D800E, in pursuit of sharpness.

Achim Reh

New Member
Nov 1, 2011
Today, I tested some lenses with my Nikon D800E , to find out which one is still suitable for this camera, and which one I need to get rid of, because it can not reach the necessary resolution and sharpness.
For this, I have to establish certain conditions and settings .
1) Clean the lenses to test, clean it again, examine the lenses under a good light source with a magnifier and ...yes, clean it again.
2) Find a suitable mount for the camera. The mount should be as stable as possible . So, forget the "easy-carry-on" tripods. I choose an old Gitzo 3 series with a big Manfrotto Gear head.
Everything that shakes or moves should be avoided. No unstable heads, no plastic parts in the construction, no quick release, and so on . So, the setup looks like this

[/url] _DSF0506 by AchimReh, on Flickr[/IMG]

3) Camera Setting : Here , you start to feel like a computer operator.
Set ISO speed to 100
Set all noise reduction to off
Set the camera to live view
Set Aperture Priority
Close the viewfinder
Set the camera to single shot
Set the quality to Raw
Set the raw format to 14 bit
Set the raw to uncompressed or loss less compression
Set picture control to standard or landscape
Set Color Space to Adobe RGB
Set AF-D lighting to off
Set the image size to large
Set the sensor to FX ( full Frame)
Look up the lens data to find the suitable F stop for the best resolution. If you can't find the data ( I could no get it for my voigtlander Color Skopar) , most likely it is somewhere in the middle. I choose F8.
Set d4 custom setting to 2 or 3 seconds. This adds a shutter lag . So , after you press the shutter, move away from the camera, stay still and wait. The camera will take the shot after 3 seconds.
Switch off Auto Focus
Make same test shots, to make sure, the sensor is clean.

4) Taking the shot.
After mounting the camera and set all the parameters above, look at the image in Live View . Now, zoom in to the maximum, using the (+) button. Be sensitive and adjust the lens to the optimal sharpness in the center.
Finally, gently press the shutter and release it, take your hands off, don't move, don't breath ....after 3 seconds, you took your first picture.
Well, I have to say, using the D800E to its full potential reminds me a lot of large format photography.

And here are some results

First , the "reference lens " Zeiss Planar 50/1.4 , F8 , 3, pictures , full picture, 100% corp center , 100% crop corner

[/url] ZeissPlan50full by AchimReh, on Flickr[/IMG]

[/url] ZeissPlan50cencrop100 by AchimReh, on Flickr[/IMG]

[/url] ZeissPlan50corncrop100 by AchimReh, on Flickr[/IMG]

Achim Reh

New Member
Nov 1, 2011
Second Part of my lens test for D800E .

Nikon Micro Nikkor Ai 55/3.5

To make this clear, this test its to determine, if the lens resolution and sharpness is suitable for the D800E . Nothing else.

Conditions as before, this time in-house with test sheet ( please forgive my smudgy old test sheet , a bit dirty , but this does not influence the test at all) .
First the full picture, at F8

[/url] TchartNik55Micfull by AchimReh, on Flickr[/IMG]

No a 100% crop from the center

[/url] TchartNik55MicCenCrop100 by AchimReh, on Flickr[/IMG]

And a 100% crop form the corner

[/url] TchartNik55MicCorCrop100 by AchimReh, on Flickr[/IMG]

This was a rather quick test, as I already have my reference test lens to compare.

Conclusion on the Micro Nikkor Ai 55/3.5
I will continue to use this lens on my D800E. Maybe not as tack sharp as the Zeiss Planar, but definitely in the same class as the Voigtlander Color Skopar .
The overall sharpness is at about 90% of the Zeiss, but the good part is, there is hardly any visible difference at 100% crop between the center and the corners.
Also, this is an old lens , manufactured around 1978, it performs renewable well on the D800E. This is not such a big surprises, as the Micro-Nikkor lenses are well know to be very sharp.

P.s. The Moire effect you see in the full picture is a result of the Jpeg compression, and is not visible on the original NEF file .

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