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

Started Sep 21, 2012 | Discussions
falconeyes
falconeyes Senior Member • Posts: 1,427
Photokina 2012: Nikon talks about the D800's outer AF issue

I have published my recent talk about the issue with Nikon management during PK. It is in my blog:

-> http://falklumo.blogspot.de/2012/09/photokina-2012-nikon-talks-about-d800s.html

Here, I reproduce the text:

Prior to Photokina, I had scheduled a meeting with Nikon Germany, partly in order to discuss the known issue regarding the outer AF focus fields of the Nikon D800 camera.

So, on Tuesday I had the pleasure to discuss the topic extensively with both Michael Wollburg (Manager Customer Support Nikon GmbH) and a Nikon technician in charge. The meeting was very friendly and constructive.

Below, I am going to disclose my impressions which may differ from the original wording of what has been said (I have been there as member of accredited press; but I did not opt for an interview; I rather wanted to learn the bare facts). Therefore, any mistakes in the remainder are only my fault. Now for the infos:

  • Nikon has acknowledged, found and understood the root cause of the issue. It has been eliminated in the current production (however, I guess we'll never know when and from which serial numbers on).

  • 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 ...

  • The issue for affected D800 can be solved in selected Nikon service centers; such as Düsseldorf, Germany.

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • There is some dispute about the eventual success of the service measures from Nikon so far. Not only are there differences between countries and early attempts have faced difficulties and a lack of a clear procedure. But there is additional uncertainty about what to reasonably expect, esp. with the large sensor resolution of the D800. Therefore, the eventual success of the service measures from Nikon must be gauged relative to what is feasible technically. Every AF module from every vendor has finite AF field deviations. Lumolabs determined (depending on the lens too) deviations of up to 40µm between AF fields (cf. http://www.falklumo.com/lumolabs/articles/D800Focus/SensorArray.html ) as being usual in the market and acceptable for good image quality where 20µm would be very good. Such are accuracy values as found in other cameras (e.g., D3). According to Nikon, we shall expect the same (or better) for freshly produced batches of D800 from Nikon, or for D800 now being calibrated in service. LumoLabs intends to verify this claim. 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. It is this blog which actually proposed a method to distinguidh between the two. Nikon is supporting our contribution to bring the discussion back to facts.

  • 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).

  • 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 ...

  • 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.)

  • 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.

  • Personally, I do think it is a very good idea to additionally create an A2C2 chart ( http://www.falklumo.com/lumolabs/articles/D800Focus/SensorArray.html ) (before and after). This should help your camera's resale value too.

By the way, Nikon Germany has internally forwarded both our LumoLabs white papers and even had a closer look at FoCal. The AFMA unit step values we determined (approx. 4µm at f/2.8) have been received as plausible and it seems to be an accepted fact within Nikon that AFMA unit step values do indeed depend on a lens' nominal aperture.

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. If claims turn out to be true (as to be expected) then I think the entire AF field problem issue can settle. Slowly. But nevertheless make me make a clear call towards Nikon Japan: With your current information policy (or lack thereof) you are heading towards difficult times. I AM HERE FOR YOU ...

Falk

Further reading:

  1. LumoLabs: Nikon D800/E outer AF sensor accuracy http://falklumo.blogspot.de/2012/05/d800-outer-sensors.html (First blog article)

  2. LumoLabs: Using FoCal for testing of an AF sensor array http://falklumo.blogspot.de/2012/09/testing-sensor-array.html (Second blog article)

  3. Photokina 2012: Nikon talks about the D800's outer AF issue http://falklumo.blogspot.de/2012/09/photokina-2012-nikon-talks-about-d800s.html (Current blog article)

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Great British Landscapes
Great British Landscapes Regular Member • Posts: 321
Re: I have one word for all of this....

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Marianne Oelund Veteran Member • Posts: 6,714
Another wrinkle

falconeyes wrote:

I have published my recent talk about the issue with Nikon management during PK. It is in my blog:

-> http://falklumo.blogspot.de/2012/09/photokina-2012-nikon-talks-about-d800s.html

All excellent information - thanks for sharing with us!

Another piece of the puzzle which may explain some of the service center continuing difficulties:

Apparently, the rig or system that they use to determine the calibration data to be recorded in the camera's flash memory, relies on a "reference" camera which must be accurately calibrated. That is, it doesn't perform absolute measurements, but only relative measurements to an accepted "good" unit.

Any AF errors in the reference camera, will be replicated in the customer's unit being calibrated.

falconeyes
OP falconeyes Senior Member • Posts: 1,427
Re: Another wrinkle

Marianne Oelund wrote:

All excellent information - thanks for sharing with us!

thanks

Any AF errors in the reference camera, will be replicated in the customer's unit being calibrated.

Fascinating detail

In theory though, Nikon could use the method I describe in the blog to calibrate their reference If they do, they may even wish to make an AF fine tune change possible in the API again...

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rhlpetrus Forum Pro • Posts: 24,540
Re: Another wrinkle

Thanks to both, interesting and valuable info. Let's hope the D600's line has no such issue.
--
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ZAnton Contributing Member • Posts: 592
Thanks for a good article. n/t

no text

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Marcin 3M
Marcin 3M Senior Member • Posts: 1,545
Unbelievable!!! Didt't they send You to the page 100 ...

of Nikon manual?
Nor claimed that it's 78-th (or so) wrong target?

BTW, don't be surprised, if You will be asked here to proove Your identity.
It's new trend in D8oo AF disscussions.

Seriousely: thank for the info. It's important to me, as I have another faulty Nikon in my family. This time 800E.
--
Marcin_3M

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ne beginner Senior Member • Posts: 2,147
Great news, only wish we could hear the same in the US ...

.... Sending one in for repair is still like playing Russian Roulette: we have no idea which service centers are ready and able to to get it right. Nikon should give some serious consideration to the thousands of lost days many have experienced sending theirs in only to get them back worse or in need of additional work. I'm jusy a hobbyiest, so my time is my own; if I were a pro or amateur, where money and reputation is at stake, I'd not be so kind.

One more point: if this is such a small and negligible defect, and the repair is tedious and labor intensive, they should just swap them out vs. repair.

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stany buyle Senior Member • Posts: 1,957
Very similar info to....

falconeyes wrote:

...

  • 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 ...

  • The issue for affected D800 can be solved in selected Nikon service centers; such as Düsseldorf, Germany.

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

  • 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.

  • This method is believed to deliver an autofocus precision which

...
Falk

Very similar info to what an insider wrote on my forum on july 28th

http://www.nikonuser.info/fotoforum/viewtopic.php?f=33&t=1708&sid=cb8a1a484765c770f4b00d75d65b8dd9

and completed on August 8th...

http://www.nikonuser.info/fotoforum/viewtopic.php?f=33&t=1708&sid=cb8a1a484765c770f4b00d75d65b8dd9#p4743
--
Kindest regards.
Stany Buyle
http://www.nikonuser.info/fotoforum

I like better one good picture in a day than 10 bad ones in a second..

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Nikon D1
Slimoli Regular Member • Posts: 224
Re: Unbelievable!!! Didt't they send You to the page 100 ...

The claim that the problem has now been fixed at factory suggests new units will not be affected. If that's true, very soon we will know and the serial number will determine the pre and post AF issues. If that's not true and a month from now we continue to have reports about the same issue with brand new cameras...

orchidblooms
orchidblooms Senior Member • Posts: 1,258
Re: Photokina 2012: Nikon talks about the D800's outer AF issue

ok... thank you for this

i will now 'test' my 'e'...

i have no af nikon lenses...

i will have to get a loaner from the camera shop...

any thoughts on what nikon af lens i should be using to test this af issue?

huge thanks

RBFresno
RBFresno Forum Pro • Posts: 12,283
Best info I've seen about the D800's outer AF issue
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Andre Affleck Senior Member • Posts: 2,362
Re: Photokina 2012: Nikon talks about the D800's outer AF issue

falconeyes wrote:

  • The root cause is a misalignment of the AF module when mounted, outside of Nikon's own production tolerances.

I think many of us were suspicious of this since calibrating AF is normally very straight forward. You measure each AF deviation, then offset each register in the cameras ROM. Since technicians were unable to do this successfully, it meant the deviation was greater than the max value allowable.

This also explains how some cameras were returned with the left AF corrected, but with all the other AF points off . Once you hit the offset limit with the individual AF, you must use the Global offset to adjust further, which shifts all of the AF points.

Tim O'Connor
Tim O'Connor Veteran Member • Posts: 5,014
Shouldnt there be a recall?

If they are saying that, I would have expected a product recall.

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Marcin 3M
Marcin 3M Senior Member • Posts: 1,545
Re: Photokina 2012: Nikon talks about the D800's outer AF issue

14-24/2.8 @14 mm and 24/1.4
--
Marcin_3M

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MayaTlab0
MayaTlab0 Senior Member • Posts: 2,124
Re: Shouldnt there be a recall?

Tim O'Connor wrote:

If they are saying that, I would have expected a product recall.

-- hide signature --

Or at least, a public announcement.

Aurora0026 Forum Member • Posts: 52
Green cast?

Thank you for the information, very valuable. Did he said something about the green cast of the lcd and/or perhaps the image itself? That is also a very important issue which keeps some customers away from the D800.

Mike Gerstner Veteran Member • Posts: 3,982
Green cast?.... Curious about that also.

I'd be intersting to here Nikon's comments/fix for that particular "anomaly".

J Mankila
J Mankila Veteran Member • Posts: 4,234
Warm, wholehearted thank you for this info! :)

Thank you Falklumo. Thank you Nikon. I will actually sleep a bit better now.

-- hide signature --

regards
Janne Mankila, Finland

(unknown member) Veteran Member • Posts: 3,985
Re: Warm, wholehearted thank you for this info! :)

No response from Lennie yet?
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