How is the AF on the D4s?

WuwhoWuwho Posts: 17Member
edited June 2014 in D3/D4/D5

Let me explain my question/situation before I really ask it. I currently own a D800 which I've used for weddings, portraits, birding and various wildlife photography. I've always loved the images and detail, but sometimes have noticed pictures are bit softer than I want them to be, especially shooting birds in flight. Since most of my bird/wildlife pictures are from small boats, I can only hand hold my camera and lens which is a 300mm with TC20. I have calibrated my lens with camera multiple times and can produce some extremely sharp images with that combination, but have noticed that I also get a lot junk miss focused/soft images. So, I was curious to know what the group area AF in the D4s and soon to be released D810 have been like for people? Also do you all think the new focusing engine will help me? I'm not quite ready to jump on a D4s, which I'm assuming will be better at focusing than the D810, even with the same engine, but am extremely interested.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Ed
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Comments

  • Golf007sdGolf007sd Posts: 2,840Moderator
    edited June 2014
    As a D4 owner, I can tell, flat-out that, D4 AF system is Fantastic. Nikon has taken it and improved it on the D4s. Should you make the move, you will not be disappointed. If you live in the USA, you might want to consider renting one for a week and see what it has to offer first hand.

    Which version of the 300 2.8 do you have?
    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 |
  • WuwhoWuwho Posts: 17Member
    edited June 2014
    Thanks for the quick response, I'll try to rent/borrow one later today. To answer your question, I have the VRII. However if I go the route with the D4s, in order to off set the cost I might have to trade it in along with the D800. I will however get the Tamron 150-600 (I preordered it along with the D810, just in case I decided to go that way).
    Post edited by Wuwho on
  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    I also have a D800 and rarely lose a shot because of focusing , that is until last week, when I tried BIF with the Nikon 80-400mm AF-S Nikkor f4.5-5.6G ED VR from a small boat
    over 50% were out of focus. I think shooting BIF from a small rocking boat, is pushing the camera and the photographer to the limit .
  • WuwhoWuwho Posts: 17Member
    I considered that @sevencrossing and thought maybe I was being too hard on myself. However I tend to be on boats quite a bit when I take my bird photos. I unfortunately won't be on the water for a few more days to try out a D4s, but was hoping if anyone had any experience with it they would be able to tell me if the Group AF would help. My other concern of course is losing so many megapixels for cropping by going with the D4S vs the D810.
  • Golf007sdGolf007sd Posts: 2,840Moderator
    edited June 2014
    Don't worry to much about the lack of sharpness or detail. The image you will capture with either a D4/D4s will not disappoint.
    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 |
  • WuwhoWuwho Posts: 17Member
    @golf007sd You're really getting me to think more about the D4S over the D810. But like I mentioned in my previous post, I'm concerned about the drop in MP for cropping. However getting a good sharp shot, will always supersede a larger image. I know my hard drives will appreciate the drop in file size, but not sure if I want to invest in XQD. SO many concerns...only if I won the lotto I'd just buy everything lol
  • Golf007sdGolf007sd Posts: 2,840Moderator
    edited June 2014
    So you are worried about cropping yes.....ok then. Here are two shots: Original un-edited file and what I felt was the proper crop. You tell me if this will work for you. Note, these were taken with my D4 & 24-70 2.8, while we were moving on a fishing boat. The first one we are moving at about 10mph, the second at about 25-30mph.

    Original File:
    ARN_4913-1
    Larger Image Size

    Cropped with edit:
    ARN_4913.jpg

    Original File:
    ARN_4969-1
    Larger Image Size

    Cropped with edit:
    ARN_4969.jpg

    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 |
  • WuwhoWuwho Posts: 17Member
    Truthfully I was hoping to have more cropping at my disposal, but the images are still sharp. I might have to ask my local camera shop to have the commission sent to you. lol
  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    "Wuwho, I'm concerned about the drop in MP for cropping.

    This were the D810 is going to beat the D4s
    out of interest which 300mm are you using with the TC20.
    and which version of the TC20


  • WuwhoWuwho Posts: 17Member
    TC-20E III and the 300mm 2.8 VRII
  • FritzFritz Posts: 140Member
    I own a D4 and indeed the focus is fantastic particularly in low light. I use the focus release priority setting even thought it slows the fps a bit and I tend to set my ISO to about 400 to keep my shutter rate up. Though not a birder, this setting certainly works for aircraft and sports.
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
    edited June 2014
    I guess I am wondering just what all the focusing issues are about. In virtually ever lost focus shot I take it is my inability to use the equipment.

    Here is the D4, 400mm f/2.8 plus TC-20EIII, a cropped image and larger version. The bike is headed toward me about 90 kph, and this was taken before any AF Fine Tune was applied to the combination. The bike is about 60 meters from the camera. f/11, 1/800, ISO 900

    Superbikes 06.01.13-6

    Larger: https://www.flickr.com/photos/fantinesfotos/8918348294/sizes/o/

    The only issue I have with focus is the fact the focus points do not go far enough out to the edge of the frame….. solved now with my D800E which is my "DX" camera, thus giving me focus points close to the edge of the frame.
    Post edited by Msmoto on
    Msmoto, mod
  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    photographing small BIF is a completely different ball game to sports or aircraft
    BIF do not seem do anything, that might be remotely be described as, predictable
    If you are in a small boat, you have very little idea how it will react to the next wave.
    One thing I have noticed, shots are nearly always in or completely out of focus
  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    edited June 2014
    This my first attempt at posting a photo
    D800 ISO 500 80-400 @ 400mm 1/ 1500 f8
    cropped and uncropped



    https://www.dropbox.com/s/ofdkalvrtwqrgga/DSC_4053-2.JPG
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/ukf8xixsk83g181/DSC_4053.JPG
    Post edited by sevencrossing on
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
    OK, BIF

    BIF_Work_In_Progress_04.3.14

    Bigger: https://www.flickr.com/photos/fantinesfotos/13830040925/sizes/o/

    And, I am a neophyte when it comes to BIF
    Msmoto, mod
  • Golf007sdGolf007sd Posts: 2,840Moderator
    edited June 2014
    One of key factor I always keep in mind when shooting fast moving objects, regardless of their movement being predictable or not...is the "plane of focus." If I'm unable to keep the AF point on a specific spot (small FP..ie. the eyes), I will focus in on a larger part of the subject that is on the same plane. Thus, if that area is in focus then I know that anything on that plane will be as well.
    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 |
  • proudgeekproudgeek Posts: 1,422Member
    Shooting an object moving from horizontally from a platform that's moving vertically? Amazing we get any keepers at all. I've had a little experience with this shooting birds from a zodiac using a D800, a 300 f/2.8 and a TC14. Success was limited. I did much better when the birds were either perched
    _DSC2467)
    or hovering _DSC2563
    As I said, these were shot with at 420mm. I also own a TC20 (and a boat) so once we get some decent weather I'm going to go out and try and shoot cormorants with that combo to see what happens.
  • WuwhoWuwho Posts: 17Member
    Thanks to everyone that has responded to my original question. You all have been more than forthcoming in discussing this issue. @msmoto I'm not blaming my camera for missing my shots and I understand a lot of this comes down to me the actual person who presses the shutter. I asked this question in the hopes of figuring out if I were to upgrade, would this new equipment help me verge this problem or possibly meet others who have had the same issue. The good (which is actually bad) news is, it seems like @sevencrossing and @proudgeek have had the same issue with being on a less than stable platform while photographing a moving object. In fact, @proudgeek I would have to agree with you in that the bird perched vs flying while you're on the boat is much better, but depending on the water the bird could be perched too and I still get soft pictures. I'm quite interested in your results with a zodiac and the TC20 because I'll be on a zodiac early next year on some rough cold water. As @sevencrossing pointed out, the D810 does win out on cropping which is very helpful IMO for small birds/distance shooting but faster focusing and the increased FPS seem to create more keepers and decrease a lot of those lost moments. One of the only definitive ways I can think of figuring which option is "better" is if one you with a D4/s would be willing to get on a small boat in rough water with at least a 400mm focal length and report back to me (just kidding). I think I'll take @golf007sd original advice and rent/borrow a D4/s and try it out myself sometime over the next week. Regardless, these are my current upgrade options:

    1) D800 with cash for a D810
    2) D800, 300mm 2.8 with cash for a D4s with Tamron 150-600
    3) D800, 300mm 2.8 with cash for a D810, Tamron 150-600 and 14-24mm 2.8 (to complete my trinity)
    4) Absolutely nothing

    One of these 4 options will happen before my trips to Alaska and Antarctica.
  • Golf007sdGolf007sd Posts: 2,840Moderator
    An insightful article worth reading: Which To Upgrade? Gear Or Skill? by our member TheGipper.
    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 |
  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    edited July 2014

    but sometimes have noticed pictures are bit softer than I want them to be,
    I think you need to analyze why your pictures are "soft"

    Tamron and Sigma Glass, now get good Dxo results but I don't think Dxo takes into account focusing speed or VR

    If you want to shoot BIF, may be the Nikon 400mm f2.8 AF-S E FL ED VR

    This has VR3 and with a TC-14E III AF-S would have a wider aperture than the Tamron 150-600 ( wider aperture = faster focusing)

    As I have before, at NRF we love spending other peoples money:)
    Post edited by sevencrossing on
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
    Just a note about taking our gear into potentially dangerous territory....have good insurance so if the camera/lens is dropped, falls in the water, is hit by a large wave, etc., you are covered.

    Moving platform, moving target....yes, difficult. A problem for me is keeping the subject in the frame. Then the AF lock-on should be set to zero so when The target is seen the lens will focus instantly as I believe has been recommended under a different thread. So often, for me at least, the errors are due to not having set up the camera correctly for the particular task.
    Msmoto, mod
  • FritzFritz Posts: 140Member
    Speaking as someone who is expert at unintentional camera abuse I agree with Msmoto. Panning is a potentially useful technique as well but it does take practice. During my very brief time with D800 it seemed to me that body tremor is more of an issue than with my D4 so I would think relatively fast shutter speeds are necessary when hand holding.
  • WuwhoWuwho Posts: 17Member
    edited July 2014
    Seven, I have questioned it many many times about my images. I do multiple comparisons, I look at time of day, considered how long I've been shooting, even considered how much coffee I've consumed and truthfully I still run into the uncontrollable waves. So in a sense after reading that article Golf linked, I wonder if I'm falling into the category of, can I buy the technology out of my perceived predicament. Unfortunately, I've yet to answer that question for myself. I want to be able to say no and hope it might be a preparation thing like Msmoto and Fritz have mentioned; But after working on technique, working on how I stand or kneel, tweaking my settings/lens/calibrations, I even changed my weightlifting routine to emphasize shoulder and upper/lower arm control...I still comeback to some tack sharp images and then my lost moments. With the pressure of 2 expensive trips coming up, I'd rather not lose that opportunity at that one moment. As a side note, do I insure camera gear under home owners or should I get a separate policy?

    Funny enough Seven, I actually looked at 400mm 2.8 but figured that the only way it would work out would entail me living on my brother's couch for a few weeks after my wife throws me out. Of course if money really wasn't a problem, I could easily eliminate the issues with rough waters...I could just buy a much larger boat which could work out when my wife throws me out. So maybe that is option number 5!

    But moving forward...Thursday I have a reservation for a rental D4S, 500mm F4 (I realize it isn't the focal length I've been shooting at, but who cares) and ticket on a small boat with a forecast of thunderstorms and a possible flash flood.
    Post edited by Wuwho on
  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    my gut feeling is that if some images are tack sharp, then there is nothing wrong with the camera or the lens. When working at 600mm, what shutter speed and ISO are you using ?
  • FritzFritz Posts: 140Member
    Question- Under such difficult conditions due to movement and at such magnification (at 600 even your pulse shows up) how sharp is tack sharp? 36mp imposes limitations that 16mp does not. It strikes me that the D800 is a tripod camera at 600mm and probably not well suited to your environment.
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