You don't have to use a test chart. I can see the problem easily when shooting a brick wall, books on a bookshelf, the house across the street, etc. when using the left autofocus point.
In my case, I rarely shoot action and almost always use the center focus point and recompose. I sent in my D800 for repair for a couple of reasons. On the rare occasion that I use focus tracking, it could definitely be a proboem. Also, when I eventually sell the camera I want it to be in proper working order.
It is not specific to the left autofocus point, but that one does seem to be the worst, at least on my D800. Some people have reported that the right autofocus point is not working well either, and some have reported that the focus goes bad gradually as you move out from the center towards the left or right.
One salesman at my local Nikon store told me, "Some lenses are soft on the edges," and I told him sure but not as poorly as this. If a camera focuses fine with live view and poorly with autofocus then I'd say that disproves a poor lens.
The left autofocus point out of focus condition, at least on my D800, is easy to see, very obvious, and not the least bit subtle.
Yep. Easy to see. As I read the forum here on my laptop while watching the talking heads doing the news, I pulled up:
on my laptop and shot a few pictures of my screen. Yea, I shot it hand held at 1/40 but even so, there is a very noticeable difference between the pictures shot using the center v.s. left autofocus point. I didn't use any fancy test charts or anything, just something that I could easily look at edges with.
BTW: This little chart is used to use moire to do the micro lens adjustment as detailed here:
Evidently it is not too noticeable since after 10,000 D800's were out in the field, a month after general release was the first time it was noticed and then only with 2 wide lenses(24 1.4 and 14-24 2.8) wide open Stan St Petersburg Russia
Yeah. It's definitely a problem, and I don't want to minimize that, but the extent that we are affected by that problem will significantly vary. I haven't tested yet to see if my D800 has a problem. It's not an early one but a last week of June/first of July one. But I haven't had any issues yet so I may not bother.
Stan, I would be a little more careful with that type of post. It might be like purchasing a brand new automobile that appears to run satisfactorily for 3 months and 3,000 miles before the defective accelerator (pedal) sticks causing a crash, destruction of the automobile, and injuries to its occupants (and others) therein. I believe it was Ford that just recalled an SUV over something similar. In any event, it happens, albeit not always immediately after purchase. Is it still a defect? You bet it is.
Being able to make a pixel-level distinction between two selected images taken in very uncontrolled and inconsistent environments by operators with unknown skill and knowledge is not enough evidence to convince me of a widespread problem.
There is evidence of problems. But with the data available, the rate of errors could be 1 in 10, 1 in 100, 1 in 1000 or 1 in 10000. The existence of problems is expected. We need to know the severity (i.e., what is the threshold of failure?) and the failure rate.
I am sorry to say: Once a problem is talked about widely, a large number of people will declare they have a problem too. We have no idea if they have carefully followed accepted test procedures (assuming such procedures can be found). Some will declare they have a issue 'just to be safe'. And then there is the idea: "I just paid $3000, I expect perfection" (as a motorhome owner I see this behavior all the time when new owners are offended when they discover their $200K RV isn't prefect but somehow everyone else's is. I guess they think their motorhome should be 66 times better than a $3000 camera)
People on this forum ask for pictures of every new camera as 'proof' that it is 'tack sharp' (as if that is all that matters). If this problem is so BIG, then let's have some pictures please.
But no test charts and brick walls please. I never photograph either.
>In my opinion, it is pretty noticeable. On the other hand, >you will probably only notice it if you pixel peep which is >what I did when I tested mine.
Pixel peeping may be necessary to see the problem. And if you can see a problem, then Nikon should address your concerns, particularly if other versions of the same camera don't exhibit the same deficiency. The problem is: you don't how other cameras perform. This forum doesn't help much since most are sharing their conclusions, not their source images and test parameters.
Another thing to note: With a complex issue like this one, shooting close range monochrome test charts may only show an issue with a camera's ability to shoot close range monochrome test charts. I tried some test charts and couldn't find any problems. I don't think this result tells me much about my camera's ability to perform in the real world. The D800 has more than a dozen focusing parameters; flat test charts are not conclusive.
I don't see anything wrong with the real 2000 images I've made with my D800 with the possible exception that film still seems to have a slight edge in terms of raw, unprocessed IQ (which few seem to keep in perspective)
I did not keep any of the real world shots using the left focus point. Here are two of the test chart shots I took after, yes, I said after, Nikon El Segundo worked on my D800. They are currently back at Nikon (again) for "analysis" per their insructions. Of course one shot is from the left focus point and the other from the center. They are jpegs straight from the camera, cropped, and resized to 1200 pixels wide and less than 300k for posting here. I used the 24-70 f2.8 at 2.8, iso 100, shutter 1/8000, center weighted metering, tripod mounted, focus point on the center of the target.
Pretty amazing piece of work from El Segundo wouldn't you say? Fwiw, the right side point is not as sharp as the center either but I can live with it.
Sorry to disappoint but I do not save "spoiled" photos.
When I first discovered the problem I was shooting some warbirds at a local airfield. One batch consisted of a group of men in WWII uniforms with a Jeep in the left foreground with a B24 Liberator, "Witchcraft" in the right background. In the next batch was a B17 Flying Fortress, 9-0-9, at LF with Witchcraft in the RB. Finally, a P51B Mustang, "Lady Jane", LF with a ME262 Schwalbe RB. Out of about 40 or so shots not one was acceptable, not even close. All of the other 384 shots came out great. Of course you do not see the problem in the field. I realized I had a problem 2 days later when I started sorting through everything and working on them in CS6.
I started the repair process with Nikon and took some more shots in the back yard to send them. They agreed that I had a problem, I sent in the camera and it was gone two weeks. I trust Nikon so I asaumed it was fixed. A few days after I received it back my wife asked about it and I decided to retest the camera. I shot some flowers and the dog (His Nashesty) hand held and sure enough, the problem was still there. I contacted Nikon and they told me to resubmit more photos. That is when I decided to shoot the test target to demonstrate the degree of the problem AFTER the D800 had gone thrugh their shop.
What focus mode did you use: AF-S Auto, AF-S S, AF-C Auto, AF-C D9, AF-C D21, AF-C D51 or AF-C 3D?
Was VR on?
Did you use a tripod?
What were the exposure conditions i.e., f stop, iso and ss?
(another reason why real photos are good: we can all look at the EXIF data)
I think these are important questions since any of these attribute combinations could be causing a problem and would help explain why every user doesn't necessarily see anything wrong. If we don't capture this information, we'll never see a correlation. Don't count on Nikon asking. They may very well be investigating another hypothesis.
Sat 28-Jul-12 02:23 AM | edited Sat 28-Jul-12 02:24 AM by akers
>What focus mode did you use: AF-S Auto, AF-S S, AF-C Auto, >AF-C D9, AF-C D21, AF-C D51 or AF-C 3D?
>Was VR on?
If you really own a 24-70 you should know that it does not have VR, neither does your 14-24 btw.
>Did you use a tripod?
Read my post, you apparently haven't bothered.
>What were the exposure conditions i.e., f stop, iso and ss?
Once again, read what I posted.
>(another reason why real photos are good: we can all look at >the EXIF data) > >I think these are important questions since any of these >attribute combinations could be causing a problem and would >help explain why every user doesn't necessarily see anything >wrong. If we don't capture this information, we'll never see >a correlation. Don't count on Nikon asking. They may very well >be investigating another hypothesis. > >
At this point it would be nice if a moderator stepped in and straightened this out. This guy has not been a member for two months yet and seems to have a combative attitude. I have to wonder what he would be saying if he had one of the less than perfect D800's.
My D800 arrived on Monday, the 23rd, and it's flawless (except for spitting oil from the shutter onto the sensor, which it'll continue to do for roughly the next thousand to fifteen hundred shots). Here's a shot from the Cripple Creek Area goldfields I made on Thursday.
I suspect the focus point problem has been vastly over-stated. We have way too many people around who spend their time testing equipment rather than shooting pictures with it, and way too many testers who don't know what they're doing. But I have a lot of faith in Thom Hogan's analysis of the situation, and Thom makes it clear that there's a problem -- evidently a serious one. Will Nikon fix the problem? Of course they will. The D800 is my fourth Nikon pro-level camera, and Nikon always has stepped up and corrected any problems in its cameras. They'll do it again this time.
>I suspect the focus point problem has been vastly over-stated. >We have way too many people around who spend their time >testing equipment rather than shooting pictures with it, and >way too many testers who don't know what they're doing...
X2 Well put.
I wish the people who spend so my time shooting test charts and brick walls would take a little time and share their test data and procedure. Their conclusions are less useful on so many levels.
First and for most my heart goes out to those with Nikon D800 /e cameras that have the LF problem. I wish Nikon was dealing with that issue better. I got my D800 on 16 July which was ordered from Adorama on 15 Feb. I know how frustrating it was for me to wait so long for my D800. I can only imagine how annoyed, disappointed - angry I would be if it had the kinds of problems I have read about.
My D800 (ser 3016xxx) purchased in late June was evaluated soon after in re-world and controlled test conditions. The real world conditions was a porch of a home wherein I started on the left focus point and worked across to the the right. The focus was poor using the left point, very good center, and marginal for the right point. I also performed the controlled test using the technique by Thom http://bythom.com/D800autofocus.htm and it was his test target against (of course!) a brick wall surrounding my home. The results were consistent: The focus using the left point is poor, center point acceptable, and right side point marginal - not as bad as the left but not as good as the center point and unacceptable in any event.
This latter test was performed using a tripod mounted D800, at 28mm at f/2.8, outside in midafternoon Arizona sunlight, ISO 100, 1/1250 sec. with exposure delay so there was no blaming any kind of camera motion blur.
I repeated this using LiveView and saw that indeed as reported, with LV, the problem does not exist. This demonstrates it is not an alignment problem but with an error in the algorithm that apparently cannot be fix via a firmware fix, or they would have distributed that already. (Mine was updated to the latest A/B/L firmware.) I printed the results and included it in with the return to Nikon El Segundo as I saw no point in calling first for them to confirm what I already knew. Let us not quibble over the importance or not of this in field or controlled test conditions (it is important in both) or if it is over-stated or not (it has not been) as the fundamental point is this should not exist in *any* camera made today and it *will* make a difference in *any* photo that uses the focus points in error. If an engineered device cannot give acceptable results under controlled conditions, it cannot give acceptable results under real-world conditions. Thom Hogan's assessment is pretty much spot on, as is this one: http://hifivoice.wordpress.com/2012/06/24/d800-autofocus-after-repair/
For those of you how have received cameras without this problem, that is as it should be. For the rest of us, annoyed we are yet patient as Nikon repairs it. I just kick myself when I realized after the fact the Rider for Camera equipment on my Homeowners Insurance would pay for loss or damage yet I paid the $2 per $100 to UPS to ship it to El Segundo......
I might have a problem with mine which I found while shooting a family portrait this past weekend. However, it was shot with the 70-200VR and I realized that I may have had the VR turned ON while on the tripod... my bad. I'll have to do some more testing over the next few days to determine if it's real or not.
However, I keep hearing of the LEFT focus point being the culprit and the RIGHT focus point a little off and usually the centre if fine. MY D800e has 51 focus points not THREE! Why is everyone saying the left focus point?? WHICH ONE!!??
Thank you very much for the detailed description of your test!
It sounds like your issues extends to bad focus in every direction.
Did you try performing an AF Fine Tune on one of the regions (Setup > AF fine-tune)?
If you did this step, did the focus errors in the adjacent focus regions move proportionally in the same direction with AF Fine Tune adjustments? For example, did a +10 correction in the centre bring left and right regions roughly to the same point?
The problem focus point for most cameras is the far left center. Highlight the center sensor and then scroll all the way to the far left sensor.
I have not fully tested my D800E, but I do have a problem with the far left sensor. It's quite obvious. I took 30+ frames using LensAlign for a quick test. The center and far right sensor were on the money. I tested at 35mm, 50mm and 70mm. 100% of the test images with the far left sensor were noticeably soft - okay for a web post but not for critical work.
It's pretty easy to work around the problem. There are 50 other AF sensors that are just fine (well - I have only critically tested about 15-20 sensors in the middle area and other tests have been casual). I've opened a ticket for service, but don't plan to send my camera in for a while.
One more important question comes to mind since you can isolate the problem so well:
3) (in AF-51) Does selecting the left-most element with AF-S and then finessing AF-C to use the same single element, show the problem?
FWIW: With all these questions I'm looking for a correlation between camera features and problems. We could eventually find that all D800's have issues if used in a particular way. Or (expected but not proven) we could find that some D800's have issues when used in any manner. So far, it has been hard to collect anywhere near enough data.
Mr. Unavailable: It is not to dwell on which point is bad and which focus mode is worst and can we fix it via some focus fine tuning. It is that there is a fundamental issue with the ability to focus if these at or near periphery points are used that is unprecedented in cameras of this generation and not within the expected performance. I did not read in the marketing materials that this camera would "Auto-focus using 9/11/51/infinite points except for the ones at the edge of the field will be inaccurate". Rather than fussing over work-arounds there is a simple fix if you received yours with this problem. Let Nikon isolate the problem since they know what it is and how to fix it; that is their job not mine. I choose to spend my time in other ways, like planning the photo adventures to take once I receive it.
Thanks Eric.... I'm hoping to have some time tomorrow to do some testing. I really hope that my problem was having the VR turned on while on tripod. If it is, then man, its really noticeable on the D800 - moreso than the D700. If it's a focus issue, I'll be running my camera down to Nikon (Toronto) asap for a fix. Luckily, I'm on NPS so I'm hoping won't take too long. Now that I have it - I want to use it for everything!
Eric, are you saying that the next to furthest left PF is not showing the same problem as the farthest left FP. That is a small physical distance so if so, that rules out optical alignment of hardware and puts in the realm of specific far left FP data in the lookup table recorded o n the final assembly test bench. If that is the case, it suggests that some of the techs are doing a conventional AF adjustment resulting in some previously good points being skewed off by the "repair". Since some techs obviously have the process down and are fixing cameras with this problem, it is likely that some are just no up to speed or are trying to treat it like a general AF alignment problem. It appears to be more and more a matter of luck of the draw as to whether a camera sent back gets improved or not by which which tech got into it. If on the other hand, I was misreading your intended comment and moving from center to far left gradually decreases focus accuracy with each step to the left, it might be optical alignment instead of lookup table data. Or a combination of the two which would put a tech's understanding of the systems at the center of the issue where a combination of techniques would be needed in a case by case process. A good tech with good diagnostic skills is hard to find in any field from medicine to mechanics and all in between. Being a good diagnostician is not something that can be taught in tech school or university. Stan St Petersburg Russia
Stan - I have not tested all the sensors and definitely not the ones next to the far left focus point. I'll get to that in the next few days. According to EXIF, I was at 34mm for the test. I had some earlier tests at 56mm that were similar but had a lower level of testing rigor.
The center focus point and adjoining sensors are very good.
I am not a happy camper. My unit came back without being fixed. Will publish an article soon regarding the specifics. Here's a summary:
June 26th - Received D800
June 27-July 3rd - Put unit through a battery of tests per Nasim's and others' suggestions and realized I also had the left side autofocus issue
July 6th - Dropped D800 off at UPS
July 9th - Received at Melville Service Center
July 12th - In SHOP
July 25th - Returned
July 25th - Tested and analyzed results using same lenses and test procedures as before. Not Repaired Successfully - Left side focus corrected. Center? TERRIBLY out of focus. Required +15 to +20 to get center in focus on most lenses. This threw the left side out of focus.
July 26th - Sent unit back to B&H on last day of 30 day return window. Hoping to receive new unit that works correctly.
If I get another lemon, it is going back immediately and I will sit this out until Nikon proactively addresses the situation. We are only allotted so many hours on this earth, and I would rather not have "Here Lies Bob - Master Of Siemens Star Photos" inscribed on my tombstone...
Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.
Tue 31-Jul-12 09:55 AM | edited Tue 31-Jul-12 10:00 AM by walk43
Your explanation is exactly how I thought the problem was occuring. Far left center FP. I tested my D800 2 months ago and I didn't see any problems with far left or far right using a Nikkor 10-24DX and Nikkor 28-300(since I heard that it was an issue on WA only). But to your comment about the results being ok when displayed on the web...I have to admit that I only used my PC to display my test images, I didn't print them and/or print big.
Since I use the center FP virtually 100% of the time, never print bigger than 11x14 (at least not yet) and mostly display my photos on the web, I have been very happy with my 800. Maybe I do have the AF problem but not as I use the camera. For others that use the camera and display their results differently, it may be that it is a huge problem for them.
I have to admit that I too would like to see actual examples of a real images that are the result of the AF problem. Not a test chart. I can't imagine that someone out there does not have a pic of a flower or landscape where they used the left AF point and the result is unsatisfactory. When I have unsatisfactory pics, where I suspect there is a camera defect, I intentionally save them in a test folder and use those examples to show others and to test back against. Is there a place on our forum where these actual images are displayed?? Seems from the comments I have read that folks don't save them...only the test chart shots. It does not seem logical to me that if there are so many folks with real AF problems we can't have a database (album) for other to see what to look for.
I think as others have said, the AF issues could exist in every D800 but if we do not use the camera in a way that results in poor image quality then we do not HAVE a problem and for our use we have a great camera.
Dan (Nikon D800,V2,Sony HX400V,Lumix ZS40) "I don't read, I just look at pictures" - Andy Warhol
You suspect the problem is vastly overstated but then you agree with Thom that it's a serious problem. You can't have it both ways.
Trust me, it's a real problem that has impacted enough buyers to be a big one. Fortunately it's fixable. It's inconsiderate to tell people with imperfect new $3000 cameras that they're exaggerating the issue. They're not. Find one with the problem and it's blatant. Fortunately you got a good copy and you don't have to live through getting it repaired.
>>I suspect the focus point problem has been vastly over-stated. We have way too many people around who spend their time testing equipment rather than shooting pictures with it, and way too many testers who don't know what they're doing. But I have a lot of faith in Thom Hogan's analysis of the situation, and Thom makes it clear that there's a problem -- evidently a serious one. Will Nikon fix the problem? Of course they will. The D800 is my fourth Nikon pro-level camera, and Nikon always has stepped up and corrected any problems in its cameras. They'll do it again this time.<<
Alex, you may see that as having it both ways, but Thom's testing doesn't tell me that the problem's not vastly overstated. First, Thom told us that some fraction of a small group of people he contacted had a problem. Then, on July 26th he told us that in a random check of at least 25 percent of more than 100 bodies by dealers with whom he's in contact, none had the problem.
It strikes me that most of the problems are reported by people whose main reason for owning a D800 is to test it, not to make pictures with it. I think Dan just summed up the situation. If you're shooting pictures instead of testing you may find that the camera is just fine. Yes, I paid three grand for my D800, five grand for my D3, and five grand for my D2x, but I bought those cameras in order to make pictures, not to test them. If one of them had shown a problem in my pictures it'd have been on the way back post-haste. I'm with Dan. I use AF-ON exclusively, and keep the camera on AF-C. I'm not quite sure why anybody needs to move the focus point away from center. Focusing always used to be one operation; exposing the picture another. As far as I'm concerned, it still is.
I'm sorry to hear that some people are having a problem, but I still think the problem's vastly overstated.
Wed 01-Aug-12 12:58 AM | edited Wed 01-Aug-12 12:59 AM by klrbee25
There are times where off-center focus points can be important. For example, I just photographed an F1 race and the cars passed through the frame quickly. To get correct composition, I needed off-center focus points and used them for tracking. Focus and recomposing is impossible in that situation.
If you find a camera with the issue, it's readily apparent in 'real world' shooting. I found that mine had the issue by taking some photos and noticing they looked soft with the left-most point. My image quality tipped me off on the problem.
You're opinion is nothing more than that. An opinion. And frankly, I don't know what information you've based it upon. To say the only people that notice it are those who bought the camera just to test it is purely assumption. Also, which came first...the chicken or the egg? Do you really think people bought a $3000 camera just to test it and find its flaws? Or perhaps they bought a $3000 camera to enjoy it, some found a problem, and the rest of the buyers became savy to the issue and then discovered it in their own cameras (were stimulated to 'test' for the problem).
Wed 01-Aug-12 01:49 AM | edited Wed 01-Aug-12 10:54 AM by Ferguson
I don't know why people look down on those who try to test the limits of their equipment to understand it better, but that's OK - each to their own.
<< EDITED >>
A bit less tired in the morning I went back and checked my setup, and think my real world example was a bit too real. I removed this post (which had D800 and D4 images showing the problem). I think I may have moved closer than the closest focusing distance of the 85 in the leftmost shot on the D800.
I tried this again on a tripod so I could maintain the same distance and I did not see a left focus issue in this scenario, in fact at 1:1 on both the D4 and D800 the left was slightly MORE sharp, so I remain simply confused. I'm not sure it was too-close, but since I cannot reproduce it, I do not want to show it.
But my apologies for the false positive. However, I maintain that such methodical testing is the only way to get to the truth -- which as the old TV show says -- is "out there".
PS. I'll add as I did in a couple other topics, that the D800 and 85 have been problematic for me -- perfect one moment, impossible to get good shots the next. There's more to the story than just the 1.4, but not sure what.
PPS. I have repeated this several times now, and have been unable to see a focus issue on the left in this setup. I remain unable to explain how it differs from a focus chart test where it is very evident. More to the point, I remain unable to figure out why most portraits are out of focus with this lens on my D800, and virtually every one is perfect with a 70-200 or 24-70 (and yes, I understand the difference in F2.8 and F1.4, but there's more to this story, I just haven't seen it yet).