F4 much faster focus than D700/D3x. Why ?

Started Jan 2, 2012 | Discussions thread
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d3xmeister
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F4 much faster focus than D700/D3x. Why ?
Jan 2, 2012

I have a friend with a big photography business. Sometimes I am shooting some events for him, using his gear. He has a few D700's with grip, D300's and a D3x. He also have a truck of Nikon lenses, including all the pro lenses. He's got them all.

I was visiting him last week, and while playing with photo gear and discussing old times, he brought his old Nikon F4 with the big grip and a few old Nikon lenses, primes and zooms, without focussing motors in them.

I did not see that coming, that combo blew me away in autofocus speed. Especially with primes but with zooms too.

The F4 was significantly faster in focus than the D700 or the D3x while using non AF-S lenses. Sometimes the difference was just ridiculous, like when comparing the F4 with 50mm AF-D versus the D3x with 50mm AF-S. The D3x felt like a entry level camera when compared in this combo.

So, why is the old system (AF) that much faster than the new system (AF-S) ? And why when we are using non AF-S lenses on new bodies don't get the speed we had with old cameras ? Are the motors built in that bad when compared to the old ones ?

My friend also said that he has not noticed better AF precision with the new cameras, the F4 AF was great in precision.

I'm taking a wild guess here thinking that the Scene/Face Recognition in new AF system could play a role. AF-Tracking capabilities could be another cause, but then why is not faster in AF-S single point mode ?

Nikon D300 Nikon D3X Nikon D700
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