The Truth about D800 Auto Focus - fair at best

Started Jan 21, 2013 | Discussions thread
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Shotcents
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The Truth about D800 Auto Focus - fair at best
Jan 21, 2013

Okay, I know it sounds like a trolling start for a thread and perhaps it's a bit of frustration more than any effort to get attention.

Yesterday, using 70-300 VR my D800 had a 50% hit ratio on a child who was posing for the camera, so NOT a lot of movement. Typically my faster glass, like my 70-200 VRII will do much better than this. But still, at times, especially when shooting faces, the D800 will back or front focus for no reason that I can detect. Flipping to LV gets perfect results, but this is not a great solution.

Is it my camera? My technique? No. I have no less than 9 friends using the D800 (6 are working professionals) and ALL of us will occasionally run into this issue. It's HIGHLY subject and light dependent, but repeatable.

The "cure" is VERY careful handling of the D800 and seeking higher contrast elements for the AF while composing. Most of the time this delivers results that are truly stunning, on par with my expectations of the D800 sensor.

But the camera is weaker for that quick moment where you might not employ the best technique and you'll sometimes get poor results. By comparison my D700 almost NEVER missed focus.

I really don't want to hear about the resolution element. This has nothing to do with pixels and is caused by the camera having NO IDEA of where the target is, thereby back/front focusing.

I've been using the D800 for a while now, tuned it for my lenses and get perfect results on any test. But out in a real shooting environment the D800 will simply blow focus unless I show a lot of care. The worst targets are faces, which is a drag when using faster lenses.

Undoubtedly some will respond that their D800 is "perfect" but I know what I'm doing and a few of my friends know even more. The D800 AF has been problematic since day one and continues to be. While I've been able to work around the limitations MOST of the time, this camera does not nail focus like the 5DIII does.

Let me repeat that: The D800 cannot match the AF accuracy of the Canon 5DIII

Yet the D800 is still my choice for a DSLR for many other reasons, from DR to detail. The D800 was two steps forward and one step back. I do believe, after we've left our D800 bodies behind, we'll all eventually agree on this. So rather than screaming about this I'll simply leave it at this....

I'm very much looking forward to a D900 or other high MP Nikon body that has AF that will be better than this and match what the 5DIII can do.

Love my D800...most of the time!

Robert

 Shotcents's gear list:Shotcents's gear list
Nikon Coolpix P7700 Nikon D800 Nikon D5200 Nikon Df Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II +10 more
Canon EOS 5D Mark III Nikon D700 Nikon D800 Nikon D90
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