|"I AM here4U" at Photokina 2012|
Note: A copy of this blog article has been published in German language too. Please refer to the corresponding version (Deutsch) before posting comments. Thank You.
Prior to Photokina, I had scheduled a meeting with Nikon Germany, partly in order to discuss the known issue regarding the outer AF focus fields of the Nikon D800 camera.
So, on Tuesday I had the pleasure to discuss the topic extensively with both Michael Wollburg (Manager Customer Support Nikon GmbH) and a Nikon technician in charge. The meeting was very friendly and constructive.
Below, I am going to disclose my impressions which may differ from the original wording of what has been said (I have been there as member of accredited press; but I did not opt for an interview; I rather wanted to learn the bare facts). Therefore, any mistakes in the remainder are only my fault. Now for the infos:
- Nikon has acknowledged, found and understood the root cause of the issue. It has been eliminated in the current production (however, I guess we'll never know when and from which serial numbers on).
- The root cause is a misalignment of the AF module when mounted, outside of Nikon's own production tolerances. But be asserted we are still talking micro meters here ...
- The issue for affected D800 can be solved in selected Nikon service centers; such as Düsseldorf, Germany.
- The procedure is currently rolled out to more Nikon service centers.
- The fixing procedure for Nikon is a tedious one. It includes writing individual calibration values into the firmware. For larger deviations, the AF module will first mechanically be re-aligned. This may actually include the AF auxiliary mirror in some cases.
- This method is believed to deliver an autofocus precision which is at least as good as of cameras from a fresh batch. I could not clarify if there is a chance for both methods being non-equivalent in some way. However, Nikon Germany does not think so. They rather wholeheartedly believe that the in-service calibration procedure resolves the issue as good as current production does, if not better.
- There is some dispute about the eventual success of the service measures from Nikon so far. Not only are there differences between countries and early attempts have faced difficulties and a lack of a clear procedure. But there is additional uncertainty about what to reasonably expect, esp. with the large sensor resolution of the D800. Therefore, the eventual success of the service measures from Nikon must be gauged relative to what is feasible technically. Every AF module from every vendor has finite AF field deviations. Lumolabs determined (depending on the lens too) deviations of up to 40µm between AF fields (cf. www.falklumo.com/lumolabs/articles/D800Focus/SensorArray.html) as being usual in the market and acceptable for good image quality where 20µm would be very good. Such are accuracy values as found in other cameras (e.g., D3). According to Nikon, we shall expect the same (or better) for freshly produced batches of D800 from Nikon, or for D800 now being calibrated in service. LumoLabs intends to verify this claim. Until then, we cannot really know if isolated continued reports about inacceptable AF accuracy after service are due to a failure during calibration or an unreasonable expectation. It is this blog which actually proposed a method to distinguidh between the two. Nikon is supporting our contribution to bring the discussion back to facts.
- Nikon does actually not know how many D800 of the early batches have been affected. Despite all oddities, the so-called service-rate of the D800 is unremarkable and only "sligthly increased" (compared to other camera models).
- I take it that Nikon will not publish an official statement about this issue. And I take it too that meanwhile this has been internally decided in Japan. So, don't ask for it ... ;)
- Independently of corporate information policy, Nikon wants to help all customers with the problem without asking much questions. This includes returned goods from dealers and service calls after expiration of the warranty period. (Note however, that Nikon Germany cannot speak for the rest of the world.)
- I do now actually recommend affected D800 photographers, to contact Nikon or their dealer i order to schedule an AF calibration job done on it.
- Personally, I do think it is a very good idea to additionally create an A2C2 chart (before and after). This should help your camera's resale value too.
It will be possible to check Nikon's claims (resolution of the AF issue both in service (normally) and current production) by using our testing methodology. If claims turn out to be true (as to be expected) then I think the entire AF field problem issue can settle. Slowly. But nevertheless make me make a clear call towards Nikon Japan: With your current information policy (or lack thereof) you are heading towards difficult times. I AM HERE FOR YOU ...
LumoLabs: Nikon D800/E outer AF sensor accuracy (First blog article)
LumoLabs: Using FoCal for testing of an AF sensor array (Second blog article)
Hi, I was wondering if you knew which service centers have the new repair methodology. It just so happens I am considering sending my D800 into a New York service center after unacceptable sharpness from a new 24-70 lens :-(ReplyDelete
I am sorry to say that I don't have this information. In Germany, it is the main center (Düsseldorf) which claims to have the new procedure in place and that they are in the process to roll it out to more centers.Delete
Some believe that a repair center in the Netherlands may have played a lead role in all of this. If true, it could be that the entire US is trailing behind a bit and somebody from the US really has to find that out for the community.
No problem. Thanks for the post! I contacted Nikon support with my test images and they "escalated to level three support" and are "forwarding my image to Japan." I hope Japan forwards back a new camera :-)Delete
Thank for the good quality writing! Well doneReplyDelete
Thank you for your report and have you got yours fixed?ReplyDelete
I am still on the fence to watch how things evolve. I'll get my fixed at some moment in time and avoid 51 AF mode until then.Delete
Is there any chance to get a firmwareupgrade for thisReplyDelete
problem, or is it necessary to bring the camera
to a service center? And what is about the WB-balance
problem (green cast at photos and screen)?
Kind regards from vienna
This can't be fixed by a firmware upgrade.Delete
I am not bothered by the green cast issue, it mostly affects people coming from older Nikons. AFAIK, there is a possibility to load color profiles imitating older Nikons using some software. This should remove any perceived cast in photos. However, I don't know the details as I shoot RAW and use my own profile anyway. The D800 defintely has no green cast in RAW as DxO would have spotted that in computing the D800 metamerism index. So, it is all a matter of post processing settings.
Thanks for help!Delete
Do you know, there could be any effect to
the new calibration data after a FW upgrade?
Kind regards from vienna
This problem is the same with D-800 E model ????ReplyDelete
It does have exactly same AF system so, what do you think ?Delete
I would like to purchase D800E, but I am afraid to so.ReplyDelete
When I get confirmed information from several sources, that it is fixed and what serial number is "SAFE", I am not spending over $3000 on my new D800E. The sales tax is over $240.00 and that makes the total cost $3240.00+ . I am not rich and I can't spend lots of money to get the a camera to be fixed and have no camera for few weeks! Nikon MUST take this very seriously, if they would like me to spend lost of $$$$!
NIKON DO YOU READ THIS?????
We, the CUSTOMERS are HOLDING BACK, even from a purchase of D600!
When I am SURE your problems are not my problems and headaches, I am NOT SPENDING A DIME!!!
We, the customers, are not, as a group, holding back. Some people have surely decided to hold back, obviously including you. But I'd be shocked if you're in the majority, because the D800 appears to be selling like hotcakes. :)Delete
I got both of my D800 bodies the first day they arrived in retail stores, and both are working just-fine-thank-you. I do see some variation in AF accuracy among different focus points, and I will absolutely send them in for calibration when I have a little free time, but I can get my work done with the camera as it now. I'm having to work harder to get my shots, but I *am* getting the shots. And the images are GORGEOUS.
You have every right to hold back. Suit yourself. Just don't presume to tell us -- or Nikon -- that everyone else is doing the same thing. Sure doesn't look that way to me, so any opinion on that subject is just that: an opinion, not a fact.
I'm Nikon fanatic too or say it correctly I was and I have been victim of Nikon when I purchase my Nikon D5000. From the moment I took it out of the box I realized that there were some focus issues with that camera and so I went back to Nikon demanding to take it back and pay over and about to buy the Nikon D90 but they refused to do so insisting that the camera was fine even though they have been already informed by Nikon Central that was some major issue with that camera so they shouldn't sell it at all. After 2 weeks they recall my camera for fixing is this a fair approach from Nikon to their Nikon fanatics?Delete
after being on a waiting list for several weeks I finally got my three d800′s and all 3 were having focus issues even from the center censer THAT'S $9k WASTED ON NIKON BOAT ANCHOR DUNG luckily I was able to return them for a full refund so I’ll be waiting for a while before I get any of them again wounder if this will be a problem crossing over into the d4 or newly released d600 lines too do they all use the same software/firmware/parts I don’t get how nikon can just knowingly pass this stuff off on us and "NOT" do a recall NIKON ARE YOU FOR REAL ????ReplyDelete
I didn't time frame this but it was just two weeks ago the second week of Sept 2012 that I got the above three d800'sDelete
Hi anonymous whoever you are ...Delete
I just wanted to mention that problems with the center AF field is not something I can confirm. My center AF field works flawlessly. You really must have bad luck or a different understanding of what a phase AF system can do.
I hate Nikon as much as I love it before, they are not fair or a serious company, don't forget this a Nikon a Great Brand.Delete
Have you, or has anyone, any information yet as to whether the problem exists on the D600? As a writer said, many are holding back from purchase until we know.ReplyDelete
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.ReplyDelete
Use some periods and commas! Hard to read this Run-On paragraph.Delete
Rant from Anonymous deleted. He was unhappy and eventually returned 3 D800, he says. ;)Delete
Great post and this is a serious issue for Nikon. Unfortunately a collegeau and myself that got a D800E from the first batch and we both have the AF issue. We will send it in for repairs. If Nikon is smart they recall the complete first batch otherwise they run a high risk of this getting out of hand. They run a high reputation risk and they should be aware that in this age of modern media things can move quickly.ReplyDelete
Come on Nikon, give us a Batch nummer, I don't buy before i now for shure, it's fixed.ReplyDelete
Ican buy a aCan.., no, i wait, and wait..
Do you know if the problem with autofocus on the left side of the D4 and D800 have been solved on the new delevery camera?
sent mine in to New York over a month ago after sending images, images sent to japan, blah, blah, blah. Just got it back two weeks ago. tested it with the lens align tool again to confirm the repair and it still has the same issue. Am now waiting response from New York to my e-mail a few days ago explaining my frustration. Unbelievable. I expected so much more from Nikon :(ReplyDelete
I was intending to move from Canon to Nikon for the D800 but that is a huge leap of faith and without Nikon admitting to a problem this faith is sorely lacking... Canon have their issues too but I find the frying pan to fire scenario overwhelming. Maybe I'll look again in 12 months and maybe Canon will have a viable alternative in that time.ReplyDelete