Advice on D800E Focus

Started Dec 10, 2013 | Discussions
kenneth_manila
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Advice on D800E Focus
Dec 10, 2013

I just received my D800E from B&H.

I tested focus with the 24-70mm and 70-200mm lenses.

The 24-70 mm lens focus was OK.

The 70-200 mm lens had blurry focus with Phase Detect Autofocus compared to Contrast Detect Autofocus.

What is the best way to get good Phase Detect Autofocus with this camera and lens?

I prefer not to use this camera on Live View Mode only.

Do I have to send these to Nikon for calibration?

Can I use adjust focus in-camera in this case?

(I prefer not to send this back to B&H as it's not their fault.)

I don't want to start a flame war--I just need advise on best course to take.

Thanks for reading.

Phase Detect--Center--D800E with 70-200mm lens.

Contrast Detect--Center--D800E with 70-200mm lens.

Nikon D800E
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caspianm
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Re: Advice on D800E Focus
In reply to kenneth_manila, Dec 10, 2013

Both Look great. Any minute variations could be due to other factors. Make sure you turn on the delay exposure for this experiment.

Run the test for side focus points as well and be done with it.

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BeeSo
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Re: Advice on D800E Focus
In reply to caspianm, Dec 10, 2013

Even though I sold my D800 recently,  I did figure out how test for focus. Here goes.

First, get a fine detailed, metal ruler ( or plastic). Now mount it at a 45 angle, good lighting, on a table or bench angled  towards you. The top of the ruler should be farther away from you than the bottom. Next... with the ruler facing you switch  to Live View. Point the camera same height, and about 4 feet away from the ruler. Open to widest f stop.

Next,  stick the camera on a tripod if it helps or just hand hold it. Switch off auto focus... zoom on ruler... adjust focus manually. What you should see is that the numbers from the middle of the ruler are sharp going up and down. This gives you an indication of sharp focus.

Next, switch on Auto Focus. Point the camera at the middle of the ruler. Take a few shots, exam photos and zoom on them. If it's  focusing either back or front ... you should see that the numbers above or below the middle are sharp and the opposite side is fuzzy.

After you check out a few more shots this way you now have the confidence to go into auto fine tuning and adjust. I'm at the point that I hand hold the camera and adjust without a tripod.

On a 24-70 it's a little tricky. Wide open, test at 24mm and again at 70mm. Pick a value that lies between the adjustments. So if you need +5 on the 24mm end and +15 on 70mm end... the best you can do is set to +10.

Hopes this helps... let's hear from other people

Good luck.

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BeeSo
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Re: Advice on D800E Focus
In reply to kenneth_manila, Dec 10, 2013

Kenneth... you need to photo test something with an angle in it. An object, a ruler, anything that has edges with some depth into it. The reason for using the ruler is that the top of the ruler at 45 degrees is about 4-5 inches behind the bottom of the ruler. That's it... goodbye.

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VividExposures
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Re: Advice on D800E Focus
In reply to kenneth_manila, Dec 10, 2013

I think they both look fine as well. You can actually just rent a lensalign as opposed to buying one.

http://michaeltapesdesign.com/lensalign.html

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kenneth_manila
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Re: Advice on D800E Focus
In reply to caspianm, Dec 11, 2013

I have used DSLRs from various makers, I bought this after renting this setup and the image quality impressed me so much.

I shot the images using a tripod and timer.

The blurred focus is consistent with the left, right, and center focus points.

I want the center focus point to be consistent with both Phase Detect and Contrast Detect Autofocus, as I find it harder to stabilize the camera using Live View.

I hope it's not too much to ask for consistently sharp and reliable Phase Detect Autofocus with a camera at this level.

Thanks for taking the time to offer your input.

caspianm wrote:

Both Look great. Any minute variations could be due to other factors. Make sure you turn on the delay exposure for this experiment.

Run the test for side focus points as well and be done with it.

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kenneth_manila
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Re: Advice on D800E Focus
In reply to BeeSo, Dec 11, 2013

I was hoping to get a good camera out of the box.

Thanks for your suggestion--I'll go out and buy a ruler.  I came across this technique at a Nikon support site, and it also suggested a book at zero point.  The Nikon site warned about changing the setting as it could have dire effects.

I'm wondering if other members here did the Focus Adjust, and if they noticed any bad effects?

I have read about some people who sent their D800Es with their lenses to Nikon Service Center, with perfect focus--no Focus Adjustment needed.

I have also read about Nikon Service Center charging various owners with "Impact Damage."

I'm not sure if I want to take this gamble.

I'm on the fence if I'll be using my gear on Live View for the foreseeable future.

BeeSo wrote:

Even though I sold my D800 recently, I did figure out how test for focus. Here goes.

First, get a fine detailed, metal ruler ( or plastic). Now mount it at a 45 angle, good lighting, on a table or bench angled towards you. The top of the ruler should be farther away from you than the bottom. Next... with the ruler facing you switch to Live View. Point the camera same height, and about 4 feet away from the ruler. Open to widest f stop.

Next, stick the camera on a tripod if it helps or just hand hold it. Switch off auto focus... zoom on ruler... adjust focus manually. What you should see is that the numbers from the middle of the ruler are sharp going up and down. This gives you an indication of sharp focus.

Next, switch on Auto Focus. Point the camera at the middle of the ruler. Take a few shots, exam photos and zoom on them. If it's focusing either back or front ... you should see that the numbers above or below the middle are sharp and the opposite side is fuzzy.

After you check out a few more shots this way you now have the confidence to go into auto fine tuning and adjust. I'm at the point that I hand hold the camera and adjust without a tripod.

On a 24-70 it's a little tricky. Wide open, test at 24mm and again at 70mm. Pick a value that lies between the adjustments. So if you need +5 on the 24mm end and +15 on 70mm end... the best you can do is set to +10.

Hopes this helps... let's hear from other people

Good luck.

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kenneth_manila
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Re: Advice on D800E Focus
In reply to VividExposures, Dec 11, 2013

Wow, that's a lot of money.

Do I have to use Lens Align from time to time, or is it a one-time use for a camera-lens combination?

Where can I rent it?

I'm leaning towards doing a makeshift setup with a ruler and a book:

https://nikoneurope-en.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/51633

Thanks for your input.

VividExposures wrote:

I think they both look fine as well. You can actually just rent a lensalign as opposed to buying one.

http://michaeltapesdesign.com/lensalign.html

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philharris
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Re: Advice on D800E Focus
In reply to kenneth_manila, Dec 11, 2013

I have found the simplest way for me is to just chalk some white lines on a blackboard.

Make sure you have one very clear square of solid white about an inch square for a focus point then just draw lines or write text alongside it.

Take shots at 45% to the board with the lens wide open, you will see that the focus point stands out very clearly due to the texture of the chalk on the blackboard surface.

This method works well with flash too, which can help eliminate shake from the equation.

I have used AF fine tuning on all my lenses with this method and never experienced any problems as a result, it takes me only a couple of minutes to adjust a lens now.

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kenneth_manila
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Re: Advice on D800E Focus
In reply to philharris, Dec 11, 2013

I don't know how I can access a blackboard.

Thanks for sharing your experience.

philharris wrote:

I have found the simplest way for me is to just chalk some white lines on a blackboard.

Make sure you have one very clear square of solid white about an inch square for a focus point then just draw lines or write text alongside it.

Take shots at 45% to the board with the lens wide open, you will see that the focus point stands out very clearly due to the texture of the chalk on the blackboard surface.

This method works well with flash too, which can help eliminate shake from the equation.

I have used AF fine tuning on all my lenses with this method and never experienced any problems as a result, it takes me only a couple of minutes to adjust a lens now.

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VividExposures
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Re: Advice on D800E Focus
In reply to kenneth_manila, Dec 11, 2013

I own one and I use it when I buy a new lens/camera. It is $10 +shipping from Aperturent. I rent from them often, but they are local. Not sure how much shipping is to your location but $10 is definitely worth it imho.

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kenneth_manila
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Re: Advice on D800E Focus
In reply to VividExposures, Dec 11, 2013

Thanks.

I'll try the ruler method first, then rent it if I get desperate enough.

At this point I'm thinking of just getting an extra battery and stick with using Live View.

I like how the focus is so much better.

VividExposures wrote:

I own one and I use it when I buy a new lens/camera. It is $10 +shipping from Aperturent. I rent from them often, but they are local. Not sure how much shipping is to your location but $10 is definitely worth it imho.

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Horshack
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Try DotTune
In reply to kenneth_manila, Dec 11, 2013

9 out of 10 dentists recommend it.

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/50883023

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kenneth_manila
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Re: Try DotTune
In reply to Horshack, Dec 11, 2013

Thanks for sharing this.

I spent the last hour trying it with the 24-70 mm lens.

At the 70 mm end, I got 4 to 9.

At the 24 mm end, I could not get a definite focus lock--near misses ranged from +15 to +18, but the symbol flickered, unlike at the 70 mm end.  I went through the entire range--in the negative range, the circle did not even appear, only the arrow.

Horshack wrote:

9 out of 10 dentists recommend it.

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/50883023

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bigpigbig
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Re: Advice on D800E Focus
In reply to kenneth_manila, Dec 11, 2013

If you are serious about it, Nikon Service did my zooms for me. They have a way of adjusting the camera / lens combinations for different focal lengths across the zoom range. Since they were new, I had it done for free (it probably didn't hurt that I had $10,000 worth of new equipment that was performing poorly). Normally they charged about $125 per lens and $100 for the body (they showed me the bill though it was zeroed) Now, from 14-200mm all three zooms are razor spot on with no micro adjustments  (except for the left focus point or two which I just don't use). They did tell me that if I had multiple bodies this would not be possible and that these lenses on other bodies would not perform well.

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kenneth_manila
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Re: Advice on D800E Focus
In reply to bigpigbig, Dec 11, 2013

How did you get Nikon Service to do this?

I'll be using the 24-70 and 70-200 90% of the time, so I think this is worth it.

Did you do it in the East Coast or the West Coast service center?

Did you call them up first?

How did you ship your equipment to them?  I'm wary of the reports of "impact damage" on brand new equipment.

bigpigbig wrote:

If you are serious about it, Nikon Service did my zooms for me. They have a way of adjusting the camera / lens combinations for different focal lengths across the zoom range. Since they were new, I had it done for free (it probably didn't hurt that I had $10,000 worth of new equipment that was performing poorly). Now from 14-200mm they are all razor spot on with no adjustment (except for the left focus point or two which I just don't use). They did tell me that if I had multiple bodies this would not be possible and that these lenses on other bodies would not perform well.

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Horshack
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Re: Try DotTune
In reply to kenneth_manila, Dec 11, 2013

kenneth_manila wrote:

Thanks for sharing this.

I spent the last hour trying it with the 24-70 mm lens.

At the 70 mm end, I got 4 to 9.

At the 24 mm end, I could not get a definite focus lock--near misses ranged from +15 to +18, but the symbol flickered, unlike at the 70 mm end. I went through the entire range--in the negative range, the circle did not even appear, only the arrow.

Horshack wrote:

9 out of 10 dentists recommend it.

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/50883023

How about at +20 for 24mm. Still no solid dot?

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kenneth_manila
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Re: Try DotTune
In reply to Horshack, Dec 11, 2013

No...the near misses (flickering) happened at +15 to +18.  I never got a solid focus lock.

+19 and +20 were definitely out.

Horshack wrote:

kenneth_manila wrote:

Thanks for sharing this.

I spent the last hour trying it with the 24-70 mm lens.

At the 70 mm end, I got 4 to 9.

At the 24 mm end, I could not get a definite focus lock--near misses ranged from +15 to +18, but the symbol flickered, unlike at the 70 mm end. I went through the entire range--in the negative range, the circle did not even appear, only the arrow.

Horshack wrote:

9 out of 10 dentists recommend it.

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/50883023

How about at +20 for 24mm. Still no solid dot?

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kenneth_manila
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How long did it take?
In reply to bigpigbig, Dec 11, 2013

bigpigbig wrote:

If you are serious about it, Nikon Service did my zooms for me. They have a way of adjusting the camera / lens combinations for different focal lengths across the zoom range. Since they were new, I had it done for free (it probably didn't hurt that I had $10,000 worth of new equipment that was performing poorly). Normally they charged about $125 per lens and $100 for the body (they showed me the bill though it was zeroed) Now, from 14-200mm all three zooms are razor spot on with no micro adjustments (except for the left focus point or two which I just don't use). They did tell me that if I had multiple bodies this would not be possible and that these lenses on other bodies would not perform well.

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Yxa
Yxa
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Re: Advice on D800E Focus
In reply to kenneth_manila, Dec 11, 2013

kenneth_manila wrote:

Wow, that's a lot of money.

Do I have to use Lens Align from time to time, or is it a one-time use for a camera-lens combination?

Where can I rent it?

I'm leaning towards doing a makeshift setup with a ruler and a book:

https://nikoneurope-en.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/51633

Thanks for your input.

VividExposures wrote:

I think they both look fine as well. You can actually just rent a lensalign as opposed to buying one.

http://michaeltapesdesign.com/lensalign.html

Thank you for the information!

I'll try this setup

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