D800 focusing issue. Part 2.

Today I got my camera back from Nikon’s service center in Vancouver, BC. They sent it back saying it’s within specifications. I set up another test environment with different target this time – star chart.

This was a second trip to the service center. After first trip my camera came back with improved focus when using left group of sensors (the problematic ones) but my center sensor became much, much worse – it does not focus properly now. And, apparently, center sensor should always be pretty much the best out of all of them.

See Part 1.

I used 2 lenses – 50 mm f/1.8 and 70-200 VRII f/2.8 to eliminate a possibility of a lens being the issue here – I have been using my 50mm 1.8 lens in my tests before. However, to my understanding, it is impossible for my 50mm lens to be out of specs here – my original tests before the camera was shipped to Nikon for the first time yielded results which do not show any issues with center or right sensors. So there is no way all of a sudden the lens started to misbehave when using center sensors.

Also I do not believe AF fine tune would help here since both left and right sensors are much different from center and fine tuning will either improve center at the expense of other sensors or make no difference in their relative performance.

When taking the photographs I used mirror-up to avoid any shake and flash to avoid any underexposure.

Here are the results for my 50mm lens (please make sure to have JavaScript enabled and if still don’t see anything – please refresh the page by pressing F5). If you hover over the images with your mouse you will see that there is a tiny vertical slider that you can move left and right to see an image focused using Live View (it is on the left, named “before”) and image focused using Phase Detect (it is on the right, named “after”).

1. 50mm, 1.8, left sensor. Relatively the same results.

a. Target resized:


b. Target cropped:


2. 50mm, 1.8, center sensor. Phase detect is unusable pretty much!

a. Target resized:


b. Target cropped:


3. 50mm, 1.8, right sensor. Relatively the same results.

a. Target resized:


b. Target cropped:


And now same target with another lens, 70-200mm VRII. If the issue with misfocus was due to a lens then another lens should yield different results. However it does not – center sensor focusing is still worse than left or right sensors. Due to aperture being slower than 50mm (2.8 vs 1.8) the softness is less pronounced but still clearly visible and affects picture quality.

4. 70-200mm @ 70mm, 2.8, left sensor. Relatively the same results.

a. Target resized:


b. Target cropped:


5. 70-200mm @ 70mm, 2.8, center sensor. Phase detect is considerably worse than any other PD results.

a. Target resized:


b. Target cropped (this is 70mm @ 2.8!!!):


6. 70-200mm @ 70mm, 2.8, right sensor. Relatively the same results.

a. Target resized:


b. Target cropped:


Based on these quite visible results I fail to understand as to why Nikon service representatives keep insisting that the camera operates within specifications. They also completely ignored my request to provide me with test images that they take to evaluate focus performance. As a matter of fact they have ignored many of my questions and requests. I don’t think people who paid for these malfunctioning cameras deserve to be treated like idiots and kept in the dark. I also am losing faith in Nikon’s ability to deliver anything seeing how they have been handling this situation.

If this is a very isolated incident (and based on number of reports online and the fact that Nikon apparently came up with a “fix” procedure I highly doubt that it is isolated) then it’s very easy for a such a big name like Nikon to take and replace those few defective units with a new ones. And if this is a serious issue affecting a lot of customers then the company should not pretend like nothing is happening and be willing to not only work with customers who bought units with a manufacturer defect but also be nice and responsive on this matter.

Thinking about my experience I have only few possible reasons for that:

  1. Nikon does not have proper procedure to fix the issue
  2. There are different kinds of problems with focus mechanism and only some cases can be fixed/adjusted while other – cannot
  3. Only few Nikon service centers are capable of fixing this
  4. Nikon doesn’t really care about this issue and tries to brush off as many customers as possible while doing something for those few who are either too well known and can cause damage or those who simply raise too many problems by contacting different offices and people.

So far I have not seen a single sign of Nikon’s remorse and desire to do a right thing. And this is very, very sad indeed.

To be continued…


  • Ching Meng

    Is your D800 AF left focusing issue solved by Nikon eventually?

    February 11, 2013
    • Alexander

      Hi Ching,

      Yes, after long debates and sending my camera in to a corporate office in Canada I received a replacement unit because my original one was beyond repair as I understand.

      February 18, 2013

Leave a comment


Email(will not be published)*


Your comment*

Submit Comment

© Copyright Alexander Yermakov. My life. - Designed by Pexeto