And the Nikon D800 autofocus saga continues (with some comments on specific lens performance)

This post is a quick update to my D800 autofocus issues, as well as commentary on the specific performance on some of the more popular lenses people have been asking about. I don’t have time to post crops, but I think most of you would trust that I know what I’m doing.

I spent the morning at Nikon. Ostensibly, to collect my replacement D800, and a PC-E 85/2.8 Micro. However, it turns out the replacement D800 exhibits the SAME autofocus issue – namely, with wide angle lenses, the center and right side AF points yield in focus images, the left side bank is way out. This is especially obvious with the 24/1.4 G. We also tried their NPS loaner demo units and their D800E sample. The results were mostly the same – all of the D800s showed identical results. The D800E was a bit better, but still noticeably soft on one side. It gets worse: I’ve had a number of emails from people with cameras in the same serial number block – below 1000 – and the 24/1.4, who are finding the same thing. Apparently it is a serious issue, because my NPS rep told me that HQ has asked for updates and is looking into it on the production line.

Perhaps it was my 24/1.4 sample that was the issue – nope, because it works fine on a D3x, D4 and D700; we tried another 24/1.4 which showed consistent results – that rules out lens problems. I think we can also rule out sensor alignment problems as I don’t see any odd shifts in the focal plane when focusing using live view.

The upshot is that it will take them two days to diagnose the problem, and possibly longer to fix. Since it’s only an issue with wide angles, and not an issue with anything above about 50mm, I elected to keep this body for the time being – I’m only using it in the studio with the 60/2.8 G Micro, and now the 85/2.8 PCE. It looks like I will be reviewing both E and non-E after all – I’ve elected to take a D800E for the replacement unit.

There were more surprises in store, though – specifically, with lenses.

Summary of Nikkors tested so far on the D800:

AFS 14-24/2.8 G: Not good at 14mm; obvious corner sharpness issues. Displayed AF issues at 24mm. Center is sharp. T stop is probably closer to f4 than f2.8. Average to good performer.

AFS 24-70/2.8 G: Sharp everywhere in the range, at every aperture. No AF issues, even at 24mm. Excellent performer.

AFS 70-200/2.8 G VR II: Sharp everywhere in the range, at every aperture. 85mm setting better than the 85/1.4 G at f2.8, and comparable to the 85/1.8 G at f2.8 (yes, you read that right. The 85/1.8 G is better than the 85/1.4 G.). No AF issues either. Excellent performer.

AFS 24/1.4 G: Sharp everywhere except extreme corners at every aperture if you live view – remains an optically amazing lens, but now even more fiddly to use thanks to the AF issues. Three copies all displayed left-side softness on the D800, but not on other bodies. Cautiously, I’d say excellent performer, to be confirmed once I have a properly working body.

AFS 28-300/3.5-5.6 G VR II: Sharp everywhere if you close down the aperture on stop. Microcontrast not great, but serviceable. Overall global contrast is good. Color a bit odd. Good to very good performer. No AF issues, probably covered by depth of field and small apertures.

AFS 35/1.4 G: No good wide open. Center is okay, both sides are not good – even after AF fine tune. Not recommended. The 24-70 performs much better at 2.8 than the 35/1.4 does at the same aperture. Slight AF issue noticed, same as 24/1.4.

AFS 85/1.4 G: Inconsistent. Wide open displays LCA and LoCA at edges. Nowhere near as good as it was on the D700/ D3/ D3s. Stopped down to f2.8, it improves, but only to about the same level as the 70-200/2.8 II wide open. Note T stop is pretty high for this lens though – probably 2/3 stop more than the 70-200/2.8 II, and half a stop more than the 85/1.8 G for the same aperture. Good to very good stopped down. Honestly, I’m not liking this lens very much anymore.

AFS 85/1.8 G: Incredible. Sharp everywhere at every aperture, no LCA or LoCA. Bokeh is neutral, not quite as good as the 85/1.4 G. Surprising considering this lens has no ED glass, Nano coating or aspherical elements. It’s honestly an optical masterpiece, and very, very cheap. If you need an 85mm and don’t have the 85/1.4 G already, I’d suggest buying one of these. Performance at wide open at f1.8 is better than the 85/1.4 G at 2.8; it matches or slightly exceeds even the 60/2.8 G Micro at the same distances. You’re probably wonder what’s the catch: two things; T stop and build quality. T stop is half a stop down on the 85/1.4 G for the same aperture, and it’s light and plasticky. Still weather sealed, though. Excellent plus performance, no visible AF issues.

PC-E 85/2.8 Micro: This is the only lens of the group tested that could best the new 85/1.8 G, and by the slightest of margins (or maybe both lenses out resolved even the D800E sensor and we’d need something even higher density to see the difference). Global contrast is a little lower than the 85/1.8 G, but micro contrast has more bite and structure to it – reminds me of the Zeiss macros. Excellent plus performance. (I took this one home, after relieving my credit card of some of its available balance. Look out for a full review in the future once I get a chance to shoot it in the studio.)

PC-E 24/3.5: A truly excellent piece of glass. Matches the performance of the 85/2.8, but at 24mm. Shame about the small aperture, though. Handily focuses to about 20cm – which is about 3cm from the front element of the lens. I’d say sharpness performance of this and the 24/1.4 G at f4 are about the same, however the micro contrast structure of this lens is almost Zeiss-like in detail. Excellent plus performance again. And whoever said it won’t mount is wrong – it mounts and offers full movement just fine, but you must zero all of the movements before trying to mount it, and there are certain orientations that work better than others (big knobs vs small knobs near the prism etc.)

AFS 60/2.8 G Micro: Although this was my reference standard on the 12MP FX bodies, it’s performance clearly isn’t up to the D800’s demands: I’m seeing plenty of longitudinal CA (especially in the bokeh) that wasn’t there, or almost negligible, on the D700. It’s sharp already at f2, but not critically bitingly sharp til f4-5.6; your working aperture range is somewhat limited because diffraction kicks in noticeably by f16, and it’s unusably soft by f25. I’d say f22 is probably best reserved for emergencies. This is the main reason I got the 85/2.8 PCE: lack of depth of field control. I’d put it in the good-to-excellent range.

A word on the D800E: I didn’t have a lot of time with it, but from what I can see, there is a slight but noticeable difference in fine micro contrast, as well as sharpness and resolving power. It seems to offset diffraction to some extent. However, file sizes will be even bigger, and lens demands even higher. Recommendation: use with caution, requires controlled circumstances to get the most out of it (tripod or studio lights, low ISO).

Conclusion: If you plan on getting the most out of your D800/D800E, you’re going to have to rethink your lens lineup. What worked brilliantly for me on the D700 – as in I felt I couldn’t get any more image quality out – isn’t working on the D800. And there are a lot of surprises here; not all of them good – the 85/1.4 G and 24/1.4 G are good examples of this. It seems that one has to now choose for a lens set optimized for studio work (or slightly brighter light conditions) – 24-70, 70-200, 85/1.8G, 85/2.8 PCE – with the compromises that brings for available light work, especially now that you’re going to require more shutter speed to handhold and the sensor loses out a stop to the D700 at the pixel level – or run two sets of lenses. This obviously isn’t ideal, or cheap. I feel the latter route is likely the way I’ll have to go – probably with the 85/2.8 PCE for the majority of my studio work, and a Zeiss 21/2.8 or 24/3.5 PCE for architecture and interiors.

Am I happy with feeling like a bit of an expensive guinea pig? Not one single bit. I think this latest push in resolution has brought up manufacturing tolerance and QC issues that were never previously noticeable. But at least a) it works under a known range of conditions, and more importantly NPS here deserves credit for doing their best to rectify the situation, and at least provide me with a working solution in the intermediate period (D3x on extended loan for high-res WA work).

It’s not ideal, but when you get everything right, the D800 is capable of delivering pretty darn amazing image quality. The trouble is, once you’ve seen it, you really don’t want to give it up – even if it is a colossal pain to achieve. Of course, none of this will be news to seasoned medium or large format shooters – but for anybody expecting to go from a DX consumer body, or even 12MP FX, to D800 and get pixel-level crispness across the frame, there’s going to be something of a steep learning curve to climb. MT

Check back for more updates once my D800E replacement body (finally) arrives at the end of the month.

____________

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Comments

  1. Hi everyone,
    I recently got my D800 autofocus repaired/adjusted under warranty.
    Would someone want to take a look at the result and leave some comments on it?
    I shot those samples from normal distance, about 3 metres. Here is the link: https://flic.kr/s/aHsjXmfKzT

  2. First off, I would like to say I am a huge fan of your work, and heed any comments or advice you give.

    I own a D800E and one of the lenses you reviewed, and on the review of the 28-300, I disagree on one aspect.

    AFS 28-300/3.5-5.6 G VR II:
    This lens is not very sharp even in mid range, full out or full in, even closed stop on sharpness I would give it 6.5 of 10, Although I use this as my primary walkabout lens.
    As for the color, I fully agree, it is indeed slightly odd, not tinged, but off slightly on the whole spectrum – which is easily correctable either on camera menu or post editing.
    For a general all purpose lens, this is still a good lens, but doesn’t perform on the 800E near as well as a lower MP camera like the 7000 or 600.

    There was no mention of one of the cheapest lenses in Nikon’s lineup that work great on this camera – :(

    50MM F/1.8 D:
    Link: http://www.nikonusa.com/en/Nikon-Products/Product/Camera-Lenses/2137/AF-Nikkor-50mm-f%252F1.8D.html
    In comparison with the more expensive “G” version – there is little or any difference overall in picture quality, fast focus and tack sharp, although I have to admit it does look silly on such a large housing, but for a hundred bucks new – you can’t go wrong (1/4 the price of the “g” model),
    The build is plastic and cheap feeling with a nice “made in china” sticker, 7 blades and a somewhat noisy gear (the G is better gearing and a lot quieter for people who have dog hearing) but normally you get what you pay for, in this case it’s a very good lens that is surprisingly sturdy (I dropped it accidently taking it out of the box on the 1st day- it makes 2 bounces btw, still works fine)

    plus the using a BR-2A reversing ring (about 50 dollars – 1/2 the price of the lens)
    http://www.nikonusa.com/en/Nikon-Products/Product/Miscellaneous/2657/BR-2A-Lens-Reversing-Ring-for-52mm-Thread.html works great on this particular lens for interesting low tech macro shooting.

    • No, it doesn’t perform as well per-pixel, but you’ll still get slightly more overall real resolution from the D800E and that lens than the D600 or D7000. That said, pixel density of the D800E and D7000 is the same, so there’s no reason why the central portions shouldn’t be comparable.

      There’s no mention because I don’t have one. It’s not practical for me to buy every lens to review – I already offer far more content on this site for free than most other paid sites, and there’s no advertising! You’ll find the output quality depends far more on the precision of your AF than anything else, especially at f1.8 and for small changes in subject distance.

  3. Kenneth Tse says:

    The auto focus issue annoy us for a long time by now. Has it been solved? Now that the D600 is here, if D800 focus problem is not solved, I would consider D600. In Hong Kong, the price of D800 has dropped, with plenty of supply! Wonder if they were “faulty”ones returned by buyers elsewhere. Please inform us the update position of the D800 focus issue. Thanks

  4. Very interesting site here, thanks.

    You are too good about the 85mm f/1.8G – it is weak in the flare/ghosting area, sorry to say – comparing to the 1.4G – I like to shoot backlit, + sometimes with the sun in the frame + and sometimes with other strong lights, and it is not good = In all other areas I agree.

    • Thanks.

      The flare performance – especially with strong backlights – is definitely lower contrast than the 1.4G, but that’s to be expected because the latter has Nano coating. I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing, it lends some atmosphere to these shots…

      • Yes, the lack of Nano coating is the reason – it cost something to add this to a lens, and my interpretation is, that Nikon wanted that there should be a difference to the 1.4G

        For me, and I think, most others, it is a bad thing with flare and ghosting/ lack of contrast – it can ruin a picture.

        Of course you can use it in your own way (artistic), but this you can get in PP, but you are not in control when it is a weakness of the lens, and it is bad in contra light, so I stand with my statement.

  5. radiantlite says:

    Hello Ming, I have a quick question: How’s 85mm f/1.8G autofocus performance especially in low light? is it better than my old 85mm f/1.4D?

  6. David Doughman says:

    D800 focus issues
    I cancelled my D800 an hour before it was to ship. As a long time Nikon user I am very frustrated, hoping to really get some sharp photos with the D800. After a few weeks of frustration I decided to focus on improving the print quality of the pix inmy collection as well as new shots with my D70. So I will soon be printing using X-rites i 1 photo pro 2. Anxious to see how much I can improve my printing. Dave

  7. There is certainly a great deal to learn about this subject.
    I love all of the points you made.

  8. Hi Ming,
    I appreciate your thoughtful review here, but to be honest you have scared the hell out of me :)
    I bought the D800E (in Middle June) and initially matched it to the Nikon 60mm f2.8G. The shots were amazing (I am strictly amateur – for the fun of it all ;) )
    Although I only use the middle focus point I eventually forced myself to test the side ones and they were fine, well within DOF (although the left and right were a smidgen more back then the centre)
    Now I have just bought a 35mm f1.4 which was to be my main walk around and indoor lens. And just read your thread above – gulp!
    I have not had a chance to test in the field but immediate did a series of focus tests (virtually all at f1.4)
    I have found the centre focus point is tack on, the left and the right back focus say 1 or 2 notches on the Jeffrey’s chart but are still on the edge of the DOF, i.e. in focus.
    Do you think my D800E is exhibiting the issue, or I am the lucky one !!! I am so nervous, I might sent it in for a fix anyway when Nikon release the fix
    all the best
    harold miller

    • Harold, yours sounds okay. The 35/1.4 has a bit of field curvature so center vs left/right will be slightly different. However, you should be concerned if live view focus is different from the AF system, and that difference is not consistent across the points.

      • Harold miller says:

        Thankyou I appreciate your comments
        I have just done some further testing, more real world then chart based.
        I have concluded that at f1.4 the middle point is in focus, the left looks slightly out of focus and the right is slightly out of focus but a smidgen less then the left. I then tried live view. Interestingly the centre point is in focus, but choosing a LV focus point at the same place at the left and right of the AF VF points it also misfocuses. The live view misfocus appears to be slightly less then the AF VF misfocus, but still there. More confused then ever. May send it in for fixing when Nikon’s official fix is bedded down to get peace of mind, although the could also screw up a perfectly good centre point (which is all I use anyway). The 35mm is certainly not tack sharp at f1.4 (well known with this lens) so perhaps this is normal (my copy gets sharp from f2 and tack from f3.5)
        Also, thanks for the excellent S2 vs D800E review. I am missing the “bite” of Leica lenses after ditching my M9 (can’t afford two system :( ) which I recognise in your pictures. Do you think it is possible to achieve this with Zeiss lenses ? If so, what would you recommend ?
        Thanks again and keep up the great reviews…
        Harold

        • That’s very odd – if it’s not sharp in LV, then it’s a lens issue.

          The camera definitely has the bite of the M9 at the pixel level if you use the right lenses and get everything in focus – I just posted a list of recommended lenses for the D800E here…

  9. Karthik says:

    Ming, Thanks for your blog and updates. I have a question regarding your comment here
    “I know that officially, there is no problem. But unofficially, I’m told they’re working on it…”

    If Nikon have not acknowledged the focus issue officially, it implies that we can’t expect them to give an official statement when it does get fixed. Unofficially, by when do you think they might have this issue sorted? Will you be privy to such information when this issue does get fixed?

    I am just wondering if I could just wait for an update from you and increase my chances of getting a non faulty camera as I am not in much of an hurry to get it. :)
    Thanks!

    • Nope, sorry, no information yet…I’m waiting too, so I can buy a backup body.

      • Hey,
        Just got my D800 back from repair. Focusing is now sharp on my 14-24mm and 28-300mm.
        Had massive back focus issue with 14-24mm, even the onboard adjustment wasn’t enough. Same firmware as wen I sent it in so I guess the 5 week wait was for Nikon Ireland to get the right kit to calibrate the camera.
        Happy snapping…

  10. hello Ming,relieved that I found your blog…thank you so much for all info…in USA on 6/13/12 received my D800-301XXXX in time for wedding on 6/16/12 using my 28-70 nikon lens-had problems focusing intermittently…was upset until I read your blog…now definitely have to visit El Segundo for repairs…hoping for resolution of problem…

  11. I’d like to get an idea of what percent of the D800’s are having a focus issue. From this list we only hear of problems, as expected. Are all D800’s having this problem? 10%, 50%, 75% etc. Any way we can get an estimate?
    Trying to figure out if I should cancel my order and reorder later, or take my chances.
    Dave

    • Hard to say. It seems like a high proportion of the first batch. No idea about later batches. I suppose DPR forums would give you some clues, but typically the forums tend to be full of the people with the loudest mouths.

      • david distefano says:

        with the serial number i sent recently here, how does that stand in the way of batch runs for nikon on the d800’s, since i also have the left side focus problem and i just picked mine up.

        • From what I’ve been able to determine so far, anything under about 3000 is affected for the Asian serials (starting with 8) and some of the US serials, but not the European serials.

      • I just got my D800E with Asian serial number below 2000 and it doesn’t have the extreme AF problem on the far left AF point. The AF has been pretty good thus far. =)

  12. david distefano says:

    last sunday i walked into my local camera store and saw they had stock of d800’s so i bought one. because of time issues i final was able to test the dreaded left side auto focus issue. i used my local newspaper as the test target. i started first with my 50mm 1.4d and i saw no statistical significant difference from left, center or right. they were spot on. so i tried my 20mm 2.8d lens. on the left side it was mush while the center was spot on and i expected the right to be a little soft due to the design of the lens but the print was still readable and i would say 90% of the center. I didn’t have problem with lenses over 50mm. just my 2 cents into this discussion. i’m going on vacation in 5 days and i do medium and large format on tripod and this is my first dslr and when i used my f5 and fm they were on tripods 90% of the time, so i will just use live view to focus and get it right.

  13. I can confirm that my D4 is critically out of focus with most lenses.
    I can also confirm the difference in sharpness when comparing the edges with center focus points.

    I’ve made several tests with different lenses.I advise everyone to do the same before sending the camera to the local dealer.
    Videotaping the results would also be recommended.
    It wouldn’t be the first time Nikon (or other brands) felt obliged to offer an answer and a comfortable solution for the client when exposed in such a manner.The power of Youtube.

    I sent the camera to my local service and still waiting for their official response.

  14. Robert Powals says:

    Ming,
    It appears you are becoming the new Nikon Guru. I enjoy your blog, Thank you!

  15. Another sharpness issue to bring up. I’m noticing that images taken using live-view are noticeably sharper than the same image taken using the viewfinder. I used my D800 with the 70-200mm VRII lens. The test goes as follows:

    1.) On a tripod and using delayed shutter release I focus on an object that has writing on it. Using live-view mode and moving the focus box onto the exact part of the image I want to analyze and take a picture. I shoot in M mode so all the settings are the same.
    2.) I then switch the dial on the camera to manual focus and switch to viewfinder mode and take another picture of the same image. I switched to manual focus so as to ensure the camera does not refocus from the focus setting of the 1st image.
    3.) Then I compare the two pictures by zooming into the area of focus. The picture shot with live-view is noticeably sharper than the same shot using the view finder.

    I tried using other lenses but it seems that this issue only shows at long focal lengths. I did this test at 200mm. When I put my Nikon 1.7x teleconverter on it and redo the test at an effective focal length of 340mm I notice that the difference in sharpness between the live-view image and view finder image to be even more noticeable. I’m not sure what could be causing the difference.

    • Is the difference consistent across all focal points in the frame? If yes, then you can fix it with AF fine tune. If not, then you’ve probably got some variant of the left-side AF problem.

      • Haven’t checked but will test across different focal points today. What confused me was if the focus setting did not change from one image to the next then how could simply switching from live-view to viewfinder cause a change in sharpness?

        • The viewfinder relies on a submirror to reflect the light from the lens to the AF sensor array. A misalignment of the sensor array or submirror would account for the difference in sharpness because the lens is misfocused. Live view uses contrast detect AF off the imaging sensor itself, so it si the most accurate form of AF available.

      • ok, tested the issue with the focus point on the left and right of the image (I simply tilted the camera so that the same thing I was focusing on is now on the left and then the right). The sharpness issue still exists on both tests. Ran the test at 70, 105 and 135mm and didn’t notice any difference, only when I got to 200 was there a difference.

      • Ran the test at the lower focal lengths again but this time with my 1.7x teleconverter and the difference shows. So I guess the issue is at the longer end with the teleconverter amplifying the sharpness difference. Since the 70-200 is the only lens I have that can take a tele I can’t test to see if my other lenses have the same problem when the focal length is increased.

    • Might have figured out the reason. Just out of curiosity I shot another image using the viewfinder but this time I was in Mup mode thus there was a delay between when the mirror is raised and when the image was taken. I compared this image to the one shot using the live-view there was no difference. So I guess the vibration from the shutter is causing the softness. I have this question into Nikon so I’ll wait to see what they say and I supplied them with my sample images. I know that b/c of the 36MPs that minor vibrations can impact the image but didn’t realize it could be this big.

  16. well, I just use the SpyderLensCal to correct the AF of all my lenses:

    http://www.datacolor.eu/en/products/photo-color-tools/spyderlenscal/index.html

    I am pretty sure this will also solve these Nikon issues.

  17. Very much appreciate the write up! I have similar issue on left hand focus point in view finder.. I have taken it to our Nikon distributor (T.A. Macalister in New Zealand) but they are awaiting official response from Nikon Japan.. Its been a couple of weeks now and no word. They did say that it would most likely be fixed with firmware. Hope they don’t have to pull apart my new D800!

    • Fingers crossed. Glad they acknowledged it though. I have to say, one of the reasons why I haven’t done an update on the D800E yet is because my left side still isn’t perfect. Useable yes, perfect, no.

      • I have tested very few images on 24~120 / f 4 VR on my D800 body and are the sharpest images I have ever seen. I’m yet to test it fully from wide to tele, but definitely check for the corner focusing from left to right. Thanks for your eye opener test on 85/1.4 lens that Nikon D800 product also has manufacturing defects, I have the same series 800xyzz bought in India. My immediate impression is that my D800 LCD does not show true colours on review, it shows yellowish-green images when compared to my D300 body when I have shot same images in the same identical conditions. Hence I feel it would not be easy to make colour corrections at site from the D800 LCD reviewed images, I would have over corrected the colours if I had not compared the images in same conditions on my D300 LCD. It seem I will now have to test fire an image for colour correction on D300 first, than make required chances & than apply same on my D800 for bigger image shooting. Presently I’m the only one to have received the camera in my region I’m yet to compare LCD with the other Nikon D800 body.
        Is it by any chance possible to get the LCD colour setting done by Nikon Service Station ?.
        Does your camera shows a similar shift in review image on LCD colour shift ?

        • I didn’t have the color shift issue on either D800 or D800E. I think the monitor is definitely more accurate than my D3/D700/D3x though, those monitors I always found a bit too cool. In any case, with a camera like this you should be shooting RAW and correcting in the conversion if required. Alternatively try a WhiBal card, I use them for my studio work.

      • softwarebydesign says:

        Hi, Nikon Japan have told T.A. Macalister (our distributor in New Zealand) that the will end through some instructions to “fix” the focus issue by the end of May.. The distributor thinks this is just a firmware update which I really hope is the case! Thinking about it.. Since the focus does look accurate on the left hand side with my 105 but not my 14-24 or 50.. Wouldn’t a firmware update make sense?

        • Don’t know, because the four D800/ D800Es I’ve used have all had focus off by different amounts – which suggests that one size fits all isn’t going to work. I hope it’s firmware too, because that means DIY, but it seems unlikely.

    • Hi all, as an update, I received back my D800 from Nikon USA (this is the second try) and they were not able to improve the left AF focal point issue. They insist that it is within manufacture tolerance, and just noted that the live view focus is always more accurate, and that the center focal points are alway more accurate than the ones on the sides. This of course does not address the discrepancy between the left and right focal points. In fact, not only did the not improve the left focal point, they made the center focal point less accurate. I decided to return this camera to the retailer from which I purchased the camera, told them to send it back to Nikon. My other D800 suffers the same problem but to a lesser degree. My D4 also suffers the same problem but to the least of all three. I tested on the 24mm f/1.4G, the 85mm f/1.4G, and the 70-200mm VRII (problem surfaces at longer focal lengths). All three lenses gave me the same result. The 24-70mm AF-S did not have as bad of a problem and maybe that is because of the f/2.8 at wide has sufficient depth of field.

      I will receive my D800E next week and will test that sample again, finger crossed that I end up with one camera that will focus properly . . .

      • Uh oh. That’s not good at all. I wonder why nobody saw this issue with the D3x – that has higher resolution than the D4 and should have revealed any insufficiencies with CAM3500. Maybe they changed something between the two generations of cameras – probably in the mirror assembly.

  18. Hello Ming,

    I am glad I ran across your write-up. I recently received my Nikon D800 from Best Buy in the U.S., and I am experiencing the exact same problems you described (left focal points on the 24mm f/1.4 is way off). Additionally, when shooting my 85mm f/1.4 AF-S, focus is off when using the optical view finder; when I use live view the problem goes away (I performed a controlled test using a tripod and stationary object). LCA is notably worse on the D800 when using the f/1.4 lens when compared to my D3x. On balance, I am not sure whether the D800 is really a superior camera to the D3x (though that is a bit of comparing apples to oranges). Anyway, I live down the street from Nikon USA in El Segundo so I will be walking in there first thing Monday morning. When you show up in person sometimes you get to talk to the technician live and it helps speed up the fix.

    • Good luck. I completely agree – you need to often demonstrate the problem in person. Might help if you quote this post/ thread, there are a lot of other people reporting the same issue…sounds like both your AF sensor is off and the mirror zero return position. I was facing the same LCA issues with the 85/1.4 G on the D800, but curiously they’re gone with the D800E – though there are still some residual left side AF problems.

      • I should add that when using live view, I do not have the left side AF problem. This leads me to believe that the problem may lie entirely with the mirror zero return position in that perhaps the mirror misaligned laterally to the sensor plane. This seems to be further supported by the fact that the further left you move your focal point (while using OVF), the more OOF is your image. If this is indeed the case then I would suspect that a mechanical re-alignment of the mirror should do the trick (not sure how simple or complicated would that be). On your D800E, perhaps there is still a slight misalignment of the mirror position (but not as severe)?

        By a very crude assessment, I visually inspected my mirror and noticed that the lateral position of the mirror is off centered in that one side of the mirror is further from the black felt wall than the other side (about 2/3 mm). More specifically, when looking into the camera mount with the camera facing you right side up, there is more room on the right side of the mirror than the left side of the mirror. This lateral displacement is not found on any of my other Nikon cameras. I do not have another D800 or D800E to compare so I do not know whether the lateral displacement is by design or whether my sample is indeed misaligned laterally, and whether such a lateral misalignment can lead to left-side AF problems or OVF focus issues in general. When you look at the mirror of your D800E, is there any evidence of lateral displacement?

        • My mirror seems to be perfectly centered. Can’t recall if this was the case on the D800 or not as I wasn’t specifically looking for it. I’m still having some issues with the extreme left point, however. Your idea about a sub mirror alignment issue is very possible, actually. However, there doesn’t seem to be any adjustment or calibration points for this part, which suggests that replacement outright is the only solution.

      • Okay, an update — first, Nikon USA did not fix my problem with the D800, so I returned the camera. So far, I have tested three samples of the D4, two samples of the D800, and two samples of the D800E. Using two samples of the 24mm f/1.4G, all combinations yielded a failure to accurate focus using the left and right most AF point with the view finder. This strongly suggests either a manufacturing defect or a design flaw for the D800/E/D4 when combined with the 24mm f/1.4G. With the 85mm f/1.4G, my D800E samples and D4 samples did not have any focus problems with any of the AF points but the LiveView focus is consistently sharper (as expected); the D800 struggled with the 85mm f/1.4. With the 85mm f/1.8G, the AF problem goes away most of the time with all of the samples. I have yet to test with the 28mm f/1.8G. There were no focus issues with any of the lenses when using LiveView (as expected). I should also note that, with the 24mm f/1.4G, even when using the center focus point, the LiveView results were clearly superior, and with the view finder focus (using center point) there were frequent LoC problems when the subject matter is high contrast; this may simply be a result of the slight OOF.

      • As between the 85/1.4 vs. the 85/1.8, I actually find the 1.8 to be just as sharp as the 1.4, and I haven’t been able to find a situation where the nano coating of the 1.4 presents a real advantage of the 1.8. In fact I think the 1.8 is a bit sharper at the corders. The only advantage left for the 1.4 is the extra stop. But of the D800 cannot properly focus at 1.4 (for any lens, so it would seem), then that advantage would seem to fall away. I am seriously considering just selling my 1.4 which is a shame because that was my favorite lens on my D3x (which I no longer own, to my regret). The 24mm f/1.4, on the other hand, is the sharpest wide-angle lens I own. I’ve tested it against the Zeiss 21mm Distagon on the Nikon D800, against the 24-70mm AF-S, and against the 21mm Leica Super-Elmar on the M9. Not exactly apples to apples of comparison given the different focal lengths, but when property focused (at, say, f/4.0 or smaller), the 24mm 1.4G is superior in terms of distortion and corner sharpness. The Leica 21mm was just as sharp (actually sharper) if you downsized the D800E to a 18MP image. For these reasons, I would continue to use the 24mm f/1.4G, but would be interested to know how it stacks up against the 28mm f/1.8G (which I suspect is forth coming from you Ming :)

        • Totally agree with you – except on the 24/1.4. I may have a bad copy, because even focused in live view, it lacks the fine crispness and microcontrast of the Zeiss or Leica you mention (I’ve used both). I don’t know when I’m going to have time to shoot with the 28, but early tests show that a) it’s as sharp, in the center at 1.8; b) it suffers from field curvature, so focus-and-recompose works better than edge point focus; and c) it has surprisingly good transmission despite the complex optical design – slightly better than the Zeiss 2/28 Distagon, actually. Bokeh is rather nice, too. I suspect that it’s going to become one of my favorites.

      • 1) I agree that the Leica lens is sharper, but it’s just more difficult to compare it to the 24mm f/1.4G because of the different camera bodies being used (18MP vs. 36MP). 2) The Leica renders better color in my opinion (or it may be the M9, but even when I adjusted the WB on my D800E image, I cannot match the relative tones of the Leica 21mm on the M9). 3) However, the D800E has a better dynamic range so it handles the higher contrast images (such as a sunset) better than the M9 (with the M9, a graduate ND filter is a must). Once the M10 comes out this fall, presumably with more pixels and, more importantly, better dynamic range, the D800E/24mm 1.4G combination will lose the advantages of 1 and 3, giving the edge back to Leica for landscape work. I no longer have the Summilux 24mm lens to compare, but the Summilux 24mm lens has a curved focus field and really noticeable purple fringing so it’s not really a landscape lens but more of a street/people lens (and as such, not as fast to use because of a need for an external view finder on the M9, though on a 0.5 M7 that would be okay).

        • I think the difference in color/ tonal response is also partially down to the sensor – CCD vs CMOS. You’ve also got to be careful of sensor blowouts on the M9; if the sun or point source is too bright, you get horrible smearing as though somebody has scraped a palette knife over the image. I had the 21 summilux, which I believe is a close relative of the 24; however, I didn’t find it quite as sharp as the Zeiss 21/2.8 Biogon, which is on par with the 21/3.4.

  19. Ming, I’ll be getting my D800 in a few days (in the mail already), can you give the exact routine you did to check to see if my D800 has the same issue?

  20. What a great blog. I loved it.
    I am wondering whether this AF issue is a software problem, which can be solved with an update to the firmware. Or is this an hardware problem that will make you go to repair shop.
    I will appreciate if you could comment on that.
    Burak

    • Thanks! I think it’s a hardware issue – each camera is probably misaligned by a different amount, which means a software solution wouldn’t work unless it was tailored to individual cameras. It could work as a software update administered by the service center, but not a DIY download patch.

  21. Hi Ming Thien, first of all, congratulation for your joint exhibition with Jaeger Le-Coultre and Leica. With refer to D800 auto focus issue, i recently got my D800 from Penang and i had the same problem as per your description above. Wonder if there are any solution updated on the issue yet. With shutter actuation close to 600 mainly due to all the test with my lens, wonder what advice you have for me.

    Thanks…

  22. I’ve been shooting with my D800E for a week now using the 24mm, 35mm, and 85mm f/1.4, mainly due to the issues many have raised. So far, no issues to report. All lenses are sharp, with the 35mm producing the best contrast. Will start using to 50mm AIs soon and will report any challenges. I am very surprised by how well this camera is performing in low light. This is a great camera.

    • Good to hear you’re not having the same issues!

      • K Y Tse says:

        Hi everyone:
        Is moire serious with the D800E. From the official site of Nikon regarding moire and sharpness, the sample by D800E is definitely much sharper. What would you recommend for amateurs, D800 or D800E?

        • Frankly, neither unless you print huge. I’ve gone to 40×60″ with the D700, and even at nose distances, the prints look superb. You do of course need good shooting discipline/ technique and a good printer, but for 99.9% of even serious amateur usage, the D800/E are both overkill.

  23. Hi Ming:
    Are you using the same D800 that has AF problem, and wait for a replacement?

    • Yes.

      • Hi Ming:
        Are you using the view finder to focus? If so, to avoid the left AF problem, do you focus with the centre AF point, and recompose your picture; in such case, is the subject still sharp? In the forum of some web site they said such method result in not too sharp photoes, especially with a large-pixel sensor like D800.

        • Focus and recompose doesn’t work with lenses that aren’t flat field – i.e. most lenses. I never do that anyway. Right now I’m only using the D800 for studio work, so it’s manual focus only anyway with longer lenses stopped down – conditions that don’t exhibit the problem.

      • If you set AF to AF-C, focus with center point and recompose while keeping the focus button pressed the focus will stay in place.

      • That’s right, but it will get you the shot if you have to use AF and not LV : )
        My d800 has the same problem with the left side on 14-24 and surpassingly with left side on Nikkor 24-70 but only at 50 and 70mm.
        I will take it to Nikon Center after the Japanese National Holiday.

        Very cool blog BTW!

        • Good luck with the service! I’ve heard many reports that it’s a fairly straightforward fix, and everything works fine after – so it shouldn’t be a problem. My new D800E is much better, but still not 100% perfect. Thanks for your compliments.

  24. Hi, is it possible for you to do some tests with the D lens such as the 85 f/1.8D and 24 f1.8D? Would really appreciate it.
    Thanks!

  25. david distefano says:

    now that the 800e has been released, is it also showing the same problem with the auto focus issue? if so, then it is a design flaw and you would have to wonder why it was not picked up in the testing stage. as one person earlier said it may be a time to sit back and wait. when i buy a product i don’t want to send it back because it’s not working right. plus that’s bad customer relations. i guess i can use the new nikon 1.4 primes i bought with my f5 until the dust clears, it has no af issues and with 10900 dpi drum scan the images are pretty darn good too. do you think nikon will be forthcoming with the public on this and it’s supply problem?

    • I still don’t think it’s a design flaw, because not every camera has the issue. It seems to be a calibration problem to me. My D800E hasn’t arrived yet, so I can’t say. No idea how Nikon operates internally – until it becomes a major disaster, they usually don’t say anything. At least it’s better than the D2H and the first black frame issue (which they never acknowledged publicly) or dead meter (which they did acknowledge).

  26. Ming,

    Your quality of review is just fantastic! Thanks so much.

    A quick question – what about the 24-120 f/4? Which one would you recommend, the 24-70 f/2.8 or the 24-120 f/4 VR given the following key aspects – handheld use only, sharpness and colour?

    thanks,
    Anand

  27. Ming,

    I found the same issue with my D800, but my most right one is worse.

    Just an FYI, the focus through LV is not using phase detection AF, it actually uses contrast detection AF and does not use the internal AF module. As such, this problem cannot be fixed with a firmware, the AF module needs re-alignment or replaced.

    • I’m pretty sure that’s what I said. The reason you compare is so you can tell whether it’s your lens that’s off or your AF module.

    • C. Tomas says:

      Thank you, Ming Thein, for the great blog and honest info sharing. I am having problems with my D800 overall sharpness and specially with the left half of images. My serial nr starts with 600xxxxx and is a Europe batch. I informed the seller and he will call the retailer and Nikon support about what to do. Hopefully they can fix it fast. My planned summer trip for material shooting and exhibitions are now in risk.
      I would not like to return it after saving for it and waiting 3 years.
      I am soo disappointed…

      • My pleasure. I hope you get it fixed soon. The workaround if you’re on a tripod is always live view, so all is not lost. Mine has still been producing fantastic images in this way, and no problems for commercial work.

  28. Ming, very interesting writing. Are you going to try with another lenses?
    regards.
    Gustavo.

  29. Is it a hardware- (sensor-misalignment…) or is it a software-problem (firmware, af-fine-tuning…) ?

    Here are my thoughts and my personal opinion (and i’m not a fototechpro):
    if you can’t get rid of the focus problem by correcting it with af-fine-tuning and you get the same bad focus with live-view-af, then it must be a hardware-problem like some kind of sensor-missalignment or whatever…
    otherwise it should be more a software related thing
    and if on the hardware-side wouldn’t it be more pronounced with lenses above 50mm ?
    what do you think?

    i bring my d800 and all my 1,4 lenses to nps next week

    i will report back what they say … especially to my 24/1,4…

    greetings from germany…
    qki

    • I think it’s a hardware problem, but probably more to do with tolerances in assembly rather than bad design or defects (the same AF hardware has been used in the D300, D300s, D3, D3s, D3x, D4 and D700 with no problems.)

      It’s worse with fast wides because a) the amount of movement required to focus the lens or put it OOF is very small, which means small tolerances; b) these lenses are harder to focus anyway because the depth of field transition between in focus and out of focus is very shallow, which requires high precision. Not the case with fast long lenses – notice how difficult it is to manually focus a 24/1.4 vs a 300/2.8 for instance.

      • mmmhh…. sounds logical ….
        let’s hope that it can be fixed easily and that nikon comes out with a solution soon …

        • Yes. I never thought I’d say this, but the D3x I’m using for wide angle work feels like last generation technology…the sensor is seriously not up to the standard of the D800 in resolution, color, noise or DR.

      • i promised to give a report… so here it is:
        but please keep in mind that it is my experience and my equipment … i think it is no good idea to generalize it …

        NPS-Germany have done a complete fine-tuning of the d800 af-system and all my lenses … but the problem with the bad-focus on the left side with the 24/1,4 was still there.

        Two very friendly and helpful technicians explained me the procedure of af-fine tuning in detail …
        they even repeated it once again while i was watching
        very interesting …

        and so i could convince myself that the focus-mechanism from my d800 was PERFECT!

        the last test brought us to the root of the problem with MY equipment …

        so … it is a hardware problem … but in my case it is definetly my 24 lense

        they have some kind of projector with a lensmount … a test chart is projected through the mounted lens on a “milky glass screen ?” and you can see the pure properties of the optics …
        and there it was … not really as sharp as it should be on the left side …

        my personal experience with the people from nikon-service in germany was always very good … i think they do their very best to help us with our highly technical working gear …

        and with the d800 all of us are pushed to new limits we have to get comfortable with …

        so my d800 is back home
        and my 24/1,4 is in good hands
        i’m sure they will fix it …

        • Wow, so the issue was your 24/1.4 it seems? Sounds like NPS took care of you well though.

          Interesting, but I’m still inclined to think AF with my camera (and the other cameras locally) because all of the 24s we tried perform just fine on the D3x – which should be showing some softness at that pixel density if it is the lens that’s the problem. It also doesn’t explain people who are seeing problems with multiple different wide angles – there’s no way that all of them are misaligned on the left!

          However, it definitely sounds that they’ve eliminated the body from the problem (project with lens mount thingy) – which suggests that at least some of the issues may be lens-related.

          Thanks for the update!

      • I have a D300s and I have the same issues. Some of the cross-type AF sensors don’t work (sensor to the left of the central point for example). The AF system tell me the camera is in focus when you actually see in the VF that is not. I tried in both portrait and landscape mode and is the same. Also, some of the horizontal type AF sensors don’t work giving the same results as with the cross-type sensors before. Given that the AF system is basically the same in the D300s, D700…and D800 I’m not surprise if they have an issue due to some problem in the production line. I agree with you Ming and think that is not a design flaw. Otherwise we would see it in all cameras and models using the same AF system. I will stay clear of the D800 for the time being until things get stable.

        • What you’re seeing is a misaligned mirror – the rest position of the mirror has to be adjusted so that it’s perfectly planar at 45 degrees and the distance to focusing screen and sensor from the lens mount is the same. If it isn’t, then things will appear in focus in the finder and OOF in the sensor plane, or vice versa. Modern SLRs aren’t as well adjusted as older ones because hardly anybody bothers to manual focus these days. Adjusting mirror zero position precisely is the first thing I do with a new SLR.

  30. Great blog Ming and I enjoyed your photos and comments like “quantum mechanics at work”! I’m still waiting on the D800E and I’m almost thinking it may be to my benefit to wait a good while longer while all the AF issues are worked out.
    I’m rethinking alot of my lenses for the now camera and will rely on the large standards 14-24, 24-70, 70-200, 200/2 for home/studio but for travel/field I would like small and light and this probably means primes. For wide I have 20/2.8D which I found great @f/5.6 on the D3. I was wondering if you had a chance to try it on the D800? I’m thinking of carrying some combo of small (relatively) primes I already have and love 20/2.8D, 24/1.4, ZF35/2, ZF50/2, 85/1.8G (pre-ordered), ZF100 which will hopefully perform well on the D800E. I also have an old 35/2D which I’m hoping will surprise me @f/5.6 on the new camera. BTW I also bought the Samyang 35/1.4 and it’s surprisingly good although not very small.
    Right now for the zeiss lenses I use the D3 without the focus dot or special screen. How is the D800 view screen (not live view) for manual focus in your opinion?

    • Thanks John – glad you’re enjoying the blog. Sorry, no chance to try the 20/2.8 (I’d go with the Zeiss 21/2.8 personally) yet. Your lineup sounds okay – if you can get the 24/1.4 to focus fine, the rest will work great.

      The D800 screen is okay for MF but not great. If you’re shooting at f1.4 a lot then I’d want to get a split prism screen; the only problem is that nobody makes one for the D800 yet, and the focusing screen is so big there’s no way you can cut an existing one to fit – it won’t be large enough.

  31. Hi, after a evening testing, this came out every single time …… i only use the prime 1,4 lenses….
    and must say that i had much better results on my D3..

    oh my serial nr starts off with 600xxxxx
    and i am from holland

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/moor-image/7088190283/in/photostream

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/moor-image/7088189671/in/photostream

    • Sorry to see you’re affected too. I too only use 1.4 primes for most of my work after the new AFS series came recently…and yes, results on the 12MP FX cameras were much better. For now, I’m sticking to my D700 for that kind of work, at least until Nikon can give me a replacement body.

    • woehoe ! got my camera back,
      look at the result, apparently they can calibrate each individual focus point,
      this is so much cleaner (these are shot at F1.4 both in the far corners)

      http://www.flickr.com/photos/moor-image/7110348499/in/photostream

      http://www.flickr.com/photos/moor-image/7110349087/in/photostream/

      Thank you very much for pointing out this problem, this blog has been very useful.
      Cheers Hans

      • Great to know – thanks for the update!

      • I sent my D800 in to Nikon USA and received a notice that my AF sensor was realigned and the camera shipped as well. I will be thrilled if they overnighted and fixed the AF to the same degree as your copy. Did they overnight your D800?

        Thanks,
        Jay

      • Jay – When did you send it in? I’m curious how long they had it and took to work on it because it looks as though I’m going to be sending mine in to Nikon USA as well.

        Thanks,
        Jim

      • Hans, I live in the Netherlands too. Where did you get your camera from? which store? and, when you said you sent the camera to Nikon, what did you mean exactly? Did you return it to the store you bought it from and they sent it to the Nikon service or, it was you that had to send it to the Nikon service in the Netherlands? I’m just wondering in case I ever need to do the same when I get mine in the future.

      • Hey Jim,
        My D800 just arrived about an hour ago. From just a few test shots around the office the AF systems seems to be working perfectly now. I was quoted 7-10 days on a turn around. They received it this past Friday and I got it back today (5 business days), the turn around was fast. This is my first experience with Nikon USA and it was excellent. I could have exchanged the body for another at Best Buy but decided I would rather have a properly calibrated camera by Nikon instead.

        With that said; open up a ticket with support. They are going to ask you to send in OOC images with the AF problem, they will use the meta data from the images to help diagnose the issue. I shot a series of wine corks using a tripod and 3 second exposure delay. Be patient while you are going back and forth with images and requests. It took a couple of days of sending in images, then I was asked to send the body in to the service center.

        My best advice is to be polite with those working at Nikon, they are doing their best to help their clients. For me they did an excellent job.

        Time to get back to the art of photography.

        Good luck,

        Jay

        • Glad to hear everything is fixed. S*** happens. Bad companies do nothing, or worse, deny it. Good ones fix it. There’s not a lot else you can do. I used to be involved in customer service – and we were taught to look at a problem as a gift, an opportunity to help build a relationship with a customer by showing you care. It works!

        • Thanks Jay – this afternoon I revived my most recent reply to Nikon acknowledging my images as showing a focus issue. They told me to go ahead and follow the directions on the website to submit the camera to Nikon for evaluation. Just curious, did you deal with the CA or NY service center?

          Also just FYI to anyone else working with Nikon – the images that really showed off the issue for me was taking 2 images with the exact same config/position/etc. just one with the viewfinder AF system, the second with live-view AF showing the difference in focus.

          -Jim

      • Hi Jay and Jim,
        My D800 was fixed over weekend as well, i was very surprised about how fast i got it back !
        Just had a photoshoot today, and the camera is absolutely brilliant now !!
        good luck with yours Jim

        Cheers Hans

        • I sent my D800 in last Friday due to left side AF problems, and it is due back tomorrow. When I called, I was told that they made “autofocus adjustments”. I really hope it is fixed, like some of you are saying!

      • Hi Ton,
        I bought my camera at foto-Konijnenberg, but instead of returning it to the store, i figured it would be faster to send it straight back to the nikon service. I informed the store about my action , in order to keep my warranty valid in every way :)

      • @Jim, I sent my camera to the NY center as I am in Boston. But I will guess, both of Nikon USA’s service centers are ready to properly adjust the mis-aligned AF modules found in some of the first run D800s. I would just get it in and be done with it. The camera is fantastic when the AF system is working correctly. Or as Hans described it, “Absolutely Brilliant”.

        @Hans, I am really glad things panned out for you as well. I have a photo-shoot tomorrow where this camera needs to perform properly. Today I spent the afternoon walking around the city taking photos, where my camera worked flawlessly. Tomorrow I have little concern about my gear.

        @ Ming, I have to agree with your comments about building loyal customers through excellent service when things go wrong. Nikon USA handled this issue in a manner that leaves me little concern in buying their products in the future. Once again thank you for writing well thoght out articles and posting beautiful imagery. I am in awe in how much content you create in any given week.

        I thought I would share a quick laugh. I think this little excerpt is well fit to my D800 experience:

        Dear Optimist and Pessimist,

        While you two were debating
        whether the glass was half full or half empty,
        I drank it.

        Signed,
        The Opportunist

        • Haha – that’s a good one. I like to think of myself as an opportunistic pessimist. I’ll see things that could be done, but try to troubleshoot everything beforehand for smooth execution. My D800 may have AF issues, but I’m still using it for commercial work in the studio because a) I don’t need 24mm and f1.4; b) I’m shooting manual focus with tilt-shift macros at reasonable DOF anyway, and if not, I’ll just live view it on a tripod. MT

        • Well I tracked my package sent to Nikon and they got it this morning (Friday). Nothing official from them yet that the got it but I suspect its too early and ill get that next week. I’ll report back after its returned to me on how it went!

          -Jim

      • So here was my experience. Sent the camera off to Nikon NY two weeks ago, they received it according to FedEx on Friday the 27th. I got an e-mail from Nikon on the 30th that they received it. On the 2nd I got an update that it has completed service and was shipped out. I called up to ask what was done and to get a tracking number. They said that they adjusted the AF mechanism and did a general functions check and clean. They gave me the tracking number as well. The Tracking number didn’t actually work until the evening of the 3rd, when it left NY. Because they sent it UPS Ground I didn’t get it until today, the 7th. The box they packed the camera in looked horrid, it was like someone had sat on it. However it looks like their internal packaging protected it okay because in my initial hour of testing it, all focus points are on and accurate! I had a SEVERE back-focus with my 14-24 on the left point and with some quick snaps it looks to be dead on!

        -Jim

        • Good to hear, Jim!

          • Well, I spoke to soon… after getting the chance to further test the camera, yes the left focus points are indeed in perfect focus now, but apparently in adjusting the camera to correct it, all the other points now front focus as much as the left back focused before! (center/right). So apparently no, Nikon does not have a fix yet. They have offered to at least pay to send the camera back to NY this time, but I’m not hopeful, did the others that are in this thread find issues with theirs after it was returned to them?

  32. I have made complaints about the terrible autofocus issue with my D800 and have not received any reactions other than: “Your complaint is being escalated”, “Your complaint is under investigation”.
    I think there is a really serious production problem and all shipments of D800′s are put on hold. People should be really happy when they have not yet received “their” D800.
    And the good news for D800E-users: use the left bank af-points and thanks to the unsharpness there will be no moiré-problems.
    I think Nikon encounters a huge problem and a call-back action is urgently needed and as costly!

    • Try going through NPS if it is an option. I haven’t received any more information than you, other than I know that I will be getting a replacement and that Nikon HQ is aware of the issue. I hope it’s as simple as a firmware fix, but if it’s a hardware issue and an assembly jig realignment would do the trick, then that’s fine too – just make sure you issue a service advisory to everybody who already has the camera. It’s annoying yes, but at least we can work around it for the time being either with live view or the older bodies. And it’s a non-issue for lenses over 50mm.

      • For your information and regarding the posting below, I’m also Dutch and I’ve reported my camera’s problem to Nikon Nederland (and demanded my money back, with returning of the camera of course).

      • Nikon Nederland likes to receive the original NEFs, quite understandable I think. In the evening I will send them, together with the figures regarding the AF-fine adjustments of all the lenses I use, what they also asked for.

        • Hopefully that will aid your case. I think there’s probably data in the EXIF which they use for diagnostic purposes that we cannot see. It would of course be easier if you could send the camera in to demonstrate, but I’m guessing that isn’t very practical.

      • My D800 has today been send off to Nikon Nederland. I’ll keep you informed.

      • Last friday my D800 returned from the Dutch Nikon Service Point. As far as I can see all looks fine now, they told me all the autofocus point have been tuned. Sharp pictures! I’m happy!!

      • Nicolò says:

        You have to finetune your lenses using a realistic distance; I bought Spyder Lenscal in the meantime.
        The sharpness you can eventualy obtain with the viewfinder equals liveview and is really unbelievable!

  33. Hi.

    I have the same left-autofocus-point-issue with my 24/1,4g and my D800 (serial starting with 600xxxx).

    Live-View-Focus in the same area works perfect. The same with manual focus+liveview.

    All facts combined i think it must be a firmware/software-issue.
    But this is only an assumption.

    I´ve mailed NPS. Let´s see what they say.

    Greetings from Germany …
    qki

  34. david distefano says:

    Hello,
    Some of your recommendations for lenses has made me stop and re-think possible purchases. 2 lenses that I wanted were the fast 85 1.4 and 35 1.4. So my question is: do you think the equivalent lenses by zeiss would have similar problems or am I better off with the zeiss f2. And a thought from reading your article. I think people who trade up from the d700 or from dx to the d800 may be disappointed in their images if their lenses are not up to the job and I would have been one of them and I know now that I will test every lens vigorously before I make a purchase because it’s a whole new ball game. I’m glad I don’t have this much problem with my 4×5 and 8×10.

    • I haven’t tried the ZF lenses on the D800, but I used to shoot extensively with the ZF 85/1.4 Planar on the D700 – it was a superb lens. However, I felt the 85/1.4 G was better overall and switched. You might want to look at the 85/1.8 G for the D800, it’s pretty amazing. As for the 35/1.4 G – everything I’ve heard has not been that positive. I’d definitely look at the Zeiss 35/1.4 and perhaps also (don’t laugh) the Samyang 35/1.4 – it was quite surprising on the D3x, almost as good as the Zeiss but a fraction of the price.

  35. Hi MIng,

    Thanks very much for your notes. You mentioned that the left AF problem only exists for wide angle lenses. I believe my D800 + 85 1.4G exhibits the same behavior. I conducted some tests and posted the results here:

    http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1021&message=41202652

    I posted an update to the thread with the same test using my D3S (and same 85 1.4G lens) and had better results–I was not able to observe the same problem. Therefore, I think the problem lies in my D800. I was interested in getting your opinion on these results. I started a case with Nikon on 4/12, and have updated it numerous times, but have not yet heard from them.

    Thanks,
    Warren

    • Just replied to your other comment – looks like you’re having the problem there too. Can’t say why, because my 85/1.4 G and the NPS loaner both do not exhibit this issue on my body (but wide angles are terrible). FWIW I still have no updates on my end either.

  36. Hi Ming,

    You mentioned that the AF problem only exists with wide angle lenses. I believe my D800 and 85 1.4G are exhibiting similar behavior. I conducted tests and posted my results here:

    http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1021&thread=41202652

    What is your opinion of of those results?
    Further down the thread, I conducted the same testing with my D3S and had no problems. I started a case with Nikon on 4/12, and have submitted numerous updates, but have yet to hear from them.

    Regards,
    Warren

  37. I have Nikkor AF-S 17-35mm ED f2.8D, and plan to buy D800E. Just want to know whether how well this lens perform when mounted on this D800E. All of my current lens line up are mostly used for film camera F100, ie Nikkor AF80-200mm f2.8 pull push, Nikkor AI 28mm f2.8, Nikkor Micro AF 60mm f2.8D, please advise.

    • No idea, sorry. I haven’t used any of those lenses on the D800. The 60/2.8 D should be pretty good, but I think you’ll have to use manual focus to get the most out of it. I switched to the AFS-G version of that lens because screwdriver AF on the old version wasn’t precise enough, especially at anything greater than macro distances.

      • Thanks for the reply. Will these old lens performance differ much compare to those new G version lens when mounted on D800/E in general? I plan to get a nikkor 70-200mm for D800/E, what is your recommendation, VRI or VRII? Thank you.

        • Yes, it will – not so much due to optical design (but it will help obviously) but more because of focusing precision.

          There was a lot of discussion when the new 70-200 was released – I agree with the general consensus that the old one is better if magnification at minimum focus distance matters (the new one focuses closer but isn’t really 200mm at the long end anymore) but optically it’s both better wide open and more consistent across the frame. I have tested one briefly on the D800 and it was excellent, even at f2.8. No focusing issues either. The only thing you have to be aware of with these new design is that they’re so complicated with dozens of elements that their T stops are pretty different to their f stops.

    • Dillin Hang says:

      Hi, I have the 17-35 and on the D800 I am not happy with it.. The corners are notably softer, even when using the center focus point to ensure the softness is due to the left AF point issue I have with the camera.

  38. What is the verdict on the 18mm Zeiss vs the 21mm. Is the micro contrast just as good? Does it focus just as close? Thanks in advance.

  39. Henry Dinardo says:

    Yes Ming with my camera specifically. I’ll have to do a test in day light tomorrow and will let you know.

  40. Henry Dinardo says:

    Ming another interesting point is that while in Live View the center focus point is sharp but the outer point left and right of center is not.

  41. Henry Dinardo says:

    Ming why do you think I would be able to get sharper images in Live View hand held with slower shutter speeds then thru the view finder? Very strange!

    • Easy. The mirror doesn’t cycle, only the shutter. So the vibration is lower – assuming you’ve got steady hands. I can’t hold the camera very steady at arms’ length though, so it’s about the same for me.

  42. Captain Obvious says:

    Hi Ming,

    I had a D800 that I returned because the side focus points were out of focus. The left side was significantly worse than the right side. My regret is that I didn’t have time to do a calibration with left and right focus points to see if maybe one side was back focusing, and the other was front focusing. If that’s the case, maybe something is just out of plane.

    Did you figure out if the outer points were back focusing or front focusing compared to the center focus point?

    • Nope, right and center were both on plane, but left was far off plane. It seems like it’s not something as simple as a tilt or misalignment. Still waiting for a fix from Nikon.

  43. Henry Dinardo says:

    Ming I’ve been shooting with the D800 for a couple of weeks now and have produced some great images with it. My only concern is that any thing over ISO 1200 is very noisy compared to the D3s where I was able to get clean images up to ISO 3200. Are you experiencing similar noise issues?

    • I’d say mine is a stop behind the D700 at the pixel level. I run everything with all NR off. The D3s is about a stop cleaner than that still, so it sounds about right.

  44. Here is what Nikon USA have to say on their product forum, I guess this is just to stave off the nay-sayers….

    We don’t have any reports regarding AF issues with the D800; it was just released for sale.
    Apr 9, 2012 by
    NikonStaff

    • To be fair there have been few reports of issues in the USA, and with such a big bureaucracy it obviously takes time for word to reach one side of the company from the other. However, there definitely IS and issue; NPS here acknowledges it, and Nikon HQ is investigating. That’s good enough for me. What would be worse is if nobody anywhere is listening…

      • Gen Kanai says:

        I am under the assumption that all D800s are made on the same line in the same plant in Japan. I don’t think there are different “batches” per se, unless Nikon acknowledges the issue, makes a change to the line, etc. (which is just speculation.) What I mean to say is that the cameras sold in the US should be functionally identical to those sold elsewhere. Please correct me if I’m wrong about there being only one D800 production line.

        • I was told there are different lines, and certainly different batches (between which the AF calibration machinery is adjusted). But I don’t know for certain because I’ve never been there myself.

      • Dillin Hang says:

        Hi, I am in the US and have an early D800 30003xx serial. I definitely have the left AF focus issue. There are also lots of reports of others in US with left AF issue as well. After testing my lenses, issue is most apparent on my 17-35 f/2.8 with slight back focus at 35mm and just completely off at 17mm. My 70-200 VRII also is impacted, but very minimally. Since the center AF point works perfectly, I will send it to Nikon after my trip in May as I need the camera for the trip. Hopefully they have identified a fix by then.

        • Ouch. Time to send it back. I’m still waiting for my replacement. I’m not sure your 17-35 issue is due to the AF system or the lens itself – is it better with live view?

    • I got a call from my local Nikon Service Center this afternoon. They verified the AF points issue on my units and it is also present in other units that they have. They said they cannot fix it now and are waiting for instruction from Japan side. It seems that I need to bare with it for a while…

  45. Hi,

    I am in the US and have two D800s ordered. I am considering canceling and waiting for all the dust/issues to settle. Is there any feel for the left focus issue being regional. I find that a little hard to believe but you get more input that I. Let me know if the focus issue seems to cover all cameras or just those in the Asian markets.

    Regards

    • Seems like most of the people who’ve reported problems so far have been in Asia, with several from Europe/ US reporting no issues. So there’s a good chance – especially if you haven’t got your cameras yet – that yours will be from a different batch, and that all future production will have this issue rectified.

  46. Hi Ming,
    Absolutely love your blog, and your analysis of the cameras and lenses.
    I hope you test the Nikon 70-300mm (the G ED IS VR version) on the D800/E also. I lucked out and got one that is very sharp across most of the zoom range on a D700, and wondering what it would be like on a 800/E. TIA.

    • Thanks Shahid. I’ve used two 70-300VRs on the 12MP FX bodies, and both have been great up to 200mm, with definite softness creeping in between 200 and 300mm. Haven’t got one of these lenses anymore, but if I can get hold of one I’ll post an update.

  47. wynnert says:

    Hi,
    I commented on another or your posts about a similar focus issue with my 14-24mm. I’ve had it tested by a Nikon Pro and he’s recommended that the lens goes in for servicing as it was back focusing on a D700 anyway however… He opened up a new 14-24mm and it too was back focusing and we had to AF fine tune the lens to -20 to get us close to acceptable. My serial is 6000xxx and is from the UK & Ireland stock.
    I’ll comment again when I get my 14-24mm back and can test it on the D800.
    For the mean time I’ve been using my 50 f1.4 (fine tuned to -3) and 28-300mm (fine tuned to -17) and they’re both able to take amazing shots.

  48. twoeyes says:

    Ming, thank you from me too for these D800/E posts — they are most illuminating and I’ll following them religiously in anticipation of mine! Have you or anyone else had chance to try the 85/1.4 D at all? I know you mentioned the T-stop difference, but I’m curious how it’s going to perform in practice. I rely heavily on mind, but your findings are making me wonder if I’d be better switching to the 1.8G, and probably saving some money into the bargain.

    Also, I’d be interested to hear how the 16-35/f4 compares to the 14-24/f2.8 which has also got me a little worries, as I make heavy use of the latter for landscape work.

    Anyway, keep up the good work!

    • You’re welcome. Sorry, I don’t have access to the 85/1.4 D at the moment (and all of the NPS loaners have been switched to the 85/1.4 G) so I can’t comment. If I can get hold of one I’ll post my findings.

      As for the 16-35/4, I think it may be sharper than the 14-24 especially in the extreme corners at the wide end of the zoom, however the T stop of that one is definitely pretty low – I’m guessing in the 5.6 region. It’s definitely more than two stops slower than my Zeiss 2/28.

  49. Nikon’s library shot was taken using live view….

    Ming, your posts on the D800 are by far the best I’ve come across. Thank you! My 35/1.4 appears to be ok, but I haven’t shot it wide open. The goofy 105/DC looks surprisingly better than on the D700 (but front focuses). VERY curious about the 85/1.8g AF and moving subjects. I’m a dog photographer and the 1.4g is too sluggish. Any thoughts?

    • Thanks Amanda! How does your 35/1.4 do in the corners? You can try the AF fine tune – the DC lenses are a little notorious when it comes to front/ back focusing, it’s to do with the configuration of the DC elements.

      The 85/1.8G was pretty snappy focusing-wise, but we didn’t have any moving subjects handy

  50. Gen Kanai says:

    MT, love your blog. Did you see LensRentals had a similar post recommending certain lenses. Their list is not quite the same as yours, which makes for interesting comparisons.

    https://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2012/03/d800-lens-selection

    • I have now – thanks for the link. Some of the lenses on the list I haven’t tested, but I agree with their general selection – and on this list, some will do better than others. This isn’t to say that good results aren’t possible with other glass, but I think more extensive testing in the field will be required for an exhaustive list.

  51. “but for anybody expecting to go from a DX consumer body, or even 12MP FX, to D800 and get pixel-level crispness across the frame, there’s going to be something of a steep learning curve to climb”, What do you see as issues that people moving from DX to the D800 will experince?

    • Edge sharpness, for one. I think a lot of lenses that do great on DX all over the frame won’t be so hot on the D800 because there’s so much more frame, but at the same pixel density. Camera shake induced blur on edges, for two.

  52. Hi Ming,
    Great blog, just found out about it recently.
    I am looking forward to hear your thoughts about the PC-E 85/2.8 Micro, it’s a purchase I am considering as well along with the D800. I like to shoot food for microstock and f-stop as the only way for DOF control is becoming an issue for me and would be even more so on the D800 with an early diffraction limit. The PC-E 85/2.8 Micro sounds like a great match.
    Thanks,

    Ben

    • Thanks Ben. The 85 PCE from my preliminary testing is a truly excellent lens. No major optical defects to report so far – great macro and micro contrast, sharpness is superb at every aperture (useable til about f22 on the D800, vs f16 for the 60 AFS) and almost no CA. The only things I don’t like about are the crossed tilt/shift axes (apparently is $400 to modify it because they need to change one of the PCBs); 1:2 magnification only (1:1 would be great) and the rather stiff focusing ring – I hope it’ll loosen up in time.

      • Pleased to have stumbled across your blog. It is for this reason that I have contemplated using Canon as well just for the TS advantages over Nikon’s. I wish they would modify their PCE’s but doubt that highly anytime soon. I have seen some do-it-yourself videos at modifying and wondering if you have seen them as well? Too bad you can’t order them to your axes preference to avoid added expense. Thanks for all your information here.
        John R

        • Thank you! It seems that the new PCEs have short internal ribbon cables that prevent you from simply unbolting and rotating the axes, whereas the old ones didn’t. Seems like Nikon just wants to charge us more. How difficult would it be to add another axis of rotation, especially when we’re already paying an arm and a leg?

  53. I’ve read in other forums other D800 users, at least 5 of them, with serial number starting with 8 are having the same AF issue as mentioned. Nikon might want to check the production line that produced this batch of D800. Hopefully all these problems will be sorted out soon.

  54. michael says:

    Super write-up. This is very helpful!

  55. Good stuff, Ming. Thanks for not holding anything back. I know it helps to keep things in perspective for me, no matter how much hype surrounds a brand or product. I too am curious about your observations on the 85mm 1.8G & 1.4G. It sounds like you didn’t have much issue with the 1.4G with the 12mp bodies in the past, so I take it these are flaws that may have been covered up by the larger pixels? I recently picked up a 1.4G based on mostly glowing reviews/comments, so it is disappointing (though no shocking, no lens is perfect) to hear of your disillusionment. I definitely noticed the LoCA on my first few shots (D800) but didn’t immediately notice any issues with sharpness or contrast. Would you mind a elaborating a little bit more? Were the copies you tried both ones you’ve used before/were familiar with (reducing the chance of lemons)?

    • At the end of the day, these are all tools for me. I’ll buy what does the job and look for fixes for things that don’t. As for the 85/1.4G, it was a truly excellent lens on the 12 MP bodies – I felt better even than the 1.4/85 Zeiss Planar, which I had previously. I suppose 0.3px of CA on a 12 MP body wouldn’t be visible, but with 3x the pixels it might translate into something visible at the edges which is then made worse by the Bayer interpolation. The 85/1.4 G I’m using on my D800 is the same one I’ve used on my D700 for every 85/1.4 G image you’ve seen on this blog – which must easily run into thousands, if not tens of thousands, of frames in total. It was pretty much flawless on my D700. The LoCA issue ‘spreads out’ edges on shallow DOF shots, which in turn reduces contrast, and apparent sharpness. I don’t see any of this with the 85/1.8 G. In the end, the 85/1.8 G is so cheap that I’ll probably land up buying one for use on the D800, and keep the 85/1.4 G for available light PJ work with the D700.

  56. Have you tried with 24-120mm F4? Thinking about getting this over the 28-300 bc of better sharpness?

    • Nope, sorry. Have been meaning to but all of the NPS loaners were out. The 28-300 is surprisingly good; the issue isn’t edge sharpness per se but more the blockiness of micro contrast.

  57. Ming, sorry to hear about the AF troubles. I just used my 14-24mm on my D800, US based #3000XXX, to check the left, right and center af modules. My camera seems to be fine with a simple test of shooting a wooden elephant on a canvas shipping trunk that has plenty of texture so you can see where your focus point is landing. I checked both 14mm & 18mm @ f/2.8 and the only thing that stood out was the difference in sharpness from center to either edge.

    This lens is micro adjusted to -20, which drives me nuts until I look at the detail in photos, which is simply stunning. I would like to try a 16-35 as I usually use this lens @ 16mm f/4 as well as handheld.

    My 50mm 1.8G is spot on without micro adjustment although I am going to test the left and right AF modules against the center. It never occurred to me there could be a difference. This was much easier when everything was manual focus and I can’t remember caring about anything but what kind of film I could find a deal on.

    • I guess with film there were two big differences: resolving power of lenses was a lot less wide open, and we all knew we had to stop down; then DOF and the thickness of the film emulsion would cover any focusing errors. With digital…warts and all are laid bare to see. Good to hear that you’re not having any issues though – if you don’t see it with the 14-24, you’re probably safe. Since they all come out of the same factory, it leads me to believe that it was just a bad batch.

      • Also, thank you for taking the time to write about the various glass that allows the camera to really shine. I am particularly interested in your observations between the 85mm 1.8G & 1.4G. Although the 85mm 1.8G is proving harder to find than a D800…

        Other thoughts on film: I also don’t remember being able to quickly blow up images to check at such detail as we can today. I certainly don’t miss the chemicals or endlessly looking for deals on film either.

        Thanks again, I really enjoy both your photographic and written work.

        • 85/1.8Gs are easy to find here – and 1/4th the price of the 85/1.4G!

          The other thing with film is that by the time we got around to seeing the results, there was no way of telling whether an OOF image was the AF system’s fault or user error…actually, I’m not even sure I’d remember which AF point I’d used.

          And, my pleasure – come back regularly and share the site with your friends! :)

  58. metsatsu says:

    I did the AF Fine-tune, they were all off by -14 to -16, which I find it unacceptable so I decided to send it back for them to check and also to fix the green cast lcd issue.

    I will try to get in touch with KL Nikon, hopefully mine is not affected. But I won’t hold my breath

    • Hmm, that sounds like the whole module is off – if all lenses are off by the same amount. I have adjustments but my lenses are all over the place, and the most is -10. If it is affected, then you might want to ask if you can get a replacement – though I suspect it will be faster to just fix it. I was offered a replacement but I do 90% of my studio work with the 60/2.8 G anyway, so it’s not a big deal as the AF problem only seems to affect wide and fast lenses.

  59. metsatsu says:

    oh and sorry forgot to mention, I’m from Malaysia

  60. metsatsu says:

    My D800 with the serial 8000XXX was sent back to Nikon because it back-focused pretty badly on my 50mm 1.8G, 60mm 2.8G and 50mm 1.4D. Do you think Nikon will check if my unit has the left side AF issue? Because I was thinking of getting 24mm 1.4G or 14-24mm 2.8G soon.

  61. I am in love with the 85mm 1.8G, somehow it is always a little bit faster than I expect and seems to shoot brighter more beautiful than the actual ambient light. My wife gave me a hard time for ordering it when I already had the 1.4D but I am glad I did because it won’t be readily available any time soon here in the US, especially after people get word about how great it is.

    I am concerned about my D800 since I have a sub-1000 serial number and look forward to your follow up posts. I don’t have an ultra wide angle right now but I will play with it tomorrow with the 24-120mm f4 at 24mm.

    • Is the first digit 8? If it’s 8, test it with a fast wide and see if there’s an issue with your extreme left focus point wide open. If it isn’t 8, then you should be fine, hopefully :)

      As for the 85s – they’re not all created equal. The 85/1.4 D has the slowest T stop of the lot; the Zeiss 1.4/85 Planar gives you about a stop more shutter speed for a given aperture and histogram (!). The 85/1.4 G is close to the Zeiss. I found the 85/1.8 G is consistently about half a stop down on the 85/1.4 G for any given aperture, i.e. the camera will meter 1/20s f2 where the 1.4G will meter 1/30s f2. That’s the catch, as far as I can see. You’re not 2/3 stop down at max aperture, it’s probably closer to 1-1.3 stop.

      • It is 30007xx so maybe I dodged a bullet if Nikon is telling you that they had production issues from a certain range. I will perform a few tests later today to see if I can identify any issues. Initially I was happy to have such an early production copy because I assumed that QC was more rigorous on the first cameras but now I am concerned.

  62. “AFS 28-300/3.5-5.6 G VR II” ~> are you testing an unannounced new lens? Can’t wait… ;)

    • Nope, it’s the 28-300VR – has the second generation VRII system – that might be the confusion. There’s only type of this lens and it’s been available for sale for some time now.

  63. Hello Ming

    Since le library picture in the Nikon web samples is taken with the 14-24 at 2.8 don’t you think you have tested with somewhat a lemon ?

    • Quite possible – we only had one 14-24 to test, and this isn’t my experience of the lens on the D3 and D700. But also possible that Nikon chooses the best lenses and cameras for their sample images :)

  64. noneyore says:

    Hi Ming,

    I have ordered D800 and sold my D700 already, however your comments on the AFS 35/1.4G is annoying me. AFS 35/1.4G is my favorite lens.

    You said AFS 24-70/2.8G is great on D800, how about AFS24-120/4G?

    Thanks :)

    • We only had one 35/1.4 to try, but the performance was less than stellar in the corners. The center was fine, but the edges/ corners were only so-so at f1.4. No focusing issues, however. The optical performance could have been sample variation. Sorry, didn’t get a chance to try the 24-120/4 – all of the NPS loaners were out.

  65. When you mentioned on autofocus issues – does it means that if you focus manually, you don’t see the problem?

    • If you rely on the AF confirmation dot, you still see the problem because that uses the AF system. If I focus manually with live view, no, I don’t see any issues with wide angles.

  66. Hi Ming

    Your comments about the 14-24mm are very worrying, as I have ordered it with the D800 (here in New Zealand there are none to be had and a massive waiting list, well it’s what our Dealer is saying ;-)

    Most of my commercial work is wide angle, do you think is would be safer to get a Zeiss Distagon T* 18mm f3.5 or Zeiss Distagon T* 21mm f2.8 would be safer?

    Is it possible that its the Auto focus, or that wide angles have to much ‘angle’ of the light path on the edges?

    (sorry that’s a lot of questions isn’t, but I would have to say you have me a bit worried…)

    ta Carl.

    • The 16-35 or Zeiss 21/2.8 are the way to go. Both perform excellently on the D800, even at the edges. I’d give a slight edge to the Zeiss though (no pun intended) for sharpness, and micro contrast is much, much better.

      My issue with the left side is definitely autofocus related, because my 24/1.4 is excellent all over if focused using live view mode.

      I would suggest ordering from the US, but the problem is that you’re then subject to sample variation and won’t be able to test the lens until it’s arrived and paid for – by which time it might be a bit late.

    • Dominique Dierick says:

      My 14-24G is performing very well on my D800. Corner sharpness is still there. I would not recommend the 16-35 as a matter of fact. It is definitely not as good as the 14-24G. I have both (for PJ, the 16-35 is a blessing when it’s raining. The 14-24G front element is a raindrop catcher).

      • You must be one of the lucky ones, or I had a dud 14-24 sample. The 16-35s were all great, but had pretty poor T stops.

      • Hi Dominique and Ming

        I truly appreciate you comments and thoughts, I have had a play with the 16-35mm and our dealers shop copy of the D800 (they only got one!) And its OK but the its Tshop deficit is a noticeable compromise, and I have had such mixed reports about the 14-24mm, it don’t make much sense as it should be very good, but there are none in NZ at the moment so we can’t do a side by side. I have prepaid for a D800 (there is a very long queue) and are wanting for our one to turn up, by which time a the 14-24mm’s should also be here, and then we can test both side by side with the D800 they will be used on.

        Again, thanks for your help
        Kind regards, Carl.

        • Makes sense if you’ve got the option. If you’ve got to have something now, I always think better the devil you know than the one you don’t…which is why I elected to keep my D800, AF issues and all, until the replacement arrives. As good as the proffered loan D3x was, it’s still a less familiar tool to me.

    • I found the 14-24 to be soft and have low contrast towards 14mm on a D700, so I would expect this to be more apparent on a d3x. I would buy the 25/2 zeiss instead

  67. Klaus Manns says:

    My D800 unit, which has been shipped in March shows a quite horrible PD-AF performance, independent of lenses used, even at 50mm and f4. The center PD-AF-Point works almost acceptable, but not quite as good as CD-AF used with Liveview. However almost all other Focus Points perform much worse, at about 10% to 20% performance compared to the center, while CD-AF as used in Liveview is perfect all the time. To exclude any effects by the lens I always compare resulting sharpness of Phase Detect and Contrast Detect exactly at the focus point that has been used. I’ve also tested different lenses (50/1.4G, 24-70/2.8G, 24-120/4G all at around 50mm).
    Tests can be easily repeated by using the recommendable Open Source Nikon Camera Control software downloadable at http://code.google.com/p/nikon-camera-control/ where you quickly perform the following:
    1. Select a focus point in AF-S mode at the camera, defocus the lens, then focus and shoot from the software.
    2. Switch to Liveview in the software, then focus and also shoot from the software. Note the new focusing that is always done by camera and the focus is set to where the AF-Point was set in the previous shot.
    Using Reikan’s Focal Pro Software Version 1.5.1 allows to compare the performance of all AF-Points, so I confirmed (and documented) the remarkable fact, that in my unit not only the outer focus points but also the direct neighbours of the center AF point (14 of the 15 cross type AF points) are affected.
    Not using this camera every day until recently I had believed that my poor shooting technique where to blame for all those wide open shots, that where out of focus. Now with this software I learned differently and will use it also to check the performance of Nikon Service to repair my camera.
    I’m happy to provide any more data, should it prove useful for others.
    Cheers,
    WaellerKlaus

    P.S.
    You can compare for yourself by looking at the following 100% Crops taken with the 24-120/4G, disabled VR at 50mm, 1.5m distance to subject, 1/50s and f4 with camera ans subject not moved in between shots.

    central AF-Point Phase-Detect (Viewer)

    central AF-Point Contrast-Detect (LiveView)

    most left AF-Point Phase-Detect (Viewer)

    most left AF-Point Contrast-Detect (LiveView)

    upper AF-Point (one above central) Phase-Detect (Viewer)

    upper AF-Point (one above central) Contrast-Detect (LiveView)

    most right AF-Point Phase-Detect (Viewer)

    most right AF-Point Contrast-Detect (LiveView)

    Extracts of the results of the Multiple Point Focus Comparison by Reikan’s Focal Pro Software are to be found here (three lenses compared):
    24-120/4G

    24-70/2.8G

    50/1.4G

  68. That looks pretty bad. Have you sent the camera in yet?

Trackbacks

  1. […] eine 85mm Festbrennweite. Unter den zahlreichen Blog-Posts zur D800 bin ich nun hierauf gestoßen: Ming Thein: D800 autofocus saga. Mein Resumée aus seinem Blogpost bezieht sich vor allem auf das AF-S Nikkor 85mm/f1,4G im […]

  2. [...] to light with flash also… Check this out: LensRentals.com – D800 Lens Selection and this: And the Nikon D800 autofocus saga continues (with some comments on specific lens performance) Last edited by cgipson1; Today at 07:36 AM. [...]

  3. [...] First, lets look at the issue, since it first appeared in the wild, the Nikon D800/e was reported to have a left side focusing issues, I may be mistaken, but I believe my mentor Ming Thein, NPS professional, was the first to find, track and report this issue way back before the rest of us even got our hands on a Nikon D800. [...]

  4. [...] Nikon D800 (Apr 2012) – Best dynamic range of any 35mm format DSLR at the moment; incredibly accurate color, and shunts around those enormous files like it’s nothing. Video quality catches up to Canon 5DIII, and offers headphone monitoring, adjustable audio input and uncompressed full HDMI out feeds. This camera has moved the bar for 35mm DSLRs. In fact, it’s so good that most lenses can’t keep up with the sensor – every optical flaw is revealed. The lenses that work well on the camera are just as surprising as the ones that don’t (compared to the 12MP FX cameras); the 85/1.8 G for instance is better than the 85/1.4 G, and the 28-300VR becomes pretty good. Pixel-level noise performance is probably a stop behind the D700, but you’re actually going to lose a bit more than that because of the shutter speeds required to negate camera shake at these pixel densities. A non-issue if you downsize, but then why would you do that after having to suffer huge file sizes? Highly recommended to spend some time calibrating your lenses using the AF fine tune function. Watch out for AF issues with side focus points. [...]

  5. [...] when shooting at f1.8. I don’t know if this is an issue with the lens or the D800E (and its focusing issues). Some further investigation is in order, I think. The lens is somewhat prone to the left-side AF [...]

  6. [...] en saber cuales lentes son los que han sido probados y cual es su performance? En este blog estan listados varios y como se han comportado (en Ingles como siempre, aunque para eso esta San [...]

  7. [...] compare them? hmm… Want to do tests, do it properly with many more lenses… like this dude… http://blog.mingthein.com/2012/04/05…s-performance/ In the end you can throw out lp/mm and all that jargon. But please perform more complete tests [...]

  8. [...] Some report the problem to be solved (NL1, NL2) [...]

  9. [...] 651 times Originally Posted by Markw Originally Posted by gsgary I would wait because there are problems with the D800, a chap at our club is having problems with autofocus with any lens wider than 50mm and there are reports of faulty batteries that could go up in flames This is the first I've heard of such a problem, and the battery is the same as those in the D7000. So, buying any new battery for the D7k could easily surmount to the same problem. Mark Some D7000 are being recalled, i checked internet after chap at club was complaining about his D800 and found this And the Nikon D800 autofocus saga continues (with some comments on specific lens performance) [...]

  10. [...] eine 85mm Festbrennweite. Unter den zahlreichen Blog-Posts zur D800 bin ich nun hierauf gestoßen: Ming Thein: D800 autofocus saga. Mein Resumée aus seinem Blogpost bezieht sich vor allem auf das AF-S Nikkor 85mm/f1,4G im [...]

  11. [...] Issues Autofocus Issues Long Exposure [...]

  12. Anonymous says:

    [...] enfoca la D800 Triste ver esos problemas de AF de la D800 con sus principales opticas Nikkor And the Nikon D800 autofocus saga continues (with some comments on specific lens performance) Salu2 http://www.flickr.com/photos/31445074@N03/ Responder Citando [...]

  13. Anonymous says:

    [...] de enfoque con algunos objetivos: And the Nikon D800 autofocus saga continues (with some comments on specific lens performance) Responder Citando googletag.cmd.push(function() { [...]

  14. [...] Ja Hat mir heute ein Bekannter, der auch gerade seine D800 bekommen hat, geschickt: And the Nikon D800 autofocus saga continues (with some comments on specific lens performance) [...]

  15. [...] I think the Asian AF issue reported by Ming Thein is more serious: http://blog.mingthein.com/2012/04/05…ns-performance. Will wait to see that Nikon QC resolves this. Plus want to see what magic the D800E can do. [...]

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