There is a lot of talk lately about the left side focus issue with the Nikon D800/e. I have received many emails asking me if I have that issue and what, if anything, I have done about it.
Let me start by saying, yes, both of my Nikon D800’s (regular and the “e”) have the left side focusing issue. And, currently, I have done absolutely nothing about it. Let me break down my position for you.
What’s the Issue?
First, lets look at the issue, since it first appeared in the wild, the Nikon D800/e was reported to have a left side focusing issues, I may be mistaken, but I believe my mentor Ming Thein, NPS professional, was the first to find, track and report this issue way back before the rest of us even got our hands on a Nikon D800.
Essentially, when using the far left focusing points in the view finder, the image can be out of focus. And fairly significantly so, let me show you my results and how I got them.
How to Test
I originally tested my Nikon D800 when I first received it (the Nikon D800e too) and retested it for this article. It’s a pretty simple test.
- Set the camera approximately 5 feet from the wall.
- Check to make sure you are square with the wall
- Measure 5 feet from the wall to the camera strap nubs.
- Setup 3 targets, one for the left side, center and right.
- Use the View finder and select the far left point (which is on a target, right?)
- Rotate the Focus Ring all the way to the right or left (so the image is completely out of focus)
- Then focus and take a picture.
- Repeat these steps except using Live View (placing the red square in the same spot as the focus point you used)
Compare the two pictures. Be sure to rename them on your computer to identify the points you used
Should you use the AF Fine Tune?
Fine Tuning is a tricky issue, you might be able to adjust your lens so that the effects of the “out of focus” on the left side is minor but then you are compromising the center and right side. Basically you’d be making everything, just a little out of focus, rather than just the left side being “a lot” out of focus. In the end, this is a personal call, but for me, it’s a no.
From the very second the Nikon D800’s started being shipped, people started to complain, and rightfully so, it’s this sort of feedback that helps shakes the tree for issues just like this. However, having seen several people from the Nikonians D800 forum send theirs in and get it back with the same issue, as well as, Nikon’s continued silence convinced me to hold off on sending mine in.
For one, it was/is pretty clear that Nikon did not know what the issue was, and was working diligently to find/fix it. However, with Nikon typical stoic nature, meaning closed lipped and non-responsive tended to get people even more fired up.
I am not saying you shouldn’t get fired up, nor that you shouldn’t send in your camera for repairs. Only pointing out that I have not… Yet… Although, it does appear that Nikon has isolated the problem and has a fix for the Nikon D800/e in hand. But I will wait until the kinks have been worked out of the system, say another couple weeks before sending mine in. Until then, I know the center focus points work just fine.
There is a lot of speculation as to why Nikon has not issued an official statements regarding this issue; demands for a recall run rampant, there is no need for that. Recalls are generally reserved for personal safety issues. It’s not going to blow up in your hands. Look at the car industry, they don’t even issue a recall unless it’s going to cost them more money in lawsuits than it would to issue a recall.
I do think they should pay for shipping for repairs but, officially, they have not admitted a problem yet, nor denied it. This is typical for every major manufacturing industry, I expect they will address it, when they best feel they have a handle on it. My guess is that they are trying to narrow down which cameras are affected. What do you expect them to say? Send us back every Nikon D800? Or perhaps, “we have determined that models before this serial number to be affected, please send us ….”.. This is just as half-cocked as most of the responses I have seen so far.
Take Home Message
Relax, I can assure you that Nikon is not in the business of alienating its high end customer base. Give them time to isolate, identify and fix the issue. They’ll issue a statement that will address these concerns, it’s only good business. This, could actually be fortune for us in the photography world, with the rise of third party testing of focusing systems. Well, either way, I’ll wait a few weeks to send mine in.