Nikon D4 (D800?) Focus Priority Update and Work-around

Started May 25, 2012 | Discussions thread
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Nikon D4 (D800?) Focus Priority Update and Work-around
May 25, 2012

Just spoke with Nikon Technical Service. They have had my D4 since 5/9 exploring the lack of focus priority operation on this body (see prior DPR threads for issues with D4 and D800). Basically, the problem is that when using the AF-On button exclusively, setting focus priority as an option for AF-S or AF-C had no effect on shutter release. That is, unlike the D700 or other recent bodies, the shutter releases even if the image is totally OOF. This can result in OOF images even when focus priority is selected as an option because, according to the Nikon tech, in D4s (and I believe in D800s as well), use of AF-On alone to focus bypasses the focus priority firmware sequence.

While the technician would not clearly admit that this is a firmware design flaw, he did say that they have notified Nikon Japan of the "issue" and that it is possible that a firmware update may be released sometime in the future so that focus priority operation will work when focusing only with the AF-On button. In the meantime, if you want to use the AF-On button to focus but also want to prevent shutter activation for OOF images, you should set AF4 to "Shutter/AF-On" rather than to "AF-On only". This will engage the focus logic in the firmware. Although this is a clunky work-around (e.g., why use AF-On if the shutter also activates focus), and although how this will affect AF-C operation when Focus + Release or Release + Focus operation is selected under A1 (I don't have my D4 back yet to test it), it will at least prevent shutter activation when the image is OOF.

Since I do not yet have my D800E (still on order) I cannot be sure if this same problem is true of all D800s. But since they clearly identified this as a firmware operation issue, it suggest that at the least it affects ALL D4's running the original firmware version.

Michael E. Clark

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