Friday, October 10, 2014

Video for Nikon: D810 and D4s ISO limits and lenses

Video for Nikon: D810 and D4s ISO limits and lenses, tripods, monopods, etc.

=Summary==========================================================
ISO for video:
D810  64-2500
D4s    200-12800 (try to stick with 10k or less)

Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II
Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD 
both work great for Image Stabilization, hand held or vehicle.
=================================================================

Bottom Line usable ISO for video: (shooting 24p  1/50s: Many shoots in different environments.)
D810  64-2500
D4s    200-12800 (try to stick with 10k or less)
Above those numbers things start to get truly grainy. Remember to shoot with the flat profile on the D810 if you plan on grading later. (You can get close creating a similar setting manually in the D4s.) I have heard that the Sony FS-700 does well to 56k, but I haven't tried it.

If you're in a car and you don't have $3-15k to spend on a gyro stabilizer - No Problem. Get these (especially the Tamron for the zoom range in the vehicle.)
Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II
Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD

Until Nikon comes out with a 24-70mm 2.8 VR II the Tamron is just going to have to do. The Nikon 16-35mm just doesn't do well at 35 and I prefer a 50mm for facing forward. The VR or VC does a great job of taking out the vibration. The vehicle video is unusable without this.

If you are shooting on solid ground on a tripod then I recommend the 24, 35, 58, and 85 f/1.4 or the fantastic 200mm f/2.0 (you'll have to back up... even more so for the 400mm f/2.8  ;) which is also beautiful for video)

Need a 10 stop ND filter? You will need one if you are planning on shooting video at 24p (1/50s) outside in bright sunlight. (Yeah - just try to scrim the cars on the road while you are driving.) Look at this article. http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/10-Stop-Neutral-Density-Filter.aspx 
Yes, you might be able to get by with a 5-6 stop ND filter. Singh-Ray makes a 5 stop Mor-Slo too.

Need a 6 stop filter for your Nikon 200mm f/2.0 get this Hoya 52mm Pro 1 ND 64x Sorry - I couldn't find a 10 stop that is thin enough to fit. This one works beautifully. It should work for the 400mm too.

Tripod: There are so many. You want a solid one with a real fluid head. I went with what the News guys use. They use the latest Sachtler head with the hotpod. I was fortunate enough to buy a used 18plus head on a hot pod a few years ago. It is smooth. It is made for heavier cameras, so I use it backwards on my lighter setups. When I put the 400mm on it works beautifully. If you have never used the Sachtler hotpod - it is a treat. You just slide the middle cross leg piece to the right spot on the bar it slides on and out drop the legs. Push the cross piece all the way down and they lock. Then press down on the leveling lever and level the head. It takes seconds. That is probably why the News guys use them. They are also solid as a rock, which is key for video. I have a set of Miller Sticks which I use if I am in the woods or need to go low, but it is nowhere near as solid or as easy to setup and move as the hotpod. A demo of the hotpod is here

Monopod: In a pinch I use the Manfrotto video monopod with 500 series head. It works quite well. It is great with the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II  for shooting kids sports video.

Steadicam: I use the Steadicam pilot. It does well. Go with the Scout if you are flying something a bit heavier. I recommend that most people stick to the tripod. Steadicams can be frustrating if you don't have time to practice and the extra patience and coordination that they take. Also hand holding the Image Stabilized lenses works quite will in a pinch.

I must apologize for the lack of video or still shots. I will post them when I have the time. I am going to make sure to put iPhone video shots there for comparison as well. People think that the iPhone takes great video. The iPhone has its range. It does will in bright light. When it gets really dark though, it just can't do it.

There is a review with some video here on Fstoppers (starting at 13:30) It doesn't cover the D4s, but that (for video) one goes to ISO 10k cleanly and 12800 pretty well.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Nagra SD

Nagra SD recorder
Nagra SD recorder - photo borrowed from BHPhotoVideo

Summary:
Best handheld recorder that I have ever used. The preamps are up there with Nagra's recorders like the LB, but it is in a handheld package.


Not too long ago I picked up the Nagra SD recorder. I have to say that it has taken my audio recording to a whole new level. There are plenty of good ways to get excellent audio in an external recorder for your high end videos. To capture the ambient sound and stereo movement across the frame this thing is hard to beat. I use the Green band microphone for stereo recordings. Mounted on top of the camera, when  the audio is either cut into the  video in post or plugged directly into the camera from the line out, you would think you were there. I recommend cutting the audio in from the recorder in post if you have the time since it is better quality than the line out feed to the camera.

I recommend picking up the Nagra NM-MICSII stereo Green band microphone and the Nagra NM-MICMC mono White band microphone. The green is great for stereo ambient sound and the white is great for areas where there is an echo. You have to buy the microphones separately. Oh - and the white sounds just like the green except it is mono and is better than the green for high echo areas.

Great reviews are here:
BHphoto review of the Nagra SD (has sample Video with audio)
Wildlife Sound Recording Society (has sample audio)

This is my go to audio recorder. It truly is broadcast quality in your hand. Yes, I have used the Marantz, the H4n, and many others. This thing is just better. If you looking for a broadcast quality recorder for some kind of National Public Radio type recording of an event, then this is the the perfect solution.

It comes with a single XLR input cord. A stereo XLR (two connector) input cord can be purchased separately. Using the cords, one can connect one or two XLR inputs to the Nagra SD.

Keep in mind that I am using this for quick interviews or recording performances when I am primarily shooting stills. (I am frequently asked to "just get a few short videos.") This is not a complete audio solution for recording by any means. It is just and easy way to truly get broadcast quality (background sound primarily for me) into your video for under the usual $3k mark and have such a small handheld that you can just carry with you. There are plenty of other microphones like the Senken CS3e , Sennheiser MKH-416, Schoeps CMIT-5u; Mixers and recorders from Sound Devices (Mixpre-D as a small example used by DSLR run and gun people), Nagra and so many more.

I still use the Rode Video Mic Pro for run and gun interviews in loud areas (again - when asked to "just get a few short videos"), but is nowhere near the audio quality or pickup of this thing. I use the Rode usually to cut out and isolate the sound and then add in the real background from the Nagra SD recorder.


I will be showing my newer audio/video setup sometime soon.


I hope that you find this helpful.









Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Light Grenades

Light Grenade:
I was asked by a friend to write a quick piece on this.



At a recent wedding I pulled out my go to quick lighting solution, the light grenade. It is merely a small portable light stand with a umbrella holder and bracket on the top. I usually put two SB-900's on the bracket so that I don't overheat or burn them out with the added bonus of getting more light. These things fold up so small I can carry three of them in a small bag folded up.

Just set it up, point the umbrella at the subject, (at a 45 degree angle to the subject usually) and fire. If I am using Nikon flashes I use TTL. If I am using everything on manual, I set the umbrella flashes to 1/16 to start and work my way up.

It is called a light grenade because while it does throw soft light through the umbrella on the subject, it throws light everywhere.

It consists of:
Manfrotto 5001B
Lastolite LL_LA2423 TriFlash Bracket
Impact S3243 White Translucent Umbrella


This is not an original idea of mine. Many travel photographers have been using this for years. You can find it clearly laid out by Bob Krist is the Nikon CLS lighting system video.CLS Lighting Video with Bob Krist and Joe McNally Check the video at 1:15:00 and you can watch Bob unpack and explain his kit.

I put the strap on mine so that I can carry one around in its own as a portable lighting solution.


I hope that you find this helpful.


Workflow for Weddings

Workflow for Weddings

(Excerpted from post on Capture One Pro) - on user request

Bottom line - My workflow:
1) Shoot RAW+JPG. RAW to Card 1 JPG to Card 2.  I can always hand off the JPG card to anyone for them to use immediately if necessary.
2) IMPORT : Photo Mechanic
3) EDIT :  Capture One Pro 8
Use Sessions so that I can edit in original directories and not have a huge catalog. Also, if I really need to use Photoshop or another plugin because I have a solution that I have used in the past I can.
4) SEND Proofs: Smugmug
5) PRINT: Imageprint
to my Epson 3880. To really get good proofs and understand printing you need to use a good printer. To not waste time figuring out print profiles (because you are in the photography and not the printing business) let Imageprint figure out the perfect color, paper, and ink settings for you.

Don't use Catalogs!:
Use Sessions
But - leave the files right where they are when you import. Don't import files into Capture one. Just access them in the file browser.

Lightroom, iPhoto, and Aperature use a Catalog. Capture One Pro 8 can use catalogs as well. But - even better, with Adobe Bridge or Capture One Pro you can just look in a directory at the files. There is absolutely no need to import your photos into some ridiculously huge, slow and unstable catalog. I have always edited files in the directory, avoiding catalogs. I usually import my photos with Photo Mechanic the worlds fastest import and file viewer. I set up a hierarchy of directories for my files starting with date. (2014_09_17 Mary and John Smith Wedding) I can then cull down my photos to only the selects that I can then edit. I used to use Photoshop through Bridge and Adobe Camera RAW. (Now all of that has gone creative cloud and is far too unwieldy, slow and expensive.) A full 8 hour plus wedding set on the D4s and D810 takes only 1 hour to cull, and at most 3 hours to edit in post for the proof prints. (No. I am not kidding. Just ask Emily Karcher of Emily Karcher Photography if you need a real person that can attest to this. (Don't buy into something that you only see or hear online. A lot of what you see is staged (models for "Wedding Shoots") and for advertising.))

How is it so fast. Two things:
1) Cull down your photos into selects first
2) Do not import into a Catalog - Use the files in a directory where they are.

Cull down your photos into selects first. Select the photo's you like, rate them etc in Photo Mechanic.(2014_09_17 Mary and John Smith Wedding) Then move them or copy them into a Selects directory under that main directory. (2014_09_17 Mary and John Smith Wedding/Selects) Open the Selects directory in Capture One Pro and do your editing and corrections. Then export your photos to the Send directory. (2014_09_17 Mary and John Smith Wedding/Send)If I still need to do some crazy edits in Photoshop I can do that on the Selects or Send files.

If you shoot a monster like the Nikon D810, Canon 5D Mark III, or any medium format camera you know how big those files are. If you cull down your files first and then don't use catalogs, you will only have the photos that you need to edit in memory or in your sorted directory. This is so much faster than asking your computer to look at a 40GB directory fill of 40MB files. (Or worse - One giant 200GB Catalog containing not only this shoot, but several of the last ones. Keep in mind that anything over 4GB in size is a royal pain for a computer. Just try to copy a giant video file some time.) I do my editing on a 2008 Macbook Pro with 8GB of RAM. (I needed the RAM for 3D graphics and rendering.)  

Do not import into a Catalog - Use the files in a directory where they are.
Using the files in the directory where they are you can edit your selects with whatever external editor or plugin that you want.Using a Catalog forces you to waste time, importing and exporting with no added benefit. Also archiving is easy. Just grab the entire directory (2014_09_17 Mary and John Smith Wedding), back it up to both of your spare backup drives (BOTH!) and then delete the 40 GB monster (2014_09_17 Mary and John Smith Wedding) from your computer's hard drive. A Catalog keeps growing and growing and becomes overly cumbersome.  (Plugins are quickly becoming stand alone apps now that don't require Photoshop. Awesome! Now you can process files with your favorite settings automatically in batches without the $700 purchase of Photoshop with Bridge.)

Capture One Pro 8

Capture One Pro 8: Better than ever!
(Also - workflow for weddings at bottom)

Killer features:
- No need for Catalogs!
- Variants
- Multiple focus windows for image review or tethered shooting 

Best tethered shooting app!

Killer feature (for me)- Multiple focus windows for image review or tethered shooting!!!!

Capture One 8
(Yes that picture is from Capture One Pro 7) I just happened to take a screen shot to show how one can compare two photos side by side while reviewing photos or while tethered. The two focus windows on the left I used for checking two separate focus points on each photo. You can have many of these focus windows.

Capture One 8
Ok - check this out. It is two sessions (two windows) The left one is the my best shot up until now, the right shot is the latest tethered shot. The left side stays the same and the right side changes with each new shot. If I am shooting tethered this allows me to check focus (and all edits, crops etc.) on the left photo and then see if the right photo is better. If it is, I select that photo in the left window as my keeper and keep shooting. I can even set different edits to crop and keystoning (or any effects or edits) on the right tethered window and each successive shot takes on the same settings from the last shot. Amazing!

UPDATE:
After setting this up I rebooted my computer for some Apple software update and guess what - when I started Capture One Pro 8 it started up with both session windows open the exact same way with the same files open!!!! How awesome. So if my machine goes down, or I have to set up for a quick tethered shoot or stop editing and have to restart or whatever - I can just start up Capture One Pro 8 and I am right back where I left off. Brilliant!!!

Variants:
Capture One Pro


Yes - I reused the photo. The left photo is variant one and the right side is variant 2 of the same photo. The best part about this is that you can edit the heck out of a photo and then just hit a button to create a new variant that has the same edits and settings (clone) or a new variant that has no changes to the original file (new variant). This is unlike all of the other photo apps that I have used where you have to copy the original file before you even start and then work in layers, etc and turn them on and off so that you end up with multiple staged files all over the place. These edits are in an XMP file so there is no overhead and it doesn't take up space on your hard drive or in RAM.


No need for Catalogs!: (Workflow for Weddings)
Use Sessions
But - leave the files right where they are when you import. Don't import files into Capture one. Just access them in the file browser.

Lightroom uses a Catalog. Capture One Pro 8 can use catalogs as well. But - even better, you can just look in a directory at the files. There is absolutely no need to import your photos into some ridiculously huge, slow and unstable catalog. I have always editing files in the directory, avoiding catalogs. I usually import my photos with Photo Mechanic the worlds fastest import and file viewer. I set up a hierarchy of directories for my files starting with date. (2014_09_17 Mary and John Smith Wedding) I can then cull down my photos to only the selects that I can then edit. I used to use Photoshop through Bridge and Adobe Camera RAW. (Now all of that has gone creative cloud and is far too unwieldy, slow and expensive.) A full 8 hour plus wedding set on the D4s and D810 takes only 1 hour to cull, and at most 3 hours to edit in post for the proof prints. (No. I am not kidding. Just ask Emily Karcher of Emily Karcher Photography if you need a real person that can attest to this. (Don't buy into something that you only see or hear online. A lot of what you see is staged (models for "Wedding Shoots") and for advertising.))

How is it so fast. Two things:
1) Cull down your photos into selects first
2) Do not import into a Catalog - Use the files in a directory where they are.

Cull down your photos into selects first. Select the photo's you like, rate them etc in Photo Mechanic.(2014_09_17 Mary and John Smith Wedding) Then move them or copy them into a Selects directory under that main directory. (2014_09_17 Mary and John Smith Wedding/Selects) Open the Selects directory in Capture One Pro and do your editing and corrections. Then export your photos to the Send directory. (2014_09_17 Mary and John Smith Wedding/Send)If I still need to do some crazy edits in Photoshop I can do that on the Selects or Send files.

If you shoot a monster like the Nikon D810, Canon 5D Mark III, or any medium format camera you know how big those files are. If you cull down your files first and then don't use catalogs, you will only have the photos that you need to edit in memory or in your sorted directory. This is so much faster than asking your computer to look at a 40GB directory fill of 40MB files. (Or worse - One giant 200GB Catalog containing not only this shoot, but several of the last ones. Keep in mind that anything over 4GB in size is a royal pain for a computer. Just try to copy a giant video file some time.) I do my editing on a 2008 Macbook Pro with 8GB of RAM. (I needed the RAM for 3D graphics and rendering.)  

Do not import into a Catalog - Use the files in a directory where they are.
Using the files in the directory where they are you can edit your selects with whatever external editor or plugin that you want.Using a Catalog forces you to waste time, importing and exporting with no added benefit. Also archiving is easy. Just grab the entire directory (2014_09_17 Mary and John Smith Wedding), back it up to both of your spare backup drives (BOTH!) and then delete the 40 GB monster (2014_09_17 Mary and John Smith Wedding) from your computer's hard drive. A Catalog keeps growing and growing and becomes overly cumbersome.  (Plugins are quickly becoming stand alone apps now that don't require Photoshop. Awesome! Now you can process files with your favorite settings automatically in batches without the $700 purchase of Photoshop.)

Other Features for me:
Tethered Live View for the D4s D3 D810
Exporting
Lens Correction - Supports latest Nikon and Canon (and other DLSR) lenses and selects them automatically.
Layers
Spot correction and Cloning
Great Black and White Tool
Great RAW rendering engine
Output Sharpening for print
Single Pixel Noise Reduction for Night Photos- Long Exposure
View Proof Profile - Soft proofing
Hot Folder - Allows you to use whatever camera control app you want and still have the photos pop up automatically in the Capture One Pro session.
Capture Pilot - photo review and tethering control on iPad or iPhone
Free Capture One Pro 8 Training Videos Online Just search Capture One Pro 8 or here at Phase One

Full Blown review of what it is new.

Also:
This is really Phase One's only software product (Ok - there's Media Pro)- and it is dedicated to cameras - It is updated with new cameras and lens profiles as well as RAW conversion continuously. Adobe has so many other apps to dedicate people to. They do update the camera RAW, but I am not sure they take the time to profile all of the cameras and lenses like DXO or Phase One.  Phase One makes digital backs and makes this application to control them and other digital backs.

What it doesn't do:
Capture One Pro 8 is not Photoshop. You are not going to use it for keying or compositing or any of that. Capture One has the Spot Correction and Cloning tools to remove problem areas in an image, but it is not a full blown compositing solution.  Photoshop is great, but do you drive an efficient car to work or a car, truck, boat, airplane, submarine, crane, bulldozer, all in one? You get the point.

Bottom line - My workflow:
1) Shoot RAW+JPG. RAW to Card 1 JPG to Card 2.  I can always hand off the JPG card to anyone for them to use immediately if necessary.
2) IMPORT : Photo Mechanic
3) EDIT :  Capture One Pro 8
Use Sessions so that I can edit in original directories and not have a huge catalog. Also If I really need to use Photoshop or another plugin because I have a solution that I have used in the past I can.
4) SEND Proofs: Smugmug
5) PRINT: Imageprint
to my Epson 3880. To really get good proofs and understand printing you need to use a good printer. To not waste time figuring out print profiles (because you are in the photography and not the printing business) let Imageprint figure out the perfect color, paper, and ink settings for you.

I  hope that you find this helpful.





Monday, April 21, 2014

Nikon D4s - Just a comment

Nikon D4s - Just a comment

I have been a bit busy, but I felt that I would be doing a disservice to people if I did not write something brief about the D4s.

If you have even thought about upgrading from the D4 to the D4s, do not wait. The D4s is nothing short of amazing when compared to the D4 as far as ACCURATE and FAST AUTO FOCUS, color accuracy, color depth, and straight to JPEG shooting. Yes, the 2.7 crop video is beautifully sharp as well. If you shoot primes like the 35, 58, 85, 200, do not walk, run to the nearest store and swap your D4 for the D4s. It is truly amazing. The focus locks on moving subjects and is dead on. This is the best auto focus that I have seen on any camera ever.

There are plenty of reviews out there from people who have merely unboxed the D4s and never shot with it. Those who have can't help but rave about it.

Example comments:

http://news.coreyrich.com/2014/03/ask-corey-is-the-nikon-d4s-noticeably-sharper-than-the-d4-in-fx-mode/


Monday, December 9, 2013

Nikon 58mm 1.4g

Nikon 58mm 1.4g

Bottom line: Impressive lens. It is a Nikon prime lens like the 24, 35, or 85 and as a prime it does not focus as fast or as "accurately" at 1.4 as one of the Nikon 2.8 zooms do at f 8. See my previous article on the prime focusing speed.

==================================================================
UPDATE:
IF you are having trouble with AF accuracy on a Nikon 58mm 1.4g , I recommend that you send it in for warranty service and explain the problems that you are having. After sending the original lens in that was used for this article it came back:
CKD AUTO FOCUS OPERATION
CKD FOCUS TRACKING
CKD EXPOSURE
CKD COMMUNICATION
ADJ DEFOCUS COTROL

(Yes that is how control was spelled on the sheet.) The lens works better than ever. It is now spot on for eye focus for portraits without any AF Fine tuning. I plan on experimenting with optimum distances for the best look. I now look at the 58 f1.4 as the Nikon 200 f2.0 when you can't back up to get the shot. (and you don't want to carry that beast.) The bokeh is just beautiful like the 200 f2.0and when used properly focu is spot on.
==================================================================

Advice(please read below): For portraits, using eyes as the focus point, using the center AF point, I shoot it at AF Fine tune +20, saving RAW+JPG , with the JPG set at maximum sharpness on the D4 and have the center button on the multi-selector set to zoom medium on press during image review so that I can check the focus on the shot.

As usual, when a new piece of hardware comes out, there are many different initial opinions written on the spur of the moment with little actual use of the new item. That is the case with the Nikon 58mm 1.4g
The naysayers have taken to two issues. The sharpness wide open at 1.4 and the inconsistent focus. I felt like I had heard this before. Well, I did. When the Nikon 24mm 1.4g came out there were the same complaints.Ah and the Nikon 35mm 1.4g as well. So why are some people attacking this lens? Enh - who cares. With any new piece of photography equipment there are always opinions. I recommend that you rent it, give it a try with your camera setup the way you use it and if it works for you, ditch the 50mm 1.4g and use this in its place.

I got the chance to do a quick test on this lens the other day. If you are concerned about any AF front focus or back focus issues, you can look at the below images. The lens was focused on the book to the left of the ruler. The 20cm line was even with the plane of the book.
Nikon 58mm 1.4G at 1.4 on a D4 full sharpness  (crop at 6ft)

Nikon 58mm 1.4G at 1.4 on a D4 no sharpness (crop at 6ft)
This test was more of a check for myself to see if there are any front/back focusing issues with the lens that I tested. This does not determine how well the lens will focus on subjects, especially low contrast of moving subjects.

I found some good advice on photo.net on AF Fine tune that I figured I would quote:

"The fine tune adjustment is also dependent on the focus distance, and may also be dependent on the aperture and color of the light (though the latter two are less clear effects than the distance).
I think a reasonable approach is to determine the correction at around 30x focal length, and then investigate how the correction varies towards long distances. That's what I do, anyway. I think Nikon should urgently provide users with the means of storing distance dependent fine tune settings for each lens. It should be possible for the camera to determine the distance from the D or G lens, and apply the appropriate correction, interpolating linearly between the ranges.
Fine tune adjustment in my experience requires considerable care and repetition is an excellent idea; any single focus operation can give quite a large variability in the result, but by making many repetitions, a reasonable estimate of the mean error can be made. Also it is a good idea to have reasonably bright lighting conditions when doing these experiments." - Ilkka Nissila

I have had the chance to use the Nikon 58mm 1.4g for a few days now. I have to say that I am impressed. It is a Nikon prime, which means that while it does go to 1.4, it is going to have a slower and less "accurate" Autofocus than the 2.8 zooms like the 24-70mm 2.8, 70-200mm 2.8, or the 14-24mm 2.8. I say accurate because, as you can read by the above quote, there are many difficulties that an Autofocus encounters and these are seen very clearly at a wide aperture of f 1.4. The depth of field is so shallow that any focus errors are immediately apparent.

As you can see from above, when I shot at test targets there appeared to be little or no AF fine tuning needed. What I found when I shot at actual subjects focusing on the eyes was a bit different. I found that when I set the AF fine tune to +20 on the D4 I got more consistently focused shots. It appeared that the AF sensors were focusing on the tips of the eyelashes on my children and the eyeballs were out of focus. It may be that my children have exceedingly long eyelashes, but I found that with this setting on my D4 I had more success.

I do want to say, that I am not in the habit of checking focus on every shot, but from now on I just might be. After I had some initial frustration with checking my focus I set up my D4 the way many commercial and wedding photographers set up theirs. I set the center button of the multi-selector to zoom medium during image playback. That way I can zoom in to 100% on the image (zoom medium) and check the focus on each shot. This is under Controls, f1 Multi selector center button, playback mode, zoom on/off, Medium Magnification. Then I set my fcn button on the front of the camera to pull up the first item on my menu, which is AF Fine tune. This way I could pop the image to 100% and then pop straight to AF fine tune and adjust the fine tune settings.

Some people may say +20, that's crazy! There must be something wrong with the lens. Well, not really. I know where I need to focus and how to get the best results for my subject. With the way I shoot portraits, using the eyes as targets, for this lens, this setting works best. For sports I go with center body focus and adjust accordingly, so this shift of focus for more consistent shots is nothing new. Photographers have done this for years for landscapes, focusing to the hyperfocal distance to ensure that as much as possible in the shot is in focus. While it is not the exact same thing, it is not a new concept.

For those people who are used to zooms and lenses with apertures of f 2.8 or greater I would like to offer some advice. Don't expect any of the f 1.4 primes to focus as quickly or as "accurately" as the f 2.8 lenses. The depth of field on f 2.8 and higher lenses is so much deeper that a lot more is in focus in the frame and the picture looks sharper and more in focus from edge to edge. For group portraits where I want everyone in focus, I stop down to 5.6 or greater to make sure every face in the photo is in focus.  The Nikon f 2.8 zooms focus so quickly and are so sharp that people expect the primes to be even better. Well, optics at 1.4 are much more complicated and as a result the focus is much slower. Trying to photograph children with a prime can be exceedingly difficult. (D4 prime article)

Summary of what I found:
The 58 f/1.4 , like the 24 f /1.4, or the 200 f/ 2.0 has it's own character and look. It has a very tight focus and shallow depth of field for a 58mm. It is also a low light full color monster. By this I mean that in low light it pulls out colors like the 24mm f/1.4 in near pitch black conditions. The optical gymnastics involved in getting all of this into one lens leaves it a little less sharp at 1.4 as some distances than the 85mm is at its optimum distance. At other distances the 58 is very sharp. I will have to nail down what the 58mm's optimum distance is with some time and trial and error.

 I will attempt to illustrate what I found with the below images:

I will start with a comparison of the 58mm and the 85mm at 1.4 on the same subject. Please refer to vigorotaku.com for the full size images. I have posted the full sized original JPG images to that you can pixel peep if you want. (Smugmug converts all NEF's to JPG, so I uploaded the JPG's instead of NEF's so that the original data would hopefully be preserved.) All of these were shot with AF fine tune +20 and portraits were all eye focus, AF-C focus (not focus+release) 51points d9.

Nikon 58mm f/1.4g on D4 at 1.4

Look at the color and out of focus areas. Also the eyelash color is perfect.
Nikon 85mm f/1.4g on D4 at 1.4

Very sharp, but flatter color. (less vibrant colors and less color depth) At the optimum distance for the 85mm f/1.4g
Nikon 58mm f/1.4g on D4 at 1.4 zoomed 100%. Sharpening is 5. It may appear a bit soft, but with some additional sharpening one would be hard pressed to see the difference from the below 85mm shot on even a 10"x14" print.
Nikon 85mm f/1.4g on D4 at 1.4 zoomed 100%. Sharpening is 5

Nikon 58mm f/1.4g on D4 at 1.4

Look at the color and out of focus areas. Also the eyelash color is perfect.
Nikon 85mm f/1.4g on D4 at 1.4

Very sharp, but flatter color. (less vibrant colors and less color depth) At the optimum distance for the 85mm f/1.4g.( One thing to keep in mind when looking at sharpness is, how sharp is your subject? I learned that while doing macro work. When shooting unsharp features on flowers, things aren't going to be sharper in the camera than the actual flower is in reality. (unless you set the sharpening to extra crispy) Also it can be difficult to focus, which is why we use manual for that. In this case, a baby's features are very smooth, so the auto focus tends to go with the eyelashes rather than the skin around the eye, as it does with adults. )
Nikon 58mm f/1.4g on D4 at 1.4 1/15s

(please ignore focus) In pitch black conditions. A test photo with the iphone was solid black. There is light from a clock and another behind camera. Ignore the focus, this one is about vibrant color in the darkness.

Nikon 50mm f/1.4g on D4 at 1.4 1/10s

(please ignore focus) Pitch black conditions. 1/10s vs 1/15s in order to get enough light.

Nikon 58mm f/1.4g on D4 at 1.4 1/40s
Nikon 50mm f/1.4g on D4 at 1.4 1/25s

Again, less color depth.
 Portraits:(Keep in mind - he's a kid and doesn't stay still for long. This is all autofocus.)
Nikon 58mm f/1.4g on D4 at 1.4

Head on, left eye focus

Nikon 58mm f/1.4g on D4 at 1.4

3/4, close eye focus

Nikon 58mm f/1.4g on D4 at 1.4

Profile, close eye focus, Christmas tree in the background. 4 feet away.


 Night shots:


Nikon 58mm f/1.4g on D4 at 1.4

Pitch black, side light from Christmas lights.

Nikon 58mm f/1.4g on D4 at 1.4

Red Christmas lights. Focusing and getting anything with red ambient light can be incredibly difficult.

Nikon 58mm f/1.4g on D4 at 2.2

I shot this at 2.2 to get the lights and a little more depth of field. Look at the Christmas lights for the amount of halo, etc.

Nikon 58mm f/1.4g on D4 at 2.2

Nikon 58mm f/1.4g on D4 at 1.4

Nikon 58mm f/1.4g on D4 at 1.4

Look at the detail on the branch as well as the lights in the background.


Nikon 58mm f/1.4g on D4 at 1.4 zoomed 100 percent

Look at the detail on the branch as well as the lights in the background. Look at the lack of color aberration on the background lights! (and the back lighting of the branch from the lights)


Additional focus discussion:

To illustrate the focus on the 58mm f/1.4g I have an additional shot, zoomed in to 100 percent.
Nikon 58mm f/1.4g on D4 at 1.4 AF fine tune off. Camera Focus point is on the red strip and center of the frame.

Nikon 58mm f/1.4g on D4 at 1.4 AF fine tune plus 20. Camera Focus point  is on the red strip and center of the frame.

If you look carefully, from the above photos you can see that the Autofocus is pretty much spot on without correction and is shifted to the rear in the plus 20 photo. I added these photos to illustrate what the autofocus fine tune adjustment looks like on a different target. In this case I would use AF fine tune off. I can do that easily by setting my fcn button on the front of the camera to pull up the first item on my menu, which is AF Fine tune. This way I can turn on and off AF fine tune quickly and easily when I need to. I do the same with the fast 24, 85, and 200 primes as well with different settings. One can always go to Live view and zoom to 100 percent, or 200 percent if your eyes are like mine, and manually focus to nail the focus. That really isn't possible with the kids though. ;)

I know that buying a lens can be a difficult decision, especially with all of the advice out there.

I hope that this helps.


One last note:  The 58mm f/1.4g is significantly lighter than the 24 or the 85. I wish it was heavier so that it balanced better on the D4 adding more stability to my shots.


Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to review this lens:

http://www.henrysnote.com/2013/11/nikon-af-s-nikkor-58mm-14g-review.html
http://www.dpreview.com/news/2013/11/13/lens-reviews-update-test-data-for-the-nikon-58mm-f-1-4g
http://neilvn.com/tangents/review-nikon-58mm-f1-4g-lens/
http://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2013/11/nikon-58mm-f1-4-is-hopefully-not-about-the-numbers
http://www.popphoto.com/gear/2013/10/new-gear-nikon-58mm-nikkor-f14g-full-frame-prime-lens
http://www.dxomark.com/Reviews/Nikon-AF-S-Nikkor-58mm-f1.4-G-lens-review-Premium-performer
http://www.cameralabs.com/reviews/Nikon_Nikkor_AF-S_58mm_f1-4G/
http://www.dpreview.com/lensreviews/nikon-58mm-f1-4g
http://photographylife.com/reviews/nikon-58mm-f1-4g

I watched:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brNwWxZVdE4
and I would have to agree, the 58mm f/1.4g picks up more light than the 85mm f/1.4g. I will have to do a comparison with the 200mm f/2.0. ;)

Some notes on Focusing primes in the 1.4, 1.2 range and focus issues
http://diglloyd.com/articles/Focus/FocusShift.html
Main page:
http://diglloyd.com/articles/Focus/focus-accuracy.html