Thom Hogan Declares D800 "Not Recommended"

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by lisa_b|4, Jul 23, 2012.

  1. Wow. I really hope Nikon can fix this quickly........
    "Thus, because of the apparent widespread nature of the problem and Nikon's response to it, I'm going to have to change my review to Not Recommended, and it will stay that way until such time as it becomes clear to me that all new cameras coming into the US are free of the left AF sensor programming problem."
  2. My bet is on Nikon for this one.
    BTW, is there a website I can go to?
  3. I would like to buy Thom a beer, and encourage him to lighten up just a bit.
  4. Are links here to Thom's site forbidden?
    I looked all over for the original and couldn't find it. I don't doubt it's there, but I toured around his site for a while and nada - just older stuff saying how great the D800 was and selling me his book on the subject....
    A more general Google only yielded this same post, this one here.
    so I'd appreciate a link to see the whole statement, if that's possible.
    Am I going to have to apologize to Maurice?
    Center column, July 23. Maybe some readers need to clear their cache because this is new.
  6. I don't know if links to other sites are taboo or not--my apologies in advance if they are:
    Look under "Quick Links & Comments."
  7. It's just a matter of's not like there is another 36mp ff dslr, Nikon or otherwise. You either want it or don't, unlike the mirrorless
    segment where there is a tight race with many contenders...
  8. Thanks - that additional info was what I needed to find it. I was getting buried in a long list of books, reviews, etc.
    I'm going to hold off apologizing for a little while, but the full statement, especially the part about "internet amplification effect", is interesting and recommend looking at it.
  9. If someone on the internet recommended against eating bacon would you become a vegetarian?
    Do you have a clear understanding of your needs? Do you have faith in your ability to assess whether a piece of gear meets those needs? If so, why do you care what someone recommends and what they don't?
    Per the (non) recommendation - I agree that for a lot of people it's probably not the right camera. If you're a casual shooter, it's probably not the right camera. If you have limited skills but want to take nice photos of your kids, it's probably not the right camera. If you want "ooh, ahh" reactions from other photographers, it's probably not the right camera (get the E instead - it will enhance the exaltation).
    For a lot of other people it's a really GREAT camera. But those people should decide for themselves whether it's the RIGHT camera.
    Avoiding a camera model because someone on the Internet suggests that it's not the right gear for you - not recommended.
  10. SCL


    Dan +1
  11. It's a much more qualified than a blanket "not recommended", if you read the whole updated review. (excluding the somewhat infrequent AF problem).
    His statement " They are not cameras for everyone, however. " is also much more explanatory if you read and understand his whole review from start to finish.
    Again, maybe he is right, and I should just order a Pentax 645D instead at 3x the price. :)
    Dan +1 as well
  12. I don't know about this particular case with the D800, but there is value to information sharing whether from a prolific writer or group forum discussion. While there can be as much consensus as controversy, the end decision should be made by an individual through critical analysis as technical matters should be fact-based and not perception-based.
  13. Dan, I wouldn't really consider Thom to be just "someone on the internet," he's IMHO one of the leading authorities/experts on Nikon cameras and lenses. He changed his opinion on the D800 from "highly recommended" to "not recommended" not because of the features or specs of the the D800 but because of the consistent incidence of problems with the D800's left AF sensor. It's a specific problem/flaw (that will hopefully be corrected quickly by Nikon) not a matter of whether the D800 is the "right" camera for someone's needs.
  14. I tend to side with Dan on this. Last year I bought two D300s refurb bodies over the D7000, even though there were so many comments on how much better the D7000 ISO and IQ are. But when I saw that the D7000 had the same dial on the upper left for presets as my D70s that I so often nudged just at the wrong time, I knew I was not going there. Also, the fast AF, frame rate and big cache of the D300s made me go with it. I'm incredibly impressed with this body. Yes, evaluate your needs and make your decision bases on that, and take other people's judgements with a grain of salt.
  15. I do agree with Lisa. Dan, Thom is not saying "don't buy this camera"; that is our personal decision if we do or don't. Read the article before answering or are you one that only talk and talk. If you believe you know better than him, why don't you investigate and test the camera and come up with something different ? Be more professional and proactive ! He is a Nikon expert and well known in the world as such. He has been testing the camera, spend a lot of time with Japan Nikon to find out how the problem can be fixed or if we are to expect the same with the upcoming D600/D400 but Nikon continues to keep silence about it. Is that the right way to treat your customers ? No it is not, so I do understand why he is saying and agree with what he is saying 100%. That is his personal opinion and we should respect that.
  16. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I am well aware that over on DPReview's Nikon Fourms, the D800 AF issue, especially concerning the left AF points, have been discussed to no end since April. However, here on this very Nikon Forum, I don't recall reading all that many complaints about it.
    As a lot of people know, I received a D800 from Nikon USA for testing in late March. I then ordered a D800E for myself in mid April. That camera arrived in mid June. I had that D800 for about three months and my own D800E for just over a month, and by the time I got my D800E in June, I was well aware of the "left AF point issue" and therefore tested very thoroughly immediately. Both cameras are as perfect as they can be. Searching complaints on this forum:
    Interestingly, I have not found one person complaining about AF problems with the D800 on this forum, and I know quite a few of us have bought the D800/D800E already. If that left AF point issue is indeed wide spread, I would expect quite a few complaints about it already. On this forum, there is a lot of here say, repeating what people read else where. But very few people here experience those problems themselves.
    In comparison, there are a lot of complaints about D7000 AF errors and D300 problems. But of course, my D300 and D7000 are as perfect as they can be too. I simply have lots of luck receiving good-out-of-the-box Nikon equipment.
  17. like Shun, I also have both the 800 and the 800e and I too don't have any left side focusing issues. Maybe we are just lucky.
  18. Lisa, et al.,
    I know who Thom is. I've read his site for years because I respect his opinion. In most cases I have found myself agreeing with his positions.
    I read his review of the D800 and his follow up posts days before this discussion materialized, so I know exactly what was said. And he said quite a bit.
    Ultimately, we need to make our own decisions regardless of what anyone on the Internet says - this site, other well-known review sites, our favorite photographer, our favorite blogger, or customer feedback at retailers. Regardless of how reliable or respected a reviewer is, we have to recognize that they are a different person with different needs and preferences.
    Should buyers avoid the D800 because of comments that they've read online? Should buyers ORDER a D800 because of comments that they've read online? Or should they do their own research and buy/use gear that matches their needs and budget, even if that means getting together with someone who owns the gear already and trying it out for an afternoon?
    Final responsibility rests with the user. When users abdicate that responsibility they end up feeling frustrated and disillusioned with the product and the manufacturer. And that ends up leading to more Internet chatter, some percentage of which isn't very reliable at all.
  19. Just for the record my retailer switched my D800E, which clearly had some flange to focal plane issue and meant that all my ZFs focused beyond infinity to an unacceptable extent, with another one where this issue is all but gone. Now two of my ZFs hit infinity bang on the hard stop and the other two very very slightly out. Given that Nikon UK had taken in my original D800E 3 times because of this and claimed it was fine shows what kind of tolerance they have - or indeed a potential purchaser has to have.
    For sure the D800/E is a really finicky camera to focus well - much much more so than a D700 - and this makes it even less of an everyday camera. I used to use my D3 and D700 for photographing everything but the size of files and criticality of spot-on focusing means that I will only use it for landscapes whereas photographing the children is for my X100 and new RX100 (which is amazing incidentally).
  20. I understand Hogan`s statement, but in the other hand, recommended or not by him, I still think it`s the best Nikon camera ever.
  21. Dan -- the problem with dismissing the idea that we should be affected by our research you're fundamentally making an impossible argument. Think of the books you've read, the films you've seen, because of someone else's recommendation. It's the critic's job to be convincing. So either you can say the critic has no standing -- as if it were Justin Bieber talking, and you say simply, this is a cretin and he knows nothing about photography -- or, if you wish to dismiss the argument publicly, you have to make a convincing, informed argument against it. Shun did this quite well -- although, Shun, dude, did it ever occur to you Nikon's making sure you get the good stuff? Not, as Seinfeld used to say, that there's anything wrong with that... Anyway Shun was quite convincing, I thought. My immediate reaction to TH was that he was being a bit of a drama queen, embarrassed that he'd endorsed the camera when so many were finding problems. If the AF has a problem, Nikon will fix it. This camera has excited more photographers than any release that I know of since the M9. (Don't start with Leica. I'm only sayin'...) Before that, likely the D3. OK, maybe the 5D Mkii, after they filmed an episode of House with it. And of course I'm skipping the m4/3 wunderkinds... basically because they bore me. But those Fuji's sure got people excited. Anyway you know what i mean. This -- the D800 -- is much more a groundbreaking camera. If there's a problem Nikon will fix it. They have a lot riding on it. So I agree with you that TH is not on target here; but being (at one time) a critic myself, I of course think it's too easy, and inaccurate, to say, 'we don't have to listen to anybody.' We have -- for our own good -- to listen to the people who are generally correct. And be confident about pointing out when they're not.
  22. For anyone who has experienced first-hand the Japanese cultural phenomenon of denying mistakes (or manufacturing defects), you understand how maddening it can be to know with certainty that there is a serious issue with a high-priced item only to have the manufacturer and its reps tell you that there is not. I have a certain Japnese automobile company in mind as I write this.
    The question is not *if* there is an issue, the questions are how many cameras are so affected, when is Nikon going to admit it and what are they going to do about it.
  23. "Japanese cultural phenomenon of denying mistakes (or manufacturing defects)"
    Howard, painting broad strokes without factual support in this specific instance isn't very helpful.
  24. I understand Hogan`s statement, but in the other hand, recommended or not by him, I still think it`s the best Nikon camera ever.​
    I agree - but to some extent the demanding nature of the D800/D800E in terms of lenses, technique and the sheer file size it pumps out has made it into much more of specialised tool than any DSLR Nikon has produced before.
    Would I recommend the camera to your average amateur photographer who only wants one camera to do everything? I really don't think so. Not because of its quality as an instrument but because of the nature of such a camera.
    To make the D800/D800E really reach its true potential you need to be highly fastidious (a trait of most of the people who would actually be reading this thread - myself very much included). What I learned from the first few minutes of using my D800E is that the tiniest focusing error ruins your shot in a way that the D700/D3 simply did not.
    So Thom I think makes a good point when he does what he did - if Nikon want to play in medium format territory then they have to up their game in terms of QC as well as after-sales support and service. Otherwise you will end up with a bunch of demanding photographers who are seeing things they shouldn't be seeing in an expensive camera and getting really rather annoyed about it - like I was.
  25. I received my D800 last week. I must have ordered one 6 times since the camera was announced and cancelled 5 because of all the 'chatter' about the AF issue and green cast monitor. The 2nd thing I checked was the AF on the left side (the AF of the center point was my first test). My body focuses perfectly. The colors on my monitor are extremely accurate and do not have any color issues of any kind. My D800 functions perfectly. With regards to AF, it is the best I have used when it comes to speed and accuracy (but I don't necessarily like the D7000 AF selector vs the D3's).
    I fully agree with Dan's comments.
    "what are they going to do about it" If you receive a camera that is not functioning properly, you can return it to the selling dealer for an exchange or refund or Nikon will correct it under the terms of their warranty. What more would you like them to do?
  26. Well I ordered the D800 about 3 weeks ago. It had the AF issue. I sent it back for a replacement and the second body had it too. In addition the second body had another AF issue which was worse. I don't know if my experience is common or not but this is the first camera I've had problems of this nature with.
    A number of highly respected people have noted the same issue so I know mine wasn't an isolated case. Nikon are claiming no knowledge and, as Thom rightly says, will pay the price.
    I'm waiting until Nikon sort it out before ordering again and I applaud Thom Hogan for his stance.
  27. If you receive a camera that is not functioning properly, you can return it to the selling dealer for an exchange or refund or Nikon will correct it under the terms of their warranty. What more would you like them to do?​
    That's the point though Elliot - I took my D800E back to Nikon 3 times and each time they came back saying it's fine. It was only the retailer that managed to solve it by finding another D800E. If people are having this kind of pushback on the AF issue (which I haven't tested for - don't know what I would do if I found it) which does seem to be relatively common then Nikon need to realise that there is something amiss in their process.
    I am no engineer but if my original D800E was really within tolerance then I might venture to suggest that those tolerances are too wide for a camera like the D800E.
  28. I'm going to have to change my review to Not Recommended, and it will stay that way until such time as it becomes clear to me that all new cameras coming into the US are free of the left AF sensor programming problem

    It seems that Thom Hogan his changing his review solely due to the way Nikon is handling the situation and not because he considers the camera as a bad one.
    Being an event with a solution and considering the price of D800 he also considers that Nikon should pay for the consumer expenses, as well as showing some fear that this can affect the brand in the future.
    So Nikon can solve the situation and we should accept that as a writer of books for Nikon's cameras users Thom Hogan may wish to avoid people coming back to him saying they bought the camera based on his recommendation and now they're suffering the problem. But, on the other end, nothing prevents anyone from buying this camera, betting that they will not receive a copy with the problem or expecting Nikon to solve it if they are not lucky.
  29. as if it were Justin Bieber talking, and you say simply, this is a cretin and he knows nothing about photography​
    Now, be fair, I have no idea whether Justin Bieber knows anything about photography - knowing nothing about singing on the other hand... But let's not pick on the poor girl.

    I think Thom's being quite clear: lovely camera, but there is a known issue affecting some subset of cameras (and Thom did ask his readers for feedback, it's not just his cameras) and Nikon's handling of this may not be satisfactory to potential purchasers. Perhaps "not recommended" is a bit harsh, but it's a public way to express the frustration of a number of Nikon customers, and it seems a pretty balanced way of trying to get the attention of someone who can change Nikon's attitude, to me.
  30. I think the problem is that online, even a small percentage of defective cameras gets a lot of attention on gear-oriented sites such as dpreview. On this forum, here on, most posts and discussion are between regular posters - it is a smaller community, and therefore the incidence of any particular manufacturing/calibration problem would likely to be small, if the problem's real world incidence is small. On the other hand I can imagine someone who has a problem might be tempted to vent over it to Thom or on dpreview forums rather than just dealing with it by having Nikon service it. However, the problem with having the quiet approach to fixing the problem is in this case that Nikon repair centres were initially unable to fix the problem, leading to a situation where there is a clear problem and Nikon is unable to solve it because of incorrect calibration procedure / data, after which the affected users were of course unhappy, as sometimes their cameras came out worse than when they were sent in (the nikongear forum has a discussion on this).
    From Nikon's point of view the problem is that if the calibration problem affects 1% of the cameras sent in for AF issues, how can they make a statement "we have had a calibration problem with some D800 units, please send in your camera if you think it is affected by it" when it will only mean they will be flooded with cameras to "repair" when in fact only a small fraction of the cameras sent in have this particular problem for real, and most cameras sent in do not have it? Some of the procedures shown online for "checking" if a user has this problem are not correct, and will lead to people sending in cameras which are in fact working correctly (there is a widely spread video which basically leads to the users that follow its testing procedure to believe their camera has a problem whenever there is significant field curvature in the lens, which is a common thing and not a "problem" that can be fixed). I think Nikon simply cannot issue such a statement for practical reasons, nor should they.
  31. It seems to me TH is adopting slowly adopting the strategy of another 'well known' writer on the net, (and therefor automaticall an expert?) namely KR, who like TH is lately turning from an avid fan of Nikon to a grumpy critic of the brand (although I give TH more credit on his reviews, as KR admits he writes them without sometimes even having used the item concerned).
    Having a firm base of dedicated readers, now becoming 'critical' produces additional extra traffic, and of course that's a main income source for these kind of sites of self declared experts.
    I have been using a D800 for a couple of months now, and while the camera did have a backfocus problem when first used out of the box (which I probably could have fixed with the AF fine tuning, but was swiftly and without costs fixed by Nikon in the Netherlands), I have not encountered any problem with the AF as such with the individual AF (or leftside only) AF point(s).
    As a major part of my photography is catwalk (long lenses, shallow DOF and fast moving subjects under not always perfect light) I have found out the hard way the D800 takes very critical and carefull shooting, and the slightest sloppyness with the AF while taking the picture is punished unforgivingly.
    It focusses exactly where I put the AF point, and unlike the D3, does not allow any careless shooting or I simply don't get the picture in focus where I want it. And yes, it put's high demands on the glass used, which eg forced me to (after almost twenty years) say good bye to my trusty old 2.8/80-200mm AFD (second generation push pull) zoom, as the softness when shooting wide open could no longer be masked or compensated in any way.
    But when the AF is right (which fortunately is steadily improving significantly as I, even after over 30 years of using Nikon, AF for close to twenty years and digital for almost ten years, get learn to handle the camera better) the extra pixels do pay off and translate in incredibly detailed pictures, for me never experienced before in my years of shooting castwalk (where the high ISO used to translate in not always the best detail and image quality)
    So in my experience while it's quite possible there are some QC problems with some of the (judging by the many reports on 'faulty' samples) widely sold and used D800 (which BTW surprises me a bit based on the many reports of people who have not been able to get one, but that's a different story). for me the D800 is he best Nikon I'm using at the moment.
    Sure, there are some (hopefully initial) problems, but that also happened with the D1, D2H, D3, but eg also D70 and D200, and going back futher in time also with nowadays 'classic' camera's like the F100, and which I trust will be solved by Nikon in time as has also been the case with the other cameras (don't forget the D800 has only been on the market for a couple of months).
    And otherwise vote with your feet. I get the impression many new users don't have a big collection of Nikon glass etc. so swithing (back?) to another brand should be easy and not as traumatic as for long time Nikon users (who don't seem to complain that much about the latest gear anyway)
  32. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Well I ordered the D800 about 3 weeks ago. It had the AF issue. I sent it back for a replacement and the second body had it too. In addition the second body had another AF issue which was worse.​
    William Scott, I am glad finally someone provides first-hand experience here.
    although, Shun, dude, did it ever occur to you Nikon's making sure you get the good stuff?​
    Obviously all test samples receive come from Nikon USA. Whether they have checked them before sending them out I don't know, but the D800 test sample I got started with shutter actuation #1. Therefore, I know that it was not used after leaving the factory.
    My D800E is the 7th Nikon DSLR I bought. All 7 are random samples from stores. Since I am not an NPS member, I orderd my D800E from my local store just like anybody else would have done, and it took them almost two months to get it. Nikon USA would have no idea that particular camera would come to me.
  33. If you are a respected internet reviewer who encounters a good deal of anecdotal evidence that there is a problem with a product and you say that you don't recommend it based on that, that seems like a sound practice to me. A LOT of people read Thom, evidently, so maybe this will get Nikon's attention if this is, indeed, the problem it seems to be.
    At the very least they will need to address it better than they have done so far.
  34. I don't know if there's a problem with D800 focussing. Looks like there is, in all probability.
    But hat's off to TH for downgrading the D800 to 'not recommended'. In the end, it will be good for consumers.
    On KR: Ha ha....forget KR, SH is the new KR :) :)
  35. I am well aware that over on DPReview's Nikon Fourms, the D800 AF issue, especially concerning the left AF points, have been discussed to no end since April. However, here on this very Nikon Forum, I don't recall reading all that many complaints about it.
    In comparison, there are a lot of complaints about D7000 AF errors and D300 problems.​
    I'm a long time Nikon customer, and only pay attention to reviews of gears I use or intend to purchase. Questions:
    - What other Nikon bodies other than these had as many AF issues reported? IOW, did the reports started with these bodies? When a machine becomes exceedingly sophisticated and complex, flawless design, manufacturing and testing can be challenging. Intel paid half a billion dollars for their floating point fiasco.
    - By comparison, are there as many AF issues reported on Canon bodies?
  36. There's a follow up post on Thom's site, very relevant. Incase you want to read it.
    Basically he says, no one will buy a used D800 because they will doubt it to be defective. And it will be hard to sell it because people will think its defective.
    And all this because Nikon has not said they have a stand on it, there will be lot of clarity.
  37. Michael, one only needs to be following their current, ongoing problem to get a feel for Howard's statement:

    Government panel blasts lack of 'safety culture' in nuclear accident

    "Japanese cultural phenomenon of denying mistakes (or manufacturing defects)"

    Howard, painting broad strokes without factual support in this specific instance isn't very helpful.
    What this means for the ongoing reports of the D800 Autofocus problem, and a solution to those remains to be seen.
  38. Of course Nikon will take care of the issue, if there is one with your camera. Whenever there have been issues with previous cameras, Nikon has been willing to fix the issue without complaint; that's what a warranty is for. Look at Thom's review of the D200 for example. Back when the camera was released, I'm sure that banding and encrypted white balance were a very real issue, just like how in the 1950's, nuclear attack from Russia was a very real fear. However, looking back on it with the gift of hindsight, we see that while there were some issues with the D200, not everyone had them, and those that did got their camera repaired. Overall, it was not worth getting worried over. Either take the chance by buying one of the initial batches, or go enjoy yourself for a few more months until all of the vigilante testwork has been done. Heck, Nikon has already officially released a fix for this D800 issue, and it doesn't even involve changing any physical components!
    If you took your camera back before, as mentioned, it was likely before Nikon was able to form a cohesive strategy on what exactly was wrong with their cameras. It seems to me that Thom is just doing this so that when the problem is fixed, he can parade around this older post and claim that he was able to bully Nikon "into their proper place." Too bad they've already moved past this.
  39. Thom never said the D800 is a bad camera. I do believe it is a great camera BUT we are not discussing here if it is bad or a great camera but the way Nikon is handling the issue that has been already posted in this thread. We buy cameras and lenses based on other photographer's experience on the field and testing. For example, everybody knows the 70-200 f/2.8 VR II is an excellent lens; it has been "marked" by all the owners as an excellent lens. You buy that lens base on those reviews or usage that others do on the field ... not just because Nikon is saying : "this is the best lens ever .. lalalala "
    Same thing with cameras. On theory, the D800 is a great camera,( if the camera is working properly, it is the best ever and I do not have any doubt about it ) but some of them and we don't know how many, came faulty. Now, that is not really the problem because we know that some equipment may be faulty out of the box. The problem start to arise when you send the camera back, you pay ( when you should not ) for shipping and handling, wait about 2 other months to receive it back from Nikon and then, still the camera is not working properly. So how do you think that you should feel if you were the one on that situation ?
    I am a Nikon customer since 1988 when I bought my first camera, the great N8008. I would not like to receive a faulty camera in the first place, second, I would not like to pay for shipping and handling ( where is the great customer service that in this country US, we are used to ? ), third, I would not like to wait 2 months for my camera back and fourth, I would not like to receive the camera back in the same condition. Do you call that a great experience as a customer ? No. Because of this, the D800 is not the best equipment to buy ... UNLESS you test it before you buy it. You don't know if the camera you are buying is either working or not as expected. There is a deep doubt !!
    I do believe that Thom is making us a great favor here. He is not saying don't buy it, he is giving us some information about this camera that should make us more cautious when going to the store to buy the camera. Finally, it is up to you or us if after too many testing that he and others made already, you decide to ignore other's experience and buy the equipment.
    Nikon is not giving us trust on this particular equipment. Question is, would we face the same issue with the upcoming D600 or D400 ? We don't know because we have a doubt already and from customer service standpoint it is not a great idea that a customer feels like that. Nikon is loosing some kind of credibility here. Obviously, Thom is saying "not recommended" cause you may or you may not be a winner when you buy this camera. Now, again, it is up to you if you want to go for and ignore what he said. Personally, before I buy any photography equipment, I do review, I do ask ( I have used this forum to ask questions before ), I test and I wait some time waiting on other's experience and finally I decide to buy or not.
    Thanks God that we have professionals like Thom helping us to make a right decision. I wonder how many of you have bought stuff based on his opinion, cameras, lenses or his books ? But now that he is saying something "bad" about the D800, we do not like it.
  40. "Japanese cultural phenomenon of denying mistakes (or manufacturing defects)"
    What does that mean?? When Japanese people have a problem with whatever product they choose, they go back to the store and get it replace or fix. While the product is being fixed they relax and have a beer..... That is a big difference with the US.... In the US everyone is so spoiled and people like to complaint, get upset about very simple things and end up having a heart attack.....
    So you guys just relax.... enjoy life.... TAKE PICTURES and be happy....... I recommend you guys come to live in Japan for 2 or 3 years, maybe you would learn something.
  41. Couple of things:

    Can some describe a poor mans test to demonstrate the left autofocus issue?

    I did my first dark church shoot this past week with my D800. The images are fantastic (I have been, shooting D700 for the past several
    years to add some perspective to my impression of fantastic). I would sure hate to send the D800 back!!
  42. Rene' - I can't vouch for a Japanese company. I've worked for other companies with parents in Asia, and I've been warned (and seen) that there is a culture of not reporting bad news to management (or to anyone outside an immediate group). Once a problem does reach management, the fix tends to get implemented extremely quickly (compared with the possibly endless meetings and blame assignations that might happen in some Western companies), but I can take time for an issue to pass the threshold for it to be acted on. That doesn't make things better or worse than other cultures (and may not apply to consumers), but there is a tendency to behave slightly differently.

    I've no evidence of whether this culture may apply to Nikon or car manufacturers, or in fact to any Japanese company (and I bear in mind that Japan is more "Westernised" than some countries in its geographical proximity), but if it is an issue, I suspect Thom's stunt (I use the term without prejudice) might be beneficial. Especially since he actually held a poll and found out how many of his readers were having problems, rather than relying on rumour.

    On the other hand, I'm quite sympathetic to Nikon that they don't want an influx of fully-functioning D800s. That probably doesn't mean that it would hurt them to make public an accurate test procedure and admit that a small number of products have a problem.
  43. Andrew.... I think any company in any part of the World act the same way. A new product comes out and for sure there are always some bad units. Usually they will fix it but they won't go around accepting there is something wrong with their line up.....
    After I bought my first DSLR (D80) my super Windows computer couldn't handle the files... kept freezing and I decided to give Apple a try.... Well, I bought a 15" MacBook Pro.... problem fixed. 2 weeks later I put a DVD on it and guess what? The MBP wouldn't read the DVD. I got in my car, expended 3 hours of my time, gasoline and around 40 USD on freeway toll. I showed them what was going and they just gave me a brand new MBP. Instead of complaining about it, I drove back home and I was really happy that they were so nice and gave me a new lap top. In 2010 I bought another 17" MBP but this time I customized it. So it took around 3 weeks to arrive from China. Finally it came, I turned it on and discover a brown spot the size of a quarter in the middle of the screen. Called Apple and they told me that if I wanted a new one I had to wait 3 weeks again.... that wasn't nice coz I was leaving to the UK within a week. Also they told me they could fix it and check it and I could be sure I wouldn't have a problem with it. They picked it up Thursday and I got it back on Saturday. Again, I was so happy about it..... I didn't run to the net to find other people complaining about this problem. I also didn't think anything bad about Apple. It was just a coincidence that I had a problem each time I bought a lap top from them. After that I bought 2 more lap tops and I had no more problems.
    But I notice that Nikon users are different.... to me it seems that even if they don't have a problem with their cameras, THEY WANT TO FIND ONE..... and they keep checking and listening other people with problems.... I find it funny....
  44. I have both bodies and have had no focus issues at all. Since getting them I have shot a wedding and several portrait sessions. I also have several large prints on my walls from a recent trip to Yosemite where I used the D800E and probably every focus point in the viewfinder. Those prints stand out from all of my others. I know for sure that the left focus points were used several times. As others are pointing out, Thom Hogan is not criticizing the D800 as much as he is criticizing Nikon for how they are handling the issue. Apparently I am very fortunate to have received two good bodies. The problem for Nikon as I see it is that every shot made with a D800/D800E (and other future bodies) that is not blindingly sharp will be blamed on the camera, when in fact in a lot of cases other issues will be to blame.
  45. "It seems to me TH is adopting slowly adopting the strategy of another 'well known' writer on the net, (and therefor automaticall an expert?) namely KR, who like TH is lately turning from an avid fan of Nikon to a grumpy critic of the brand (although I give TH more credit on his reviews, as KR admits he writes them without sometimes even having used the item concerned).
    "Having a firm base of dedicated readers, now becoming 'critical' produces additional extra traffic, and of course that's a main income source for these kind of sites of self declared experts."​
    This pretty much says it all.
    Given the context of the entire review, Hogan's article and caveats are valid. But he's also engaging in more hyperbole for the sake of generating buzz and traffic.
    Seems to be working.
  46. I use a D800 with 200-400 and don't know if I have this problem because the AF (single point) seems to work great. However, I do like Thom's articles because he includes the business side of the issue. I was at a Nikon seminar a couple months ago and 2 Nikon representatives were laughing about how often Thom is wrong about Nikon equipment. I kept my mouth shut because Nikon gives me no pathway to future product introductions and I learn more from Thom about Nikon than I will ever learn from Nikon. Even automobile manufacturers provide hints to the public on upcoming models.
  47. While I personally congratulate Thom on his stance and believe it is probably quite a powerful step in concentrating Nikon to give a bit of clarity to the situation, I am really saddened by the whole situation. When I used the centre AF point, those to the right of it, or Live View to focus the D800 it was absolutely superb.
    While I was extremely tempted to ignore the issue and hope Nikon would sort it if I sent it back. I wasn't really made to feel confident when I spoke to them though. They just said they'd never heard of this issue and when I pointed out it was splattered all over the internet their reply was that they didn't read reports online. This seemed to confirm a number of reports that Nikon weren't really throwing their full weight behind sorting this out for customers.
    TBH if they'd said " Sorry you've had this problem. A small number of units are affected but we understand the cause and are able to fix it" I'd have happily sent it in. But they didn't and the number of people saying their fixes weren't fixes at all is disappointing. So I played safe and sent it back. £2,600 is a lot of cash to take a punt with!
    In the end I've decided to hold fire until there seems to be a solution. There is not the slightest doubt in my mind that once Nikon sort it ( as I'm sure they will ) I will bite their hand off for this camera.
  48. It would be probably easier if we accept what Thom is: Internet troll
    <p>This is the case at least 50% of the time when he writes something on his site. Same as Ken Rockwell, only Ken is much more funny to read because - unlike Tom - he clearly says "I am doing this for fun, don't take me serious".

    <p>So let's just ignore ignore trolls, not feeding them is the best approach.
  49. Boy, no offense to some of you, but calling Thom an internet troll is frankly ridiculous. He brings a LOT of balance to even his positive reviews, and his information is very useful, whether you agree with it or not. He has never steered me wrong.
    KR, on the other hand, is pure entertainment that occasionally gets it right.
  50. Peter: I think that's harsh. There's quite a lot of useful information on Mr Rockwell's site, but it's clearly buried under the proviso "if you have the exact same requirements that I do (this week)", which makes it difficult to recommend to novices. Thom seems somewhat more balanced, or at least internally consistent. I'm much happier to read "I've seen some problems, do with that information what you will, I feel obliged to warn my readers" than "this piece of camera kit is absolutely perfect". It's not like he's hiding his reasoning. Sure, I'm happy to believe that Thom will gain from the publicity, but if that gets the problem fixed, I won't begrudge him. I'm off home from work to find out whether my camera is one of the happy few.
  51. William, you can't fault Nikon for not listening to the internet noise. As often as not, the noise is about something pointless that doesn't affect anything, such as the 70-200mm "flakes." They have identified the issues with the D800, as I posted in the link above, and are fixing the D800's now. Surprise surprise, the fixes took some time to identify and implement; they don't have the luxury of nameless people hiding behind keyboards to make claims at will.
    Every new product goes through its teething issues, and by now Nikon has a fix for it. You wanted to be on the cutting edge; whether it's computers, cars, cameras, firearms, or any other product you are taking a risk by stepping up to a brand new product.
  52. More detailed info from Thom's blog:
    Sorry Lisa, you have copied a very large section from Thom Hogan's web site. That is in violation of Thom's copyright. Those who would like to read Thom's test procedure please visit his web site: and read his comment from July 16. -- Shun
  53. Well, I don't usually use my camera standing on my head, looking backwards, with my right thumb in my left ear and my left thumb in my left eye and grunting in a very loud voice on the 45 day of the month.
    And only if I put 1000 Thom's on the point of a pin....
    Oh.. and I almost 100% of the time use spot focus....
    Why is this discussion relevant, but more importantly why the global comment about 'Not recommended'?
    I am commenting in relation to Lisa's effort to actually post Thom's blog.
  54. I will just go with Thom Hogan until I hear what Nikon has to say about it. Not important to me as I am not going to buy a new Nikon camera until they start selling parts to the small repair shops again.
  55. Thom Hogan is not the only expert Nikon advocate to discuss the left sensor problem. In his subscription blog, digLloyd Advanced Photography, Lloyd Chambers provides very detailed examples of the left sensor problem in both AFS and AFC modes, shooting both natural planar targets (a detailed mural wall at Stanford) and Lens Align. Chambers is a very strong proponent of the D800/D800E, but his examples of a careful test show that the left sensors problem is not subtle when it occurs. On the real world murals, the center AF sensor is very accurate (in AFS mode), but the right side sensors are slightly smeared and the left side sensors are totally smeared. His results using AFC with stationary targets shows consistently worse focus accuracy, but again the problems are much worse on the left than the right. Chambers documents these focus problems with two of Nikon's better lenses - the 85/1.4G and 85/1.8G - tripod mounted, with several (refocused) exposures at each sensor position. In his examples, the problem is not subtle. Many of the left sensor-focused images would be unusable.
    You can read some of Chambers' analysis in his public blog, using the link diglloyd, but to get the complete analysis you have to be a subscriber to his subscription blog digLloyd Advanced Photography.
  56. Wow. Some of the responses make it seem like Thom's eaten your first born child or somesuch. To me, if all you're going to do is spew (or demand) praise for your brand of choice, you're just as irrelevant as someone who's only going to spew criticism. Just because you do not agree with his opinion or do not find it relevant to your use cases does not make the man a troll. FFS.
    This is all the more interesting to watch as I've no skin in the game. Based on specifications alone, the D800 is not a camera I'm interested in buying. IMO it is priced very reasonably for its capabilities, but given that Nikon's traditionally anti-consumer stance (with its repair policies - both in terms of grey market repairs and in terms of not allowing independent shops access to repair parts, encrypting its white balance information, etc) I would fully expect perfection of the D800/E. That said, I wonder how many of you even read Thom's original review? It was, as far as I could tell, quite slanted in a pro-Nikon direction. Despite his note of abysmal quality control (most number of firmware bugs he's encountered, problems with AI lenses, etc) he still recommended the damn thing.
  57. Wow, am I invisible here? Ross, again, I posted a link detailing Nikon's response. How is that not clear yet? Nikon has responded. There is a response. Ming Thien reported this back in June, and Mansurovs reported it well over a week ago. You can verify it yourself by typing in "Nikon response D800 focus" or any other creative string of terms. Or, feel free to call NPS yourself and verify this. There was an issue, but it was fixed. Once they learned about the problem, they instated a repair protocol. This isn't the first time that a manufacturing defect happened with Nikon, and it's not like they are the only ones dealing with issues like this. They are fully fixing all DSLRs under warranty, as they always have when issues have popped up, so I really don't understand all this complaining. Can we PLEASE not have any more comments like "Well let's see what Nikon says" or "I wonder if Nikon will actually do something about this," because Nikon HAS said something about it, and they ARE doing something about this. Again, because it doesn't seem to be sinking in, Nikon is aware of the issue, and they are repairing the D800's asymmetric focusing issue with the left-hand focus points.
    Alex, the issue with Thom is that he is sensationally overresponding to an issue with his camera. It's not about fanboyism; it's about Thom's pouty behavior. Read his D7000 review, for example, and he brushes off others' incidence of manufacturing defects with an "Hey, it has to happen to some, so tough, and most people complaining are probably misusing their camera anyway." Read the section in this review titled "A note on quality control:"
    Yet, when his precious D800 has an issue (that again, Nikon has ALREADY responded to with a fix a relatively long time ago), he actually changes his official statement to "Not recommended!" Well, maybe Thom should practice what he preaches, because I think if he read his own D7000 review again, he might look at the D800 a bit differently. According to Ming Thien's blog, they have had a solution in place for over a month now, and Mansurovs picked it up a while ago as well. So, that begs the question, why does Thom think that Nikon is not dealing with the issue, when they clearly are? Does he believe that Nikon will continue to sell faulty D800's, with the executives sitting behind their desks and cackling at the grief that they will be causing their customers? I doubt he thinks that. Either, he is making his recommended/not recommended judgement based on faulty outdated information, not having talked to his NPS rep in the last month, or he just wants to make some noise and drive people to his site. Heck, as people said, it works for KR. That guy posts up whatever nonsense he's feeling that day, and the forums go crazy over it, sending more people to click to his website while he laughs all the way to the bank. Thom is overall a fairly reliable source of information about what's good or bad about a product, but he's really dropped the ball with this latest tantrum.
  58. Wow, am I invisible here? Ross, again, I posted a link detailing Nikon's response. How is that not clear yet? Nikon has responded. There is a response. Ming Thien reported this back in June, and Mansurovs reported it well over a week ago. You can verify it yourself by typing in "Nikon response D800 focus" or any other creative string of terms. Or, feel free to call NPS yourself and verify this. There was an issue, but it was fixed​
    Sorry but I did not see your post. Sounds like Nikon is getting things in order. Since I do not want one I think I will skip calling NPS.
  59. It seems to me that Thomas Hogan should be taken seriously as a commentator of the Nikon product line - just look at
    the breadth of material and the number of years he has worked at this. He is merely voicing his opinion that for the
    present he cannot recommend this camera because of his understanding of the prevalence of the issue and more
    importantly his perception of Nikon's response to the problem. For those of you who wish to ignore that opinion then of
    course that is your choice but to disparage a commentator with Thom's track record as a serious and balanced
    commentator just because you don't agree with his opinion rather demeans this forum. For me he has paid his dues to be
    taken seriously.
  60. Dan -- the problem with dismissing the idea that we should be affected by our research you're fundamentally making an impossible argument. Think of the books you've read, the films you've seen, because of someone else's recommendation. It's the critic's job to beconvincing. So either you can say the critic has no standing -- as if it were Justin Bieber talking, and you say simply, this is a cretin and he knows nothing about photography -- or, if you wish to dismiss the argument publicly, you have to make a convincing, informed argument against it.​
    I didn't say any of those things. I didn't dismiss Thom Hogan as a 'critic'. I don't go to movies or read books based on other peoples' recommendations. (I make my own decisions and selections.) And I don't have a whole lot of use for 'critics' one way or another.
    When planning a purchase of photo gear I gather info from people like Thom (who gain early access to the gear), but their comments play a big role in my final purchasing decision. Reading firsthand accounts and looking at sample images is simply a way of gaining familiarity with a product before I have a chance to check it out in person.
    I decided to buy one of the D800 models on the day that they were announced (I like high resolution cameras), but it took me quite a while to decide which model to go with. The final decision wasn't based on anyone's recommendation or editorial comments. I decided to get the D800 because I felt would be useful in the widest number of situations rather than the more specialized D800E. Did I make "the right decision"? Who knows? But I have an amazing camera in my bag now and I love using it and I love the images that are coming out of it.
    Internet reviewers could not have made that decision for me. It just doesn't work like that.
  61. It must be a bad batch for the US. I polled local dealers here and there are no reports of this issue. I also called a colleague in Australia who is close to Nikon there and again, no reported issues. Sales of the D800 are going gangbusters.
    Its hard to figure out as you would think that the software would be the same for all. Maybe not?
  62. Ariel. The only link of yours I can see is to the Mansurovs article. This isn't a Nikon response. Ming Thein's experience is one customer talking to one Nikon service department and not a Nikon response. If you know of any response from Nikon and you have posted it I have missed it and I apologise. Would you mind posting it again please?

    Also I wasn't saying the internet is all accurate. The point I made is that Nikon used the "internet tattle" argument to mask a known fact identified by many of their customers.
    As far as the bad US batch theory goes, not true I'm afraid. I know of several people here in the UK who have had this issue. I myself had it in two bodies as I pointed out in my response above.
    Some of the above posts remind me of what happens when you criticise Apple on certain forums
  63. Ariel - I also originally didn't read the article you linked, although I now have, and it definitely says "there is no response from Nikon". I've already seen on a rumour site that Nikon have been able to fix this problem by reprogramming the AF sensors, as you report; I trust them to do that if my D800E has this problem (when I eventually get the chance to test it). To me, it's not a question of whether the problem can be fixed but of Nikon being proactive about ensuring that all D800Es out there are working as intended - which means providing clear user test instructions, free postage on servicing (if the user's test shows a problem), making sure that service centres know what to do, and admitting that there's an issue in the first place. This won't make a difference to the fact that I bought a D800E and will buy Nikon products in the future (Nikon are in credit from my perspective), but there's definitely some good will at stake.
  64. Sorry I forgot to add in response to your comments, Ariel, than I did speak to NPS and far from confirming they had a fix, they denied the problem existed. Doesn't square with your view I'm afraid.
    In summary, the reason people are annoyed ( and the reason Thom withdrew his recommendation ) is that far from your comments being accurate, the opposite of all of them is true.
  65. It is ridiculous call Tom internet troll, for reporting some camera problems. When Rob Galbraith reported autofocus problem with Canon 1D Mark 3, initial reaction was the same, it took time till Canon accepted that there is problem with some units and offered free repair.
  66. I am confused with what is a Nikon response or not it seems. I guess since Nikon is not going to chime in here I will just go with Thom Hogan's review.
  67. If this were STAR TREK (it isn't) ... If we were on the Bridge of the Enterprise (we are not) ... If Mr Spock were On Deck and had read these many pages (don't think he has)... he would certainly be heard to say ... "FASCINATING."
  68. It could be interesting to some people to go to TH's site and read his post "Why now, dated July 24th, and verify that the men is not criticizing the camera's quality.
  69. Having owned my D800 for just over 24 hrs, I now feel qualified to contribute a response. ;-)
    I just read Thom's review, and I'm really not too sure what he's bleating about when he says "'s the best of cameras, and the worst of cameras". IMHO the cheese hasn't been moved very far at all, it's just considerably more matured. It took me all of 5 minutes to work out how the new Liveview button worked, and it would probably have been a lot quicker if I'd bothered to read the manual. Apart from that everything fell to hand from using the D700 with hardly any head-scratching needed. The things that are different are, on the whole, improvements and handy new features.
    Only dislikes so far are the little plastic gizmo to keep the USB cable from pulling out of the camera - and the awful plastic-hinged fragile battery door, like on the D700. The sprung battery is a big improvement though. It can now be removed while the camera's mounted vertically on a tripod.
    As far as I can see my D800 has none of the "widely reported" faults. Infinity focus is bang on with all my MF lenses, AF points act as expected, the mirror is pristine, the battery supplied wasn't on the blacklist and all the firmware is right up to date. In addition to that, the overexposure I consistently experienced with my D700 seems to be absent in the D800. Sorry if this sounds like I'm gloating, but I thought I'd add my (so far) positive experience as some small counter to all the moans.
    However, if my collection of lenses is at all typical, I'm not surprised that people might be wondering if their camera's AF confirmation is wonky. Nearly every one of my wide-aperture MF lenses exhibits some decentring or a slightly tilted focal plane when pixel peeped at 36MP resolution. Basically the camera is totally unforgiving of anything less than a perfect lens, and unfortunately, perfect lenses having wide apertures are a bit thin on the ground. Even my little Series E 75-150mm zoom was a bit disappointing on the D800, although it produces apparently pixel-perfect sharpness on the D700.
  70. Basically the camera is totally unforgiving of anything less than a perfect lens, and unfortunately, perfect lenses having wide apertures are a bit thin on the ground.
    I can't really agree with the first part: the D800(E) makes every lens produce a bit sharper images by increasing the total system MTF. I have a few lenses which have excellent wide aperture performance: 35/1.4 AF-S, 85/1.4 AF-S, 200/2 AF-S come to mind. No, they're not perfect but again they're better on D800(E) than on earlier cameras, even wide open. Also if f/2.8 lenses are included then there is a long list of lenses with excellent performance at f/2.8. (Remember, what counts is the performance in the final print, not on the screen at 100% which only the photographer sees).
  71. In practice getting the focus "just right" with f/1.4, f/2 etc. lenses wide open is very challenging and at least I'm back at taking a bunch of shots to get one that is "just right". But this is an issue somewhat separate from the optical quality of the lens (though optical quality does affect the ease of both auto and manual focusing). One lens that I've found to be brilliant in AF (on cameras including the D800) is the 70-200 II. It it is a tough challenge to meet if Nikon wants all their lenses to reach that level eventually.
  72. On that note, I'm intrigued to read that Nikon are allegedly often testing edge focus performance with a 50mm AF-D lens. The G lenses, maybe, but wide open I'm surprised you can actually see anything closely enough to check focus with the 50 f/1.4 or f/1.8 AF-D. Maybe I'm confused. Short of picking up a Samyang 35mm, I think my tests are going to be limited to f/2.8 and my 14-24 - not that I've actually had the chance to turn the camera on yet...
  73. I find the 50/1.8 AF D autofocuses very accurately for a lens of this type; when I got the 50/1.4 G AF-S I tested them side by side and the f/1.8D's autofocus was much more accurate than the 1.4G which required LV MF to show the quality of the lens (I had the same experience with the 1.4D; it is better at f/1.8 than the f/1.8D but only if manually focused is this revealed). I don't know why... probably the higher contrast of the 1.8G is responsible.
  74. I'm reasonably happy with the centre performance of the 1.8 AF-D, I've just never found the corners to be especially high quality, wide open. Everything I've read (I'm still thinking about buying) suggests that the AF-S version is somewhat better. I'm interested that there's an autofocus accuracy difference, but I'm still surprised that the edge performance of the AF-D is good enough for the problem, given that this specific test requires maximum aperture. Maybe the edge focus point is far enough from the frame edge that the AF-D's performance is still decent there.

    I'll give both my 14-24 and my 50 f/1.8 AF-D a go when testing the AF sensor (if I ever get to leave the office before midnight) and see how they look.
  75. I'm still surprised that the edge performance of the AF-D is good enough for the problem
    But all the phase detect AF points are still in the "good" center of the FX image area... if you look at the MTF of the 50/1.8D you can see that the fall really starts after 10mm from the center of the image and it is quite gradual. The outermost AF sensor is about 9mm from the center (I estimated this from an image of the sensor locations posted online, so I didn't actually measure it from the camera).
  76. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Rodeo Joe writes:
    As far as I can see my D800 has none of the "widely reported" faults. Infinity focus is bang on with all my MF lenses, AF points act as expected, the mirror is pristine, the battery supplied wasn't on the blacklist and all the firmware is right up to date.​
    Rodeo Joe and Andrew Garrard, I causion against celebrating too soon. Since the two of you have brand new D800 cameras, why don't you use them for a few days and look for any AF issues as well as other issues. If after a week there is indeed no problem, please come back and let us all know.
    It is not only Thom Hogan; I see a few other internet bloggers are also eager to discuss D800 AF problems. While they try to describe this as a wide-spread problem, I have yet to see a lot of concrete data to back up such claims. It certainly would be nice if someone had the resources to buy 100 D800 from different outlets around the world and check them all out; obviously that is not very realistic.
    Checking this week's Nikon Wedneday image thread, roughly 10% of the images (6 out of about 60) were captured with the D800. Clearly quite a few people on this forum have one or two D800. I find it interesting that very few people have posted personal experience about AF issues on their D800. While I am sure William Scott is not the only person who has experience AF issues, it looks more like the majority of D800 are free of any AF issues, at least among posters to this forum/this thread.
  77. I don't know how typical my experience is. It is possible I had two cameras from a "bad" batch. I received mine on a Friday and tested it over the weekend. When it was found to be faulty I phoned the retailer who put one aside for me that day so both of these came from the same shipment to the dealer.
    I know of other cases in the UK of cameras returned to Nikon for repair with mixed results. Some seem to get the issue fixed quickly and without any problem whereas others get the run around. I know this is anecdotal but my own experience led me to wait for a while.
    The other worry was the on the second body the centre point AF was pretty erratic and failed to focus correctly - and I mean it was a long, long way out - on several shots. I'd estimate 15% of the time. This was on my 50mm f1.4 lens wide open. The same lens has worked without problem with my D700 and D300 cameras for a while before but I suppose it might be possible it has developed a fault and that this second issue was lens related. (I will keep an eye on it for a while)

    All I know for sure is that both bodies I was sent had the AF problem.
    I will certainly be looking for a D800 once Nikon sort it out though. If I stuck to the centre to right points or Live View focus, it was absolutely amazing. I was really gutted at having to send them back.
  78. I have had my D800 for a couple of weeks and taken about 1000 images at this point - the AF of the D800 is extremely fast and accurate with every lens I have used (5 different ones at this point). My D3 is not going to see much use anymore.
    William, FWIW, I ordered my D800 around the same time you did.
  79. Shun: For better or worse, I'll report back as soon as I've had time to test my camera (and do my best to ensure that any problems aren't down to my own incompetence). I've not been home from work early enough to have the chance to turn the thing on yet! (Focus tests in a dimly-incandescent-lit lounge at 2am don't seem worthwhile.)

    Ilkka: I belatedly realised that you're probably right. Teach me not to be snooty about the 50 f/1.8 AF-D. :) I might bear this in mind when thinking about using mine on the D800, especially in DX mode.

    I'm getting the impression that Nikon UK are a little busy - I've not yet been given a service estimate for the check on the 135 f/2 DC I dropped off last week, but to be fair the only urgency will be if they release a replacement at Photokina before I sell it. I hope my D800E's okay, but it's going to be at least a month before I get the chance to send it in if it's not.
  80. Shun, Ilkka, I spent the major part of today checking out a fair proportion of my lenses on the D800. What came out of it was that at maximum zoom in liveview the depth-of-field is close to non-existent, and even with a long-throw Ai Manual focus lens the slightest twitch of my hand was enough to throw the lens off its best focus - but you probably know that already. Add into the mix an f/1.4 lens plus a bit of mechanical backlash and it's easy to see how any AF system might occasionally misfocus.
    So, yes, I am seeing some "out-of-focus" shots when relying on AF or focus confirmation, and it just might be slightly worse when placing the focus point to the left of centre. BUT, given the precise job the camera has to do, and the vaguary of wide-aperture lenses I don't think it's too much of an issue. If precise focus is essential then Liveview is the only option, and that went for the D700 as well.
    What I'm seeing is that the better the lens, the better the AF performs. Any lens that exhibits a noticeable degree of spherical aberration wide-open throws the AF system off. Then again, the same degree of SA makes it near impossible to accurately focus the lens by eye too. Dear me, AF technology turns out to be no more accurate than the unaided human eye - well boo hoo! However, it is a LOT faster.
  81. Andrew, given the relatively low cost of the 50/1.8G AF-S there isn't that much reason to continue using the D version any more (on a D800E or other digital camera). The 1.8G has improved image quality, autofocus and autofocusing over the D version and it's not expensive. I used the 1.8D for many years (from f/2.5 to f/11) and always got good results with it; I never found corner softness to be a problem in my photography. However I was annoyed by the barrel wobble and AF noise and got the 1.4G AF-S and that has been my 50mm of choice since. However, it is more expensive and has quite a bit of barrel distortion. Today I would just get the 1.8G. The 1.8G also has more barrel distortion than the 1.8D (less than 1.4G though) but on the other hand the D800(E) has automatic distortion correction which you can use to check the image in playback to see that everything important is in the frame after distortion correction, if you use it for e.g. architectural subjects. But if your version doesn't wobble and if the AF noise doesn't bother you I don't see any reason not to use it (from about f/2.5 towards smaller apertures) - the lens is small and I always got away with it well. But maybe your subjects and requirements are different from mine. Thankfully today Nikon offers several modern options and prices in this segment haven't gone up as much as they have in some other categories of lenses.
  82. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Shun: For better or worse, I'll report back as soon as I've had time to test my camera (and do my best to ensure that any problems aren't down to my own incompetence). I've not been home from work early enough to have the chance to turn the thing on yet!​
    Yesterday, I was reading D800 user reviews on, and one guy is bitterly complaining about the D800 and gives it 1 star on a scale of 5. It turns out that the D800 he received is completely non functional. However, since he didn't have any memory card to test it with, he let the 14-day exchange period pass without testing his new camera. While it is too bad that he got a disfunctional D800, the D800 can take either an SD or a CF memory card, the two most common types; it isn't like you must use an XQD card or something. Not having a card to ckeck our your new camera for 2 weeks is pretty lame.
    So Andrew, I sure hope that you won't run into that kind of "problem." IMO that guy mainly has himself to blame. As far as I can tell, most people on this forum have received perfectly working D800 cameras without any AF issue. And just in case you do have a defective one, the D800 is no longer difficult to find so that you should be able to get an exchange from the store quickly; you don't even need to deal with Nikon warranty service. Now that we are all aware of this potential AF problem, it should take no more than an hour or two to evaluate that particular issue on a brand new D800.
    However, the D800E may be a little more difficult as it still takes longer to locate a replacement should you run into problems. For the D800, I see not reason why people need to avoid it as long as you are dealing with a store that allows you to exchange a defective camera, within 7 to 14 days.
    Having said that, the D800/D800E is certainly not for everybody. Now I have used the D800/D800E extensively, I continue to use my D700 and D7000 whenever I can. 12MP is more than enough in most occasions for me that I would much rather have those smaller RAW files from the D700, and of course in some situations I prefer DX.
  83. Ilkka: An f/1.8 G is on my list. :) Thank you for the recommendation - I'll give it higher priority. I'm not that much of a fan of 50mm, otherwise the price for one of the f/1.4 lenses might be worth the optical issues that I dislike, but - as you say - the new f/1.8 is cheap enough to consider sooner rather than later. Although I may be a while paying off my D800. (I also have a Sigma 150mm, a Zeiss 21mm and a Samyang 35mm on my "to buy" list. Well, and a 400 f/2.8, but that one might have to wait a bit longer.)

    Shun: Thanks for the warning. I'll try to give my D800 a go tonight or tomorrow (I do have cards). I've been bitten before - I got a one-ring 80-200 that I didn't give a serious work out for about three months, and there's something quite seriously wrong with it. I didn't even ask the supplier if I could return it after that long, so I'm treating it as a paperweight until I can sell it for spares (it's not worth the repair cost). The perils of a busy life and procrastination.

    Joe: I gather that, when the left focus point is off, it's very off. Sounds like you have a good sample - glad to hear it!
  84. That Amazon reviewer said he was getting an ERR code with his memory card, "the CF card would only give me a err code". I have discovered that one 16gb compact flash card I have will not format in the D800 even though it has always worked fine in my D3. I have owned it for about 8 months so it is a relatively new card. So if that was the only card I had and I tried it in my D800, my initial reaction would be that the camera is defective.
    He also went on to state that Nikon's response was "juvenile such as was I using the right card". It is possible that the card he purchased was not compatible with the D800 and that his camera was/is fine. And that Nikon's response was the correct one. Who knows. The whole story sounds fishy to me.
  85. I looked at Thom's article and he makes a very good point "Most Nikon users are quite loyal. But that loyalty gets strained when Nikon goes silent instead of acknowledging an issue." I had a similar experience with Capture NX2 and the silence from Nikon was deafening until I sent a letter, snail mail, to the Chairman of the Nikon board. Only then did a member of the senior management at Nikon write and apologise for failing to respond to at least two letters. However, they still refuse to acknowledge they have problems with the software! The problem with the D800 appears to be exactly the same scenario. Why do they ignore their loyal customers?
    We all know that Nikon make great products, that's why we buy them. However, things sometimes go wrong in all walks of life and Nikon should be big enough to acknowledge that something has gone wrong and fix it. They wont lose customers by doing this. Silence however will drive new customers away which will affect sales, market share, profit...........
    Come on Nikon, start treating your customer base fairly.
  86. Andrew, I can heartily recommend the Samyang 35mm f/1.4. It's razor sharp from wide-open in the frame centre. The edges and corners do lag behind a bit, mainly due to some field curvature - so you can have sharp centre OR sharp corners at f/1.4, but not both. By f/4 the centre is ridiculously sharp, and the corners acceptable in the same plane. In other words it's not a copying lens, but if you need f/1.4 without a trace of SA in the centre frame, and with good flare resistance and low CAs; this is your lens.
    Below is a sample from the frame-centre of the Samyang 35mm @ f/1.4, compared to my old 50mm f/1.4 Ai Nikkor wide-open. Subject is a boring newspaper small ads column I'm afraid. Bear in mind that those clips only show about 0.1% of the D800's image area! (Note to self - must make more use of the camera's built-in virtual horizon and plumb line.)
  87. Thanks, RJ. The field curvature is news to me (I may have missed it in reviews, or they may not have mentioned it) but that's good enough for my needs in a fast moderate wide-angle. Though I have to say the new 28 f/1.8 improves Nikon's line-up here - I'm probably still after the Samyang, but I definitely have a decision to make.

    For what it's worth, the two batteries I have for my D800E aren't on the recall list, and my camera seems fine so far. But since my initial test are of a television from the far side of the room with a 200 f/2 (I can see the sub-pixels), sensor points will have to wait for the morning and daylight. I wanted my first shots to be of something interesting, so the entrance of team GB at the Olympics was it...

    By the way, Thom does have a point about moving cheese - switching the + and - buttons is annoying, especially since I'm expecting still to use my D700. I'd no idea I used muscle memory for them. Oh well, no biggie.
  88. Because someday I might possibly want the D800E Autofocus to work correctly, I thought I should test the new camera now, using Thom's suggestions on his website.

    I became quite stressed using the pattern he displays there, when both my right and left sensor completely failed to achieve any acceptable focus in Live View (it likely fails in the center too, but I did not test that.)

    It does however achieve proper focus when I use my usual target which, if I read his book correctly, unlike his, should be expected to work with the trial and error contrast detection used during Live View.

    Note too in using this pattern, it becomes rather easy to demonstrate the problem moire property.

    So either I misinterpreted his simple testing procedure OR I need to return this camera now if I ever expect to have one where autofocus works reliably in all situations.
    That target's image center looks like this and is representative of the pattern I usually use:
  89. Richard, has your camera been focusing reliably aside from Thom's test?
    This is the testing procedure Per Thom's article: "I'd argue that you should be placing your camera at a "normal" shooting distance. Some people are testing far too close. 6-10 feet (2-3m) sounds about right to me. Your camera needs to be level and parallel to the wall. That step alone can trip a lot of people up. Assuming your setup and test charts are appropriate, the testing itself is simple enough"

    "Assuming your setup and test charts are appropriate..." Hmmm... That is quite an assumption! Does anyone wonder why perhaps cameras are failing his test? I am not questioning whether some cameras are not focusing correctly. I am sure some are not. But I also wonder how many are failing this test simply because the setup and test charts are NOT set up appropriately or simple user error of some kind.
    In any case, I am certain Thom has generated a tremendous amount of interest in his website over this. Just look how much interest this one thread has generated here!
  90. I became quite stressed using the pattern he displays there, when both my right and left sensor completely failed to achieve any acceptable focus in Live View (it likely fails in the center too, but I did not test that.)​
    Doesn't live view do it's "own thing" with AF, not using the non-Live View (conventional) AF sensors?
  91. Peter: You're correct, live view just uses contrast detection on the main sensor. At least, it does on the D800 - if it's got the "hand-held mode" (flick the mirror down and use the phase-detect sensors) that the D700 supported, I can't find it.

    For what it's worth, I've now had the chance to do some testing. I only had the chance to use the tripod for some of it, and I'm not going to call it exhaustive, but:
    1) My D800 seems to focus almost perfectly with any of its AF sensors using my 200 f/2. This may be expected, because it's a telephoto lens and the problem seems to be with wides. However, it's the only AF lens I own that I could claim is reasonably sharp away from the centre at this aperture.
    2) I tried the 50mm f/1.8 AF-D, as I believe someone said Nikon use for calibration. Wide open, the optical aberrations are bad enough that I can't tell whether the focus is nailed; live view has the same problem.
    3) I just bought a 50mm f/1.8 AF-S G. It's better, but still not all that tack sharp wide open; you pays your money... However much it may be off perfect focus, it's about the same on both sides. I didn't have my tripod available for doing this.
    4) I've just given my 14-24 a go at its wide end - again, I don't have a tripod to hand. I think all is well: I had some trouble locking focus, especially on a blue/white target, and the left sensor seemed to struggle more than the right, but some tests with higher contrast subjects were fine so I don't think it's got a fixed offset.

    So I think my D800E is free from the autofocus problem. At least, if it has the problem, it's not obvious - and my understanding is that when there's a problem, it usually is obvious. Yay for me.

    I now need to go through all my lenses and AF-fine-tune them. And upgrade my copy of Photoshop so I can read the raw files...
  92. Personally I don't think anything is wrong with the camera. But I don't know that as I don't have any big need to actually use the autofocus system, especially so having just received it. I don't have any problem with the camera and the test chart pattern I have used for lens testing in the past. It's only when I use Thom's simple pattern to test that a complete failure arises in the auto-focus system during Live View mode.
    From what I can tell, Thom's simple instructions (which I have followed as best I could*) are not completely clear enough especially when he suggests using that simple pattern for the testing in both situations, which definately invoke differing behavior by the camera's autofocus system in Live View mode. (And additionally, why would I even use that, since I don't see a big need for autofocus normally ?) My reading of the D800 information I have seen is that Thom's pattern suggestion for the live view auto-focus testing is likely incomplete.
    So really my comment should suggest my real question is, who else has done his test successfully ?
    * My distance was +5', and I created a larger copy of Thom's pattern, using his image sized directly and only copying it about so it would fill most of a letter size sheet which I could print out. That way it was easier to place the focus point(s) onto the pattern he suggests, since his original size is I think too small for the test. I have uploaded it here if anyone wants to use it. Possibly I need to back off to 10', BUT I'm not sure doing that helps me understand that I have a problem which I don't think exists with this specific camera.
  93. Richard: I printed Thom's pattern (smallish, replicated a few times around a sheet of A4). It didn't do me that much good with my 50 f/1.8 AF-D - outdoors in direct sunlight the bloom from the white paper messed with any accurate edges, and inside there was still too much (probably) coma.

    The other tests I performed weren't with his test chart. I agree that he's not clear about how large to print the test pattern or how far away to be, but my feeling is that if I can't focus on a single sharp edge there's probably something wrong anyway, so I was only going to come back to the pattern if I had issues with a simpler test. I just pointed the camera's autofocus sensor at a sharp edge of the right orientation from a reasonable distance away (6' or so with a 50mm, mostly closer with the 14-24). I manually focussed to infinity between shots (less fiddly with AF-S!) and tried several attempts both with phase-detect autofocus and with live view. Live view is sometimes clearly a bit better for me, but there's not much side-to-side difference.

    I've only checked the 50 AF-S and 14-24 on image playback, zoomed in past 100%. I looked at the 200 f/2 and the 50 AF-D JPEG output on a computer.

    I'm not sure that my testing is authoritative, but as far as I can tell my camera's okay - I'm confident enough that, if there's any problem, it's minor and not the systematic problem that seems to have been reported. I've submitted my results to Thom's poll (as "acceptable").

    Why would one use live view autofocus? Because it's normally more accurate and controllable, if there's time to use it. Why would you use it? That depends why you're not using autofocus already - it may save you time. Unless something is horribly broken, manual focus at the same location would suffice - I suspect the instructions are just a quick way to ensure that the same bit of the image is used for focus. Of course we expect differing behaviour - the point of the test is that the problem is with the phase-detect autofocus sensors, not live view. I'm surprised that your live view autofocus failed to cope: it only has to move the lens around until it finds the sharpest edges, and that should be relatively bullet-proof. It certainly worked for me.

    Summary: I "sort of" did his test, but I think the special pattern is overkill.
  94. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    It's only when I use Thom's simple pattern to test that a complete failure arises in the auto-focus system during Live View mode.​
    Richard Henley, the entire discussion about left AF point problems with the D800 is only about using phase-detect AF when you are using the traditional viewfinder. That AF system is at the bottom of the camera and requires a secondary mirror behind the main mirror to bounce light down to the AF module.
    When you use live view, the mirror is up and that phase-detect AF system is not used. Therefore, what you are doing in live view mode has absolutely nothing to do with what Thom Hogan is discussing (concerning the left AF point problem). In the live view mode, there is no 51 AF points any more; you can AF at any point on the sensor and it uses contrast-detect AF, which is something completely different.
    Peter Hamm has already pointed that out earlier.
    See the image below showing that the center of the mirror is semi transparant and there is a secondary mirror behind it to redirect light down to the AF module at the bottom of the camera.

  95. Well it is part of Thom's suggested testing, why it is I don't know or why it is relevant:
    >> Set the camera to Live View. ...
    >> They should all seem to be in relatively good focus. If they're not, do not pass go, do not collect your $200.

    Otherwise as I hoped I suggested, it doesn't appear to be one that is very useful to discerning the actual concerns owners have. And by lacking in details, but with enough said to worry anyone right off if it fails there.
    Because I neglected to mention that I don't have any problem with phase detection autofocus and his pattern either, I was definitely not clear enough on that point.
  96. Richard: I think he's just trying to provide a good target on which the autofocus sensor should lock. If I'd had trouble with a convenient sharp edge, I might have tried harder with a pattern like this.

    As for why you should try it with the contrast-detect autofocus, I suspect that's a way of checking that the combination of your test pattern, lighting conditions and your lens's performance isn't such that the autofocus can't be expected to see what it's trying to focus on (or that you accidentally left the lens in manual focus mode). Since we're trying to tell whether the autofocus is out of alignment, rather than whether it works, it's just confirmation that any failures aren't down to the testing conditions - there seem to have been a lot of false positives with paranoid consumers anyway. If you know what you're doing, don't sweat it - I'm sure Thom's just compensating for people who don't know what they're looking for.
  97. You use live view to get the best possible image given any shortcomings of your lens etc. This should be accurate and the standard to which you can reasonably compare your "viewfinder" AF test results. In other words the Live View image isn't the test, it simply becomes your reference point against which you actually test the AF points
  98. Shoot! I was perfectly happy with my D800E until until Tom Hogan and all you other spoilsports convinced me I should test it, and I now find it does seem to have the dreaded left focus problem. "Oh, bother," as Winnie the Pooh said.
    Here's a 100% crop comparing two images taken of a test target with the 50mm f/1.4 AF-D lens at f/1.4. The one on the left was focused using the left center focusing spot in the viewfinder, and the one on the right was focused on the same area (the horizontal bar pattern provided by Thom Hogan) using the contrast dection autofocus in Live View. There's a pretty clear discrepancy here, but it's nothing compared to the 14mm test I'll show in the following post.
  99. And here are comparisons using the same procedure with the 14-24mm zoom at f/2.8. Yikes!
  100. I did the same procedure with the same lenses using the center spot and the right-center spot, and everything matched perfectly so far as I can tell. The problem is just on the left.
    The local shop where I bought the camera says I can either bring it in and have them send it to Nikon or do it myself. If they do it, they'll charge me a US$25 shipping fee, which they say Nikon has recently started charging them for warranty repairs. That's probably what I will do since it's still cheaper than shipping, insurance, and professional packaging at the UPS Store.
  101. Kent: Ouch. Hard luck. I do think my 14-24 gave more trouble than longer lenses, possibly more on the left than the right, but it did hit focus at least some of the time. I'm now wondering whether I should retest, but the problem certainly wasn't consistent or obvious. I'm assuming that yours was consistently behaving this way and didn't just miss focus. I'm beginning to think that Nikon would be better just recalling everything so that we know for sure. I'll probably ask them to check next time I get a sensor clean out of them.
  102. Thanks, Andrew. I did repeat the test several times and always got the same result. At first I thought that 14mm might be too extreme to expect the end sensors to work correctly, but the right sensor handles it just fine—only the left one is goofy.
  103. Well, I must shamefacedly post a retraction of the horrible 14mm supposed test result shown above, with apologies to Nikon, all of you, and Winnie the Pooh too. I repeated the test once more, and this time the viewfinder focus was very close to the live view focus, certainly within the range of acceptability.
    So as of now, all my test results show live view focus as being a bit better than viewfinder focus, but not by very much, and that's probably one of the good things one should expect from live view.
    I think I know where my mistake lay but am embarrassed to spell it out. Suffice it to say that I am probably too stupid to live and definitely too stupid to be turned loose with a D800E without adult supervision.
  104. Kent: Given that I saw inconsistency with the 14-24 as well, I wouldn't worry about it. It's why I think Nikon should test all D800s for free at their owners' convenience. I'm sure I'm too stupid to live (fortunately, so are most of the people I encounter outside this forum, so we deserve each other) and I certainly don't deserve my D800E!
  105. While I can understand the real focus issue with the D800 plus the fact that Nikon posted a "proper shooting technique instructions" sheet prior to releasing the D800/E, might some purchasers be suffering from buyer's remorse by looking for perfection at this price point? My D800 with 24-120 F4 VR or 200-400 is excellent but so is my D7000 with these lenses. In fact, if I'm going somewhere where I have to walk over a mile, I always take the D7000 with Sigma 17-70 micro OS instead. It just takes crackling sharp images, even at close focus. I understand that I lose the ability to significantly crop an image in post processing but I try to shoot tight so I don't have to crop. In short, the D800, as excellent as it is, makes me realize how good my my D7000s are.
  106. Thanks for reminding me to look at the 'D800 TechnicalGuide' again I breezed over it when it was first released because I thought there wasn't enough new information in it at the time.
    However even in checking that reference, I found it has nothing much to suggest about the initial problem I had with the Live View contrast detection autofocus system. And that was addressed by adding more light, and not using Thom's suggested pattern which was unworkable in the lower light situation I used it in.
    In fact at the top of the list for Live View focusing problems, the Nikon documentation states this:
    The camera may be unable to focus in the following situations:

    The subject contains lines parallel to the long edge of the frame
    So I cannot understand why Thom would even suggest the pattern he does unless he wants to make more of a problem than this is.
    I have however never owned a camera before that I can't acceptably focus, so the big surprise with these new digital bodies is that they don't come with screens to help improve manual focusing. At least now I finally understand why I should be using the autofocus systems whenever I don't have enough time to closely attend to a clear best point of focus.
    It should really come as no surprise that the camera's autofocus sytems, like the best photographs depend on the quality of the light. The better the light is the better everything works.
  107. "...they don't come with screens to help improve manual focusing" They do - its that big rectangular thing on the back of your camera.
  108. Well if I have the time to use Live View for a shot, I'm not sure how much it would help do that I would need done by that point.
    I probably should trade it in for a view camera instead if I want to always have to work that way.
  109. As an owner of the 800e I can say that I wish I had had this advice when I bought it. I'm very dissapointed in the way that Nikon has handled this issue - denial and incompetence in their ability to fix it.
  110. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    So after declaring the Nikon D800 as "not recommended" in July 2012, this was what the same Thom Hogan had to say about the D800 and its twin the D800E in 2013/2014, when he reviewed the Sony A7 on his "sansmirror" (mirrorless) web site:
    As an aside, I have to say this: when Nikon hits a home run, it’s clearly out of the park. The D800E, after two years on the market, still clearly produces the highest quality images I’ve seen out of camera other than Medium Format ones, and it does so clearly. It’s the best all-around camera I know of at the moment, which is why you see me using it so much.​
    Since Nikon introduced the D800/D800E in February 2012, after two years on the market must have been 2014.
    Personally, I ordered my D800E in April 2012 after some complaints about its left AF point issue had already surfaced. I had to wait two months before I received my camera in June, and I immediately tested it very thoroughly. I could find no AF issue at all on my D800E and it had absolutely no problems until it fell from a chair onto a hardwood floor at home in 2014. After that, AF has been off and I need -20 fine tune. Unfortunately, I'll have to send it to Nikon for adjustment soon.

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