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Author Topic: Nikon D600 autofocus issues  (Read 14016 times)

woof75

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Nikon D600 autofocus issues
« on: March 11, 2014, 07:59:14 am »

After happily going from Leica M9's to Nikon D600's I'm starting to get a little frustrated by the AF performance of the D600 (with 24-70mm f2.8 lens) It's not that it's uniformly inaccurate it's just erratic, it's accurate say 80 percent of the time and thats with careful focusing on fairly still fashion work. What gives? Is this just the nature of DLSR's (I used MF before the M9's which were slow but accurate). Would the D800 AF be better or do I need to get a D3X. Ideas?
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Some Guy

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Re: Nikon D600 autofocus issues
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2014, 09:41:03 am »

This D600 forum post might help:  https://www.flickr.com/groups/nikond600lowlightgroup/discuss/72157631964731927/

I shoot with a D800E and the Nikon 24-7omm f/2.8G.  I do need to set up for backfocusing issues, maybe a -11 set into it now.  Nikon has worked on it but seems it is "Within factory specs and I can adjust it out."  If I fire off a battery of shots while on a tripod at a fixed object it always seems one shot out of 5 will be far sharper than the others when I get into a 300-400% magnification in post.  Press the shutter button each time and I can see the lens spin off a little bit like some sort of plus or minus tolerance level.  Seems the nature of the beast and even color will throw it off, like using the red focus assist lamp in the Nikon flash over using brighter daylight, etc.  Sometimes the first shot is the worse of the lot, even turning it on and first shot of the day is a clean miss.  Guess the lens focuses a bit better on the second try (or stiff?) as it gets closer (maybe?), but not with 100% guarantee either.  When it hits, it's pretty amazing.

You might try that Focal software too.  It puts out a chart and you can see all the shutter trips and how far they wander from a focus sharpness curve.  If it takes a bunch of shots at the same setting (like 5 or 6 shots against 3), it is telling you that it is having a hard time determining a sharp shot out all those shots and something isn't settling into a sweet AF spot.  I've never seen a smooth line with all the test shots stacked on top of each other.  My 105mm f/2.8G is really bad for AF and seems that Focal software takes a whole bunch of shots with that lens trying to come up with a best sharpness curve.

Aside, I use single point focusing most of the time too.

SG
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woof75

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Re: Nikon D600 autofocus issues
« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2014, 10:46:15 am »

This D600 forum post might help:  https://www.flickr.com/groups/nikond600lowlightgroup/discuss/72157631964731927/

I shoot with a D800E and the Nikon 24-7omm f/2.8G.  I do need to set up for backfocusing issues, maybe a -11 set into it now.  Nikon has worked on it but seems it is "Within factory specs and I can adjust it out."  If I fire off a battery of shots while on a tripod at a fixed object it always seems one shot out of 5 will be far sharper than the others when I get into a 300-400% magnification in post.  Press the shutter button each time and I can see the lens spin off a little bit like some sort of plus or minus tolerance level.  Seems the nature of the beast and even color will throw it off, like using the red focus assist lamp in the Nikon flash over using brighter daylight, etc.  Sometimes the first shot is the worse of the lot, even turning it on and first shot of the day is a clean miss.  Guess the lens focuses a bit better on the second try (or stiff?) as it gets closer (maybe?), but not with 100% guarantee either.  When it hits, it's pretty amazing.

You might try that Focal software too.  It puts out a chart and you can see all the shutter trips and how far they wander from a focus sharpness curve.  If it takes a bunch of shots at the same setting (like 5 or 6 shots against 3), it is telling you that it is having a hard time determining a sharp shot out all those shots and something isn't settling into a sweet AF spot.  I've never seen a smooth line with all the test shots stacked on top of each other.  My 105mm f/2.8G is really bad for AF and seems that Focal software takes a whole bunch of shots with that lens trying to come up with a best sharpness curve.

Aside, I use single point focusing most of the time too.

SG


Your issue sounds quite a lot like what I'm getting with my D600. I just did a bunch of tests on both bodies and one is way out but the "good" one is pretty much on but yes still inconsistent. I wonder if a sencond hand D3x is the way to go?
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Fine_Art

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Re: Nikon D600 autofocus issues
« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2014, 01:26:05 pm »

It's a matter of manufacturing tolerance. AF precision has not kept up to the increasing resolution with good lenses. A D800 will probably be worse. Rely on live view zoomed in. I know my sigma 35 1.4 is front focused just like the last one I returned. I decided to keep it based on it is in the AF fine tune range. The rear OOF is also very nice relative to the front OOF. I have decided to err to the front.

I find the AF very close, but not quite as perfect as live view.
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Some Guy

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Re: Nikon D600 autofocus issues
« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2014, 01:33:51 pm »

It's a matter of manufacturing tolerance. AF precision has not kept up to the increasing resolution with good lenses. A D800 will probably be worse. Rely on live view zoomed in. I know my sigma 35 1.4 is front focused just like the last one I returned. I decided to keep it based on it is in the AF fine tune range. The rear OOF is also very nice relative to the front OOF. I have decided to err to the front.

I find the AF very close, but not quite as perfect as live view.

Is that lens usable with their docking station to set up the focus more accurately?  Might be worth the $59 if it can.

I wish Nikon offered something similar to Sigma's calibration and updating docking port.  Their tech's seem to rush things too much, especially warranty issues, and probably wouldn't spend the time to do the full tuning setup.  Call it "Nikon Lens Tuning Pro Suite 1.0" or something.  Probably another reason Nikon sued them, other than the VR patent thing.  Sigma seems on a roll in sharpness over Nikon too.

Nikon:  "We must crush Sigma."  http://nikonrumors.com/2014/03/10/nikon-awarded-14-5-million-from-sigma-in-vr-patent-infringement-lawsuit.aspx/

SG
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Ellis Vener

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Re: Nikon D600 autofocus issues
« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2014, 01:48:16 pm »

I use the Lens Align Mark II target and FocusTune v3 software combination to fine tune cameras and lenses to work optimally together: http://michaeltapesdesign.com/store.html

You might also look at how your AF operating parameters are set up in the camera's AF menu.
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woof75

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Re: Nikon D600 autofocus issues
« Reply #6 on: March 11, 2014, 02:02:09 pm »

I use the Lens Align Mark II target and FocusTune v3 software combination to fine tune cameras and lenses to work optimally together: http://michaeltapesdesign.com/store.html

You might also look at how your AF operating parameters are set up in the camera's AF menu.

Interesting, does that work with zoom lenses with possible different focus errors at different zooming points?
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Rob C

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Re: Nikon D600 autofocus issues
« Reply #7 on: March 11, 2014, 03:04:33 pm »

After happily going from Leica M9's to Nikon D600's I'm starting to get a little frustrated by the AF performance of the D600 (with 24-70mm f2.8 lens) It's not that it's uniformly inaccurate it's just erratic, it's accurate say 80 percent of the time and thats with careful focusing on fairly still fashion work. What gives? Is this just the nature of DLSR's (I used MF before the M9's which were slow but accurate). Would the D800 AF be better or do I need to get a D3X. Ideas?



No offence, and you obviously know your own situation best, but wouldn't you perhaps be better off using a prime or two instead? A 35mm and a 50mm or if you need a bit longer, 85mm?

I have had experience of a brand new 24-70/2.8G, and it was anything but good, and that was a static test subject, manual focussing on a tripod...

Rob C

woof75

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Re: Nikon D600 autofocus issues
« Reply #8 on: March 11, 2014, 03:40:34 pm »



No offence, and you obviously know your own situation best, but wouldn't you perhaps be better off using a prime or two instead? A 35mm and a 50mm or if you need a bit longer, 85mm?

I have had experience of a brand new 24-70/2.8G, and it was anything but good, and that was a static test subject, manual focussing on a tripod...

Rob C

No offence taken. I really appreciate the input. I have a 50 1.8 G prime which is really sharp and  the 35 f2 prime which is really not sharp. The 24-70 is really great sharpness wise, when it's in focus.. I do like working with a zoom though it's not essential. When you say it was anything but good do you mean focus accuracy wasn't good?
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Rob C

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Re: Nikon D600 autofocus issues
« Reply #9 on: March 12, 2014, 11:36:06 am »

No offence taken. I really appreciate the input. I have a 50 1.8 G prime which is really sharp and  the 35 f2 prime which is really not sharp. The 24-70 is really great sharpness wise, when it's in focus.. I do like working with a zoom though it's not essential. When you say it was anything but good do you mean focus accuracy wasn't good?



I tested it at the widest, longest and mid-way between focal lengths on the cut-frame D200 on a very heavy Gitzo with Gitzo pan/tilt head.

I did it all manual focus because all my lenses until then had been manuals, and at no aperture or focal length did the thing give full, crisp coverage, left to right. And that is with cropped sensors! All the test shots were soft.

Also, the thing was huge, and defeated my intention of having a portable alternative to primes. Needless to say, there was no place on the island (of which I know/knew) where I could see it before buying. I'm willing to believe it might have been a rare exception, a bad copy, but going through several to strike lucky isn't on the local dealership agendas, any more than it is on mine, and I was buying from a wholesaler with whom I'd dealt since '81.

I don't have a clue as to your age, but certainly for people of my generation, the concept of having to take pot luck with name lenses is a novel idea. Not a welcome one, but novel!

;-)

Rob C

woof75

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Re: Nikon D600 autofocus issues
« Reply #10 on: March 12, 2014, 12:20:35 pm »



I tested it at the widest, longest and mid-way between focal lengths on the cut-frame D200 on a very heavy Gitzo with Gitzo pan/tilt head.

I did it all manual focus because all my lenses until then had been manuals, and at no aperture or focal length did the thing give full, crisp coverage, left to right. And that is with cropped sensors! All the test shots were soft.

Also, the thing was huge, and defeated my intention of having a portable alternative to primes. Needless to say, there was no place on the island (of which I know/knew) where I could see it before buying. I'm willing to believe it might have been a rare exception, a bad copy, but going through several to strike lucky isn't on the local dealership agendas, any more than it is on mine, and I was buying from a wholesaler with whom I'd dealt since '81.

I don't have a clue as to your age, but certainly for people of my generation, the concept of having to take pot luck with name lenses is a novel idea. Not a welcome one, but novel!

;-)

Rob C

You must have got a bad copy, when it's sharp it's pretty much as sharp as anything I've seen (including prime summicrons) it's just focus consistency isn't good. Yes it's a pain taking pot luck with lenses, I guess you have to test test and test again.
Of course it could also be the body thats a bit inconsistent, though the lens is inconsistent on the other body too but that body is inoncisistent with a different lens and so on and so on. I ought to take it in but can't be without it long enough to wait for it. Maybe it's time to buy a D800 or used D3x.
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NashvilleMike

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Re: Nikon D600 autofocus issues
« Reply #11 on: March 12, 2014, 01:19:36 pm »

I shoot in the studio with both a D800E and a D610 body, with a variety of lenses, most often a Nikon 24-70/2.8G AFS or a Sigma 35/1.4 Art.

The zoom is quite nice and honestly with the D800E I don't have any AF problems with it using AF-S, and one of the central sensors. It will on occasion "miss", but we're talking less than 1% of the time. Same for the Sigma, or for that matter, any of my other AF lenses.

The D610, however, has been a bit more of a struggle. I find I have to slow way down and very carefully select my AF point and make sure the body has focused correctly before taking the shot. Consistency with the same lenses is not at the same level as my D800E by a long shot. I actually think when I was using my D7100 as a second body that it (by virture of a better AF system) had better AF consistency in terms of shot to shot.

My best guess is that under the relatively dim (compared to outdoor light) illumination of modelling lights that the more consumer based AF system of the D610 may struggle a bit relative to the better AF system of the D800E, D7100, D700, D300 etc.

BTW, I have had a pair of 24-70's and both were excellent. They are not that amazing at 24mm, but from 30-60mm at any distance and 28-70mm at closer distances, they are very close to the performance of primes. I have tested this lens extensively and thoroughly, so I don't make that statement casually. While I do tend to use primes a bit more on the demanding D800E body, I would have no problem at all if I only had the 24-70 to produce very high quality professional work.

-m
« Last Edit: March 12, 2014, 03:51:11 pm by NashvilleMike »
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Fine_Art

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Re: Nikon D600 autofocus issues
« Reply #12 on: March 12, 2014, 01:54:23 pm »

If the D800 focuses better than the D600/610, then the latter has been crippled.
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D White

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Re: Nikon D600 autofocus issues
« Reply #13 on: March 12, 2014, 02:09:50 pm »

I never bought into this "bad copy" line of thinking. Of all the zillions of Canon lenses I have had over the years, only one did not perform within spec, an 85f1.2 that had a decentered element, and was fixed once diagnosed. I am sure Nikon is very consistent too. I think most AF issues are more body based, and a prosumer body will be less reliable as a generalization. When AF micro adjustments came in it was a godsend, and likely the root cause of the "bad copy" movement.
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Ellis Vener

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Re: Nikon D600 autofocus issues
« Reply #14 on: March 12, 2014, 03:50:10 pm »

Quote
Interesting, does that work with zoom lenses with possible different focus errors at different zooming points?

Recent Canon cameras like the 1DX, 5D Mark III, and maybe the 7D and 70D allow you to set correction points for shortest and longest focal length settings.

At least one Sigma zoom works with their optional dock to set corrections for different focal lengths , including for their Nikon mount lenses.

But Nikon has not so far taken that issue with zooms into account.

Two workaround then:

- test and calibrate the lens at either it's longest or middle  focal length setting and then test to see if that makes for a noticeable improvement at all focal length settings.

- shoot tests at the major focal length settings  -70, 105, 135, 170 and 200 mm for a 70-200mm. Find the best correction setting for each focal length and average those.
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NashvilleMike

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Re: Nikon D600 autofocus issues
« Reply #15 on: March 12, 2014, 03:56:54 pm »

Regarding the D610 being crippled, I think it's just that this body, being more of a low price FX entrant, has a more consumer based AF system as opposed to the better (IMO) AF system of the D7100, D800E, D700, etc.

-m
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woof75

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Re: Nikon D600 autofocus issues
« Reply #16 on: March 12, 2014, 05:06:37 pm »

Regarding the D610 being crippled, I think it's just that this body, being more of a low price FX entrant, has a more consumer based AF system as opposed to the better (IMO) AF system of the D7100, D800E, D700, etc.

-m

Your D610 sound just like what I'm getting from my D600. Very interesting. People often don't talk about focus constancy. Hopefully you may have solved my problem. I'll get a D800 and see how I go. Thanks.
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woof75

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Re: Nikon D600 autofocus issues
« Reply #17 on: March 14, 2014, 05:09:28 am »

So I bought a D800 and did some tests and I found that with both the 50mm 1.8 lens and the 24-70mm lens it's even more inconsistent than the D600!! What gives? Is this just the nature of DSLR's??
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Some Guy

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Re: Nikon D600 autofocus issues
« Reply #18 on: March 14, 2014, 07:20:28 am »

So I bought a D800 and did some tests and I found that with both the 50mm 1.8 lens and the 24-70mm lens it's even more inconsistent than the D600!! What gives? Is this just the nature of DSLR's??

Like I said in the second post, mine is sort of inconsistent with the 24-70mm f/2.8G shot to shot -- No, make that all my zooms and even the 105mm Macro.  Most I can do is tune it for an "average" and pray it works within an acceptable range of Nikon's tolerance level.  If I do Live View manual focus with the 24mm PCE lens, it is better but no motor in it to spin off either.  No doubt even with that Zeiss Otus 50mm super-sharp lens, if they put a AF motor in it, it may not turn out to be the super sharp beast it is reported to be if it spins off a bit each time you hit the shutter button.

When I spoke to a Nikon tech about it, he said his personal tolerance was plus/minus 5 points in the final AF tuning number.  These things are not the exacting machines we'd like.  More annoying is the lack of a Far and Near AF tuning as with Canon and Olympus with their zooms on their better bodies.  Nikon is just "average" and pray.  They really need to fix that mess in their firmware as the others have done.

With the FoCal software mentioned, you can get an idea of how much it wanders shot-to-shot.  Then try and come up with some sort of satisfactory setting.  I tried that Dot Tune method but found the tolerance of the Green AF Focus Dot to be rather wide.  So much so that I would expect it to wander around about as much in the AF system while shooting.  "If they tighten it all up in the firmware, then the focus slows way down and it may hunt forever," according to the tech.

SG
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D Fosse

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Re: Nikon D600 autofocus issues
« Reply #19 on: March 14, 2014, 08:29:39 am »

With the D800 I always expected that AF tolerances had to be wider than actual critical focus. This because of the high resolution, which with a good lens results in a truly paper-thin plane of critical focus, even at small apertures and with short lenses. Sometimes it will be slightly front, sometimes slightly back.

So even though AF fine adjust works well with my primes, this is one of the limitations I just accept, and use magnified live view whenever possible.

With a lower resolution sensor it simply isn't as critical, and perceived "success rate" much higher.
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