Photokina 2012: Nikon talks about the D800's outer AF issue

Started Sep 21, 2012 | Discussions thread
karuna New Member • Posts: 10
Re: Photokina 2012: Nikon talks about the D800's outer AF issue

Thanks for the info and effort. I also like bare facts. Some comments below.

  • The root cause is a misalignment of the AF module when mounted, outside of Nikon's own production tolerances. But be asserted we are still talking micro meters here ...

I'd say absolute size of the misalignment is of no consequence here. All that matters is the relative size of the error. It may be only micro meters, but that it could still be a huge error, such as 100%, 200%, or 1000% of tolerance. I would have brushed aside "micro meter" and asked what the percentage was.

  • The procedure is currently rolled out to more Nikon service centers.

Read: some Nikon service centers are still clueless.

  • The fixing procedure for Nikon is a tedious one. It includes writing individual calibration values into the firmware. For larger deviations, the AF module will first mechanically be re-aligned. This may actually include the AF auxiliary mirror in some cases.

The calibration process should be done with a machine, in which case it's not "tedious" at all. Tedious is a term that doesn't apply to machines. However, such a machine may be on the production line but it could be too expensive to have one at each repair center. So a human may have to do the job. If this is the case, pray that you're in good hands.

  • This method is believed to deliver an autofocus precision which is at least as good as of cameras from a fresh batch. I could not clarify if there is a chance for both methods being non-equivalent in some way. However, Nikon Germany does not think so. They rather wholeheartedly believe that the in-service calibration procedure resolves the issue as good as current production does, if not better.

I'll have to see it to believe it. If the repair center does the mechanical realign, then I can believe (given a good technician) the result is the same as from the corrected production line. However, if it's just new values for firmware, then we could be comparing two things here: (1) a unit physically within production tolerances and corrected within normal limits of software correction values; (2) a unit that's physically beyond tolerance and corrected by having to increase the limits of usual software corrections. Are (1) and (2) the same?

In general the answer is clearly no. There're some circumstances where the answer could be yes, such as, if the usual software correction limits are artificially low and conservative. Which is why I say I have to see it to believe it.

  • Until then, we cannot really know if isolated continued reports about inacceptable AF accuracy after service are due to a failure during calibration or an unreasonable expectation.

This is total BS by Nikon as it continues to insult the intelligence of its users. Absolute AF accuracy may be subjective, but most affected users compared the relative accuracy of the middle and left and they are night-and-day different. To doubt this is just more smoke and mirrors from Nikon.

  • Nikon does actually not know how many D800 of the early batches have been affected. Despite all oddities, the so-called service-rate of the D800 is unremarkable and only "sligthly increased" (compared to other camera models).

Total BS again. They are more likely to know exactly how many are affected down to the minute of production and the exact serial number. They're not admitting this to avoid a recall.

  • I take it that Nikon will not publish an official statement about this issue. And I take it too that meanwhile this has been internally decided in Japan. So, don't ask for it ...

Of course of course, did we hear anything "official" with certain nuclear reactors until they were already leaking big time? No. And we are talking about just a camera here. So, no chance.

  • Independently of corporate information policy, Nikon wants to help all customers with the problem without asking much questions. This includes returned goods from dealers and service calls after expiration of the warranty period. (Note however, that Nikon Germany cannot speak for the rest of the world.)

This sounds reasonable, however the users must now depend on the their own determination and fortitude if they want to get their cameras fixed. This means, if it's not fixed the first time, send it in the second time. If not the second time, the third. Every time, you go through the hassle of shipping and part with your camera for two (?) weeks. It is well known in the corporate world that many warranty claimer will eventually give up if you make it hard enough. It's a disappointment that Nikon resorts to such low strategies.

  • I do now actually recommend affected D800 photographers, to contact Nikon or their dealer i order to schedule an AF calibration job done on it.

Just make sure that the center you use knows what to do. At this time, that's not guaranteed yet. I'll wait until I hear about successful cases out of the Nikon California center.

Yes I think your site and methods are very helpful. Thank you. It's a shame that such amount of work needs to be put in just to prove your $3,299 camera is good (or bad).

It will be possible to check Nikon's claims (resolution of the AF issue both in service (normally) and current production) by using our testing methodology... I AM HERE FOR YOU ...

Please remain here. As I indicated above, the determination of users is now the only thing that can prevent Nikon from getting away with this. Of course I want my camera fixed, but as it drags on it has acquired a flavor of principles.

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