Author Topic: D5 vs D4s - AF performance  (Read 816 times)

Frode

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D5 vs D4s - AF performance
« on: November 04, 2018, 22:26:38 »
For those of you that have tried both the D5 and D4s, how will you describe the difference in AF- performance?

Low light and tracking (BIF/football/sport)?

bobfriedman

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Re: D5 vs D4s - AF performance
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2018, 23:09:44 »
For those of you that have tried both the D5 and D4s, how will you describe the difference in AF- performance?

Low light and tracking (BIF/football/sport)?

i have owned D2x, D3, D4, D4s and D5... i would say the D5 is superior to the rest in all respects. I can show AF examples as well as low ISO examples.... and the D5 12fps helps out too.
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bobfriedman

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Re: D5 vs D4s - AF performance
« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2018, 23:11:42 »
AF and frame rate example.. the shots below were 1/12s apart.  so for AF to hold with something approaching on a radial (as opposed to tangential)  to the camera is pretty impressive.

Nikon D5 ,Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR
1/2000s f/8.0 at 600.0mm iso1250


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Ilkka Nissilä

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Re: D5 vs D4s - AF performance
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2018, 12:23:29 »
For those of you that have tried both the D5 and D4s, how will you describe the difference in AF- performance?

Low light and tracking (BIF/football/sport)?

I don't have experience with the D4s, but have used other cameras of the same generation (D810, D750) and the D5/D850. The most pronounced improvements made by the D5 AF system (Multi-CAM 20k module, additional processor etc.) compared to Multi-CAM 3500 series AF systems is that using reasonably fast lenses (see manual for details) there is a large coverage of cross-type AF sensor points, including the outermost columns in addition to the center columns in the older system. This makes a huge difference when photographing e.g. a person in full body size (with the face focused on) approaching towards the camera. Basically the outermost columns act with almost perfect reliability now, whereas with the older system those sensors were linear and sometimes would not pick subject detail. I do a lot of this type of photography in vertical orientation, both in portraiture as well as sports photography, and it has been a big change.

Other improvements include:
* AF sensitivity in low light improved
* Each AF point covers a smaller part of the frame, so there is less cross-talk from surrounding areas (if you use single point mode)
* Sophisticated multi-point modes that are fast and useful, including
    - 9-, 25-point dynamic area which are without front/back bias, effective in focusing on subject position that is not the closest part of the subject
    - group-area which is closest-subject priority within the designated area, effective in focusing on distant subjects against complex backgrounds, also effective in low light
    - I could also mention auto-area-AF and 3D Tracking which work well now but typically I prefer the more controlled approach of the previously mentioned, more confined modes (D9, D25, group, and single point); these modes existed before but the speed of the D5 makes them much more effective and reliable than in the past.

I generally photograph people with AF and tend to use wide apertures a lot. With the D5, in-focus percentages tend to be around 90-100% depending on conditions, in extreme low light at night the percentages in focus do fall somewhat, but are still much higher than with cameras utilizing Multi-CAM 3500 series AF modules (with the D810, I would get 30-70% in focus at wide apertures, the lower figure is in low light indoor situations and the upper figure in typical outdoor daylight photography). This is with f/1.4 or f/2 lenses; with some of the best focusing f/2.8 or f/4 lenses (e.g. 70-200/2.8G II or E FL) things tend to be better for both cameras, and the difference is evident in low light where the D5 continues to be reliable in darker lighting conditions than the D810.

One area where the D5 does particularly well is when photographing subjects where the fur or hair is lit by the sun from behind; the D810 would easily pick focus on the hair instead of the face or eyes, because the hair was still within the larger focus point (they sensitivity areas are bigger than shown in the viewfinder) and focus on the brighter lit hair. The D5 doesn't do that, using single point or 9-point dynamic the focus is solidly kept on the face (in fact it is easy to keep it on the eyes and avoid the nose, by keeping the D9 area on the eye and cheeck below the eye, avoiding the nose). Also, another area of excellence is approaching subjects, which tend to be more difficult for earlier cameras.

My subjects (for AF) tend to be events (both daylight and nighttime), some sports (figure skating, running). I was exhilarated the first time I shot with the D5, it was a midsummer celebration outdoors and I was just amazed at how the D5 could focus on dancers with almost perfect results until things got fairly dim (ISO 25600, f/2.8, 1/500s was when I got the first hunting using the 70-200/2.8G II and D5; after that focusing was still possible but required a bit more care). The best focus performers out of my lens set have been the 24-70/2.8 E VR, 70-200/2.8 G II and E VR.

I know I don't have any data on the D4s, but I hope this is still helpful.

Frode

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Re: D5 vs D4s - AF performance
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2018, 23:12:55 »
AF and frame rate example.. the shots below were 1/12s apart.  so for AF to hold with something approaching on a radial (as opposed to tangential)  to the camera is pretty impressive.

Nikon D5 ,Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR
1/2000s f/8.0 at 600.0mm iso1250




Wow, impressive AND convincing, Bob.

Thank you!

Frode

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Re: D5 vs D4s - AF performance
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2018, 23:21:28 »
I don't have experience with the D4s, but have used other cameras of the same generation (D810, D750) and the D5/D850. The most pronounced improvements made by the D5 AF system (Multi-CAM 20k module, additional processor etc.) compared to Multi-CAM 3500 series AF systems is that using reasonably fast lenses (see manual for details) there is a large coverage of cross-type AF sensor points, including the outermost columns in addition to the center columns in the older system. This makes a huge difference when photographing e.g. a person in full body size (with the face focused on) approaching towards the camera. Basically the outermost columns act with almost perfect reliability now, whereas with the older system those sensors were linear and sometimes would not pick subject detail. I do a lot of this type of photography in vertical orientation, both in portraiture as well as sports photography, and it has been a big change.

Other improvements include:
* AF sensitivity in low light improved
* Each AF point covers a smaller part of the frame, so there is less cross-talk from surrounding areas (if you use single point mode)
* Sophisticated multi-point modes that are fast and useful, including
    - 9-, 25-point dynamic area which are without front/back bias, effective in focusing on subject position that is not the closest part of the subject
    - group-area which is closest-subject priority within the designated area, effective in focusing on distant subjects against complex backgrounds, also effective in low light
    - I could also mention auto-area-AF and 3D Tracking which work well now but typically I prefer the more controlled approach of the previously mentioned, more confined modes (D9, D25, group, and single point); these modes existed before but the speed of the D5 makes them much more effective and reliable than in the past.

I generally photograph people with AF and tend to use wide apertures a lot. With the D5, in-focus percentages tend to be around 90-100% depending on conditions, in extreme low light at night the percentages in focus do fall somewhat, but are still much higher than with cameras utilizing Multi-CAM 3500 series AF modules (with the D810, I would get 30-70% in focus at wide apertures, the lower figure is in low light indoor situations and the upper figure in typical outdoor daylight photography). This is with f/1.4 or f/2 lenses; with some of the best focusing f/2.8 or f/4 lenses (e.g. 70-200/2.8G II or E FL) things tend to be better for both cameras, and the difference is evident in low light where the D5 continues to be reliable in darker lighting conditions than the D810.

One area where the D5 does particularly well is when photographing subjects where the fur or hair is lit by the sun from behind; the D810 would easily pick focus on the hair instead of the face or eyes, because the hair was still within the larger focus point (they sensitivity areas are bigger than shown in the viewfinder) and focus on the brighter lit hair. The D5 doesn't do that, using single point or 9-point dynamic the focus is solidly kept on the face (in fact it is easy to keep it on the eyes and avoid the nose, by keeping the D9 area on the eye and cheeck below the eye, avoiding the nose). Also, another area of excellence is approaching subjects, which tend to be more difficult for earlier cameras.

My subjects (for AF) tend to be events (both daylight and nighttime), some sports (figure skating, running). I was exhilarated the first time I shot with the D5, it was a midsummer celebration outdoors and I was just amazed at how the D5 could focus on dancers with almost perfect results until things got fairly dim (ISO 25600, f/2.8, 1/500s was when I got the first hunting using the 70-200/2.8G II and D5; after that focusing was still possible but required a bit more care). The best focus performers out of my lens set have been the 24-70/2.8 E VR, 70-200/2.8 G II and E VR.

I know I don't have any data on the D4s, but I hope this is still helpful.

Helpful, indeed, Ilkka, thank you.

You`ve convinced me - I'm going to try a D5 tomorrow at my local store. "I`ll be back" :-).


bobfriedman

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Re: D5 vs D4s - AF performance
« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2018, 23:40:54 »
a D6 may be around the corner since the D5 has been out for two years now.. you may either wait for the new camera or get a D5 used for a substantial reduction after the new cam comes out.  i am betting on March... but who knows.. just a guess i my part
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MFloyd

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Re: D5 vs D4s - AF performance
« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2018, 08:48:21 »
As mainly an action / sport photographer, the D5 is the best camera I ever experienced: AF and High ISO capability being the main qualities. Previously I owned a D4s. Even if the D5 is better by all means, the D4s gave me total satisfaction. And  I couldn't say that my D5 work is substantially better. 
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Frank Fremerey

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Re: D5 vs D4s - AF performance
« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2018, 09:19:06 »
a D6 may be around the corner since the D5 has been out for two years now.. you may either wait for the new camera or get a D5 used for a substantial reduction after the new cam comes out.  i am betting on March... but who knows.. just a guess i my part

I will get a used D5 as soon as a bargain used falls into my hands. Yet I guess a D5s might be around the corner???

No, you are right probably, the Exspeed 6 is already out and Nikon logic demands that Exspeed 6 shall not reside in a D5x/s.

Will we see a mirrorless or hybrid?

A hybrid could be a very interesting choice.
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Ilkka Nissilä

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Re: D5 vs D4s - AF performance
« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2018, 10:49:56 »
I will get a used D5 as soon as a bargain used falls into my hands. Yet I guess a D5s might be around the corner???

I suspect the window for a D5s has closed and the D6 is likely to be the next model in this series, due before the 2020 Olympics.

Quote
Will we see a mirrorless or hybrid?

I suspect not, as a hybrid viewfinder would require some loss of image quality in the optical viewfinder (there would have to be a window in the coating for the light from the EVF to enter the prism, which would then mean some light loss in the "normal" optical path). In terms of hybridisation, I think Nikon might consider putting in on-sensor PDAF for video use in the D6, but so far Nikon have avoided that on DSLRs, I guess the main issue is the banding and striping. Nikon also seem to have problems with the automatic subject tracking algorithms in continuous shooting judging from Z7 reports. Though I must say I don't believe many professional sports photographer would be using 3D tracking for sports. I've tried, I think it's just a fantasy that it would work reliably enough to use for many sports. Nikon's Sports AF guide recommends the 25-point dynamic for most close subjects and group-area for distant ones or for closest-subject priority.

I think the D6 will be a clean DSLR, but what happens in 2024 (D7), it's difficult to know, I think it depends on how much progress there is in DSLR AF in that time, and whether Nikon can keep A9-style bodies at bay. Currently some users prefer A9 AF to Nikons, but then some users of both A9 and D5 note the D5 is superior for indoor sports, and others have reported difficulty in picking up far out of focus subjects with the A9 (the focus is sticky, and can be difficult to persuade it to focus on a closer subject, whereas in the Nikon DSLRs, focus is easily picked up even if the new subject is far out of focus, and much closer to camera, the system in most cases will shift subjects quickly). Of course, Nikon will need to make an A9-style camera as well, for silent photography and high-speed applications, but I personally suspect the DSLR will continue to initiate focus faster when the focus is not close initially. I guess it depends very much on application, which type of camera is preferable. Without doubt either system is amazing compared to what was available 10 or 20 years ago.

I was at the figure skating Grand Prix in Helsinki this past weekend, I saw rows of Canon and Nikon DSLRs with mostly 70-200/2.8, 300/2.8, (180)200-400/4 type lenses, some 100-400 or 80-400, among the accredited photographers; I didn't notice any A9's but perhaps it would be hard to tell the white 400/2.8 from the Canons.

Akira

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Re: D5 vs D4s - AF performance
« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2018, 12:22:26 »
I think one of the essential problem of the current on-sensor PDAF is that there is no cross-type AF points (Sony or Canon).  So, unless the PD photosites can pick up the horizontal line (in the landscape orientation), the camera has to rely on the slower CDAF method.

I think that is why the AF performances of Z7 and EOS-R are a bit inferior to that of their DSLR brethren.
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Ilkka Nissilä

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Re: D5 vs D4s - AF performance
« Reply #11 on: November 06, 2018, 12:52:06 »
I think one of the essential problem of the current on-sensor PDAF is that there is no cross-type AF points (Sony or Canon).  So, unless the PD photosites can pick up the horizontal line (in the landscape orientation), the camera has to rely on the slower CDAF method.

I think that is why the AF performances of Z7 and EOS-R are a bit inferior to that of their DSLR brethren.

From  the interview of Nikon engineers by imaging resource: "When I expressed my surprise at this, the response was that they didn't feel that they needed cross-type points, given the enormous number of points they had to work with, and the fact that the points were still quite sensitive to diagonally-oriented detail."

https://www.imaging-resource.com/news/2018/08/28/nikon-z7-engineer-interview-deep-dive-q

I'm not sure if cross-type detection can solve the limitations that OSPDAF has (range, i.e. the sensor can only detect the phase difference if the subject is reasonably close to being in focus, and sensitivity, i.e. is there enough contrast to noise for useful focusing in low light, without resorting to CDAF?). Both issues can be solved in some manner by invoking CDAF but efficient CDAF requires a modern lens that has been designed for that type of focusing method. Nikon only support PDAF with adapted lenses in the Z system currently, whereas native lenses support both PDAF and CDAF.

Anyway, I was impressed with the Z7 focusing experience with the 35/1.8 S and think the complaints are exaggerated. It may not be class-leading but it works well, in single point mode (which is what many of us use anyway, along with dynamic). I think Nikon can implement group-area AF and satisfy those who require closest-subject-priority. Many Sony users may be used to eye AF by now and wouldn't accept anything without it, it might take Nikon some years to catch up in this area. However, in my opinion eye AF is not required for the Z cameras to be useful. I am used to manually controlling the focus point and don't mind having to do that at all.

To catch up with Sony mirrorless cameras in terms of AF in action photography I am sure will take some years of development work, maybe they will be there in 2024. But DSLRs may be in a different place then than they are today, so it's a moving target.

Frode

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Re: D5 vs D4s - AF performance
« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2018, 14:35:25 »
As mainly an action / sport photographer, the D5 is the best camera I ever experienced: AF and High ISO capability being the main qualities. Previously I owned a D4s. Even if the D5 is better by all means, the D4s gave me total satisfaction. And, by no means, I could say that my D5 work is substantially better.

Thanks 🙂,

What about dynamic range at low iso - some say it’s rather poor in that «area»?

bobfriedman

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Re: D5 vs D4s - AF performance
« Reply #13 on: November 06, 2018, 16:28:56 »
Thanks 🙂,

What about dynamic range at low iso - some say it’s rather poor in that «area»?

For wildlife I shoot reasonably high ISO to keep my shutter speed up since I shoot handheld. To be honest, most of my low ISO stuff is done with D800,D810 and D850. However, I shot a wedding wth the D5 using speed lights and noticed no significant issues.
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Ilkka Nissilä

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Re: D5 vs D4s - AF performance
« Reply #14 on: November 06, 2018, 16:32:39 »
What about dynamic range at low iso - some say it’s rather poor in that «area»?

It's not that bad, but it's not the best of the Nikons in that area. You can take photos with the D5 at ISO 100! If you want the best quality in both low and high ISO situations, then you need one of both types of body, i.e. D850+D5, D810+D5, or D750+D5, depending on budget. The D4(s) may be a good compromise sensor-wise but I skipped the D4(s) because I was waiting for a broader coverage of cross-type AF points.

I think this is close to base ISO with the D5 though I can't guarantee it was ISO 100.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/ilkka_nissila/40408514930/in/dateposted-public/