Nikon DSLR Autofocus Problems

The last two weeks have been very busy for me. I am working on multiple reviews of Canon, Nikon and Fuji lenses and you will be seeing many lens reviews coming up this summer. At the same time, I have been shooting with the Nikon D3200, D4 and D800E DSLR cameras, so I will be sharing my thoughts on these fairly soon as well. One question that keeps popping up over and over again from our readers, revolves around the autofocus problems on Nikon DSLRs. Specifically, these questions are on front focus/back focus problems with lenses, the left AF focus point issue found on some Nikon D800 bodies, use of 2x teleconverters with the new Advanced Multi-CAM 3500FX (on D4 and D800/D800E), etc. Since there is a lot to cover, I will be publishing articles on each topic with my findings and thoughts I have thus far.

Nikon D4 vs D800

As with any product that is manufactured, there is always a chance that it is defective. I am finding Nikon’s QA (quality assurance) controls to be rather weak lately, especially given the fact that it is manufacturing such fine tools as the Nikon D800 with lots of resolution. Yes, Nikon has had a wonderful year so far with so many great announcements and phenomenal products, but it almost seems like it is rushing its products from the manufacturing plants too quickly, without properly testing all equipment before it is sent out. As a result, we are seeing many defective DSLR cameras with lenses. I have been shooting with Nikon gear for the last 6 years and this is the first time I am seeing really badly calibrated DSLRs (D800E and D4), along with some pro lenses. I can understand when there is a problem with an entry-level camera and a kit lens, but it is unacceptable for Nikon to ship faulty professional equipment that is worth thousands of dollars.

Are the Nikon DSLR autofocus problems real and should you be concerned? Yes, these problems are real and you should definitely be concerned if you are buying ANY DSLR with a phase detect sensor (most mirrorless cameras are excluded from most of these issues). So this means that the upcoming articles are not just for Nikon users, but for anyone who owns a DSLR or is considering to own one soon.

Stay tuned for the following articles:
1) How to quickly test your DSLR for Autofocus issues
2) How to calibrate lenses (using AF fine tune)
3) How Phase Detection Works
4) Focus Shift
5) A bunch of articles on Optical Problems

There might be a few more articles related to autofocus that I will be adding to the list.


  1. 1) francisco
    July 2, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    great! can’t wait for the full article… can you look at the D7000 focusing issues as well and not just the ones from D4 and D800

    • July 2, 2012 at 1:00 pm

      Francisco, what I will be covering is for ANY DSLR, not just the D7000 or D800. There is no specific issue that is isolated just on the D7000. The same autofocus problem on the D7000 can be seen on the D800, D4 or any other DSLR, if the camera is not properly calibrated or is defective.

      • 1.1.1) francisco
        July 2, 2012 at 1:03 pm

        that is even better then, cheers!

      • 1.1.2) Momo
        July 2, 2012 at 4:44 pm

        Great. I had to return 3 copies of D7000 because of the back-focusing issues. I finally gave up on D7000.

        • elgussy
          July 3, 2012 at 12:20 pm

          This is absurd. Either you had bad luck and picked up a bunch of defective cameras or .. well, today’s digital cameras are complex and require some knowledge to get this things working properly.

          • Momo
            July 3, 2012 at 12:29 pm

            LOL… go try it yourself. Defective gear is defective. With pro prime lenses … it’s still defective. Just google the issue. I never have a problem with a D700 or any Nikon pro cameras for last 20 years. Nikon screwed it this time big.

            • Don
              July 3, 2012 at 12:44 pm

              It’s not a matter of “go try it yourself”… Do you really think that Nikon went out of their way to “screw it this time big?” or could it be, wait for it, wait for it, a mistake. An error. The infallibly of human engineering, an oppsss… No I realize why even though this is an important issue, I wish that Nasim hadn’t opened this can of rant bait. In case you missed it, Nikon has supposedly released a fix:

            • Francisco
              July 3, 2012 at 12:47 pm

              I never had a problem with my D7000, but once i heard those problems i started looking for any focus issues that it started worrying me and i now i really need to close the issue.

    • 1.2) J
      July 2, 2012 at 1:01 pm

      “So this means that the upcoming articles are not just for Nikon users, but for anyone who owns a DSLR or is considering to own one soon.”

  2. 2) Kim
    July 2, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    Hi Nasim, I’m excited you will be addressing this issue. I agree, the issue is completely unacceptable on equipment worth thousands of dollars, but it’s also very disheartening to the amateur hobbyist to whom a $1200 camera is a big purchase for a non-income generating item. I purchased a D7000 last year with front-focusing issues that Nikon attempted to repair (the situation was improved, but not corrected). In participating on another photography forum (with advanced amateurs who are shooting in manual mode, at wider apertures, and selecting focus points), I’m convinced a portion of these cameras have focusing issues. I’ve read your earlier findings that indicated the problem with the D7000 didn’t affect a significant number. I even have one friend whose D7000 worked flawlessly, until 13-month mark and began back-focusing beyond what she could correct with micro-calibration. She has begun to keep records of the number of users with this issue on a forum that we frequent.

    Anyway, just my 2 cents :) I can’t wait to read your reviews, and look forward to the 28mm 1.8g review. I frequently quote and link to you when others ask for objective opinions on on equipment. Take care,

    • July 2, 2012 at 1:06 pm

      Thank you Kim. The problems we are seeing with Nikon DSLRs are not new – these AF issues existed even back in the film days. The percentage of affected units is still pretty small, but since Nikon is selling so many of these, the ones with problems are causing some grief and popping up in various sites, forums, etc. I am not saying that all Nikon DSLRs are affected – so far, I have tested 4 Nikon D7000 cameras and NONE of them had any AF problems. But I know there are some sample D7000 out there that have really bad AF calibration problems, similar to what I am seeing with the D800. Again, we are still talking about a relatively small number of affected units. However, I find that this number has been growing steadily lately, which is an indication of poor QA process at Nikon plants. The Nikon D800E that I have right now has a really bad AF issue that does not get addressed even with -20 AF micro adjust (maximum limit). And the new sample of the 14-24mm that I received also has a nasty case of AF problems on all camera bodies that I own.

      Hopefully the articles that I will be publishing will help answer the many questions that our readers have on this topic.

      • 2.1.1) Kim
        July 2, 2012 at 1:12 pm

        Thank you Nasim! I’m sure you are right, the problem gets exaggerated in forums. We always try to eliminate user error too and help the user understand how to do focus testing. I am glad you are bringing attention to the issue. Even if it’s a relatively small number, I feel badly for those who get stuck with them. ;)

  3. 3) Don
    July 2, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    As always another great article. Luckily I have not experienced any of the issues that have been reported. Maybe I have the golden D4. However, you know that your articles will open up a can of worms for everyone who “thinks” there is an issue. While I know you have to report on things, I sort of wish you had passed this one by simply for the gnashing of teeth that it will most likely cause…. Again, thanks for the great site…

    • July 2, 2012 at 1:09 pm

      Don, again, I am not saying that all DSLRs are affected – most will perform very well. But if you are unlucky to receive a faulty unit, you should know how to detect and address the problem.

      I do not want to skip on this issue, because there is a resolution to the problem. In some cases it is a very simple fix. By providing good education, it will only make it better for the end user to get the best out of their equipment.

      • 3.1.1) Don
        July 2, 2012 at 1:33 pm

        Agreed Nasim,

        Hopefully others will share your optimism and not turn this into a Nikon bashing or personal rant forum. I trust you opinions highly and if you say there is a problem I tend to believe it. Looking forward to what you write.

  4. July 2, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    I just got my D800E today, so I really want to know about this. Thanks.

  5. 5) Trevor
    July 2, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    Nasim, I for one can’t waite for your reports on DSLR cameras auto focus modes. Must say I enjoy your site.. Keep it up.

  6. 6) Martin
    July 2, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    hello nasim
    looking forward to your tests. may i have some comments on my wildlife experience with the d800?
    i had calibrated the nikon d800 and the nikkor 500 mm f/4 for af using lens align and stored the correction in the appropriate menu.
    i had to correct it for frontfocus +5, then i went shooting a whole series of kingfisher on a pond, camera on tripod gitzo series 5, cable release, shutter speed 1/1250, iso 1000, manual, aperture 5.6. the photos are great sharp, checked by 2 independent wildlife photographers. the frame speed of 4/s, is no problem for this type of action, will get the kingfisher sharp on flight, for memory card i used a sandisk 95 mb/s extreme pro, 32 gb capacity, no waiting to load on the memory card, battery: ok for the day, memory card was good for approx 400 shots. conclusion: great camera for wildlife, 4-6 batteries for the day, picture tank or laptop to store, pay all attention for no vibration. also shot some dragonflies, best quality. later crop possibilities are insane. camera needs best prime lenses, but my d3 has become second for me for wildlife shots and d4 is no alternative for this application. left upper corner af problem is no problem for me, i don’t put the af spot in that corner. post processing: used lr 4, but needs some longer processing time on my imac. download time form the camera: approx. 25 min for 360 raw shots, adobe, 14 bits. hope the terrible summer storms in your area will not harm you. my best regards

  7. 7) David
    July 2, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    Thank you Mansurov, very much looking forward to your articles. I’ve tested three samples of the D4, two samples of the D800E, and two samples of the D800 against two samples of 24mm f/1.4G, 14-24mm, 50mm f/1.4G and f/1.8G, 80mm f/1.4G and f/1.8G, 24-70mm f/2.8, and 70-200mm f/2.8. I found two main problems with AF. 1) there is caliberation problems with most of the samples I tested, vast majority of these problems can be fixed with AF fine tune. 2) there is asymetrical focal plane with all of the DSLRs that I’ve tested and this is particularly noticeable (to the degree of unacceptability) with fast wide lenses. Left AF points are almost always back focused. This is not something AF fine tune can fix because the focal plane goes from slight front focused on the right to severely back focused on the left. This problem is not very noticelable unless shooting at f/1.4, or at long focal lengths such as 200mm at f/2.8. I’ve brought back a D800 sample to Nikon USA in El Segundo (I live 10 minutes away). The first time they returned the camera to me without making any adjustments despite me submitting sample photos and a very detailed letter explaining the problems; they refused to acknowledge there is a problem (and told me most reports on the Internet are not trustworthy). Second time when I asked to speak with the service manager and demonstated the problem in person. He was apologetic and acknowledges there is a problem, but said because the focus issue is asymmetric, he didn’t know whether they could fix it. He also said because the camera is within factory tolerance, they would not replace the camera either. I totally agree that, as a longtime shooter of Nikon (my first Nikon was a Nikon F2), the quality control has seemed to decline. Perhaps the tolerances are becoming more ciritcal due to how much finer the instruments have become, but I don’t feel that it is an excuse. I find it ironically humerous from their D800 advertisement of “sorry, you will want to reshoot everything” since, yes, it you used left AF point on a fast wide lens you will!

  8. 8) Alan
    July 2, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Hmmm! I’ve had my D800 for a little while now and I’ve had this odd feeling about auto focussing. I put it down to my handling of a new high resolution camera that does require very careful focussing.
    I borrowed a 24-70 f2.8 Sigma for a job and I’m glad I carried out tripod tests before hand. I could only usefully use it at f11. Sigma are not the greatest, but I expected a lot better – so maybe a not-so-good lens coupled with just slightly innacurate auto-focussing have conspired to give horrible results. A couple of days ago I did a tripod test with my new 28-300 and I didn’t think the results were brilliant. However, air-to-ground shots with my 80-400 looked really superb. I look forward to your reports.
    I’ve been reading your web-site for only a few months and think it is excellent – good articles and very good subscribers. Thank you.

  9. 9) William Jones
    July 2, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    Below is a slightly edited version of my review that I posted to Nikons’ website for their D4.

    I first purchased a D800, and then later a D4. I have owned a D90, D700, D7000, plus still own a D3X. I shoot a lot of sports with the D3X, and use AF-C single point focus. My primary lens is a Nikon VR 80-400. With that lens on a D3X, I get a hit ratio (good focus) of approx 90% (handheld). However, with that lens on a D800, using AF-C singe point focus, my hit ratio fell to less than 50%. Same issue with the D4. Note: On all my cameras, I shoot with the release priority set to focus (so that is not the problem).

    I conducted test shots using other lenses (80-200, 28-300 and 85 f/1.4), and got the same issue. Switching to AF-C and 3-D, the hit ratio climbed, some, however the focus point would jump from horse to horse (in polo there are four players per team, plus two refs, for a total of ten horses on the field at a time). Since four players are wearing the same jersey, and a lot of horses look alike, in 3-D the focus point would randomly switch from horse to horse, and it also switched off the horses onto a nearby wall, then back to the horses. AF-C single point is my preferred way to shoot, it works great on the D3X (and on a D3S that I purchased after I returned my D4). Same issue with focus point jumping around in D9, D21 and D51. In 3-D mode focus point even jumped around when I has holding the camera on a stationary subject.

    Apparently Nikon has taken a process that worked (on the D3 line), and “fixed it.” If this had just occurred on the D800, and worked okay on the D4, then I would have thought it was just that one camera (or model of camera). However, since the issue occurred on both models, something is wrong in the new focus software for these two cameras (and I suspect with all current models, like the D5100 and D3200).

    Nikon: Please address this issue, as I am sure I am not the only pro that uses the AF-C single point option. I can provide test shots from both cameras (in a month I shot over 17,000 photos with the D800 before I sold it. I probably shot over a thousand on the D4 before returning it to the store).

    Picture quality, when in focus, is excellent on both of these cameras. However, with such a low hit ratio, neither of these camera served my needs. I shoot at least 150,000 pictures a year, mostly sports, so I am not a rookie at this. I can provide links to my website, and even create galleries of examples if anyone wishes to see.

    As such, for both of these products, I can not recommend, until this focus issue is fixed. For a sports camera, which the D4 is designed to be, this is a major issue.

    Added note: I have shot almost 2,000 shots with my D3S since I purchased it. Of those shots, less than 50 have been out of focus (and most of the out of focus shots were not that far out, unless I slipped too far off target), a hit ratio of well over 90%. Those shots were done with a 80-200 and a 28-300 lens. Additionally, in reviewing my files from the D4 and D800, the AF-C single point issue is worse when the subject is moving either directly towards or away from the camera. The more “flat” the movement, the less focus adjustment is required (still does not work correctly, however).

    I would respectfully request that others try this focus method with their cameras, and report on their results. If anybody has any questions, or would like to see sample pictures, please let me know. I can post pictures to galleries on my website (warning: they won’t look good because of the focus issue).

    • July 2, 2012 at 5:55 pm

      Thank you for taking the time to post this to Nikon-I too own both cameras & am very concerned as I have had inconsistent results too!

    • 9.2) Martin
      July 2, 2012 at 10:54 pm

      Hi william, thank you for your post. I checked your photos earlier and we exchanged some mails on this issue.
      You know, I thought it would work with the D800. I got some excellent shots with birds, but birds are not polo horses. I programm AF-C 11, I am more concerned about landscape. Do you think that the firmversion may play a role?

      • 9.2.1) William Jones
        July 3, 2012 at 6:28 am

        I don’t know if the firmware version is to blame, however I hope this focus issue can be fixed with a firmware update. If you look at the Autofocus system for the D4 and D800, it is listed as: Nikon Advanced Multi-CAM 3500FX autofocus sensor module with TTL phase detection. The D3 line is listed almost the same, with the word “Advanced” being the only difference. It seems to me that Nikon has advanced backwards.

        It would be interesting to have a detailed list of just what are the differences that Nikon made (or claims to have made) with their “Advance” in this focus system.

        While I can understand the additional pixels in the D800 showing more issues with poor technique, the D4 has only 16 MP as opposed to the 24 MP of the D3X. Since the focus issue was the same on the D4 and the D800, but not on the D3 line, I am left with the only solution being the new cameras themselves.

        If you have a friend with a horse, try some shots in AF-C single point mode, focus priority with release, and do a series of shots (bursts) with the horse moving towards you, away from you, and just left to right (on the “flat”). Let me know you hit ratio.

        Nikon has yet to even admit that this focus issue exists on these models. Don’t hold you breath on them EVER admitting it, or you will look like a Smurf. They may (if they can) fix it with a firmware update, but the odds are the fix will be hidden in with other updates. I am just surprised that I seem to be the only person mentioning this issue.

        • Martin
          July 3, 2012 at 9:38 am

          Hello William, I have horses myself and I will go and shoot some photos with a young colt on the pasture. As I never shoot at 2.8 rather f/4 maybe best is you send me exactly your settings so I can reproduce them and then I can shoot with the way I would do it.

          • William Jones
            July 3, 2012 at 12:20 pm

            Camera settings used (D4 and D800):
            Single Point
            AF-C Priority Selection: Focus
            f/5.6 or less (when zoomed out on the 28-300 or 80-400 f/5.6 is lowest # available)
            1/2,000th of a sec or faster (up to 1/5,000th of a sec)
            Auto ISO
            Shoot bursts at maximum FPS rate, continuous till buffer fills (shoot at least 12, stop by 30. The D4 with a good card has a large buffer.)
            14-bit NEF files
            I shot the D800 in FX mode and in 1:2 mode. Shot the D4 in FX mode.
            All in-camera adjustments (distortion, high ISO, etc) turned off
            Focus tracking with lock-on: Off
            AF Activation: Button/AF-On
            Matrix Metering (should have no effect on this issue)
            All shots handheld. I normally brace the lens against my chest/stomach with my left hand.
            VR turned off (should not matter at these shutter speeds. However I also shot with VR on and it did not help).

            After using single point, repeat using D9, D21, D51 and 3-D. Since is a live subject, hard to duplicate exact movements, unless you have a rider on the horse.

            Let me know if you need any other settings. Again, problem is most evident when the horse is moving directly towards or away from you; and at longer focal lengths. The faster the horse moves, the worse it gets. Even test shots with my dogs (who do not run fast), showed this problem.

            Let me know your hit ratio, or if you have any other questions.

    • 9.3) Jorge Balarin
      July 3, 2012 at 1:20 pm

      Hi william,

      Thank you for sharing your experience. Definitely I’m not going to buy a D800 until the problems that you and Nasim mention are solved. I’m not a rich man, and the perspective of investing 3000 euros on a bad sample of the D800 it’s no appealing for me.

      • 9.3.1) Don
        July 3, 2012 at 1:26 pm

        Agreed €3000 can be considered a expensive in some quarters, but the same can be said of any investment. You can never be sure about anything. To sit and speculate and pace back and forth is a waste of time. How do you know you will get a “bad” D800? You don’t… Get the camera, shoot some images. If it has a problem, simply get it fixed. It is not the end of the world as some here are making it out to be. Also, supposedly there is a fix already:

        • Tinker's Realm
          July 3, 2012 at 5:59 pm

          Don-Thank you for this Video Clip-Took all of the intimidation out of the testing process & sure enough-Obvious as Day that my Left AF is a big blur just as I suspected that something was off from the beginning & even mentioned it to a few people that just said basically “Be a Better Photographer” type message-Thanks to your post I shipped my camera off today-Just keeping my fingers crossed that Nikon can correct it-The left AF test images were a hazy blurry mess!

        • Jorge Balarin
          July 4, 2012 at 5:42 am

          Hi Don,

          I agree with you, live is dangerous, but that fact didn’t stop me. I’m the happy owner of a D700, a 24-70 mm, a 70-200 VR II, an 85 mm f/1.4, between other fine gear. I knew there were risks at the moment I bought my equipment, but I never heard so much complaints about the D700 as I heard about the D800 autofocus system. So I don’t find intelligent running to buy a camera that perhaps needs to be corrected. For me it is better to wait, specially when not always is possible to return your defective gear (read all the letters). Best wishes, Jorge.

          • Don
            July 4, 2012 at 7:15 am

            Que pasa Jorge, :)

            I agree if it is hard to return or have gear repaired it might be better to wait but if that is no problem then get out there and shoot until your trigger finger gets a blister. :) Life is short so eat dessert first. You never know what is going to happen. I was one of the first in line waiting for the D4 to order it (there is no such thing as a pre-order. you either order or you don’t. It is a marketing gimmick.) as soon as it was available here in Finland. Mine had the freezing problem but other than this it has been flawless. Luckily I know the Nikon guys here so if there is a problem I can get it fixed right away but even if I knew no one, I would have still got the D4 and shot with it like a man possessed. :)

  10. 10) Spike
    July 2, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    Thank you for this and I will be following it with great interest. I’ve had my Nikon D800 for about 2 months – upgraded from the D700 that I had for more than 2 years. My first week with the D800 was a very frustrating one. I was having tremendous difficulty with the autofocus system. Images were okay but on closer examination were not anywhere near sharp enough. I wrote it off to my unfamiliarity with the new focus settings on the camera plus the higher resolution sensor. As time went on, things improved, the focus on my photos improved, but still nowhere near what I was getting with that D700. It’s pushed me to go to manual focus far more often (I know, not necessarily a bad thing!) but I’ve had this feeling that it shouldn’t be so freaking challenging to get tack sharp photos with the D800 and the Nikon “professional” lenses that I own. So, gosh, to say I’m looking forward to your future articles would be an understatement!

    • 10.1) Mark Adams
      July 2, 2012 at 4:54 pm

      Hi Spike,
      I’m curious. We’re your AF problems associated with the far left focus point? Does it happen with any/all AF choices? (AF-S, AF-C etc). Thanks for sharing.

      • 10.1.1) Spike
        July 3, 2012 at 11:43 am

        Hi Nasim, no I don’t think it’s the far left focus point and I rarely shoot AF-C so can’t really say. It’s more of an overall thing for me. I’m really looking forward to your piece on lens calibration. I need to learn how to do that and am thinking that this might go a long way for me.

        • Spike
          July 3, 2012 at 11:44 am

          Oops – make that “Hi Mark.” Sorry!

  11. 11) Wesley
    July 2, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    And I thought I was losing my mind. I too am only an amateur photographer but have suspected all along that my D5100 had auto focus issues. I tried to perform an auto focus test using a chart I downloaded online and it seemed the issue wasn’t as big of a deal as I initially suspected (could definitely see that it wasn’t “spot on,” but not nearly as bad as I thought the results would be). Still, when taking photos – specifically portrait shots – the focus is just not what I would expect a camera of this quality to produce. Very visibly out of focus more so than not – even when using a tripod and remote. Thanks so much for addressing this!

    • 11.1) Carmelo
      July 2, 2012 at 4:15 pm

      Perhaps the lens has a front or a back focus… In this case you should bring the body and the lens to the Nikon service, if you want to know whether the body or the lens has a focus problem.

      • 11.1.1) Wesley
        August 7, 2012 at 8:56 am

        I’m thinking it does indeed. Again, this is the first DSLR I’ve ever purchased, so I’m not 100% sure. I truly wish I knew an experienced photographer who could take a look at it and let me know if I’m losing my mind or not.

    • 11.2) tami
      March 24, 2014 at 5:15 pm

      hi wesley 6 months ago i purchased my first nikon a d7ooo…..i too am an amateur and thought the issues i had with blurring even when i use a tripod was my cock up and i have really found myself losing confidence in my self….i am seriously thinking of giving up on it so thank you for putting up your post as now im not saying some isnt my lack of experience but also a lot of the problem is with the camera.

  12. 12) Radjev
    July 2, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    Hello NASIM

    How are you

    I have a brand new nikon d7000 i don,t know more about how i have to use it for shooting playboy models
    I want to shoot razar sharp pictures how i have to use the setting if i shoot at indoor at home
    which nikon lenses are good for shooting playboy models and how i have to use the settings on the menu to get fantastique pictures.


    • 12.1) babola
      July 2, 2012 at 7:47 pm

      …and what happened when you woke up?


    • 12.2) Art Griffin
      July 3, 2012 at 11:35 am

      Hi Radjev to get very sharp images you could use a ISO of 6400 and shutter speed of 1/8th and close the aperture down to f22, you could also invest in one of those lensCritters to keep the attention of the playboy model(s).

      • 12.2.1) Radjev
        July 3, 2012 at 12:19 pm

        Hello Friend Griffin

        Thanks for your advice I use a standard lens 18 105 mm for the nikon D7000 can you also make sharp pictures with this lens.? or is there better lens for the nikon D7000 I am just a beginner I heard it,s bad if you choose use automatic option I choose for M function
        Another question if the light lamp is on at the home do i have to use the flash .?
        Which lenses are good for close up shoot
        And is there diffrence between this fantastique camera Canon eos 7d and the Nikon D7000


    • 12.3) Jorge Balarin
      July 3, 2012 at 1:23 pm

      Any lens is good to shoot a playboy model : )

  13. 13) Radjev
    July 2, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    Hello Nazim

    Which camera makes better pictures or movie between this camera canon eos 7 d or nikon d7000.?

  14. 14) Carmelo
    July 2, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    Hi Nasim

    Thank you for your article. Indeed, this is a very big problem! Last year I bought 3 new Nikkors and 1 body with annoying issues:

    AF-S Nikkor 35mm/1.4 G: front focus
    AF-S Nikkor 50mm/1.8 G: front focus
    1 Nikkor 30-110mm/3.8-5.6: misaligned lenses
    Nikon V1: fine stripes at all ISO settings

    In 2010 I bought a new Nikon D700 which had a lot of hot pixels. The Nikon service had to remap the sensor 3 times until the camera was able to work at high ISO settings without problems.

    This year I’ve bought a Nikon D5100 with the kit lens (18-55mm/3.5-5.6 VR). It seems to me that both work without problems. Maybe I was just lucky.

    • 14.1) Martin
      July 2, 2012 at 10:56 pm

      I had front focus with my 500 f/4 I corrected plus 5 and with TC 1.4 plus 6, its perfect now

  15. 15) Mark Adams
    July 2, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    Hello Nasim,

    I wanted to write and tell you I appreciate your website and your insights. I am a semi-pro and trying to work into it full time. It scared me a little when I read your article today and learned that you got a bad lens copy because I recently purchased a new 14-24 2.8, a 24-70, and a 70-200. Yep, I bit off almost more than I could chew.

    I hurried to my basement studio with a focus chart in hand and measure bated until I was happy with the results. I compared the 24-70 with a 35mm 1.8 at 35mm on live view
    I know the 35mm is cheap in price but it is a very sharp lens.

    Anyway, thanks again for your teachings and reviews and I’ll order my new D800 from B&H through your website when I feel comfortable with the AF issues. By that I mean when Nikon admits there IS a problem.

  16. July 2, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    Thanks Nasim, we need this.
    I had to return my first D7000 due to back focus problems. The second unit is better but at times I still struggle. Looking forward to learning more.

  17. 17) babola
    July 2, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    This will open a whole new can of worms DSLR-wise. Unfortunately as soon as a revelation of the similar importance and impact is posted on the Web its message gets multiplied and amplified many times more around the online photo forums.
    It will also give something for EVIL fanboys to nag the DSLR owners about in the future ;)

  18. 18) DF
    July 2, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    Not only the new camera my d3x with 17-35 mm lens have focus problem at corner also lol

  19. 19) Biju
    July 2, 2012 at 11:22 pm

    Thanks Nasim, we are waiting for your articles.

    I have Nikon D90 with AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR n facing same problem…

  20. 20) Srini
    July 3, 2012 at 3:39 am

    Hi Nazim,

    Thanks for the heads-up. I am looking forward to reading your articles/reviews.

    Firms putting Quality Control and Customer Service always come on top. When commercials take a precedence over QC, the result would be too obvious to derive any comfort.

  21. 21) Martian Griffith
    July 3, 2012 at 3:52 am

    Looking forward to the post. My D800 is mostly used with my 70-200mm. I also use a TC20E MkIII. I have sold off my old DX lenses and will aim to buy the 16-35 F4 and the 24-70mm F2.8. 

    So far the D800 has been a steep learning curve. I am unsure if the issues are really with the camera or with me. I am used to getting more shots of birds in focus, but also recall throwing out around a week of images from a trip to Costa Rica because the images were not focussed well enough. I put it down to part of the learning curve for the D90 I had at the time. Once I mastered that the images were great.  In other words, the process of learning a new camera takes time. I believe that the sheer complexity of the D800 is a key factor here. 

    I will follow the instructions and try and see if the 70-200 does need fine tuning. I suspect that fine tuning is not really the issue. I see it more as something I’d just like to eliminate.

    I am also keen to learn more about the custom settings for the camera. I have managed to create 3 settings and set the custom setting list choice to the top of the My Menu option. I set the function button so that it brings up this setting. It may not be as simple as the Canon system for custom settings, but it does work.

    Can you do an article on these and your suggestions for good combinations?

    For bird shots I always use single point focus. With the D800 the 9 points around the centre point can contribute. I have found that I get fewer acceptable shots as a percentage. I am not really looking to have a hard drive full of lots of ‘acceptable’ shots, I want magnificent shots. I’d rather come back from a trip with 30 magnificent shots than 500 ‘acceptable’ ones. With the D90 I took some wonderful shots but the technical limits of the camera and lens always meant that I was left with few options to crop, and less resolution than I wanted. I like the depth of color and dynamic range of the D800.

    So far the D800 means I have deleted many more shots but I am much much happier with the ones I have kept.

    I was able to borrow a 300 f4 for an extended period from a relative who has since moved on to the 300 F2.8 and the 500mm. From time to time I can use these other lenses for a day. The 300 2.8 is amazing. I love using it but cannot afford one. I found the 300 2.8 with the TC20E III on a monopod was a brilliant combination for birds – the best I have used. I found the 500 F4 too big for monopod use. 

    Martin Griffith
    Sent from my iPad2

    • 21.1) Martin
      July 3, 2012 at 9:42 am

      Hello Martian, how do you calibrate? When you calibrate a zoom do you use all the important focal lenghts?

      • 21.1.1) Martian Griffith
        July 3, 2012 at 7:16 pm

        I will see what Nasim suggests in his article. I plan to focus on the settings at 200mm and F2.8. I wonder if calibration and fine tuning is even possible for different focal lengths. I don’t think it is. I think you pick a focal length and fine tune that.

        I have to admit I am tempted by the 300 F4 plus the 1.4 adapter for birdshots. It is a great lens. I used it for about 8 weeks before sending it back to the relative who kindly lent it to me. As you know there are 3 issues with that lens (no back element, no VR and the mounting collar). Like many people I wonder if nikon will update the lens. When I decided to buy a longer lens i opted for the 70 to 200. I was keen to have a zoom and the 2.8 has changed the way I take images.

        • Martin
          July 3, 2012 at 10:51 pm

          Hi, when you calibrate the lens do you use lens align? Thats what i did on my 500 f/4 the result on the d800 is good

          • Martian Griffith
            July 4, 2012 at 1:15 am

            I don’t plan to use lens align. I have seen advertisements for devices, but I have avoided buying anything yet. I do wonder if I really need a device or can a simple test set up be arranged. It should be possible to do without a calibration device I think. While it is good to hear you are pleased with the results you have got from lens align, I will wait for Nasim’s article on fine tuning and see what he recommends.

            So far my tests (without a test chart) indicate no issues with the left and right sensor. (tripod, time delay, single point, compare live view focus with left and right sensor etc.) I am, however, planning to print 3 resolution charts to confirm my preliminary tests.

  22. 22) Nick
    July 3, 2012 at 5:09 am

    Interesting and well-reasoned posts; thanks. A slightly different view from a hobbyist’s perspective. I use a D40 and in general am happy with the results. I would like more than 3 focus points and at some point will buy a D7000. But as an amateur, I have no need for the latest and greatest, preferring to buy a product that has initial teething issues addressed. I am concentrating my resources on some well-chosen lenses and on improving technique (and learning how to get intended results with a newly acquired SB700). All enjoyable.

    I certainly understand that modern DSLRs are very capable and complicated devices. Manufacturing tolerances will inevitably produce a percentage of less than “perfect” devices (my first D40 greeted me with smoke and the smell of burning plastic when first turned on – replaced by the dealer no questions asked). I don’t know if the frequency of autofocus quality control problems rises to the level of a defective product. But if Nikon hopes to sell that $1000 plus D7000 to me someday, it would be nice to have confidence that it will perform in the manner intended (and that any focus problems are the result of user error…..)

    To end on a positive note Nasim, I enjoy your website. I have taken up photography after a very long hiatus (I remember developing B&W film as a teenager). Your posts have proven very informative and helpful. Thanks… Nick

  23. 23) Robert
    July 3, 2012 at 9:01 am

    A welcomed article, looking forward to it.
    I own a D7000 with which I’ve been struggling since I bought it. I sent it to Nikon Canada, they checked the autofocus and said it was fine.

    I also own a D300 and haven’t had the same issues with it. Always gave me predictable results.
    I concluded that my expectations with the D7000 were too high. The camera was marketed as a cheaper built pro-level DX camera. I expected it to perform at least as well as my older D300.

    I’ve been using it with these lenses:
    50 1.4
    50 1.8
    85 1.4
    80-200 2.8 (the only lens which really shines on the D7000 and gives me predictable results without needing to fine tune it)
    11-16 Tokina

    I’ve tried fine-tuning with very mixed results.


    • 23.1) FF
      July 3, 2012 at 5:47 pm

      # 13 wrote:
      “He was apologetic and acknowledges there is a problem, but said because the focus issue is asymmetric, he didn’t know whether they could fix it. He also said because the camera is within factory tolerance, they would not replace the camera either.”

      Isn’t this wonderful?
      You just spent few thousand bucks, got a new gear, and the first thing YOU MUST DO is to test for manufacturing defects! And most people don’t even know how. And when they know and test they discover problems.
      I had a similar experience twice when attempting to return to the Nikon equipment. I used Nikon in the ’70s and 80’s when Nikon products were tops and F2s probably the best pro bodies ever made. They also had the first super zoom rivalling the primes, the 80-200/4.5 C, as well as the worst junk ever the 43-86 zoom which never was sharp despite at least three redesign efforts.

      My first disaster was F90x. It was under 2 years warranty and had to go 4 times for repairs. Then, more recently the D300 and lenses including two, then brand new, 24-70/2.8 zooms. All new primes and zooms I got were defective and after repeated trips to Nikon service in Melville N.Y. and Mississauga Ont. I was told that everything was OK and meeting Nikon specs. They refused to replace a cheap defective brand new prime. After this I gave up on Nikon.
      The problems I’m talking about is lens optical centering. It cannot be fixed by the Nikon lab. In factory it is not economically viable. It would be too expensive. The only solution is junking the lemon. That’s why there are so many lenses on ebay. Todays lenses, especially zooms, are extremely complex and hard to manufacutre. The additional problems are AF and use of plastics.
      Typical back/front focusing can be adjusted on cameras with microadjustment feature.

      Nasim suggests that there is quality control at Nikon.
      No, there is none. Whatever drop off the production line gets shipped.
      But the worst is Nikon “Support and Repair Service” mostly incompetent and indifferent. This is not limited to a particular location. Unfortunately, this is the Nikon culture.
      I decided to stay with my current equipment which also had few problems, but they were solved to my full satisfaction.

  24. 24) Marc
    July 3, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    I’ve tested the issue extensively, with the results described here:

    Then I sent it to Nikon for fixing, the results are described here, which shows Nikon is able to handle the problem:

    I still need to calibrate 2 of my lenses for front-focus at their widest focal length, and I guess the problem will be completely gone after that.

    • 24.1) Jorge Balarin
      July 4, 2012 at 7:01 am

      Thank you very much for your report Marc. It is excellent.
      I have a question. Until now I thought that all my FX lenses would work properly mounted in different cameras, but after reading one of your posts I’m very concerned. If you are using two cameras at the same time (a D700 and D800), and at some moment you swap lenses from one camera to the other, do you need to calibrate again your glass ? I think that’s pretty much annoying. Best wishes, Jorge.

      • 24.1.1) Marc
        July 4, 2012 at 7:41 am

        Hi Jorge, I think it is a bit less dramatic as it seems. The optical systems in a camera and lens will always have some variations due to tolerances in fabrication. My 14-24 lens is front-focussing at 14mm on both the D800 and the D700. On the D700 this gives still a sharp results, because it probably focuses the lens @ 24mm just at the back of the DoF (f2.8) region, and the 14mm just at the front of the DoF region, resulting in a sufficiently sharp picture in both cases. On the D800, the 24mm is sharp, and the 14mm result is definitely off, as it may fall in another part of the DoF, and the DoF area is still a bit tilted.

        I expect that when the 14-24 is calibrated, it will give sharp results on both cameras.

  25. 25) David Jolley
    July 5, 2012 at 5:08 am

    This is interesting because when the release of the D800 was announced earlier this year, many experts (Thom Hogan for one) felt that any new releases would be more free of defects than previous models because Nikon would be putting extra effort into QC on their new, post disaster production.

  26. 26) harold
    July 5, 2012 at 7:02 am

    Lets get the D4/D800 concerns in perspective
    It seems that many cameras have been shipped with the far left AF sensors slightly out of alignment f2 and below on wide angle lenses (50mm has shown issues but its 35m and below where it really starts to show)
    There is a fix and its easy. it seems to have been perfected by many Nikon service centres (e.g. netherlands, singapore, etc.).

    The “fix” involves individual point calibration in software only. This makes sense as no mechanical system will be perfect (read about Leica M series with only a single point ;) ) and software will be required to finish it off to perfection at 36mp

    Yes, Nikon should develop systems for making this perfect on the production line, and it should hurry up distributing its methodology of the fix to all service centres.

    Overall my central bank on the D800E is pin sharp. I only use centre focus point , even though the middle bank has more sensors then my 5D ii :) I will get it fixed later in the year, just for completeness, when its all settled down.

    • July 5, 2012 at 10:04 am

      I would love to keep the D4/D800 in perspective but until I read that Nikon is acknowledging the issue (Recalling the Serial #’s that went through the wrong calibration assembly line) & that the people that have sent in their cameras are getting them back fixed correctly then I am going to remain nervous about my investment until my D800 is returned from Nikon repaired correctly. It sounds like repairs have been Hit & Miss & that does not make me feel comfortable.

      • 26.1.1) Don
        July 5, 2012 at 10:46 am

        What wrong calibration assembly line? Where did you get this idea from? How about they all go through the same assembly point and maybe a few were miscalibrated? Or maybe because of the massive floods, things might not be up to snuff. Just a thought. Here’s something worth considering. In life you have problems and inconveniences. You miss your bus, misplaced your keys, missed a phone call, your camera needs “possible calibration” you have examples of inconveniences. Your wife has cancer, you child has days to live, you’re face to gunpoint with a robber you now have problems. See the diffence? To be nervous over a piece of plastic that could have lost calibration even in transit to a camera dealer is a bit misguided in my book, and well borders on whining. Nikon will fix whatever issues there are and you can get your camera fixed for free. I bought my D4 in Europe where it is much more expensive and luckily or fortunately I have not had any issues but if I do the last thing I will be is nervous over something that is within my control to affect. Harold was spot on with his post by the way.

        • Tinker's Realm
          July 5, 2012 at 11:28 am

          To name call & say that an investment of nearly 10k (D4/D800-I purchased both) is not something to be concerned about is childish IMO & not very professional to say the least. I can understand why you can so flippantly make a statement like the above being that YOUR D4-has no issues. Complete arrogance to then compare the matter to Cancer & Life Tragedies(of which I have expeienced a few that were on your list) as though it eliminates the issue being discussed in this thread. This is a Photography Thread & Address’s concerns about the AF issues so I think it is appropriate to voice my concerns here.
          Frankly, I am surprised that you are even in this thread or reading the posts since your Camera has no Issues & thus not much experience that you can contribute to the subject!

          • Don
            July 5, 2012 at 2:44 pm

            You are rather presumptuous in your accusations. Neither did I call you a name nor did I that your investment is nothing to be concerned about. You went down this road all by yourself. I did however point out, by giving you the benefit of the doubt as a professional by the way, that the calibration issues will get fixed. Period, point, blank. The gnashing of teeth and tearing of clothing will not get you any closer to a solution. Second, I made a comparison about priorities in life which seem to have escaped you. Yes, the calibration issue is annoying but it is not the end of the world. It will get fixed. Another presumption on your part. It is as though you long to jump to ill-informed conclusions. Again, no one said not to voice your concerns but you have made them perfectly clear often enough. William, Harold and a few others offered great advice about an issue that I am very sure Nikon wants to go away as soon as they can get the fix out the door. BTW, I guess I was helpful in post #54 and you liked my link but, now that I don’t necessarily see I to eye with your characterization of the situation I am no longer helpful. Go figure. How quickly the winds change. As for reading this thread, I have a D800 on order to go along with my D4 so any and all info regarding this issue attracts my attention. How you come to your conclusions are beyond my ability to reason. In short and I want to make this perfectly clear, I understand you have a problem with AF as some do here. I also know that it will be fixed rather quickly. I have this info from an unofficial NPS friend. I understand that the AF issues are annoying but I would be willing to bet your images are pretty good for right now, again benefit of the doubt as a professional, and I have nothing personal against you nor do I have any desire to see you acquiesce and not say what is on your mind. I hope this clears up any and all misperceptions.

  27. 27) Anthony
    July 5, 2012 at 10:25 am

    Thank you for this posting. Having a respected photographer confirm what many have experienced should help us get it fixed.
    Nikon seems surprisingly silent and unhelpful (see comment 33). You seem to have close relationship with Nikon. What do they tell you?

    • 27.1) Don
      July 5, 2012 at 10:35 am

      Do you think Nasim would be able to keep his relationship with Nikon if he were to post possible proprietary info. There are plenty of places to search and find the same info. Just takes a few mins. Not that hard.

      • 27.1.1) Anthony
        July 5, 2012 at 11:02 am

        i have scoured the Internet looking for Nikon’s solution to this problem, and find zero. The closest is Ming Thein’s blog where he reports what a NPS rep told him, and that blog is cited at Nikon Rumors and dpreview, but zero from Nikon.
        Since you find it not hard, please share what you have learned.

        • Don
          July 5, 2012 at 2:30 pm

          I have the same info as you plus or minus a few words from my local NPS friends. Ming’s blog nailed. There is a fix and that the fix will be forth coming. Considering the Olympics are just around the corner, I would guess that a fix is imminent. My other point was pertaining to Nasim divulging proprietary info. The quickest way to lose access to insider info is to post it on a blog. I thought everyone knew this. My bad…

          • Anthony
            July 5, 2012 at 3:08 pm

            Don, thank you.
            My point was that, although I really hope Ming’s blog is corrrect, it is hearsay (no, I’m not a lawyer) – it is what he says a NPS rep says. It is not a release from NikonUSA or Nikon Intergalactic. They need to step up and be honest. Their response to this (ignore and hope it will go away) has been atrocious, don’t you think? I’d like NikonUSA (where I am) to take responsibility openly.
            I applaud Nasim for being openly critical of Nikon in his blog, as Thom Hogan and others are starting to do. I’m sure Nikon is not thrilled about that, but it is the right thing to do, and it serves us, his readers, well. I hoped that, since Nikon so far has said zero publicly, that leaking a little good news, like “we can fix it”, would be good for everybody.

            • Don
              July 5, 2012 at 3:15 pm

              Hey Anthony,

              My take on it and this is my opinion only. They came clean immediately regarding the “freezing” issue and a few other things that they released a fix for. My D4 has had 2 F/W updates in the last 2 months. Unprecedented in my opinion. I think Nikon as well as the other guys got hammered with the floods, and then the flagship event (the Olympics) is only days away and they had to get the cameras out the door. The AF technologies that Nikon is now employing is a departure from the past. Also if I am correct, Nasim please jump in here to correct me, the D4 and D800 use micro adjustable mirrors or some sort of adjustable AF system which is different than what was previously used and this could be the problem. I also think the lawyers got involved and issued a company wide gag order so it could be determined if it is a firmware fix or a product recall. Do you remember the iPhone Antennagate fiasco? Same thing I imagine. We should hear something soon… Fingers and toes crossed. :)

  28. 28) JohnZ
    July 5, 2012 at 10:55 am

    Thank you very much for this detailed procedure for testing for the auto focus issues with the Nikon D800.
    I do have one question. Your procedure only uses the center focus point. If the Nikon D800 AF problem is with the farthest LEFT Focus point, should I be using the left focus point for this test?

    • July 5, 2012 at 11:06 pm

      JohnZ, I will write a post on how to test for the left AF issue later. The left AF alignment issue is not limited to D800. It has been there for a while on all cameras that have a phase detect sensor…

      • 28.1.1) Don
        July 5, 2012 at 11:10 pm


        Can you also maybe post a tiny about the AF system. I was under the impression that is uses a micro-adjusting system that dynamically aligns the mirror and sensor which is supposed to aid in its ability to track moving targets better.

        • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
          July 6, 2012 at 12:53 am

          Don, that’s a correct assumption. The phase detect sensor, along with the mirror are mounted in the factory with a certain threshold set by the QA process. Because it would be too costly for Nikon service to disassemble the camera completely to work on either mirror alignment issues or phase detect alignment, Nikon designs its cameras to allow for adjustments using a plain hex wrench. If you flip the mirror up, you will see two places on the right wall where you can put a hex wrench and adjust position of the primary and secondary mirrors. The one that is close to the sensor is used for adjusting the angle of the secondary mirror (for phase detect sensor adjustments), while the one close to the mount is used to adjust the reflex mirror. When you send a camera with an AF issue to Nikon, they run the following process: they mount a properly calibrated Nikon 50mm f/1.4 lens on the camera and using laser beams they determine if the camera is front focusing or back focusing. If the angle is wrong, they rotate the wrench. If the angle is right but AF is still off, they adjust the camera firmware to compensate for the difference, similar to what AF Fine Tune does. Now the left AF issue alignment is a whole different beast. Since there is no way to adjust the angle of the phase detect sensor, they have to do everything via firmware. So to get a camera with bad AF and left/right AF issues fully fixed, they might not only have to adjust the secondary mirror with a wrench, but also modify the camera software. Otherwise, Nikon would have to physically disassemble the camera and remount the phase detect sensor…

          • Don
            July 6, 2012 at 2:02 am

            Another winner. Thanks Nasim….

  29. July 5, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    Don-You must be the Judge doggin me again-To think that your statement of me having avoided the trials & traumas that you state in your post are laughable & you obviously do not know me or what I have experinced. I did not even continue to read your post after that statemnt & will give no more time in responding to you. Why are you in this thread if you have no AF issues-GoodBye!

    • 29.1) Don
      July 5, 2012 at 10:12 pm

      Thanks for the vindication. Your passive-aggressive response is proof-positive that my initial impression was correct and no benefit of the doubt was required on my part. Feel free to wring your hands and to go on and on about an issue that is currently being worked. Also make sure that you continue to misrepresent things said so that they fit your myopic world view.

      • July 5, 2012 at 11:03 pm

        Don, please see my comment above. Let’s be professional and be nice to each other! :) Mansurovs is a very friendly place and I believe we all would like to keep it that way…

    • July 5, 2012 at 11:02 pm

      Guys, please be nice to each other. This is not a typical forum where people can just bash each other. I understand Tinker’s concerns about huge investment and expecting the product to work. At the same time, Don is also right – these issues are much smaller than everyone thinks, only some cameras and lenses are affected. And where Nikon screwed up, there is a solution and they are ready to fix the issue at no charge. I explained in detail what needs to be done in another post. If your camera has a problem, send it to Nikon with all the documentation and image samples. They should take care of your camera. True, it is not the end of the world. I get quite frustrated with bad products myself, but after trying out some Canon lenses that have way more issues than just focusing or seeing how crappy third party lenses sometimes can be, I would still say that Nikon has the best QA in the market today. Is there room for improvement? Of course. But Nikon has been doing it for years and they will only tighten their QA if it is viable.

  30. 30) Anthony
    July 6, 2012 at 7:24 am

    1) Regarding your post above #78: Well done! You are a gentleman.
    2) Regarding post # 82: I only wish Nikon had come out with a statement like yours weeks/months ago. It would have obviated a lot of anger and frustration. Thank you for your lucid and encouraging explanation. You are a gentleman and a scholar.

    • July 7, 2012 at 12:52 am

      Thank you Anthony! I am writing another article on Phase Detect. Hopefully it will clear things up more.

  31. 31) Patrick
    July 6, 2012 at 11:51 pm

    I followed these instructions and found (on my D7K) that all of my lenses require at least -5 AF fine tune correction! One, 35mm 1.8G needed -20. This was really only apparent between 1.8 and 4, beyond that it is not noticeable. I have never complained about the focus before because, frankly, the problem is rare in my real shooting. In fact, before I tested the lenses I looked at some of my pictures and I was thinking “I don’t know what everyone is on about…” They were all very sharp.

    I went to the Vasa museum recently and took a picture of the ship at maximum aperture, the exposure and everything was fine, as I have come to expect – when I looked it in LR it was clear something wasn’t quite right, zoomed in you can tell the thing is just out of focus by a bit.

    The question, my camera is out of warranty by now, and all of my lenses are correctable with AF fine tune, is it even worth making an issue out of it? Perhaps I should just drop by my authorized service center (Nikon says there is one in the Denver area) and see if they can do a quick tune up?


    • July 7, 2012 at 12:51 am

      Patrick, just fine tune your lenses with AF Fine Tune and don’t worry about sending anything to Nikon. Why waste your money?

      A camera should only be sent to Nikon service if it has severe AF problems (with all lenses) that cannot be corrected via AF Fine Tune. If only some lenses have AF problems, then I would just use AF Fine Tune and be done with it :)

      • 31.1.1) Patrick Sullivan
        July 23, 2012 at 2:16 pm

        I ended up bringing it to a local Nikon (yes, we have on in Denver) authorized repair shop and the were able to adjust the auto-focus to bring it into specification — of course I had to explain to them my testing methodology first so they didn’t just take a picture at F9 and say, “yep, everything looks OK”.

        • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
          July 23, 2012 at 2:19 pm

          Patrick, what is the name of the local Nikon authorized repair shop? The one on Hampden Ave? If yes, they send cameras to Nikon for repair…they rarely perform repairs locally…

          • Patrick Sullivan
            July 23, 2012 at 2:29 pm

            Yes, that’s the one. They had the thing for a while but I don’t think they actually sent the camera to Nikon. I tested the focus after it was returned and it was improved dramatically. Almost like a screw needed to be turned 1/4 or something. If they did send it to Nikon I won’t complain.

            • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
              July 23, 2012 at 2:31 pm

              Patrick, they only perform easy repairs at that shop, so I am pretty sure they sent it to Nikon for repair. Glad yours is now working fine!

  32. 32) steve bissell
    July 8, 2012 at 11:08 am

    Hi Nasim, I recently bought a D4 and have been testing all my lenses with it’s autofocus. Everything seems pretty good to great except when using a TC 2Xlll. I can’t get a sharp shot of any moving subject if my life depended on it. It seems to work well with moving objects with my other TC’s(1.4 and 1.7), but NO 2X! I am usuing my 600 VR and even it worked pretty well with my D3s. It is VERY sharp with the TC 2X, 600, and the D4, if nothing is moving! What on earth gives? According to nikon, the new D4 can use the TC 1.7 and 2X perfectly with F4 long lenses, as if they were 2.8 lenses. Please help me with this issue, as my nikon dealer has given me 30 days to try out this D4 and I have about 16 left. Is this going to require another camera body or a fix of some kind from Nikon?

  33. 33) DmitryCh
    July 8, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    I have tested my D4 closely to your instruction with 24mm f/1.4 and 50mm f/1.4 both at 1.4.
    The camera was mounted on Gitzo tripod without a central column + Markins ballhead + RRS L-plate.
    I have used a focusing screen you gave above.
    First lens – in Apperture priority mode – shutter was staying the same
    Second lens – in Manual mode – shutter

    I have 12+12 test shots of 350kb each (100% crop from RAW)

    It appears that I have the most serious problem with the left-of-center focus point.
    The images look blurred and out of focus with both lenses.

    The right one looks better, but no as good as I would expect.

    What do we do now? Heh…


    • 33.1) Jorge
      July 8, 2012 at 7:14 pm

      Well, some people say that you must be happy because there are worst things in life : )

  34. 34) Amitava Basu
    July 11, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    Using camera Nikon D80 I took some panning pictures at an Equestrian event but found many small black spots scattered all over the picture. These spots are not there when normal single shots are taken but only appear on panning shots. Let me assure you that both the camera lens and the sensor were / are clean, no dirt or smudge marks on them, no rain drops etc!

    Taking a stab in the dark, a friend of mine suggested that it could it be something to do with some of the pixels on the sensor being damaged. In a still shot, the logic in the camera processor “smooths” over the black spots (i.e., it sees brightness on the pixels all around and “decides” that the centre pixel should also be approximately as bright) but in a panning shot that logic is not used and so the dark spots on the image remain dark. On a still shot no matter what the exposure or the mode, each pixel sees essentially the “same” portion of the image, and after some period of time the pixel “turns on” to that colour/intensity. So that portion of the image has “time” to register on the pixel. With a panning shot, that time is lost so the pixel does not “turn on” and remains dark. So it could be a “damaged” pixel as opposed to a completely non-functional pixel. – could this be the reason or something else?
    Would appreciate if somebody can help out?

  35. July 23, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    Thanks so much for the info on the autofocus problems and for posting a way we can figure out of we have the issue or not. Found out my D4 is problem free and tack sharp on all my lenses. Only had to do a tiny bit of fine tune adjustment on two lenses. I hope other find that theirs too has no issues!! Thanks for all you do!!

  36. 36) David D300
    August 2, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    I am concerned that a difference is suggested between pro and non pro. ALL kit should be fault free. My D300 has had various probs, never resolved. Cannot afford to move to Canon, waiting for honest Nikon response. Gutted, upset and not happy

  37. 37) Maegan
    August 7, 2012 at 8:49 am

    Nasim, I’m dying for a D4, but I’m a busy mom of 5 and the idea of testing make me nervous. I know that you said the issues aren’t extremely common and I know that there aren’t statistics out there, but do you think it’s less than a 50% chance of having issues if I ordered it today? I mean, has it been enough time since the first shipments that they may have fixed it? When I order do I still have to deal with firmware updates? Thank you for keeping things positive here!

    For anybody else who might reply: I’m a sensitive girlie-girl who cries easy, so please be take care if replying to my posts. Treat me how you’d like your daughter or neice to be treated.

    • 37.1) Don
      August 7, 2012 at 10:07 am

      HI Maegan,

      I say get the D4. It is a great camera. I have had mine since March and can say that I have had no problems. Just the bug where it stayed on when I turned it off but Nikon fixed that for the most part. One thing I will say though is, if you are used to using a D3S, or D700, the D4 is another world. There is a small learning curve as it does things differently, faster, and in many ways better. I would not hesitate to get one. As for firmware updates, they are no different than updating a phone, or computer. You download it and apply it. Pretty simple.

  38. 38) Carl Maiorino
    September 14, 2012 at 1:55 am

    I just bought a new D7000. I was jot aware of any back-focusing issues with it as I spend very little time on forums, so I don’t feel my expectations were skewed in any way, With that said, this new D7000 is having BIG back-focusing problems…even at -10 it is quite noticeable. I am a professional photographer and this is the first camera I have ever seen this issue with…it’s going back to the retailer, a camera costing $1200 should work correctly straight out of the box…

  39. 39) Paul
    November 9, 2012 at 8:31 am

    Got a new D800, with no problems, but also purchased a D3200 as a backup after getting rid of my trusty D2X.
    With D3200 I’m having severe auto focus problems, backfocus across all lenses, I am on my second copy, still the same. Is anyone else having this problem? Is the the auto focus in the d3200 up to the job or should I rely more on manual focusing.
    Using zoom lenses eg 28-70mm 2.8, tests done on a DCS Labs back focus chart, and general shots

    • 39.1) Jorge Balarin
      November 9, 2012 at 8:45 am

      Man, this Nikon story never ends !! I’m afraid of buying anything new. Definetely I will stick to my beloved D700 and pray if I buy a new lens (would be Sigma a better choice ?).

  40. 40) Jorge Balarin
    November 9, 2012 at 8:51 am

    Come on Sigma, give us stellar lenses with not so much variations between samples, and at affordable prices. Thi is your moment.

  41. 41) ILYA
    December 3, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    Hello Nasim,
    I would like to ask, if you can help me. One week ago I send my D7000 camera and lenses (AF-S 80-200mm f2.8 and 35mm f1.8) to Nikon. I ask them, if they can calibrate and adjust auto focus and sensors on my camera and make adjustments to lenses. The reasons were: all my Nikon lenses were (-20) and (-17) on AF fine tune. I could not make any adjustments to lenses because they were already at high numbers of AF fine tune. I also have Sigma 18-200mm which is very sharp at (-7) AF fine tune.
    After I received camera and lenses back, they were all out of whack. Even my Sigma not sharp anymore. If I will send you a pictures that I took with 80-200mm, can you tell me what’s wrong? Should I send camera back to Nikon? Or you have any other suggestion?
    I always reading your reviews and articles and they are great! Thank you.
    Is this something you can help me from your PRO view?
    One thing I noticed they are sharper at right side more. Maybe they adjusted everything to right side sensor?
    Thank you.
    If you tell me your e-mail I will send pictures I just took recently. Or there is other ways to attach images for you to view it?
    Thanks again.

  42. 42) mightyike
    January 25, 2013 at 11:32 am

    Oh hello

    I was unaware the focusing problem on my D7000 might be camera generated. I always noticed my close-ups (I’ve been shooting SLR for over 40 years) were a bit soft. The camera started having mirror fixation problems and I traded it in. The camera shop thought it was me. They couldn’t reproduce the camera mirror-freeze I experienced on many occasions. At the time of the trade, I was unaware the blur may have been camera. I thought, just getting too old.

    I picked up a D3200 for my wife and was waiting for a D800e. The D3200 shoots nicely, sharply.

    Then I see the D5200 may have weird focusing issues. What is going on? A sharp picture is paramount.

    The D800e @ $3800 to $4500 with tax and nice lens and it is representative of modern manufacturing/marketing gone awry? I guess I’ll wait. The d7000 I had was defective and a disappointment.

    Have Canon’s higher end SLR camera been plagued with so many comments? I know many individuals overreact; however, it should cause Nikon to take pause and look inward.

  43. June 29, 2013 at 10:08 pm

    Hi Nasim . Wonder if you have any suggestions regarding my “battle” with Nikon Malaysia, Japan, Hong Kong & Singapore regarding my D4 assymetrical AF issue, … I have been to Japan THREE times and Nikon Malaysia is quiet as heck. A shop in Malaysia has actually informed a photographer in singapore that almost all D4 he sold has gone back to Nikon Msia and many still resolved. I am become very impatient and will continue to broadcast my message to all Nikon users till Nikon Japan admits their folly and recall or refund the sets! My copy was a May 2012 set. I’ve yet to try a D4 in the region without this issue.

  44. 44) Elinor
    September 30, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    I have a D7000. took it to Antarctica right away. Shutter just stops and I cant shoot no matter what
    I try auto, etc. As I keep trying to shoot, it suddenly clicks of a half dozen shots. Of course I miss
    the one I set up. Precision Camera in Austin just blows it off. Any suggestions?

  45. 45) Melissa C.
    December 8, 2013 at 12:35 pm


    I was just wondering if Nikon is taking responsibility for the auto-focus problem? I’m not a professional, but have had a camera in my hand since age 5…I have a pretty good idea of what I’m doing. As a student, cameras and equipment are a major expense. I bought the D3200, my first Nikon, a little over a year ago, after reading rave reviews. The reviews were spot on, this camera could easily keep up with and even outperform my friends Nikons, which they paid a few thousand for. Now, I am completely unable to get auto-focus to work. I have tried everything, read every discussion, tried every recommendation…nothing works. In addition, I frequently loose the ability to use the flash, as it will not open, or opens but simply does not go off (I have read many discussions about this problem as well). Sometimes I leave my camera sitting around for awhile and “ta-da” everything is suddenly working again. This is beyond frustrating. I have never had any problem, with any other camera, of this magnitude. I am already $1000 in for this camera, just for the basic gear. When it works, its fantastic, but its so unreliable all of a sudden, that I need to carry other cameras and additional gear around. I’m just wondering if anyone has actually gotten Nikon to resolve the issue or even managed to get a refund or exchange. I’m so disappointed in Nikon. Now that I am in the market for major equipment, I have no intention of even considering their products.

  46. 46) Ken
    December 19, 2013 at 11:37 pm

    I owned a D7000 since Nov, 2011 and I am not really happy with the way the autofocus behave with my 2 lens; a)afs 18-200mm VR2 b) afs 35mm f/1.8G. I have read “How to quickly test your DSLR for Autofocus issues” and did some test last night. One thing I deviate from your guideline was to shoot chart with “fast shutter speed”. It was evening at home after work, thus could not find an idea bright day time light source. I proceed as a preliminary test however.
    My findings d7000 tested with 35mm lens(on tripod):
    1. Live view image is clear & good. Manual mode; f/1.8; 1/40s
    2. Images shoot thru viewfinder; manual; f/1.8; 1/40s. 2 Images were clean but not as sharp compared to Live view image. 1 image blurr due to focus error, i think.
    3. 1 out of 3 error, i take it as 33.3% error. Ok, fine. This thing happen sometimes.

    May I share the raw image by email you? I need to get some of your pro opinion.

    With above result, I repeat another test and the results as follow;
    D7000 with 35mm lens, manual mode, f/1.8, speed 1/25s(slightly deviate from 1st test)
    1. Live view image is sharp & good.
    2. 3 images; 1 is clear & good but not as sharp as Live view image. 2 images out of 3 are blurr. Error rate is 66.6%.

    My conclusion:
    D7000 Autofocus error rate between 33.3% to 66.6% is alarming to me if given my test was acceptable pending your valued comment.
    This result prove my encountering with D7000 so far is correct-inconsistency to get focus image!!

    Pls comment.

  47. 47) CT
    December 19, 2013 at 11:38 pm

    I owned a D7000 since Nov, 2011 and I am not really happy with the way the autofocus behave with my 2 lens; a)afs 18-200mm VR2 b) afs 35mm f/1.8G. I have read “How to quickly test your DSLR for Autofocus issues” and did some test last night. One thing I deviate from your guideline was to shoot chart with “fast shutter speed”. It was evening at home after work, thus could not find an idea bright day time light source. I proceed as a preliminary test however.
    My findings d7000 tested with 35mm lens(on tripod):
    1. Live view image is clear & good. Manual mode; f/1.8; 1/40s
    2. Images shoot thru viewfinder; manual; f/1.8; 1/40s. 2 Images were clean but not as sharp compared to Live view image. 1 image blurr due to focus error, i think.
    3. 1 out of 3 error, i take it as 33.3% error. Ok, fine. This thing happen sometimes.

    May I share the raw image by email you? I need to get some of your pro opinion.

    With above result, I repeat another test and the results as follow;
    D7000 with 35mm lens, manual mode, f/1.8, speed 1/25s(slightly deviate from 1st test)
    1. Live view image is sharp & good.
    2. 3 images; 1 is clear & good but not as sharp as Live view image. 2 images out of 3 are blurr. Error rate is 66.6%.

    My conclusion:
    D7000 Autofocus error rate between 33.3% to 66.6% is alarming to me if given my test was acceptable pending your valued comment.
    This result prove my encountering with D7000 so far is correct-inconsistency to get focus image!!

    Pls comment.

  48. 48) ML Loyd
    April 1, 2014 at 11:05 am

    I purchased a D4 a year and a half ago and have sent it into Nikon NY for repair 2x already. The 1st time right after i received it and again a month ago to the tune of a negotiated $330 before they would even look at the camera. I have repeatedly requested a new camera to deaf ears. There is no escalation process in place or accountability. I am disgusted and Nikon can kiss my bitutti. Im am or was a loyal customer until this experience.

  49. 49) soapy
    August 21, 2014 at 11:28 am

    i realise this is an older post but recently i purchased a nikon D5300 and had been using it mostly in the house using live view but when i got the opportunity to get out of the house and use the camera with the viewfinder i noticed it was back focusing rather badly. the D5300 does not have the AF fine tune menu in the software and i had kept it too long to return it to the store i decided i had to try to fix it myself, after watching a youtube video about fixing a D5100 i looked into my camera with the mirror up and saw it had the same adjustment screws as the 5100 so i had a go at fixing it myself, all i needed was a 2mm allen key, i gave it a few adjustments and checked the focus after ever adjustment and i now have a perfectly focusing camera. this was much more convenient than sending it back to nikon under warranty and waiting to get the camera back. it is a very easy adjustment to make but you must take great care not to touch the sensor with the allen key

  50. 50) Richard Anthony Handwerk
    February 13, 2015 at 5:45 am

    got 2 d7000’s. sharp focus? 5% of time, if even. forget about street shooting. not back focus issue. i can stand perfectly still focusing on object, scene and image not in focus. nikon i suppose expects us to sharpen in pp creating artifacts. what i like about film cameras is you can pay 1100.00 for a camera, and 1000.00 for a lens and get a tack sharp image. i have been shooting since 1971 and it is a deplorable situation.

  51. 51) Gihan
    July 18, 2015 at 3:28 am

    I have a D7000, I have been having the Auto Focus issue with all my lenses (35mm(Nikkor), 17-70mm (Sigma), 70-300mm (Sigma)). So does this mean its an issue with the Camera Body.?
    I tried to Calibarate the Camera using AF Fine Tune but it does not do any Calibaration. I checked with multiple values. But the issue does not seem to get better.
    Is there any other method that I can try.?


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