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D4 Autofocus problem


Harrisburg, US
107 posts

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mbarrett635 Gold Member Nikonian since 26th Jun 2007
Fri 21-Dec-12 08:55 PM | edited Sat 22-Dec-12 05:16 AM by mbarrett635

I recently purchased a D4, and sold my D3 (keeping my D3s). I like the feel, and some of the new features, but I'm experiencing a focus problem.

When I first shot with my new camera, I was taking some casual shots from the stands at my son's annual high school alumni basketball game, using my 70-200. A great many of the shots came out disappointingly soft (I'd only shot about 4 or 5 test shots in my living room before this outing; they were soft as well). I initially chalked this up to my unfamiliarity with a new focusing system, although it isn't all that much different from my D3/D3s -- although I did have some issues at first dealing with the different location of the AF-On button when shooting portrait orientation. I specifically was using this opportunity to get familiar with the new camera in a setting similar to that in which I will normally use it.

The next time I shot was at a high school basketball tournament (I shoot high school sports professionally), and as I was taking a few shots during warm-ups, I noticed again that they were all soft. I did a quick and dirty AF Fine Tune, and the results of the game were more or less acceptable (more on this in a minute).

Two nights ago I used my LensAlign to check the focus on my 200mm, 85mm and 50mm lenses -- the ones I most commonly use this time of year. Each one required a setting of -12 or -13 to get the lens to focus where I was trying to focus (I've now also set the default value at -13). In the past, I've not had to make any major adjustments to any of my other cameras.

So, my question is this -- is this within the realm of acceptable, since I can adjust for it, or should my camera be going back to Nikon for adjustment? I'm concerned about using zoom lenses, since you can't really calibrate the AF Fine Tuning for a zoom the way you can for a prime. I shot some team and individual photos last night, but used my D3s because I was leery of using my D4 with the 24-70 I use for those shots.

Oh, and the 'more or less acceptable' comment I made above? One thing I noticed while using the D4 at the tourney was that during a sequence of shots (at 10fps, not 11fps, so autofocus should have been continuous) with the player running toward me, not a single shot was ever in focus. I know I had the focus point solidly on the player, and I know I was pressing the AF-On button for all it was worth. I don't know if the front focus problem I was having affected this, or if it's something else. I haven't had a chance to really closely examine the shots I took last night after setting the AF Fine Tuning, but a cursory examination indicated that it was better than the game before.

So, what are your thoughts? I haven't read of any wide spread focusing issues with the D4. I'm not some noob that has no idea what he's doing (although there is always the possibility of something being overlooked in setting up a brand new camera). I don't want to have to send a workhorse camera to Nikon for several weeks in the middle of basketball season, although I do have a D700 backup that I can use if I have to. Any advice or suggestions gratefully accepted.

Mike B.

D4S, D4, D3s, D700 w/MB-D10,
14-24 f/2.8, 16 f/2.8 fisheye, 24-70 f/2.8, 28-200 f/3.5-5.6, 50 f/1.4D, 70-200VR, 85 f/1.4D, 105mm f/2.8 VR Micro, 200 f/2 VR, 300 f/2.8 VR, 400 f/2.8 VRII

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