Nikon D800/D800E Autofocus Problems, Part 2

Five weeks ago I posted my analysis of the autofocus problems with my new Nikon D800E. I sent the camera to the local Nikon Service Center for repairs. 11 days later the camera was back and I’ve now had a chance to evaluate the results.

In one word: Unchanged.

Here are the latest tests, performed after the Autofocus Adjustment performed by Nikon. The superimposed images below are crops of the a test pattern centered on the left-most autofocus point. For the “before” image, I focused manually using LiveView. For the “after” image I used regular (non-LiveView) autofocus selecting the left-most focus point. (It may be hard to see, but there’s a vertical line in the center of the image with a draggable handle near the middle of the chart. You can move the slider left and right to hide and reveal the images.) As you can see, the auto-focused (after) image is noticeably softer. And if you compare it to the before-adjustment tests, it’s virtually unchanged.

[beforeafter]

[/beforeafter]

Not shown here are the same tests performed with the center and right-most autofocus points. Those images appear as sharp as the manually focused images.

I’ve got an important landscape workshop coming up later this month, so I’m going to wait a few weeks. But after that I plan to call the Nikon Service Center and discuss this with them. Stay tuned for another episode in this saga.

Update 10/10/12: On 10/8/12 I called Nikon and asked to speak to a supervisor. I was told someone would call me back. On 10/9/12 I received email asking me to send in my test shots, which I did. Now waiting to hear their response.

Update 10/16/12: After another week, I called Nikon yet again on 10/15/12. I was told by Nelson that a supervisor (Stacy) would call me back. Nothing. On 10/16/12 I called again. Josh said they had sent me an email — nothing received, even in spam folder — and asked me to send RAW files instead of JPEGs. Give me a break. I’ll do that later today. In the meantime, Nikon sent me an online customer-satisfaction survey. I told them exactly how I feel. I can’t believe they’re dealing with me in this way particularly since this is an acknowledged problem on many of these D800/D800E bodies.

Update 10/22/12: Yes, yet another week has passed without a response from Nikon. I called today ans spoke to “Charles”. He said the problem had been escalated to “Level Three” (senior management). He had no explanation as to why no one had returned my call as promised, what might happen next or how long it might take. He would not give me a contact name, phone number or email address. He would not let me speak to his own supervisor since the incident has already been escalated. It has now been seven weeks since I first sent the camera to Nikon for repair.

Update 10/31/12: It has now been nearly eight weeks since I first sent my D800E to Nikon for repairs. On 10/24/12 I received my first response from them, email from “David” in New York. He asked me to send yet another set of JPEG images, which I did on 10/25/12. He also said he’d included a shipping label as an attachment, which he did not. He asked me to reply, but the email had a Do Not Reply message and indded my reply failed. So I posted my response to their service database.

Today I called again and spoke to “Crystal” a first-level contact. “I see this has already been escalated to Level 3 so there’s nothing else I can do. No, I have no way to contact him [David in New York].” I was also told that the New York facility was closed due to hurricane Sandy.

But ten minutes later Crystal called me back! The first time anyone from Nikon has ever called. She asked me for the serial # and to FAX my proof of purchase. Sill, of course, since I’d already sent the camera to them weeks ago along with a copy of the receipt. But hey…at least someone called! No idea where it might lead. Crystal didn’t say what to expect in response.

Update 11/5/12: Making progress. I’ve received a few emails from David, and I’ve sent him a few more test files as requested. Today David sent me a prepaid UPS return label, not to send the camera back to El Segundo, but to him in New York. The camera is on the way to him and I’m looking forward to getting his response.

Update 11/17/12: I got email from David that he couldn’t find any problem with the camera, so we agreed he would just send it back. The camera arrived on 11/13/12 and I ran some more tests using some new tools. Inconclusive. As you get away from the center focus points, all of my bodies have some degradation in autofocus accuracy. It’s just worse on the D800E. At this point, I’ve decided to sit tight and see what evolves over the next few months since so many people are reporting this problem. The fact is I rarely use autofocus with the D800E. I have a D3s that I use for handheld low-light and action photography. And I picked up a D600 for more general use. (Great camera, BTW.) The D800E is my tripod/hi-res body, and I almost always use manual/LiveView focusing with it. Every time I think about just selling the D800E I look at one of the images I’ve captured with it. The detail and dynamic range are remarkable. There’s really nothing like it without going to medium format. So although I still think there’s a problem with the camera, it’s a defect that doesn’t currently affect me.

 

20 thoughts on “Nikon D800/D800E Autofocus Problems, Part 2

  1. Wow, what a disappointment. Does Nikon tend to cover any of the shipping costs for repair after the first repair is a failure?

    Like

  2. Update 10/10/12: On 10/8/12 I called Nikon and asked to speak to a supervisor. I was told someone would call me back. On 10/9/12 I received email asking me to send in my test shots, which I did. Now waiting to hear their response.

    Like

  3. Update 10/16/12: After another week, I called Nikon yet again on 10/15/12. I was told by Nelson that a supervisor (Stacy) would call me back. Nothing. On 10/16/12 I called again. Josh said they had sent me an email — nothing received, even in spam folder — and asked me to send RAW files instead of JPEGs. Give me a break. I’ll do that later today. In the meantime, Nikon sent me an online customer-satisfaction survey. I told them exactly how I feel. I can’t believe they’re dealing with me in this way particularly since this is an acknowledged problem on many of these D800/D800E bodies.

    Like

  4. Oh no! shit, I sent mine in to El Segundo which is now located on Wilshire blvd early this week. Hearing your horror story if the camera came back unchanged I’m gonna take a loss and sell it. Don’t have time for this micky mouse shit.

    Like

  5. This is disturbing to say the least. I am a medium format film guy ready to make a move to digital capture…finally. From everything I have read and seen, the D800 is the perfect affordable tool. I was hoping before the end of the year to purchase a D800e and 3 lenses plus various accessories. I have been aware of the focus issue, but was told by a retailer that the problem has been resolved with recently manufactured cameras…apparently not so. I have no intention of dropping $10K to $12K on a defective camera system. I am probably not alone. I sure hope Nikon reads your Blog and begins to understand the ramifications of not being able to resolve a serious deficiency in one of their top-selling products…shame on Nikon!

    Like

  6. Yup, couldn’t agree with you more Craig.

    I just sold my 5D3 and 24-70 to switch to Nikon, I’m almost at the point where I regret it, almost. If my camera comes back from service fucked up, or worst, I’m not sure what I’m gonna do.

    Like

  7. WOW! And here I was about to buy one of these cameras. Got rid of my Canon for Nikon. Well, guess I’ll go back to Canon. Thanks for the info!

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  8. Did you hear back from New York? What was their take on this situation? I’ve had my camera in for adjustment twice and it came back as “within specifications” which I cannot simply believe.

    Like

  9. Update 11/17/12: I got email from David that he couldn’t find any problem with the camera, so we agreed he would just send it back. The camera arrived on 11/13/12 and I ran some more tests using some new tools (http://goo.gl/OEPJ7). Inconclusive. As you get away from the center focus points, all of my bodies have some degradation in autofocus accuracy. It’s just worse on the D800E. At this point, I’ve decided to sit tight and see what evolves over the next few months since so many people are reporting this problem. The fact is I rarely use autofocus with the D800E. I have a D3s that I use for handheld low-light and action photography. And I picked up a D600 for more general use. (Great camera, BTW.) The D800E is my tripod/hi-res body, and I almost always use manual/LiveView focusing with it. Every time I think about just selling the D800E I look at one of the images I’ve captured with it. The detail and dynamic range are remarkable. There’s really nothing like it without going to medium format. So although I still think there’s a problem with the camera, it’s a defect that doesn’t currently affect me.

    Like

  10. Oh you think you are the only one, this is identical with my story. I have been in this last 5 months. When I call the customer service I just ask if I can talk to David Dentry. I got my camera back today from NY, this was the second time I sent. I told them NOT to change any parts without my permission and David Dentry told that the camera is just fine and there is nothing he can do, it is funny that the camera came back with B2 repair…he said nothing wrong, I told do not change a tiny screw if it is ok and send me a proof document states this camera is just fine, but it came back with a B2 repair. You can contact me directly if you want. I would like to gather people like you and me and do something about for all this time that has been consumed by Nikon. I have never seen a communication like that in any corporation, nobody knows whats going on, they do not provide any information to you, you cannot reach to specific people in a specific time, waiting days, weeks, it’s a freaking joke.

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  11. I seem to have the same problem with my D800E, i did a few shots on the right autofocus point and then the left, everytime the right is sharp the left is blurry. When I micro adjust the AF for the left, then the right is off. My camera has the old firmware, so I believe its part of the old batch. I told Nikon If i spent $3k+ with your company do you not believe in helping me out other than waiting 10+ days? So I called the store I purchased it from “crutchfield” they are sending me another D800E and when it gets here I will return the old one.

    Crutchfield is awesome! Nikon not so much.

    Like

  12. Yes! it’s been my third D800 and I still have this problem.
    Next week I’ll have to find a solution with Nikon because it’s been 9 moths I wasn’t able to work.
    If I had to choose today, I would buy canon without hesitating.
    the worst in all, I sold my 5D MARKII last year in may and there hasn’t been any single day without regretting it!

    Like

  13. Here it is 5/15/13 now, and I still cannot determine if new ones have no issues at this point. Could this go down in history as the Nikon camera that nobody will buy used? I am already seeing signs of that… Seems time for consumer affairs people to be all over Nikon for this.

    Regret selling my D3X now, after reading all this. I could probably get by without left most focus point, but should I have to?

    I see this has turned into the standard response from companies that want to bail on responsible customer service.

    “Well sir, it’s adjusted to specifications.” There’s nothing else we can do for you regarding this matter.

    It’s not out of focus, it’s adjusted to specification! Right! This type of cop-out on taking care of customers really makes me angry. Last I have heard, reports of cameras coming back exactly as sent to Nikon without change, were still occurring spring 2013.

    Like

  14. Hello,
    it’s my second D800 and I still have a lot of problems with it.
    Don’t know what to do. The first one went 3 times to after-sales dpt…
    In low light situations, the focus is 15 cm behind with all my lens (35/50/85 1,4)…
    Benjamin from France

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  15. I have the problem with my d800 Nikon just told me I need to calibrate it and that’s that. I’ve seen many people who returned their camera that got fixed proper.

    Like

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