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Thread: Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 and CA

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 and CA

    My dearest lens, the Nikkor 85mm f/1.8, that I bought for the not insignificant amount of 170 dollars, is causing me some worries. Green CA in high-contrast OOF areas. I mostly shoot at large apertures, so this is a problem that I can't really live with.



    So I guess I have to plan for an upgrade. The question is: to what

    Both the Nikkor f/1.4 and the Zeiss f/1.4 are excellent lenses, but what about CA? I would also consider the Nikkor 105mm f/2.0 and, in case I feel terribly rich one of these days, the Zeiss 100mm f/2.0, but that would leave me with a large gap down to 50mm. Or should I consider the Micro Nikkor 105mm VR? I have the non-VR version, which is excellent, but too slow for low-light work.

    Any opinions?

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    Senior Member deepdiver's Avatar
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    Re: Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 and CA

    Hi Jorgen
    Zeiss 85/1.4 ZF, Nikkor 85/1.8 and Zeiss 85/1.4 ZA they all suffer Green CA in high-contrast OOF areas
    I really wish Nikon or Zeiss will come out with a special APO lens...
    such as voigtlander 125/2.5 APO.
    Leica M9 | SE 18 | Lux 24 | Lux 50 | ZM 35 | Nikon D700 | 35/1.8 | 45 PC-E | 50/1.4 | 70-200 VR II | SB 800+600 |SF 58|

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    Re: Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 and CA

    I haven't tried the Nikons yet, but the Canon 85 1.2 and 1.8 as well as the 100 2.0 had the same problem with back lit subjects. I wonder if any modern fast lens can handle it completely, or if it is a sensor problem.

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    Re: Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 and CA

    An adapted (leitax.com) Leica 80 or 90/2 pre-AA will show MUCH less CA, but would require stop-down.

    THE best corrected lens in that FL in Nikon mount I've seen, but which is much slower, is the CV 90/3.5 APO AiS. Bloody sharp WO, buttery bokeh and CA free. As mentioned already, none of the Nikons in that FL and max aperture will be of any help, nor will any the ZFs (100/2 included).

    The Leica 90AA R (not adaptable to Nikon) when used on a Canon is almost CA free, but unlike the 100 APO (which is CA free - and adaptable to Nikon) will show it off very bright highlights on occasion. The 90 Cv is actually better corrected than the 90AA - and in tests against my 90AA, just as sharp -albeit slower.

    As Andre mentioned, a sharp fast 80-100mm APO-corrected lens would be a BIG hit for Nikon or Cosina (or Canon for that matter - the EF 85/1.2 is just as bad WO).
    Last edited by robmac; 20th February 2009 at 04:37.

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 and CA

    Thanks for the feedback everybody. How annoying

    The CV 90/3.5 looks nice, but it's two stops slower than my current lens. Not really an attractive solution. Looks like the Leica 90/2 would be the best alternative. Stop-down isn't a problem, since it would mostly be used wide open anyway, but the price might be What does pre-AA mean? Any idea of price?

    Another alternative would be to find a VC 125 and buy a D700. Should be more or less the same FOV.

    Strange that Nikon hasn't looked into this. CA in OOF areas is often difficult to remove.

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    Re: Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 and CA

    Green CA in high-contrast OOF areas.
    It seems odd that lenses that never were notorious for chromatic aberration when used on film cameras, or when aberrations were measured on an optical bench, suddenly produce controversial results when used on a digital camera.

    I wonder if some of the color fringing we often see in sample digital images is not actual chromatic aberration (a lens design fault in which light of different wavelengths is brought to focus on different planes) but some kind of artifact caused by the interaction of the lens, sensor, etc.

    For example, I have several lenses that produce false-color effects at bright/dark boundaries that I'm pretty sure are caused NOT by real chromatic aberration of the lens, but by light from the bright areas bouncing off the sensor, hitting the rear element of the lens, and then bouncing back to "fog" the shadow areas. (Note that some camera sensors appear greenish when you look at them, showing that they reflect green light.)

    I have absolutely no idea how to test that theory... but if this is the case for you, then a different lens might or might not produce better results for you, depending on how its rear element scatters light bounced off the sensor. Or possibly a different camera model with a less-reflective sensor might produce better results with the same lens...?

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    Re: Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 and CA

    I owned the CV 125. It's nice, well corrected for CA, but:

    1. In my experience, the ZF 100 and Leica 100 are sharper (slrlensreview.com test confirms my experience) - and cheaper.
    2. Construction is just ok - if you shake lens, can feel inner and outer barrels contact each other
    3. Slow focus vs ZF and Leica. Focus is stiff new, but loosens up nicely. Can show veiling flare. www.photozone.com has review as well.

    With the price for the Cv 125 now reaching an "idiot and his money" levels with AiS units going for as much as US1400-1800 on eBay, the lens is no longer the strong price/performance hit that the 90/3.5 and 180/4 APO (despite rising prices) still are. That said, if there is a bargain one to find, you're in the right neck of the globe to find one.

    The 90/2 Pre-AA means the model that preceded the APO, Aspherical model. It comes in multiple barrel designs from the larger, older, heavier, slower-focusing, multi-stage slide-out hood to the more modern, lighter, faster-focusing E55 filter version w/single-stage slide out hood. Optically they are IDENTICAL.

    Older version - $300-450. Newer $450-600 (fewer of them).

    Very nice lens. Like Leica 80/1.4 is famous for bokeh and Mandler 'glow' . Softish WO, VERY sharp at F4-5.6. www.slrlensreview.com has review of 90/2 and 80/1.4. Also, FM Alt section has a thread showing some samples from someone who did the conversion of the 90 for his D700. FYI, the 80/1.4 sharpens up faster (a razor in center at 2.8+). User copies of it with clean optics $700-900.

    Both lenses are exceptionally well corrected for CA (never seen any that fast at that FL like them) and are remarkably flare resistant.

    Check www.leitax.com (out of Spain) for conversion kit. Reports are very easy conversion, takes 10-15 mins, secure and reversible. I know the older 90/2 is convertible. NOTE: Check with leitax first on the newer version of the 90/2 pre-AA, since it shares many of the barrel components with the 90AA (which due to mechanical issues, is NOT convertible) if you want to try the E55 model.

    The Nikon focus confirmation, as with any Ai/AiS lens, works as well. Lloyd Chambers just converted his 180/2.8 APO for use on his D3X and loves it.

    Curious to see which way you go.
    Last edited by robmac; 20th February 2009 at 08:00.

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    Senior Member Lars's Avatar
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    Re: Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 and CA

    Part of the problem is with the wide exit pupil of the lens - the sensor can't handle the wider angles which causes color fringing that can be mistaken as CA. You'll find similar problems, to some degree, on all 85's. The longer the lens the further away the exit pupil is, so long teles don't exhibit this problem. Widangle lenses are usually of a retrofocus design which means a more collected light path to the sensor, as well as a smaller exit pupil.

    So I think what you see is partially a digital sensor problem - it's hard to design a 85/1.8 with a narrow exit pupil.

    That said, my personal view is that almost any lens would be an upgrade from the 85/1.8D (if that's the one you have), especially when it comes to background bokeh wide open. The older Nikon designs might be better in that respect.
    Monochrome: http://mochro.com

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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 and CA

    I don't know what you are using for raw conversion but you might just want to consider passing these images through Nikon Capture NX2. I find the CA processing of this application to be quite outstanding.

    Disclaimer: I'm actually use NX as my raw processor of choice and can handle 99% of my final output workflow within NX alone(!!).

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    Re: Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 and CA

    Lars,
    Your explanation makes sense. My lens is an old AF (non-D). Optically, this is the only problem I have with this lens, and it seems to me to be at least as good (sharpness and bokeh) as more modern versions. The AF sounds like an early prototype, electric railway locomotive, but it's very precise.

    Your explanation would actually indicate that changing to FX format and a longer focal length, like 135mm, would improve the problem.

    Graham,
    I use ACR, and since two of my cameras are Fujis, NX2 won't work. I've tried to open the files in Fuji's Hyper Utility, but apart from the fact that the HY user interface is the weirdest one since some computer games from the early eighties, I don't think there is any CA correction there anyway.

    Rob,
    You're a one man encyclopedia How do you remember all this stuff?

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    Re: Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 and CA

    Having FAR, FAR too many lenses come in and out the front door....;> Given my dislike for Canon EF glass and a 1Ds2, I shoot nothing but alternate glass on it, so have been doing A LOT of experimenting with various lenses over the years.

    Might be time to shift to Nikon soon now that some R units can be adapted to go along with my CV and Mamiya glass. Be nice not to have to stop-down EVERY lens....
    Last edited by robmac; 21st February 2009 at 04:18.

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 and CA

    Quote Originally Posted by robmac View Post
    obsession....
    Ah... I love obsessions Mine are mostly for the coffee in Hanoi though... and photogenic girls

    I saw a couple of Leica 90mm f2 Summicron R, 3-cam versions on the auction site for reasonable prices (under $550). Is that something worth considering?

    What does 3-cam mean? I don't have a clue about Leica acronyms

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    Re: Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 and CA

    The 90/2 is a very nice lens. 2-cam, 3-cam, ROM (chipped) simply refers to the internal control mechanics on the rear of the lens:

    http://www.photoethnography.com/Clas...html~mainFrame

    The leitax site itself has some nice links to and discussion of various lenses, cam types, etc.

    Optically, the number or type of cams means NOTHING. Later version of older lenses will have moved from 2 cam to 3 cam to ROM (as Leica R SLRs changed) and while changes in optical performance may have taken place (not the case with the 90/2), the number of type of cam in and of themselves has nothing to do with the optical formula/coatings version to version.

    ROM units typically fetch a couple hundred more than older ones, but for use on a Nikon or Canon, are a waste of money - assuming the lens in question hasn't changed optical formula over the years (some like the 28/2.8, 19/2.8, etc have).

    I know the 90/2, 50/2, 80/1.4, 180/3.4 APO, 100 APO and 180/2.8 APO among others are convertible to F mount. Some like the 35/2 can only be used on crop-sensor Nikons. There are some ROM lenses (such as the 90AA) that are not convertible to Nikon due to subtle mechanical differences in and around the rear shroud. Check with leitax.com first if any question.

    As for the price.. Prices have climbed over the last couple years. $550 is a bit rich for a 3-cam unless it is the newer harder-to find E55 filter version. A simple rule to use if that if the 90/2 looks similar to the current Leica 80/1.4 in appearance it is one of the older, heavier models. It it looks the same externally as the current Leica 90 APo Aspherical, it is the lighter, faster focusing last version of the long-serving 90/2. Again, optically they are the same.

    For an older version - something between $300-450 would be more realistic. The older 2-3 cam 90/2s are very common lenses and easy to find at the right price. EBay prices tend to be out to lunch in most cases anyway.

    I'd stick a WTB here and on FM and check the usual 2nd hand dealers. in Europe, ffordes.com in the UK is great to buy from, has a large selection of gear and tends to be more reasonable in terms of price than EU dealers.
    Last edited by robmac; 22nd February 2009 at 05:01.

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 and CA

    Thanks again Rob. Unfortunately, prices of used Leica gear are rather high here in Thailand, but I am in Europe occasionally, so that may be a better option then.

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    Re: Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 and CA

    No worries. Best prices from dealers/private sellers will be out of US/Canada, followed from my experience, UK - with some exceptions for private EU sellers. German shops/sellers seem to always price at the high-end ;> (this is allowing for VAT of course).

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