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Ready to Left Focus Test my Newer Batch D800e

spiritualized67

Western PA, US
3288 posts

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spiritualized67 Moderator Awarded for his high level of expertise in various areas, most notably in Street & Landscape Photography Nikonian since 01st Mar 2007
Tue 04-Dec-12 04:29 PM

Well, I've taken the plunge and am excited to be receiving my new D800e from BH, which I'll have tomorrow (Dec. 5th).

My D800e is U.S. serial # 30095XX, so I hope they've finally got the whole left focus calibration issue resolved? I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that I’m reserving my enthusiasm for now.

I'm banking on the fact that BH turns a lot of inventory - and at least according to their camera sales guy, replaced bad stock with new properly calibrated batches a while back.

But rest assured, I'll be conducting my own focus tests using a 35mm f/1.4 (and 24-70mm f/2.8) the minute the package arrives.

I'm still hearing about newer batch focus issues being reported (although they are more sporadic than spring/summer 2012 reports), but can't help but wonder if inferior lenses (used during testing), user error or old/returned stock is to blame for these latest reports? We'll see.

Yes, I’m probably being paranoid – but this is a confirmed issue and I can’t find any affected serial # reports online that definitively indicate that my new batch is now in the safe production range (nor any way to determine what month my camera was actually produced), although you’d think that Nikon and B&H would have their act together by Dec.

Here's hoping! (as much as I love Nikon, it's sort of sad that I'd even have to worry about these sort of things).

~Dan
www.danielstainer.com

wooster

UK
120 posts

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#1. "RE: Ready to Left Focus Test my Newer Batch D800e" | In response to Reply # 0

wooster Registered since 02nd Nov 2011
Tue 04-Dec-12 06:45 PM

I wouldn't say you were being paranoid at all given the nonsense people have had to put up with regarding this camera and Nikon's response. With Nikon it seems to be a bit of a lottery.

In fact, having had 3 duds and the runaround from Nikon UK, I'm not even going to consider looking at another D800 until well into next year. If I do, I will buy from Amazon because I know they at least will stand by the sale.

I switched to Nikon a year ago and my experience with the company has, to say the least, not been good. I really am disappointed and I hope your experience is better. I will keep an eye out to see how you get on.

Good luck with it

Wooster

briantilley

Paignton, UK
30235 posts

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#2. "RE: Ready to Left Focus Test my Newer Batch D800e" | In response to Reply # 0

briantilley Gold Member Deep knowledge of bodies and lens; high level photography skills Donor Ribbon awarded for his support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 26th Jan 2003
Tue 04-Dec-12 09:10 PM

>Yes, I’m probably being paranoid...

I'm not sure that "paranoid" is the right word, but there are a lot of people that seem to be unduly influenced by the hysteria expressed on many websites about this problem.

If I had that mindset, I wouldn't have bought a D600 for my wife last month - because it would be certain to have dust issues. But I did, and it doesn't. Chances are you'll have the same result, but as you've bought from a reputable source you'll be OK if there is still a problem

Brian
Welsh Nikonian

bdudzik

Richland, US
18 posts

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#3. "RE: Ready to Left Focus Test my Newer Batch D800e" | In response to Reply # 0

bdudzik Silver Member Nikonian since 08th Apr 2009
Tue 04-Dec-12 09:35 PM

I received my new D800e from B&H three weeks ago (serial number 30075xx) with no problems and the camera is awesome. Now all I have to do is learn all of the settings!

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mawyatt1

US
105 posts

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#4. "RE: Ready to Left Focus Test my Newer Batch D800e" | In response to Reply # 3

mawyatt1 Registered since 11th Feb 2012
Wed 05-Dec-12 02:27 PM

>I received my new D800e from B&H three weeks ago (serial
>number 30075xx) with no problems and the camera is awesome.
>Now all I have to do is learn all of the settings!


I got the D800 in Aug from B&H, had to wait 6 months. So far no issues other than to also learn all the settings. Got Daryl's book (also have his book on my D7000) when it came out, it has certainly helped.

KnightPhoto

Alberta, CA
4954 posts

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#5. "RE: Ready to Left Focus Test my Newer Batch D800e" | In response to Reply # 0

KnightPhoto Gold Member Nikonian since 18th Dec 2006
Thu 06-Dec-12 02:07 AM

Random anecdote - I recently bought FocusTune software, I am an inveterate focus tuner on all my cameras. In the software instructions, Michael Tapes advocates the occasional LiveView shot as a comparator and/or setup aid. The FT software is interesting in that it calls for one to shoot 4 shots at each AF fine tune setting to ultimately judge the AF fine tune value producing the best sharpness pattern (after outliers are all thrown out). Interesting technique and probably a good thing to use 4 shots since inconsistent PDAF is kind of a known phenomenon these days/comes with the PDAF territory especially with fast lenses wide open and high res sensors.

I was SHOCKED to see that the LV focus was not consistent from shot to shot. This surprised me since the LV focus is the purported gold standard from which one is to judge whether one has the dreaded "left AF point problem". Be careful out there with your testing!

Anyhow my October vintage camera appears to be fine, so I am not worried about my camera and my real world results are good.

Best regards, SteveK

'A camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.' -- Dorothea Lange
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spiritualized67

Western PA, US
3288 posts

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#6. "RE: Ready to Left Focus Test my Newer Batch D800e" | In response to Reply # 0

spiritualized67 Moderator Awarded for his high level of expertise in various areas, most notably in Street & Landscape Photography Nikonian since 28th Feb 2007
Thu 06-Dec-12 06:55 PM

I'm pleased to report that it appears as though my new D800e is not suffering from the dreaded left-focus calibration issue.

I tested using both a 24-70mm and a 35mm F/1.4. I also conducted some less than scientific focus tests on a brick wall and on my co-worker's eye (yes, that sounds bad, doesn't it, lol).

As others have stated, the outer focus points aren't as tack-sharp as the center, which is to be expected. But I didn’t see anything major that would indicate a glaring focus misalignment.

I haven't traditionally fine-tuned the focus on my lenses, but wondering if this is now necessary given the 36MP? Curious what others have done?

Overall, the D800e looks like a fine machine. My 4G memory cards are probably going to need to be replaced and my Epson P-3000 Multimedia Viewer doesn't have firmware to support the newer D800e NEFs, but those are minor issues.

Now I just need to get this baby into the field for some real-world testing.

~Dan

KnightPhoto

Alberta, CA
4954 posts

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#7. "RE: Ready to Left Focus Test my Newer Batch D800e" | In response to Reply # 6

KnightPhoto Gold Member Nikonian since 18th Dec 2006
Sat 08-Dec-12 03:30 AM

I'm thinking the traditional advice is still pertinent - if you don't see a problem PATTERN, then no need to scurry into focus tuning.

I went probably 6 weeks without tuning, but felt a bit naked about it, so have now tuned and am keeping a critical eye open. I recently added the focus-tune software into my tuning regime. I think though there is growing recognition that there is variability in PDAF results. That's why I say keep and eye out for a consistent pattern, not just an outlier result,

Best regards, SteveK

'A camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.' -- Dorothea Lange
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BullockBob666

Perth, AU
111 posts

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#8. "RE: Ready to Left Focus Test my Newer Batch D800e" | In response to Reply # 7

BullockBob666 Registered since 12th Dec 2012
Sat 15-Dec-12 08:37 AM

Hello fellow Nikon heads

This is my first post here (I will bore you with a little bit about myself elsewhere), but to stay on topic with focus and the D800.

Could someone please answer a simple question for me that I haven't been able to find the answer to in the research I've done on the focus issue. Is this issue solely related to the Phase Detect system (ie LV mode is not affected)?

In various tests I've conducted on my d800 the results have been somewhat inconclusive. There are subtle differences in focus between LV and viewfinder at 200x magnification, but they aren't huge differences, so I expect I do not have an issue.

Cheers
Rob

km6xz

St Petersburg, RU
3559 posts

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#9. "RE: Ready to Left Focus Test my Newer Batch D800e" | In response to Reply # 8

km6xz Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, including Portraits and Urban Photography Nikonian since 22nd Jan 2009
Sat 15-Dec-12 09:33 AM

Expect subtle differences between any two shots regardless of the AF system used. If you do not see a dramatic difference, consistently and repeatedly, you have no problem.
When it is there, it is not subtle and left most FP using Phase Detect AF will be seen without blowing up to 100%.

Many of the sets posted where the owner claimed it was bad showed nothing conclusive and took extreme magnification to see. Some coming from DX were not prepared for seeing general softness at the corners or sides on otherwise very well regarded lenses. A 24-70 or 85 1.4 or other well regarded lens is not as sharp on the sides compared to the center. That was not seen on a DX camera since projection onto the sensor is so much concentrated in the center of the Fx lens's image circle.
It is interesting to see the galleries of people who were sending one camera after another back, seldom used outer FPs in real usage. They likely never tested their other cameras and did not see that all of them would have been less than perfect off to either side. I did not see any problem in actual photos in normal use so never tested it but when I did when I suspected a problem with one wide prime later one, the results simply confirmed what I had seen in all the images, it was fine. I only suggest bothering with testing thoroughly if one understands the systems involved and can interpret the results of tests realistically considering the weaknesses inherent in home testing with too many uncontrolled variables.
Shoot with it, if you see a consistent problem that is not explained by user influences, where the images fail subjective tests at normal viewing sizes and magnification, then explore why with well conducted tests. If you do not see a problem at normal viewing sizes you do not have a problem. The ability to see some detail at 400% x is causing more claims of "softness" than the feature benefits.
Stan
St Petersburg Russia

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ericbowles

Atlanta, US
10524 posts

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#10. "RE: Ready to Left Focus Test my Newer Batch D800e" | In response to Reply # 5

ericbowles Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge and high level skills in various areas, especially Landscape and Wildlife Photoghraphy Writer Ribbon awarded for for his article contributions to the community Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Nikonian since 25th Nov 2005
Sat 15-Dec-12 09:49 AM

Good feedback on your experience Steve.

One thing to keep in mind is that AF with any methodology has a distribution of errors. Whether you are using Live View and contrast detect (CD) or using phase detect (PD), there is still a distribution. You can still get missed focus with either method, and every time you focus will be slightly different.

LensRentals.com has done some testing on this and found the distribution is getting tighter and the difference between PD and CD methods is shrinking significantly. They also found that lens selection makes a difference - and the newest lenses tend to produce better results with PD coming closer to CD.

As we move from the center sensor to other cross sensors, and on to regular sensors, AF consistency falls. It's going to fall with phase detect more than Live View since Live View is using contrast detect.

Eric Bowles
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BullockBob666

Perth, AU
111 posts

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#11. "RE: Ready to Left Focus Test my Newer Batch D800e" | In response to Reply # 9

BullockBob666 Registered since 12th Dec 2012
Sat 15-Dec-12 10:20 AM

Thank you for the info Stan.

Cheers
Rob

ericbowles

Atlanta, US
10524 posts

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#12. "RE: Ready to Left Focus Test my Newer Batch D800e" | In response to Reply # 8

ericbowles Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge and high level skills in various areas, especially Landscape and Wildlife Photoghraphy Writer Ribbon awarded for for his article contributions to the community Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Nikonian since 25th Nov 2005
Sun 16-Dec-12 01:17 PM

You are correct - this issue is only related to the phase detect AF system.

It's normal to get variation in AF. The newest and best lenses have lower variation. Even contrast detect has some variation. The variation is a little larger with phase detect than contrast detect, and on average contrast detect focuses more accurately.

It's also normal for the center sensor to focus more accurately than outer sensors, and the extreme sensors are going to be the least accurate. You fine tune focus with the center sensor - not the extreme sensors.

And with most lenses, the center of the lens is the sharpest area and the edges are softer. That's more the case on FX because DX crops out the outer, softer areas.

Finally, when you zoom on a D800 image, you are looking at nearly double the magnification of D700 and D3 images.


Eric Bowles
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