Friday, June 1, 2007

Auto Focus and Lenses

We have now taken thousands and thousands of pictures with the D80, using five different lenses, inside and out, all different settings, etc. and most of the pictures have been out of focus. I use this camera almost everyday. It got to the point last month that we sent the camera back to Nikon for servicing. They replaced the guts of the camera and sent it back, no questions asked - good service!!

The pictures might be a little better but inside they still are totally unacceptable. Our little 7.2 megapixel Sony Cyber-shot does a better job inside. If it weren't for the "shutter lag" (actually speed of the AF) on the little camera I would still prefer it to the Nikon DSLR.

Outside, when in bright light, the Nikon does a good job. I can turn the shutter speed way up and get the action shots I'm after. The DSLR does what I want outside in good light, but not in lower light/inside.

It is kind of frustrating because we have good lenses; Nikkor AF 28mm 2.8D, Nikkor AF 50mm 1.8D, Sigma AF 2.8f 28-70, Nikkor AF 105mm micro 2.8D, and the Nikkor AF-S 18-200mm 3.5-5.6 GDX-VR. By far the best lens we have is the 105mm D f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor! The shots with this lens are very nice but it is a fixed focal length of 105mm which is like 150mm on the D80, so it is a little long. But I would rather take shots with the 105 than the other lenses because they come out noticeably crisper and a much, much higher % actually come out.

Inside the D80 has proven basically useless so far. With all the lights on it still produces poor quality images. If I use the 50mm and set it to 1.8 Aperture priority, and ISO 1600 I can snap shots but the shutter speed will still be too slow to catch a jumping cat and of course the depth of field is nill and everything is a bit grainy at 1600 ISO. With the flash I can get a shutter speed of 1/200, but lose the ability to take shots rapidly.

So at this point (after months of regular use) I'm still not sold on the D80. I might get the 60mm Micro-Nikkor f/2.8D. If the optics are as good as the 105mm at least I will be able to be a little closer to the action.

BTW the range on the 18-200mm is nice. To be able to shoot wide (18mm) is cool,... being able to shoot at 200mm (300mm) is pretty cool too. Nice range on this lens, but the optics don't seem to approach the 105's.

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Andreas said...

I think I have the same kind of problems with my D80 and the 18-200 VR lens since I bought it one month ago. A big number of photos seem out of focus. I do not believe it is a lens problem as I was using the same lens for more than a year with my D50 and the photos were great !!!


Tanj,Uschi&Vladi said...

We are still having the same issues as I discussed in that blog posting. The Nikkor 105mm Micro, delivers consistently stunning pictures, but is too long for most indoor work. all the other lenses have a very large % of out of focus images. Very frustrating for such a "top notch" pile of equipment.

teki said...


P&S cameras have depth of field advantage. It is huge because of the small sensor. Their high iso performance is usually really bad, so they are pretty bad indoor without flash.

You can either try use the flash with a diffuser:

or the Nikon 35/2 or Sigma 30/1.4.

An another help is to get a camera with in body image stabilization, but that will not help with moving object. People tend to have more keeper pictures with stabilization. My hands are pretty instable, so I tend to believe that it can actually help.

I love my 18-200, it's a perfect match for hiking, but I am sure, that I will need something else for indoor kid photos.