D3S focus testing

Started Feb 14, 2010 | Discussions thread
Grevture Veteran Member • Posts: 4,188
Dog focus

sens72 wrote:

My gear is the D300s and the 80-200 AFS, and the problems are the same as yours.

This problem never occurred with the D300/80-200 AFD combo.

Of course not every shot was in focus all the time with this combo, but it was clearly faster.
I think the problem is with the lens.

I have used two samples of the very old push-pull version of the 80-200, one newer two ring version, and for several years the AF-S version of the 80-200. My AF-S 80-200 was bought used (very, very much so) and I shot roughly 90.000+ shots with it before the focus motor died. Now I shoot the new 70-200 VR II and while waiting for it I used a VR I version.

My AF-S 80-200 was way, way more accurate at following focus on moving targets then any of the AF versions I tried. It was distinctly faster and more reliable then the older versions.

I could see no focus speed/accuracy improvement with the old 70-200 over the AF-S 80-200 (but I only used that 70-200 for a little over a month) but I find the new VR II version to be somewhat faster then the AF-S 80-200 and the VR I.

I still have my "old" D300 which worked perfectly with the 80-200 AFD, but now combined with the 80-200 AFS he can't keep up any more.

For the last 4 perfectly in focus pictures of my running dog, I had to delete at least 100 pictures that where out of focus (with a lot of them the focus was on the tail or the back of the dog).

The problem is that I sold my 80-200 AFD, so I can't test it along the AFS version.

I'm thinking about selling the AFS and buying a AFD version again, or buying the new VRII 70-200, but I have to test that lens before I buy it.

I asked Nikon Netherlands questions about af speed and the new VRII lens, and they say it's improved over the VRI version.

Problem in finding the solution is difficult, because everybody thinks you are crazy if you say that the AFD is faster than the AFS.
Because Nikon marketing people say that AFS lenses are faster.
So everybody takes that as a fact.

In my experience (shooting sports since way before AF came along, back in the eighties), yes AF-S lenses indeed are faster (with a few notable exceptions) and when it comes to accuracy in following focus on moving targets, they are way ahead of older AF counterparts.

With the new VRII they have reduced the focus area (for fast focussing) from 2.5m to infinty to 5m to infinty.

So I guess that could be a reason to be a little faster, but 5m is to far for me as the closest focussing distance. 2,5m is just fine.

I also think it's not comparable with the older VR lens and the 80-200 AFD lens because of this issue.

Now I have sometimes shot dogs in action, and that is in my experience quite tricky.

1. Dogs are smaller then humans, particularily so when you compare for example athletes running (on two feet) with even a big dog running (on four feet - the target is much smaller and you tend to shoot on much smaller distances. Most lenses are, again in my experience, YMMW, distinctly slower to focus the closer you are to the subject. And for small dogs like terriers etc ... They are very small compared to a running athlete, a speeding motorcycle or any of the other stuff you shoot at high speeds. I mean if you were tracking focus on a race car at 20 feet distance ... You are in trouble

2. Dogs are very three-dimensional. Or, in more normal language, they have pointed noses and heads. I often cheat when shooting dogs by pulling the focus adjustment a bit. Keep in mind that a AF system looks for contrasts, not surfaces per se. With dogs that often translates into focus being on the ears and the edges of their head rather then at the eyes and the nose.

3. Dogs are fast . Usually the only thing as fast that you shoot at such close distances are children which are also tricky to get properly focused. And like children, dogs move in mysterious ways. Predictive AF have problems with unpredictable subjects.

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 Grevture's gear list:Grevture's gear list
Nikon D70s Nikon D3 Nikon D3S Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II Nikon AF-S Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8D ED-IF +7 more
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