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Thread: D800E with 24-120: VR or high shutter...?

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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    D800E with 24-120: VR or high shutter...?

    I've noticed that when this lens is good it is really pretty good, but that there are a disappointing (about 1/2 or more) proportion of longer (70mm and up) shots where the results are possibly useable but not quite as sharp as you know they can be.

    My shooting method has varied. Always with VR on (normal not active) but with the auto ISO setup at either regular, fast or faster settings. I began to suspect that the VR on this is not as good as for example the 70-200VRII which is almost always super sharp,

    Did a bunch of quick shots in very real world conditions today, mostly just jpeg to make it quicker.

    Method: choose a scene (some far, some middle some distant) and with the camera set to manual and the lens to 120mm and f5.6. Let the ISO fluctuate to get exposure right. Auto focus on the sort of scene elements that won't get tricked then switch to MF. Take ten frames at 1/125th with VR on and ten frames with VR off and 1/500th.

    1/500th is two stops over focal length whereas the claim for the VRII in this lens is that it can give you 'up to four stops' improvement, which would be equivalent to shooting a frame at 1/125th and getting the stability of 1/2000th.

    I don't think so.

    The shots at 1/500th with no VR were not all perfect but they were all between usable wonderful. Whereas almost none of the shots at 1/125th and VR on were wonderful and by no means all were useable.

    I alternated sets: some VR on first sequence, some no VR first. I shot some with the camera kept to the eye, some with the camera resting by my side between frames. Some were pointed upwards and some straight ahead. etc etc etc. And I think I have proved that the VR is not as useful by any means as the use of a simple high shutter speed.

    Next test will be a hybrid: try VR on with a shutter speed of one stop better than 1/f and compare to 2 stops better with no VR.

    I have long suspected that some VR systems turn a four or five pixel motion blur into a one pixel blur, but also turn a no-pixel blur into a one pixel blur. That doesn't seem to be the case with the 70-200, which also has VRII, but I do expect to find that the best way of getting optimal results on the E with the 24-120 will be either tripod (in which case I'd likely be using a good prime) or to use two to three stops of shutter speed better than 1/f.

    I will report back! And would love to hear if anyone else has an opinion or experience here.

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    Re: D800E with 24-120: VR or high shutter...?

    tim, very interesting.
    im waiting for your next report. 24/70 and 105vr or 24/120vr and 85 1.8 is a difficult decision for me, and key is how far in IQ is the 24/120vr to the 24/70.

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    Re: D800E with 24-120: VR or high shutter...?

    Tim, don"t quote me just yet, but I recall reading/hearing somewheres that with certain VR lenses while shooting with VR on while using shutter speeds that are greatly above the reciprocal of the focal length used, has in some cases caused degradation of the image vs. not using VR at all ( but using the same camera/lens settings while mounted on a tripod). For some reason it only applied to certain VR lenses. Additionally, for mid range zooms, unless I am strictly hand holding or using a monopod, I almost never use VR in conjunction with a tripod..no matter what the VR setting is set to or Nikon says about that particular lens. I personally have found a bit too much variability from image to image.

    As useful and wonderful as VR is, I've also found at times, I simply prefer it to be off, unless it's going to be a distinct advantage. I've often seen one too many usual image anomalies that I didn't have an explanation for. In many of these circumstances, I've either hand held or used a monopod and fired bursts with VR off..which in many cases provided much more satisfactory results. Again it all depended on the shooting circumstance.

    Dave (D&A)

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    Senior Member Joe Colson's Avatar
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    Re: D800E with 24-120: VR or high shutter...?

    Quote Originally Posted by gustavo View Post
    tim, very interesting.
    im waiting for your next report. 24/70 and 105vr or 24/120vr and 85 1.8 is a difficult decision for me, and key is how far in IQ is the 24/120vr to the 24/70.
    If you're pondering the choice between the 24-70mm f/2.8 and 24-120mm VR lenses, ponder no more. The 24-70mm will win, hands down. I've owned the 24-70mm and the 24-120mm VR (and the 105mm VR Macro), using them with a D3s and D700. The 24-120mm VR simply is not in the same class with respect to image quality as the 24-70mm, IMHO. I always shot tripod-mounted with VR off, and like Tim, have had more success with the 70-200mm VRII handheld than any other Nikon VR lens. I don't have a D800 (yet) but will certainly opt for the 24-70mm once the camera body is in my hands.

    If you are considering primes, take a look at some of the Zeiss primes while you're at it. Manual focus, but razor sharp.

    Joe
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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: D800E with 24-120: VR or high shutter...?

    Joe, I've never had the 24-70 but there are plenty of people around who were unimpressed with the 24-120 on previous cameras but find it surprisingly good on the 800s, whilst feeling a bit let down by the 24-70.

    The only clear guide will be someone who has done good tests on both lenses on the d800/e but I personally think the 24-120 does a pretty good job, often really very sharp, and when I get to the bottom of the VR issues, I will I think get a very good hit rate with it!

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    Senior Member Joe Colson's Avatar
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    Re: D800E with 24-120: VR or high shutter...?

    Quote Originally Posted by tashley View Post
    Joe, I've never had the 24-70 but there are plenty of people around who were unimpressed with the 24-120 on previous cameras but find it surprisingly good on the 800s...
    That surprises me. Perhaps I had a bad copy of the 24-120mm VR. With Nikon's mass produced lenses, it's not unusual to have a high degree of variability.

    Quote Originally Posted by tashley View Post
    The only clear guide will be someone who has done good tests on both lenses on the d800/e...
    I agree. My experience with the 24-120mm was poor. I'll keep my powder dry until the tests are done. In the meantime, I'm going to use 2-3 primes (Zeiss and Nikon).

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    Re: D800E with 24-120: VR or high shutter...?

    To add to this conversation.....I too am one who was unimpressed with the performance of the 24-120 f4 VR lens on the D700 and D3s...yet have been surprised at the # of individuals who say the performance of this lens is somehow improved when used on the D800. What accounts for this is a mystery to me. As Joe has expressed, on the D700/D3s, the 24-70 f2.8 is far superior..assuming one has a goiod sample. Apparently there is a fair amount of variability in samples of this lens. I seen this 1st hand.

    What I've taken away so far is apparently some lenses that have performed better on the D700/D3s haven't always performed at the same level when used on the D800...yet on the other hand, there appears to be a handfull of lenses that may actually perform at a higher level on the D800 when compared to their use on a lower MP full frame body. Additional testing and investigation into all these observations will need to be evaluated in the coming months.

    The issue with certain Zeiss primes on the D800 isn't their resolution/sharpness performance across the frame, but somewhat excessive CA, something Nikon seems to have a slightly better handle on controlling it. Of course it's on a case by case (lens by lens) basis.

    Dave (D&A)

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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: D800E with 24-120: VR or high shutter...?

    Quote Originally Posted by D&A View Post
    To add to this conversation.....I too am one who was unimpressed with the performance of the 24-120 f4 VR lens on the D700 and D3s...yet have been surprised at the # of individuals who say the performance of this lens is somehow improved when used on the D800. What accounts for this is a mystery to me. As Joe has expressed, on the D700/D3s, the 24-70 f2.8 is far superior..assuming one has a goiod sample. Apparently there is a fair amount of variability in samples of this lens. I seen this 1st hand.

    What I've taken away so far is apparently some lenses that have performed better on the D700/D3s haven't always performed at the same level when used on the D800...yet on the other hand, there appears to be a handfull of lenses that may actually perform at a higher level on the D800 when compared to their use on a lower MP full frame body. Additional testing and investigation into all these observations will need to be evaluated in the coming months.

    The issue with certain Zeiss primes on the D800 isn't their resolution/sharpness performance across the frame, but somewhat excessive CA, something Nikon seems to have a slightly better handle on controlling it. Of course it's on a case by case (lens by lens) basis.

    Dave (D&A)
    Yup I agree: the 100mm makro planar f2 has more fringing than Tina Turner's hairstyle.

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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: D800E with 24-120: VR or high shutter...?

    Right, I have been banging off occasional tests for days now and trying to narrow down what it is that has me doubting and testing and I sort of think I've almost got it.

    Preliminary findings...

    The less than perfect results I've been getting, followed by the tests I've done imply that:

    (and all these apply to just the 120mm end of the zoom, I haven't tested all variable at all focal lengths)

    Don't use 'Active' under normal conditions. I knew I shouldn't but thought I'd try it to see if there was any improvement and actually it makes things worse.

    For shots at or over 1/500th don't use VR at all

    For shots at closer range up to say about 3-5 metres, 1/125th plus VR gives about the same results as 1/500th without and beats 1/250th without. So the value of VR here is about two stops. In any event you can't shoot with absolute 100% reliability at 1/125th with OR with 1/500th without. It's as close about 85% reliable though, especially at 50% on screen.

    In summary here, to be really sure of getting it right, go for a shutter speed of 2 stops of focal length PLUS VR (e.g. for a 120mm focal length go for a 250th shutter speed PLUS VR) or three and a half to four stops of focal length (e.g. for a 120mm focal length go for 1/750th or 1/1000th) without VR but you can lose a stop of shutter speed to either of those without impacting things very much.

    At longer focal subject distances it is harder to work out what is going on: AF seems a touch less accurate at distance (contrast tends to be lower here I suspect) but the bigger factor is that camera movement seems a little magnified. So to be 100% sure I would use LV to focus, on a tripod, with MUP, at 1/500th. However, given that this is really a convenience lens and not so likely to be used with a tripod, I would make very sure I was using centre point AF and choosing an unambiguous part of the subject to focus on. For example, a strong pattern where the focus point is surrounded by planar subject by at least one times its width in each direction beyond its boundary. Then I would make sure I was using at least a 500th without VR and preferably at least 1/250th (but no more than 1/500th) with VR.

    The good news is that on centre even at f5.6 and F8 when properly focussed and stabilised, the lens is pretty darned good. At F8 and assuming a print density of 200DPI or higher, you can even just about get sharp enough edges for a good print.

    In fact, when I set this lens to 100MM and shot it against the Zeiss 100 F2 Makro Planar at distance and at F5.6 and then viewed the results at 50% (so equivalent to a 200dpi print) the sharpness was not quite as good as the Zeiss, and neither was the micro contrast, but the overall effect was same ballpark on centre with the added benefit that the CA and fringing is dealt with for you, whereas as with the Zeiss, even at this aperture, it is still a real problem.

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    Senior Member Joe Colson's Avatar
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    Re: D800E with 24-120: VR or high shutter...?

    Quote Originally Posted by tashley View Post
    Don't use 'Active' under normal conditions. I knew I shouldn't but thought I'd try it to see if there was any improvement and actually it makes things worse.

    For shots at or over 1/500th don't use VR at all

    For shots at closer range up to say about 3-5 metres, 1/125th plus VR gives about the same results as 1/500th without and beats 1/250th without. So the value of VR here is about two stops. In any event you can't shoot with absolute 100% reliability at 1/125th with OR with 1/500th without. It's as close about 85% reliable though, especially at 50% on screen.

    In summary here, to be really sure of getting it right, go for a shutter speed of 2 stops of focal length PLUS VR (e.g. for a 120mm focal length go for a 250th shutter speed PLUS VR) or three and a half to four stops of focal length (e.g. for a 120mm focal length go for 1/750th or 1/1000th) without VR but you can lose a stop of shutter speed to either of those without impacting things very much.

    At longer focal subject distances it is harder to work out what is going on: AF seems a touch less accurate at distance (contrast tends to be lower here I suspect) but the bigger factor is that camera movement seems a little magnified. So to be 100% sure I would use LV to focus, on a tripod, with MUP, at 1/500th. However, given that this is really a convenience lens and not so likely to be used with a tripod, I would make very sure I was using centre point AF and choosing an unambiguous part of the subject to focus on. For example, a strong pattern where the focus point is surrounded by planar subject by at least one times its width in each direction beyond its boundary. Then I would make sure I was using at least a 500th without VR and preferably at least 1/250th (but no more than 1/500th) with VR.
    Excellent advice Tim. Nikon should simply print this guidance and include it with each copy of the lens.

    Quote Originally Posted by tashley View Post
    In fact, when I set this lens to 100MM and shot it against the Zeiss 100 F2 Makro Planar at distance and at F5.6 and then viewed the results at 50% (so equivalent to a 200dpi print) the sharpness was not quite as good as the Zeiss, and neither was the micro contrast, but the overall effect was same ballpark on centre with the added benefit that the CA and fringing is dealt with for you, whereas as with the Zeiss, even at this aperture, it is still a real problem.
    Having just ordered the Zeiss 100mm f/2 Makro Planar, I'm disappointed to hear this.

    But B&H accepts returns, so maybe it'll go back. Perhaps the Nikon 105mm VR instead (or the Nikon 85mm).

    Joe
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    Re: D800E with 24-120: VR or high shutter...?

    Tim, your observations regarding use of VR along with high shutter speeds of 1/500 seems to correlate what I've heard from others...especially in mid-range telephoto lenses....that simply it more often causes degredation and lowering of image quality than actually helping. This often is accentuated if using a tripod. Not sure if it has to do with the occilation or frequency of VR combined with the speed of the shutter in these circumstances or something entirely different. The exception to this generalized observation seems to be with the long supertelephoto's. Excellent tests...thanks!

    Dave (D&A)

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    Re: D800E with 24-120: VR or high shutter...?

    In the Old days with Canon be it on tripod or monopod I always turned IS off. I always got far better results. I'm really not that big a fan on VR and IS myself but that's me and usually I have support with me. I can see the value though on a walk around lens but I do remember one Of the canon tech guys explaining when supported take off the IS. Sounds like nothing has changed.
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    D800E with 24-120: VR or high shutter...?


    Thom Hogan has this 'tutorial' on the use of VR:

    Nikon VR explained

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    Re: D800E with 24-120: VR or high shutter...?

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Colson View Post
    That surprises me. Perhaps I had a bad copy of the 24-120mm VR. With Nikon's mass produced lenses, it's not unusual to have a high degree of variability.



    I agree. My experience with the 24-120mm was poor. I'll keep my powder dry until the tests are done. In the meantime, I'm going to use 2-3 primes (Zeiss and Nikon).

    Joe
    Note there are three versions of the 24-120, and two versions have VR -- one is variable aperture and the latest is fixed f4 aperture. It's the fixed f4 aperture that is pretty decent across the range. Not perfect, not as good as a prime, but definitely decent. The variable aperture versions have a poor rep.
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    Re: D800E with 24-120: VR or high shutter...?

    Quote Originally Posted by Steen View Post
    Thom Hogan has this 'tutorial' on the use of VR:

    Nikon VR explained
    Steen, excellent link and explanations, thanks for sharing it!
    Jack
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    Re: D800E with 24-120: VR or high shutter...?

    Quote Originally Posted by Steen View Post
    Thom Hogan has this 'tutorial' on the use of VR:

    Nikon VR explained
    Thanks Steen! I hadn't seen his tutuoral in quiet some time but now that I had a quick look, I beleive it was one of the sources I was thinking of when I mentioned in my post above of occuring issues of using VR combined with use of high shutter speeds. Specifically, where using a shutter speed of 1/500 or greater along with "normal" VR, causes issues with image degredation. He cites of course many other useful tips and precautions regarding VR use and settings.

    Dave (D&A)

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: D800E with 24-120: VR or high shutter...?

    I'll take a read and get up to Nikons VR stuff. Looking at my bag though I don't have a VR lens YET. Heck that will change trust me. LOL
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: D800E with 24-120: VR or high shutter...?

    Tim, excellent test and advice. Thank you. so apparently the 24-120f/4 vr could be a descent alternative to the 24-70 to cover the all-around midrange zoom.

    About the Zeiss lenses performance with the d800: do you know if the Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 Distagon T* ZE has the same problem that you have found in the 100 Makro Planar?

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    Senior Member Joe Colson's Avatar
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    Re: D800E with 24-120: VR or high shutter...?

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    Looking at my bag though I don't have a VR lens YET. Heck that will change trust me. LOL
    Guy,

    The 70-200mm VR II is one of the sharpest zooms I've ever used. I've owned a couple of them over the years and they've been razor sharp and very reliable over the full zoom range. It needs a spot in your bag.

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    Re: D800E with 24-120: VR or high shutter...?

    Its that or the 200 F2
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    Re: D800E with 24-120: VR or high shutter...?

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    Its that or the 200 F2
    The 200mm f/2 is a very specialized lens. Some call it the "volleyball lens" because it's ideal for shooting indoor sports in gymnasiums. I much prefer the flexibility of the 70-200mm VR II. YMMV.
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    Re: D800E with 24-120: VR or high shutter...?

    Some additional info that people might find useful. In summary it more or less shows that the main benefits of the 70-200 F2.8 over the 24-120 F4 (in their overlapping ranges) are less the optics and the AF (at least for static subjects!) than the VR.

    I wasn't surprised by these tests because I've been shooting a lot with the 24-120 but some people might want to look twice!

    These were ALL at f5.6 1/500th on a tripod with 3 second delay, VR off, LV focus. I tried to match the focal length in the shots of the two lenses at 70mm, 100mm and 120mm and then I chucked in a Zeiss Makro Planar 100mm shot with the same other parameters as a reference. All use sharpening at my standard deconvolution setting of 60/0.7/70/20 in LR4.1

    70mm first: all pairs show the 70-200 then the 24-120.







    next 120mm:



    Last edited by tashley; 7th May 2012 at 10:11.

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    Re: D800E with 24-120: VR or high shutter...?

    Now for the 100mm shots, first the Makro Planar, then the 70-200, then the 24-120..










    All files at Tim Ashley Photography | D800 comparison files | _DSC0990

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    Re: D800E with 24-120: VR or high shutter...?

    Now finally a comparative VR test which is entirely representative of what I have found:

    All at F8, handheld, VR on, AF.

    First at 1/125th the 70-200 followed by the 24-120:





    Now at 1/250th the 70-200 followed by the 24-120:





    So that's a fairly comprehensive set of shots that show good examples of what I am finding with these lenses in a more general sense...

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    Senior Member BSEH's Avatar
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    Re: D800E with 24-120: VR or high shutter...?

    Quote Originally Posted by tashley View Post
    J....... find it surprisingly good on the 800s, whilst feeling a bit let down by the 24-70.
    24-70 is my only AF prof lens, please don't tell me it don't preform on the D800

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    Re: D800E with 24-120: VR or high shutter...?

    Tim,

    Thanks for these test shots. It's difficult to determine from the Web JPEGs, but I seem to see more micro-contrast in the 70-200mm images (texture in the stone surface) than in the 24-120mm shots. And the Zeiss image seems to show yet more micro-contrast. Do you see that looking at the full-size images on a large screen?

    Having said that, the 24-120mm seems to hold its own against its rivals.

    Joe
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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: D800E with 24-120: VR or high shutter...?

    Quote Originally Posted by BSEH View Post
    24-70 is my only AF prof lens, please don't tell me it don't preform on the D800
    My friend, I cannot say! I don't have one but I have heard other people saying it... try Lensrentals.com and see if they have anything to say about it...


    EDIT: I checked it out and look at this page, which is FULL of REALLY useful information, and information which totally bears out my observation of the 24mm PC-E, the 24-120, the 70-200 and the Makro Planar 100. It also shows that with a good lens (the best: the Makro Planar) the resolution improvement of the 800E over the 800 is truly significant.

    I don't have an Imatest rig - not interested really - but it is good to know that carefully looking at real-world results bears out the 'official' numbers!

    http://www.lensrentals.com/blog/?p=6175

    read and enjoy!
    Last edited by tashley; 7th May 2012 at 11:42.
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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: D800E with 24-120: VR or high shutter...?

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Colson View Post
    Tim,

    Thanks for these test shots. It's difficult to determine from the Web JPEGs, but I seem to see more micro-contrast in the 70-200mm images (texture in the stone surface) than in the 24-120mm shots. And the Zeiss image seems to show yet more micro-contrast. Do you see that looking at the full-size images on a large screen?

    Having said that, the 24-120mm seems to hold its own against its rivals.

    Joe
    You're right Joe, the 100 Makro has the best sharpness and micro contrast but fringing is a problem. The 70-200 is almost as good but not quite. The 24-120 is surprisingly good and at 50% view or in a 200dpi print you'd have to be a connuoiseur to see the difference on centre, though the edges are sharper on the two costlier lenses.

    My thinking is this: once you've bottomed out the performance parameters and limitations of the 24-120 it is a very very viable walk around and travel lens. If you have set a shot up and had time to prepare, take a prime, tripod, the whole thing, but the 24-120 gives you good shots if you imagine that your D800 is a 20mp camera (i.e. downres) and great shots if you work within its zones of high competence.

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: D800E with 24-120: VR or high shutter...?

    Quote Originally Posted by tashley View Post
    Now finally a comparative VR test which is entirely representative of what I have found:

    All at F8, handheld, VR on, AF.

    First at 1/125th the 70-200 followed by the 24-120:

    SNIP IMAGES


    So that's a fairly comprehensive set of shots that show good examples of what I am finding with these lenses in a more general sense...

    Tim,

    Excellent "real world in-use" comparison of these two lenses at comparable focal length. Thanks for sharing.

    Also subscribe to the philosophy of a walk-around/travel/convenience zoom option and then primes for more serious work.
    Jack
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    Workshop Member ptomsu's Avatar
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    Re: D800E with 24-120: VR or high shutter...?

    Quote Originally Posted by tashley View Post
    camera (i.e. downres) and great shots if you work within its zones of high competence.
    This is exactly the issue I have with all of this - when shooting I simply do not want to care nor have time to really think about all of the limitations and which the high competency zones are. If such becomes the way to work, it is simply NOT for me.

    But maybe this is the real difference to MFD - where you can use all parts of your system just with much less thinking and considerations in order to get stunning results.

    End of the day I do not want to end up in a lens peeper and being limited by my system, just want to be able to take it and shoot and get great results.

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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: D800E with 24-120: VR or high shutter...?

    Quote Originally Posted by ptomsu View Post
    This is exactly the issue I have with all of this - when shooting I simply do not want to care nor have time to really think about all of the limitations and which the high competency zones are. If such becomes the way to work, it is simply NOT for me.

    But maybe this is the real difference to MFD - where you can use all parts of your system just with much less thinking and considerations in order to get stunning results.

    End of the day I do not want to end up in a lens peeper and being limited by my system, just want to be able to take it and shoot and get great results.
    I see it so differently: with the known great lenses on the 800/E you get stunning results without thinking about it and you can do things you just can't with MF, such as stabilised longer zooms with high ISO, at IQ that in most significant respects approaches (and in some areas betters) MF of equivalent resolution. But for when you're feeling lazy or want even more convenience, some of the cheaper and more flexible glass can still give great results if you know how to get there.

    It's two cameras in one. If you don't want to be a peeper, buy the best glass only and you have something that truly competes with (I won't say beats) MF but with less weight on the system and more weight left in your wallet.

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    Workshop Member ptomsu's Avatar
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    Re: D800E with 24-120: VR or high shutter...?

    Quote Originally Posted by tashley View Post
    I see it so differently: with the known great lenses on the 800/E you get stunning results without thinking about it and you can do things you just can't with MF, such as stabilised longer zooms with high ISO, at IQ that in most significant respects approaches (and in some areas betters) MF of equivalent resolution. But for when you're feeling lazy or want even more convenience, some of the cheaper and more flexible glass can still give great results if you know how to get there.

    It's two cameras in one. If you don't want to be a peeper, buy the best glass only and you have something that truly competes with (I won't say beats) MF but with less weight on the system and more weight left in your wallet.
    Tim,

    I will try to buy only the best glass for the D800E, as I do not really want to care about all restrictions and limitations of less great glass.

    Please understand me right, I really appreciate your tests, as they allow me (and others) to identify the best lens solutions for the D800 / D800E.

    Thanks always

    Peter

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    Re: D800E with 24-120: VR or high shutter...?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack View Post
    Tim,

    Excellent "real world in-use" comparison of these two lenses at comparable focal length. Thanks for sharing.

    Also subscribe to the philosophy of a walk-around/travel/convenience zoom option and then primes for more serious work.
    Thanks Jack!

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    Re: D800E with 24-120: VR or high shutter...?

    Quote Originally Posted by ptomsu View Post
    Tim,

    I will try to buy only the best glass for the D800E, as I do not really want to care about all restrictions and limitations of less great glass.

    Please understand me right, I really appreciate your tests, as they allow me (and others) to identify the best lens solutions for the D800 / D800E.

    Thanks always

    Peter
    It's my pleasure, really it is: I find it interesting as well as useful. Please excuse my current unbridled enthusiasm. It'll pass...

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    Re: D800E with 24-120: VR or high shutter...?

    Right, I think this'll be the last one in this series of tests: I had a sense that there was a decentered element in my 24-120 so I shot a reference frame this morning with the 24-100 at F8 1/500th handheld no VR AF against the Zeiss 100 Makro Planar at the same settings. Note that the nominal focal lengths are the same but the Zeiss shoots a little wider, especially after lens corrections are applied, because more of the frame is cropped in the Nikon lens due to more distortion being removed.

    These show to my satisfaction that there is a bit of an issue with the RHS of the Nikon being weaker than the right. I might send it back. But on the plus side, see how across the rest of the frame the Nikon holds up pretty well against what many consider the reference lens for this focal length on the D800/E.

    These are full-sized [email protected] quality JPEGs. Zeiss first then Nikon.

    http://tashley1.zenfolio.com/img/s9/v15/p58341203.jpg

    http://tashley1.zenfolio.com/img/s1/v20/p503229275.jpg

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    Re: D800E with 24-120: VR or high shutter...?

    Quote Originally Posted by tashley View Post
    But on the plus side, see how across the rest of the frame the Nikon holds up pretty well against what many consider the reference lens for this focal length on the D800/E.
    It certainly does Tim. Thanks for the various comparison shots. Nicely done.

    And thanks for the link to the LensRentals.com page. I've rented lenses from them, but hadn't seen that page.

    The last test images reminded me of an occasion when [many years ago] I had dinner with some BT executives at the top of the BT Tower. Revolving restaurant for the evening, with incredible views of London. Quite a treat, but no cameras allowed.

    Joe
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    Re: D800E with 24-120: VR or high shutter...?

    Quote Originally Posted by tashley View Post
    These show to my satisfaction that there is a bit of an issue with the RHS of the Nikon being weaker than the right.
    Tim, I think you had a typo in your statement "above". You said "the RHS of the Nikon being weaker than the right"....I think you may have meant "the RHS being weaker that the LEFT", not right (side)!

    In any case there does appear to be some decentering in the Nikon, but often with wider range mid level zooms, this is not uncommon and it might require testing quite a few samples till a near perfect one is eventaully found. The next sample tested might be far better or possible worse.

    Clearly there is better microcontrast with the Zeiss as shown in most of your test shots posted in this thread. The 70-200 VR looks very good too but that is tgo be expected from this very fine lens. When it comes to the 24-120 f4 VR compared to the Zeiss, we also have to keep in mind we're comparing apples and oranges and the 24-120 f4 VR aquaints itself quite respectfully.

    Very much appreciate your posting these images!

    Dave (D&A)

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: D800E with 24-120: VR or high shutter...?

    FYI, decentering is a real issue with VR/IS/OS design lenses, simply because the stabilizing element group does in fact move to perform the stabilization. In theory, it should perfectly re-center when VR is turned off, but it never does to 100% accuracy. What's interesting -- and especially in the lower price range lenses and I suspect you could see it in the 24-120 VR -- is that cycling the VR on then off a few times can sometimes "fix" the decentering.
    Jack
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    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Re: D800E with 24-120: VR or high shutter...?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack View Post
    FYI, decentering is a real issue with VR/IS/OS design lenses, simply because the stabilizing element group does in fact move to perform the stabilization. In theory, it should perfectly re-center when VR is turned off, but it never does to 100% accuracy. What's interesting -- and especially in the lower price range lenses and I suspect you could see it in the 24-120 VR -- is that cycling the VR on then off a few times can sometimes "fix" the decentering.
    Jack, I've experienced that too on a number of occasions...but unfortunately with mid priced wide range zooms, I've more oftened encountered sample to sample variation with regards to decentering. Sometimes it's on the right side, sometimes on the left....and on occasion I've even encountered the situation where no sample tested had perfect centering and it simply appears the lens as designed is at it's limits when it comes to just how perfect it can get with consistant sharpness across the entire frame.

    Dave (D&A)

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    Re: D800E with 24-120: VR or high shutter...?

    Yes, in the cheaper VR lenses it can be a moving target for sure, and can be decidedly bad on one side regardless of what you do -- it's luck of the draw.
    Jack
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    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: D800E with 24-120: VR or high shutter...?

    Thanks for those suggestions guys, that makes sense... I have run a few more tests and actually I think both things are going on. 'Parking' the VR and then re-starting it or shooting without it can vary the amount of RH blur a little, oftentimes bringing it into the unnoticeable range at 50% even with a demanding target, but never getting it as good as the left.

    I guess this explains why the realisation of it has dawned on my slowly: it requires a very specific sort of target to be evident, is far more noticeable at the longer end of the zoom, and is quite variable depending presumably on the success of the 'parking'. It also seems possibly to be less pronounced if you let the VR settle for a second in which case it will probably be wise to shoot with VR on rather than off when the other circumstances sensibly allow.

    I think I'm not going to send it back... as you point out, what with sample variation in cheaper zooms, especially those with such wide ranges, it might take a lot of time and hassle to get a better one and and for the great majority of the time it's not going to be a problem - particularly now I know how best to work around it.

    Thanks again. Great suggestions!

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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: D800E with 24-120: VR or high shutter...?

    ps one last note for those interested in this lens: it is an absolute pig to manual focus. The focus ring is bad feel and action and worse, as you try to iterate backwards and forwards to peak focus, the image jumps a bit as you change direction. It wasn't designed for MF and I will rarely use it that way, but some people might like to know this!

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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: D800E with 24-120: VR or high shutter...?

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Colson View Post

    The last test images reminded me of an occasion when [many years ago] I had dinner with some BT executives at the top of the BT Tower. Revolving restaurant for the evening, with incredible views of London. Quite a treat, but no cameras allowed.

    Joe
    [email protected]
    I never ate there Joe, and it is no longer a restaurant I believe, but rotating is probably a better visual than culinary experience!

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    Re: D800E with 24-120: VR or high shutter...?

    Tim as you noticed, letting VR settle down whenever possible before firing the shot, can often make a noticable difference. Thats why personally I turn VR off if I know I'm going to take a burst of consecutive shots, such as I often do in low light concert work. Years ago, just after Nikon released it's 1st VR lens, I learned this lesson the hard way by taking a burst of shots of a well know performer with VR on. I was horified to say the least, when later on I noticed the majority of these shots had a jittery slightly blurred look to them...a bit more on one side than the other. I think Nikon has reworked and imporved (internally) the VR mechanism a number of times and this sort of thing is partially minimized. Still letting VR settle down with a half press of the shutter (or focus) button is an important step to follow.

    Dave (D&A)

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