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Updated: Question about the D3 and

Discussion in 'Sports Photography' started by RKnecht, Sep 16, 2008.

  1. AF modes when shooting fast moving objects. As some of you know, I shoot dog agility events here in the N.E. Lately, I have been struggling on and off with the D3 and its ability to focus on the dogs. The issue is most apparent when trying to photograph a dark dog. The AF simply stops. To say that the end result is a soft picture is an understatement. I have tried single point, dynamic area (9,21, and 51pt) with no change. I have also tried the various setting of the "focus lock" set on short, normal , and long. I have also tried "off". Of course I am using CF AF mode.

    It really became apparent when I was using the D3 along with my D2x this past weekend. The D3 shots looked "soft" and the D2x shots were spot on sharp. I was a bit upset to say the least. The D3 has the latest firmware and I don't remember this issue when I first bought the camera.

    Anyway....I guess what I am asking is what AF lock setting do you find produces the best results? Do I just keep it off, so that the camera refocuses instantly, or do I use the delay? FWIW, the camera was sent to Nikon today for a LCD issue, but I asked them to please go over the AF system extensively.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 24, 2008
  2. on the d3 and the d300 the shutter button and the AF ON button will lock up frequently...the solution is to change afc to shutter + release priority
  3. Thanks Randy. That is the setting it has been on since day 1. Funny, I don't seem to remember this issue before the firmware "update". We'll have to see what Nikon says I guess. As you know, I have posted agility shots here with the combo and they were tack sharp. It seems to be an intermittent issue. :confused: 

  4. i won't install the firmware on my d3 or d300 because at least i know their current faults

    mine stopped locking when i made that change but i do get a few oof shots, more than the d200 but still not enough to worry about
  5. McQ

    McQ Just your average, everyday moderator. Moderator

    Rich, I have had trouble finding a satisfactory AF lock time interval. Tried them all, and currently use "normal", but It's a tough one to get. Your agility shots are really amazing, so when I read you were having a focusing issue, I was surprised.

    I'm now going to try to set my AF point selection (menu item a8) to AF11. I just keep playing around with settings. Wish I had a good answer to your trouble. When you figure it out, let me know!
  6. Which lens are you using? I seem to remember you having a 300/2.8 VR, so that's likely not an issue. Also, the center focusing points seem to work better and I've read this is where the cross sensors are. Not sure if you're shooting there or on the margins. I use 51-point dynamic with the AF-On button and have no issues, but bikes and dogs are likely not too similar. I did notice last weekend that I simply couldn't get the D3 to focus on flying ducks crossing just in front of me. Newest firmware.
  7. Glenn, you are right. Some shots are amazing. However, it seems that over time this issue is getting worse and worse. It really became apparent when I used the D2x this past weekend. I literally nailed every shot and I was hand holding it with a 70-200 VR (VR off). On the other hand, I had the D3 on a tripod with the 300 2.8 and about 50% of the shots were clearly well back focused. I was using different modes with no improvements.

    Mike, no matter what lens I use, either the 70-200 VR or the 300 2.8, I have this issue. Sometimes the camera is on the money and tack sharp. Other times it seems to back focus badly and images are very soft or OOF. Like I said, I don't remember this issue before I updated the firmware. Maybe there is an AF bug? No idea.

    Either way, the camera had to go back for an LCD issue. There is a 1/8" foggy, orange line behind the LCD glass which makes viewing images annoying. This is very apparent when using the camera in daylight.

    I'll post an update to this situation when I get the camera back from Nikon. To say I am a little disappointed is an understatement. The D3 has become my work horse and I think I am well over 20,000 shutter clicks. I am sure glad I kept my "old" D2x as a backup!
  8. tjk60


    Dec 4, 2007
    troy, mi
    Just a guess, is VR on or off?
  9. The 300 2.8 is a series 1 AF-S, so no VR there. With the 70-200, I always leave VR off. I am always shooting at, or above, 1/1000th of a sec. Plus, with the D2x, each lens is pretty much spot on. Glad I have a second body to test with.
  10. Rich from follwoign the thread I think you are doign the right thing in sendign it back my D3 with latest FW and using both the same lenses is dead on focus 99 percent of the time
    I do have AF-C set to focus and relase I use 21 pt and dynamic area focuse with AF 4 set to normal.
    Let us knwo how you make out but to me it sure seems to be a issue with your camera
  11. I just got my D3 back from Melville. THey replaced the LCD, adjusted mirror angle, and did some "adjustments" to the AF. I gave it a quick go tonight and it seems to focus snappy (as it should). I will have to give it a real test with the next show to see how it really handles.

    They also cleaned all the crap out of the screen and sensor. My hat's off to Nikon of Melville and their speedy service. I have yet to be disappointed by the fine folks up there in NY.
  12. actionshooter


    Aug 26, 2008
    I'm thinking about sending mine in for general checkup and sensor cleaning. Was yours still under warranty? I don't believe mine is so I'm wondering about the cost. I live in NY so I'm also wondering how quick of a turn around I can get.

    Since getting it back has your issues been solved?
  13. Yes, it was under warranty and it was returned to me better than new. All issues were resolved. I was without the camera for one week (including shipping). Not bad IMO. Nikon Melville is tops in my book.
  14. I remember Robert Hanashiro (SportsShooter.com) mention that he found the latest firmware great in low-light gyms, but found it to be far worse with the new firmware in sunlight.
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