Just got my D800E back from NPS. Apparently, the cause of the focusing problem in all cases is some inaccurate calibration data entered during the alignment/ calibration process. I was told it’s basically a case of hooking the camera up to the laser calibration jig, and letting a piece of software run a calibration routine point by point – there are no physical or mechanical adjustments made to the camera. The software then writes this somewhere in the camera’s ROM for future use. All testing is done with the 50/1.4, and the instrumentation is apparently sensitive enough to detect minor focus errors – they’re also present even on teles, but less obvious, is what I was told.
Also asked about the new firmware that’s appearing in some cameras – apparently it’s legitimate, but not officially downloadable yet. No news on when that might be. My camera still has the same firmware it went in with – A 1.00, B 1.01, L 1.006.
The good news is that all of the wides I tried the camera with now focus consistently between AF and live view, i.e. there’s no difference between the results from either AF system. I repeated the test a number of times, each time with the camera locked down on a Manfrotto Hydrostat head on top of a Gitzo 5-series systematic tripod, using flash. (Let’s just say that camera shake is a non-issue.) However, it’s also revealed that lenses are a lot less perfect and symmetrical than we would like them to be…the D800E has one seriously demanding sensor.
This example set shot with the 28/1.8G at f1.8. The original size is visible here, which is a screen shot of 100% crops.
Conclusion: problem solved. If you do have the left side AF issue, then send it in and insist they look at it – because there exists a fix, and it works. Barring any further AF oddities (it’s night time here and I haven’t had a chance to test AF tracking or 51-point 3D yet), I’m considering this issue solved. Thanks to the folks at Nikon Malaysia for turning around the camera so fast!
I’m off to break out the LensAlign to run AF fine tune on the rest of my lenses again. MT
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