble to overcome the heartache I suffered last year at Nagaland. The reason for the monopod is that it will be easier to move around with it than a tripod ... but I think in the next few days i will work on my 'carrying' skills as well :)
    Bjorn, thank you for stressing the need for the tripod - i was trying to be foolishly brave.
    Elliot, thanks for the tests, the High ISO is not so bad. But there certainly is noise in my images that are attached.
    Ikka, considering my first day results, your advice of taking lots of pictures to increase the probability of at least some being in focus seems to be very very practical!
    Leslie, I will be in India and renting is not an option.
    Finally, the images that looked okay on my little camera screen, do not look half as sharp as those usually resulting from AF lenses like the 85 1.4. Maybe its too early to tell whether it is just my terrible MF skills ...
    Thank you everyone....
  13. more images
  14. My suggestion is actually to shoot at f16 or f22. That lens is capable of excellent IQ even stopped down beyond f/8 and f11. Since you are shooting outdoors, you should be able to maintain reasonable ISO. As far as shutter speed, would suggest 1/400 or 1/500 maximum for the type of shots you are taking provided you are using a tripod. At 600mm without VR, a tripod is basically mandatory at most typical shutter speeds.
    As far as noise goes, if you shoot RAW and have good post processing software and technique, you should be able to get fantastic results at ISO 6400 and well beyond with the D3S, especially outdoors. Although the ISO will likely never get that high in bright light even with the lens stopped down.
    With regards to your concerns about sharpness, you need to test your lens to insure it is giving sharp images under controlled conditions (using a tripod, a stationary subject and fast shutter speeds (1/1000 or higher)). The issue could be with your technique. Or with the lens. Or both. Use magnified Live View when doing the test to insure manual focus accuracy.
    In spite of its age and lack of modern coating (Nano coating, for example) my approximately 30 year old lens is as sharp as any I have. I recently bought a 400mm f3.5 AIS and had to return it because the image quality was terrible wide open. There was definitely a problem with that particular lens as the results were not normal. Keep in mind that if you are shooting hand held, it will be difficult to get high quality images at any moderate shutter speed.
  15. Elliot, armed with these tips, I will try the lens out in a more rigorous way with a tripod, tomorrow with stationary subjects. At the end of that exercise we will at least have isolated the two factors - lens performance and my skill (or lack of it) with MF.
  16. Not being familiar with this particular lens I can't comment on the appropriate f-stop to use, but here are a few suggestions based on my general experience using manual focus teles in the 400-600mm range on DSLRs:
    With 3 kilos of lens to support on a DSLR that lacks sensor stabilization I would definitely opt for a tripod rather than a monopod - unless I was reasonably confident there are walls, benches or other solid objects in the surroundings that I could let the lens sit on stably for at least part of the time. The reasons are twofold:
    Firstly, with a tripod you can accurately prefocus to a certain distance or landmark along the path of the procession, and then sit and wait until interesting people or floats approach the prefocus point. At that moment don't change the focus but instead let them traverse the prefocus point while you take a series of shots. This will ensure that at least a few shots will be exactly in focus on the costumes or displays of greatest interest. If you have a wired or wireless release and will not be too packed in the crowd of spectators, then this technique will work especially well to avoid vibrations (you don't even have to look through the viewfinder or at the live view rear LCD while you're shooting).
    By the way: to set up prefocus do not trust your own eye and the optical viewfinder, especially on DSLRs which typically have much smaller and darker viewfinders than 35mm SLRs. Instead, use live view or take a few test shots well beforehand & verify from those shots that focus is exactly at the point where you want it to be - or if it isn't then adjust focus and verify again from live view / more test shots.
    Secondly, if something comes by along a trajectory that you didn't have time to set up prefocus for, what I would do is swing the lens at the unexpected point of interest and focus manually by eye (no time for test shots) then take a succession of 5 to 10 shots in continuous shooting mode while tweaking the focus back and forth repeatedly over the main subject between distances where the focus is clearly just ahead of that subject and where it is clearly just past it. Half or two-thirds of the shots will be off and discardable, but the rest will be spot-on and sharp, provided there are no issues with vibration as you're tweaking focus and keeping the shutter clicking.
    With either technique I would NOT set f-stop to the highest value the lens can tolerate without noticeable diffraction issues. Instead I would maximize shutter speed and iso to a combination that ensures vibration issues and motion blur of the subject(s) are kept to an absolute minimum - unless of course you're aiming intentionally for a motion blur effect.
    In terms of mobility with a tripod + big lens combination: make sure you have practiced how to move around with it. If carrying is too difficult with the lens mounted on the tripod head, then practice rapid un- & remounting as well as carrying lens in one hand & tripod in the other. Also make sure that you have an appropriately sturdy tripod head and quick release system.
  17. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Jaina, use that manual-focus lens for a while and then graduate to AF. Your D3S comes with excellent AF capability; please don't waste it.
  18. Jaina:
    The lens you describe, is not as you describe it. For a 600mm lens, it is the lightest lens of its kind ever made by any lens manufacturer. Nikon made a version that was much heavier, f/4 I believe.
    Take that "light" lens out and have fun with it.
    I believe any one giving advice about a lens, should own that lens. I have owned that lens, and it is among the worlds finest super telephoto lenses. Nothing better for backpackers, hikers, that requires big glass in a light as possible package.
    This lens can be used with a mono pod, but your percentage of keepers will be greater the better platform you shoot with. To be honest, a 600mm lens should be placed in the center of a pile of sandbags to get you constantly clear clean shots. At 600mm, wind, at 4 miles an hour moves your lens.
  19. "Your D3S comes with excellent AF capability: please don't waste it"
    This is the most ridiculous statement I have ever seen here on I am so caught off guard, I don't even know how to respond. I'll cool down, and perhaps respond more effectively later.
  20. jaina, i have a D3s, so i'm familiar with its capabilities. i've never shot a MF long lens with it though. and i havent had occasion to shoot at 6400 ISO in bright conditions (yet). in general, i would try to keep the ISO as low as possible. even with the D3s, i don't like to go above 3200-4000 if i can help it. no disrespect to Elliot, but i would defer to Bjorn on not stopping down. basically diffraction limits sharpness so even if you nail focus, freeze motion, and minimize camera shake, your images may not be crisp.
    i wish i knew a little more about the event you will be attending. the main concern i would have is line of sight. will you be shooting from above? moving through a crowd? in a stationary position? a tripod will give you max stability but is also difficult in crowded scenes. you could always double-stabilize the lens with a monopod and a string tied to the end, which you hold with your foot. cheap trick, but it sometimes works.
    after reading gary's post, it occurs to me that 1/500 may not be fast enough to prevent camera shake. to be safe, you may want to keep to 2x/focal length which would be 1/1200. at that shutter f/22 would require a very high ISO, while f/8 would be much more manageable.
    the best solution, however, may be if you can simulate the shooting conditions and practice. a lot. you have set a very challenging scenario for yourself, so the more familiar you are with handling that bazooka, the better off you will be.
  21. Thank you again everyone,

    Paul I will work with the live view and check the results. And use the 'continuous' mode.

    Gary, my pre-purchase research did reflect your opinion and I saw only praises for the lens - so I acquired it. The weight is indeed the lightest for its reach - I was only whining because I personally find it heavy - being the 'weaker' sex!

    Eric, this is the Ladakh festival i am talking about. On the days I plan to use this lens, I will probably be stationary and at a little height from the procession and the crowd.

    Shun, Thanks. I do have other AF lenses. My question was aimed at learning to use this particular MF lens effectively.
    John :)
    thanks everyone. I have jotted down these tips and plan to go out this bright sunny afternoon to shoot some white tigers. Although they are not going to be in a procession or dancing, they will provide similar levels of movement...
  22. Hello,
    The issues that are bothering me after some shooting:
    The lens does take sharp images - but also results in fringe colors in a few images. Am not sure what the correct vocabulary is to describe the pinks and the greens shown in the images below ... is this due to diffraction?
    The file info does not throw up the f-stop value and the Max Aperture Value is fixed at f/1.0 across all the images I took today. I did take various combinations of settings to check out the results all with a tripod. The only use I have for this info is to do some desktop analysis across the images to draw conclusions.
    Taking well focussed images was not that hard in situations where I could anticipate the moves reasonably accurately. But if the movement was sudden, the focus was terrible. e.g. the tiger leaping for his lunch - great potential for a good shot, ruined entirely by my lack of speed in turning the focus dial. I am hoping that practice will improve this contributing factor.
    Approximately 10% of the shots were in focus, even though some weren't framed too well and others were off on lighting. Hope that field practice will take this number higher!
    Thanks all.
  23. the detail. is this fringing or diffraction?
  24. Another image - out of focus ..shown here for the fringing
  25. 100% actual size view
  26. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    "Your D3S comes with excellent AF capability: please don't waste it"
    This is the most ridiculous statement I have ever seen here on I am so caught off guard, I don't even know how to respond. I'll cool down, and perhaps respond more effectively later.​
    John, why is that ridicolous at all? You are well aware of the importance of AF. How many times have you recommended beginners to compromise on an older DSLR with out-of-date technology in order to have a built-in AF motor to use older AF lenses that are not AF-S?
    My original post was short; there were only two sentences:
    Shun Cheung , Jul 23, 2011; 12:25 p.m.
    Jaina, use that manual-focus lens for a while and then graduate to AF. Your D3S comes with excellent AF capability; please don't waste it.​
    Manual focus is perfectly fine for still subjects and shorter focus lengths, such as lenadscape and macro. Super teles such as 600mm need AF the most. The lack of fast AF was precisely the reason Nikon lost the #1 pro SLR manufacturer status to Canon 20 years ago as news and sports photographers jumped ship within a short period. For 6 years I used a 500mm/f4 P manual focus lens so that I know that limitation very well. As soon as I could afford one, I upgraded to the AF-S.
    There is no point to re-learn things that were known a long time ago.
  27. The fringing or 'chromatic aberrations' is not usual and is easily corrected through software during post processing, especially if your shoot RAW What aperture were the above shots taken at? Are you shooting RAW or JPG? How are you processing your images? Keep in mind that there are several different types of aberration and not all programs fix all types (some do) You may find this of interest:
    "suboptimal images due to the much enhanced diffraction" I don't experience much of this if at all with my lens. I don't know the behavior of the 600mm f5.6's when stopped down. But certainly f16 & probably f22 should give great results and give sufficient DOF to insure proper focus even when the manual focus is not spot on. I am not and never suggested stopping the lens down all the way. Although it may be OK to do so with this lens. I can with mine. The OP or anyone who has and uses this lens would be in a much better position to tell us how the lens works when stopped way down. But given the choice between a bit of diffraction and and totally out of focus image, the better choice is clear.
    Assuming you have confirmed that your lens is functioning correctly, you need to learn how to manually focus. It just takes practice. As a tip, when I have trouble focusing on a particular subject (using the viewfinder) , I look at the area below the subject and try to focus on it. You can clearly see the focus area change like a wave as you change focus. This makes it quite easy sometimes If your subject is stationary, magnified live view makes manual focus a breeze.
    My lens weighs in at about 15lbs, about double of the f5.6. I have a tripod appropriate for the lens/camera combo and shoot at lower shutter speeds when necessary without issue. A proper tripod designed for this type of lens will keep your camera steady even in a light breeze.
  28. given the choice between a bit of diffraction and and totally out of focus image, the better choice is clear.​
    yes, but that's assuming those are the only choices. if you can get a sharp shot at f/8 or f/11, why would you stop down to f/22? as i said earlier, if not stopping down all the way allows for a faster shutter--which helps with reducing motion blur and lens vibration--then i would go for the higher shutter. the only thing stopping down can do is give you a wider focal plane. as long as jaina isn't trying to catch fast-moving action as in the jumping tiger shot, with a bit more practice and good technique, she'll be ok.
    as she writes, "Taking well focussed images was not that hard in situations where I could anticipate the moves reasonably accurately. But if the movement was sudden, the focus was terrible."

    as shun has pointed out, this is a limitation of a MF tele lens. but by using zone focusing and anticipating action, she should be able to come away with some keepers. the first tiger shot is very sharp, which is encouraging. again, i would only stop down past f/13 as a last resort.
  29. Doesn't sound like a great idea to me. If you start stopping down you are going to get shutter speeds that are very likely too slow for moving objects. Having auto focus would be a great help, VR might help a little. If you do go that route, plan on taking a LOT of photos and cherry picking the best ones.
  30. Shun, Eric, Thomas : The 600 MF will give me reach that I don't currently have. The weight of the AF VR is so unmanageable (for me) that unless the lens comes bundled with a man Friday who can hold it while I shoot, this lens will always remain beyond my physical capability.
    The MF will no doubt be a compromise on the AF and VR, but those lenses are not an option between the options of being restricted to lower focal lengths (such as 300mm) and having just the MF version on 600, I think with a bit of practice, the latter will be the way to go.
    Thanks again, everyone. I have learnt a lot through this thread.
  31. Jaina, I am curious... is the AF confirmation dot (bottom left in the viewfinder) working when you manually focus? It should and will confirm you are in focus for any stationery object.
    @ Thomas, the OP is using a D3S and is capable of high quality high ISO shots. In full sunlight, you can shoot at @f22, ISO 3600, and maintain a high 1/1600 shutter speed.
    Shooting a moving object that is 500' or more feet away from you, whether it is moving slowly or fast, with a 600mm manual focus lens where DOF is but a sliver is not easy and is unlike shooting with any other lens you may have used. Even at f8 and f11, DOF is pretty narrow. Unless you nail the focus, your image will most certainly be out of focus unless you stop the lens down to f16 or f22.
    It also may be difficult to understand the concept that diffraction may not be as much of an issue with this lens as compared with traditional/modern lenses. I am not an engineer and cannot explain why. But it is what it is. These long lenses function differently than typical lenses. The f4 version delivers sharp images when stopped down all the way to f22. They appear to be sharper than when shot wide open and pretty much just as sharp as at f11. I have done repeated tests to confirm this with my lens. The results are the same each time. I cannot speak for the f5.6 version -perhaps the OP can post some samples similar to what I posted above. As DOF is quite narrow when using this lens wide open or stopped down just a little, missing the focus on a moving subject guarantees a shot like the child on the scooter or the tiger where stopping it down substantially pretty much guarantees a very usable image.
  32. @ Thomas, the OP is using a D3S and is capable of high quality high ISO shots. In full sunlight, you can shoot at @f22, ISO 3600, and maintain a high 1/1600 shutter speed.
    Nevertheless even though you can do that, doesn't mean you should. Even with the D3s, the image quality at lower ISO is better than at high ISO. The problem in bright sunlight is that the contrast range is very great and to record this contrast range (with details throughout the image) as well as possible (and to give freedom to adjust exposure in post-processing when needed), a low to moderate ISO should be used. Dynamic range is reduced gradually as you increase ISO. Also, with regards to aperture choice, even in your test shots, f/22 is noticeably fuzzier (the detail in the leg under the bench) than at f/11, and f/8 would likely be better still if you had presented it. With any lens that I have, on the D3 you can see a reduction in detail contrast between f/8 and f/11, though the difference is slight. With another camera (e.g. D7000) the difference would be more dramatic.
    The weight of the AF VR is so unmanageable
    There is another option that gives you both AF(-S) and VR at f=600mm and maximum aperture of f/5.6. The AF-S VR 300/2.8 with TC-20E III. It's heavier than the manual focus 600/5.6 but it might still be manageable. And you get an excellent 300mm as a bonus.
  33. Thanks Elliot - I will experiment some more tomorrow and answer ... I did take several shots with various combinations with the tigers, but since the file info did not record the actual F stop, I will repeat this with some other subjects, keep track of that setting and post the images.
  34. You can have the camera record the f-stop you use but first you need to tell the camera the maximum aperture of the lens. There is a menu where you can enter non-CPU lens info and then you can use the FUNC key to select which non-CPU lens you're using. If you only have one, then it will default to that.
  35. Ilkka, with regard to Dynamic Range, you make a very valid point, and I fully agree, but again, an out of focus image is of no good to anyone. When using a lens of this type over an AF version which costs 5 times as much, there may have to be some small trade-offs. Also keep in mind that the Dynamic Range of the D3S is still excellent even at ISO 3200 and not that far off in IQ compared to its base ISO.
    Your analysis on my test shots is also right on the money. As I originally stated, these were opened in CS5 without any processing whatsoever, they have zero noise reduction. The ISO 4000 shot would obviously have a lot more noise and a less detail as compared to the ISO 200 shot. The differences in IQ would be substantially less after post processing. Again, there is obviously a trade of when shooting stopped down but if you are using a MF lens of this type and shooting a moving subject, these trade-offs could be necessary to insure a proper focus.
  36. Just to chime in: Elliot - I would be very surprised if the AF confirmation light(s)/digital rangefinder didn't work, since it works fine on my manual focus lenses.

    On a related note, one of my gripes about the D700 is that trap focus doesn't work with manual focus lenses - that is, if you set shutter release to "only when in focus" and autofocus enable to "AF-On only", will release only when the autofocus sensor hits focus if you're using an autofocus lens, but the shutter will release whether you're in focus or not on a manual focus lens. This is actually one of the reasons I switched from Canon - genuine trap focus seemed to go missing from the Eos range somewhere between the 1ds2 and 1ds3, IIRC (although you can work around it if you have the right kind of USM lens and the right conditions).

    I suspect Nikon would rather you bought autofocus lenses and this is a cunning marketing ploy rather than a technical restriction, but then I'm deeply cynical. Just in case it's not purely marketing, perhaps it's worth checking to see whether this works on a D3s? If trap focus worked on my 500mm f/4 Ai-P, I'd not have to use a TC-16A on moving subjects. (Incidentally, a TC-16A is strictly pushing its luck on a 500mm f/4 but seems to work, give or take horrendous vignetting; I suspect it won't work on a 600mm f/5.6, but it might be worth googling.)

    Shun has a point - there's no doubt that a genuine AF-S (or possibly even AF-I) lens would be a vast improvement in handling. Unfortunately, that's why the manual focus lenses are relatively affordable.
  37. I suspect Nikon would rather you bought autofocus lenses and this is a cunning marketing ploy rather than a technical restriction, but then I'm deeply cynical.
    I don't think you're being overly cynical about it. I wouldn't want to give up the timing of the shot to an automatic triggering feature though; I think the expression on the subject's face is more important than critical focus. If the subject is a walking progression of people then it should not be difficult to achieve correct focus in bright light. You may not get the focus directly on the eye of the main subject but that won't be necessary when working with f/5.6 or smaller; the whole person is likely to be in focus (assuming that one person takes up about 20% of the picture area). However, if there is just one person in the picture and the subject is framed tightly (i.e. >50% of the image area is of the subject) then the depth of field is sufficiently shallow that critical focusing is a must. If using a manual focus telephoto, I think it's a good idea to concentrate on making well-executed pictures of small groups of people and their interaction instead of "head shots" which, of dancing and walking people could turn out to be very difficult. I tend to think interaction between people is usually more interesting than a sharp close-up of a person, but maybe that's just me ... ;-)
    There is an interesting article on the use of the 1200-1700mm Nikkor on a parade in France:
    They used a Canon 1.3x crop camera with an adapter. Exposure was 1/2000s, f/11, ISO 800. The authors comment "it is in fact easier to shoot this picture manually than with an autofocus, which has trouble locking onto a tiny figure amongst hundreds of riders bobbing up and down." I think if the subject goes up and down as he/she/it approaches, this can indeed cause the autofocus to be confused. But still the results of AF tracking are better than MF, at least if I'm doing the focusing. :-( Either way, practice is needed. It's a different situation when the photographer is an experienced photojournalist used to huge lenses and difficult to photograph events.
    an out of focus image is of no good to anyone.
    Agreed. Which is why I think it is a good idea to select the subject matter realistically according to the possibilities offered by the lens. And practice on similar subject matter in as far as possible. I think good planning can increase the success rate quite a bit in event photography, although things don't always go as planned.
  38. Suggesting that all manual focus lenses are better off in landfills (that is what the inference leads to) if you own modern cameras is not only incorrect, but hurtful to those of us with wonderful manual focus lenses.
    Nikkor 300mm f/2.8 MF
    Nikkor 400mm f/2.8 MF
    Nikkor 500mm f/4 P MF (sold)
    Nikkor 500mm f/8 MF
    Nikkor 600mm f/5.6 MF (sold)
    Nikkor 1000mm f/11
    I own many more Auto Focus lenses than I do manual focus lenses that range from 8mm to 800mm, but there is a freshness, and a feeling of pushing yourself just a little differently with a manual focus lens that has to be felt to be appreciated.
    People with the choice of manual focus lenses see it as a valid choice for their own personal reasons, and the insensitivity of saying otherwise is a slap on the cheek.
  39. The more I read, the more I am overwhelmed with my ignorance...
    Ilkka, I am going to try your suggestion about the non-CPU lens info and keep the manual handy to understand what I will be doing. The 300mm VR versions sound comparable on the weight front and I will keep it in mind for my 50th birthday coming up in a few years. By then either I will have learnt to use this 600mm or will have given it up for good! Also I completely concur with your observation about people shots. I find that once I am close enough, I tend to get head shots which are great, but do not have the interest value of people interacting with each other without knowing that they are being observed. Somewhat like Schrodinger's cat in quantum mechanics that changes its behavior simply by the fact that it is being observed. This lens will get me a close view of the groups, while remaining invisible to them.
    Andrew / Elliot: I am sure you are right about the AF dot. Will check this today and report.
    Gary, I agree that this lens is totally challenging me in acquiring the skill of focussing which I had taken for granted until now. Once I master all the use of this lens and thoroughly understand all the settings options on the MF-D3s combination, I think I will 'feel' more confident about the craft. It is easy to ignore many options in the menu since simple situations do not demand too much study. This forced learning will probably push me out of complacency.
    Thanks everyone.
  40. jaina:
    Have fun with that special lens, A true winner in the line-up of about 55 million Nikon lenses.

    Remember your green dot and arrows will help you focus this lens, and you can also use live-view with magnification. A tip I just learned myself.
  41. Ilkka, I entered the non-CPU lens data and I suddenly have all the file info I need, to analyse the settings now! Feels like I unravelled some magic!
    Gary, the green dot and those arrows in particular are terrific - never paid any attention to these things earlier!
    Will post the experimental images in awhile - with the various settings.
  42. Since Elliot mentioned 500' distances - just another note of caution with lenses that may tempt you to shoot subjects from really long distances: don't underestimate blur caused by haze and heat, if the procession will move through crowded streets on a particularly hot (time of) day then shimmering air & dust kicked up by an abundance of feet may significantly deteriorate sharpness no matter how perfect the lens, camera settings, support and/or your technique. Backlit dust can cause all kinds of interesting effects of course, but if those are not what you're after then you might want to do at least some of the testing and focusing practice in maximally similar conditions. Of course there's plenty of opportunity for spectacular shots of tigers in the zoo, but the conditions you'll encounter in the street may well be quite different & it will probably pay off handsomely if you can figure out beforehand which spots & lines of sight will give you the best light + POV in the particular street where (and time of day when) you hope to capture the procession.
  43. Paul, I will be spending two days acclimatising to the height so I will take this advice and spend time walking around to find a good shooting spot. I am hoping that over the 10 days there will be some logistical repitition in the performances - to allow for learning curves to kick in. There may not be too much heat, but dust will probably be a factor to consider - but these are factors that cannot be controlled - so will just have to find good spots where these factors can be minimised. It is a great help to be alerted to all these factors beforehand! Thanks.
    Elliot, the test images at different F-stops and ISO follow. I have kept the shutter speed at a constant of 1/1000 throughout as this will be the one I will most likely use. The roof of the yellow building was shot from about 200-250 m away.

  44. IMAGE 6
    The flat metal lightning wire running across the roof, was the focal point for all the above images
  45. Not sure if the yellow building images are of any use, but don't know how to delete them!
    Here are some more. I relied entirely on the AF dot to set focus.
    Clearly with the f22 set, although the focal point was set to point B, even point A is within the focal plane. A and B are probably at least 3-4 inches away from each other in the line of my lens. In the case of f5.6, A is not in focus.
    Assuming that I will have reasonable MF skills by then, shouldn't this additional 3 inch focal plane created at f22 give reasonable results?
  47. Please post some shots from the event you will be photographing!
  48. Your lens produces very, very sharp images, even when stopped down. With practice, you will learn to focus more quickly and more accurately. Congratulations!
  49. To me, the f/8 and f/11 images of the roof look best.
    I think the lens looks very nice in terms of image quality. And yes, please post images after the event; I googled "nagaland festival" and now understand why you're so excited about this.
    This forced learning will probably push me out of complacency.
    No argument there; it is a good idea to try something very difficult but potentially very rewarding from time to time.
  50. Hi Jaina
    off-topic I admit but aren't Nagaland and Ladakh a long way apart?
  51. Elliot, Ilkka - am reassured by your words. Seeing that this sharpness is very different from that of the 85 1.4 I was a bit worried. But I guess for such a long range this is good performance.
    My trip is planned for early September so will post images then.
    Ilkka, Roy, sorry about the confusion my words created. Last year I went to Nagaland and found the set of lenses that I had taken at that time inadequate for taking shots of large groups from a distance.
    And so I plan to use that learning for this year's trip to Ladakh. Nagaland and Ladakh are about 2000km apart, both in India, both host fantastic festivals.
    (my naga images are on
  52. Thanks Jaina
    the only reason I mentioned it is that the first time I went to India - in 1973 - it was impossible to get all the way up the Leh highway to Ladakh. I got a little way past Vashist (sp?) hot springs above Manali then the Indian army intervened (politely). Nowadays I believe Manali has about 200 hotels; incredible. But I've always looked longingly at the maps showing Nagaland.
    Ursula Graham Bower's book "Naga Path" is worth reading if you haven't already come across it. She was there first in 1937/8 as I recall and became very involved with the Nagas. It's a good many years since I read it but I've subsequently thought about visiting the area. The closest I got was W. Bengal and Sikkim a few years back. On the occasions I've visited India over the years I've always omitted to take a camera (apart from a Minox B in 1976!) - and always regretted it. Next time!
    Good luck with the trip and let us see the results!
  53. Roy, you missed Ladakh by just a year - it was opened to foreigners in 1974. Now there are flights to Leh and organised motorcycle tours as well!
    And you MUST make that trip to Nagaland and the other states in North-East India. There are a few festivals coming up between November and April ....lots to shoot!
    One last question about the 600mm - is there a range (lens to subject distance0 at which it gives best results?

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