AF-Fine Tune: You Don't Need It

FlowtographyBerlinFlowtographyBerlin Posts: 477Member
edited May 2013 in Nikon Lenses
Wow. Another epic statement from the class of "real-photographers-do-like-this-and-that" by Ken Rockwell, from yesterday. Check it out:
AF Fine Tune?

You don't need it; don't buy a new camera because you think it will get you sharper pictures.

I never use the AF Fine Tune feature on any of my cameras — it's not needed. The only time I need AF Fine Tune is with the occasional off-brand lens, or the very odd sample of older AF lens from the 1980s.

So long as you stick to real (Nikon, Canon or LEICA) lenses and are buying reasonably new products from the past 10 years or so, DSLRs have all the proper corrections already in their firmware.

AF Fine tune is only needed for one in twenty BAD old lenses. All modern lenses need no tuning, it's only for old ones from the 1980s you already have in your collection if you're an old-timer like me — or maybe if you have some junk from Sigma or Tamron or whoever you're still trying to use with your new camera.

If you're buying new lenses for your new cameras, AF Fine Tune will only make your photos worse by screwing with it.

So, as always, stick to name-brand lenses, and don't go telling anyone I told you you needed a new camera to get sharper pictures.
Errrm... yeah ok. (For AF lenses, I only have brand stuff, and so far, I've had to AF-finetune 100% of those, both Canon and Nikon.)

I'm not a Ken Rockwell hater. I like Ken Rockwell for many things he does, and one of them is that he's so bold with his statements. It's just that when he's in error, it can be quite an issue for beginners who just don't know better.

What do you think?
Post edited by FlowtographyBerlin on
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Comments

  • JohnJohn Posts: 134Member
    What do you think?
    I think that Ken Rockwell is an idiot.
    He makes lot's of bold statements that might contain some grain of truth but are so full of incorrect information that they are ultimately useless.
    He's just an internet troll who has been able to make some money using these bold statements.
    My biggest issue with him is that he makes a lot of false statements and, as such, confuses a lot of beginners.
    I often read other forums about photography and I can't begin to count the times when a new photographer was totally confused by statements from KR.

    Just look at his site and some of the claims that he makes.
    Just look at his images.
    Ken Rockwell is a joke.

    I don't use AF fine tune myself. The focus for my lenses is correct enough for my use.
    But there are a lot of cases where you might want to fine tune.
    Every lens has some design compromises. Every lens and camera has some manufacturing tolerance.
    They might be small. But nothing is perfect and AF fine tune is a way to some minor imperfections.

    So just don't listen to the fool.

    Oh, another stupid statement that he made is that you don't need a new camera to get sharper pictures.
    He might want to compare a D800E with the iPhone that he seems to love so much.
    I suggest a nice that he makes a nice 6 foot wide landscape print with both. ;)

    If you're looking for people with respectable opinions and good technical and artistic insights then I suggest sites like bythom.com.
    And when it comes to evaluating the quality of lenses and sensors I often look at the dxomark.com results.
    Both are a billion times more trustworthy then Ken Rockwell.

  • FlowtographyBerlinFlowtographyBerlin Posts: 477Member
    edited May 2013
    Oh, another stupid statement that he made is that you don't need a new camera to get sharper pictures.
    He might want to compare a D800E with the iPhone that he seems to love so much.
    I suggest a nice that he makes a nice 6 foot wide landscape print with both. ;)
    Yeah, this is exactly one of those statements that I personally like, though, and I would never actually even see the problem in his statement, until someone points me to how some people take for granted what he says without really understanding what he's actually talking about. I always see statements like these as a provocative poke or something, to make people think about their idea that if their images suck, they need better gear.

    The pixel-peeping sharpness issues (that I'm also prone to) actually don't really matter to anyone as long as you don't go for huge prints as you suggested.

    When people tell me "Wow, the pictures from your camera are always so sharp", but
    a) haven't looked at the image in 100% and
    b) have a decent DSLR themselves, it clearly illustrates the point that KR wants to address with a bold statement like the one you quoted.

    Then again, some people who give workshops have told me stories where participants completely just took for granted some of the stuff that he says (shoot JPG, push up saturation, bulk scans of your negatives are better than files from a DSLR), and this can be quite problematic.

    I read all kinds of different technical blogs, bythom being one of them, and still read – and sometimes enjoy reading  – KR, too.
    Post edited by FlowtographyBerlin on
  • JohnJohn Posts: 134Member
    I have no problem with thought provoking statements.
    I do have problems with false or incomplete information that can confuse people (as per the workshops example).

    If KR would have said something like "A newer, better camera might not get you better images" or "you might not need a new camera; the biggest gains are made buy learning to use your current camera to it's full potential" then I would have hailed that as a correct statement which is not told enough.
    I indeed see people jumping to every upgrade when their current gear is just fine and when the potential gains will be small at best.

    But his statements just lack any nuance and some of them are plain wrong.
    To me his entire website looks like one big scam to get newbies to give him money (by using his links to buy stuff or by that donate button). He also continually changes his mind. At one moment he's raving about how the D600 is better then the D800 and how he always carries a D600 with him; next he's always carrying the latest Fuji compact and then his main "camera" is an iPhone.
    I'm also convinced that he writes at least some reviews based only on the specs and without ever holding the camera.

    So, if you enjoy reading his blogs then all the more enjoyment for you. :)
    It's just that I can't stomach it. Sometimes I manage to laugh at all the wrong info but more often it just annoys me.

    Say, do you use AF fine tune? :)
  • FlowtographyBerlinFlowtographyBerlin Posts: 477Member
    I have no problem with thought provoking statements.
    I do have problems with false or incomplete information that can confuse people (as per the workshops example). […]
    But his statements just lack any nuance and some of them are plain wrong.
    Yeah, you're right. Maybe I just read what I want to read. And maybe I mistakenly think that the "You don't need a new camera" talk outweighs the wrong statements that will misguide beginners.
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,189Moderator
    edited May 2013
    I think on the old forum we have a special Ren Crockwell thread...
    http://nikonrumors.com/forum/topic.php?id=6487

    ....but, with any "personality" who writes a photography blog, the content will sometimes be less than the consensus of the photography community.

    AF Fine Tune.....well, I guess I have a lot of bad Nikkors... for me, AF Fine tune can make a difference of a foot at about 200 feet. The difference between the helmut and the front windshield of a racing motorcycle....

    I must admit, I have not performed AF Fine Tune on all my lenses despite the fact I have the LensAlign set up. It is on my schedule for next week....LOL

    For 8" x 10" images this may not even show up...but I like to see my images on a screen really big!
    Post edited by Msmoto on
    Msmoto, mod
  • dissentdissent Posts: 1,086Member
    Interesting, but I don't get it. I've played with a little informal AF Fine Tune (yeah, I know; dangerous) on my D7000. The 70-300 seems to take a -6 for best sharpness; the 35mm 1.8G seems to prefer about -11. The 105 is roughly fine and the 85 1.8G I still haven't made up my mind about yet. Yes, I have to be much more systematic about this, but AF FT does seem to make a difference in my case.
    - Ian . . . [D7000, D7100; Nikon glass: 35 f1.8, 85 f1.8, 70-300 VR, 105 f2.8 VR, 12-24 f4; 16-85 VR, 300 f4D, 14E-II TC, SB-400, SB-700 . . . and still plenty of ignorance]
  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,015Moderator
    It's just a firmware setting. No harm in messing around, you can always set it back to zero. Kinda like video features. Some will use the heck out of it, others will ignore it. No blood, no foul :-)
  • Golf007sdGolf007sd Posts: 2,823Moderator
    edited May 2013
    With respect to AF Fine tuning, I have only performed this operation on my D4 and D7000 on the 24 1.4...which was at -6. I also tested my 35 1.8, 50 1.4 and 85 1.8 all of them where within specs.

    Having said all of this, one would have to ask: if all lenses and bodies were as expected, then why would a camera manufacture built into their bodies AF Fine tuning. Is it because that is not always the case? I would argue that the latter is true. It is for this reason that within the next few weeks I intend to take all my gear personally to the Nikon service center in LA and have them setup and configure my gear to work as best as possible.

    As for KR, let him speak as he wishes. We are a free nation. Let the buyer beware...as in all things in life we buy.
    Post edited by Golf007sd on
    D4 & D7000 | Nikon Holy Trinity Set + 105 2.8 Mico + 200 F2 VR II | 300 2.8G VR II, 10.5 Fish-eye, 24 & 50 1.4G, 35 & 85 1.8G, 18-200 3.5-5.6 VR I SB-400 & 700 | TC 1.4E III, 1.7 & 2.0E III, 1.7 | Sigma 35 & 50 1.4 DG HSM | RRS Ballhead & Tripods Gear | Gitzo Monopod | Lowepro Gear | HDR via Promote Control System |
  • macsavageg4macsavageg4 Posts: 75Member
    I use to listen to a lot of what he said then I actually got out and started taking a lot more shots with my D7000 and later D800 and now the more I shoot the more I am scratching my head wondering WTF he is taking about. There are some basic ideas that are truth but that is where it ends. His really bad bias is on third party lenses. This really irks me since I have been shooting with some of them for a while and know pro photographers that shoot with them professionally with zero issue. This latest gem of the AF-Fine Tune is just more icing on the wtf is this guy talking about cake. It is sad that he has the best compatibility table database out there and lens info "review" section but it is loaded with so much derp/stupid that you have to take the reviews with a big load of salt and probably a dozen review site cross references just so an acceptable base line review can be established.

    That being said Golf summed up the whole thing with KR and other review sites in general.
  • GabGab Posts: 63Member
    Someone said KR writes a lot of BS to generate forum flame wars aka hype for his site. They might have a point. In my experience every third Nikon prime can be improved with a little AF adjustment & sometimes if the body is off it's easier to set -10 to all lenses, than send it in & wait 3 weeks to get it (maybe) fixed.
  • donaldejosedonaldejose Posts: 2,698Member
    My experience has been AF fine tune is generally not needed with current Nikon zoom lenses (which is what most people shoot these days, even the pros). With a zoom you don't even know where to AF tune? You can set the + or- focusing only once. Do you do it at the most tele end, at the widest end or in the middle of the zoom range? I have found different AF tuning numbers across the zoom range. Which to use? Most of the time the difference as so small the DOF covers the variation in range anyway if shooting at 5.6 or 8, especially on a wide angle or wide to normal range zoom. Try it yourself with your zooms and post your results. I could see AF fine tune making a difference in a 70-200 zoom at f2.8 but I don't know how many people have had that experience.

    Thus, Ken's statement is correct when placed into that context: AF fine tune is not need on current generation Nikon zoom lenses.

    Likewise, I have not found it was needed for wide angle lenses because they have sufficient DOF to cover any minor variation in focus point.

    That leaves moderate and long telephoto prime lenses. I have found AF fine tune can increase the sharpness of earlier generation moderate and long telephoto prime lenses by obtaining more accurate focus Thus, I do very much appreciate AF fine tune and think it is a valuable and usable feature in the context of older generation moderate to long prim telephotos
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,189Moderator
    The issues arise when we shoot wide open. Then the difference of 5mm in focus point can be enough to blow the image. And in a close up with say a 24 or 35mm f/1.4....fine tune can make or break the shoot in many cases.

    The problem I have found is to get the correct tool to check this out. And, for me it is the LensAlign.

    But, for most of our shots we are probably using a stop or two down from wide open and then it is certainly less critical. And, with the wide angle the DOF increases rapidly as we stop down.
    Msmoto, mod
  • TaoTeJaredTaoTeJared Posts: 1,306Member
    I used the Lensalign package and found all my lenses, primes & zooms (tested at all marked ranges), new & old (1.4s-f4s) to all be off just a little and some to be off quite a bit. I programed all my 1.x and macros and found that the zooms DOF were adequate in the ranges I shoot most (there is focus shift in all zooms.)

    My guess is that KR gets tons of emails of people who shoot handheld, high iso, at very low shutter speeds and thinking their lenses are not sharp asking if they should use the fine tune. I bet he finds it easier just to say you don't need it.
    D800, D300, D50(ir converted), FujiX100, Canon G11, Olympus TG2. Nikon lenses - 24mm 2.8, 35mm 1.8, (5 in all)50mm, 60mm, 85mm 1.8, 105vr, 105 f2.5, 180mm 2.8, 70-200vr1, 24-120vr f4. Tokina 12-24mm, 16-28mm, 28-70mm (angenieux design), 300mm f2.8. Sigma 15mm fisheye. Voigtlander R2 (olive) & R2a, Voigt 35mm 2.5, Zeiss 50mm f/2, Leica 90mm f/4. I know I missed something...
  • Golf007sdGolf007sd Posts: 2,823Moderator
    With a zoom you don't even know where to AF tune? You can set the + or- focusing only once. Do you do it at the most tele end, at the widest end or in the middle of the zoom range? I have found different AF tuning numbers across the zoom range. Which to use? Most of the time the difference as so small the DOF covers the variation in range anyway if shooting at 5.6 or 8, especially on a wide angle or wide to normal range zoom. Try it yourself with your zooms and post your results.
    Don, please have a look at this list and see if help answer some of your questions.
    D4 & D7000 | Nikon Holy Trinity Set + 105 2.8 Mico + 200 F2 VR II | 300 2.8G VR II, 10.5 Fish-eye, 24 & 50 1.4G, 35 & 85 1.8G, 18-200 3.5-5.6 VR I SB-400 & 700 | TC 1.4E III, 1.7 & 2.0E III, 1.7 | Sigma 35 & 50 1.4 DG HSM | RRS Ballhead & Tripods Gear | Gitzo Monopod | Lowepro Gear | HDR via Promote Control System |
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 5,141Moderator
    Hi Golf: Is that list true (it may be as it aligns with my experience of the lenses I have)? Where does it come from?
    Always learning.
  • FlowtographyBerlinFlowtographyBerlin Posts: 477Member
    (there is focus shift in all zooms.)
    Actually, there is focus shift in my primes as well. Both my D and G lenses had substantial focus shift. I calibrate at f/2.8, which makes an ok average.
  • Golf007sdGolf007sd Posts: 2,823Moderator
    @spraynpray: That list came to my attention while watching this video.

    D4 & D7000 | Nikon Holy Trinity Set + 105 2.8 Mico + 200 F2 VR II | 300 2.8G VR II, 10.5 Fish-eye, 24 & 50 1.4G, 35 & 85 1.8G, 18-200 3.5-5.6 VR I SB-400 & 700 | TC 1.4E III, 1.7 & 2.0E III, 1.7 | Sigma 35 & 50 1.4 DG HSM | RRS Ballhead & Tripods Gear | Gitzo Monopod | Lowepro Gear | HDR via Promote Control System |
  • SatoSato Posts: 50Member
    Ken Rockwell is an idiot, He's one of the main reasons I decided to go for the D5100 instead of the D7000 because it would be all the camera I ever needed.

    A decision I still regret to this day because I outgrew the D5100 way faster then I expected, And 1,5 year later (January this year) I bought a D600 to make up for my mistake. (And unfortunately mine has the oil/dirt issue and still has to go on its field trip to the nearest Nikon Service Center, But so far Spot-Removal has done the trick so I'm not in a hurry to bring it in.)
    Which I wouldn't have bought if I had gone for the D7000 back when I bought my first camera.

    The whole menu driven thing on the D5100 is fine if all you wanted was a camera that is better then a compact or bridge camera, But not if you actually want to learn photography and become a (better) photographer who actually knows what he's doing or talking about. (Something that can't be said about Ken Rockwell.
  • M35G35M35G35 Posts: 3Member
    I am not a KR follower as he turned me off immediately about the 6MP comment years ago. However, please
    check the D800/D800E owners manual, i.e. page 338. Nikon does not recommend using the AF and could interfere with focus system. So, is KR right? Maybe on this issue.
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,189Moderator
    @M35G35

    The message on p 338 is rather like what Nikon said about the torque specs on the tripod socket..."tight but not too tight".

    If one has the proper testing equipment, the AF Fine tune can be critical. But, if one shoots at f5.6-8 or smaller, the AF Fine Tune is most likely unnecessary. I shoot wide open a lot of the time, so I prefer to dial in the lenses to their optimum.
    Msmoto, mod
  • safyresafyre Posts: 113Member
    There is a lot of misguided hate towards Ken Rockwell because many do not understand that his website and methodology is catered towards amateurs who do not necessarily need the latest and greatest and don’t have hours of free time to spend looking through all the technical specifications. I’m talking about the moms and dads, people with families who want to take pictures of their kids, of their vacation trips, and just want better quality than they can get with an iphone or a point and shoot. As a beginner, I found his information to be pretty straight forward and to the point. He does do a good job of keeping things simple when all of the technical stuff and types of equipment can be pretty overwhelming. Most of the people that Ken markets to are not the types that are going to eventually become professional or even semi-pro. This is why he keeps recommending entry level cameras like the D40, D3100, D5100, because it’s enough or more than what most people need.

    As someone who has moved up to the Semi-pro ranks, I haven’t looked at his site in over a year because I now know exactly what I need; I don’t have to look for recommendations on the internet. In my opinion, I feel that most of the people that bash him are simply the gearhead types who haven’t done a significant amount of professional work, because if they did they would not even bother looking at the website of an enthusiast. So the next time you look at his site, I would advise that you remember who his audience is before thinking that he is over simplifying things or is not recommending the latest and most expensive cameras and lenses.
  • FlowtographyBerlinFlowtographyBerlin Posts: 477Member
    @safyre: Good point. Maybe that's why I'm (usually) not overly bothered by his bold statements and see the helpful aspects in them more than the downsides.
  • TaoTeJaredTaoTeJared Posts: 1,306Member
    @Safyre - you missed the actual point that most all have made - KR at best is full of BS and at his worse make stuff up and misguides people. He speaks in absolutes which comes across as arrogant laziness. Most of the items on his site he never actually holds in his hand and are just regurgitates notes from 3 models back and just updates the specks.
    D800, D300, D50(ir converted), FujiX100, Canon G11, Olympus TG2. Nikon lenses - 24mm 2.8, 35mm 1.8, (5 in all)50mm, 60mm, 85mm 1.8, 105vr, 105 f2.5, 180mm 2.8, 70-200vr1, 24-120vr f4. Tokina 12-24mm, 16-28mm, 28-70mm (angenieux design), 300mm f2.8. Sigma 15mm fisheye. Voigtlander R2 (olive) & R2a, Voigt 35mm 2.5, Zeiss 50mm f/2, Leica 90mm f/4. I know I missed something...
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 5,141Moderator
    With respect Tao, I think you missed Safyre's point. He is saying you only feel like that because you don't fit into the target audience profile and I think your reply shows his point to be correct. Maybe he is right because KR's aim is to support his life through his website and maybe he believes that aiming at the lightweights in the marketplace achieves that more easily than arguing esoterics with the likes of you. I don't think he is daft, I have just not been interested in his site for the last three to four years.
    Always learning.
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,189Moderator
    There are those who enjoy reading Ken Rockwell's words. However, a lot of it is simply incorrect. He seems to make statements in much the same way a person who says whatever their audience wants to hear speaks. IMO he sounds a lot like a car salesman, in that if a potential customer says they like green on a car the salesman might say, absolutely it is the best color for the car. And, I have several car sales folks as friends.

    So, if one likes to listen to the fiction, possibly get curious enough to look into what Ken has to say, become interested in further investigation as a result of his comments, then maybe he serves a purpose.

    He does recommend good sources for equipment, i.e., Adorama, B & H, etc.
    Msmoto, mod
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