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Nikon D800 focus problem

Carmen Tulum

Toronto, CA
43 posts

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Carmen Tulum Registered since 09th Nov 2012
Sat 17-Nov-12 05:26 PM

Thanks to this forum, I just established that I have the focus problem, on the left as well as on the right side.

At the moment, I'm still in shock.

I have read in one or two Nikonians' forums that they were unhappy about the repairs that were done on the focus.

I would like to hear from owners who were able to get it fixed satisfactory, please...
Are there any Nikonians who had an OK experience, who had the focus fixed by Nikon and who is happy with the result? And where was it done? (I'm in Canada, can they do it well enough here, I just wonder?)

I have a suggestion - because I'm wondering how many Nikonians actually have this problem it could be interesting if someone could put up a sort of tally chart on Nikonians.org, maybe that would help Nikon too, to establish what percentage of owners are affected.

kamputty

Santa Cruz, US
197 posts

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#1. "RE: Nikon D800 focus problem" | In response to Reply # 0

kamputty Registered since 04th Jan 2007
Sat 17-Nov-12 04:59 PM

Hey Carmen,

Bummer about the focus issue...for a true results test, everyone should use the same setup (same charts, same distance, group test lenses together )

Now we can have an apples to apples test...

We should also use te same setup to align the lens (focus plane) etc...

~kam

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aay

CA
172 posts

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#2. "RE: Nikon D800 focus problem" | In response to Reply # 1

aay Registered since 11th Jul 2010
Sat 17-Nov-12 07:50 PM

This is a bit confusing. We are not comparing multiple cameras to each other to see which one is better or test single lens on multiple bodies to see if a lens faulty. The test here is to make sure that 3 groups of sensors on a single camera operate equally well.

All you need for this is, ideally, more than a single lens to show that any particular lens is not an issue here. A well light environment, set of flat targets (star charts or anything else with fine details), tripod and a remote control to avoid any possible shakes (if you can get really fast shutter speed then remote is not really needed). And that's it. It's not a rocket science. The process of doing that is outlined pretty well by such well known photographers as Thom Hogan and Nasim Mansurov.

No need to bring into this ideas like "color temperature" and such. It's simple - if one (or more but not all) sensor groups do not focus properly using Phase Detect but focus properly using Contrast Detect on more than one lens then it's extremely high probability that the camera body is the issue.

In addition to flat targets I would also test focusing on some non flat object making sure that focus point is always the same - then it's another example of how focusing affects the image in real world scenario.

To those who would say "stop shooting targets and go into the real world" - unless you shoot everything at f/22 focus precision is important.

Why do people try to confuse those who have problems and make it seem like the issue is with the person? Would these same people appreciate if someone more knowledgeable in another area started to confuse them with a lot of irrelevant details? The attitude of "you don't know what you are doing" is really annoying and arrogant.

Alex
http://www.yermakov.net

aay

CA
172 posts

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#3. "RE: Nikon D800 focus problem" | In response to Reply # 0

aay Registered since 11th Jul 2010
Sat 17-Nov-12 08:33 PM

Carmen,

Sorry to hear about the issue with your camera. I've got the same issue which didn't really get fixed by Nikon service center. I am from Canada as well.

To answer your question about people who have had their cameras successfully fixed. I don't think I saw any reports to that extent here (I might be wrong, I read way to many different sources of this issue) but I did read about 2 or 3 reported cases in which the issue has been successfully rectified. One of those was in Netherlands, couple in the states and Ming Thien in Asia reported that his camera was fixed (maybe Nikon replaced the whole thing inside since Ming is a very well known photographer - I do not know).

Good luck with your camera.

Alex
http://www.yermakov.net

mklass

Tacoma, US
7437 posts

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#4. "RE: Nikon D800 focus problem" | In response to Reply # 2

mklass Platinum Member As a semi-professional involved in all manner of photographic genres including portraiture, sports, commercial, and events coverage, Mick is always ready to help Nikonians by sharing his deep knowledge of photography and printing. Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 08th Dec 2006
Sat 17-Nov-12 08:39 PM

Alex,

You ask for help and then complain when people want to be sure they are giving you an answer that won't be wrong because they assumed you did something that maybe you didn't.

We ask questions about your procedure to be sure that we give you a good answer.

If you are certain that you have a problem, then deal with it with Nikon, because no one here is has the power to fix it for you.

If you want a place to rant and be anti-NIkon, go to a Canon forum.

If you are open to suggestions on how to identify and solve a problem with Nikon equipment, this is a great place to get help.

If you think we are arrogant and annoying, why keep posting?

Mick
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or
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aay

CA
172 posts

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#5. "RE: Nikon D800 focus problem" | In response to Reply # 4

aay Registered since 11th Jul 2010
Sat 17-Nov-12 09:05 PM

Mick, I think your post doesn't really belong in this thread. Your questions are valid and I'd be happy to discuss them either privately or in the thread I created for my problem discussion.

My comment about confusion that some people are bringing into conversations, I think, is valid. I was referring to a comment earlier that "many cameras need to be tested together with same lenses, same distances". I believe this comment is confusing and misleading and non constructive. Especially for the OP who clearly stated that she's upset with this situation. Do I accuse everyone here of that or even a single particular person? No. I can make a comment about a particular remark, but that is about it.

As for advice and help from others. Mick, I really do appreciate all advice that I get here. I did appreciate your comments and advice that you posted in my thread. I do appreciate when people are constructive and are willing to help - I really respect people like that. However some people seem to take a different stance and that when I fail to understand the reasoning behind such approach.

I do not want to prolong this out of topic discussion. If you are upset with me and want to clear things up - please contact me privately. I don't think there can be anything between us that should lead to any sort of conflict.

I hope that OP will find a good way of dealing with her situation. And I am sure that a lot of people here would be glad to give their advice.

Alex
http://www.yermakov.net

rplst8

Johnstown, US
150 posts

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#6. "RE: Nikon D800 focus problem" | In response to Reply # 4

rplst8 Silver Member Nikonian since 18th Dec 2008
Sun 18-Nov-12 12:21 AM

>Alex,
>

>If you are certain that you have a problem, then deal with it
>with Nikon, because no one here is has the power to fix it for
>you.

<snip>

>If you are open to suggestions on how to identify and solve a
>problem with Nikon equipment, this is a great place to get
>help.

How can you suggest both of these in the same post? I'm not trying to flame you, and I'm not even that angry, but do you have any idea how frustrating it is to spend this kind of money on a camera, and get better auto focus results from a D300?

It's not like anyone can just call up Nikon in Japan and discuss the problem with one of their optics engineers. My case was escalated up to a Senior General Manager of Customer Service, and the testing he did was completely botched. He didn't even bother to actually test the center focus point. He also did his tests at 1/80th of a second, so it's hard to know in a few of his examples weather camera shake or mirror vibration had anything to do with it.

I have VERY clearly documented evidence of the problems I was seeing with my camera. There was literally no explanation. Not "oh we'll look into it more" or any sort of apology for having to send it in twice. The third time, the response was basically, "it's good enough for us, sorry you're having a problem."


>If you want a place to rant and be anti-NIkon, go to a Canon
>forum.

I don't think anyone is anti-Nikon that bought a D800. I've have forked over a lot of cash to Nikon over the years. I like Nikon's products. I think they offer something others don't specifically compatibility back to the 1970's AI/AI-s mount and even F mount lenses that have been AI converted. Do I expect to be coddled and pampered because of that? No. I simply expect to receive a fully working product, or at least one as good as others have.

>If you think we are arrogant and annoying, why keep posting?

Unless you have something specifically to add to either help with the focusing issues people have encountered, or to offer some support, why do you keep posting?

--
RL

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mklass

Tacoma, US
7437 posts

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#7. "RE: Nikon D800 focus problem" | In response to Reply # 6

mklass Platinum Member As a semi-professional involved in all manner of photographic genres including portraiture, sports, commercial, and events coverage, Mick is always ready to help Nikonians by sharing his deep knowledge of photography and printing. Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 08th Dec 2006
Sun 18-Nov-12 03:16 AM

What support can we give here except our advice on how to diagnose a problem and possibly get it repaired?

Our fellow member clearly has a problem that has apparently been made worse by Nikon service. They should fix it. I don't think there is anyone on this forum that can take the camera and fix it. We can just offer the best advice we have.

The poster thought there are a bunch of people here who are arrogant and annoying. Those are his words. I tend to avoid arrogant and annoying people whenever possible. Hence my question.

My advice on a camera with bad focusing, or any other noted defect, has always been: return it, get it fixed, or live with it. Do you have another option that isn't covered by those?

Mick
http://www.mickklassphoto.com
or
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richardd300

Dyserth, UK
4576 posts

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#8. "RE: Nikon D800 focus problem" | In response to Reply # 3

richardd300 Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Apr 2009
Sun 18-Nov-12 08:28 AM

I am concerned about the whole issue of focus, or rather the manifestation now of AF Fine tuning. I wonder if in fact and I do not include those who have sent cameras back to Nikon, if many focus issues are down to other factors e.g. appropriate shutter speeds in many cases and matching the correct apertures in others.

My experience is varied, but beware. I have conducted extensive tests with LensAlign and associated FocusTune. I saw some extremely varied results with the same lenses in particular the 24-70mm f2.8. I went through these exercises not because I had any focus worries, but because I was interested. Some results worried me greatly, however there is good news for me anyway.

I have concluded that any fine tune testing must be conducted under the most rigorous conditions, almost laboratory in nature. If not the results will vary greatly and some will result in what I now call "Fine Tune paranoia or FTP".

I had no worries about my lenses on my D800 or D7000 and in the end I actually scrapped all the results and went to a flat target in perfect light and tested at various focal lengths. I am left with the following conclusions where the use of angled targets are concerned:

1. AF fine tune is best conducted on Prime lenses, if required at all.

2. If fine tune is to be attempted on a zoom lens then choose the focal length usually used. I have little faith in this method as that's like saying I have bought a zoom, but to use as a prime.

3. If attempting fine tune on any other focal point other than centre focus, beware the results as it may well screw up other points.

4. Finally, certain parameters must be obeyed, lens orientation to target, available light, reduce shake by using Mup and remote release. If these are not accomplished the whole exercise will be a waste of effort and shutter activations.

This is my take on AF fine tune, my LensAlign now resides in the cupboard until I really feel I have a problem with a lens and then only if it is a prime lens.

This is my take on it, but others will have many varying ideas I'm sure. There is certainly much to be applauded when assessing prime lenses via angled target methods provided conditions are perfect. All I can say is that all my lenses are now set to zero fine tune and in place I have refined my shutter speed to aperture techniques with much success.

Richard

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The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. Einstein

InsaneO

Encino, US
395 posts

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#9. "RE: Nikon D800 focus problem" | In response to Reply # 8

InsaneO Registered since 09th May 2012
Sun 18-Nov-12 05:57 PM

I used to use home build Lens Align device before there was Lens Align but now 5 batteries an inch apart or a pebble on the cement floor (for texture) is all I use.

Carmen Tulum

Toronto, CA
43 posts

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#10. "RE: Nikon D800 focus problem" | In response to Reply # 0

Carmen Tulum Registered since 09th Nov 2012
Mon 19-Nov-12 11:11 AM

No one responded who had their focus problems fixed to their satisfaction, so I'm going to re-post my question in another post, since this got off topic here. (and please let there be people who had their faulty focus fixed!)

Btw, its really simple to detect the focus problem - you focus, shoot and then you look. All of us Nikonians have developed that skill (to see if something is in focus) quite well. I got 1/30 correct focus on the left side, 29/30 in the middle, and 12/30 on the right side. Its even detectable on the camera in playback.

dbvisions

Ringgold, US
65 posts

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#11. "RE: Nikon D800 focus problem" | In response to Reply # 10

dbvisions Silver Member Nikonian since 25th Jan 2011
Mon 19-Nov-12 07:14 PM | edited Mon 19-Nov-12 07:30 PM by dbvisions

All of us seem to have anecdotal evidence of focus problems. Mine is that all of my lenses work well with my D700 with no AF finetuning - but I usually don't want the most shallow depth-of-field obtainable. If I did I might need to use some AF finetuning with the D700.

However, my new D800 was backfocusing consistently, even at f/3.2 or so. Because of that, I used FoCal to do AF finetuning on all my lenses with the D800. Now it gives the very sharp subjects that I expected from this phenomenal camera!

I have not checked to see if I get consistent focusing across all 51 sensors. If I get some spare time I will look at that this weekend with one or two lenses.

btw - I do portraits, some sports, and action horse shots. As a general rule, I use single-point focus, the "focus on" button to focus, and AF-C whether I am shooting action or portraits.

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ericbowles

Atlanta, US
10639 posts

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#12. "RE: Nikon D800 focus problem" | In response to Reply # 0

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
Mon 19-Nov-12 08:03 PM

Carmen

One thing to watch for is that some lens problems are showing up and incorrectly being attributed to the camera. An incorrectly positioned lens element can result in the same results you reported. If you are going to send in your camera, you might want to send the lens with it.

Focus inconsistency is different than a consistent focus error. On my D800E I get the same error every time with the far left focus point. On the far right I get a small but repeatable focus error. The errors are very consistent - same direction and amount of error. And my center sensor is quite reliable and accurate.

Even the center sensor performing to spec its going to have variation, but it tends to be tightly ranged small misses. And you won't be likely to ever find a lens and camera combination that performs as well with outer sensors as the center sensor. The resolution of the D800 shows errors you could not see on earlier cameras.

I've also seen reports of missed focus with other variables that Richard mentioned. ISO, WB, and distance to the subject all can produce inconsistent results and false errors.

Your focus technique can also make a difference as to whether errors make much difference. If you focus and reframe, tracking can cause focus errors. If you use the shutter to activate focus, you need to position the sensor over a good focus target. Back button focus tends to allow you to increase use of the center sensor which is the most accurate.

With all these potential sources of error and different testing methodologies, it's probably better that we leave it up to each individual to assess their own cameras and course of action. If you feel you are having a significant problem, by all means have it fixed.

As far as the repair, I have heard more reports of proper repairs than of problems. But some of the problems have been pretty bad. I'm going slow on having my D800E repaired since the central group of sensors is pretty good.


Eric Bowles
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richardd300

Dyserth, UK
4576 posts

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#13. "RE: Nikon D800 focus problem" | In response to Reply # 12

richardd300 Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Apr 2009
Mon 19-Nov-12 09:01 PM

I do hope I didn't give an impression that I was doubting that camera or lens error, or that a combination of the two were perhaps to blame. I do accept that certain styles and genres of photography give rise to a possible focus problem being far more identifiable especially in portrait, or other closer work, where an errant focus would be more noticeable. I include street and architecture in this scenario too.

My work is largely wildlife and landscape. With wildlife the only time I use AF-C is when I am using dynamic 51 point or less and 3D focus mode for birds in flight. I am indeed fortunate that the instances where the target has selected left or right focus points, the capture has been in focus. With landscapes I only use Centre focus in AF-S, so there is luckily no issue for me.

No one has really persuaded me zoom lens errors can be coped with by any angled tests unless either a permanent focal length is used, or perhaps a decided average of staged tests across the full focal length will make an overall improvement.

Perhaps I am posting in the wrong forum, but I do value others opinions and ideas on the fine tuning issues.

Richard

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The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. Einstein

mgd7

New York, US
104 posts

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#14. "RE: Nikon D800 focus problem" | In response to Reply # 12

mgd7 Registered since 06th Mar 2012
Tue 20-Nov-12 12:27 PM | edited Tue 20-Nov-12 12:28 PM by mgd7

+1 to Eric's comment. The test for AF error isn't whether the Center is sharper than the Left or Right, because almost every lens will be sharper in the Center. Rather, the test is to compare PDAF (i.e. autofocusing using the viewfinder) vs. CDAF (i.e. autofocusing using live view) for the same part of the lens.

Assuming you've done the testing correctly, if you are still in the return period, I'd suggest returning it and trying to get a camera without the problem. If you're no longer in the return period and are only now noticing the problem--because you're looking for it?--then it may be something you can live with, at least until there is more evidence Nikon Canada can repair the camera.

Mike

gpoole

Farmington Hills, US
4133 posts

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#15. "RE: Nikon D800 focus problem" | In response to Reply # 14

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 20-Nov-12 12:46 PM

I agree that comparing viewfinder and Live View focusing is a good way to detect focusing problems. However when I sent that complaint to Nikon USA, they responded with something like because those are 2 different focusing methods, you should not expect them to give the same results. I might agree that in most images there could be a slight difference, but I was doing brick wall tests. When there is only one plane of possible focus, I don't see how there could be a difference.

Gary in SE Michigan, USA.
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ericbowles

Atlanta, US
10639 posts

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#16. "RE: Nikon D800 focus problem" | In response to Reply # 15

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 20-Nov-12 01:01 PM

Gary is right. Because Live View uses contrast for focus, it does not use AF fine tuning. The Phase Detect AF system does use Fine Tuning so one difference would be that AF fine tuning is required.

Live View requires contrast, so low contrast targets are problematic.

Both AF methods are not perfect. LensRentals and most automated tests uses dozens of AF cycles to test focus. There is a significant amount of variation with AF in general, and occasional completely missed focus. That's just life. Because there is variation with both methods, Lensrentals found Phase Detect was better some of the time, but statistically Live View is more accurate.

LensRentals also found newer lens models produced better and more consistent test results than older lenses. And some lenses have flaws that show up through age/wear over time.

If you have a faulty lens, all bets are off. Live View can get close, but performance will suffer. Faulty lenses are hard to identify - it may look like a focus error or even just a little softness.

Eric Bowles
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