Nikon D800 – Caviar, Sardines, or…Spam?

After reading slews of posts by others that received their D800s, I finally received my camera from B&H last week. I have to admit that my initial enthusiasm was a bit tempered by the many reports of the D800 having autofocus issues. I began to wonder, “Just what am I getting – a good D800 or a bad D800?” (think Wizard Of Oz…). Or perhaps more appropriately, did my camera fall into the Caviar, Sardines, or Spam category?


Here’s how I defined each, based on reports from those around the internet that have received this much lauded DSLR:
Caviar – Working perfectly, no autofocus issues
Sardines – Sharp center and right focus points, but the left bank of focus points noticeable out of focus and showing high chromatic aberrations
Spam – All autofocus points out of focus, even the center, with no amount of lens adjustments able to resolve the issue

Unfortunately, I happened to get the Sardine version of the D800. Sigh…

Unlike other DSLRs, lenses, and photography items I have purchased, the D800 didn’t have me racing out the door at the crack of dawn and spending an entire day putting it to work in real life situations. With the cloud of having a potentially defective autofocus system, I instead started scouring the internet for testing strategies that could confirm whether my camera had the issue, and what was the extent of it. Nasim and I also discussed the best-of-breed techniques, which made their way into his recent post regarding “How To Quickly Test Your DSLR for Autofocus Issues.”

1) Lens Calibration

As soon as I knew my D800 was on its way, I got a LensAlign lens calibration unit from B&H. This is a compact device that is well-designed and extremely easy to use. I found that each of my lenses needed some minor adjustments. The truth is that I would never have noticed that such adjustments were warranted without the LensAlign unit. After seeing the sharpness improvement I was able to achieve relatively quickly, I can’t recommend the LensAlign unit enough. The other benefit is that it allows you to objectively confirm that your brand new shiny lens is working properly. Without such a test, you may “feel” a given lens is / is not up to snuff, but you can’t be certain. Photographers spend quite a bit of money on their hobby/profession. I urge everyone to a few extra dollars to ensure that their equipment is working properly and you are getting your money’s worth. We will post a review of the LensAlign product in the near future, but for now, check out the detailed Lens Calibration article by Nasim.

2) Environment

I created a test chart after downloading a Siemen’s Star from the internet and making a few modifications to it in Photoshop (you can download a copy here). I pasted the stars to piece of foam board on which I had taped a piece of graph paper. The graph paper helped with the alignment of the stars. The left and right stars were placed 13 inches from the center star, enabling me to completely cover the autofocus point with the star. I had a few post-it notes handy to label each shot so I could clearly identify the specific test scenario when I reviewed the image in Lightroom. I had L, C, R, AF (autofocus), and LV (Live View). This might seem to be overkill, but putting these post-it notes on each image helped me identify exactly what was tested in each photo.

Lightroom doesn’t store the focus point associated with each image, so without an aid such as a post-it note (or notebook identifying each shot), thus it is difficult quickly identify your focus point and whether you were using Live View or focusing through the viewfinder. I took 3 shots per combination of focal points and focus mechanism (Live View or autofocus through the viewfinder).


Here’s a photo of my test environment. I had two small floodlights aimed a the test target that enabled me to shoot at shutter speeds between 1/640 and 1/3200 at ISO 100.


I then tested the following lenses, making sure that I racked (defocused) the lens after each shot and kept the environment consistent for all tests. I only moved the tripod backward or forward to keep the chart’s stars in alignment with the autofocus points.

Nikon AF-S 28mm f/1.8G
Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.4G
Nikon AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8 ED
Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8G
Sigma 85mm 1.4 EX DG HSM
Sigma 15mm 2.8 EX DG Fisheye

3) Results – Uh-Oh…

As you can see from the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 results below, the left autofocus point did poorly compared to the center and the right. Some falloff in sharpness and higher chromatic aberrations are to be expected as you move toward the corners of the lens. But the left focus point clearly has more issues than the right. Live View was able to capture a much sharper image relying on the same left focal point. Live View should provide a bit sharper image than relying on the autofocus points through the viewfinder, but the results shouldn’t be drastically different. And autofocus should be relatively consistent on both the far right and the far left.


The other lenses showed similar results, with all turning in worse results than those of the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8. The Sigma 85mm 1.4 shows some blurriness and chromatic aberration on the right side, but much more on the left. You can still read some of the numbers and letters on the right side. The left side is unreadable.


4) So Now What?

I had the opportunity to send the D800 back to B&H for no charge, but after reading enough blogs regarding the potential number of cameras with this issue, I realized that it might be some time before I saw another D800, and the new unit could suffer from the same issue. Thus I bit the bullet and sent it back to Nikon. I wish I could say that I got warm fuzzies from my communications with Nikon’s Customer Service staff via the phone or email exchanges on “My Nikon,” regarding this issue, but I didn’t. I sent multiple links explaining the issue and seeking some confirmation that this problem was understood and solvable, but alas, the only response I received was essentially, “Send the camera to our repair center.” The Nikon staff was courteous and empathetic, but failed to offer much in the way of any meaningful discussion of this issue. Perhaps the support representatives and managers have been told not to say much to customers in regards to the D800 autofocus concerns. It sure would have made me feel a bit better if I heard something such as:

“Sorry to hear that you have encountered an issue with your camera. Have you followed the Nikon D800 Auto Focus Test Procedure (one might think there is one, huh?) to verify the problem? Yes ? Good. We want to assure you that we understand that some of the early D800 models indeed have an issue with the autofocus system. It would be helpful if you could send some of your test images on an SD card or via the My Nikon website. The good news is that Nikon technicians have developed a technique for quickly analyzing and resolving this issue. The staff in our Service Center has been trained in this technique. Rest assured, we will have your D800 back to you as soon as we possibly can and you will see that your D800 focuses with the pinpoint accuracy it was intended to have. And to show our appreciation for your business and to help ease the trouble of having to ship your brand new D800 back for repair, we are offering you a $75 coupon toward your next Nikon lens.”

Alas, I can dream… Am I upset? Absolutely. With all the hype, the awards, and reviews of the D800, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed when putting this gem back in the box and dropping it off at the UPS Store. During the 8 days I spent with my D800, I was pretty impressed. But I would much rather have been busy taking pictures of some stunning landscapes, writing some interesting article regarding, “How My D800 Conquered The Canadian Rockies,” or showcasing my latest D800 photo that won Digital Camera Magazine’s Photographer of the Year contest. Instead, I discovered the joy of taking test images… over… and over… and over… again.

There are many people on some camera forums that actually relish such “adventures,” but for others of us, such issues are a distraction from the reason we got into photography – to take pictures. After seeing a myriad test charts taped all over our walls, my wife looked at me and said, “You’re becoming one of ‘those people.’” “Those people?”, I asked. “Yes – the ones that take pictures of brick walls and test charts all day!”, she replied. Ouch… women can be so cruel, and unfortunately in this case, so absolutely right!!! Of course, the $73 shipping fee from UPS didn’t do much to make me feel any better…

And yet… having worked in the software and hardware industry and having been responsible for bringing new technologies to market, I am well aware that ordering such a sophisticated device as the D800 this early in its life cycle was a bit of a gamble. I have no doubt Nikon perfected the early D800s by giving each quite a bit of TLC and individual engineering attention. When they ramped up the production lines for the masses, however, they were bound to run into some snags along the way. This is normal with new product introductions – it takes some time to work out the kinks in the manufacturing lines, training programs, the workflow processes, the supporting software, and communications. There would be little innovation if perfection was the goal out of the gate. I probably sound like a Nikon apologist, but I am simply being realistic. Only those that haven’t launched a high tech product and lived to tell the tale can be so smug and play Monday morning quarterback regarding such issues.

If you aren’t up for being a bit of a guinea pig for the manufacturers and don’t accept the reality that you may have to deal with such issues with the first wave of product shipments, you may want to rethink the timing of your DSLR purchases in the future. If you have little/no tolerance for the typical issues that can accompany new product introductions, I would strongly urge you to consider waiting 6-9 months before placing your order for any sophisticated product. That is a reasonable amount of time to expect Nikon, or any other manufacturer, to work through the early production issues. I certainly don’t mean to imply that I or others should let Nikon off the hook for this one. I can identify with the frustrations of those that have experienced this autofocus issue. It just doesn’t feel right to have to send a DSLR – one that has won virtually every possible DSLR technology award handed out this year – back to the manufacturer after a week or two of use and pay the shipping costs. The good news is that on the few occasions I have needed service for my lenses, Nikon’s Service Center came through. It took them a few tries, but they eventually solved the issue or replaced the product with a new one. I am hopeful that I will soon be able to sing Nikon’s praises for how they recognized and dealt with the situation promptly and professionally, and get to use my D800 to take photos of something (anything!) other than test charts!

5) Some Takeaways

1. Risk vs. Reward – Consider whether you really fit the mold of someone that is willing to deal with some of the issues of new high tech product launches. Such issues are part of the normal innovation cycle, but they are not for everyone. This is by no means an excuse for poor quality or bad customer support, but it does take companies some time to get things right.The first few shipments of any high tech product are likely to be the ones in which issues are uncovered. The “Innovator” tag is one used to describe those that buy new technology as soon as it is announced. These people have a much higher tolerance than most consumers for dealing with new product issues, and in some cases, relish, the challenges of testing out new gear and making suggestions to the manufacturers. But if you do not understand and/or are unwilling to deal with some of the early production cycle snafus, consider waiting for some time until such issues have been ironed out.

2. Test Your Gear – You invest quite a bit of money and time in your gear and hobby/profession. Shouldn’t you know for certain that it is working properly? Up until my D800 purchase, I had not put my gear through any extensive, formal testing. Shame on me. With DSLRs becoming more sophisticated, you have to question how you can be assured that your equipment is working correctly. As those of us in the software industry know, it is dangerous to make assumptions or take it for granted that things are working as described. You can be assured that the first few photos I take with any new camera or lens will be of the LensAlign unit. There really is no good excuse not to test your lenses and ensure that your DSLR is working properly. The LensAlign unit sports a very reasonable price tag, will last for years, and can provide the peace of mind that comes from knowing that you have a good copy of a given lens and it is achieving the maximum level of sharpness possible on your camera.

3. Nikon & Autofocus – The D800 is a great DSLR, despite the problems associated with my specific unit and those of others experiencing similar issues. Nikon has done a phenomenal job in bringing a ground-breaking DSLR to the market and, in the process, delivering a lot of value for the money. But Nikon has a serious problem of having shipped quite a few D800s with autofocus issues to customers. Time alone will tell how well it responds to this challenge. No one enjoys encountering product quality issues, or the disappointment and headaches associated with resolving them. Depending on its response, however, Nikon has the potential to come out stronger and actually enhance its relationship with its customers. Customers are willing to deal with occasional problems and issues, but only if the company is forthright and promptly resolves them. Nikon – are you listening? ;)


  1. 1) francisco
    July 7, 2012 at 10:24 am

    By now I think Nikon should include a lens calibration chart for every D800 and D4 being shipped!

    Shame on Nikon that they are still refusing to acknowledge this issue when their loyal customers are even willing to work on this problem.

  2. 2) Tinker's Realm
    July 7, 2012 at 10:29 am

    Can’t thank you enough for this honest review- I definitely feel your pain as mine is at Nikon for a repair as I type!

    • July 7, 2012 at 10:58 am

      You are quite welcome, Tinker. Sorry to hear that you are in the same boat as me! Which repair center did you send your unit to? Did Nikon offer much in the way of explanation or estimated return date?

      • 2.1.1) Tinker's Realm
        July 7, 2012 at 11:07 am

        I so wanted a witness to the condition of my camera before shipping it off to Nikon that I took it back to the Shutterbug Store where it was purchased. They also only charged a $25. Fee so it saved me in shipping and insurance cost of going direct. That may not have been the best decision as today I am even more in the dark. I will call Nikon next week & see if I can get any information.

        • Profile photo of Bob Vishneski Bob Vishneski
          July 9, 2012 at 8:45 pm

          Use “My Nikon” to log your questions. They are usually pretty good about getting back to you within a day or two.
          As I mentioned in reply to another post, a contact of mine on the Nikonians and Flickr sites got his back today and it now focuses correctly, so Nikon’s Melville facility may know how to successfully solve this issue. Good news!

          • Tinker's Realm
            July 10, 2012 at 12:56 pm

            I read about that successful Fix & am hopeul that both of ours will have the same outcome!

            I did get a call yesterday from the Store I purchased & returned for shipping to repair the camera & they wanted to know 1. If I ourchased the Camera from them 2. Why was it not sent in for a Warranty VS: Repair & 3. When did I purchase it-Did not make me feel very confident as much as I detailed and discussed the isses before I dropped the camera off-Yikes!
            To Be Continued-LOL!

            • Tinker's Realm
              July 10, 2012 at 1:19 pm

              PS: I miss the spell checker/edit button too! ;-)

            • Profile photo of Bob Vishneski Bob Vishneski
              July 25, 2012 at 10:33 pm

              I am still going over my images and will provide some news soon. Lots of images and I am going blind! :)

  3. 3) Oded Shopen
    July 7, 2012 at 10:41 am

    I got my D800E a few days ago. So far it seems to be without issues. I noticed a little lack of center focus in my 50mm 1.8g, but other focus points are sharp in 3 lenses. I hope Nikon would compensate you somehow, because I would be pissed… Best of luck.

  4. July 7, 2012 at 10:57 am

    The complexity of these DSLRs and resolving power does lead me to question how customers can quickly and accurately tell if they got the caviar model or one of the others! :)
    I am willing to see how Nikon responds before judging them too harshly. They have been very good in the past, but you do have to keep on them a bit.

    • 4.1) francisco
      July 7, 2012 at 12:32 pm

      It’s all fine Bob, I actually glad that there are more voices regarding this in the net, which hopefully forces Nikon to acknowledge it and fully address the issue… BTW, I like Spanish Sardines and Spam! LOL

      • July 7, 2012 at 12:36 pm

        I am sure Nikon will step up to the plate. I will indeed follow-on with another post once this is settled and let everyone know how it turned out.
        Actually, I love sardines as well! Spam? Not so much… ;)

  5. 5) Sid
    July 7, 2012 at 11:00 am

    Really sorry to hear that you had to send back your d800! Im facing a similar situation right now. My 6 month old d7000 started showing the dreaded Err message today all of a sudden. Something really wrong with the mirror lock-shutter release mechanism. I have tried all of Nasims tips to solve this issue, but in vain. Now I have to send my precious for servicing and god knows when Il get it back :(

    • July 7, 2012 at 11:10 am

      I still have my trusty D7000, which has served me very well. I did notice that my D7000 seemed a bit withdrawn given all the attention I lavished on the D800. I think it’s mood perked up a bit when it saw the D800 being put in the box! :)
      Sorry to hear about your D7000 issues. I never saw that message on my D7000, but have noticed that my lens coupling system is very tight, requiring a good firm twist of the lens to ensure that the camera recognizes it. I have sometimes gotten an error message which quickly went away once I loosened and reattached the lens.
      Hope Nikon takes good care of your baby! ;)

  6. 6) Art
    July 7, 2012 at 11:06 am

    Thank you for you review and thoughts. I too have bought a “sardine” and I am in the process of working with Nikon technical support to resolve the left AF problem on my camera. Have been buying Nikon products for the last 35 years or so and this has been the first problem I have had with a new purchase, so I will give Nikon a pass on this one. But with all the reported cases of this problem being brought to light I have serious concerns about Nikon’s Quality Control. I hope this does not become a habit with Nikon as it will damage their reputation . I know I am going to have to think twice before buying a new product at release since the user has to pay shipping for the defective unit to service center. My car dealer will provide free towing for warranty repairs, why Nikon does not provide shipping is beyond me. Oh well time to dust off my D3X and go take some pictures.

    • July 7, 2012 at 11:15 am

      I wish it were only my camera that was affected, but it seems like I have quite a bit of company. Indeed DSLR owners need a quick way of testing their camera and lenses. Perhaps this is something Nasim, Tom, Roman, and I can discuss a bit.
      I am hoping that this is just part of the “growing pains” associated with moving the D800 into mass production. Let’s hope they resolve these issues quickly so we can take pictures of something other than test charts! At least you have your D3X to fall back on – not a bad backup camera. ;)

  7. July 7, 2012 at 11:30 am

    I got 800E & D4 recently and had issues with 14-24, 24-70 & 70-200mm lenses to about the same degree. For me the right focus points were worse than left. With 200-400 & 600mm, both bodies were sharp.

    Sent both D4 & D800E and all 3 lenses to Nikon. Got all except 24-70mm back in 10 days (incl shipping). Tested them and they have certainly fixed something. Now the AF is pretty good.

    • 7.1) Senthil
      July 7, 2012 at 11:31 am

      BTW – I didn’t even bother calling/mailing Nikon before sending the items, as I thought it would only delay the whole process. So just sent them in directly.

  8. July 7, 2012 at 11:55 am

    Glad to hear you got your gear back and in great working condition. That gives me some reason to hope that Nikon can do the same with my D800.
    I included 112 shots, taken with all the lenses mention, on an old 4GB SD card. I will also reference this article as well as some other observations in a write-up to the Nikon Service Center. You can’t include “too much” information in situations such as this.

    • 8.1) Senthil
      July 7, 2012 at 1:29 pm

      Yeah, they should be able to fix yours. From what I have been reading around, it seems like they have got their AF tune process right.

      I also sent like 100 odd images (copied to a DVD) taken with all the lenses, with a table of my findings. Funny thing was both D4 & D800E had very similar AF issues, worse with the right AF points (contrary to the general left AF problems for most of folks). I did reg AF and LV pics for comparison.

      Please post follow-up when you get the camera back. Good luck to you and others.


      • July 8, 2012 at 8:28 am

        Most people are seeing it on the left side, but when I look at some of the differences between the Live view and autofocus through the viewfinder, I wonder something else is awry.
        I won’t let the readers “hanging” on this one and will post the results of Nikon’s repair as well as how they handle this one.

  9. 9) Kathleen
    July 7, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    I’ve just started getting the Mansurovs posts and they are incredibly helpful. I came back to photography after years away and got into the digital swing last fall with a D7000, which I love. I agonized about Nikon vs. Canon, but found that as a long-time Nikon film-camera user, I couldn’t desert them in digital mode. I haven’t had any problems yet with the D7000, but I did have a question about updating the firmware and got a ludicrous response from a Nikon customer service person on the phone. I explained that I kept getting an error message when I tried to load the firmware into the camera. The rep asked me what size card I was using and when I said “16 gigs,” he said it wouldn’t work with such a big card!!! I finally figured it out by myself (the battery has to be fully charged), but it’s sad that Nikon customer service is so bad. And it’s sad that Nikon isn’t addressing the D800 focus issues as they should. I got the D7000 with the kit 18 – 105 (DX) lens and vowed not to buy more lenses until I knew I’d made a good choice. I just bought the 50mm 1.8 (FX) lens in anticipation of eventually being able to afford the D800. But after reading this post I am no longer sorry I can’t afford the D800 yet. I still plan to get it, but I’ll wait awhile.
    Thank you, and good luck to all of you with the focus problems!

    • July 7, 2012 at 12:26 pm

      I really don’t want to criticize Nikon too harshly over my D800 issues. Such problems are inevitable. I will have an update to this post once my issues are resolve. Hopefully, I will be able to sing Nikon’s praises for the excellent job they did on the repair.
      All companies run into issues. It is how they deal with them that sets some apart from the pack. The other challenge with DSLRs – just as with computers – is that the prices/margins are coming down, but the complexity of the product is increasing signficantly. This creates a challenging issue for companies like Nikon to serve their customers while maintaining a reasonable profit margin – a very difficult balance to say the least!

  10. 10) Dan
    July 7, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    You said, “you have to question how you can be assured that your equipment is working correctly”. Isn’t that what going out and shooting will tell you? Should you not use it and ONLY test when you suspect a problem? I agree with the wife, go out and shoot and don’t go looking for problems. You may find some that have no impact in your shooting and may become obsessed with it like a lot of “internet boards” shooters.

    • July 7, 2012 at 12:22 pm

      Unfortunately, you can’t tell by going out and shooting all day long whether the myriad of features on your new DSLR are working correctly. Some issues, such as the lens focusing, can only be done reliably in controlled environments, such as I described above. There is no way I could have verified my focus capabilities by shooting a myriad of scenes, each different than the other.
      The simple truth is most people simply don’t have the time or wherewithal to determine if there new DSLR is working according to spec. Most people use 20% of their camera’s capabilities, and even that is a generous estimate.

      • 10.1.1) Tinker's Realm
        July 7, 2012 at 9:11 pm

        ITA Bob- I was out happily snapping shots away but would get home & see the results & even posted in the beginning that I could not seem to get a shape image on,y to be chided by others that it was all about technique – so I quit handholding, raised the shutter & held my breath w/ each shot only to have the same confusing results- I got the D4& just let the D800 sit on the shelf until I could figure out the issues – was very relieved when I read the AF concerns as it just confirmed what my images already showed but I never dreamed to suspect it was manufacturing versus technique.
        I differ than you some in that I do expect even when I purchase a newly released item/new technology that the company has done its job in development & testing before putting a 3-6k price tag in it & releasing it. We should be ale to trust that all necessary testing has been conducted or if some fluke a recall is needed that the company will step up & give consumers their choice of repair or future replacement- the anxiety I have is over the many posted testimonies that the cameras sent in have been returned w/ the same AF issues!

        • Profile photo of Bob Vishneski Bob Vishneski
          July 7, 2012 at 9:59 pm

          It is not that I don’t expect quality items from Nikon or others. But I am well aware that if a manufacturer is going to uncover issues, they are much more likely to do so during the initial production runs when all the issues I mentioned are getting ironed out. If you were a betting person, would you bet on things going perfectly right out of the gate or within 6-9 months?
          People are being naive if they believe that manufacturers are not going to have to work through quite a few issues during their initial production runs. There is simply no way around it.

          We should however, expect Nikon and others to acknowledge and resolve these issues promptly. Before you agree to have any unit shipped back to you, I would demand to speak with a manager and understand exactly what tests were conducted and adjustments were made.


          • Tinker's Realm
            July 7, 2012 at 10:24 pm

            I am sure you are probably right I just have never experienced this before. I will take your advice & contact Nikon Monday Am & request clarification before they return my camera.

            • Profile photo of Bob Vishneski Bob Vishneski
              July 7, 2012 at 10:49 pm

              Good luck. Let us know what you hear from them. If you don’t get acceptable answers, keep escalating until you do.

  11. 11) Kevin Z
    July 7, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    Do you think you could share that altered Siemen’s Star? I have the one from your previous post but like the letters on it…….I know…..I am being lazy and could go into PS!

  12. July 7, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    ” it does take companies some time to get things right.The first few shipments of any high tech product are likely to be the ones in which issues are uncovered. ” …. truer words were never spoken. Er … written.

    • July 7, 2012 at 4:38 pm

      Not sure about that Lois, but it does tend to be true. The problem is when some people eagerly sign up for new products, but are rather naive about the risks associated with them and/or are ready to deal with them. Anyone with a background in high tech understands the issues that accompany new product introductions. “Buyer Beware” is always good advice, but even more so with new products! :)

  13. 13) FF
    July 7, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    “This is normal with new product introductions”

    No, it isn’t. It is only normal with a manufacturer with no or poor design and manufacturing quality control. You should ask for a refud of the shiping cost.

    I was also astonished by terrible advise elswhere recommening to ship a brand new lemon to the Nikon repair centre instead returning it to the camera store. In my past experience the turn around by the chain-store takes 4 wks. plus whatever time it takes by the repair service to fix it. If they are short of parts for the new camera the waiting time will be much longer.
    It is simply unacceptable.

    • July 7, 2012 at 4:13 pm

      Not sure what product introductions you have been a part of, but I doubt that you could find one that didn’t have a few hiccups. Given the year or so of disasters Japan has endured, do you really expect every camera to be rolling off a new manufacturing line would be problem free? My good friend Voltaire said, “The perfect is the enemy of the good.” As I said, if you are not willing to deal with such issues, you need to skip new high tech product introductions and wait until the manufacturers have worked through these issues.
      I was torn about sending my camera into Nikon for repair vs. back to B&H. I could have come down on either side of this one. I do expect Nikon to do something apart from simply fixing my camera. I agree that needing to ship a brand new camera back to the plant simply doesn’t seem right. But at the same time, I, and others buying a brand new model, should be well aware of the risks of early shipments.

  14. 14) gregorylent
    July 7, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    the windows vista of the nikon line … d600 will be a success, ditto the d900, the d800 will just sort of wobble on into the past .. who wants to use a tripod for every shot to avoid blur?

    • July 7, 2012 at 4:22 pm

      I doubt that this will be the case. Nikon will get its act together and the current crop of D800s and many more yet to be manufactured will take great pictures for years to come. And a tripod is not required to take quality photos.

  15. 15) karen
    July 7, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    why would they respond better you have thoroughly exposed and embarrassed them. any response by nikon you would have posted.

    • July 7, 2012 at 4:20 pm

      Pointing out an issue that seems to be plaguing quite a number of D800 users isn’t exactly embarrassing anyone. It is simply stating the facts. Nikon does better by getting quality feedback from their customers, particularly those in the Innovator and Early Adopter categories that provide detailed feedback that can help improve their products.
      The worse scenario would be for me and others in this situation to simply never buy another Nikon product. I am simply helping to shed some light on this situation in the hopes that others will understand how to handle it, and give Nikon the opportunity to make it right. Good companies seek product feedback from customers, since they know it helps them improve both their product and service.
      Rest assured, if Nikon comes through with flying colors, I will be the first to sing their praises.

  16. 16) Jay
    July 7, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    Thanks for confirming what I have been trying to tell people for months about this high tech equipment coming from these manufacturers. But I wouldn’t give them a pass on this one. As soon as we accept, what you call sardines, we let the manufactuer down and future customers down. Having worked for several electronic customers and speaking to my many suppliers about quality and six sigma and all that geeky stuff, I know that it can be done. Near perfect quality is expected even from old style manual camera companies like Nikon.

    I also agree on what you said about Nikon communications. Again I have talked about this on the forums and been laughed at and discounted. As long as Nikon comes out and admits they have a problem and presents a fix for current models and future models, I’m OK with finally plucking my $3000 down on the remarkable camera. But they have to be truthful to their customers. This is a big test for Nikon, and I look forward to seeing if they can join the ranks of the great electronic companies that have proceeded them.

    • July 7, 2012 at 6:56 pm

      I am not giving Nikon a pass, but I do understand and accept on one level that in ramping up its production of the D800 (or any camera), it was quite likely that Nikon would run into some issues. I knew the risks of something like this happening and accepted them. Looking back, would I have done anything different? Not sure. If this were some other issue that was more of an aggravation that could be solved by waiting another month for a firmware fix? That would have been a bit easier to swallow. A focus issue on the world’s highest resolution DSLR that renders the images a bit blurry? That is a bit tougher on the stomach.
      I have learned a few lessons from this, such as the importance of having some methodology for testing your camera and lenses and being able to quickly and effectively conduct it. Never again will I accept a DSLR or lens without first testing it. And I will ensure that all my lenses are adjusted for each camera so as to get the maximum sharpness from them.
      This may be frustrating, but if all I am out is $73 and a few weeks without my D800, I don’t think I will be that worse for the wear. If things go awry with my repair and it takes a few months to see it again and/or returns in the same or worse shape it was when I sent it, that will be a different matter…

      • 16.1.1) Martin
        July 8, 2012 at 2:26 am

        Hello Bob
        thank you very much for your honest review and technical help. I definitely think that Nikon must do a careful quality check and a camera of this technical performance needs a serious quality control. I am just not motivated to loose my time on calibration instead of photo shooting. I must have the assurance that the technique of the camera is perfect. To shoot good picture with a perfect camera is already really demanding, I must concentrate on the picture and master my photo shooting technique and to get it adapted to the high resolution of the camera (mirror up, shutter speed, cabeless release, top tripod, DOF), but not to care about AF problems or other technical flaws. This is a pest and making fun of the client.. I brought all my lenses to Nikon Switz. They only calibrate the center focus point, they have no tools for the corner points. I had a front focus of 5, they thought that is not a lot. I gave them to consider that on a 500mm at 30m distance and a small target this is a heck of a lot. For wildlifew and architecture and landsape photography this is a disaster and unacceptable. I wish Nikon would take this really serious. On the other hand: I am extremeöly pleased about the possibilities that this camera opens for wildlife photography. By the way: I wish they would have a double battery charger developped, so I get my 4 batteries charged rapidly. But no, and this makes me angry as well

        • Profile photo of Bob Vishneski Bob Vishneski
          July 8, 2012 at 8:35 am

          It is indeed quite a pain to have to go through an exercise such as this only to find out that your camera doesn’t work properly. It makes no sense to calibrate the center point alone, since there is always the possibility that the focusing unit can have issues on the left or right. Nikon advertises 51 points – not 1!
          From my brief time with the D800, I liked what I saw. I just wished I had more opportunities to take pictures of something other than those annoying test patterns! :)

  17. 17) Chris
    July 7, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    I feel your pain, I have a Canon 7D and now I wonder if it has similar issues as I never have tested it before. It sucks that it has those issues. I’m curious as to know why many of you chose Nikon over Canon, I don’t want to have a long internet debate I’m just wondering what the pros and cons are to Nikon vs. Canon. I’m new to photography so I wonder if Canon is truly the right choice for me or not.

  18. 18) Chuck
    July 7, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    Good luck with your D800 Bob.

    I have to preface my comment with … I love my D800. I also love my D3s, D300’s (x2), D200’s (x2), etc. all the way back to my FT3. Heck, I even love Nikon. However, after two weeks at Nikon’s El Segundo repair facility my D800 was returned to me with no noticeable improvement in left point focusing. I am not very pleased. Not only do I have a $3k camera that does not perform as it should but I am saddled with the additional cost of shipping it back to Nikon again. I have decided to wait until they get a better handle on the problem. Btw, I have also cancelled my D800e order until I am confident that they have resolved the problem.

    • July 7, 2012 at 7:21 pm

      So sorry to hear about your experience. You need to escalate this to a manager as quickly as you can. I went through this once before and Nikon finally gave me a new lens to replace the one they could not seem to fix.
      Nikon is a solid company and one that I believes tries to do right by its customers. I am sure you will get satisfaction if you escalate the issue. You just have to speak with the right people.

      • Profile photo of Bob Vishneski 18.1.1) Bob Vishneski
        July 7, 2012 at 7:30 pm

        If I am not mistaken, Nikon sent me a shipping label after their first attempt to fix my lens failed. I believe once you speak with someone in management, Nikon will move this along and resolve this issue for you.

  19. 19) FF
    July 7, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    # 30
    Thanks for email notification which I didn’t expect nor desire, but since you did, here is my reply.

    I bought many new products some which I kept and some which I didn’t.
    The issues I raised are the NUMBER OF DEFECTS and the manufacturer’s RESPONSE.
    If there is an occasional hiccup that’s acceptable, but a litany of problems is not.
    Let me give you examples.
    How many issues did Canon have with recent new cameras? The problems included: the mirror glue on 5D or 5D2 (I can’t recall off hand which model), and recall of the first 1000 new 24-105 kit lenses. There was also a light leak on 5D3. That’s all I can recall and this level of defects is acceptable.
    Canon immediately and publicly acknowledged these defects and notified registered owners by email.
    If you don’t like my selection of the manufacturer – Canon, I can give you another example of an excellent company – Apple. I had at least 7 computers and monitors over the last 20 yrs. and only one keyboard was DOA.

    The situation with Nikon is totally different and it is not new. You can read complaints on many fora, owned by the Nikon users, about the defects and Nikon support. The nuclear disaster in Japan certainly didn’t help, but Nikon wasn’t the only manufacturer affected, so it is a poor excuse. There have been serious and known problems with Nikon equipment. Since your camera was going for service, did you take the opportunity to test it for the permanent moisture entrapment under the LCDs? This test is easy. This is a serious and well know problem which Nikon never admitted to.
    The D800 seems especially afflicted with many problems like: AF problems, defective prisms, battery door and most recently bent pins on the camera memory connector. The last problem may be related to the Lexar cards, but not necessarily.

    These discussions are not to upset, but to make users aware that there are specific problems related to a given piece of equipment and if he encounters such it is not his fault.

    In addition trying to go easy on a manufacturer who is shipping defective products doesn’t help anyone. It is plainly counterproductive. If people keep buying lemons that is what they will be getting. Vide Fuji – the “success” of the X100 encouraged them to ship another camera prototype.

    • July 7, 2012 at 8:55 pm


      It isn’t my intent to go easy on Nikon. But to deny that the odds are much higher relative to finding issues when you are getting units from the first wave of manufacturing is simply naive. People need to be realistic about the odds of getting units that have issues when they are first in line. Each company has their share of issues – including Apple. I don’t know that Nikon is any better or worse than any of the companies you mentioned.

      If you want to minimize the chances of dealing with such issues, the choice is clear – wait 6-9 months. Most products will see a definite improvement in quality during that time as they work through a myriad of issues. Too many people want to believe they fall into the Innovator or Early Adopter categories, but simply are not prepared for the realities of the products/services in these stages. It is simply not realistic to be first in line for the latest gizmo only to cry foul because you got a glimpse into the early production issues.

      Rest assured, I don’t accept such issues lightly. But I am more than willing to work with anyone that will work with me and is attempting to do the right thing to resolve an issue. If I feel I am getting the runaround, I am not shy about escalating the issue. On each of my experiences with Nikon support, I escalated the issue and had it resolved to my satisfaction.

      • 19.1.1) FF
        July 8, 2012 at 9:44 am

        Ad: # 42
        Bob, thanks for reply.
        Why do I get reply notification by e-mail, if I didn’t select this option? It feels like spam.
        Let me give you some extra food for thought based on decades of experience in the industry.
        Do you understand QC? If not, let me explain. QC should be active during design and production to ensure product design integrity and that products are shipped free of the manufacturing defects.
        Your camera didn’t come from an early production batch and you are not the first to report these defects. The first deliveries were about 4 months ago. So, Nikon continues to manufacture and ship lemons.
        In case you missed or didn’t understand my concerns – it is about the number of defects and lack of transparency regarding reported defects.
        Please refrain from ridiculous qualifiers that people objecting to a large number of defects on a new professional camera are naive. I gave you examples of excellent companies. There are more examples of companies which repeatedly launched new products without or with insignificant numbers of defects.
        You are trying repeatedly to “explain” and justify poor quality of which the D800 is only yet another example.
        Quote: ” I don’t know that Nikon is any better or worse than any of the companies you mentioned.”
        Yes, you may not know, but I do. Otherwise I wouldn’t waste my time writing about it.
        The “their share of issues”, you referred to, is just a figure of speech. The are always issues, but it depends how they are addressed and if they affect customers – that’s what matters. You don’t have to delay purchase of a new product to ensure that it is defect free – providing you are dealing with an excellent company.
        My final comment is about returning the lemon.
        If you return it to a dealer you have 2 options: a replacement or you money back. Sending it to Nikon service you forfeit refund and totally depend on service quality, which in case of Nikon has been extremely poor (see and other blogs).If the lemon comes back from service you’ve 3 options: don’t worry be happy, another trip to service or e-bay.
        I’d also buy from a small dealer who carries a small stock of products as opposed to big/chain store. Usually you get a better service and if you return a lemon and wait few weeks to repurchase the product there is a better chance that the replacement will come from a new production batch. This may not be the case with a big store and big inventory.

        • Profile photo of Bob Vishneski Bob Vishneski
          July 8, 2012 at 10:20 am


          You should not be getting a notification of responses unless you checked the box below.
          While I appreciate the lecture on QA, I can assure you I understand the topic quite well both with respect to computer manufacturing as well as software development.

          I didn’t indicate that those that were unwilling to live with defects are naive, but rather those that were ordered their cameras not knowing the facts were naive. The facts are simple – if you order units first off the line, your chances of encountering a quality issue are much higher than if you wait 6-9 months. If you don’t accept that reality – don’t order your DSLR for a while and wait until such issues have been ironed out.

          I don’t have insight into each manufacturer’s defect rates, but I suspect this isn’t data they publish. I have seen some different studies on the net indicating that Canon scores a bit higher than Nikon in the quality area. But I also have no doubt that if you peruse enough Canon forums however, you will find plenty of disgruntled Canon users all too willing to share their specific disappointments. And I suspect you will find quite a few Nikon owners that switched from Canon and others. Every manufacturer has their pros/cons.

          Regarding the “big store vs. small store” issue, I disagree. B&H is top notch in terms of service. And I don’t say this because I write for mansurovs. I had this opinion of B&H long before I started on this site.

          And I don’t know whether you are better off shipping your D800 back to the retailer and hoping for a better result. Nikonians has a survey of over a 100 people that show roughly 4 out of 6 have the A/F issue. I weighed the notion of sending my camera back to B&H and waiting for a new one. But as I indicated, I wondered if I would find myself in the same boat. While I chose not to ship my unit back to B&H, I can certainly understand why some made that call. As I indicated, I could have gone either way on this one.

          I certainly understand that Nikon’s Service Center has had issues at times. We will see how well they do with my D800 and those of others experiencing the same issue. The good news is that if you really feel that Nikon’s quality is not what you expect, you always free to buy a Canon, Olympus, Sony, etc. If you think Nikon does so poorly, why haven’t you switched?

          BTW, Canon’s 5D Mark III is an excellent camera, but even it seems to have its production issues:


  20. July 7, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    Hi Bob.
    Can you do a quick test by simply choosing the right and left focus points and then aiming the camera at a specific subject point behind each and shooting a simple hand-held shot. Then blowing that point up in the rear screen and comparing the two shot details (right and left) for equality (whether perfectly in focus or not quite). I tried this with my D800 and the two shots came out exactly the same. Would this be a “poor-man’s sharpness test” before going through all the rigamarole of your above test? It seemed to initially indicate to me that my unit is OK.
    Thanks for all your great posts!

    • July 7, 2012 at 8:57 pm

      I tried exactly what you suggested a number of times and saw the same results. I did the tripod and test chart test however to ensure that I was eliminating any/all variables.

      • July 7, 2012 at 9:03 pm

        OK, I get that for sure…but if the image pixellation comes out exactly the same in all three positions, even to the highest zoom on the LCD, wouldn’t that at least indicate that my unit does not have the problem?

        • Profile photo of Bob Vishneski Bob Vishneski
          July 7, 2012 at 9:52 pm

          I believe there is still too much variability in your test. Even on the tripod with flood lights, I got some variability between shots using the same focus point and the same focus mechanism (autofocus through viewfinder or Live View). At a minimum, you want to take a photo of a very detailed target from a tripod.

  21. 21) DrTom
    July 8, 2012 at 3:19 am

    I have tested the D4, and the autofocus for me works much better than the autofocus in my D3 and D3s. But I wonder if the autofocus in the D800 is “really” the same as in the D4. I read at

    ” “enhanced” Multi-Cam 3500-FX AF system with 51 focus points 15 of the points are cross-type sensors 11 midpoints can operate at f/8 ”

    So both the D4 and the D800 apparently have the same hardware, right?

    But does that mean they’ll function just the same. I don’t need more than 4 frames-per-second, and so the D800 will be OK if it “really” focuses the same as the D4.

    Any comments about the autofocus on the D800 and the D4?

    PS I know I posted this elsewhere on this forum and hope this doesn’t irritate anyone! ;^ }

    • July 8, 2012 at 8:38 am

      Dr. Tom,
      The D4 and D800 indeed have the same fast focusing multi-cam mechanism so they should indeed acquire focus in the same amount of time. If you only need 4 FPS and you would rather have a bit more resolution (or don’t mind larger file sizes), the D800 will save you $3K.

      • 21.1.1) DrTom
        July 9, 2012 at 1:25 am

        That’s what I had hoped. Thanks, Bob, for your reply. I think I’ll try a D800. For what I do, as I said above, the focus on the D4 is much better than the D3 or D3s. In particular my 105mm Nikon Micro does not “hunt”, when focusing from about 15″ to 24″ on a D4, but does a lot of hunting on the D3 and D3s. I don’t need more pixels that the D800 provides, but I have a very powerful computer to deal with the large files. So I think I’ll save the $3000.00 and get the D800. Thanks again for your comment.

        • Profile photo of Bob Vishneski Bob Vishneski
          July 9, 2012 at 6:22 am

          Dr. Tom,
          The $3,000 you save on the D800 will enable you to get a bit more RAM on your computer. Despite all the complaints about hard drive costs, you can pick up 3T Seagate drives for $129 apiece. People keep making a big deal but with Moore’s law in effect, computing power is the least of the concerns regarding the D800.
          Let’s see some images when you get your D800. I am going to try focus stacking soon. That shows some very promising results. How you get the insects to sit still while you continue to refocus is going to be a bit tricky! ;)

  22. 22) Fabio
    July 8, 2012 at 5:04 am

    Hi Bob, after a long wait, I just received my camera a week ago, and it has an issue with the autofocus. After testing the camera 9 times with the Siemens Star Focus Chart, I ‘ve found out the autofocus on the left does focus 100% as in the center or the right side. I guess I got Sardines!!!

    Anyway, I am in a dilemma right now, since I am out of the U.S. at the moment; the camera was sent to me by my wife, and I only have 12 days to return it. So, I will have to $180 to return it, and my wife will have to send it to me again adding another $180, so the total cost to return it will be $380 plus $120 for customs duties.
    I read on another blog that the issue is solved by calibrating the camera by the Nikon service. Do you believe is reasonable for the Nikon service to calibrate the camera or should I forget about it and return it?
    I could avoid using the left autofocus area and use the middle one. In other words, I could get caviar with a taste of sardines for 10 months till I am back to the U.S and send it to the Nikon Service.!!! Maybe I could take it to the local Nikon Service instead of the U.S?

    I appreciate anyone’s comments.

    Here’s the other blog

  23. 23) Fabio
    July 8, 2012 at 6:10 am

    opps!! I should have say “, I ‘ve found out the autofocus on the left does NOT focus 100% as in the center or the right side”.

    • July 8, 2012 at 8:47 am


      I wish I could say definitively that Nikon had repaired my D800 and I could confidently recommend shipping it back, but that remains to be seen. Ming Thein’s blog site covering his repair is very encouraging. The issue is whether each Nikon Service Center has the technicians that can reliably make the same adjustments. I sure hope so! I will let everyone know via the site if they succeeded and I am satisfied with the results.

      You are in quite a pickle cost-wise to have this dealt with. If I faced your situation? I would hang on to the camera and use it for 10 months. You likely won’t notice this issue under normal circumstances since few of us use that far left (or far right focusing point) very often. Your D800 will serve you very well for 10 months. Of course, you shouldn’t accept the fact that it has this issue and should expect Nikon to fix it. In 10 months, I suspect Nikon will have had quite a bit of experience in fixing this issue and gotten quite good at it. So I would enjoy my D800 for 10 months and avoid the outrageous costs you outlined, monitor the progress on my camera on the Mansurovs site, and continue to gauge how well Nikon is doing relative to fixing the issue. When you get back, you can ship it to Nikon and be more confident that they understand and can resolve this issue.

      Good luck!

  24. 24) Anthony
    July 8, 2012 at 6:18 am

    Good article!
    One aspect of this that really annoys me is that Nikon obviously in your case has continued to produce and distributed defective cameras KNOWINGLY. I can understand that they cannot test 100 functions on every camera they ship, but here we have a known defect going back months, and they obviously are not testing. Your camera had to be be made recently. Their decision had to have been: we don’t care that much about our customers…send them all out, and we’ll deal with those that come back….and my experience of that and many others is that they are not apologetic, customer friendly, eager to please, efficient or effective when we contact them about a sardine!
    Remember when somebody was putting toxic substances in Tylenol in drugstores? McNeil, the manufacturer, pulled every bottle of Tylenol off every drugstore shelf, trashed them, and sent out triple sealed containers thereafter. Remember, they didnt produce a bad product, somebody tampered with it in stores.They are an example in business schools of how to do it right. Nikon may be an example of how to do it wrong.
    If Ford produced cars with accelerators that stuck down, causing accidents, and knowingly continued to do so, they would be shut down and carved up by plaintiffs lawyers.
    Now, bad autofocus is not unintentional acceleration, and blurry photos are not fatal accidents, but my point is that Nikon has betrayed their respected name and consumer confidence, seemingly in the pursuit of selling as many cameras as possible, defective or not, and then compounding the injury to its customers by not honorably standing up, admitting error and fixing their errors as painlessly as possible for their loyal customers.
    Again, blurred photos are not the same as driving through your garage wall, but a lot of people who enjoy photography as their profession or avocation have endured a lot of grief trying to deal with Nikon and get their camera fixed promptly.
    Who ever is responsible for Nikon’s handling of this needs to go…now.

    • July 8, 2012 at 8:55 am


      Thank you. I am not quite willing to claim that Nikon is knowingly producing defective cameras. It may be that there is some variability in their machinery that is difficult to identify and fix, or is of an intermittent nature. It may also be that there is some manual operation being performed that is inconsistent between workers. I don’t know the details for how the D800 is assembled, so can’t quite attributed a cause or motive to Nikon. I think people should be a bit cautious about rushing to judgment in this case. For now, I am going to assume that Nikon had the best of intentions and did their best job to set up a quality manufacturing facility, but simply ran into some of the usual production start-up issues – until I have good reason to believe otherwise.

      It is ironic that the first DSLR to match some medium format cameras relative to detail is having issues with producing sharp pictures. Kinda defeats the purpose, huh? :) This issue will play itself out over time and I am sure we will come to know the exact cause and fix of it . I will share my results when I get my camera back. I am hoping that Nikon will not let me and others down and it will deal promptly and successfully to refocus our D800s so that they live up to their resolution potential.


      • 24.1.1) Anthony
        July 8, 2012 at 11:10 am

        Hello, Bob,

        I would like to think the best of Nikon, but unless your D800 was made months ago before the AF problem was known, should they not have inspected and fixed yours?

        • Profile photo of Bob Vishneski Bob Vishneski
          July 8, 2012 at 11:36 am

          That is fair question. As I and others have suggested, Nikon’s QC processes need some improvement. But since this is the first time that the D800 has been mass produced, I suspect its QC and just about every other process/procedure is being revised as they uncover issues.
          Perhaps I am being a bit too optimistic, but I suspect Nikon will own up to the issue and resolve each D800 issue to the customer’s satisfaction. At some point, I also believe we will get a much better explanation of the root cause of this issue. Nikon must clearly be aware of this issue.
          Nikon would do itself some good by being a bit more forthcoming regarding the situation. As the the saying goes, “Bad news doesn’t get better with time.” They are clearly in that arena now, where enough people have highlighted the issue through detailed testing. A press release from Nikon would at least give customers some assurance that Nikon Service Centers are aware of and trained to deal with the issue. I will admit that the lack of recognition of the issue from Nikon Service Centers is not very consoling.

  25. 25) dencelly
    July 8, 2012 at 11:58 am

    Thank you for your article! I was not very lucky about the most of misfocused pictures i took with my D800. After your article i started to test all my equipment. The result is strange.

    1. Nikkor 70-200 / 2.8 G ED VR II: excellent AF at every focus point, excellent sharpness all over the pictures!
    2. Nikkor 14-24 / 2.8 G ED: good AF at every focus point, good sharpness
    3. Nikkor 24-70 / 2.8 G ED: good AF most time, good sharpness
    4. Nikkor 85 / 1.4 G: good AF most time, sharpness? my 26 years old Nikkor 105 mm 1.8 is sharper!
    5. Nikkor 50 / 1.4 G: AF?, sharpness? – it is like a roulette game! No, AF fine tune changed nothing …

    I tested every lens twice and the result didn’t change. Can i now conclude from this test, that my D800 is okay but two of my lenses are cucumber?


    • July 8, 2012 at 2:04 pm


      It is hard to say for sure, but that seems to be a good bet. How did you do your testing and what kind of image were you using? Did you take a Live View shot to compare to the one you took with the autofocus through the viewfinder? Were you getting in focus and blurriness using the same focus point and focusing mechanism? I took 3 shots of each during my experiment. Most of the time the images were the same. Occasionally, I would get a “flyer” which was much worse that the other two. This happened for much more for shots using the autofocus through the viewfinder. Only one of the Live View shots showed inconsistency from the others.

      It is always possible that you might have gotten an 85mm 1.4 and 50mm 1.4 that were less than sharp copies. As I mentioned, I had not tested my lenses previously. The only good thing to come out of this so far is that I have an appreciation for running any new gear I receive through a quick testing process.
      I have read many accounts whereby people get a new lens, test it out, conclude that it is not a sharp copy, then send it back for another copy, and receive a new lens that works better. My only issue with lenses occurred when I damaged them or they stopped autofocusing correctly.

      I understand that the D800 will certainly point out the flaws in any lens you have, which is why many suggest using those lenses that have the highest resolution.


      • 25.1.1) dencelly
        July 9, 2012 at 7:04 am

        Bob, I did the test with the testchart from Nasim and did it the same way. In my opinion the D800 is an excellent camera and focuses exactly on the point at every focussensor on the test chart but ONLY with the best lenses which have a very good AF. And I have only one which is so perfect, the 70-200 vr II. The 14-24, 24-70 are good but not so perfect like the 70-200. The other both, the 85 1.4 and 50 1.4 are not exact and consistent – and not only wide open, using the middle sensor is even not better. The worst of all my lenses is the 50 1.4. I don’t believe that both are defective, because in live view they do a good job – strange or?

        You are right, it is the combination of camera and lens but which lenses are good alternatives to the 85 1.4 and 50 1.4 – both Nikkor? Sigma or the manual Focus Zeiss?

        I will do a third test like your way ..

  26. 26) FF
    July 8, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    # 62
    Quote: “Nikon does so poorly, why haven’t you switched? BTW, Canon’s 5D Mark III is an excellent camera, but even it seems to have its production issues:

    This proves that you’re not reading carefully. Pls. check what I wrote about the 5D3 defect. You are confused. The light leak problem of the 5D3 was a design issue not production.
    I don’t base my opinions on users opinions but my own info. and experience. There are always disgruntled people.
    I use Nikon Sony and Canon. I don’t understand where should I switch?

    You’ve made probably best possible decision sending the camera for repair. At this time the chances of getting good replacement from the store are miniscule. Let’s hope Nikon has spare parts and your camera ends up in hands of a competent technician.

    Unfortunately, I do get email notifications, so I suspect a bug in the blog coding.

    • July 8, 2012 at 1:48 pm

      Engineering Design or Manufacturing Production issue, Canon still encountered issues. The main point stands – those buying early models just off the line will most likely – not always – experience a higher degree of issues. “As designed” or “as manufactured” doesn’t cut much mustard when that DSLR camera feature/function is not working for the customer.

      • 26.1.1) Marc
        July 8, 2012 at 9:17 pm

        Well said. Thats true enough.)

  27. 27) Sandeep
    July 8, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    After reading through all these complaints, I tested my D800 and I think I got a spam (I need to test it a bit more)..But I have been using it since march and I haven’t had any problem in the field ( no a Pro). I did a few events and I haven’t got a shot that is OOF unless the subject was moving and moving fast. I am really not sure what to do now?

    • July 8, 2012 at 6:42 pm

      I suggest taking two hours and putting it through some controlled tests. If you have an issue, I would recommend sending it back. You will have this camera for a while, you might as well make sure it is working correctly and you are getting everything out of it.

      • 27.1.1) Sandeep
        July 9, 2012 at 7:52 pm

        70-200 VR2 is fine that means camera is fine too. SO I haven’t got a spam after all rather I have the caviar. Thanks Bob..

  28. 28) Harold Weber
    July 8, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    Hey Bob,

    Thanks for posting this method. I like your modified Siemens star test chart. Is there any place I could download a copy of it or could you send it? The un-modifed star is not working well for me. Its tough to judge things without that ring and the small numbers. If I had to make a decision based upon what I’ve shot with my D800 using the un-modified star, I’d say using the left-most point as the focus point gives slightly BETTER results than the other two…….

    This was quite an education for me. My first results were really blurry. It took a remote shutter actuator, using the Mup option, and adding weight to my tripod to get something decent.

  29. July 8, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    You can download the full size Siemen’s Star here:

  30. 30) Jorge
    July 8, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    But why are you crying ? Some people said that there are worst things in life; so you must accept with a smile to lose your time, patience and money; specially when what is going wrong is only a little piece of plastic : )

    • July 8, 2012 at 9:36 pm

      No crying here. Just stating the facts regarding a defective product. I don’t recall Nikon advertising that only some of those 51 points would result in sharp images. Or did I miss that part of the message? :)

      • 30.1.1) Jorge Balarin
        July 9, 2012 at 1:15 pm

        Dear Bob, my comment was an humoristic one. I like very much your articles. Best wishes, Jorge.

  31. 31) Marc
    July 8, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    Hi Bob

    Great review. Thank you very much.

    • July 8, 2012 at 9:35 pm

      Thanks, Marc. Appreciate your stopping by and taking the time to comment.

    • 31.2) Marc
      July 8, 2012 at 10:19 pm

      I have to add a comment to chapter 4) and 5) :

      It is completely wrong that a customer has to read forums and has to perform tests, to find out if his/her product is working properly or not. If it is well known that the “frist wave of mass production” has issues, it is purely and solely in the responsibility of the manufacturer to test it thoroughly through (before shipping it). This trend (also seen in the software industry) to deliver unready products with many flaws and subsequenlty publish thousand patches and is basically wrong and not acceptable. Customers should firmly NOT tolerate and support this trend.

      • 31.2.1) Marc
        July 8, 2012 at 10:28 pm

        I personally would prefere to pay some dollars more but have piece of mind that, most probably, the product is working properly and that I am not forced to spend my time with readings forums and performing test. I do NOT want to say that errors can’t happen. But if it is know that a first wave has most probably isssues, the producer has to test it better and postbone the publishing if necessary. It worked well in the last century, this new trend to rush makes nobody happy at the end — in my opinon.

        • Marc
          July 8, 2012 at 10:46 pm

          Bob: “those buying early models just off the line will most likely – not always – experience a higher degree of issues.”

          I totally agree with that. This is realistic. But the trend to deliver unready products, I speak particularly about software and especially games, did exagerate in the last years. Thats not customer friendly anymore. But it is hard to counteract/countersteer as a customer. The excuse of the publisher is generally: “You can visit the forums”. My question: Is it really the duty of a customer to contact forums as a default procedure when buying a product, do customers want this?

          • Marc
            July 8, 2012 at 10:53 pm

            P.S. I miss an edit button in this forum. Reentering the email address could be used as verification.

          • Profile photo of Bob Vishneski Bob Vishneski
            July 8, 2012 at 11:00 pm

            You always have an option – wait until those in the Innovator and Early Adopter categories work through these issues. Such customers tend to be more accepting of problems and are willing to do such testing. If you don’t fit that category of buyer? Don’t buy your DSLR until the reports come in from all corners of the globe. There is a reason they call it the “Bleeding Edge!” ;)

            • Marc
              July 9, 2012 at 7:25 pm

              Yes, when I reflect about your words I guess you are right, Bob ;) The whole thing is a matter of attitude. The attidude of the producers “do we want to deliver slightly unready products which may still have some errors? Do we want that customer must search forums for issues” and the attitude of the customers “do I want to be a guinea pig or not?”. But … even if you decide to not be a guinea pig and buy a product later, it will not really prevent you as a customer from reading forums and searching through databases. Nowadays this seems to be the duty of a customers, as a customer you can not countersteer. Take for example STEAM . They dont even have a support number, only a support website. Sooner or later you will have a problem, you need to contact them, and all they say is: Read our forums, look through our database. Sometimes I could jump up the wall. Business has become in wide parts less customer friendly with providing no more hotlinenumbers and call center services, and instead only internetbased informations. I just hope Nikon will privide in future still a phone number where its possible to TALK with people.

              For me its quite a fact, that attitude business and publishing products earlier and earlier has changed in the last 12 years. Be it for good or not, we have to arrange ourselves with that.

            • Profile photo of Bob Vishneski Bob Vishneski
              July 9, 2012 at 8:52 pm

              You can always call the Nikon Service Center near you and request to speak to a staff member or manager. Nikon and other camera manufacturers have a heck of a challenge on their hands – how do they continue to make products more complex, when the expectations for their flawless operation go up, while the prices come down, they compete vigorously for market share based on, in part, price, and the expertise required of their service staff needs to increase/improve to deal with increasingly complex products. No small feat to successfully navigate such waters, make a profit, and invest in R&D.
              Again, I don’t mean to sound like an apologist, but most people don’t fully understand the delicate balance Nikon and others must strike. I may not be happy that I got a bum D800, but I do have a sense for the issues Nikon and the other camera manufacturers are facing.

      • Profile photo of Bob Vishneski 31.2.2) Bob Vishneski
        July 8, 2012 at 10:56 pm


        Welcome to the age of high tech cameras, which are little more than specialized computers. According to your theory, Microsoft never would have shipped any version of Windows, perhaps with the exception of Windows 7.

        No one appreciates poor quality and dealing with such issues. At the same time, you are being unrealistic if you believe companies will find/fix all issues before they show up in customers’ hands. Perhaps in some make believe world that might happen, but not this one – especially since the prices continue to come down but the complexity of the product continues to increase substantially. Little, if any innovation would occur under such circumstances, or the price of the products would so high few would afford it. Even the best software products have thousands upon thousands of bugs written against them. Ever look at the list of Windows patches? Oracle? Linux?

        Believe me, I was not crazy about spending my time taking pictures of test charts. But I was also realistic and questioned if I should wait a few months until Nikon encountered and resolved such issues. I Next time around? Who knows, I may wait until the first wave of units hits the streets and more information comes in regarding their quality.

        I would much rather have been out taking pictures of beautiful sunsets, portraits of my wife and family, or other more interesting subjects. But it is my responsibility (and yours) to make sure that our products we purchase are working correctly. No one is going to do that for us. I wish it weren’t so, but that is simply the way it is. And when we find issues, it is also responsibility to hold the companies involved accountable and have them resolve them.

        Dealing with the 1.o release of a software product always carries some risk. Getting the first next generation camera coming hot off the line? No different. If you don’t wish to be realistic about that level of risk and/or deal with the potential of being on the “bleeding edge,” I would reconsider when you jump into the market. If you wish to minimize your chances of dealing with such issues, I will make the same suggestion to you as I have made to others – wait 6-9 months.

        I am hoping that the exposure here and on other photography sites can spur Nikon to issue a press release assuring customers that they are aware of and are confident they can reliably resolve this issue.


        • Marc
          July 10, 2012 at 9:44 am


          I appreciate that you take your time to share your knowledge and your opinon with me. It surely had an influenced on me and extended my point of view. Thank you :)

          • Profile photo of Bob Vishneski Bob Vishneski
            July 10, 2012 at 9:00 pm

            And we appreciating your stopping by Mansurovs and sharing your thoughts as well. Stay tuned for more of my D800 adventure! ;)

  32. 32) FF
    July 8, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    #67 I don’t see a copy of the email you send me, so I include it below.

    The light leak on 5D3, was easily fixed and didn’t affect camera operation unless someone was taking pictures at night with the LCD light on.
    You are writing that Canon “encounteried issues” (plural). Can you be more specific? I’m curious.
    How does one design defect compare with so many D800 defects in terms of QC level in your opinion?
    How many QC issues were there with the Sony NEX-7 as another example?

    Taking about QC, you still didn’t fix the bug to stop the email notifications : – (

    • July 8, 2012 at 9:34 pm

      And Nikon’s bug doesn’t affect anyone but those relying on the far left autofocus points? I am not sure what you want me to say, FF. Nikon has an issue they need to address. No one is arguing that point. If you wish to argue that all startup production lines should produce perfect products, I think you are being a tad unrealistic. When you produce a high tech product and have a zero defect rate, let us know how it is done, since you will be the first.
      I am sure other Canon product introductions had some issues as well.
      I will ask Nasim to look into the email notification issue. Maybe Mansurovs is knowingly shipping spam mail and our QC processes are faulty? :)

  33. 33) dencelly
    July 9, 2012 at 4:01 am

    Bob, I did the test with the testchart from Nasim and did it the same way. My first conclusion. The D800 is an excellent camera and focuses exactly on the point at every focussensor on the test chart but ONLY with the best lenses which have a very good AF. And I have only one which is so perfect, the 70-200 vr II. The 14-24, 24-70 are good but not so perfect like the 70-200. The other both, the 85 1.4 and 50 1.4 are not exact and consistent – and not only wide open, using the middle sensor is even not better. The worst of all my lenses is the 50 1.4. I don’t believe that both are defective, because in live view they do a good job – strange or?

    You are right, it is the combination of camera and lens but which lenses are good alternatives to the 85 1.4 and 50 1.4 – both Nikkor? Sigma or the manual Focus Zeiss?

    I will do a third test like your way ..

    • July 9, 2012 at 6:14 am

      Live View will give you better results but there shouldn’t be a huge difference between the images from it and autofocusing through the viewfinder. My 50mm 1.4 and 85mm 1.8 were a bit better than the Sigma on both sides, but the left a bit weaker.
      I wish I could recommend other lenses, but with the higher resolving power of the D800, I suspect all lenses will need to be tested against it. Like a magnifying glass, the D800 is going accentuate the strengths and the flaws of each lens.

      • 33.1.1) dencelly
        July 9, 2012 at 7:25 am

        Bob, I agree with that. I mentioned Sigma ironically. But better alternatives than the expensive Nikkors? In the category f1.4 Portrait AF and f1.4 Normal-Lens for everyday using I can’t find any alternatives.
        The Nikkor lenses I have are good enough especially when they stopped down 2-3 f-stops, the problem is the AF accuracy some of them!
        Nikon has tested the D800 for a very long time so they must know that they have not enough good lenses for this highres cam. It seems, that they have only a few and here I agree with FF in his post #91.
        As a more than 30 years Nikon-User, I am not very amused about that joke that Nikon made …

        • Profile photo of Bob Vishneski Bob Vishneski
          July 9, 2012 at 8:38 pm

          I was none-too-happy to box up my D800, but I knew when I ordered it on Day 1 that I was running this risk – no doubt about it. I am confident that Nikon will resolve these issues to customers’ satisfaction. I only wish they would have issued a press release, given customers some guidance for how to test their D800s, and been more positive about explaining their fix and their confidence in it. That would have gone a long way to resolve some of the frustrations of D800 owners that have this issue.

          • dencelly
            July 10, 2012 at 12:39 am

            Bob, you are absolute right! I knew the ‘risk’ too when I preordered my D800 – every brand new product has his ‘child deseases’. I know that Nikon will resolve every real problem. In the last time I contacted the Nikon support via their website and once via phone, their reaction was everytime very friendly and fast as I can expect from a perfect support (I am talking about support in Germany). In this actual case they told me to send in my equipment shipping free or bring them to the next Nikon repair center – the next repair center is only 10 minutes away from me :-)

            • Profile photo of Bob Vishneski Bob Vishneski
              July 10, 2012 at 6:09 am

              I think that it is wise to give Nikon the opportunity to resolve this issue, be hopeful for the best, but also keep close tabs on the process and ensure that the Nikon Service Center representatives fully answer any questions you have. As I mentioned, Nikon’s Service Center has always done right by me, even if I had a few issues along the way. In the end, each of my experiences with Nikon turned out very positive. I am hopeful that this one will have the same result. I will drop everyone a line regarding the outcome of my D800’s service “adventure.” ;)
              I wish I lived that close to a Nikon Service Center, but alas, my camera had to travel a good 500 miles or so!

  34. 34) FF
    July 9, 2012 at 6:57 am

    Bob, With all due respect, do you understand what what you’re reading or you don’t care?
    I suspect that you don’t understand, but I’ll try again, for the last time.

    The Nikon defect rates are substantially higher than competition irrespective of the manufacturing process maturity. To make things worst their customer support/repair sucks big time. It certainly is the worst among 3 camera makers that I dealt with over the years.

    It is like the Mansurovs email notification bug which you suggest is a feature : -)))
    Tell Nikon repair service manager that you’re a big shot and writing for Mansurovs. This may make a difference. Otherwise expect the usual service “quality”.

    Finally, you should advise your readers that there may be only few, very expensive, lenses on the market (I’m not even certain of this) that can out-resolve the D800 sensor.

    • 34.1) Jorge Balarin
      July 9, 2012 at 1:33 pm

      Hi FF,

      Don’t be so agressive. Bob is a very nice person and his articles are very good and entertaining. I have nothing to say against “Caviar, Sardines or Spam”. In this last article Bob is very honest about his feelings after receiving a product that is not working as expected, and he demanded that Nikon acts in a proactiv way, recognizing and solving the “D800″ autofocus problem.

      Another thing. I used to have Canon products, but I changed to Nikon and I don’t regret my decision. Greetings, Jorge.

    • 34.2) David
      July 9, 2012 at 4:25 pm

      I agree with Jorge, relax FF, nothing comes out perfect the first time. That’s all Bob is trying to say. Besides, reading between the lines I don’t think you even own a D800, so why all the vitriol?

      Btw, unlike Nikon QC, you can turn off the notification. It will take you but a moment. Follow the links on the email where it says “Manage your subscriptions…”

      • Profile photo of Bob Vishneski 34.2.1) Bob Vishneski
        July 9, 2012 at 8:31 pm

        David & Jorge,
        Thanks, guys, but I can take care of myself. FF is simply confusing this site with some others where members flame out at each other over having different opinions.
        I signed on for Nikon’s first units off the production line. I am not happy that I got a can of Sardines, and would likely do it again. But I never kidded myself in understanding that the 1.0 version of any product – hardware or software, is the one where you are going to find issues.
        Good news – one of my contacts from Nikonians and Flickr received his D800 back today from Nikon’s Melville Service Center, and after 100 shots, he verified that is has been fixed! Hope springs eternal… ;)

    • July 9, 2012 at 8:25 pm

      I think you are confusing the terms, “understand” and “agree.” Because I don’t agree with your opinion doesn’t mean that I don’t understand what you are saying.
      A “big shot”? Hardly! Surely you jest. I will, however, remind Nikon that I am a good customer and invested in the Nikon system. More importantly, I purchased their highest resolution, award winning DSLR, and it is not working correctly. And I expect them to do right by me and fix it in a reasonable time frame.
      BTW, here’s JD Powers assessment of DSLRs for 2012. Guess who came in first and second? Not Canon… ;) Other studies I have seen have Nikon and Canon neck-and-neck. Others have Canon ahead by a hair. Hardly enough to make your case that Nikon’s quality is as bad as you make it out to be…

  35. 35) Jorge Balarin
    July 9, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    Thanks God Nikon is not doing airplanes : )

    • 35.1) Marc
      July 9, 2012 at 7:43 pm

      Jesus, Jorge, you are right :)

  36. 36) Patrick Sullivan
    July 9, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    I suspect the manufacturing process must have become a little more complicated and as such, details and calibrations are missed during the process. Remember the old adage about buying the first run of a car?

    • July 9, 2012 at 8:34 pm

      Indeed, no one will like this one, but as devices get more sophisticated with sensors, software, APIs, etc., don’t be surprised to see more issues relative to product quality – at least in the first few waves.

  37. 37) David
    July 9, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    Great article and feedback, thanks Bob. One thing I want to point out is the advantage of buying cameras/lenses from your local dealer rather than thru the internet. For example, when my D7000 started showing the dreaded oil spots on the OLPF I called my dealer (Larry at Nelson’s Photo) and explained the problem. He then called his Nikon rep and the rep authorized the repair AND took care of all the shipping. I dropped the camera off on Monday and the next Tuesday it was back with a new mirror box assembly and the OLPF was clean as a whistle. Fortunately, I was one of the lucky few who received a perfect D800 (ie – caviar). However had I received one with the AF issue I’m certain it would be a replay of the D7000/oil issue. This kind of excellent service from your dealer is the way it should be. And let me tell ya, it makes for some very loyal customers.

    Good luck with your D800, I’m looking forward to the report after it arrives back to you. The wait is more than worth it because the D800 is, as Nasim coins, an “evolutionary” camera.

    • July 9, 2012 at 8:19 pm

      Thanks for stopping by Mansurovs and sharing your ideas and opinions. We have a few camera dealers in the area, but as I pointed out in a previous article, camera dealers are becoming a thing of the past. Ritz is now in bankruptcy, and I wouldn’t count on any big box retailer for any camera advice. I have been remiss in checking out one dealer in particular in my area. Thanks for the reminder. I will indeed pay a visit to one or more of the local camera shops in the Pittsburgh area.
      Glad you got a good copy. I sure wish I was taking pictures with mine instead! Send us some links to your D800 photos. Some of us will live vicariously through your D800 until ours are returned! ;)

  38. 38) dencelly
    July 9, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    Can anyone please confirm this issue on D800: I am always focusing with the AF-ON button and the D800 confirms the right focus with a beep also with the green point in the viewfinder. Until here everything is good. But when I then press the shutter button the green point beginns to flicker. Can this be the reason why in most of my shots the choosen AF-Point is not saved?

    Thanks for a check and your answer!

  39. 39) DavldL
    July 9, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    Bob, great article.

    I use aperture to store my images and aperture has focus point Detection. That is, if you scroll over it or click on it, it will highlight where the auto focus point was used.

    I’ve noticed on some images that ive taken at wide apertures that the focus point is not in focus but somewhere else on the subject is. I estimate, depending how close I am, the sharp focus about 5 to 15cm behind the focus point. I notice this across my 3 lenses at differing degrees, but it disapears with smaller apertures. Obviously because my depth of feild is wider.

    Is this an auto focus fine tuning issue, or something I should get involved with the manufacturer?

    • July 10, 2012 at 6:02 am

      Glad you found it helpful. I understand that many that D800s that have this left autofocus issue tend to back focus quite a bit. You will notice it much more with lenses between f/1.4 and f/2.8. Did you fine tune your lenses first with a tool such as LensAlign? That is the first step BEFORE going through the process Nasim and I discussed. If after adjusting each of your lens to focus properly with D800, you experience the same issue autofocus inaccuracy (following Nasim’s and my suggestions), you may indeed have an issue.

      • 39.1.1) DavidL
        July 11, 2012 at 6:34 am

        Thanks for you’re Reply Bob.

        I was a little cheeky with my question because I don’t own a D800 but I have a D7000 that I’m having an issue with.

        I have printed off a focus chart to have a play around with the auto focus fine tuning but after improving the results I returned the AF back to zero. Probably because I didn’t have the confidence that I could fix the issue and believing that their must be something else wrong with the camera.

        Which leaves me with 2 options;

        1. because my camera and lenses are still under warranty, I could pack my gear up and send it off to a Nikon service centre and have them do what I could probably do


        2. Order a LensAlign Kit and adjust the lenses myself.

        My concern is that there may be something wrong that isn’t solved by the AF fine tuning.
        Am I jumping at shadows?

        What do you think Bob?


        • Profile photo of Bob Vishneski Bob Vishneski
          July 11, 2012 at 6:49 am

          I would start with a LensAlign kit and ensuring that you nailed this step first. Besides, the LensAlign is a good investment to make sure that you can verify that each lens you get is working correctly. Understanding that I need to verify/test each lens and DSLR I receive in the future was perhaps the most valuable part of my experience.

          • DavidL
            July 11, 2012 at 3:22 pm

            Thanks Bob,

            Just ordered it!


            • Profile photo of Bob Vishneski Bob Vishneski
              July 11, 2012 at 8:13 pm

              Good move. May this situation be a lesson to all of us to fully test our gear before our opportunity to send it back to the retailer is over.

  40. 40) Stefan
    July 10, 2012 at 4:21 am

    Hi Bob,
    Thanks for your great article. I have also a D800 and center performance is good (contrast AF = phase detection AF). I haven’t tested the left and right AF points yet.
    Did you send in your D800 for repair?
    Is it ok after repair?

    • July 10, 2012 at 5:53 am

      Nikon received my D800 on Monday. I did hear back from one photographer that the Melville Service Center fixed his left focus issue. That is good news. Will drop everyone a line when I get my camera back.
      I strongly urge you to test your camera. Better to deal with this issue now so you can have it fixed and put the problem behind you if your camera is affected.

      • 40.1.1) Jorge G
        July 11, 2012 at 7:38 pm

        Hi Bob,
        I’m late to the party, but thanks for a great post (My wife too accused me of being one of “those people”!) and your spending loads of time responding in the comments. FWIW, my D800 sardine also arrived at the Melville center on Monday – only difference being that I shepherded it there myself as we live in NYC. As such, I was able to have something of a chat with the person at the drop-off counter.

        He was very quick to accept the D800, even before I finished my entire description of the problem, and jotted down “left side out of focus” as soon as the words came out of my mouth. As such, I asked him, “looks like you are familiar with this issue” and he said “yeah somewhat… I’ve heard something about this…” – perhaps the Nikon wall of silence kicking in.

        He quoted a standard 7-10 business day turnaround, adding, perhaps as a hedge, that there may be a bit of a backup as a number of the technicians were out due to the July 4 holiday. Sigh…

        Anyways, my repair was classified as a “B2 – Moderate Repair: Major Parts Replaced” (he actually classified it as such from the get go). It has since, ostensibly, been affirmed as the status has moved from “Estimate” to “Estimate Accepted” to “In Shop” where it currently stands. Would be happy to update as progress is made if there is interest.

        Your “success” story out of Melville gives me great hope, but for now I will keep my fingers and toes crossed for us both.

        • Profile photo of Bob Vishneski Bob Vishneski
          July 11, 2012 at 8:02 pm

          Better late than never – but sorry that you are part of this particular party! Wish you were at the other party celebrating the fact that their D800 is working fine. ;)
          I appreciate the feedback you got from Melville. They received my D800 on Monday morning, so you and I should be in the queue at roughly the same time. It will be good to compare notes along the way.
          Thanks for writing and sharing your story, Jorge,

  41. 41) FF
    July 10, 2012 at 7:56 am

    # 105
    No Bob, you don’t understand – trust me. People who understand but disagree stay on the topic which is: “The Nikon lack of QC & bad support”, which you are trying to turn it into the “Nikon vs. Canon” p… contest.
    I responded to your statements regarding alleged small percentage of Nikon defects which was followed by admission that you have no access to the proprietary failure rate data. Any careful & serious reader will see this contradiction. So what’s its value? Anaesthetic or placebo for the frustrated customers?
    Product’s design & manufacturing quality was my profession and don’t need references. If there are changes in quality, for better or worst, they happen very slowly. Problems at Nikon didn’t pop out yesterday and will not disappear tomorrow.You can argue and even deny facts, but you can’t avoid consequences.
    I’m glad that you can recognize a joke. A sense of humour is a precious thing.
    Please allow me to reciprocate for providing the link to another example of the Nikon quality (your quote: “which is not as bad as you make it”) which is here:
    Best, FF.
    BTW, I got a msg. from someone (the site admin?) telling me how to turn off the Mansurovs spam and taking about vitriol :- ) instead of “thanks for finding a bug and sorry” for inconvenience. Since the bug persists, I’ve activated my spam filter. If you’re being paid by the volume of spam and comments, please remember my valuable contribution.

    • 41.1) David
      July 10, 2012 at 10:56 am

      FF, I’m not a site administrator, just another fellow Mansurov admirer/reader who feels your “contribution” to this site has stopped being such and is verging into Troll territory. Just because we do not agree with your conclusions does not mean you don’t hear or understand your arguments. We don’t all have to agree with you to understand where you’re coming from. Given that you do not even own a malfunctioning D800 it’s hard to take you very seriously. I understand the importance you place on having the last word so I will not reply to any more of your posts but I would like to end with my observation that any point you intended to make in the beginning has been overshadowed by your continued disrespectful posts.

    • July 10, 2012 at 7:12 pm

      I think I get it now – a sample size of “1” person with a cracked sensor indicates that Nikon has serious quality issues. Well, that makes a lot of sense… to someone…
      Changes in quality don’t necessarily happen “slowly.” A specific incident/issue can cause a rash of quality issues. A specific issue with the D800 doesn’t mean that all Nikon DSLRs have quality issues, nor does it necessarily indicate a trend. Enough of them strung together? That’s a different story. But finding 1 person on Fred’s site with a cracked sensor tells us nothing – of course apart from the fact that 1 person has a cracked sensor.
      I haven’t seen any evidence that Nikon’s quality issues are any worse than any other DSLR manufacturer by any appreciable measure. Yes – I and others may have defective D800 that was caused by some issue Nikon either didn’t anticipate or think through properly, but I am not willing to indite the entire Nikon product line or attribute malicious motives on its part.
      If you have some evidence that Nikon’s quality levels are materially different than those of other DSLR manufacturers, you are welcome to present it.

  42. 42) RockyIII
    July 10, 2012 at 9:15 am


    Thank you very much for posting the test chart. My D800 appears to have the left autofocus point problem, and I am looking forward to hearing how the repair of yours goes before I send mine to Melville.


    • July 10, 2012 at 8:51 pm

      Glad it helped. Sorry to hear that your D800 was affected. Good news is that some are reporting that Melville and other centers have successfully fixed their D800s.
      Hang in there,

  43. 43) spock
    July 10, 2012 at 10:09 am

    So Nikon obviously did not pull the D800’s away from distribution this late in the roll out to re-test and make sure the consumer did not have focus issues!!?? this blows my mind. They are banking on the fact that most who get there new D800’s will not notice the left focus issue.

    I did not pull the trigger because the price was holding me back but I see it as a blessing now.

    The thought of having my $3000 camera split open by a service center just increases the possibility of new problems being introduced that may show up in the future.


    • July 11, 2012 at 8:04 pm

      Nothing wrong with waiting to ensure that Nikon works these issues out and puts the controls in place to ensure future units don’t suffer the same fate. In the scheme of things, you seem pretty smart by my standards! ;)
      Besides, I am sure you have an existing Nikon DSLR and it is still capable of taking great photos. Enjoy it and wait until the waters settle down a bit.

  44. 44) Ben
    July 10, 2012 at 2:19 pm


    Thank you so much for posting your findings in a very clear way and identifying where to find a procedure to test our D800s when we get them. I have discovered the Mansurov web site about 1.5 month ago and am also very grateful for all the great gear testing that Nasim has posted in this web site. Very useful.

    Although I was impatiently waiting for my D800E, after reading this post and the Nikonians survey results, I have decided to cancel my order and wait 9 months after product launch until such problems have been ironed out.

    My question:
    When do you estimate that the 9-month period after launch will end for the D800E and for the D800 ?

    Other subject:
    I bought a lot of gear at B&H one week ago, but only saw your link to B&H yesterday. If I had known your link before, I could have used it to support your site. Perhaps, some more evident references to it could be added elsewhere so that people will use them more often.

    Reference for the Nikonians site survey:

    Thanks again!

    • 44.1) dencelly
      July 10, 2012 at 2:32 pm

      Ben, is a 9-month period not exactly 9-month ;)

      • 44.1.1) Ben
        July 10, 2012 at 3:45 pm


        Yes, of course 9 months is 9 months, but I am not so sure about when those periods of 9 months started for the D800E and the D800 respectively and was looking for Bob’s thoughts about that. I guess Nikon announced availabllity for a certain date, but they may not have started shipping at that moment.

        • Profile photo of Bob Vishneski Bob Vishneski
          July 10, 2012 at 8:50 pm

          I understand what you are getting at. I don’t know the exact first ship date, but I suspect it was late March when the first units began showing up for non-NPS customers. Given the autofocus issue, let’s call it April 1st! ;)

  45. July 10, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    Now you are making me nervous. My D80 is at the Nikon Facility in New York. Yeah, I said D80! Well I have been considering the D800 since my D80 broke down, probably from over use. Time I get the D800 and new lenses I am out some serious money, to me anyway. I don’t want to have focus issues. Hope this is resolved soon. Back to more research I guess. Ugh. I miss not having a camera. Oh yeah, I am a advanced amateur/not so advanced pro. LOL Thanks for the heads up.

    • July 10, 2012 at 8:45 pm

      Your concerns about placing an order is precisely why I believe Nikon should issue a press release outlining the issue, and assuring customers that they can be confident that the issue has been resolved.

  46. 46) Julian
    July 10, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    Long time reader and first time poster. First of thank you Bob for the great information. I have the same problem with my D800 (Non- E) and right out of the box (bought from Nikon USA online store) I had mild to extreme back focusing issues on all my lenses. The AF fine tuning needed ranged from -5 on the 50 1.8g all the way to -15 on the 85 1.8g and 70-200 vr II.

    I sent the samples with the left focus issue on the worst performer which was the 28 1.8g with the AF fine tuning turned ON. After about 2 business days I was told to re-do the focus testing with the AF fine tune turned OFF and then if I continue to have issues (which I assume I will) to contact them once more. Just a quick bit of information from other readers if you are contacting Nikon about this left focus point issue and you have already adjusted your AF fine tuning, you may want to turn it off and run it again and submit all of the results. I will be resubmitting samples to Nikon and hopefully get more information on what to do next once I hear anything from Nikon.


    • July 11, 2012 at 8:08 pm

      My 28mm f/1.8G was also the worst performer of the bunch with AF fine tuning on. Of course, if I turn it off, what good is the AF fine tuning feature? Still sounds like something is wrong. If the only way to “fix” the left side autofocus issue is to turn off this feature, that would seem to negate the notion of having it.
      Let me know what you hear. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

      • 46.1.1) Julian
        August 2, 2012 at 6:48 pm


        Sorry to hear about your repair problems. I sent my D800 into the Melville, NY repair center as well. They received it on July 24th and it arrived today August 2 so overall the turn around time was pretty good. Unfortunately like you, the left and right focus point had been fixed but the center focus point was pretty far off this time the 28mm f1.8g being better than the 50mm f1.8g. Not quite sure why. Anyways since I don’t have the opportunity to return the camera, I have contacted Nikon once again with updated pictures submitted to MyNikon’s question submission site with details on the first issue, the post repair issues, and sample images again from the center, far left and far right in both PDAF and LVAF.

        Upon calling Nikon service, they said they would send me shipping labels to return the camera for service once again. Hopefully I’ll find a resolution to this issue but there appears to be a disconnect between the Nikon service center and the original issues posted on their question asking site. This time I called and asked the service center to refer to both my original question thread as well as the updated question thread and in case they don’t have access to those online questions I am going to print out images of all the samples I originally uploaded along with the entire communication between me and Nikon thus far. Hopefully that will convey the complete detail of the issues and they will “fix” it this time around. I’ll let you and the people of this forum know how it goes. Hope you new D800 whenever you get it comes to you in perfect condition.


        • Profile photo of Bob Vishneski Bob Vishneski
          August 2, 2012 at 8:06 pm

          Sorry to hear that Julian. My humble advice? Escalate it now to Marie or David in the Customer Experience group. Make sure someone in management VOUCHES for this repair before they send it back to you. Good luck!
          Will let you know the condition of my unit as soon as I get it.

  47. July 10, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    I find the argument on Expected QA issues seriously flawed. It has nothing to do w/being tolerant or expecting that if I am one of the first to purchase an item that I should expect they may have QA issuse. I don’t care whether they have QA issues or they dont-what care about is that I am not paying my hard earned $ for something I am not getting. If it turns out to be a Lemon then I want the option of my $ back since I did not chose to invest in a product that does not deliver what it promised. It is just simple business to me. Until Nikon acknowldeges that almost 42% (according to the latest Nikonians Poll) has received the Spam & they are willing to issue a recall/repair(where they pay for the shipping to & from the way they did on the battery recall)then I will remain hesitant to purchase new releases from Nikon or any other company that has this many blunders and does not publicly acknowledge the need for a recall/repair. I am very tolerant when I feel a company has made a mistake & admits it but the lack of communtication has caused me to lose trust. I understand if others do not feel this way but I definitely do-I am disgusted w/Nikons lack of response & action!

    • July 10, 2012 at 9:16 pm


      You certainly deserve to have your D800 to work perfectly and live up to the advertising and product literature claims. I am not arguing against it, but pointing out that far more issues are likely to occur during the initial production runs. Simple facts.

      But… if you want to minimize your chance of running into an issue? Wait… That may be hard to swallow but is simply playing the odds. I am aware of the Nikonians’ poll, but it is a rather small sample size.

      I absolutely agree that Nikon should have handled this better. I have no doubt that some customers have canceled orders because they are worried that they will be opening their D800 box, taking some test charts, frustrated to find that their unit is not working correctly, and then putting it back in the box and sending it off to Nikon for repair – and paying the freight! Not a very comforting thought for purchasing what many consider to be the leading DSLR… :(

      You can always return your D800 to the retailer that you purchased it from at no charge. But without any confirmation from Nikon, you don’t know when you will get another unit or if it will have the same problem. It certainly would comforting to know what the extent of the issue is, what S/Ns are affected, etc. The most troubling aspect of this issue may be that it is not confined to a given batch of S/Ns but rather random. I would hope that is not the case, but without something more from Nikon relative to an understanding, I suspect people will assume the worst.

      One more reason for the phrase, “Buyer Beware.” ;) Let’s hope Nikon gives its customers some better information on this issue shortly.

      • 47.1.1) Tinker's Realm
        July 10, 2012 at 9:41 pm

        ITA w/ you Bob & have learned my lesson- I will always wait before buying the latest & greatest until it has been proven. I wish that I had the option of a return- I don’t “Need” the D800 so would gladly return it and wait out the year but the store I purchased it from only had a 2 week return policy so even though I went in the same week I purchased it talking about how frustrated I was w/ the lack of consistent sharp images- did not rerun it as I never dreamed that Nikon would have made a blunder like this! It is what it is now-and I am no longer shocked about it all- just wished I had not purchased the camera & am really missing my D700 :-)

  48. 48) Francois Roger
    July 11, 2012 at 7:42 am

    I checked my wife’s D800 and it appears bang on the money, tuna brochettes on the broil lloll! I compared it to my 5D2 with similar lens and maybe I prefer the colors on the Canon. But it’s just a question of time till I get the hang of adjusting it. There is a 5mm back focus on a few lenses but I will redo the tests with spiderlenscal later. It takes great pictures the way it is. I noticed it’s much less forgiving than the old D300, we have to run a “tighter ship” now (depth of field). The 5D mkIII has it’s share of problems too (leak in the body?). Also our D800 is kind of fussy on CF cards. I have a UDMA6 Mustang 32g that wont work (great in the 5D2). I tried all the tricks. The Lexar 1000x and Adata 533x 16gb are ok. Nikon service is fussy but their technicians on location are a 10. I had problems once with a D70 that they kindly fixed. Dont know about Canon, never had a mishap.

    I wonder what the ratio is between caviar and sardine?

    Flicker JPG compression does show but both are affected. D800 24-70G 5D2 24-70 mk1

    • July 11, 2012 at 8:10 pm

      I don’t know that we will ever know the ration of Caviar to Sardines. I can say that the longer Nikon fails to proactively address this situation, the worse they will make it. It simply creates too much doubt and uncertainty.
      Glad to hear you got a good unit and are using it to take photos of something other than test charts! ;)

  49. 49) Jen
    July 11, 2012 at 10:31 am

    Thank you for this blog post. While I don’t have a focus issue with my Nikon D800, my 17-35mm lens is a bit softer and front focusing than I expected it to be, so now I know that I can fix it at home with a lens calibration card rather than sending it out and waiting for it to come back.

    • 49.1) Francois R
      July 11, 2012 at 1:13 pm

      Yes great blog post! It’s a breath of fresh to read good Nikon stuff.
      Hello Jen mine is back focussing slightly. I was expecting better at first and it took quite a few shots (and calibration) before I got it right. I installed a better quality filter (lens protector) also. Is-it only the 17-35 that’s front focussing? I suspect the body because spiderlenscal reports 3-5 mm back focus on most of my lenses except a 50 1,8D (zero correction) that I borrowed from a friend.

      • Profile photo of Bob Vishneski 49.1.1) Bob Vishneski
        July 11, 2012 at 8:17 pm

        Thanks, Francois. I don’t have a 17-35mm, but I understand it is softer at the edges than the 16-35mm an and the 14-28mm.

      • 49.1.2) Jen
        July 11, 2012 at 11:34 pm

        Hi Francois, My 50mm 1.8D is very sharp all the way through and to the edges on my Nikon D800.

    • July 11, 2012 at 8:19 pm

      You are welcome, Jen. Thanks for stopping by. As I mentioned, the first photos I take with any new DSLR or lens will be of a test chart to make sure: 1. They are properly tuned, and 2. They are working correctly.

      • 49.2.1) Jen
        July 11, 2012 at 11:37 pm

        Hi Bob,

        The issue with my 17-35mm is not the edges but it doesn’t always focus where I want it to quickly and when it does it is a bit softer than the 50mm. As I said, I am glad for this post, as I now know about calibration cards.

  50. July 11, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    I got my D800 in the first shipment over. I had it a week and realized I was having focus issues. Since it was one of the first, it took me a while to figure out what was going on. In addtion there were two blobs of grease or resin on the filter. So, I contact a Nikon rep and he asks me to send it to El Segundo. I contact them via My Nikon and they apologize for shipping it out with a dirty filter over the sensor but do not acknowledge my focus complaint. So, I write again and they ask that I send some sample images showing the focus problem. I do that and ship them my camera (which they don’t offer to pay shipping for). They kept it a week, shipped it back with no explaination as to what was repaired. The two blobs were gone, replaced by a multitude of common dust which I cleaned off myself. Focus issue was not resolved as if they just simply ignored it. I have been such a fan of Nikon, having owned every pro model from the F4 to the D3s (except F6 and D1 series). I have five Nikkor pro lenses and some number of “consumer” lenses. And then this. It is really frustrating. The thing is, I’m not one of those who scream “I’m changing to Canon”. I’ve worked through a number of small hitches with Nikon. You would think they would appreciate loyalty.

    • July 11, 2012 at 8:12 pm

      Indeed one wonders why Nikon isn’t being more forthcoming on this issue. I can accept an honest mistake. But Nikon’s “Vow of Silence” on this issue is certainly maddening to its loyal customers and probably not doing much to maximize sales either.

    • 50.2) Jorge Balarin
      July 12, 2012 at 12:58 pm

      The situation you describe is very disappointing. Is not there an office of “consumer advocacy” ?

  51. 51) Stefan
    July 13, 2012 at 5:34 am

    Hi Bob,
    I tested my D800 together with my lenses.
    Now, I am a bit confused. The 24-70 shows the same problems, especially on the left side. BUT, with my 70-200 VRII I get perfect results with all AF points. Both lenses were tested at f2.8 and 70 mm. Center performance is always good.
    Do you have an explanation? Is it a camera and/or lens problem?
    Best regards

    • July 13, 2012 at 6:07 am


      The issue seems to be manifested most by wide lenses with large apertures, but I have see it with both my 85mm f/1.4 and f/1.8 lenses. I meant to test my 70-200mm VRII, but was “test charted out” after seeing the same results, more or less, across the myriad of lenses listed in my post. I don’t have a good explanation apart from the fact that, if it is a misalignment between the AF autofocus system, sensors, primary mirror, and secondary mirror, the issue may be aggravated by the combination of the FOV and larger apertures.

      But if Live View allows you to take a much sharper image than the one captured via autofocus through the viewfinder, you may have a DSLR issue. Because of the contrast detect technology of Live View, you can expect a sharper image. If the image captured with that same focus point via autofocus is noticeably worse, however, I think it is fair to say that the lens is capable, but the AF system may be at fault.

      You raise a good point – when you test a DSLR and lens combo, which is the standard? I had the same thought, as I have seen some lenses that are a bit softer, show more CA, or vignette more on one side or another. Unfortunately, most of us are not equipped with a dozen DLSRs and/or the engineering equipment to make such judgments.

      The best we can do is use LensAlign or other tools to test our ability to test the sharpness of our lenses, fine tune them, and then do a test via Live View and autofocus to ensure that they perform similarly.I understand that at least one company has produced software to enable you to test your DSLR’s AF performance, although I haven’t investigated it in any great detail.


      • 51.1.1) Stefan
        July 13, 2012 at 9:15 am

        Thanks Bob!

        Great to get a so detailed answer in such a short time.

        I think in “comment 88″ the same situation (as mine) is described very well. With several tests today I came to the result that my D800 is ok, because every AF point delivers very(!) good results when I use my 70-200 VRII. There is no difference between Live View AF and phase detection AF. Even at f2.8 and at all focal lengths.

        My 50 1.8G performs good to very good with both AF methods.

        The 24-70 2.8 delivers also good results, but only when the test chart is not too far away and the things in focus are not too small. When the test chart is only a little part of the complete frame the percentage of not correctly focussed pictures is high (even higher with non-cross-type sensors). This is the same in real-life pictures, e.g. when I shoot (only for testing!) ;-) landscapes with f2.8. Even the objects in focus are worse compared to contrast AF, when they are very small and too far away. I think in these cases contrast AF has some advantages over phase detection AF.

        But back to Nasim’s test chart: When it takes ~ 50 % of the frame I get good results with all of my lenses at f1.8 / f2.8.

        So, I think my D800 is ok, but it shows that this high resolution camera is very demanding and needs perhaps a bit more accurate phase detection AF.

        Thanks for your great articles on “The Mansurovs”!



  52. 52) Tinker's Realm
    July 14, 2012 at 1:10 am

    Hooray- I see you posted that Nikon has finally acknowledged the issue – what a relief!

    fYI: I only received a partial post from you & when I clicked on the continue received an error message that the article could not be found.

    • July 14, 2012 at 4:36 am


      Sorry to say, but Nikon had not issued anything further on the D800 autofocus issue. I had indeed created a post identifying how I thought Nikon should handle the situation. Unfortunately, it was not clear from the original lead in comment that it was my suggested approach vs. an official Nikon press release. I realized it after seeing a few posts and immediately moved the disclaimer to the top so it was very clear, and apologize for any confusion regarding the issue. But even after the changes, some people did not bother to fully read the post and went into a false euphoria.

      Since the original story gets copied into facebook and RSS emails, however, not everyone received the updated post. So instead of helping the cause, my post lead to additional confusion and frustration instead of my original idea – which was to help raise the awareness and need for a more formal response from Nikon – so we removed it. Enough people are already burned up over the autofocus issue and it didn’t make much sense to do anything that could be even remotely be perceived as adding to people’s woes of getting a D800/D800E that wasn’t working properly.

      As Mary Chapin Carpenter sang, “Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug.” :) I will be more diligent about being clearer in my intent and understanding how posts can be interpreted – and misinterpreted – in the future!


  53. 53) lorenzo
    July 16, 2012 at 11:30 am

    Should I cancel my order?

    I have been on a waiting list at B&H for a D800E since 6/05. After reading all these recent Sardines and Spam (and almost none or very few Caviar) I seriously ask myself if I should call them to cancel my order and wait for at least another 9 months. I already got a lemon D300s, I don’t want another D800E with the same performance.

    B&H said that if the camera is defective I have 30 days to return it. They send it to Nikon, not to the next person in the list – my fear was to get a defective unit from someone else. If the camera arrives too early (when this issue has not yet been fixed at the factory) there is no way to be notified before they ship. In this case shouldn’t I even open the box and just return it?

    Nikon Service suggested to do the focus test very accurately (and NOT with the lens set at full aperture – so some DOF can cover the error, right?). If the D800E fails provide detailed documentation and send the camera to repairs, on my dime.

    As I had this experience already 4 times with a D300s I am afraid that Service can state the usual comment “Camera is at factory specs” and do nothing. If that happens I can’t send it back to B&H anymore and will have a second lemon or Spam!

    Does anyone have an advice on what to do? Thanks.

    • 53.1) dencelly
      July 16, 2012 at 11:53 am

      Lorenzo, if you get yours then test it with the method that Bob describes here and if your copy is a good one then hold it and give it to nobody. I promise that you will not regret it! If not, you can send it back to B&H …

      I brought my D800, D7000 and all my five good lenses (all f 1.4 and 2.8) to the Nikon Service Point in Dreieich/Germany today and they told me it would take maximum one week. They wanted the lenses too because they want to “pair” them to the cameras. I will report here if my toys are back!

      • 53.1.1) lorenzo
        July 16, 2012 at 12:27 pm

        Hi Dencelly, thanks for the suggestion.

        I sort of feel bad to return cameras to B&H, as Nasim said, they send it to Nikon and they resell it as refurbished without fixing it. Chances to win the Caviar IMO are same as win the lotto :-)

        I only have these lenses to test: 14 and a 24-70mm f/2.8, 85mm f/1.4 — wow, this font on my PC has a two that looks like a one — and I was thinking of buying a 50mm G f/1.4. I never had a FX camera; my D300s has some serious focus problems, consequently I don’t know if my lenses are good or bad.

        I haven’t figured out yet if that LensAlign allows you to modify the mechanic of the lens or if it just tells you the focus distance. It might be worth to buy it then.

        My problem with the test is in finding a free wall with enough light where to stick the Siemens Stars.

        I will wait a little longer, hoping not to get the camera for at least few more months.

        My best wishes to you, they are very serious in your Country and will fix the beasts, let us know how it went.


        • dencelly
          July 16, 2012 at 2:26 pm

          My pleasure Lorenzo! The lens align tool helps you to find out if your lens has a back or frontfocus. You have to adjust issues than with AF fine tune at your camera. Indeed you need enough and stable light for the Siemensstar test. Not only for taking the shots, it is necessary for the AF to work accurate. Your 85 1.4 is the best way to check any inaccurate AF because the depth of field is very small and doesn’t excuse focus errors. I have a 50 mm 1.4 too – my cheapest and lightest lens ;) and I love it. It is also good for testing AF issues. But I heard many about the newer 50 mm 1.8 – faster AF, more contrast and a lower price. Check Nasim’s review.

          Thanks for your wishes and good luck getting a D800 caviar!

  54. 54) john
    July 17, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    Hi Bob
    Number of mine d800 is 5005533.Have checked all lenses including 50/1.4D.Is no problem whatsoever.

  55. 55) Mike
    July 18, 2012 at 9:57 am

    Tested my camera last night, it also has the left AF sensor issues that others have. Early run camera, so not that surprised. Hope Nikon can fix it, I have read good and bad things about the ‘fix’ for this.

    Results of my testing can be seen here:

  56. 56) Tinker's Realm
    July 18, 2012 at 10:47 am

    I just received my NPS acceptance letter- whis
    ed it had arrived before I shipped mine off for repair but am hopeful that I can call it in and it will help to expedite my repair!

  57. 57) Tinker's Realm
    July 18, 2012 at 10:48 am

    I just received my NPS acceptance letter-
    Wished that it had arrived before I shipped mine off for repair but am hopeful that I can call it in and it will help to expedite my repair!

  58. 58) Dave
    July 22, 2012 at 2:30 am

    Hey Bob did you ever get your camera back yet?

    • July 22, 2012 at 8:36 am

      Nikon indicated that my D800 repair is complete and it will be shipped out tomorrow. They didn’t have the the specific details of the repair, but indicated that they will be included with the camera. You can bet I will be testing it within minutes of it coming out of the box. I left my calibration charts and lights where they were so it won’t take me long to quickly know how well the repair turned out. Stay tuned! :)

  59. 59) Les
    July 24, 2012 at 11:13 am

    Bob , I want to thank you for this complete test of the D800 left focus issue incluiding the different lenses. I set up mine to the specs that you used with 24-70 lens and found that it was perfect on all three stars. The serial no. is 30079XX. Thank so much, Les

    • July 25, 2012 at 4:40 am


      You are quite welcome. Anything to help others understand and learn something from my experience. Very glad to hear that your D800 works perfectly – at least I can live vicariously through someone else that has a D800 which focuses correctly! :)

      I get my D800 back today, so I will likely be able to tell within 1 hour if it has been fixed. I understand they did indeed make a number of adjustments, but I will see the full write-up when it arrives with my D800. If it not fixed, I have the night to decide whether to ship it back to B&H and wait this one out until Nikon addresses the issue.

      Nikon’s photographic version of “The Sounds Of Silence” has many of us wondering if we exchange our cameras for new ones, will be simply end up in the same boat with another unit that has the same issue? I can’t imagine what the folks running Nikon must be thinking. They are introducing far too much uncertainty into the market, and really losing quite a bit of credibility. I can certainly understand, and even identify with, new high tech product introduction challenges, but Nikon’s keeping silent and causing its customers to wonder what they heck is going on is simply not good for anyone.

      Despite the strong brand loyalty some have to Nikon, it still pays to remind yourself of the old adage, “Buyer Beware.”


  60. July 25, 2012 at 10:59 am

    I agree Bob & if you truly can send it back to B & H even after having Nikon repair it then I would-Why take a chance. I read on some blog this week that Nikon contacted someone to say that the calibration did not work & they were trying to come up w/a solution but it may take 4-8weeks longer-all the while that person is without a camera-Sucks for Sure!
    I was able to at least figure out that my camera is at El Sugundo and has been loged in & my NPS membership # attached to it-See what I get back & how long it will take!

  61. July 25, 2012 at 11:01 am

    PS: Please excuse my above typos-ipad it going to be the death of me for sure!
    Anyway-Best Wishes in your testing today-Waiting on Pins & needles!

  62. 62) Art
    July 27, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    Just wanted to report that I got my camera back from El Segundo today and the camera now focuses on all auto focus points they way it should. The repair invoice stated that they adjusted auto focus operation. Live view focus now matches viewfinder focus on all focus points. Nikon received the camera on 7/17 and shipped it back to me on 7/25. can’t complain about that, but I am still out $104 dollars for shipping costs. I have have to give Nikon credit for the quality of the repair and turnaround time. So from my point of view Nikon does know how to fix the problem.
    Well I guess it is time to put the test charts away, put the D3X back in the closet, and finally do some shooting with the D800.

    • 62.1) Tinker's Realm
      July 27, 2012 at 8:26 pm

      So happy that yours has returned repaired correctly! I received a call today that mine has arrived back to the retailer so in a few more days I too will know. My only concern now is that I hope they actually repaired mine as the rep on the phone mentioned that I had incorrectly recorded my serial # when I registered my camera- so the Q. Now is – did they return it unrepaired due to no registration or ??? The Saga continues..,

  63. 63) Stefan
    July 31, 2012 at 4:23 am

    You should have received your D800 back from Nikon. Is it ok now?
    I talked to Nikon Central Service in Düsseldorf, Germany, and they are NOT able to repair the left focus issue (only correction of the central cross-type sensor is possible). I have this in written form. They wait for an instruction from Japan which should come in “the next weeks”. They don’t want to replace my D800 with a properly working unit. Unbelievable! And I am going to Africa in October. Animal photgraphy with 1~9 out of 51 AF sensors will be very unsatisfying…

    • 63.1) dencelly
      July 31, 2012 at 5:01 am

      Stefan, I can confirm this as well. My D800 is the second time there. Nikon will still retain it a few weeks, because they still have no solution. I wrote this some time ago here, that there is still no real fix from Nikon. But again and again some people writing here and in other blogs that supposedly already a fix exists. Why some claim this is a mystery to me. Maybe marketing strategists or people with commercial interests … whatever, I don’t know why …

      • Profile photo of Bob Vishneski 63.1.1) Bob Vishneski
        July 31, 2012 at 6:07 am

        Stefan & Dencelly,

        I am not a happy camper. My unit came back without being fixed. Will publish an article soon regarding the specifics. Here’s a summary:

        June 26th – Received D800

        June 27-July 3rd – Put unit through a battery of tests per Nasim’s and others’ suggestions and realized I also had the left side autofocus issue

        July 6th – Dropped D800 off at UPS

        July 9th – Received at Melville Service Center

        July 12th – In SHOP

        July 25th – Returned

        July 25th – Tested and analyzed results using same lenses and test procedures as before. Not Repaired Successfully – Left side focus corrected. Center? TERRIBLY out of focus. Required +15 to +20 to get center in focus on most lenses. This threw the left side out of focus.

        July 26th – Sent unit back to B&H on last day of 30 day return window. Hoping to receive new unit that works correctly.

        If I get another lemon, it is going back immediately and I will sit this out until Nikon proactively addresses the situation. We are only allotted so many hours on this earth, and I would rather not have “Here Lies Bob – Master Of Siemens Star Photos” inscribed on my tombstone… ;)


  64. 64) Tinker's Realm
    July 31, 2012 at 9:39 am

    Well, I should be saying “So Sorry to hear that your camera came back w/same issues” but instead I am going to say:Congratulations you lucky SOB- wish that I had the option to return mine for a full refund- you are smart to just sit this dance out!!!

  65. 65) Ben
    August 2, 2012 at 11:18 am

    I am happy I cancelled my D800E order. I will definitely wait many months (probably until January 2013) in order for this problem (and who knows, maybe other problems we do not know about yet) to be resolved. As I do not have any Nikon lenses yet, it means that my order for these 4 lenses will be delayed as well :
    – the 14-24mm
    – the 24-70mm
    – the 70-200mm
    – the Nikon TC-20E III

    I have also found another blog by Thom that contains useful info on the D800 autofocus problem such as the possible cause of the problem ( the internal tables that allow the camera to know the position of the focus sensing modules would have to be redone). So if that is really the problem, then it would not be a hardware problem. I guess we will know more in the future. He also writes about a Nikon procedure and other info. Now, nothing of that is officially confirmed as Nikon has not acknowledged the problem, but it brought some much needed relief to me about what could be happening. Not sure if it is desirable to post the link here. So if that sounds interesting to you. a Google search on these keywords will lead you there: bythom D800 autofocus problem.

    Again, thanks so much to Bob for his findings and to have communicated his experience to us. Because of him, I can hope to receive a better camera.

    • August 2, 2012 at 8:17 pm

      You are quite welcome. I read Thom’s post as well, but not sure if there is one problem or multiple problems. If it is such a simple fix, one has to wonder why Nikon’s Service Centers have such mixed results repairing the D800s, huh?

  66. 66) Tinker's Realm
    August 2, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    Picking mine up today w/fingers crossed!

    • August 2, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      I understand that Nikon is teaming up with Pearl Vision to offer a 20% discount on bifocals when you purchase a D800! ;) Good luck. Let us know how you make out!

      • 66.1.1) Tinker's Realm
        August 2, 2012 at 8:32 pm

        Well, why didn’t you mention this earlier-My local store has 2 D800’s sitting on the shelf & all orders filled-Can’t imagine that for such a hot new relase but it’s true-I am going back to buy another one & get my 20% off coupon-Thanks for the tip!

        • Profile photo of Bob Vishneski Bob Vishneski
          August 2, 2012 at 8:46 pm

          Get bifocals stronger than you need. After a few D800s, you will find that your eyes have gotten worse and you now need those stronger lenses! :)

          • Tinker's Realm
            August 2, 2012 at 11:51 pm

            Early test results on my “repaired” D800 are not looking good- am going to wait until Saturday when I can devote more time-maybe I should just remove my glasses altogether so that I can blame the fact that I don’t have my glasses on for the completely out of focus image results!

            • Profile photo of Bob Vishneski Bob Vishneski
              August 3, 2012 at 6:33 am

              You should be able to figure it out within 18 shots (3 Live View, 3 AF – per L, C, & R focus points) with a 1.4, 1.8 or 2.8 lens. Are you now in denial? :(
              If you got spammed in this repair, I suggest escalating the situation quickly and making sure that you reach the Director of Customer Service/Experience. If you get lost in what I suspect is a tidal wave of repairs, you risk another go-around on this issue, as a number of people have experienced.
              I hope your second wave of tests is successful though.

  67. 67) Tinker's Realm
    August 2, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    I propose a new business idea for those out there in need of a start up idea:

    I see a need for a Business that does nothing but test new Cameras purchased for AF Accuracy/ other Issues & then writes up a reportfor the consumer. The buyer thencan buy w/confidence that their brand new camera has been carefully tested-they could just ship it directly to be analyzed before their return period is up & if the Camera turns out to be a dog the buyer is only out the small fee not the entire amount of the new purchase as some of us D800 owners are. This has been done on used Autos forever. I see a real need in the Photography Business too in light f Canon’s light leak & Nikons AF issues.
    Could even use the testing authentication to file a group lawsuit against Nikon to get our $ back if they do not eventually figure out how to correct & repair the defective cameras a “Few” of us are stuck with!

  68. August 2, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    Thanks for the help in doing a calibration on my new D800,
    Hurrah !!! my new D800 S/N 3033429 has no issues with the AF
    I did notice some CA and it cleaned up with the lens calibration
    present in raw.

  69. 69) John Richardson
    September 6, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    Though this is late to the comment section:

    I finally decided to go ahead an get one of the few D800’s from my favorite Ukrainian supplier. I knew that they were moving slowly here but when the price dropped to $2880 (due to $ fluctuations) I ordered the D800, a 50mm f1.8 AFD and an Intous5 Touch S tablet. They did not have D800e’s in stock and I really don’t see the need for it for me.

    After charging the battery, setting all the menus, formatting Nikon approved cards, installing the firmware and distortion control updates (from Nikon Europe), got an English D800 Guide off the web since everything I got is in Russian…same for the Wacom. AND Rereading this article again:

    I was current, and set to performing the very same task you did in your article. Three times with each lens, no problem. Then I disassembled the rig and redid it three more times. In other words relighting, remounting charts, in a different room and at a different tripod height. Still no left AF problems. I used the new 50mm as well as a Tokina 100mm f2.8 macro (Fx lens) and an old Tokina 50-135mm f2.8 DX lens in DX mode. OK OK I need new lenses, yeah I know that, but my wife on the other hand is gonna keep me on a tight leash as 27.325UAH I spent on a “hobby” is too much for her to handle, this goes along with the monkey she also won’t let me get….go figure) I Do however have some legacy FX lenses left over from my film days that will not autofocus but surely do meter so I think I am okay for this month lol.

    I may be lucky as the production serial number after the Euro designation is in the mid 19,000’s. So with new D800 in hand, and knowing that I will have to send it to Nikon Europe/Russia for service if needed, I am off to take real photos, as all this testing is surely NO FUN at all, but I knew it was necessary.

    I think I dodged a stray bullet from and AK-47 and came out with a tin of good Russian Caviar on this one!
    (I will actually have to get that from Russia, we have crappy Ukrainian Caviar and some good stuff from Iran over here)

    One more thing, why oh why have I not used a graphics table before this is beyond me, what a dope I was for waiting so long!!

    Thanks Bob!!!

  70. 70) Nick
    September 25, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    Hi Bob,

    I’m trying to duplicate your test using the same lens you have and the same settings (24mm @2.8). This was just a pilot run. I tried to estimate the size of your star chart…looks like about 2.5 in. square. With camera on tripod, I made sure the center focus point covered the entire star figure. The NEF image was uploaded to CS5.

    When viewing the image, it was very small. When I tried to increase it to the point where I could see something, the star chart fuzzed out. Camera was in focus when shot was taken. What am I doing wrong?

    One last thing. My D800E will arrive in several days. In order to begin learning about this test, the lens was mounted on a D700.

    Thank you for all your contributions!

  71. September 26, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    Not sure. You should be able to see quite a bit of detail by zooming in, although the D8ooE will show quite a bit more detail than your D700. My focus point fit a bit inside the Siemens Star image so I may have been a bit closer, but that doesn’t explain why your Siemens Star is fuzzy. Try it with your D800E and let me know how it works out.

  72. 72) Nick
    September 27, 2012 at 7:42 am

    Thanks, Bob

    I believe I’ve solved the problem. I assumed I had to cover the entire star chart with the center focus point. I then made a chart 3 in. square and covered just the middle circle of the star chart with the focus point. At 50-100% magniifcation in CS5, I could see things quite clearly.


  73. 73) Nick
    September 28, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Bob, one more question. In your testing results…the images of the 24-70 (first set of star images in the results section) you compare live view versus autofocus. What magnification did you look at to do those comparisons…25%, 50%, 100% etc.? Also, the same images you presented on this page, what magnification are they?



  74. September 29, 2012 at 7:23 am

    I zoom in as much as possible to see the level of sharpness in each – the more the better. The main comparison is between each shot taken using phase detect AF and its Live View counterpart. The shots should be relatively close. Of course, diffraction and lens curvature may affect the right and left shots more that the center. Phase detect AF will usually be a bit less sharp than the corresponding Live View shot, but it shouldn’t be extremely different.

  75. 75) Nick
    September 29, 2012 at 7:47 am

    Thanks, Bob. I examined my shots at 50 and 100% magnification. Like you said, phase detect autofocus was a tad less sharp compared to autofocus live view. Overall, the camera will be a keeper.

    When you compare results for each focus point (e.g. center, right, left), what procedure do you use? For example, if you take a shot with the center focus point on the center target, I assume you compare the two (AF vs. LV AF) center targets to one another. And for the left and right focus point shots, do you then compare left target to left target and right to right?

    • September 29, 2012 at 8:04 am

      That’s right – Center AF and Center LV, Right AF and Right LV, and Left AF and Left LV. I then compare the all of them. My expectations are that: 1. Right and Left AF are roughly equal. 2. AF is slightly less sharp than LV. My 28mm lens, however, was blurry with AF on both the right and left sides, but they were pretty equal. I attributed this to the lens curvature and diffraction on the wide end of the lens. My other lenses were fairly consistent however, as I wrote in my follow-on article.

  76. 76) Nick
    September 29, 2012 at 8:32 am

    Hi Bob, ok…that helps to know. That’s what I was doing.

    I also found it very helpful to print the star chart at 300dpi on high qulaity A4 paper in order to get edges as sharp as possible .

    I was able to get a PDF version of one Siemens chart from the Internet; the other was downloaded and uprezed to 300dpi in PS.

    Thanks for all your good help!

  77. 77) Nick
    October 4, 2012 at 6:24 am

    Hi Bob,

    I turn to you for answers regarding the D800E because I’m not getting clear answers from other sources.

    I set my camera up to model my D700 when it comes to AF-S where AF-S priority selection (a2) is set to “focus.” I do this so that the camera will not take out of focus images after the shutter release is depressed half way. By doing so, I can tell if an image will be in focus, since the camera will not allow me to take a picture when the subject goes out of focus after locking has occurred (assuming shutter speed is set to freeze the scene properly).

    If I set up my D800E this way, according to page 282 of the manual it should work the same way as the D700…”This option [a2] controls whether photographs can be taken only when the camera is in focus…” However, it is not behaving this way.

    Amazingly, on page 101 of the D800/E manual, it states that when using manual focus, the image can be out of focus and the shutter can still be released! Who wants to take out of focus pictures?

    Is there a way to set the D800E up so that after the shutter button is depressed half way and locks focus it will not release all the way and take a picture if the subject goes out of focus after lock has been achieved?

    Thank you!

    • October 5, 2012 at 5:10 am

      Manual focus indeed enables you to take photos out of focus. There are a variety of people that actually use this ability to make more “artistic” compositions. Many of this lady’s photos are out of focus: In fact, she just won an award for $500,000. Go figure! :)
      I am not as familiar with the AF settings, as I almost always have mine set to focus with the center focus point using the AF-On button and my shutter release button only activating the shutter, and not being used to activate the focus mechanism.

      According to the manual it seems that AF-C is used to continually track subjects and will not activate the shutter if the subject is out of focus. This is what I believe most people use for action related photography. You may wish to experiment a bit more with this setting to see if it meets your needs.

      Wish I could be of more assistance, but this is one area where I don’t use the associated features very often. You reminded me that I need to experiment with this capability a bit more!

  78. 78) Paul
    October 12, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    I repeated tests a number of times using the 50mm 1.8G with the D800.
    A set of 3 targets. At a distance of approx 6-7-9 feet.

    Everytime I shoot with the autofocus point at L AF or R AF and look across to all 3 targets in the captured image, only the MIDDLE target is very blurry. (But every target shot when behind the focal point IS in focus). In LV, all 3 targets, regardless of autofocus point placement, are in focus.

    Is that just lens curvature or focal plane that comes into play?
    Not sure what is going on.
    Anyone have an idea?

  79. 79) Cesar
    September 7, 2013 at 1:47 am

    This is a bummer because I own d7000 and looking to move into full frame and was excited about the nikon d800. The price tag is not cheap and for a product to come out with mistakes suck…especially when nikon doesn’t come clean about having issues. A friend told me though, you have to understand if they admitted it there would be a lot of d800 sent back at the same time and would take even longer to fix and return it to you. So instead they stay quiet those who find the problem send theirs back and get it fixed, and those who don’t even know their equipment has a problem they don’t have to worry about it. I somewhat understand from a retail point of view but It still seems wrong to me. I don’t have much equipment in nikon and I’m glad I’ve waited because when I thought about purchasing the d800 I was going to also buy the 24-70 2.8 and 70-200 2.8 vrii . Maybe this would be a great time to switch to canon and give them a try. I’m not a nikon vs canon guy, I’m a guy who really appreciates customer service. I really love nikon lenses though. If anyone knows of a full frame canon that can compare to nikon d800 please feel free to comment. Bob if you also have an article that you have on your site or another site that shows how to check your lenses please let me know the link. I enjoy the clean look your site has and not all the advertisement plastered like others, but if no one donates or uses your links I would fully understand if I come back one day to read something and I do see advertisement. Cheers : )

    • September 7, 2013 at 9:27 am

      It has been quite some time since this issue was an issue. I haven’t heard much about it since the fall of last year. It was still an issue for Nikon and its customers, I fully expect that we would still be hearing quite a bit about it.
      Had my issue not been solved by receiving a new D800 (still within 30 day window), I would have been pretty upset. Some of us had discussed what it might take to switch to Canon – at least in theory. Of course, every manufacturer has its issues, bugs, etc., even Canon. You can read some of the Canon forums on various sites and find that Canon users can be, at times, be every bit as frustrated as those in the Nikon camp.
      We have a few articles on testing lenses. Use the search box and terms “lens” and “testing” and you will easily find them.

      • 79.1.1) Kelli
        September 7, 2013 at 12:51 pm

        I did eventually Switch Completely Over to Cann over the issue. I was weary of the issue and the repairs & testing. AT the moment am extremely happy w/my Canon 5D M3 & have some Beautiful Nikon Glass u for sale! I too hope that the issue has been corrected & and can be put behind us.

        • Profile photo of Bob Vishneski Bob Vishneski
          September 7, 2013 at 12:53 pm

          The 5D MIII is a great camera and no one can fault Canon’s extensive catalog of quality lenses. What Nikon lenses do you have for sale?

          • Kelli
            September 7, 2013 at 4:03 pm

            What I have left is listed below-All In Like New Pristine Condition:

            85mm 1:4
            35mm 1:4
            24mm 1:4
            105mm 2:8
            a teleconverter & some lensbaby accessories too. Let me knwo if oyu want prices on any of them.

            • Profile photo of Bob Vishneski Bob Vishneski
              September 8, 2013 at 7:12 pm

              Thanks, Kelli. I have the 85mm 1.8G, Sigma 35mm 1.4, and 105mm 2.8. I know the 24mm 1.4 is one of the best Nikon lenses made, but before I would buy one, I would have to seriously consider the 14-24mm. I also have to wonder if Sigma might be looking at a wider angle zoom lens to compete with the 14-24mm. Sigma has been on a roll as of late and besting both Canon & Nikon with some of their lens models.

            • Kelli
              September 8, 2013 at 10:01 pm

              I just sold the 14-24mm-Incredible gorgeous Lens but honestly a lot of bulk so I prefer the 24mm & 16-35mm. I bought the Sigma 35mm lens but returned it Pronto as the Vignetting was prominate & the AF inconsistent in low light-which is the reason I would want a 35 1.4-LOL! I love the 105mm though-It is one of my all time Fav Nikon Lens-takes incredible pics!

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