D4 Autofocus problem

Joined
Jul 3, 2007
Messages
418
Location
Harrisburg PA, USA
I recently purchased a D4, and sold my D3 (keeping my D3s). I like the feel, and some of the new features, but I'm experiencing a focus problem.

When I first shot with my new camera, I was taking some casual shots from the stands at my son's annual high school alumni basketball game, using my 70-200. A great many of the shots came out disappointingly soft (I'd only shot about 4 or 5 test shots in my living room before this outing; they were soft as well). I initially chalked this up to my unfamiliarity with a new focusing system, although it isn't all that much different from my D3/D3s -- although I did have some issues at first dealing with the different location of the AF-On button when shooting portrait orientation. I specifically was using this opportunity to get familiar with the new camera in a setting similar to that in which I will normally use it.

The next time I shot was at a high school basketball tournament (I shoot high school sports professionally), and as I was taking a few shots during warm-ups, I noticed again that they were all soft. I did a quick and dirty AF Fine Tune, and the results of the game were more or less acceptable (more on this in a minute).

Two nights ago I used my LensAlign to check the focus on my 200mm, 85mm and 50mm lenses -- the ones I most commonly use this time of year. Each one required a setting of -12 or -13 to get the lens to focus where I was trying to focus (I've now also set the default value at -13). In the past, I've not had to make any major adjustments to any of my other cameras.

So, my question is this -- is this within the realm of acceptable, since I can adjust for it, or should my camera be going back to Nikon for adjustment? I'm concerned about using zoom lenses, since you can't really calibrate the AF Fine Tuning for a zoom the way you can for a prime. I shot some team and individual photos last night, but used my D3s because I was leery of using my D4 with the 24-70 I use for those shots.

Oh, and the 'more or less acceptable' comment I made above? One thing I noticed while using the D4 at the tourney was that during a sequence of shots (at 10fps, not 11fps, so autofocus should have been continuous) with the player running toward me, not a single shot was ever in focus. I know I had the focus point solidly on the player, and I know I was pressing the AF-On button for all it was worth. I don't know if the front focus problem I was having affected this, or if it's something else. I haven't had a chance to really closely examine the shots I took last night after setting the AF Fine Tuning, but a cursory examination indicated that it was better than the game before.

So, what are your thoughts? I haven't read of any wide spread focusing issues with the D4. I'm not some noob that has no idea what he's doing (although there is always the possibility of something being overlooked in setting up a brand new camera). I don't want to have to send a workhorse camera to Nikon for several weeks in the middle of basketball season, although I do have a D700 backup that I can use if I have to. Any advice or suggestions gratefully accepted.
 
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Joined
Nov 8, 2008
Messages
425
Location
Portland
On my 2.8 zooms I messed around with them and bounced between +/- low single digits depending on focal length and didn't feel at all like it was worth it.

On my 200F2 it was clear that on my D3s it needed a -12 or so, if I didn't it would never just be sharp wide open, on my D4/D700 it was close enough not to bother.

Finding my D600/D4 all my lenses right now are good enough for 2.8, if I was shooting 1.4 lenses might be a different story, no?

Send it back.

I have never used lens align or fine tuned any lens.
 
Joined
Jul 3, 2007
Messages
418
Location
Harrisburg PA, USA
It might be the 70-200 VR that's causing the problem. I've had AF issues with mine on my D200, D3, and D4. I recently found out that I'm not the only one.
See this thread from FM.
http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1176177

Interesting discussion, but it's not my 70-200. It focuses fine on my D3s, and the focus problem exists on my D4 with every other lens I tried on it. I sent it back to Nikon for repair, so we'll see what they say.
 
Joined
Feb 28, 2009
Messages
1,117
Location
New Zealand
If your lenses needed a -13 then the camera is back focusing. My D3 had a front focus issue and needed the AF fine tune set to a default of +17. Had no problem with my zoom lenses at this setting. I put up with it for about nine months before I sent it in. It's quite an easy job for Nikon to recalibrate the AF but nonetheless annoying with the time the camera is away.
 
Joined
Jul 3, 2007
Messages
418
Location
Harrisburg PA, USA
Just an update -- I sent the camera to Nikon (Melville), and they fixed the AF module (don't know if they replaced or recalibrated). Anyway, it's working fine now after an initial scare. They changed the diopter setting, so when I took the first few shots, nothing would focus through the viewfinder, but the shots looked to be in focus on the LCD screen. Then I remembered they always reset my diopter settings. Doh! All is now good.
 
Joined
Jun 28, 2011
Messages
33
Location
Toronto
Good to hear your camera is okay now enjoy it.
 

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