Update on D800 AF issues

Started Apr 5, 2012 | Discussions
Ming Thein
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Update on D800 AF issues
Apr 5, 2012

I thought users here might want to read an update on my D800 AF issues. You may recall that I found some problems with the left hand side AF sensor bank only on my body, specifically when trying to focus fast wides; center and right side points were okay, but the entire left group would wildly back focus. Curiously, only with wide angle lenses.

I spent the morning at Nikon again trying out a number of D800 bodies and various popular lenses - I'll put up a detailed analysis on my blog later once I get a chance to write (www.blog.mingthein.com) - but the current situation is this:

1. It seems to be a batch issue. If you have a D800 body with the serial in the 8000xxx to 8001xxx range, check your left side AF sensors (single point mode, AFC or AFS) with a fast wide (24/1.4 is ideal) if you have one. You'll most probably find it's off. We tried a total of five bodies in this serial, and not one could focus either of two 24/1.4s properly on the left side - the center and right points were fine, and the lenses were fine on a D3x, D4 and D700.

2. There is no known fix at the moment, but I'm told that after I reported it and it was verified by the techs here, Nikon HQ are looking into it as an urgent matter.

3. I don't have a fix either. Right now I'm using my D800 as a studio only camera with lenses 50mm for longer, and there don't seem to be any AF issues there (though image quality is quite another matter). Image quality is superb, and there are no one-sided softness issues with planar subjects that makes me believe it's still the AF sensor which is the root cause of the problem. I've been offered to swap for another camera (that makes a total of two so far) but since they're all from the same serial batch, I elected to take a D800E instead as a replacement from the next production batch instead at the end of the month, hopefully it'll have come off a different line. Looks like I will be reviewing both after all.

If anybody has questions, please post them here or on the blog and I'll do my best to answer them.

Ming

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Resul83
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Re: Update on D800 AF issues
In reply to Ming Thein, Apr 5, 2012

Thanks for the update...

Any word on the greenish tint LCD? Did u see it in Malaysian d800s?

I think 8xxxxxx is Asian batch. Maybe USA batch has the tinted LCD (going green :). Mine is 3xxxxxx and I saw green LCD in my friends d800 too.

Hopefully it will be a simple firmware web bug

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SkyDreamer
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Re: Update on D800 AF issues
In reply to Resul83, Apr 5, 2012

Ming thank you for the feedback!

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Ming Thein
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No problem.
In reply to SkyDreamer, Apr 5, 2012

SkyDreamer wrote:

Ming thank you for the feedback!

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Ming Thein
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Re: Update on D800 AF issues
In reply to Resul83, Apr 5, 2012

8xx is definitely an Asian serial number.

What I'm seeing with my LCD is different color vs. the D700 rather than inaccurate color - I don't think either are accurate, to be honest. But it should be a fairly simple firmware fix to color shift the output to the video driver - even the Olympus Pen Mini has an adjustment setting for LCD color temperature.

I don't think it's an issue for normal shooting - but that's just me, I don't use the LCD to judge color anyway. This AF thing on the other hand...

Resul83 wrote:

Thanks for the update...

Any word on the greenish tint LCD? Did u see it in Malaysian d800s?

I think 8xxxxxx is Asian batch. Maybe USA batch has the tinted LCD (going green :). Mine is 3xxxxxx and I saw green LCD in my friends d800 too.

Hopefully it will be a simple firmware web bug

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vincent__l
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Re: Update on D800 AF issues
In reply to Ming Thein, Apr 5, 2012

Ming,

Thanks for keeping us up to date. Also, your feedback to Nikon is very valuable for helping to resolve the early build issues. If everyone gave feedback directly to Nikon, instead of just posting on forums, issues would get resolved much faster. Like most companies, Nikon needs to verify an issue for themselves before taking any action. If they don't hear any feedback they assume everything is fine.

I get the feeling that Nikon has really slowed production in order to resolve the various reported issues. I think this is fine as I would rather they take their time to ship a working D800. There's nothing worse than dealing with a half baked product.

Ming Thein wrote:
8xx is definitely an Asian serial number.

What I'm seeing with my LCD is different color vs. the D700 rather than inaccurate color - I don't think either are accurate, to be honest. But it should be a fairly simple firmware fix to color shift the output to the video driver - even the Olympus Pen Mini has an adjustment setting for LCD color temperature.

I don't think it's an issue for normal shooting - but that's just me, I don't use the LCD to judge color anyway. This AF thing on the other hand...

Resul83 wrote:

Thanks for the update...

Any word on the greenish tint LCD? Did u see it in Malaysian d800s?

I think 8xxxxxx is Asian batch. Maybe USA batch has the tinted LCD (going green :). Mine is 3xxxxxx and I saw green LCD in my friends d800 too.

Hopefully it will be a simple firmware web bug

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tabloid
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Re: Update on D800 AF issues
In reply to vincent__l, Apr 5, 2012

Would this apply to the D4 as well.

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Event_shooter
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Re: Update on D800 AF issues
In reply to tabloid, Apr 5, 2012

I'm guessing this will shut down production of the 800 and the release of the 800E till they get this figured out.

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prasanaphoto
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Re: Update on D800 AF issues
In reply to Ming Thein, Apr 5, 2012

Thats Bad..does the problem persist even with 24-70 2.8 and 70-200 Vr2 ?.I have ordered them together and now am worried.Iam from India and i guess they might be sending the same batch here.Its great that Nikon Malaysia has responded to your concern in a positive way.I can never imagine that happening in Chennai,India where i live.Eagerly waiting to read your complete review on AF issues.Thanks in advance

prasana
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thomas2279f
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Re: Update on D800 AF issues
In reply to Event_shooter, Apr 5, 2012

These two problems the tint and Af issues could be fixed by tweaks to the firmware - thanks Ming for finding these out.

Worse case scenario would be a recall to particular batch.

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Ming Thein
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Possible but unlikely.
In reply to tabloid, Apr 5, 2012

Depends on the calibration of each batch, I think. I certainly didn't see it on the D4 we used for testing (just to rule out lens issues).

tabloid wrote:

Would this apply to the D4 as well.

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Ming Thein
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I hope not...
In reply to Event_shooter, Apr 5, 2012

...so far it seems confined to Asian-market D800s with serials in the 0-1000 range, so it's probably one bad batch. The D800E we tested (final evaluation prototype) was a bit better but not perfect. Same sensor module as the D4, so I doubt there are any major fixes required - probably just some calibration issues.

Event_shooter wrote:

I'm guessing this will shut down production of the 800 and the release of the 800E till they get this figured out.

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Ming Thein
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Re: Update on D800 AF issues
In reply to thomas2279f, Apr 5, 2012

In theory it's a simple fix - firmware, as you say - but I'd rather have one which doesn't have hardware issues.

Anyway, it's all speculation until Nikon have had a chance to run some diagnostics. I'll keep everybody posted.

thomas2279f wrote:

These two problems the tint and Af issues could be fixed by tweaks to the firmware - thanks Ming for finding these out.

Worse case scenario would be a recall to particular batch.

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Ming Thein
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Oddly, no.
In reply to prasanaphoto, Apr 5, 2012

The problem is worst with the 24/1.4 used at 1.4. The other wides exhibit to a lesser degree. All long lenses above 50mm are fine, including the 70-200II. However, the 24-70s we tested were also fine, even at the 24mm end - odd, but we found the same behavior on all D800 bodies we mounted them to.

I suspect the reason this issue hasn't been found is that a) most people are using the 24-70, which is fine; or b) few people shoot the 24/1.4 wide open and with subjects in the corners; or c) people assume that poor performance is just a consequence of the sensor. This is a shame, because the 24/1.4 is really quite an excellent lens on the D800 when focused with live view.

prasanaphoto wrote:

Thats Bad..does the problem persist even with 24-70 2.8 and 70-200 Vr2 ?.I have ordered them together and now am worried.Iam from India and i guess they might be sending the same batch here.Its great that Nikon Malaysia has responded to your concern in a positive way.I can never imagine that happening in Chennai,India where i live.Eagerly waiting to read your complete review on AF issues.Thanks in advance

prasana
http://www.rprasanaphotography.com

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JMacedo
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Serial 8001xxx in Thailand
In reply to Ming Thein, Apr 5, 2012

Thank you so much for all the info. I'm in Thailand and just received mine, serial 8001* . The widest thing I have is the Nikkor 14-24 2.8.

Now, looking to the box, the label is written in chinese and says D800 (HK). Hong Kong? The manual is written in Thai.

I guess I will have to wait for tomorrow to to run some tests! Any suggestions for tests?

Many thanks.

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Ming Thein
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I think all the Asian ones are HK...
In reply to JMacedo, Apr 5, 2012

Mine too - I think they're distributed via regional HQ in HK.

Does yours have issues with the left hand focusing points? How do you find edge performance at 14mm?

Thanks!

JMacedo wrote:

Thank you so much for all the info. I'm in Thailand and just received mine, serial 8001* . The widest thing I have is the Nikkor 14-24 2.8.

Now, looking to the box, the label is written in chinese and says D800 (HK). Hong Kong? The manual is written in Thai.

I guess I will have to wait for tomorrow to to run some tests! Any suggestions for tests?

Many thanks.

Battery
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JMacedo
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Re: I think all the Asian ones are HK...
In reply to Ming Thein, Apr 5, 2012

Is getting dark here but I took a few pictures handheld @ 14mm 2.8 from my balcony and it seems to suffer from the same problem.

Using the most left focus point is useless, nothing seems to be in focus, no problems with the centre and right ones. Doesn´t seem to suffer the same problem @ 24mm.

Now I have to go do some shopping but tomorrow morning I will run some tests on a tripod. I hope I am wrong and what I saw was just camera shake and bad technique!

I will keep you posted. Again, thank you so much for sharing this with us.
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Ming Thein
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You can try the same thing indoors
In reply to JMacedo, Apr 5, 2012

It's more obvious at close distances, actually. No need the tripod - just use flash and a high shutter speed (manual 1/250s) - the built in works fine. If you're seeing the same thing after a few tests, defocusing in between, then chances are you've got the same problem. If that's the case, I'd let Nikon know and try to get a replacement unit from the second batch.

Fingers crossed that it's user error, otherwise the camera will have to go back to Nikon.

Ming

JMacedo wrote:

Is getting dark here but I took a few pictures handheld @ 14mm 2.8 from my balcony and it seems to suffer from the same problem.

Using the most left focus point is useless, nothing seems to be in focus, no problems with the centre and right ones. Doesn´t seem to suffer the same problem @ 24mm.

Now I have to go do some shopping but tomorrow morning I will run some tests on a tripod. I hope I am wrong and what I saw was just camera shake and bad technique!

I will keep you posted. Again, thank you so much for sharing this with us.
--
Best regards,

Jorge Macedo
http://www.jmacedophotography.com

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Luke Lim
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Re: You can try the same thing indoors
In reply to Ming Thein, Apr 5, 2012

When will Singapore have stocks?

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thomas2279f
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Re: Update on D800 AF issues
In reply to Ming Thein, Apr 5, 2012

Thanks Ming.

Without these issues you mentioned are you happy with the D800.

I would normally wait for ordering a new camera for issues to be found and fixed but with the D800 I thought it was a special one off camera and luckily I did put in an order like I did since the price in UK has gone up by £200 / $250 USD

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