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Thread: Using Manual Focus on a D3

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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Using Manual Focus on a D3

    Hoping that those using the Zeiss ZF lenses on a D3 could share their experience. My primary system is the M8 and I can focus accurately with Noctilux in dark street shooting. The M8 at 640 just doesn t match the D3 so I am considering getting some of the zeiss zf lenses for available light shooting. Thinking the 28/2 ...so how is the manual focus?

  2. #2
    Paul.R.Lindqvist
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    Re: Using Manual Focus on a D3

    Compared to what ? :-)

    Its easy enough, can be a bit tricky to rely only on the VF if you want to nail focus at medium distance wide open with the 28/2. But if you want you can turn on the focus points for manual focus and rely on the focus indicator. I have them turned off though, i dont like how they clutter up the vf.

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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: Using Manual Focus on a D3

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul.R.Lindqvist View Post
    Compared to what ? :-)

    Its easy enough, can be a bit tricky to rely only on the VF if you want to nail focus at medium distance wide open with the 28/2. But if you want you can turn on the focus points for manual focus and rely on the focus indicator. I have them turned off though, i dont like how they clutter up the vf.
    Compared to an M8 would be best....street shooting for me is typically between 8-12 ft and I would be shooting wide open. I don t have any trouble with my M8.. it is just that ISO 640 isn t enough. The issue is the lack of light to focus with the D3. I have heard others complain that the longer lenses 85/1.4 are just too difficult to nail the focus. Results of course vary by individuals eyesight.

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    Re: Using Manual Focus on a D3

    I had no issues hitting dead-on focus with an 80'lux WO on my 1Ds2 (clean screen, focus confirm chip - 1 series needs chip to enable FC system), so I can't see the 85/1.4 and a D3/700 with a clean VF and it's dot & arrows FC system being that much worse/better. The more edge contrast the lens has WO, the more the image tends to 'pop' into focus.

    MF with my 85/1.4 AIS on my D1H & D1X some years with the same arrows and dot focus system worked fine as well.

    I've used a borrowed M8 and M7 with a 50/2 and I wouldn't call the manual focus that much better or worse in low-light vs what you're thinking of.

    The wider lenses, w/o focus confirm are more of challenge due to the lack of magnification. In those cases, I often use a Nikon 17M magnifier modified to fit the 1Ds2 and it does help.

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    Re: Using Manual Focus on a D3

    I find it easier to focus my 58 f1.4 Voigtlander on the D700 than my 50 Lux on the M8. I certainly have more keepers on the Nikon system and I am faster. I know it isn't the D3 but not so different and I am using the regular focus screen.

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    Super Moderator Cindy Flood's Avatar
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    Re: Using Manual Focus on a D3

    It is just as easy for me to manual focus on the D3 and D700 as it is on my M8. I don't use the Nikon's arrows when I am manual focusing, but it is nice to see the dot when focus is achieved. I would recommend the Brightscreen magnifier if you have a problem with the manual focus.
    I seem to remember that you already have the D3, but the D700 might be more suitable for street shooting.

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    Re: Using Manual Focus on a D3

    Quote Originally Posted by glenerrolrd View Post
    Hoping that those using the Zeiss ZF lenses on a D3 could share their experience. My primary system is the M8 and I can focus accurately with Noctilux in dark street shooting. The M8 at 640 just doesn t match the D3 so I am considering getting some of the zeiss zf lenses for available light shooting. Thinking the 28/2 ...so how is the manual focus?
    It isn't a problem - as others have said, just as easy as the M8, and, like Terry, I find I get more keepers with the CV58 on the D3/D700 than the Noctilux on the M8 (and, like you, I didn't have a problem focusing that in the dark).

    . . . . . or you could try a cheap autofocus like the 50 f1.4 nikkor - just out of a sense of adventure of course :-)

    Just this guy you know

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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: Using Manual Focus on a D3

    Thanks for the insight on your experiences...yes I use the D3. I prefer the M8 which I can use without any thinking....I guess after 12K images in last 6 months it should be second nature. I would never change but for a once in a lifetime shooting opportunity that will probably need more than 640. Anybody selling a 28/2 zeiss or the 28 1.4 nikkor? I use the D3 for sports where IMHO its best in class.....normally its too big for the type of street photography I like to do but even with the Noctilux ..the M8 can get challenged in doors.

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    Re: Using Manual Focus on a D3

    Roger,

    I was able to focus accurately with lenses up to 50mm in focal length on the D3. I tried the Brightscreen microprism screen, but found the factory ground glass easier to use. In the D3, the focus confirmation arrows and dot really do work very well.

    The 85 and 100 lenses were very hit and miss for me on manual focus, when shooting quickly or with moving subjects.

    Best,

    Ray

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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: Using Manual Focus on a D3

    Quote Originally Posted by harmsr View Post
    Roger,

    I was able to focus accurately with lenses up to 50mm in focal length on the D3. I tried the Brightscreen microprism screen, but found the factory ground glass easier to use. In the D3, the focus confirmation arrows and dot really do work very well.

    The 85 and 100 lenses were very hit and miss for me on manual focus, when shooting quickly or with moving subjects.

    Best,

    Ray
    Ray I remember you saying this in San Juan. Without getting into the DOF table math..isn t this a function of distance to the subject. For example if I want the foreground subject to represent say 25% of the frame...I am 6-8 ft away with a 28 ..if I am using a 85 I am what 15+ away(forgive me if my exact numbers are off). So the inherent depth of field is neutralized ..isn t it? I do understand though that in actual use the wide angle typically is used to take in a wider FOV and inherently provides a greater depth of field at a given camera to subject distance. The other somewhat confusing aspect is that when focusing on a static subject its much easier to "see" the focus point with a short telephoto than a wide angle. This is why I have always enjoyed the M s for short wide angles and the Rs for 90-180. As always "what works for me" trumps everything else. Thank you for sharing your experience. Roger

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