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Have you had this crazy AF problem?

avisys

Placitas, US
482 posts

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avisys Basic Member
Tue 25-Sep-12 05:17 PM

Have you ever had this AF thing happen? It happens on occasion with all my lenses.

Rotate the focus ring to some far out position, either near infinity or very, very close. Point the current focus point at a good target six feet away -- in good light. Press the shutter button half-way down. The camera may or may not make a small focus action, but nowhere close to focus. The finder image is very fuzzy, way out of focus, but the green dot turns on and the camera will take a picture, out of focus, of course. (I have focus priority, AF-S)

This does not happen all the time, but often enough to drive me crazy. And it can happen with any lens -- 24-70, 70-200, 105 Micro, so far.

Is this a common problem? Or a common user error. (I've never experienced this with my D70, D300, D2x, D3.)

AviSys

gpoole

Farmington Hills, US
4127 posts

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#1. "RE: Have you had this crazy AF problem?" | In response to Reply # 0

gpoole Platinum Member Fellow Ribbon awarded for his excellent and frequent contributions and sharing his in-depth knowledge and experience with the community in the Nikonians spirit. Awarded for his very generous support to the Fundrasing Campaing 2014 Writer Ribbon awarded for his article contributions for the Articles library and the eZine Nikonian since 14th Feb 2004
Tue 25-Sep-12 03:57 PM

I use the back button with AF-C release priority almost exclusively, so I can't say for sure that I haven't had the problem. I can't remember ever seeing the green in focus dot come on when the area under the AF was badly out of focus though; not on my D800e or D90, D300, or D4 either.

My first reaction would be to say check your battery status immediately the next time the problem occurs. If the battery is OK, then clean the electrical contacts in the lens mount and on the lenses. Check the contacts for damage and not being seated correctly. In your case I'm skeptical cleaning will help. It's worth a try though, because the next step would probably be to ship it off to Nikon.

I'd also post this on the My Questions page in the Nikon USA Contact Service * Support section of their Web site. If you don't already have a Nikon USA login, you will be asked to create one along the way. You should get a reply in a day or two.

Gary in SE Michigan, USA.
Nikonians membership - My most important photographic investment, after the camera.
D4, D810, D300 (720nm IR conversion), D90, F6, FM3a (black), FM2n (chrome)
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FineArtSnaps

Leesburg, US
401 posts

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#2. "RE: Have you had this crazy AF problem?" | In response to Reply # 1

FineArtSnaps Silver Member Nikonian since 12th Jun 2012
Tue 25-Sep-12 05:23 PM

Gary's got the right idea. If you stop using a half-press on the shutter button and start using the AF-ON button, setting a4 (AF activation) to AF-ON only, so you don't get a focus jump when you press the shutter button, and set a1 (AF-C priority selection) to Release, then set the camera to AF-C using the AF switch and command dial, you add flexibility to the camera. You don't have to focus on something and then try to hold the shutter release half way down as you re-frame your shot. You press AF-ON, with the focus point you want, let go, and you're set. You can re-frame to your heart's content without running the risk of having the focus point jump when you shoot. If a bird flies by you can track it and shoot at what YOU decide is the right point, by holding down AF-ON and pushing the shutter release at the right point.

If you've been used to using the shutter button for focus it takes a while to get used to the new setup, but once you try it for a while you'll never go back.

Russ Lewis
www.russ-lewis.com
www.FineArtSnaps.com

avisys

Placitas, US
482 posts

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#3. "RE: Have you had this crazy AF problem?" | In response to Reply # 2

avisys Basic Member
Tue 25-Sep-12 05:38 PM

>Gary's got the right idea. If you stop using a half-press on
>the shutter button and start using the AF-ON button, setting
>a4 (AF activation) to AF-ON only, so you don't get a focus
>jump when you press the shutter button, and set a1 (AF-C
>priority selection) to Release, then set the camera to AF-C
>using the AF switch and command dial, you add flexibility to
>the camera.

I understand that. I'm just trying to understand this current behavior in this AF mode --- to see if the camera is acting properly.

AviSys

ericbowles

Atlanta, US
10631 posts

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#4. "RE: Have you had this crazy AF problem?" | In response to Reply # 3

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
Tue 25-Sep-12 07:54 PM

Your camera and lens are working normally.

When you have extreme differences between the desired focus distance and the lens before focusing, the camera may not see the desired focus point. One error is hunting. The other is just giving up. With AFS, you can simply manually assist or pick an alternate target closer to the subject and get close enough to engage AF.

Some photographers use manual focus to get close to the desired focal plane and let AF simply fine tune the final focus. This can be helpful when hunting loses critical images.


Eric Bowles
Nikonians Team
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Nikonians membership — my most important photographic investment, after the camera

gpoole

Farmington Hills, US
4127 posts

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#5. "RE: Have you had this crazy AF problem?" | In response to Reply # 2

gpoole Platinum Member Fellow Ribbon awarded for his excellent and frequent contributions and sharing his in-depth knowledge and experience with the community in the Nikonians spirit. Awarded for his very generous support to the Fundrasing Campaing 2014 Writer Ribbon awarded for his article contributions for the Articles library and the eZine Nikonian since 14th Feb 2004
Tue 25-Sep-12 08:02 PM

I'm not trying to promote back button focusing to the OP! I just was trying to give some background in claiming that I have not seen the problem he is having. I believe completion of focusing and the green dot coming on are common to both his operating procedure and mine.

It sounds like the OP has a real problem and not operator error. He's had experience with other Nikon DSLRs. The D800 is not any different with respected to what he is observing.

Cleaning and inspecting the lens mount and lens electrical contacts is all I think he can do. If that doesn't turn up any problem then he is facing repair.

Gary in SE Michigan, USA.
Nikonians membership - My most important photographic investment, after the camera.
D4, D810, D300 (720nm IR conversion), D90, F6, FM3a (black), FM2n (chrome)
YashicaMat 124, Graflex Speed Graphic 4x5
My Nikonians Gallery & Our Chapter Gallery

avisys

Placitas, US
482 posts

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#6. "RE: Have you had this crazy AF problem?" | In response to Reply # 4

avisys Basic Member
Tue 25-Sep-12 09:53 PM

>Your camera and lens are working normally.
>
>When you have extreme differences between the desired focus
>distance and the lens before focusing, the camera may not see
>the desired focus point. One error is hunting. The other is
>just giving up. With AFS, you can simply manually assist or
>pick an alternate target closer to the subject and get close
>enough to engage AF.

That's interesting, and I can accept it. All my prior experience is that the camera would always hunt, not forever with a bad target, but in an attempt to find one.

AviSys

ericbowles

Atlanta, US
10631 posts

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#7. "RE: Have you had this crazy AF problem?" | In response to Reply # 6

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
Tue 25-Sep-12 11:49 PM

I still run into occasional situations with both continuous hunting and giving up. Giving up is not common - but has probably happened a couple of times per 1000 frames or more. The situation is with challenging subjects or long lenses. I think it is unique to this system. I might have seen it with the D7000, but not earlier cameras.

Eric Bowles
Nikonians Team
My Gallery
Workshops - Smokies Oct 2012

Nikonians membership — my most important photographic investment, after the camera

Nature Watcher

UK
8 posts

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#8. "RE: Have you had this crazy AF problem?" | In response to Reply # 7

Nature Watcher Registered since 07th Feb 2011
Fri 28-Sep-12 03:29 PM

My D7000 does it most of the time. It's driving me crazy. The D7000 has been relegated to macro work, where I normally use manual focus.

Have just bought myself a D800, and I just hope it doesn't happen with this!

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

avisys

Placitas, US
482 posts

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#9. "RE: Have you had this crazy AF problem?" | In response to Reply # 8

avisys Basic Member
Fri 28-Sep-12 04:52 PM | edited Fri 28-Sep-12 04:56 PM by avisys

>My D7000 does it most of the time. It's driving me crazy.
>The D7000 has been relegated to macro work, where I normally
>use manual focus.

What's crazy, in my case, is that it will focus on fuzz (with a great, but fuzzy, target in the middle of the fuzz, with the focus bracket on it), turn the green spot on, AND TAKE THE PHOTO!!

I guess I could accept constant hunting (just grab the ring and reset focus), but I can't accept that the camera somehow thinks fuzz is a sharp image.


AviSys

ericbowles

Atlanta, US
10631 posts

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#10. "RE: Have you had this crazy AF problem?" | 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
Sat 29-Sep-12 12:30 PM

Using AF effectively is a learned skill. You need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your gear. There can be a big difference between the performance of different AF sensors, different AF targets, speed of acquiring focus, and even lens performance.

If your camera is having a hard time with AF focus, take a look at what you are doing to impact performance. I know that the center AF sensor is blazing fast and accurate on my D7000 with my 600 f/4. I know that AF is a little slow with my 105 f/2.8. I know that the outer sensors may struggle and I need to choose a cross sensor or the center sensor occasionally. The AF system on the D7000 is quite good - and the D800 AF system is even better. The D3 and D4 AF is generally better than their Dx00 and Dx000 counterparts.

Eric Bowles
Nikonians Team
My Gallery
Workshops - Smokies Oct 2012

Nikonians membership — my most important photographic investment, after the camera

gorji

Jamesville, US
311 posts

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#11. "RE: Have you had this crazy AF problem?" | In response to Reply # 1

gorji Registered since 07th Jan 2007
Mon 01-Oct-12 03:28 PM | edited Mon 01-Oct-12 03:40 PM by gorji

Nice explanations provided. Awesome.
-------------
Please visit my galleries: Reza Gorji Photography

Nature Watcher

UK
8 posts

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#12. "RE: Have you had this crazy AF problem?" | In response to Reply # 10

Nature Watcher Registered since 07th Feb 2011
Mon 01-Oct-12 04:27 PM

I should explain a bit more. I've been using D200s since they first came out, and have been very happy with the auto-focussing. I bought a D7000 soon after it came out, because I wanted to be able to do video at times (carrying both video and stills equipment at the same time was not practical - I'm only a small person!)

At first the D7000 seemed a bit slow to focus on flying birds, compared with the D200s, and on a couple of occasions I switched back to the older camera - both times in poor light. But in general, I was getting excellent results in decent light, including hand-holding the D7000 with a 300mm f4 from a boat - set at 1/1000s, it worked extremely well.

Back in January, the combination wasn't focussing properly - the lens often going to the closest focus end with only a bit of hunting first. Manually focussing put the lens to right for a shot or two, then it was back to the close focus end. We decided the problem was the lens, as this occurred on the other camegra bodies too. The lens went back to Nikon, who replaced the motor. Afterwards, I put it on the D7000 and it worked for a few days, then the problem returned. But the lens worked fine on the D200s.

Assuming that it was the combination with the D7000 that was the problem, I left the lens on a D200 and put the Sigma 150mm macro on the D7000. And from time to time, had the same problem. It is intermittant, but frequent enough to be annoying. For the most part, I don't use auto-focus on macro work although it is very useful if I'm hand-holding with the R1 macro flash attached.

The D7000 was repaired after I dropped it last year, and the problem appeared soon after that. I have to assume that the fall caused damage somewhere that Nikon couldn't find - because the focussing problem is intermittant.

So, in this case, it is definitely a camera problem. And the solution is to not use the camera in a situation where auto-focussing is essential.

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

G