D800 Firmware Update Focus Improvement!

Started Apr 2, 2013 | Discussions
m_appeal Veteran Member • Posts: 3,434
Another example of misfocus

Focus point was clearly positioned on the eyebrow, yet the camera chose to on the eyeglasses...

m_appeal Veteran Member • Posts: 3,434
Re: Personally, I find that there is still way too much hunting

Just a Photographer wrote:

m_appeal wrote:

even with the firmware update when I'm shooting portraits at f1.4/f1.8 too many OOF shots... tried a few fast primes wide open (85 1.8 G, Sigma 35 1.4). Could be user error of course, but I don't think so.

Who shoots portraits at f1.4? Not very commonly used IMO as the DOF is often much too shallow to get the eye and nose both correctly in focus. Or contrast detection AF might find that hairline/face is a better choice over the eye. 
I think you make common mistakes by not knowing how contrast detection of the AF system works. Try using 1.8 to 2.2. with your primes. I do that most of the times and I'll do it for good reasons...

Not only 1.4 is often too shallow for good focussed portraits, but also you'll have much more chance of any fringing. Sharpness is never 100% wide open therefore prefer taking portraits a little stopped down from wide. And yes I do only use quality primes .

I don't like to shoot at f1.4, however if the light is crummy, you need it to maintain higher shutter speeds.

Fayard Regular Member • Posts: 127
Re: D800 Firmware Update Focus Improvement!
1

You guys should stop smoking. I think I have one of the best database for AF Fine Tune for my lenses and my D800. I have measured the optimal fine tune back and forth for different kind of lights and the different AF sensors. I have upgraded the firmware tonight and checked again the optimal AF Fine Tune I've measured before. *This new firmware does not change anything* as far as the precision of the AF on static subject is concerned. Anyway, the precision is way enough for me.

There is no way any firmware update is going to automatically measure the position of your secondary mirror, and the alignment of the AF module.

For autofocus tracking, I trust Nikon. But if your D800 AF precision on static subject improved overnight, I really think it is a placebo effect.

PS: Here is my database, just to show you that I've measured a lot of things (x/y/z is far left AF/ center AF/ far right AF). Everything has been done at 30x the focal length.

105mm f2.8

Cold light: -10 / -10 / -10

Warm light: -15 / -10 / -17

Used in D800: -13

35mm f1.4

Cold light: -3 / +2 / -3

Warm light: +5 / +10 / +5

Used in D800: +3

85mm f1.8

Cold light: +7 / +2 / +5

Warm light: +2 / +10 / +2

Used in D800: +6

70-200mm f4 @200mm

Cold light: 0 / +6 / 0

Warm light: -5 / 0 / -5

70-200mm f4 @70mm

Cold light: +10 / +8 / +10

Warm light: +8 / +8 / +8

Used in D800: +3

GroWeb Regular Member • Posts: 152
Re: Another example of misfocus
1

m_appeal wrote:

Focus point was clearly positioned on the eyebrow, yet the camera chose to on the eyeglasses...

Did you take these shots in AF-C rather than AF-S focusing mode? Some people -- myself included -- have found in AF-C (even in single point mode, and definitely in a dynamic area mode), that if the camera does not find the target under the selected AF sensor to be sufficiently contrasty, and perceives that there is a better, more contrasty target under a neighbouring focus sensor, it will use that sensor rather than the one you selected.

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m_appeal Veteran Member • Posts: 3,434
Re: Another example of misfocus

GroWeb wrote:

m_appeal wrote:

Focus point was clearly positioned on the eyebrow, yet the camera chose to on the eyeglasses...

Did you take these shots in AF-C rather than AF-S focusing mode? Some people -- myself included -- have found in AF-C (even in single point mode, and definitely in a dynamic area mode), that if the camera does not find the target under the selected AF sensor to be sufficiently contrasty, and perceives that there is a better, more contrasty target under a neighbouring focus sensor, it will use that sensor rather than the one you selected.

Yep. It was taken in AF-C. Arent you supposed to use AF-c to compensate for movement? The point is - it's not accurate.

Shotcents
OP Shotcents Veteran Member • Posts: 4,472
Re: D800 Firmware Update Focus Improvement!
3

Fayard wrote:

You guys should stop smoking. I think I have one of the best database for AF Fine Tune for my lenses and my D800. I have measured the optimal fine tune back and forth for different kind of lights and the different AF sensors. I have upgraded the firmware tonight and checked again the optimal AF Fine Tune I've measured before. *This new firmware does not change anything* as far as the precision of the AF on static subject is concerned. Anyway, the precision is way enough for me.

There is no way any firmware update is going to automatically measure the position of your secondary mirror, and the alignment of the AF module.

For autofocus tracking, I trust Nikon. But if your D800 AF precision on static subject improved overnight, I really think it is a placebo effect.

Under AF-C when ON A TRIPOD the AF-C light would do a dance on many types of subjects in less than ideal light.

After the update, the flickering dance is over. The camera locks and the light is fairly steady, ALWAYS. Clearly something has changed.

Under AF-S handheld my D800 was quite unpredictable using the 50mm and 85mm primes. Even simple shots with a clear focus point would result in mis-focus quite often.

After the update the camera is now behaving like my D700, even locking on low-contrast subjects such as a child's cheek.

I observed this PRIOR to hearing about any improvement in the AF, so it's a little late to think it was a placebo effect. I had NO expectation for an AF improvement.

This morning my buddy shot at our dock with his D800 and 35mm 1.4, a combo that was giving him fits. He had a nearly perfect focus result over hundreds of shots; something the D800 was never capable of before.

I don't know what to tell you. All of my lenses AF tune settings are the same. But the back/front focusing has stopped.

Cheers,

Robert

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Shotcents
OP Shotcents Veteran Member • Posts: 4,472
Re: D800 Firmware Update Focus Improvement!

Fayard wrote:

You guys should stop smoking. I think I have one of the best database for AF Fine Tune for my lenses and my D800. I have measured the optimal fine tune back and forth for different kind of lights and the different AF sensors. I have upgraded the firmware tonight and checked again the optimal AF Fine Tune I've measured before. *This new firmware does not change anything* as far as the precision of the AF on static subject is concerned. Anyway, the precision is way enough for me.

And just a friendly point of logic here: If the AF system was "way enough for you" how would you perceive any improvement?

Robert

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Fayard Regular Member • Posts: 127
Re: D800 Firmware Update Focus Improvement!

And just a friendly point of logic here: If the AF system was "way enough for you" how would you perceive any improvement?

I have a tool such as LensAlign. It is extremely accurate to measure the optimal AF Fine Tune for the different AF sensors and the different lights. The results are posted just above. The optimal AF Fine Tune is the value that will place the target in the middle of the depth of field and only a slanted ruler can do that precisely (checking the sharpness of the target is not enough). As you can see, the optimal results depend upon the color of light and the AF sensor. The numbers might look impressive, but the truth is that if you choose an intermediate value, everything will look fine.

I have checked and all these values haven't moved at all.

As far as AF-C focus is concern, I have no problem understanding that Nikon can improve its algorithms in a new firmware. Less hunting is therefore something one should expect as Nikon claims they improved it.

I don't have your camera and your lenses and I can't tell for sure. But my guess is that the placebo effect is really high for those finding differences in autofocus precision for *static* subjects.

fad
fad Forum Pro • Posts: 16,616
Re: D800 Firmware Update Focus Improvement!

AZBlue wrote:

fad wrote:

Primeshooter has a point.

It costs us because, since we don't know what's in the upgrade, we have to install it just in case, even if we might not think it will benefit us.

I don't see the problem. Anyone?

A friend just told me that he would not do the firmware upgrade for his D3s.   But how can he know that there is nothing there that would help him?   Since many upgrades are undocumented he's actually taking a risk.

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Shotcents
OP Shotcents Veteran Member • Posts: 4,472
Re: D800 Firmware Update Focus Improvement!
5

I don't have your camera and your lenses and I can't tell for sure. But my guess is that the placebo effect is really high for those finding differences in autofocus precision for *static* subjects.

Fair enough. My ONLY test for static subjects was with some sculptures that used to make the AF-C light flicker. Now it's steady.

But shooting people was a REAL problem. A mix of tungsten and window light resulted in common back or front focus. Now I have NONE. And I do mean none at all. I'm getting close to 100% AF hit ratio even in poor light using AF-S.

Naturally all of our cameras have subtle differences and the firmwares effect may indeed be different. But I don't think my friends and I have doubled our success rate overnight due to a placebo effect.

My D800 was an AF dog after the D3 and D700. It hunted and even worse, locked and then STILL missed, even on static stuff. For the first time I was nervous about shooting glass wide open. I had NO trouble getting great AF results with a 5DIII and 3Dx by the way.

Anyway....I'm really happy. My friend says he's ready to try the D800 for wedding work after the upgrade (he had stopped using it due to missing a 3rd of his shots and he's been at this for 30 years).

That's some placebo.

Robert

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AZBlue
AZBlue Senior Member • Posts: 1,754
Re: D800 Firmware Update Focus Improvement!

fad wrote:
A friend just told me that he would not do the firmware upgrade for his D3s.   But how can he know that there is nothing there that would help him?   Since many upgrades are undocumented he's actually taking a risk.

I don't understand. What would keep your friend from updating his firmware? Whether or not he has an issue that appears in the firmware update notes is immaterial. You always want to upgrade to the latest firmware. Only a tiny fraction of what's actually fixed gets mentioned. Your friend is doing him/herself a disservice, but that's their option.

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michaeladawson Forum Pro • Posts: 12,520
Re: Another example of misfocus

m_appeal wrote:

GroWeb wrote:

m_appeal wrote:

Focus point was clearly positioned on the eyebrow, yet the camera chose to on the eyeglasses...

Did you take these shots in AF-C rather than AF-S focusing mode? Some people -- myself included -- have found in AF-C (even in single point mode, and definitely in a dynamic area mode), that if the camera does not find the target under the selected AF sensor to be sufficiently contrasty, and perceives that there is a better, more contrasty target under a neighbouring focus sensor, it will use that sensor rather than the one you selected.

Yep. It was taken in AF-C. Arent you supposed to use AF-c to compensate for movement? The point is - it's not accurate.

But perhaps working exactly as designed.  That's the point.  If the camera decided that the eyeglass frame was a better target it may have chosen it instead.  Is the eyeglass frame in perfect focus?  If the camera's logic as programmed was to shift focus to the eyeglass frame and it achieved perfect focus on that target then the AF system is working perfectly.

Having said that, I'm not sure that the camera did shift focus to the eyeglass frame.  Where did the red square come from?  Is that from the image viewer reading the focus point in the EXIF?  Or did you draw it in?  In my experience, when the camera decides to change focus points to an adjacent point it will also move the red square to show what AF point was actually used (not what point was selected by the user).  So in your case it would seem that the AF point stayed on the eye and eyelid and the camera missed focus.  But I'm not positive on how your image viewer works.

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Mike Dawson

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m_appeal Veteran Member • Posts: 3,434
Re: Another example of misfocus

michaeladawson wrote:

m_appeal wrote:

GroWeb wrote:

m_appeal wrote:

Focus point was clearly positioned on the eyebrow, yet the camera chose to on the eyeglasses...

Did you take these shots in AF-C rather than AF-S focusing mode? Some people -- myself included -- have found in AF-C (even in single point mode, and definitely in a dynamic area mode), that if the camera does not find the target under the selected AF sensor to be sufficiently contrasty, and perceives that there is a better, more contrasty target under a neighbouring focus sensor, it will use that sensor rather than the one you selected.

Yep. It was taken in AF-C. Arent you supposed to use AF-c to compensate for movement? The point is - it's not accurate.

But perhaps working exactly as designed.  That's the point.  If the camera decided that the eyeglass frame was a better target it may have chosen it instead.  Is the eyeglass frame in perfect focus?  If the camera's logic as programmed was to shift focus to the eyeglass frame and it achieved perfect focus on that target then the AF system is working perfectly.

??? So basically it's useless to select a focus point because a camera will pick something else to focus on? That's working as expected?

Having said that, I'm not sure that the camera did shift focus to the eyeglass frame.  Where did the red square come from?  Is that from the image viewer reading the focus point in the EXIF?  Or did you draw it in?  In my experience, when the camera decides to change focus points to an adjacent point it will also move the red square to show what AF point was actually used (not what point was selected by the user).  So in your case it would seem that the AF point stayed on the eye and eyelid and the camera missed focus.  But I'm not positive on how your image viewer works.

It comes from View NX (Nikon software) and shows the point that was used for focusing. I certainly didn't draw the red square in. I'm using SINGLE point Af-c, so the camera should not switch focus to another point.

michaeladawson Forum Pro • Posts: 12,520
Re: Another example of misfocus

m_appeal wrote:

michaeladawson wrote:

m_appeal wrote:

GroWeb wrote:

m_appeal wrote:

Focus point was clearly positioned on the eyebrow, yet the camera chose to on the eyeglasses...

Did you take these shots in AF-C rather than AF-S focusing mode? Some people -- myself included -- have found in AF-C (even in single point mode, and definitely in a dynamic area mode), that if the camera does not find the target under the selected AF sensor to be sufficiently contrasty, and perceives that there is a better, more contrasty target under a neighbouring focus sensor, it will use that sensor rather than the one you selected.

Yep. It was taken in AF-C. Arent you supposed to use AF-c to compensate for movement? The point is - it's not accurate.

But perhaps working exactly as designed.  That's the point.  If the camera decided that the eyeglass frame was a better target it may have chosen it instead.  Is the eyeglass frame in perfect focus?  If the camera's logic as programmed was to shift focus to the eyeglass frame and it achieved perfect focus on that target then the AF system is working perfectly.

??? So basically it's useless to select a focus point because a camera will pick something else to focus on? That's working as expected?

What you or I might expect has no relationship at all to how a software programmer or designer may have specified.  I totally see where you would say it is not "working as expected".  But it may be working as designed, regardless of what you may think of that design.

Having said that, I'm not sure that the camera did shift focus to the eyeglass frame.  Where did the red square come from?  Is that from the image viewer reading the focus point in the EXIF?  Or did you draw it in?  In my experience, when the camera decides to change focus points to an adjacent point it will also move the red square to show what AF point was actually used (not what point was selected by the user).  So in your case it would seem that the AF point stayed on the eye and eyelid and the camera missed focus.  But I'm not positive on how your image viewer works.

It comes from View NX (Nikon software) and shows the point that was used for focusing. I certainly didn't draw the red square in. I'm using SINGLE point Af-c, so the camera should not switch focus to another point.

I assumed you didn't draw it in, but had to ask.  All I can say here is that if you use AF-C with 9 or more points the camera DEFINITELY will chose one of the adjacent focus points if it does not like the contrast under the user selected AF point.  You can easily test this yourself with a featureless wall with some high contract object close by.  If the AF spot is on the featureless wall and the high contrast object is underneath one of the 9, 21, or 51 points the focus will shift to that point.  Is this expected behavior.  Too many it is not.  But it is in fact how the camera AF system is designed.

Now you say you used SINGLE point AF-C.  I would agree with you that the focus point should not shift (although others debate this) in this case.  In fact, View NX is confirming this by showing the red AF box over the eyelid.  So  I would agree that your camera appears to be mis-focusing.

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Mike Dawson

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m_appeal Veteran Member • Posts: 3,434
Re: Another example of misfocus

michaeladawson wrote:

m_appeal wrote:

michaeladawson wrote:

m_appeal wrote:

GroWeb wrote:

m_appeal wrote:

Focus point was clearly positioned on the eyebrow, yet the camera chose to on the eyeglasses...

Did you take these shots in AF-C rather than AF-S focusing mode? Some people -- myself included -- have found in AF-C (even in single point mode, and definitely in a dynamic area mode), that if the camera does not find the target under the selected AF sensor to be sufficiently contrasty, and perceives that there is a better, more contrasty target under a neighbouring focus sensor, it will use that sensor rather than the one you selected.

Yep. It was taken in AF-C. Arent you supposed to use AF-c to compensate for movement? The point is - it's not accurate.

But perhaps working exactly as designed.  That's the point.  If the camera decided that the eyeglass frame was a better target it may have chosen it instead.  Is the eyeglass frame in perfect focus?  If the camera's logic as programmed was to shift focus to the eyeglass frame and it achieved perfect focus on that target then the AF system is working perfectly.

??? So basically it's useless to select a focus point because a camera will pick something else to focus on? That's working as expected?

What you or I might expect has no relationship at all to how a software programmer or designer may have specified.  I totally see where you would say it is not "working as expected".  But it may be working as designed, regardless of what you may think of that design.

Having said that, I'm not sure that the camera did shift focus to the eyeglass frame.  Where did the red square come from?  Is that from the image viewer reading the focus point in the EXIF?  Or did you draw it in?  In my experience, when the camera decides to change focus points to an adjacent point it will also move the red square to show what AF point was actually used (not what point was selected by the user).  So in your case it would seem that the AF point stayed on the eye and eyelid and the camera missed focus.  But I'm not positive on how your image viewer works.

It comes from View NX (Nikon software) and shows the point that was used for focusing. I certainly didn't draw the red square in. I'm using SINGLE point Af-c, so the camera should not switch focus to another point.

I assumed you didn't draw it in, but had to ask.  All I can say here is that if you use AF-C with 9 or more points the camera DEFINITELY will chose one of the adjacent focus points if it does not like the contrast under the user selected AF point.  You can easily test this yourself with a featureless wall with some high contract object close by.  If the AF spot is on the featureless wall and the high contrast object is underneath one of the 9, 21, or 51 points the focus will shift to that point.  Is this expected behavior.  Too many it is not.  But it is in fact how the camera AF system is designed.

Now you say you used SINGLE point AF-C.  I would agree with you that the focus point should not shift (although others debate this) in this case.  In fact, View NX is confirming this by showing the red AF box over the eyelid.  So  I would agree that your camera appears to be mis-focusing.

That's exactly why I'm using single point and not 9 points. I don't know if I should send it in to Nikon to have a look at or if it's within spec. I don't think these results are acceptable though.

fad
fad Forum Pro • Posts: 16,616
Re: D800 Firmware Update Focus Improvement!
1

AZBlue wrote:

fad wrote:
A friend just told me that he would not do the firmware upgrade for his D3s.   But how can he know that there is nothing there that would help him?   Since many upgrades are undocumented he's actually taking a risk.

I don't understand. What would keep your friend from updating his firmware? Whether or not he has an issue that appears in the firmware update notes is immaterial. You always want to upgrade to the latest firmware. Only a tiny fraction of what's actually fixed gets mentioned. Your friend is doing him/herself a disservice, but that's their option.

Yes, but it's also perfectly reasonable not to update firmware if none of the changes are relevant to you.  An accurate list of all the changes would make that option less of a guess.

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Robin Casady Forum Pro • Posts: 12,898
Re: Another example of misfocus

m_appeal wrote:

michaeladawson wrote:

m_appeal wrote:

It comes from View NX (Nikon software) and shows the point that was used for focusing. I certainly didn't draw the red square in. I'm using SINGLE point Af-c, so the camera should not switch focus to another point.

I assumed you didn't draw it in, but had to ask.  All I can say here is that if you use AF-C with 9 or more points the camera DEFINITELY will chose one of the adjacent focus points if it does not like the contrast under the user selected AF point.  You can easily test this yourself with a featureless wall with some high contract object close by.  If the AF spot is on the featureless wall and the high contrast object is underneath one of the 9, 21, or 51 points the focus will shift to that point.  Is this expected behavior.  Too many it is not.  But it is in fact how the camera AF system is designed.

Now you say you used SINGLE point AF-C.  I would agree with you that the focus point should not shift (although others debate this) in this case.  In fact, View NX is confirming this by showing the red AF box over the eyelid.  So  I would agree that your camera appears to be mis-focusing.

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Mike Dawson

That's exactly why I'm using single point and not 9 points. I don't know if I should send it in to Nikon to have a look at or if it's within spec. I don't think these results are acceptable though.

The alignment between where the AF point is and where the camera displays it may not be perfectly accurate. They have been known to be off in the past. You might want to try a few setups to see if you can identify exactly where the point is. It would be useful to know whether it is always offset by the same amount, or jumps around with different subjects. Use similar subject distances to keep from adding another variable to the test.

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Just a Photographer Senior Member • Posts: 1,368
Re: Another example of misfocus

m_appeal wrote:

michaeladawson wrote:

m_appeal wrote:

michaeladawson wrote:

m_appeal wrote:

GroWeb wrote:

m_appeal wrote:

Focus point was clearly positioned on the eyebrow, yet the camera chose to on the eyeglasses...

Did you take these shots in AF-C rather than AF-S focusing mode? Some people -- myself included -- have found in AF-C (even in single point mode, and definitely in a dynamic area mode), that if the camera does not find the target under the selected AF sensor to be sufficiently contrasty, and perceives that there is a better, more contrasty target under a neighbouring focus sensor, it will use that sensor rather than the one you selected.

Yep. It was taken in AF-C. Arent you supposed to use AF-c to compensate for movement? The point is - it's not accurate.

But perhaps working exactly as designed.  That's the point.  If the camera decided that the eyeglass frame was a better target it may have chosen it instead.  Is the eyeglass frame in perfect focus?  If the camera's logic as programmed was to shift focus to the eyeglass frame and it achieved perfect focus on that target then the AF system is working perfectly.

??? So basically it's useless to select a focus point because a camera will pick something else to focus on? That's working as expected?

What you or I might expect has no relationship at all to how a software programmer or designer may have specified.  I totally see where you would say it is not "working as expected".  But it may be working as designed, regardless of what you may think of that design.

Having said that, I'm not sure that the camera did shift focus to the eyeglass frame.  Where did the red square come from?  Is that from the image viewer reading the focus point in the EXIF?  Or did you draw it in?  In my experience, when the camera decides to change focus points to an adjacent point it will also move the red square to show what AF point was actually used (not what point was selected by the user).  So in your case it would seem that the AF point stayed on the eye and eyelid and the camera missed focus.  But I'm not positive on how your image viewer works.

It comes from View NX (Nikon software) and shows the point that was used for focusing. I certainly didn't draw the red square in. I'm using SINGLE point Af-c, so the camera should not switch focus to another point.

I assumed you didn't draw it in, but had to ask.  All I can say here is that if you use AF-C with 9 or more points the camera DEFINITELY will chose one of the adjacent focus points if it does not like the contrast under the user selected AF point.  You can easily test this yourself with a featureless wall with some high contract object close by.  If the AF spot is on the featureless wall and the high contrast object is underneath one of the 9, 21, or 51 points the focus will shift to that point.  Is this expected behavior.  Too many it is not.  But it is in fact how the camera AF system is designed.

Now you say you used SINGLE point AF-C.  I would agree with you that the focus point should not shift (although others debate this) in this case.  In fact, View NX is confirming this by showing the red AF box over the eyelid.  So  I would agree that your camera appears to be mis-focusing.

That's exactly why I'm using single point and not 9 points. I don't know if I should send it in to Nikon to have a look at or if it's within spec. I don't think these results are acceptable though.

First try AF-S instead of AF-C and see if the problem still persist, then try AF micro adjustments as this problem might be related to your lens not your camera. And only if that doesn't work for you, then you should contact Nikon. Instead of blaming Nikon immediately.

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voider Veteran Member • Posts: 3,006
AF-C is perfect now but AF-S is still not perfect

Hi,

I also updated my camera and my 35 1.4G was delivering mostly unsharp pictures with D800e. My camera was twice at Nikon and also some of my lenses. They always claimed to improve stuff and it got better but never great. I was seriously considering to sell my 35 1.4g and some other lenses.

AF-C delivers now tack sharp pictures everytime. I will use only AF-C from now on. When focusing on a static subject I have perfect sharpness with AFC and only good sharpness with AF-S on my tests. AF-C works also great under difficult lighting.

My theory: The camera is not able to find the perfect focus in a very short time as with D700/D3 on AFS Modus and tries to get as close to perfect as possible but fails. With AF-C the camera has more time to find the perfect focus and succeeds with the new firmware update.

Cheers,

Timur

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DonSantos Senior Member • Posts: 1,145
Re: D800 Firmware Update Focus Improvement!

It might be a placebo but I felt a "ka chunk" when I used the af after the firmware upgrade.  It used to do "er ek erk erk" then lock.  Now it's a very confident "ka chunk".

By the way like the other guys here I have different fine tune requirements depending on light.

In daylight my sigma 35mm 1.4 need -12.  In tungsten it needs -20

In daylight my 85mm 1.8 needs -7.  In tungsten it need -12

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Fujifilm X100S Nikon D600 Sony a7 Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM Art Nikon 85mm F1.8G +3 more
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