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Thread: Nikon 14-24 focus shift

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    Nikon 14-24 focus shift

    I just started testing my new 14-24 refurb. Seems fine, although the focus shift issues are real. Most of the time this will be focussed in live view on a tripod, at working aperture, so it's not a big deal. But I'd like the option of using the thing hand held with AF.

    How have owners of this lens calibrated the AF? Focus shift seems different at different focal lengths. I assume there's no perfect solution, but am all ears for a workable one.

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    Re: Nikon 14-24 focus shift

    No solution, but I had same issue using lens for an environmental shoot (D800e) in a small building. Eventually the shift (plus somewhat expected) veiling flare irritated me so much that I recently sold it. Think I'll be moving to the Zeiss 25/2 or less likely, the 21 for any similar shoots and then add a Rok/Sam 14 for the rare time I need to go that wide.

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    Re: Nikon 14-24 focus shift

    I played around a bit and ended up with AF fine-tune set to -10. This gives quite accurate focus at f5.6 and smaller, and is only fractionally off at some focal lengths wide open. I almost never do anything wide open so it's not a big deal.

    So far this lens is monstrously sharp at all focal lengths. Just a hint of field curvature at 24mm, which is essentially gone at f8. And corners are soft wide open, but who cares.

    It's in a different league from the 24-70 that I just sold. That lens always performed better at close distances than far. Not sure if that was a quirk with my copy. At any rate, it was frustrating that my ebay pics looked better than my real work.

    I know to watch for flair with this lens. Interestingly, with the one I rented a couple of weeks ago, I had no issues with veiling flair or ghosts, even though I had some fairly strong backlighting. No direct sun in the frame or shining on the lens though.

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    Re: Nikon 14-24 focus shift

    I had focus shift on mine as well. Again if you use live view its kind of a moot point.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Nikon 14-24 focus shift

    Yeah, I use live view for most of what this lens is for. I just wondered if there were any good tips for the other times.

    After some comparisons, this lens is even sharper than my Schneider, which in spite of some quirks and flaws had been my sharpest wide lens. Actual results from my shoot with the rented copy a couple of weeks ago told a different story. Pics with the nikon were a bit better in the corners, and may have shown slightly more resolution in some cases, but couldn't match the schneider's muscular, almost three dimentional contrast in the fine details. I don't know if this is sample variation or if the Schneider just does better at longer focal distances. My tests today have been a bookshelf from a few feet away.
    Last edited by paulraphael; 14th August 2013 at 06:09.

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    Re: Nikon 14-24 focus shift

    This is why I'd stick with primes such as the Nikon 24mm 1.4G, or the Zeiss Zf.2 21mm/Zf.2 18mm. These are really good lenses.. with the Zeiss edging out the Nikon for less CA wide open and nicer micro contrast.

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    Re: Nikon 14-24 focus shift

    Folks,

    Why do you consider focussing the 14-24mm using Live View a fix for focus shift? How do you know you have not missed focus but the error is masked by depth of field at the aperture you stopped down to?

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    Re: Nikon 14-24 focus shift

    Quote Originally Posted by johnnygoesdigital View Post
    This is why I'd stick with primes such as the Nikon 24mm 1.4G, or the Zeiss Zf.2 21mm/Zf.2 18mm.
    If Zeiss made an18 that was sharper in the corners it would probably be my first choice.

    Quote Originally Posted by AreBee View Post
    Folks,

    Why do you consider focussing the 14-24mm using Live View a fix for focus shift? How do you know you have not missed focus but the error is masked by depth of field at the aperture you stopped down to?
    Unless things are really dark or featureless, you can pretty eaisily get things into focus with LV at 100%. Even on the d800's noisy screen. I focus at f16 all day long.

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    Re: Nikon 14-24 focus shift

    Paul,

    Quote Originally Posted by paulraphael View Post
    Unless things are really dark or featureless, you can pretty eaisily get things into focus with LV at 100%. Even on the d800's noisy screen. I focus at f16 all day long.
    I think you missed my point. Regardless of the percentage magnification at which an image is reviewed, DOF at f/16 will return an image on the camera rear LCD in focus. That does not necessarily mean that the camera acquired focus correctly - DOF would mask an error. In such an event peak sharpness/contrast would not occur at the location intended by the photographer. Hence my question.

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    Re: Nikon 14-24 focus shift

    I understand your question. I find that the increased depth of field does not in fact hide the focal plane, even if it makes finding it more difficult.

    However, if you really couldn't tell exactly what plane was in focus, because things closer and farther looked so sharp—then what's the trouble? If it looks focussed at 100% pixel view, it's going to look focussed in a print.

    For most of my work I have to stop down quite a bit for depth of field anyway. Choosing a focal plane isn't so much about picking the most important object in the image as about finding best overall compromise.

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    Re: Nikon 14-24 focus shift

    Quote Originally Posted by AreBee View Post
    Paul,
    I think you missed my point. Regardless of the percentage magnification at which an image is reviewed, DOF at f/16 will return an image on the camera rear LCD in focus. That does not necessarily mean that the camera acquired focus correctly - DOF would mask an error. In such an event peak sharpness/contrast would not occur at the location intended by the photographer. Hence my question.
    Well couldn't you just focus using a wider aperture first and then stop down if you really wanted to be sure?

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    Re: Nikon 14-24 focus shift

    Just posted a update on the Leica 19mm R lens in the review section. Might be worth a peak
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Nikon 14-24 focus shift

    The Leica 19 mm R lens (2nd version) is amazing - I used it on a Canon 1DMkIV some 3 years ago, with fabulous results, using an adapter (had to file down the protective collar; what a job...). What fascinates me is that in this age of ultra-sophisticated 36MP Nikon cameras, one still needs to resort to using 20-30 year old adapted Leica lenses, manually focused and with no automatic aperture, and brutalise the lenses with a file, in order to fully utilise the resolution of the sensor. I've been watching the Nikon section for some time and it almost amuses me, since this is all like a replay of what I did 3 years ago... Leica R lenses on a top end Canon body. I gave up eventually - focusing these lenses manually, using the AF focusing screen was not that easy - sold the lot and bought an S2 and never looked back. But I am wondering if Canon and Nikon (or Sigma) ever get to the stunning optical quality offered by these old Leica lenses, with autofocus and auto-aperture. If and when they do, I may become tempted again. But something tells me that in this age of mass scale production, plastic components and factories in Vietnam, this is not going to happen soon.

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    Re: Nikon 14-24 focus shift

    By amazing, are you talking about corner to corner sharpness, or out of focus rendering? I care about the former, not the latter. The lenses I have now look fine in the out of focus areas ... lenses that look better don't tempt me because that's not central to what I do.

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    Re: Nikon 14-24 focus shift

    The Zeiss Zf.2 15mm might be a contender...

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    Re: Nikon 14-24 focus shift

    Quote Originally Posted by paulraphael View Post
    By amazing, are you talking about corner to corner sharpness, or out of focus rendering? I care about the former, not the latter. The lenses I have now look fine in the out of focus areas ... lenses that look better don't tempt me because that's not central to what I do.
    Uniform sharpness, clean crisp colours, barely detectable distortion, strong resistance to flare. Can't comment on "corner to corner" from an FF perspective, since the Canon 1D MkIV that I was using the lens on was a 1.3x crop sensor machine (APS-H) and I was using this 19mm lens as the FF equivalent of a 24mm lens, which is my favourite focal length. But given the crop of my Canon, I wouldn't have been affected by any issues in the extreme corners of a full frame coverage, if there had been any.

    Last edited by baudolino; 15th August 2013 at 08:32.

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    Re: Nikon 14-24 focus shift

    The 14-24 is performing really well. For serious use it's all tripod/live view. For playing around I've made the focus shift unnoticeable by tweaking the af fine-tune. If I needed an ultrawide for walking around the leica or the zeiss would be tempting. But not so much for what I'm doing.

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    Re: Nikon 14-24 focus shift

    Trevor,

    Quote Originally Posted by Trevor Whitaker View Post
    Well couldn't you just focus using a wider aperture first and then stop down if you really wanted to be sure?
    Yes, but the act of stopping down shifts the plane of focus!

    Paul,

    Quote Originally Posted by paulraphael View Post
    For playing around I've made the focus shift unnoticeable by tweaking the af fine-tune.
    Is the shift in focus from stopping down the same if you focus on a nearby feature compared to a feature at, say, infinity?

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    Re: Nikon 14-24 focus shift

    Quote Originally Posted by AreBee View Post
    s the shift in focus from stopping down the same if you focus on a nearby feature compared to a feature at, say, infinity?
    Good question. I just played with that a bit. Focusing close (around 1M) there's almost no focus shift. At infinity, there's a bit of shift at the wide end and none at the long end. Only the worst examples would be visible in a medium sized print. I need to spend a bit more time getting to know this thing.

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    Re: Nikon 14-24 focus shift

    Quote Originally Posted by paulraphael View Post
    The 14-24 is performing really well. For serious use it's all tripod/live view. For playing around I've made the focus shift unnoticeable by tweaking the af fine-tune. If I needed an ultrawide for walking around the leica or the zeiss would be tempting. But not so much for what I'm doing.
    I have both a 14-24 and ZF.2 18. If carry gear around a non-trivial amount I'll take the Zeiss. If I'm not walking far or shoot out of the back of my car I'll bring the Nikon or both. I'm seriously considering the Fotodiox filter kit for NDs and a polarizer. And yes, polarizers are useful even on such wide lenses. If it's anything I'd wish it's that Nikon redesigns the 14-24 to have a filter slot...

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    Re: Nikon 14-24 focus shift

    I just took a look at my 14-24 since I had never noticed a focus shift. I have it AF tuned for f/5.6, and it has always behaved very predictably to me. It does seem to shift ever so slightly at f/2.8 from 14-16mm. But the lens also softens slightly, so it's hard to tell what's what. At 18-24 I see no focus shift at all. I also can't tell f/2.8, f/4, and f/5.6 apart at center - they look identical to me, at 100% with my glasses on, critically pixel peeping. At 16mm I can tell a difference when flipping between f/2.8 and f/4 test shots, but it's a very very slight difference. It's a lot more obvious at 14mm. At 14mm I can also tell the focal plane shifts between f/2.8 and f/4, ever so slightly.

    This was shooting with a LensAlign Mk2 at a close enough distance to fill the center spot indicator in the viewfinder, about 5-10 feet. I think it's reasonably representative for how I use it as well. I very rarely shoot wider than 18-20 and then only on even rarer occasions wider than 16. For non-people shots it's exclusively used stopped down to f/5.6 or further as DoF mandates. I never use live view with this lens, but for static subjects will make a best guess and make adjustments from there. Sometimes for long exposures that makes this prohibitive I'll crank up the ISO for shorter test exposure for DoF and focal adjustments, then make the long exposure at ISO 100.

    Basically, within my uses it just works... I never have to consider focus shifts. Not a problem for me at all.

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    Re: Nikon 14-24 focus shift

    I have the first version of the Fotodiox filter adapter and it's lives on my 14-24. I have the fiddly metal screw on lens cap as it's V1. Having a polarizer for my interior work has been invaluable.

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    Re: Nikon 14-24 focus shift

    I use the Fotodiox filter adapter as well.

    Can I ask a silly question, how do I check if my 14-24 has focus shift issues?

    It's my most used lens.

    W

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    Re: Nikon 14-24 focus shift

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    Just posted a update on the Leica 19mm R lens in the review section.
    19mm is not 14mm... not even close.

    - Leigh

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    Re: Nikon 14-24 focus shift

    Rethmeier, here's a brief but good read on the subject:

    diglloyd - Focus - Focus Shift and Spherical Aberration

    If you're using Live View, as Guy has stated, you may not ever come across it as you're then confirming focus on the desired point. I think focus shift with the 14-24 is a given, not some sample variation. You could see for yourself by using the viewfinder and autofocus at aperture f/2.8 on a subject relatively close and do the same @ f/8. With this and most affected lenses the focus will shift forward at f/8. In my interior work I always use live view to focus and typically stick to f/11 and it isn't an issue this way, which might explain why you may not have found it to be a problem in your work.
    Last edited by danielmoore; 22nd August 2013 at 22:44.

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    Re: Nikon 14-24 focus shift

    Quote Originally Posted by Leigh View Post
    19mm is not 14mm... not even close.

    - Leigh
    No its not 14 nor is it 24mm but what it is, is what the 14-24 can't do is render a much nicer look. I have had everything here except the Zeiss 15 and nothing under 24mm can render a look like the 19mm. Depends on what your after and your needs obviously but going through every Zeiss and every Nikkor under 24mm I'm sticking with the 19mm and build around it. Also I'm not a zoom guy and that explains some of this.

    The 14-24 is a nice lens but also has some downsides as well, heavy, big, focus shift and won't take filters. For a lot of folks its not practical to there needs.
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    Re: Nikon 14-24 focus shift

    Quote Originally Posted by danielmoore View Post
    Rethmeier, here's a brief but good read on the subject:

    diglloyd - Focus - Focus Shift and Spherical Aberration

    If you're using Live View, as Guy has stated, you may not ever come across it as you're then confirming focus on the desired point. I think focus shift with the 14-24 is a given, not some sample variation. You could see for yourself by using the viewfinder and autofocus at aperture f/2.8 on a subject relatively close and do the same @ f/8. With this and most affected lenses the focus will shift forward at f/8. In my interior work I always use live view to focus and typically stick to f/11 and it isn't an issue this way, which might explain why you may not have found it to be a problem in your work.
    I always shoot at F10 and don't use Live view , but I'll give it a try antway.

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    Re: Nikon 14-24 focus shift

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    No its not 14 nor is it 24mm but what it is, is what the 14-24 can't do is render a much nicer look. I have had everything here except the Zeiss 15 and nothing under 24mm can render a look like the 19mm. Depends on what your after and your needs obviously but going through every Zeiss and every Nikkor under 24mm I'm sticking with the 19mm and build around it. Also I'm not a zoom guy and that explains some of this.

    The 14-24 is a nice lens but also has some downsides as well, heavy, big, focus shift and won't take filters. For a lot of folks its not practical to there needs.
    Horses for courses
    It does take filters. I use a polariser on it all the time when I shoot interiors.

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    Re: Nikon 14-24 focus shift

    Technically, it can't take filters, but it can take filters with more money, and more size. : )

    I only rarely use it wider than the fantastic 24mm end. Not much liking the 3:2 format the 19mm, cropped at 4:5 would suit me just fine. Saving up.

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    Re: Nikon 14-24 focus shift

    If focus shift is a given as suggested, it seems that firmware could be a solution ... at least with-in some level of tolerances.

    The reason that I mention this is that the Hasselblad H camera's True Focus (not to be confused with TF Absolute Position Lock), uses mapped lens responses in camera to correct for focus shift for each of their lenses. As you stop down, precise focus corrections are made for focus shift to maintain the original plane of focus selected by the photographer. I believe this is true even for their zooms.

    I think this is a real possibility if Nikon continues its foray into high resolution photography with more demanding applications. Whether they'll do it or not is the question ... but it sure seems a lot easier than trying to design lenses that can keep up and the expense that entails.

    Just a thought.

    - Marc

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    Re: Nikon 14-24 focus shift

    Daniel,

    Quote Originally Posted by danielmoore View Post
    ...most affected lenses the focus will shift forward...
    Rearward. In other words, farther from the photographer.

    Marc,

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    If focus shift is a given as suggested, it seems that firmware could be a solution ...

    ...the Hasselblad H camera's True Focus...uses mapped lens responses in camera to correct for focus shift for each of their lenses.
    My understanding is that Leica S system lenses also take into account focus shift via firmware. It's a great idea.

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    Re: Nikon 14-24 focus shift

    Thanks Rob, of course you're right. I was thinking of the counter measure which I have burned in my brain.

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