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Lovely. Prone to softness at 1.4 but stunningly sharp by 1.8. Contrast, colours, bokeh, all good. Great walkaround lens. Looking through pictures though I have few submitted to Alamy with 50mm/D800 yet. More with the D700 as thats my usual walkaround camera. There are some with the D800 in the pipeline but the one thing about it that frustrates me is lack of close focus so I tend to use the 60 micro more on the 800.

 

Keith

Edited by Keith Burdett
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Cheers Keith. I ask because I walking around with it on the D800 and am not completely confident that (a) I'm focusing it correctly or (B) it doesn't resolve that we'll on the D800.

 

I notice also that its not on Nikons recommended list of lenses.

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Nikon's list of recommended lenses is not definitive - it is just a list of "Some lenses that offer excellent resolution …".  There are many lenses not on that list that are as good or maybe better.

I've not used the G but I have a 50mm 1.4D lens that offers truly unbelievable resolution edge to edge on the D800.  I assume that the 1.4G would be just as good. I  use the D lens in preference to the G because of its smaller size. I rarely use autofocus in any case so have no need for the silent motor which seems to be what distinguishes the lenses. I've also used my old 55mm AIS Micro-Nikkor and the results are astounding in terms of sharpness. If used properly, I reckon that any of the Nikkor standard lenses will give amazing results on the D800.

So assuming your lens is not damaged, the problem must be with technique, but you don't provide enough infio for a diagnosis. Are your images unsharp front to back (camera shake - use a tripod or faster shutter speed).

Or is it a depth of field problem? Is sharp focus falling off faster than expected? This is a serious issue with the D800. Depth of field is significantly smaller on the D800 than on, for example, the D700, all else being equal. I discovered this the hard way (including a rare QC failure) when I first got the D800 about a year ago. For the type of stuff I mainly do - landscapes in sharp focus front to back using hyperfocal focusing - I had to do practical experiments to determine actual depth of field for the lenses and apertures I use - the barrel markings or depth of field tables are incorrect for the D800. I've had to adapt my technique to the camera in terms of how close the nearest object is to the camera. Stopping down an extra stop or so is another option but I don't go below f11 because the lens performance deteriorates noticably and diffraction can also be an issue at small apertures.

Edited by MDM
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I do find it easier to get slightly shaky pictures with all my lenses on the D800 handheld. Generally my technique's not that bad but a slight twitch at the wrong moment or an aggressive shutter release press can fry an otherwise safe shot. (Shallower the dof, more likelyhood of errror too perhaps) This is why I tend keep the D800 for when I'm really able to concentrate on photograpy and use the D700 for when I'm meant to be doing other things. That too is where the 50 excels - quality glass in a neat bundle that can be tucked away safely behind me yet with quick access when required.

 

Keith

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I think you're both on the right track with a DOF problem. Yes, hyperfocal focusing would be great under controlled circumstances, but for just walking around I don't feel I have time to do that effectively. I will go out with it on the D300 and come back on that, In the meantime, I will try and get some through QC and post one for you too check out if you would be so kind. 

Edited by Gervais Montacute
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I think you're both on the right track with a DOF problem. Yes, hyperfocal focusing would be great under controlled circumstances, but for just walking around I don't feel I have time to do that effectively. I will go out with it on the D300 and come back on that, In the meantime, I will try and get some through QC and post one for you too check out of you would be so kind. 

 

To judge sharpness effectively, it needs to be examined at 100%. Posting a full size D800 image online would be fairly demanding bandwidth-wise. To judge depth of field online in this way, you would need to post a front to back sliver of a full size image.

 

I would suggest that you perform your own experiments as this would allow you to get a real understanding of what you can do with the camera. What I did was place a series of objects such as boxes with writing on them, books, bricks, garden furniture etc at measured distances of 1 metre apart and then do some series of pictures at different focal distances using a tripod and my two favourite lenses - a 24 and a 50. I just used f11 throughout as this is my setting for the vast majority of my landscapes. It wasn't incredibly scientific but it did give me a very good feel for practical depth of field with a particular camera-lens combo.

 

Perhaps the D800 is not the most suitable camera for walkabout photography if you are looking for the ultimate quality from the camera. As Keith says, the D700 or your D300 may be a better bet. However, I also found in my semi-quantitative experiments that the D800 actually gave sharper images than the D700 using barrel-marking hyperfocal focusing, all else being equal, when I downsized the D800 images to the same size as the D700. In other words, although these D800 images were not optimally sharp when viewed at 100%, downsizing made them more than acceptably sharp. So, I reckon that as long as you are careful with camera shake and focusing, I don't see any problem using the D800 with a 50mm lens as a walkabout camera - depth of field problems can be counteracted by downsizing if necessary. You are probably not going to want to blow these types of images up massively if printing in any case and the smaller sizes will be more than enough for Alamy.

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Reviewing some D800/50mm shots on the camera lcd just now. Attempts to get f2.2 focus on a black dogs' eye at about 2m distance with the dog looking straight at camera in full sunlight using centre af point produced very mixed results. The desired point of focus was just too small (and poorly defined?) for the outlined af indicator. In other words there were probably about 2 inches of depth of subject within the black focus point rectangle. What I was doing when I encountered the dog allowed me a bit of time for lcd checks and extra shots to try and get a keeper but not enough for detailed tripod or liveview/manual focussing. Whether I do in fact have a keeper is not certain based on the LCD.

Using a D700 might've increased the chances but I was glad to have the 800 for the sake of other shots on that walk. I like the high DR on sunny days.

The differences in dof between 10/12mp DX and 36mp FX especially at wide apertures are pretty significant I reckon...

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