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Did D800E ever have left focus problem?

russg

Phoenix, US
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russg Silver Member Nikonian since 03rd Nov 2007
Fri 04-Jan-13 09:41 PM

Not to beat a dead horse, but I couldn't find an answer to this question. Were the D800E bodies ever afflicted with the left focus problem? Thom Hogan suggests on his site that D800 bodies post serial number 3050000 should be beyond the problems on the production line, but obviously that point in the serial number run would not apply to the D800E bodies, as they have their own run of serial numbers. I've never read one way or the other as to if the early D800E bodies were effected. It's always been labeled the "D800 left focus problem".

Russ

pponzo99

Rye Brook, US
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#1. "RE: Did D800E ever have left focus problem?" | In response to Reply # 0

pponzo99 Silver Member Nikonian since 19th May 2002
Fri 04-Jan-13 10:39 PM


I'm sorry, I can't answer the D800e question, but I just returned a D800 with a serial number 305XXXX because of a left/right focus issue.



Paul

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stappy

Alexandria, US
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#2. "RE: Did D800E ever have left focus problem?" | In response to Reply # 0

stappy Gold Member Nikonian since 06th Aug 2009
Fri 04-Jan-13 11:01 PM

There have been previous reports of left focus issues from those who purchased early D800E's. Since the launch of the D800E was delayed from the D800 one could asssume that the number of effected D800E's would be less than that of the D800 before the issue was addressed.


Brian

venusian

US
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#3. "RE: Did D800E ever have left focus problem?" | In response to Reply # 2

venusian Registered since 17th Dec 2008
Fri 04-Jan-13 11:24 PM

Ming Thein had the problem with his D800E. He claims the problem was fixed, but in later posts he expresses doubt sometimes that it was repaired successfully.

http://blog.mingthein.com/2012/07/04/nikon-d800e-focusing-update-problem-solved/

Nick (Roxbury, Connecticut Nikonian)

ericbowles

Atlanta, US
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#4. "RE: Did D800E ever have left 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
Sat 05-Jan-13 12:48 AM

I have a very early D800E with the left AF issue. I have not sent it for service yet as the reports on repairs have been mixed and I've been busy.

The center sensor is so much sharper than anything I have ever seen, and I can easily work around the left AF point issue.

After coming to understand focus a bit better, I am less concerned about issues at the extremes. The focus is much better with the center sensor on all cameras in terms of reliability and accuracy. Even with the best of lenses, it's the outer areas that have problems based on lens issues.

For what it's worth, the serial numbers of the D800E are a subset of the D800 with extra production time. My body is a very early model that was pulled for "conversion" to the D800E.

Eric Bowles
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icslowmo

Surprise, US
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#5. "RE: Did D800E ever have left focus problem?" | In response to Reply # 4

icslowmo Registered since 01st Jan 2012
Sat 05-Jan-13 02:26 AM

I too have an early D800E (300108X) and notice the the left side AF points to be less accurate then the others. I haven't sent mine in either for the same reasons as Eric. Also, I'm usually only using the cross type points or the right side points for portraits anyway. So I don't notice the issue hardly at all....

Chris

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DAJolley

US
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#6. "RE: Did D800E ever have left focus problem?" | In response to Reply # 5

DAJolley Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Dec 2007
Sat 05-Jan-13 10:26 AM

My early D800E has the left AF issue just like Eric and Chris. I'm getting ready to send it to Nikon soon, hoping they have a fix.
Dave

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russg

Phoenix, US
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#7. "RE: Did D800E ever have left focus problem?" | In response to Reply # 4

russg Silver Member Nikonian since 03rd Nov 2007
Sat 05-Jan-13 11:43 AM

Thanks for the informative reply, Eric. I don't undestand what you mean when you say the D800E serial numbers are a subset of the D800 numbers with extra production time. Could you elaborate?

A D800 serial number of 3050000 would indicate to me that it is 50,000th unit off the line, but it probably doesn't work that way. The D800E that I received two days ago has a SN of 3008xxx, which no doubt fits into your subset of 3050000 scenario, but I don't quite understand the relationship.

Russ

russg

Phoenix, US
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#8. "RE: Did D800E ever have left focus problem?" | In response to Reply # 0

russg Silver Member Nikonian since 03rd Nov 2007
Sat 05-Jan-13 12:04 PM

Thanks so much for the replies, gentlemen. I received my D800E two days ago. I haven't had a chance to do any real shooting with it yet, just stuff around the house to make sure all appears fine, which it does.

To be sure, I suppose I should perform whatever testing best identifies the focus problem. The only testing methodolgy I've read is Thom Hogan's, which involves comparing shots of a test target taken in live view versus the phase detect system. Do any of you have a test method you would care to share?

Russ

ericbowles

Atlanta, US
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#9. "RE: Did D800E ever have left focus problem?" | In response to Reply # 7

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 05-Jan-13 01:15 PM

Serial numbers
My D800E has a serial number of 3001xxx and it was a first week release. A similar range of serial numbers included some D800 models. Nikon does not repeat serial numbers, so there must have been some type of coordination of serial numbers during production. My understanding is the D800E is created by modifying D800 cameras but I don't know anything about the stage in assembly.

AF testing
There are lots of things that can be tested on the camera. The center sensor should be the most accurate for focus and is used for testing and fine tuning AF for your lens. If your lens is not correct, other results may not be accurate.

Using the center sensor for AF, you can test for sharpness of your lens across the frame. Most lenses are less sharp as you move to the edges. so it gives you a baseline.

Live View uses a different technology for testing that is generally more accurate. With the center sensor, you can use Live View to compare the two methods of AF and assess whether the Phase Detect system of regular viewfinder focus is accurate. Keep in mind that both Phase Detect (regular focus)and Contrast Detect (Live View focus) AF have variation so there will probably be some test images from PD that are as sharp or sharper than CD.

Focus accuracy testing is normally done at the widest aperture and a medium focal length - 35-85mm. The shallow DOF of a wide aperture makes it easier to see focus accuracy or errors. Stopped down the increased DOF makes many focus errors hard to see. Keep in mind that wide open is not the sharpest aperture - it is simply for testing.

When you are testing you should defocus the lens slightly. If you defocus the lens to an extreme, you'll get a lot more errors and that's not the point.

The left focus issue is a problem with the far left center focus point. We know that outer AF sensors are less accurate than the center sensor, but in this case if you have a problem there is a distinct focus error on all frames. By taking a set of test images using the far left AF sensor and Live View, you establish a baseline for what kind of sharpness is possible using CD focus. Then you create a set of test images using the far left sensor and the shutter or AF-On button (your choice depending on how you activate focus). If the Live View images are sharp, and the PD images are all out of focus. You would test the far left, center, far right sensors and any others desired.

There is a lot of discussion about focus targets and the distance of those targets. You want to set up your target at a relatively close distance - 4-5 feet for a 50mm lens. This lets you see enough detail that you can see focus errors. You can also test at normal shooting distance, but that may produce different results at different distances. For Fine Tuning focus for each lens, you will vary the distance from the target with the focal length.

It is extremely important that your camera be perfectly square to the target. Some systems use a mirror on your target to make sure alignment is perfect.

There are a lot of possible test targets. The key is the target needs to be flat with strong, bold lines that make focus easy. Angled rulers are used for scale to show the direction of the error - not for focus. The target needs to be well lit. A tripod and cable release should be used for testing. You also want to use AF-S and single point auto focus.

I would not spend a lot of time doing real testing until you have some indication of a problem. Just take some images using the center sensor and make sure they are pretty sharp. Then take some images using other sensors and see if there is any pattern that all the images are out of focus. If the images are okay using the extreme focus points, you're fine. If you have a question, then you can get into further testing.

Eric Bowles
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russg

Phoenix, US
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#10. "RE: Did D800E ever have left focus problem?" | In response to Reply # 9

russg Silver Member Nikonian since 03rd Nov 2007
Sat 05-Jan-13 03:19 PM

Many thanks for the detailed reply, Eric. I think the last paragraph in your reply is the one that is most applicable to me at this point. I intend to get more hands-on time with the camera this weekend. Up till now I have mostly been reading Thom's Complete Guide eBook and Darrell's Mastering book. 1,400+ pages between the two of them. Sheesh!

Russ

cchoc

Marietta, US
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#11. "RE: Did D800E ever have left focus problem?" | In response to Reply # 0

cchoc Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge and high level skills in various areas, most notably in Landscape Photography Charter Member
Sat 05-Jan-13 03:32 PM

I got my D800E yesterday from B&H and it has a serial number in the 3011xxx range. I haven't had enough time with it to see if it has a left focus issue, though.

Charlie...
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pollarda

Provo, US
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#12. "RE: Did D800E ever have left focus problem?" | In response to Reply # 11

pollarda Registered since 23rd Feb 2007
Sat 05-Jan-13 09:56 PM


I have a real low serial number D800E in the low 400s: 30004xx and I most definitely have a left focus issue. I'm about to send it back in for service. Luckily, PictureLine where I purchased it is willing to just send it back and I won't even have to muck about having Nikon approve it. I'm going to have to make sure that I take a series of pictures with the Left, Middle, Right focus sensors prior to sending it in to be sure that when they return it it is really fixed all the way across and it is better returned when I sent it in.

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airlaw

Seattle, US
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#13. "RE: Did D800E ever have left focus problem?" | In response to Reply # 12

airlaw Gold Member Nikonian since 23rd Sep 2002
Fri 18-Jan-13 06:29 AM

This issue baffles me. It has been going on so long and Nikon is mute on a permanent fix. I sold my D3 in anticipation of buying a D800e. But I'm not paying that kind of money for trouble. A D4 or maybe it's time to go to Cannon. The D800 had so much promise, and quality wise, it's a bust. Like the 787 these days.

Kit

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KnightPhoto

Alberta, CA
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#15. "RE: Did D800E ever have left focus problem?" | In response to Reply # 13

KnightPhoto Gold Member Nikonian since 18th Dec 2006
Fri 18-Jan-13 11:18 AM

OK, but you are mis-reading the tea leaves. Most people would agree this manufacturing defect is long since over. What you read about these days is the clean-up. There is a difference.

Best regards, SteveK

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km6xz

St Petersburg, RU
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#16. "RE: Did D800E ever have left focus problem?" | In response to Reply # 13

km6xz Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, including Portraits and Urban Photography Nikonian since 22nd Jan 2009
Fri 18-Jan-13 12:00 PM

Have you shot with a D800?
If you have, and still are concerned, maybe it was not for you in the first place. Nikon will never announce they had a fix when it is questionable whether they think there was ever a problem other than case by case final checkout errors.
Those who take photos with theirs, instead of just tests and rulers at an angle, who have the far left FP inaccuracy, find that the image quality is second to none. And, at over 800 ISO beats out the most expensive MF cameras. A survey of those who use wide primes at 1.4 focused using a far left FP would surely turn up a few people who had a frame or two spoiled but it would also turn up the fact that very few people ever select a far left FP when shooting wide open. I doubt if I ever have. The Right-most FP , yes, for portraiture but I could never say with certainty if I have ever used the far left FP with a wide open wide lens on any of my cameras. That is likely why so few people noticed it until they heard that testing was all the rage.
Even that is only a point for historical context, it has been a while since any verified problems have been reported in months.
Stan
St Petersburg Russia

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ckwashdc

US
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#17. "RE: Did D800E ever have left focus problem?" | In response to Reply # 0

ckwashdc Registered since 20th Jan 2013
Sun 20-Jan-13 11:53 PM

>Not to beat a dead horse, but I couldn't find an answer to
>this question. Were the D800E bodies ever afflicted with the
>left focus problem? Thom Hogan suggests on his site that D800
>bodies post serial number 3050000 should be beyond the
>problems on the production line, but obviously that point in
>the serial number run would not apply to the D800E bodies, as
>they have their own run of serial numbers. I've never read
>one way or the other as to if the early D800E bodies were
>effected. It's always been labeled the "D800 left focus
>problem".

My D800E was shipped by Amazon in July, 2012, and had a left-autofocus calibration problem. (Right autofocus, too, for that matter—although it was not as severe and was limited to the very rightmost sensors.)

I followed Ming Thien's and Thom Hogan's reports on the issue, and several other less-reliable or, at least, more speculative ones. Ming's experience wasn't directly relevant to me because it appears the East Asian Nikon repair centers had procedures in place to recalibrate the D800/E bodies before the American repair centers did. (Ming is based in Kuala Lumpur.) I'm in Washington, DC, and when Thom Hogan reported that Nikon's repair facility in Melville, NY, was finally able to recalibrate the bodies properly, I uploaded test shots made according to his instructions to Nikon-USA's customer support website.

The Nikon support reps asked for an additional round of tests (less rigorous than the ones I had performed, in my opinion), after which they told me all my image files had been forwarded to Japan for evaluation. A week or ten days later, I was instructed to send the camera to Melville, which I did.

The recalibration seems to have worked fine. Only problem is that I've had to change the fine-tuning adjustments for all my lenses; fine-tuning really seems necessary on the D800E. But now I can use the sensors on the left and right, and get results using PDAF that are very close to the results with CDAF.

I wouldn't bother to send in a camera that didn't exhibit this problem: you will definitely know it if you have it, even after rudimentary comparisons of the left, right and middle sensors between CDAF and PDAF. But if your camera does need recalibration, it appears Nikon can do it now (at least at its East Coast facility in the United States).

Chris

airlaw

Seattle, US
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#18. "RE: Did D800E ever have left focus problem?" | In response to Reply # 15

airlaw Gold Member Nikonian since 23rd Sep 2002
Mon 21-Jan-13 06:11 AM

Steve, if I interpret your comment correctly, you have some facts of which I am not aware. So the left focus issue that is being discussed on this board and others are for cameras that were manufactured before Nikon fixed the problem . Therefore, we should not see thsrs same complaints from buyers of more recent D800s. If this is a accurate reflection of the current state of D800 purchased bodies, I will buy the D800 without delay. I just need to be convinced that, with all due respect, you are correct. Could you explain your conclusion further. How's did you arrive at that conclusion. Thanks.

Kit

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LuisGonzalezLT

Macedonia, US
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#19. "D800E 30002XX - absolutely has the problem" | In response to Reply # 0

LuisGonzalezLT Silver Member Nikonian since 04th Nov 2005
Fri 25-Jan-13 12:10 AM | edited Fri 25-Jan-13 12:11 AM by LuisGonzalezLT

Got it in the first batch that was shipped to NPS. Was just dealing with it until my January slow season.

I did a full series of left to right focus point tests against a resolution target using AF and then using live view at max zoom and MF as a comparison. Below are my results. It's pretty obvious unless you can't see the big "E" on the eye chart. Top row is using the AF sensor highlighted in red. Middle row is using live view/MF.

Just sent it to Melville last week and they received it a few days ago. We'll see if they calibrate it properly. I included a hardcopy printout of my findings as well as the JPG burned onto the disk and referenced the "well known D800/D800E left side focusing issue." I don't know what else I could have said about it to point them in the right direction so that they throw it on that "jumbo laser autofocus-tron" of theirs.

Lens was a Nikon 50mm F/1.4 AF-S at F/1.4.

|FOCUSTEST>

Luis Gonzalez
Everlasting Photography, Inc.

KnightPhoto

Alberta, CA
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#20. "RE: Did D800E ever have left focus problem?" | In response to Reply # 18

KnightPhoto Gold Member Nikonian since 18th Dec 2006
Fri 25-Jan-13 09:59 AM | edited Fri 25-Jan-13 10:08 AM by KnightPhoto

Hi Kit,

I arrived at my conclusion by monitoring these and other forums, as well as Thom Hogan's site and other blogs such as Mansurov and Ming Thien. For months and months now the discussion has shifted to fallout and away from new reports. I take that to mean the root manufacturing cause is corrected. Now that is not the same thing as proof, but advice these days is buy from a dealer with a good returns policy, test your camera within this period, and return it if it shows the problem. Today's post below shows how blatantly the problem represents itself if your camera has it.

I think you will be fine.

Also, I would suggest a trial run of the test with your current camera, so that you are able to understand the procedure and produce a good baseline. Luis, below, is clearly a very good tester with a good methodology..

Best regards, SteveK

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awothers

Peterborough, CA
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#21. "RE: Did D800E ever have left focus problem?" | In response to Reply # 0

awothers Gold Member Nikonian since 09th Sep 2012
Sat 26-Jan-13 01:07 PM

My D800 serial number is 5004052. Is it possible that I might have the `focus`problem?

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LuisGonzalezLT

Macedonia, US
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#22. "RE: Did D800E ever have left focus problem?" | In response to Reply # 21

LuisGonzalezLT Silver Member Nikonian since 04th Nov 2005
Sat 26-Jan-13 06:51 PM

Put your D800 on a tripod, throw your fastest lens on it, aperture priority wide open, select the left-most AF sensor and point that sensor at something with some detail you can focus on. Set the camera to AF and let it take the picture. Then switch to manual focus without moving the camera, turn on live view and magnify in on that same spot as far as you can go and then focus it by hand. If you have a magnifier you can use on the live view LCD while you manually focus that will assist with getting critical MF. Take the picture. Then on your computer zoom in to that spot on each shot and see if the autofocus shot is more out of focus than the manual focus shot. If it has the left side focus issue it will probably be quite a bit more out of focus ( as mine was ).

Luis Gonzalez
Everlasting Photography, Inc.

awothers

Peterborough, CA
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#23. "RE: Did D800E ever have left focus problem?" | In response to Reply # 22

awothers Gold Member Nikonian since 09th Sep 2012
Sat 26-Jan-13 08:10 PM

Thank you Luis. As I do not use Live View very much I do not understand what you mean by "turn on live view and magnify in on that same spot as far as you can go and then focus it by hand".
I can turn on Live View and move the AF icon over the same spot I focused on before but I do not know how to "magnify in". Thanks. Alan

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ericbowles

Atlanta, US
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#24. "RE: Did D800E ever have left focus problem?" | In response to Reply # 23

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 26-Jan-13 08:24 PM

<I can turn on Live View and move the AF icon over the same spot I focused on before but I do not know how to "magnify in".>

Just use the magnifying glass to zoom in - just the way you would to examine an image in the LCD.

Eric Bowles
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awothers

Peterborough, CA
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#25. "RE: Did D800E ever have left focus problem?" | In response to Reply # 24

awothers Gold Member Nikonian since 09th Sep 2012
Sat 26-Jan-13 10:44 PM

Thanks. Alan

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LuisGonzalezLT

Macedonia, US
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#26. "It's back from Melville :-)" | In response to Reply # 19

LuisGonzalezLT Silver Member Nikonian since 04th Nov 2005
Fri 01-Feb-13 09:25 PM

A very quick swath through the AF points using my new Sigma F/1.4 (love the lens so far) and it appears that they have fixed the left side AF issue. The rightmost AF point looks like it "might" be a bit off but I have to run down right now to Columbus for a weekend long volleyball tournament and don't have time to check it out against the resolution chart. I will do that when I get back. Hopefully it's good to go They even overnighted it back to me. Let's see. I dropped it off at FedEx on the 14th for FedEx ground. FedEx said they received it a couple of days later. Got the official notice from Nikon on the 22nd and it just showed up today on Feb 1st. 18 day turnaround including the shipping time. Not too bad.

Luis Gonzalez
Everlasting Photography, Inc.

IndyGeoff

Greenwood, US
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#27. "RE: Did D800E ever have left focus problem?" | In response to Reply # 0

IndyGeoff Registered since 03rd Jul 2007
Sun 03-Feb-13 12:23 PM

Yes it did. Took me more than 1 to get one that was not wacked on the far left side.

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KnightPhoto

Alberta, CA
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#28. "RE: It's back from Melville :-)" | In response to Reply # 26

KnightPhoto Gold Member Nikonian since 18th Dec 2006
Sun 03-Feb-13 02:05 PM

Sounds promising Luis!

Best regards, SteveK

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LuisGonzalezLT

Macedonia, US
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#29. "Hmmm - kind of, sort of fixed." | In response to Reply # 26

LuisGonzalezLT Silver Member Nikonian since 04th Nov 2005
Tue 12-Feb-13 01:28 PM

Finally got a chance to run the readjusted D800E through every focus point against the resolution target.

They did take care of the left side focus problem but now every focus point in the middle vertical strip, except for the bottom one, is far off. I don't mean by a little, but alot. Those and the one focus point just to the left of the bottom, middle one. They are off so much that I will be sending it back to Melville for round two.

Hopefully I can tell them to not do anything to any of the focus points other than the ones I specify. The rest are either spot-on or very, very close - close enough that I doubt further trips to Melville will change anything other than to make random ones be spot-on and other random ones be very, very close. You could probably do this back and forth forever.

We'll see how it goes :-P

Luis Gonzalez
Everlasting Photography, Inc.

iain66

Wynyard, AU
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#30. "RE: Did D800E ever have left focus problem?" | In response to Reply # 0

iain66 Silver Member Nikonian since 01st Jan 2005
Sat 16-Feb-13 12:12 AM

I was never happy with my D800e from the moment I got it, at first I thought it was my technique and after trying to improve in all sorts of ways, to no avail, I became disillusioned I gradually went back to using my D7000 which gave me better results. Recently I went to Melbourne on business - I live in Tasmania - and dropped the D800e in to the Nikon agents to have the sensor cleaned (had some debris there from day one), they automatically check the focus when cleaning. They informed me by phone that I had a focus problem and I picked it up 4 days later - no charge as it was under warranty - and it is brilliant - like a brand new camera, the focus is razor sharp and I can now see the huge potential in this camera that many others have commented on.

Gromit44

UK
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#31. "RE: Did D800E ever have left focus problem?" | In response to Reply # 30

Gromit44 Registered since 04th Jan 2012
Sat 16-Feb-13 05:40 PM | edited Sat 16-Feb-13 05:41 PM by Gromit44

>.....They informed me by phone that I had a focus problem ....

Was it just the left AF point not focussing properly - or something more complicated?

iain66

Wynyard, AU
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#32. "RE: Did D800E ever have left focus problem?" | In response to Reply # 31

iain66 Silver Member Nikonian since 01st Jan 2005
Sat 16-Feb-13 08:24 PM

I'm not really sure, I suspect it was just the left focus as the problem did not seem that severe, the images were almost right - just not as sharp as I was used to either with a D200, D300 or D7000, (even after use of tripod, mirror lock-up etc.)so I was very disappointed expecting an improvement with the D800e, given the reviews that I had read - hence my thinking it was my technique and not the camera. However, looking at my current images I can now see how bad they really were in comparison - going from not quite good enough to stunning.

LuisGonzalezLT

Macedonia, US
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#33. "Even more interesting" | In response to Reply # 29

LuisGonzalezLT Silver Member Nikonian since 04th Nov 2005
Thu 21-Feb-13 10:27 PM

Before sending it back to Nikon for round two I decided to run several lenses through the focus point test routine, even though it takes me about an hour each time.

Nikon 200/2 VR
Every focus point was spot-on. Really, spot-on.

Nikon 24-70/2.8 (at 35mm)
Almost every focus point was spot-on. The ones that were not were not off by much at all.

Sigma 35/1.4 ( the new lens )
This one had the most trouble with almost the entire center vertical strip of focus points being pretty far off. There was one other one left of bottom-center that was pretty far off. The other focus points were hit and miss, some were spot-on, some were close.

My verdict is that the camera is fine and that the lens plays a huge role in how well the lens+body AF system actually works.

So instead of sending the D800E back to Nikon I'm now considering sending the 35mm to Sigma.



Luis Gonzalez
Everlasting Photography, Inc.

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