Good news: there’s an official Nikon D800/D800E focusing fix!

Was told by NPS this morning that an internal fix for the D800/ D800E asymmetric focusing issue has been issued. I’ll be sending my cameras in next week after a job; apparently it’s both hardware and software calibration. Fingers crossed…

Comments

  1. Got my D800E this week. On a 50 mm F/1.4 lens, the center focus point needed a fine tune adjustment of -2, whereas the extreme left needed -20 and extreme right needed -18. In my case, at least the degradation is nearly symmetric – however unusable :)

  2. Hi,
    Do you know what’s the serial numbers of D800 are concerned with the issue?
    Is it a patch from Nikon, and what’s the link to install it?
    Many tanks

  3. It appears the Nikon D800 focusing problems are indicative of a major shift in camera manufacturing.
    Both Canon and Nikon are trying to reduce cost by loosening manufacturing tolerances on both bodies and lenses. Instead they are introducing adjustments such as lens correction factors. This works fine for primes and partially for zooms. The next step for zooms will be to introduce several correction factors at key points along the focal length. One of my high end zooms while corrected at the long end is unacceptably out of focus at the wide end.
    If the D800 focusing problem continuous I wouldn’t be surprised to see firmware with correction entries for all the cameras individual focus points. In other words separate correction factors for center focus, left focus etc. These correction factors could initially be hidden from the users and only used by Nikon to save money in manufacturing. Long term many of us would of course like to be able to fine tune them to our liking.
    One thing is clear. Something has to happen. The combination of tolerances and technologies in the D800 does not yet represent a producible platform.
    It’s a shame, because the Sony produced D800 image sensor represents a big leap forward. Now the rest of the Nikon D800 camera has to catch up.

    • I had the same problem with one or two of my zooms in the past on the D3 – one of the reasons why I moved away from using zooms, they were sharp if you could focus them.

      I feel that while the D800 is capable of incredibly high image quality – it’s a lot more hit and miss than the D700 was, and a large part of that is due to very fickle AF.

  4. Thank you for bringing the D800/E problem to peoples attention. My D800E just came back from Nikon Switzerland where I had to it bring it on Thursday, after having got the camera two weeks earlier, to get my general AF adjusted, it was back focusing on all AF points with my 14-24 mm lens (<-20 on AF Fine-tune).
    The technician there told me on Thursday that they did not have any means to adjust the asymmetric focusing (left/right) but that in my case they could fix it because it was a general AF adjustment that was needed.
    Taking quick pictures at infinity wide open this morning, I found the center AF point seems fine, but the sides ones are off a bit, specially the right side. But I still had to send it back because the ground glass was full of dirt in the top right corner. It is the second time I have a dirt problem with Nikon Switzerland in just over a year, the other one was when I had my 85mm PC-E modified to get the tilt and shift on the same axis what Nikon Switzerland did then was much worse, but that is a totally other story.
    When will it be possible to work acceptably with Nikons again? get cameras that work in the first place, and if something went wrong, get it fixed properly!
    P.S nice pictures of the Jaeger-LeCoultre manufacture, maybe I should just get a Olympus OM-D.

  5. Hi Ming – when will you get your camera back and tell us your opinion? We count on you … :-)

  6. I downloaded the charts today & ran the tests today w/my 24mm f1.4 & it is clear as Day that my left AF is a hazy blurry mess-just as I kept thinking all along but could not really believe it-so that means I got the Defective Battery & now the AF issue-now I need to run the tests on the D4 but will wait until Nikon returns the D800-just sent it off today! ;-(

    • The loan D4 I was given has the same issue for the extreme left bank of points. One row in is fine, much the same as my D800. Rather disappointing, I must say. But the ergonomics of the thing are absolutely superb.

      • I am too nervous to even test out my D4 until the D800 is returned to me-There is only so much a Photographer can take-Especially after Nikon rejected my NPS application due to the fact that I can not loate a local sponsor!!! ;-(

      • Definitely not thinking of it as a “Good Thing” I think anyone that heavily invests in Nikon Pro Gear deserves to be an NPS member & have the confidence in knowing that if their Very Spendy Gear should fail they have the assurance that Nikon stands behind them-I am sitting on 10 grand w/just these 2 bodies not to mention my lenses-Shame on Nikon for the Stress they are putting us all though-IMO it should be the customers choice if they would like a repair or a replacement at this level of investment!

        • As somebody who actually has to earn their living from their equipment, I’d be pretty annoyed if I had to turn down jobs because my repair was placed in a queue behind other people who just bought a lot of equipment and didn’t have the same urgency.

      • I too earn a living from my photography & still in small towns w/ no NPS list of members to contact it is difficult to locate a sponsor which is one of Nikon’s ridiculous requirements. Tear sheets, websites etc. should be enough to prove one is a working photographer. In addition, I think that Nikon is an established enough company that it should have a system in place to to repair gear in a timely professional manner- what would the next criteria be- one photographer makes 30k for a job so they get priority over a photographer that only makes 3k per job- each photographer needs their gear to work or they would not have made such an investment IMO and for Nikon to put a judgement on who deserves better service is bogus!

        • Hmm, good point. But I still think there should be differentiation between professionals (i.e. majority of income) vs hobbyists/ amateurs. I know plenty of people who own all of the ‘pro’ gear, but don’t use it. Likewise, people who make their entire living off entry level bodies…

          Is NPS still useful if you don’t live anywhere near a service center though? Curious as I’ve never been in that position.

    • Yes- the main benefit to the NPS Membership is that Nikon will ship you out a Loaner if needed so that your workflow can continue uninterrupted should your gear fail. They have the inventory to do that. They still charge your credit card until your repair has been completed & the loaner returned to them. Nikon definitely has the inventory to offer this service & I would prefer to have it be a service that can be purchased & then the photographer that needs this guarantee service and willing to pay for it could have access. I don’t know many people that invest in Nikon Pro gear & then don’t need/use it- guess I run in the wrong circles- LoL!

      • Maybe it’s different in Asia. The people who have money to buy pro gear usually aren’t photographers; average day rates compared to equipment costs are dire – it’d probably take an average photographer here at least two weeks of solid work to pay off a D4, which is why most of them use D7000s or similar. On the other hand, pro buyers tend to have a whole cupboard full of ‘Blads, Leicas etc…

  7. Benny Blanco says:

    I have the 14-24mm 2.8 FX lens, but mainly use this at f/16 or even higher. Does the D800 have autofocus issues at such an aperture?

  8. I did some quick tests on my D800 last night. I confirmed that there is a left focusing problem with Nikon 24mm F1.4 lens, but not with Sigma 85mm F1.4 lens. In addition, I could not see the problem when shooting at approx. 1 foot distance with the 24mm lens, but the problem was definitely there at approx. 5 ft. away. I wonder if the distance dependency is consistent with others have experienced.

  9. Interesting thread. My D800 arrived April 26th. I did the L/R and live view focus test today with my 24mm 2.8. I shot the full length of my jeep filling the frame having the L/R on each wheel at f5.6. Cropped each wheel only at 6×6 from the full sized image. They all seem to be the same. Would the difference be very obvious and consistent?
    Thanks!

    • Yes, it should be pretty obvious. But I’m not sure you’re going to see it at f2.8, it’s worst on fast wides – the 24/1.4 is the biggest culprit.

      • Thanks…..Quick reply. That’s my fastest wide. I will have to try someones 24/1.4. Although I most likely won’t ever use that fast of a wide. A 14-24mm 2.8 is on the wish list.
        Thanks again and good luck with your cameras.

        • You’ll see it at 14mm and f2.8, but it won’t be as obvious (and partially masked by the 14-24’s slight corner softness wide open on the D800.)

      • Smells like this problem is a continuum, not a you have it or don’t have it problem. I have been testing a D800E with a 24-70 and a 17-35.

        The interesting result was that at 17mm (wide open 2.8) I did see a focus problem on the left most center line sensor using the same target you are using and focusing right at the center. But then, when I dropped the focus point down one position, the focus was perfect. The problem is so obvious when it occurred that one need not even look at the images, one can see the error on the physical focus distance read out scale. It seemed that the sensor was having trouble focusing on the fine details where the black and white pie sections of the target come together at a point. There is less fine detail when I dropped the focus point down one position.

        I then tried entirely different targets located at the same place on the center left focus sensor without moving the camera. It got focus for all of them. The difference was the detail within the sensor was not as fine on those targets.

        I will retry this when I get a chance with the 24-70 at 24, but the left focus seemed to be working better there.

        I am suspecting that some cameras are borderline and that people will see a problem depending on what target they are using.

        • Sounds similar to what I was facing – the first D800 was definitely worse than the D800E, and one row of points in, focus was bang on. The D4 loaner I’ve got is similar – extreme edge points are rubbish, but the inner ones aren’t so bad.

      • I redid tests with 24-70 (at 24 /2.8). This lens calibrates to -2. Just like with the 17-35, the center left focus point also failed when on center of the black white pie slice target you are using. Focus point one down on left focussed correctly on this target (away from the target center).When I used a different target center left focussed well.

        Then I raised the target up so its center was aligned with focus point one up from center. Focus point one up from center on left column failed. But center left focus point focussed perfectly.

        My conclusion is that the left column in my D800E (serial number in the low 3000200s) is on the edge of fully working and struggles on extremely fine focus points. As I don’t encounter these in the field, I am not going to rush to Nikon NPS to get this adjusted until we hear more from Nikon. I kind of suspect that a firmware upgrade might fix the most egregious aspect of this problem, that a confirmed focus is shown on a bad focus.

        I have always wondered why cameras did not have viewfinder focus points further out on the edges (as in Live View). This whole issue points out how difficult it is to make phase sensitive focusing work is far away from the center.

  10. When will the update be released?

  11. Markcarpet says:

    My D800 is in New York for repairs & has been for 3 weeks now. After 3400 shots just died, no power. On parts hold now. The Question is should I ask then to look at the left focus or will they just do the fix automatically?

  12. I would like your comments on Zeiss 25mm for Nikon. overall and at infinity. I have the 100mm F2. Thanks. and appreciate all you have done to further the AF focus issue.

  13. Hi Ming. I’ve had a fix for my D800, which is probably the same as offered to you right now. My experiences are here: http://hifivoice.wordpress.com/2012/06/24/d800-autofocus-after-repair/

    • Looks like it solved your problem! Good to know in more detail exactly what’s going on – I suspected from the outset that it was a misalignment of the L-C-R AF groups, and it seems to be borne out by your experience. How long did the fix take to deploy?

  14. Vincent L says:

    Ming, by hardware and software calibration I’m assuming that this to mean making physical adjustments to the D800 in addition to using software externally to test it correct ? I thought that the current procedure that has been pushed out to the service center is already doing something like this ?

    Your statement can also mean that they will be replacing hardware and software components in the DSLR itself.

  15. I suspect this is why some people are posting new firmware on their D800’s? I’ve seen inforums some folks have reported A1.01, B1.02 firmware…hmm interesting..maybe the new batches are good..cool either way, bummer the camera has to go in for calibration though.

    • Interesting. I thought I was running the latest version, but that’s 1.00/1.01. I will ask.

      • I just asked the person to confirm his firmware and yes he maintains it came from BB a week ago with this firmware

        The camera arrived from BestBuy about weeks ago with the following:
        My firmware is:
        1.01
        1.02
        1.004

  16. Please remind Nikon that this is also a D4 problem, not just a D800/D800E issue.

    • Afraid I’ll have to leave that to somebody else, because I don’t have a D4 body to substantiate that claim with. And every D4 I tested was fine…so perhaps it’s back to different batches again.

  17. Hi Ming, have just spoken to NPS in the UK about my D800 as the entire focusing system seems to be out. It’s a month old with almost 10,000 shots. I have had oil spots, lock ups and the green cast LCD but Af was fine until 3 days ago. Live view works as normal, all my lenses are perfect on other bodies. AFs is totally unusable front focusing by several feet, AFC works intermittently . NPS asked to bring the camera in but said the problem was unknown so it’s frustrating to read you were told of a fix. I reported to Nikon rumours that I was told again by NPS about a reset being made available for the rear LCD to bring it back to the D3 / D700 profile I wonder if you heard the same ?
    I’m sending mine in next week and getting a D3x on loan, love to hear how you get on

    Regards

    Martin

    • AFC works intermittently because sometimes you shoot before the camera thinks it’s in focus (i.e. out of focus like AFS). Have you tried using AF fine tune to make at least the center point useable?

      I’ve had different responses from people in different countries – apparently the US and Aus/NZ are aware of it, Singapore denies any problem whatsoever, and Malaysia is aware of it and has a fix. In all fairness, it should be global, but I know we were the first to report the problem, and I was also told that it was just released Friday so the news may not have propagated yet.

      Not heard anything about the LCD (and mine looks fine compared to my D700, btw).

  18. First and foremost, I should say that Ming is doing gud stuff… and thanks a lot for the all the postings.

    I got both D4 (first batch) and D800E (may be 2nd/3rd batch). Did reasonably extensive testing with all my lenses (incl LV) and found problems with 14-24, 24-70 and 70-200 VRII. With D4 & D800E they had very similar AF issues, right bank was worse.

    Sent the 2 bodies and 3 lenses to Nikon. Got all back (24-70mm still with them) in about 10 days with all being mostly fixed. With 14-24mm there’s still slight softness on D4 when using the right AF pt. But overall ‘m happy. Their work orders said AF adj/defocus check or something to that effect.

    • BTW, there was no problem with 600mm & 200-400mm on D4 even before the fix. On D800E, no problem with 600mm, but there was slight softness with 200-400mm that was worse with right AF points.

    • Thanks for the update and compliments. Yours is the first problem I’ve heard of with the D4, though I suppose it stands to reason being they all use the same AF sensor. I wonder what changed between D700/D3 series and D800/D4; the previous ones had amazingly good AF that was above all, consistent.

      • Yeah, its frustrating that these new models have such AF issues, but as long as Nikon fixes them fast its ok given the overall image quality. ‘m debating whether I should send the bodies in once more sometime later to further AF fine tune. But leaving on a 2 month photo shoot trip in 3 wks and don’t wanna risk not getting them back in time.

        BTW – though ‘m a wildlife shooter, I really like ur PJ pics!

        • Thanks – I used to be a birder; I should post some pics from the archive at some point…

          If you can operate within their known AF limitations, then I’d do it when you get back.

      • My D4 exhibits this problem, sent it to Nikon in EL Segundo, they had it there for 18 days and it came back worse than it was before. I hope they get their act together since my D800E has the same issue and now both have to go back. I am beyond frustrated right now. Should have kept my D3s for some time so I had a tool I can trust.

  19. Jonathan says:

    Just guessing here. There are cameras where the left AF is bad but centre and right seem ok. Then there are some cameras where left AF is a little different from the centre, but so is the right AF as well. It is almost like the sensors are arranged in an arc. If the arc is rotated then you can see why centre and right could be close to each other and left be far off. I suspect the fix which is both hardware and software, is firstly, to rotate the arc for those where the left is asymmetrical to the rest. Having made both left and right slightly but equally off, it can then be corrected in firmware. Could be totally wrong…….but on D800s where the “arc” is even on both sides, once the AF is fine tuned for the centre point perfectly, the left and right do fall within the DOF in almost all cases…just not quite as centrally as the centre points.

    • Interesting theory, but I think it’s because the AF sensor is in three segments – and perhaps the washer holding in one of those segments may be a little thinner than tolerance, or the tension screw done up a little too tightly, and one of the sensor segments is pushed back or forwards a bit. So it seems more likely to be a physical fix.

      Having said that, it’s also possible the AF sensor is fine, and the sub mirror is tilted, or the sensor itself is off plane…

  20. Ok- about to run my test- what would be the ideal lens to do this with-24mm prime?

    • Yes, the 24/1.4 at 1.4 would be perfect.

      • I have my D800E bought last week and haven’t done any left focusing test, currently i only have Nikkor 35mm f2D with me, can i use this lens for checking? What should i do to check whether my camera have left focusing issue or not? Nikon Europe seen have released another firmware with version L1.006 for distortion control data, but this update firmware wasn’t seen to be able to find in Nikon Asia web site or Nikon Malaysia web site (I bought my D800E in Malaysia under Nikon Malaysia warranty), shall i go ahead to download the this firmware from Nikon UK web site and update it on my D800E or i shall wait for further announcement from Nikon Malaysia’s web site?

        • Read this. If you have an unequal amount of difference between LV and AF focusing on left and right side points, then you have the focusing problem. The 35/2 is fine if you use it at f2.

          Distortion control data only affects jpegs and NEFs processed with NX2, not NEFs if you’re using ACR. All cameras use the same firmware, so go ahead and update it.

      • I am a bit confused, i am several nikkor lens, like 17-35/2.8, 24-70/2.8, 80-200/2.8, 35/2.0, 60/2.8 micro 105/2.8 micro and some other manual lens like cz 50/1.4 zf, when perform AF fine tune adjustment on each lens, do you mean that once i found the sharpest AF point for each of the lens through AF fine tune control on my D800E, i need to save (or record down) the value applied for each particular lens and each time when i mount each particular lens on my D800E, i need to set or retrieve the previously defined sharpest AF fine tune value and applied it on that particular lens?

        Will D800E be able to remember the sharpest AF point for each lens? (I mean does D800E have such memory setting features or i need to manually write down the sharpest AF point derived from each lens when performing AF fine turning adjustment for each lens?)

        How to determine whether a lens required AF fine tuning ?

        When perform AF fine tune adjustment, this adjustment will take effect on the lens for the camera itself?

        Why there is such a need to have such AF fine tune feature to be build on those high end camera?

        When i start doing left focusing test on my D800E, am i correct that i should set the AF fine tune to OFF or to “0” value?

        • The camera records all the values and remembers them when you mount the lens.

          Have a look at today’s post on how to check if you have the focusing problem. There’s also a link there to a previous pot that describes how to use the AF fine tune setting.

      • Thanks for the prompt reply. So do you mean D800E will be able to remember the sharpest AF point adjustment value previously recorded and apply to each previously adjusted lens? Even manual lens?

        So am i correct to say that the camera able to adjust or tune the AF point for each lens mounted on it?

        If each lens are able to be tune up to ensure the lens will be able to sharply focus on each focusing point (no matter far left focus or far right focus or top, center or bottom) does it mean that this camera will have no focusing issue (like left focusing issue in D800/E case)?

        Sorry for so many questions.

        • 1. The camera remembers whatever value you put in, so you have to put the right value in to start with.
          2. Yes, each lens has its own value. The camera knows which lens it is because of the chip.
          3. It affects all focusing points, not particular ones – so if you do have the left focus issue, you will have to send it in.

      • Questions to your previous answer:
        1. What to you mean by put the right value in to start with?
        2. Even apply for manual lens or third party lens?
        3. By default, if the camera is able to sharply focus on all selected focusing point, that mean the camera is ok, What about the situation where, initially the camera have left focusing issue, after applying AF fine tune, the camera was able to focus on all selected focusing point sharply, it is correct to conclude that camera is free from focusing issue and doesn’t require to send to Nikon service center for repair?

        Is it logic to say this way, after you apply the AF fine tune adjustment on the lens to sharpen up the out of focus on a focus point (say far left focus point) it will reduce the sharpness of the far right focus point (say initially it is sharply in focus)

        Is it correct to say as long as one are able to tune up the lens to it sharpness focus point within the 41 value (-20 to 0 to +20), the camera if free from focusing issue. If softness remains on the focusing point after apply the value to it maximum value (-20 or +20), then the camera is concluded to have focusing issue and need to send to Nikon service center for repair?

        • 1. Calibrate it properly. If you enter a value that adjusts focus so it’s soft, then the camera will make it soft because you entered the wrong AF fine tune offset.
          2. Doesn’t apply for manual lenses, yes for third party AF lenses.
          3. Physically impossible. AF fine tune will not fix the left focusing issue.
          4. Yes. It applies an offset to all of the focus points.
          5. Yes and no. The range is because all cameras/ lenses have manufacturing tolerances. If within tolerances, then you should be able to find a value that works perfectly for a given combination of camera and lens. If it’s outside, then your camera or lens is out of tolerance. This is a different problem to the left side focusing problem.

      • Question to you answer no.5, in such case, how can i differentiate whether it is camera focusing issue or a lens problems?

        In general, lens shall not subject to any AF fine tune adjustment if it sharpness is lay within the manufacturing tolerances, right?

        When i start doing left focusing test on my D800E, am i correct that i should set the AF fine tune to OFF or to “0″ value?

        • Camera: you’ll have a problem with every lens.
          Lens: the lens will have a problem with every camera it’s mounted on, or it will be asymmetrically sharp across the frame.
          Yes, set AF fine tune to off to start.

          There’s only so much remote diagnostics one can do, I suggest if you’re not sure or you think you’re having a problem, take it in to Nikon.

      • Thanks for the patient and prompt reply. I really want to do so but unfortunately, currently i am working in overseas and will not be able to go back so soon. Plus there is no Nikon service center here the place where i am working, and even there is, they won’t accept my camera since my camera was under Nikon Malaysia warranty.

        • If you think it’s mostly okay, and can live with the results you’re getting, then don’t worry too much about all of this – it’s for those of us who actually want to chase every last pixel of resolution we paid for…

      • Haha… Too bad I am also one of those who chase for perfection and can’t compromise myself to accept any defective (hopefully my camera is free from this focus issue, as I haven’t have time to check it) on my camera.

      • Good day, I have done checking for left focusing issue on my D800E here is how the situation:

        Stick three identical object charts each on the wall with most outer right, center and most outer left.
        Lens used: Nikkor 35mm f2.0D fixed at ISO100, f2.0
        Single focus.
        Camera mounted on a normal tripod (not a branded one as i haven’t decided to get a pro tripod)

        Result with AF fine tune setting to be OFF value “0”:
        Most right focus point sharpness: Live view better than AF
        Center focus point sharpness: Live view better than AF
        Most left focus point sharpness: AF better than live view

        Result with AF fine tune setting to be ON value “-10″
        Most right focus point sharpness: No obvious variance between live view and AF
        Center focus point sharpness: No obvious variance between live view and AF
        Most left focus point sharpness: AF better than live view

        Result with AF fine tune setting to be ON value “-5″
        Most right focus point sharpness: AF better than live vew
        Center focus point sharpness: AF slightly better than live view but very minimum
        Most left focus point sharpness: AF better than live view

        In between this three setting both AF fine tune value of -5 and -10 are better than 0 (AF fine tune OFF),

        When compare sharpness of focus point between fine tune value of -5 and -10, here is the result:
        Most right focus point sharpness: -5 better than -10
        Center focus point sharpness: -10 better than -5
        Most left focus point sharpness: -10 better than -5

        Can you advise me if my D800E have any left or right or center focusing issue?

        • Looks like you’ve got a small problem. Not huge – mine would probably have required more like +/- 20 offset on one point – but noticeable.

      • Forgot to mentioned, i used Nikon view nx2 to view the files at zoom in 400%

      • Based my situation mentioned above, can you advise me whether my D800E have any right, left or center focusing issue that required to send to Nikon service center for repair?

        As you can see from my check above, with -10 value of AF fine tune, the most outer left focus point, AF is sharper than Live View, do you think that it is possible?

      • Thanks for the advise, can you tell me how much times those Nikon service centre technician get your D800 fixed? I am asking this because I need to plan my time when I am going back next time, I am from Sarawak.

        What’s have actually done by the technician to fixed your D800 ? Software update or hardware fixing or both? How about your D800E?

        I am curious to ask isn’t it right that live view result should be better than AF since no mirror was involved (direct sensor focus) during focusing? Also means less vibration. Thanks

        • Did you repeat the live view test a few times? Did focus lock properly (green box)?

          One time visit. I’m an NPS member so it was ready the next day.

      • All the live view focusing were done by zooming ( magnifiying ) to the maximum of the targeted object. Occasionally, before magnifying to the maximum, I did half press shutter button and saw the focusing green box on the display monitor circle up the targeted object. Of course the final shutter press down were all done after magnifying to the maximum of the targeted object where no red or green box appeared. My pattern of shooting the targeted object was like this: live view right then af right then live view center then af center then live view left then af left.

      • Robert, when you say “AF better than Live View” you are describing a paradox, unless you simply do not have the dexterity to focus properly by hand.

  21. Hui Wang says:

    you mean the update of distortion control L 1.006 or the fireware B1.01. Dose the distortion control update fix the autofocus issue?

  22. I get back focus of 3-4 inches on my D800 with 50mm f1.4 G at 2 metres from target. This applies with single point focus using either far left, far right or centre focus points. If anything centrepoint is least back-focussed. To make target sharp using centrepoint, I need AF fine-tune of -18 to -20 which will give about 2/3 of in focus field behind target. But with this setting if I then focus using far left or right points I get significant front focus (weird I know) and target is only in perfect focus about half the time for this reason. Am I asking too much of a D800 to give in-focus on a target using any focus point at f1.4? Would you guess this a problem with my camera or is it ‘within tolerance’? I am using tripod, exposure delay etc. Live view is ok.

    • If it’s soft when LV focused, then it’s the lens – and the 50/1.4G wasn’t that good, from memory – if it’s not, then the camera is the problem. Sounds to me like it needs to go in – I can get my D700 (all points) and D800 (center point at any rate) to match sharpness via LV.

      • Thanks. Lens is the AF-S version which I believe is not too bad, but image is not soft when LV focussed so camera is the issue. As I mentioned I have a problem with by -18 AF fine-tuning not providing consistent focus across points. That aside, do you see any problems having to go to the extremes of the AF fine-tune settings more generally?. i.e. even if consistent across points. Are there any negatives or unintended consequences of having to do this? The Nikon manuals seem to discourage use of AF fine-tuning but are a little ambiguous.

        • No, I think it should be fine so long as you can get consistent across points at all. The Nikon manuals would also have you believe everything comes out of the factory perfect within a very narrow range of tolerances :)

      • I actually have the same problem with my 50/1.4G, it is perfect with LV focus from any focus point, but not quite there at -20 AF fine-tuning, I’d probably need -25 to get it perfect. My other lens’ are fine, 105 macro is perfect at around -5, and even my old 70-300 without any adjustment (and yes, I need to get to work on some new glass, but it’s my first FX sensor in YEARS!). I guess it is just the glass, but how sad that Nikon would make any lens that was not close enough for AF fine-tuning adjustment. The D800 is pushing the limits, sad it’s making older glass look bad. I guess I’ll make sure any glass I purchase in the future comes from a place with a healthy return policy.

        All that said, when everything works perfectly, the D800 is awe inspiring. But it does take quite a bit of care. On the other hand, my off-handed snaps and portraits at a family BBQ this past weekend were brilliant even with the 50/1.4, and especially after being downsized for facebook / family distribution! But I guess that’s not why any of us bought this camera…

        • It should be perfect with LV focus because you’re focusing directly on the sensor using the sensor. I’d suggest you send in your 50/1.4 because it sounds like that was out of tolerance.

          For the time being until AF is fixed, I’m using MF and LV…(but that’s partially also due to the fact that I’m using mostly Zeiss ZF glass these days.)

      • Thanks so much for your reply. I’ll look into sending in my 50/1.4, but I think I’ll need something other than a 70-300 before I do so :), if only money and Nikon glass grew on trees!

      • I called Nikon and they told me to run the latest firmware update [1.01] and retest everything against far left, far right and center focus points. So I did… [drum roll]… far right: perfect between LV and AF @ -20… far left: perfect between LV and AF @ -20… center: still a little soft between LV and AF @ -20, like it needs -25 as before… Good News: as you said, probably not the camera, Bad News: Huh? Guess I’m sending back my lens, but really? My concern is that I send it back and then center focus works and left and right are soft? Or I just skip all the hassle, bite the bullet and put the shipping charges towards a 28 1.8… Or rethink my portrait lens line up and get the 85 1.8 as you suggested in your “Recommended lenses for the D800E” article. But I do like the closeness offered by a 28/50mm, makes the images somehow feel more intimate.

        Hope you don’t mind, I thought you’d be interested in an update on my continuing saga. I have considered that more often then not I focus off center anyway, especially for portraits and I could just use focus lock while using this lens off center? [or the dreaded m-a-n-u-a-l focus… perish the thought]

        • Send back the lens first and see what happens. If you’re not happy then plump for one of the other options.

          Focus lock off the center point doesn’t always work; if you have a non-flat field lens it will, but if it’s flat field you have to focus in place. And manual focus ain’t that bad!

    • Make sure you do ALL focus tests in LIVE VIEW, NOT through the viewer. Viewers have focusing problems of their own.

      • You need to do both, because live view focuses on the imaging sensor. It’s the normal viewfinder AF system that’s showing the problems. Absolutely aware of viewfinder issues – I’ve had my mirror return position, focusing screen alignment and planarian adjusted because I use a lot of manual focus lenses.

      • Hello Ming,
        You need to be more scientific. When you test and adjust the correction factor for a lens, you MUST use live view. Otherwise you incorporate the errors of the viewfinder. You CAN NOT use the lens correction factor to correct the view finder. If you do you loose image focus at the sensor. If you must fix your view finder it can only be done by mechanical adjustment (by Nikon).
        The only time you need a perfectly adjusted viewfinder is when you do manual focus through the viewfinder.
        If you must focus manually and guarantee focus at the image sensor, manually focus in live view.

        • The lens correction factor applies to the viewfinder AF system ONLY, not live view. Live view should require no correction because it focuses at the point of maximum contrast in the AF box on the sensor plane itself. And I do use manual focus through the finder, which has been mechanically adjusted.

  23. D800 Eee says:

    I received my D800E today and tried to decide if it has the focus issue or not. I focused on the same target–the same block of words in a book–(1) using the left most focus point, and then (2) using the center focus point. The images thus obtained showed that focus was good and the same with both. Does this mean this D800E doesn’t have the focus problem? However if it’s a firmware issue, it’d be impossible to be exempt from the problem, right? I’d appreciate your insights. (Lens was a 14-24 at 24 and f/2.8)

    • You don’t have the problem. If there’s a difference between live view focus and AF system focus, and this difference is inconsistent between left, right and center points, then you have the problem. That is the only situation applicable here.

      • D800 Eee says:

        Good point, I hadn’t compared with live view. I’ve just done that (now it’s the 28-300 on the camera) and found: with live view zoomed in, it’s clear that auto-focus (by half pressing shutter) was always a bit soft, and rotating the manual focus ring counter-clockwise a tiny bit always makes focus better and tack sharp. I realized that this was an AF fine tune issue; indeed, after putting in -6, auto-focus is just about right as compared to live view. Gun to head, I’d say the left side auto-focus is a bit better; the edges of the target letters are sharp for all L/R/Middle focus points, but when focused with the left focus point, the letters appeared a tiny bit “blacker”; or maybe that’s just me hallucinating (it’s getting late here in the U.S.) In short, nothing looks hugely wrong so far, but I still don’t understand how this D800e could avoid the focus issue if there was a firmware problem–or would I be just so extraordinarily lucky that the hardware and software issues in this copy cancel each other out?! Anyway, thank you. I can sleep a bit better tonight after these tests.

        • You’re not going to see it with a 28-300, try the same test with your 14-24 at 14mm and f2.8 – the findings might be a bit different.

          Or you could just be lucky :) I don’t think it’s just a firmware fix, I was told today that it involves calibration and will take most of a day to do.

      • D800 Eee says:

        OK, so I’m back with the 14-24 @14 and f/2.8. Result: this lens is great, has no front or back focus whatsoever. The L/R/Middle focus results look the same in zoomed live view. Maybe the right is weaker by a tiny bit, but left and middle are exactly the same. I’m going with the “lucky” theory for now. Or may there are “good batches” after all.

  24. Ok- will try in the am and report back- thank you. Is there a place I could post my images for Nikon to review?

  25. Yikes- is it possible to correct my typo in the above statement- should read shoot. My apologies via iPad has a mind of its own!

    • No problem, it’s fixed. Try again in LV and see if you’re still not getting critical sharpness. It may be a more serious problem if that doesn’t solve things.

  26. Yes- I am shooting Raw but have only shot in LV mode one session- can definitely try again.

  27. In addition my af points seem to focus on the left but there is a real lack of detail & clarity. I would like to send it in for Nikon to test but the thought of shipping my new beauty off to be deconstructed just makes me feel dread!

  28. I have excellent glass & am shooting on a tripod in hopes of getting the results I would expect but just have not seen the focus I would have expected- I also own the d4 and am getting beautiful images w/ no focusing issues. Very frustrated!

  29. I can not pinpoint my issue but am certain that my images in the d800 are not sharp- I kept attributing it to the high MP but it lacks the clarity that it should have. In order to have Nikon repair this uses do I just go online & request a repair ticket?
    Thanks for this update.

    • Are you having the problem all over the frame, or just on one side? The AF problem here is for the left-side/ asymmetric focus issue only. Are you getting sharp images when stopped down/ using a flash/ with high shutter speed? It could be a mix of lens issues or technique/ shot discipline, but hard to say without more information.

  30. Hi Ming, I also have a d800…so far everything seem fine focus wise (mine was ordered in may and receive in june, so it was not the first batch of shipment) Sorry to hear you have focus issues with first your d800 and now your d800e…please let us know all the details.

  31. YAY! That is good news. Let us know how you get on ;-)

Trackbacks

  1. […] could talk to the responsible in English and I did not need to show any “proof” of the asymmetric focus problem, neither they required my AF fine tuning values (-20  for the left AF giving blurred center and […]

  2. […] al parecer no queda más remedio que pasar por el servicio técnico como cuenta el fotógrafo Ming Thein en su blog. En qué consiste el problema, veámoslo también en este vídeo:   Testcams en […]

  3. […] 402 I purchased my D800E less than a month ago, and it does have the left focusing issue on my 14-24 lens at 14mm. Supposedly Nikon is aware of the problem and knows how to fix it. See link below: Good news: there’s an official Nikon D800/D800E focusing fix! […]

  4. […] Thein mentioned on his blog that Nikon already has an internal fix for the D800/D800E asymmetric left focusing issue: […]

  5. Anonymous says:

    […] 111 Supongo que sabreis que algunos propietarios de la D800 han reportado fallos de enfoque con el sensor de AF de la izquierda cuando se utiliza con un gran angular y apertura 2.8 o mayor. Esto esta reportado sobre todo en DPReview. Hasta ahora Nikon no reconocia el problema, pero ya lo ha reconocido y la solucion es una calibracion del AF y un nuevo firmware. Mas detalles en este blog: Good news: there’s an official Nikon D800/D800E focusing fix! […]

  6. […] Thein mentioned on his blog that Nikon already has an internal fix for the D800/D800E asymmetric left focusing issue: […]

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