Nikon F4 and one AF point issues - any tips and tricks?

Started 5 months ago | Questions
aliksays Junior Member • Posts: 42
Nikon F4 and one AF point issues - any tips and tricks?

Hi, guys! 
I've been shooting with Nikon F4 for a while and smtms it really upsets me with its one point AF system
Considering that Nikon F4 AF is like a dinosaur type AF it still does not perform well. I heard about the AF issues but now they are bothering me a lot. 
The main issue I've faced with is focusing on the mid-infinity distance. I shoot mostly in 35-50 focus range and always trust this tiny green dot at the top right corner of the viewfinder. But I think it is not a good point to trust right now) 
Maybe, there are some good suggestions of how to improve the focus consistency on such an old good body as F4? Would highly appreciate any answer
Here are some samples where F4 fails to focus

no focus on horses head

no focus on the horses corps

ANSWER:
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neilt3
neilt3 Senior Member • Posts: 2,221
Re: Nikon F4 and one AF point issues - any tips and tricks?
1

Are you locking focus and recomposing ?

In which case the horses have probably moved .

Or , the part of the head near the centre if the frame has poor definition and the camera locked onto the grass easier .

Focusing on the horse's jaw and recomposing , if it doesn't move , might be best .

Manual focus might be best sometimes with slower focussing , single AF point cameras .

.

Or are you focussing in the frame as shown ?

In which case the AF point isn't on the horse anyway , it's on the tree  .

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jaeae Regular Member • Posts: 257
Re: Nikon F4 and one AF point issues - any tips and tricks?

I would not be surprised that such old camera is a bit off. That AF is most likely adjustable, you could send it in service

1. That horse's head might also have movement blur

2. Pic, the camera has focused to infinity probably

Try to examine what direction the AF is off and you might be able to compensate. Does it always focus a bit further away than you intend to? You could compare focusing manually and then try what AF thinks. Look at focus scale on lens.

Also shooting stopped down to f8 - f16 as much as possible would mask many misfocus issues

OP aliksays Junior Member • Posts: 42
Re: Nikon F4 and one AF point issues - any tips and tricks?

thank you for a reply) 
I played arounf a bit with it and can confirm that it would focus on a point where the light is probably better. So I think that it is better to follow your advice just to manually focus when the object is poorly lightened. Otherwise this old styled 1 point AF will seek for a better light)

elmo Senior Member • Posts: 2,934
Re: Nikon F4 and one AF point issues - any tips and tricks?

I can't see for sure that the focus is not working. I'm unfamiliar with the F4, but, it could relate to how big the focusing point really is (not even how it LOOKs in the viewfinder). If focusing in the center of each shot, I would expect focus to be in the grass instead of the horse. With the no-contrast tree in the second shot, I would expect the focus to be poor, UNLESS the focus point is so huge that it would overlap edges of the tree, and, even then, it might be a matter of luck whether the tree edge or the background was used.

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neilt3
neilt3 Senior Member • Posts: 2,221
Re: Nikon F4 and one AF point issues - any tips and tricks?
3

elmo wrote:

I can't see for sure that the focus is not working. I'm unfamiliar with the F4, but, it could relate to how big the focusing point really is (not even how it LOOKs in the viewfinder). If focusing in the center of each shot, I would expect focus to be in the grass instead of the horse. With the no-contrast tree in the second shot, I would expect the focus to be poor, UNLESS the focus point is so huge that it would overlap edges of the tree, and, even then, it might be a matter of luck whether the tree edge or the background was used.

I've had the Nikon F4 for a number of years , as well as other early AF cameras , Nikon , Minolta and Canon  .

The single point AF modules all work very similar .

To me it looks like user error , but unless the O.P answers the questions I asked , it's impossible to help him further .

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OP aliksays Junior Member • Posts: 42
Re: Nikon F4 and one AF point issues - any tips and tricks?

Hi there!

Thank you for your questions

I believe, you are right.

The camera is focusing better on a point where the light is better. Smtms I think that it is slightly focusing to the infinity direction. This is what I can see right now in my viewfinder.. but ,and it worth mentioning, yesterday I realized that I have the dioptric correction broken..

I do not have any eyes issues but maybe my eyes lie to me because the correction is broken. There is no blur. But I think that it might have some impact on what I see in a viewfinder and what the focus confirmation gives me back.

I was not really familiar with 1 point AF before this Nikon. I got f65 previously. But is it always like this for 1 point AF cameras? They do need really good contrast in order to focus?

Besides that, I had really good examples from this camera and the focus is on its place. I was just confused that it focused so badly on some low contrast objects

Overrank
Overrank Senior Member • Posts: 3,099
Re: Nikon F4 and one AF point issues - any tips and tricks?

, aliksays wrote:

Hi there!

Thank you for your questions

I believe, you are right.

The camera is focusing better on a point where the light is better. Smtms I think that it is slightly focusing to the infinity direction. This is what I can see right now in my viewfinder.. but ,and it worth mentioning, yesterday I realized that I have the dioptric correction broken..

I do not have any eyes issues but maybe my eyes lie to me because the correction is broken. There is no blur. But I think that it might have some impact on what I see in a viewfinder and what the focus confirmation gives me back.

I was not really familiar with 1 point AF before this Nikon. I got f65 previously. But is it always like this for 1 point AF cameras? They do need really good contrast in order to focus?

Besides that, I had really good examples from this camera and the focus is on its place. I was just confused that it focused so badly on some low contrast objects

I've not found the focus accuracy any different between the F4 and the F5, but the focussing speed of the F4 is much slower than the F5, particularly for screw drive lenses, so you sometimes have to give it time to settle.

In low light you're obviously going to be using a slower shutter speed or fully open aperature, so you've got camera shake, subject movement and a tiny depth of field.

Nikon F4 + 28-85mm f/3.5 - 4.5 AF, Kodak P3200

Nikon F4 + 28-85mm f/3.5 - 4.5 AF, Kodak P3200

Gesture Veteran Member • Posts: 9,020
Re: Nikon F4 and one AF point issues - any tips and tricks?
1

I would try some handheld exposures in good light with high enough shutter speed with MANUAL focus first.  May help narrow down the issue.

Good luck.

Smaug01
Smaug01 Veteran Member • Posts: 5,936
Re: Nikon F4 and one AF point issues - any tips and tricks?

aliksays wrote:

Hi, guys!
I've been shooting with Nikon F4 for a while and smtms it really upsets me with its one point AF system
Considering that Nikon F4 AF is like a dinosaur type AF it still does not perform well. I heard about the AF issues but now they are bothering me a lot.
The main issue I've faced with is focusing on the mid-infinity distance. I shoot mostly in 35-50 focus range and always trust this tiny green dot at the top right corner of the viewfinder. But I think it is not a good point to trust right now)
Maybe, there are some good suggestions of how to improve the focus consistency on such an old good body as F4? Would highly appreciate any answer
Here are some samples where F4 fails to focus

no focus on horses head

The horse moved. Note that the grass at the same distance as his head is sharply focused, and also his knee...

no focus on the horses corps

I don't know what a corp is, but I guess you mean the rear end. This whole image seems to be soft, I think caused by camera shake.

I think what you're running into here is a having to stay with one ISO instead of letting it float high enough to freeze action, as we might do with digital.

The F4 does have old AF technology, but it works fine if you know how to use it. It needs contrast or vertical detail in the sensor to lock on. Then, re-compose if necessary. It rarely fails, for me, but I came up in the era of this AF technology.

It seems like you're expecting state-of-the-art digital focusing, but from a film camera designed in 1987...

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