My D800 has a weird focusing problem.
Have you been still waiting for your backordered Nikon D800? I have ordered mine almost 3 months ago and when it finally arrived this Monday I was so happy. So I have recharged the battery and the next day I have mounted my Nikkor 70-200 AFS VR f2.8 on it. The camera has handled very well with this tele lens on it and the grip felt even better than my D700. Now the time has come to take my first test shots with it. Because I was at home with my daughter I set up my two flashes Sb 900 and Sb 700 on the floor in the living room. For triggering them I used couple of Pocket Wizards remotes and I started to shoot. After couple shots I checked the images and some of them looked so great I was amazed. My daughter was having fun posing for me, well when you are only seven months old everything is fun I guess . So I kept shooting but after maybe 30 shots I noticed that when I frame an image in the viewfinder and focus on the eyes of my daughter they seems to be out of focus.
I checked the AF button on the D800 if it is in AF-S thinking I might pushed it to the AF-C position by mistake and that would explain imperfect focusing on the face of the girl. But no I was set correctly with the AF-S on. So I rest my eyes for a minute thinking they might be tired from the flashes and looked again through the viefinder. Guess what, the focus was not on the spot where I was focusing. When I focused on her eyes, they appeared to be soft but instead the ears were in focus. I could not believe my eyes. So I focused on her nose, and the eyes were sharp and nose was soft. Imagine how I felt. Finally I have the D800, the best full frame DLSR based on DxO Mark labs reviews, but my model has a autofocusing problem. A big one! So I got the idea to reset the camera body by holding tow green buttons on it for more than 2 seconds to get back to full factory settings and checked if the focusing system finally is awake! It was not! When you have a problem with your camera what do you usually do? Well these day the easiest solution is to google it. So I did. And when I entered – Nikon D800 troubleshooting AF problems I was shocked that there is couple different posts mentioning this D800 AF issue! Most of them were dated in May or June 2012, so I found out that I am not the only person who got unlucky with his camera. This is like a bad dream for me I thought. I needed this camera for upcoming projects and now this! I have been with Nikon for more that 15 years now, and this was the very first camera which had a bad AF from all of them!
You know how shocked I was? That shocked that I changed the lenses and tried different ones on the D800 but all of them showed me the same results, soft out of focus images. So I took my D700 put it on a table and took couple shots of it with my D800 vs D90… Those images from D90 looked perfect, sharp, no softness at all! the D800 images looked very soft, poor sharpness and focus either behind or in front of the focusing point. Have a look at couple of the images for yourself here. I have used Nikkor 50F1.8 AF for all these images, set on a table, triggered by self timer, ISO 200, 1/25 @ F4.
The D800 was focused on the FX lettering on my D700 camera body and when used with AF-S the D800 focused in front of it on the zoom ring of my 14-24 AFS.
When I switched D800 AF off and used only the viewfinder with manual focusing the D800 focused behind the focusing point on the rubber covering the HDMI port.
And finally when I switched the D800 to live view and focused on the same FX spot I was for the first time capture sharp looking FX lettering on the camera!
And here you can see how my 3 years old D90 handled very similar shot by using the same 50f1.8 AF Nikkor lens.
Here the D90 focused exactly on the FX lettering on D800 body without any hesitation. I have visually saw in the viewfinder that it was properly focused, and captured image confirmed it too. There was no sharpening or editing done to any of these images. They were only resized to 718px wide to fit this post.
So I contacted the shop from where I ordered it and let them know that my D800 has a focusing problem and asked them what to do with it. They replied me very quickly. I was told that after they contacted Nikon Canada, one of the Nikon employee replied to them that – “I don’t follow the chatter on the inter-web as it often has user issues and those who seek out issues that may or may not exist.”
Then he continued – “To date we have delivered a good number of D800 into the market, and plenty of those are pros who make a living with their equipment and I am yet to get a concern regarding focus. I suggest the customer do a reset on all functions as well as user settings, then redo his tests in normal circumstances.”
Well I did so As I mentioned earlier in this post, but OK if Nikon suggests what I already done, fine I try it maybe it will work! Nothing has changed, I think it even made t worse because now camera focused anywhere but where it was supposed to!
So now I could not do anything more than sit down and put together this post. I know many of you have problems similar to mine. Can you please reply me and describe me your issues. I think the only way to get this solved is to talk about it in public. Nikon so far plays a game that there is nothing wrong with it, so I want to see what Nikon guys say when I come to their warehouse tomorrow and show them in reality that the camera has a bad AF issue. Oh, for you guys who like to focus in live mode, this is the only time the images are perfectly in focus 100% time. So the issue is in between viewfinder and the AF system on its own!
I keep you posted what is going on with my model, but if Nikon confirms what I just described here, I am returning the D800 and cancelling the order. It is better for me to shoot with working D700 than crappy D800 focusing issues. Until it is not solved in public I am not going back to this model at all!
Good luck with yours.