Sony has posted a short note that some 'initial production' DSC-F717's will produce images which are out of focus when used with the Hologram AF (Laser light illumination) at certain focal lengths and certain light conditions. "Although these circumstances are limited, Sony will offer a parameter adjustment to the Hologram AF system for end users in accordance with its limited warranty, through Sony Service Centers and Sony's Authorized Service Centers." A list of serial numbers can be found within.

UPDATE 31/Oct: Sony US have contacted us and have also posted update procedure.

Phil: In my conversation with Sony US they confirmed that the problem exists but is limited to a combination of certain light levels, the use of Hologram AF and tends to be more promenant at certain focal length / subject distance combinations. Sony were very clear that this is not a firmware update but a modficiation of a parameter in the camera, this can be carried out at any Sony Authorized service center or Sony will arrange to have your camera collected and returned. Although it's a shame to find problems it's good to see a manufacturer who is willing to accept an issue exists and put in place a relatively painless procedure for correction. Obviously it would have been even better if things such as this could be user programmable (a downloadable installer, etc.)

Full text of the Sony announcement (found here):

DSC-F717 Cyber-shot® Digital Still Camera Focus Issue

Posted: October 31rd, 2002

Initial production of Sony’s DSC-F717 Cyber-shot® digital still cameras have displayed inaccurate focusing under certain limited conditions. These conditions include ambient light low enough to activate the Hologram AF, at short distances, and higher zoom settings.

In order to determine whether or not your DSC-F717 has the issue, please check the following:

The Camera is a DSC-F717

The camera serial number falls into the below range:

1320001-1320404
1320407
1320409-1320422
1320424-1320425
1320427-1320430
1320432
1320434-1320440
1320442-1320463
1320465-1320468
1320470-1334250
1334801-1334900
1335251-1337694
1337883-1338610
1339051-1339550

Images are out of focus when using Hologram AF, typically, but not limited to, short distances and higher zoom settings. This issue will not occur with Hologram AF selected "off".

If your camera does meet the above criteria, please contact Sony to arrange for service. The inaccurate focus is the result of an improper Hologram AF focus parameter. The parameter can be adjusted by Sony Service Centers or Sony Authorized Service Centers in accordance with Sony’s limited warranty.

Sony is providing express pick-up and return shipment service for these cameras to correct this focus issue. Please contact the Sony Customer Information Services Center for further assistance at 1-888-449-7669.