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  1. Naboo32

    Naboo32

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    Just got myself a Nikon D90 earlier this month and after a few trips out, producing pictures that were somehow less 'sharp' than I expected, I realised that I have a back-focus problem. What's more, it's with the camera and not with any of the 5 lenses that I've used with it - they all work fine on my D700 :shrug:.

    I know that there are tests out there on the Interweb, where you can print off test charts and measure the degree of back/front-focus, but I've drawn my conclusion from my own simple (but 'real world') tests.

    As an example, here are two shots of the same subject, using the same lens, but on two different cameras. The subject is a pair of identical CD covers, set up next to each other, but with the CD on the right hand side about 1" further away from the camera than the one of the left. Camera was about 8 feet from subject.

    In the first example, you can see (just about; the upload quality is not great, but it's easier to see on the larger versions in the links and impossible to miss on the RAW files) how the Nikon D700 has accurately focused on the selected focus point (these red brackets are from the RAW file and show the selected AF point).

    D700
    [​IMG]
    (N.B. I had the in-camera sharpening set to zero in the D700, so it's harder to tell the difference on these jpegs, but when you see the RAW files, it's clear).

    Larger ...


    However, using the same lens on my D90 and selecting an AF point on the nearest (left hand) CD cover, results in the AF point being slightly OOF and the sharpest area of focus is actually (in this case) 1" behind it, on the right hand CD cover. This is the same degree of back-focusing that I get on most of my captures from this camera/lens combination, at various focal lengths.

    D90
    [​IMG]

    Larger ...



    So, I have two questions please:

    1. Has anyone else here had any recent experience of back-focus problems on a digital camera (not a lens) and how was it resolved :shrug:?

    2. Should I be able to claim that the camera is 'faulty' and get it replaced by the retailer (under the "Sale of Goods" act), or is this likely to have to be done under warranty :(?


    Thanks in advance for your input.
     
  2. puddleduck

    puddleduck

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    Nikon D70 and D200 were notorious for poorly caliberated AF (the Fuji S5 Pro also inherited this trait from the D200) - used to be a major reason for services.

    Not heard about this so much now, but most BF or FF issues are causes by the body - its unusual thats its a lens that at fault. Sigma 30mm f/1.4 is possibly the lens that gets a bad rep. due to poor body AF caliberation.

    Nikon will fix it - but don't send them an angled test chart to prove your problem.
     
  3. trencheel303

    trencheel303

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    My 450D has this problem all over with quick-AF - and I don't think I'm alone. It just seems to decide whether or not it will focus properly. Not a major problem to me as you have to be a pixel peeper to notice it, mostly - so I just MF now, or use live view and contrast detect. I'm easily pleased.
     
  4. bads

    bads

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    Had some trouble with mine more oof issues found that setting it to afs instead of auto largely cured the problem
     
  5. Naboo32

    Naboo32

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    That's interesting, Andy. I always thought that it was more of a lens problem, but only because I'd read more about lenses than camera bodies (I'm still something of a newbie, really ;)).

    If I can't get the seller to exchange it, I'll try and get it re-calibrated under warranty, I suppose :shrug:.

    Ah :shake:, well, 'pixel peeping' does come into it in my case, as I'm trying to do bird/wildlife photography in the winter months (when there's no decent light for anything else) and I specifically bought the D90 to use with a 200mm lens, in order to get more reach than my D700 could provide. I still end up having to crop the living daylights out of every capture, so when the camera focuses on a squirrel's tail, instead of his eyes ...

    [​IMG]
    (Look at that sharp area under his tail. That's not where I put the AF point, as you'll see below).


    Larger ...


    ... it's a bit of a PITA :(.

    [​IMG]

    This is actually a very good 'real world' example of why this is a big problem for me - I can't use a smaller aperture, as I need the shutter speed to be high enough to avoid having to use a high ISO. Evertything's against me for this kind of photography and seeing as I can't afford the proper tool for the job (a 400-500mm f/4 prime lens), I need everything to work properly.

    If the focus was actually on the AF point in the image above, it'd be a pretty fair capture - as it is, it's only fit for deletion :|.

    I only ever use AF-S, as I don't trust AF-A mode and AF-C only get's used on the rare occasions that I'm trying to track a flying bird etc. :|.

    Even AF-S isn't helping me with this particular camera, though :crying:.
     
  6. puddleduck

    puddleduck

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    Regarding the OOF squirrel shot - this doesn't prove backfocus.

    Look at the area covered by your AF point - you've got the tip of the nose, and then the area behind where his front paw joins his chest - which point does the camera choose, given there are multiple bits it could go for?

    You probably do have a problem but you need to very careful when your AF point covers multiple possible lock-on targets. All Nikon camera manuals cover this scenario (examples where "AF may not work well") - always choose an AF target that is unambiguous.
     
  7. trencheel303

    trencheel303

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    Well, I am a pixel peeper - majorly, but I go on the assumption that most people aren't. A quick sharpen usually solves any discrepancies with my camera anyway. It sounds like you could have a more serious issue though, and I'm sorry to hear it's preventing you get the results you desire.
     
  8. OutLore

    OutLore

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    My D200 had a focus issue which was repaired by Nikon with re-adjustment. I had to take some example shots in RAW and send them to them on a CD (becuase they can't accept bigger files over email and won't download anything!) they accepted that there was an issue and booked it in to be fixed.
     
  9. Naboo32

    Naboo32

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    I take your point, Andy - you have to be careful where you select your AF point, that's for sure. The thing is, I thought that the previous example was a fairly 'informative' AF point for the camera and that capture was actually one of the ones where the camera was close (but no cigar ;)). Other attempts have been even worse and have been deleted (sadly).

    Mind you :naughty:, I've just trawled through all of my squirrel shots and managed to find one where the AF point was actually in focus!!! Perhaps not surprisingly, it was one where the AF point covered the entire face (i.e. both eyes, not just one) and in this photo, the D90 seems to have done a good job ...

    [​IMG]
    (NSFW warning! I think that you can see his little squirrely penis in this shot :eek:)!!!

    I previously put this one shot down to a 'fluke' as all of the other (80) attempts were nowhere close - the D700 seems to nail the AF ever time (although it does have 40 more AF points to chose from :thinking:).

    Could it just be a case of 'user error' after all :shrug:? I wish it was - I can stand the embarassment, far better than the expense and hassle of sending the camera off for a warranty repair ;).

    Still, it doesn't explain the 'CD cover' test. In that, I gave the camera only one possibility for a focus point and the D90 missed it, whereas the D700 got it exactly right (as usual).

    Now I'm lost again :( ....
     
  10. puddleduck

    puddleduck

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    D700 seems to nail the AF ever time (although it does have 40 more AF points to chose from ).

    The D700 has much smaller AF points as well, so there is less chance for it to grab onto something else - with large focus points like on the D90, there is always a chance the camera will focus somewhere else than where you expect or intend.

    I don't know the D90 that well, but its got the D200 / S5 Pro CAM1000 AF system I think, and its very easy to get "backfocus / front focus" due to those large AF points. Worth noting as well that the AF points are actually bigger than the viewfinder markings too.
     
  11. Naboo32

    Naboo32

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    Yeah, it's interesting that they come up bigger in Capture NX2 as well, when compared to the D700 ones.

    What's puzzling me now is that the D40, which I had before the D90, but dumped to get more pixels and 'better' AF, was always either way off or spot on (with regards to focus) :thinking:!? Can the D90 really be so difficult to use, or have I got a duff one ... I still favour the latter, but I won't know until I can try another one :| ...
     
  12. Naboo32

    Naboo32

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    Well, I just heard back from the (German) retailer, from whom I bought the D90 (3 weeks ago). He refused to accept it back for exchange and told me that I have to send it back to Nikon myself and get it re-calibrated under warranty :|.

    Sadly, Germany doesn't have a "Sale of Goods" act like the UK - if it did, I could simply claim that the item is faulty (which it would be, if it really is back-focusing) and then get a replacement or even a refund :shrug:.

    I think that I'll do some more tests before I go any further ...
     
  13. Aristoc

    Aristoc

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    Hi
    I found this thread by googling. I have been investigating my d90 and I also find it has back focus about 3 inches. But I did my test a little bit more accurately than yours. On your CD box you should not be focusing on the corners because the focus point on the sensor is larger then the red focus point you see in the viewfinder.

    Instead it is better to focus in the centre on a flat target. Please remove the plastic wrap from the CD case.

    I noticed that my portrait pictures using a 16-85mm were a little bit blurry on the face of the model. So I did tests at home. I noticed that when i move the target back about 3 inches, it was sharper!! Also tried it on my 35mm 1.8 and it too was sharper when i moved the target back 2 inches. SO i will be going to Nikon service with all my evidence and equipment.

    Here is my tests that I did with my camera:I posted on dpreview.com you can read all of testing and conclusion here. It is a prob. with my body not lens. What i did basically is i took the first picture in autofocus,tripod,shutter delay. Then I switched the camera to manual focus and did NOT touch the focus ring. I moved the target back 3 inches and took the picture again without touch the focus ring. In the second pictures, they are sharper. Which means the camera is focusing behind the target.

    http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1034&message=34575497

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    autofocus on the left, camera moved back 3 inches on the right.
    [​IMG]
     
  14. Naboo32

    Naboo32

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    Hi Aristoc and welcome to TP (y)!

    Hmm, your tests look pretty conclusive to me, I must say. I'm going to try a few more tests myself, using the AF points differently, to see if I really have a problem or not :|. I didn't realise that I might confuse the AF system by focusing in corners or areas of contrast - in fact, I thought that that was the best way to do it :shrug:.

    I do have some images which show the AF point in focus (on the RAW files), but anything I've tried to do in AF-A (which is not much), or AF-C hasn't worked and AF-S only seems to work about 10-20% of the time.

    If it is 'user error' and I can find the secret to using it properly, so that 90% of my shots are 100% correctly focused, I'll be happy. Otherwise, this camera needs to be fixed or dumped, as it's no use to me if I can't make it focus :shrug:.

    Let me know how you get on with the Nikon Service people, won't you ;)?
     
  15. Flash In The Pan

    Flash In The Pan

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    It's pretty easy to adjust the focus on a Nikon body, all you need is an allen key and some spare time :)
     
  16. Chrisbie

    Chrisbie

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    interesting
    I have some allen keys
    tell me more....
     
  17. bads

    bads

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    Could you elaborate on that? (y)
     
  18. Aristoc

    Aristoc

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    Thanks naboo32. I read a lot about the allen key fix. Very risky business and things might get worse with it. leongoodman.com I believe. Anyway I am going to Nikon tomorrow morning to see if they have a quick fix or if they keep my equipment for two weeks.
     
  19. Naboo32

    Naboo32

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    OK, I tried a few more tests and found out something interesting :naughty:.

    When I switch to Live View mode and use the contrast-based AF system, it's slow to focus, but it nails the focus every time! No back-focusing. But, wherever I place the red AF points when focusing through the viewfinder (in normal mode), it always back-focuses :shrug:!?

    How does the 'normal' AF system differ from the Live View AF system and what might cause the difference in focus accuracy between the two :shrug:!? Admitteldy, I'm using artificial ambient lighting (but plenty of it) and not daylight. Still, every other camera I've owned can AF properly in such light levels.

    What's going on here? I really need help understanding this, sorry :(.
     
  20. puddleduck

    puddleduck

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    From what you've just said your D90 definately 101% needs an AF adjustment.

    Ask Nikon for a "body depth adjust and AF check" - they will know exactly what that means. In a nutshell you need to have the AF sensors correctly aligned with the sensor. Do not mention backfocus or test charts - just mention that Liveview will nail focus, while AF is inaccurate.

    You actually have got the classic D200 / S5 Pro CAM1000 mal-adjustment issue.
     
  21. Naboo32

    Naboo32

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    Thank you Dr. Puddleduck - the patient is relieved by your confident diagnosis :D.

    Of course, my next problem is to translate "body depth adjust and AF check" into German :thinking: ... "Gehäusetiefeskorrektur und Auto Fokus Prüfung" :shrug:!? Ich weiß nicht!

    Cheers Andy, I'll see how far I get with Nikon Service in Düsseldorf.
     
  22. Nawty

    Nawty

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    Mmmm, I've JUST bought a D90 and so thought I'd try this and what do you know, I get better focus with live view than I do without it...

    Is it a take it back to the shop job (Taunton LCE) or will I have to send it to Nikon?

    Or is it not that simple?

    edit: actually, probably best to ignore me until I've done some better tests - all I've done is take some pictures of the small print on the box from a few feet. That said, LV seems to meter slightly differently so I need to be a bit more rigorous although live view definitely seems a little sharper...

    Edit 2: well, after some tests like above using a flat textured surface (cotton covered photo album) it would seem that there isn't any real focus problem (but I can definitely see a slight difference in the LV pictures?). Don't think it's enough to be worried about though.

    Sorry to hijack, panic over :D
     
  23. Naboo32

    Naboo32

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    By all means, take your time to test it out (if possible with 'real world' situations) and you may well find that the performance is satisfactory :shrug:. I must say, many of my 'real world' results were not satisfactory, which is how I got into all this testing in the first place - now I'm certain that the camera is not adjusted correctly, as it's level (and direction) of error is too consistent for the problem to be careless placement of AF points :|.

    As you're in the UK, I'd say that (if it really isn't focusing properly), you'd have a fairly strong case for going back to the retailer and demanding an exchange. You have the (1979) 'Sale of Goods Act' to protect you and if you can make a case that the camera is "faulty", then you are entitled (with a suitable proof of purchase), to an exchange or even a refund! At least, that's how the UK law worked when I was a retail manager, some 12 years ago.

    If you go down the warranty route, it might be free, but it'll probably take a fair while :|.

    I hope that your further tests prove that the camera is OK :).
     
  24. Nawty

    Nawty

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    Cheers Andy, see my above edit - I think I jumped on the bandwagon too soon, isn't it sad that I automatically assume the worse :wacky:

    Looking at real world pics taken at the weekend of my sisters horses I can't see anything to complain about...
     
  25. Flash In The Pan

    Flash In The Pan

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    Take the lens off and lift the mirror, on the rhs as you look in you'll see an allen screw, that is the one that adjusts the focus on the body. I wouldn't advise playing around with it unless you know what you're doing though....
     
  26. Naboo32

    Naboo32

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    :p Nice to know that I'm suffering from a "classic" ailment, and not just any common-or-garden tech problem.

    Anyway, before I head off to bed (to sulk), here are two more examples; the first one shot using Live View mode to focus and the second made in the 'normal' way through the VF (in AF-S mode).

    LV = in focus :)
    [​IMG]


    VF = OOF :crying:

    [​IMG]

    (Note that, this time, I've kept the AF points well away from the CD cover on the right, which is sitting nearly 2" further way than the one on the left ;)).
     
  27. Naboo32

    Naboo32

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    Maybe that's the answer to my problem too :shrug: - stop photographing squirrels (and cropping the images) and go and find some horses to fill the frame instead :LOL:!
     
  28. Naboo32

    Naboo32

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    Well, after just 10 days away, my D90 has returned from the Nikon Service centre (in Düsseldorf) and I'm mighty pleased to say that they have completely cured the focusing problem (y).

    I was really worried that there would be no real improvement and that I'd be stuck with the camera, but no, it obviously needed re-calibrating (as Andy 'puddleduck' said it did) and the technicians did a very fine job on it. It even came back in a sexier box than I sent it off in and they hadn't tried to remove the (non-original) GGS LCD screen protector (as if they would ;))!?

    This is going to make such a difference when I try to do 'wildlife' photography with it, which was one of the main reasons for buying it. Yippee!

    These cameras may be thrown together in Thailand, but as long as Nikon can adjust them to work as well as this one now does (for free), I'll keep buying them :D.


    Thanks to everyone who participated in this thread and gave me good advice.
     
  29. puddleduck

    puddleduck

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    Great - I'm a firm beleiver in getting these errors fixed by the manufacturer, and not using wishy-washy band-aids like "AF Fine Tune".

    I hate to think how many Sigma 30mm f/1.4 and Sigma f/1.4 have been returned due to "focus problems" when its 90% a body caliberation error ;)

    Glad its sorted - I've been through this issue with Nikon a couple of times (one D70, and one D200) so know the drill.
     
  30. Kanine

    Kanine

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    Glad you're happy and got it back. My bodies have generally been plagued by AF issues. The thing is, the live view and viewfinder af systems are different. I believe the live view mechanism is purely computerised and it calculates the sharpest picture that touches CCD/CMOS, whereas the viewfinder AF uses it's own sensors that are separate to the CCD/CMOS. AF fine tune only works for viewfinder AF, not live view as by design that should get you the sharpest focus every time. My lenses are generally tuned from 0 to +10, and I don't feel that that mandates a calibration. Anything beyond +20 does, however!
     
  31. Mr_T

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    Wow, I'm really glad to see you've got your problem sorted out Naboo32. Out of interest, how would I go about seeing if I have the same problem with my D200? I've had a niggling feeling for months now that it can't just be bad luck that I'm having focus issues all the time. I sent my camera in to Nikon for a service not long ago and was hoping beyond all hope that it would come back and the AF would start nailing focus. I probably wasn't nearly specific enough.

    For the most part I've deleted all the "duff" shots but I think I may have a screenshot displaying the particular problem I have and have been having for a long time. I'm not saying for sure that it's the camera at fault but I would appreciate opinions. clicky
     
  32. puddleduck

    puddleduck

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    Bit hard to tell - for starters if you wanted sharp eye, you'd been better selecting a different focus point - not sure what lens you have but its its an AF-S or HSM lens, you can just grab the focus ring to help out the D200s outer AF points (as they are not "cross" type).

    Can't tell anything for that really, but from the shot you've shown, my inclination is pilot error from the presented evidence.
     
  33. Mr_T

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    puddleduck, thanks very much for your reply. I'm inclined to agree with you looking at it now, that example does look like human error. The problem is that until I saw this thread I completely discounted the possibility of it being a problem with my body so I ended up deleting all of the shots I could use as examples.

    I was out shooting today and I've got an extremely boring Capture NX 2 crop that may show it better. Again it's nothing nearly as scientific as what Naboo32 has done. It looks to me like it's back focusing here but again I may be looking at this all wrong, please correct me if this is so.
     
  34. KavKav

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    What an interesting thread, thanks to all contributors!:clap: I have no similar issues with my D90, guess I am lucky.:D
     
  35. Naboo32

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    Yeah, I did the same at first - deleted the evidence. I could only think that I was making some mistake with selecting the AF points (as I nearly always shoot in AF-S single point mode). After a while though, I began to see a pattern to the OOFness (is that a word?) and realised that the camera was always back-focusing.

    The fact that it functions so perfectly now, proves that I wasn't just imagining things ;).

    I would describe it as 'not unlucky', rather than lucky ;) - you have a right to expect £600 worth of camera to work properly out of the box, or am I just being old fashioned :shrug: !?
     
  36. Dave in Wales

    Dave in Wales

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    Well I'll be blowed.

    I've had my D90 for about a month now, it's been out on 3 occasions, perhaps 100 clicks not much more.

    I've NEVER been happy with the sharpness of the results. I thought it was me and it would cure it's self as I got used to the camera.

    It's been 30 odd years since I had a SLR, I used to get better results with my F3HP's with manual focus.

    On the phone to Park Camera's first thing tomorrow, see what they can do.
     
  37. puddleduck

    puddleduck

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    If your camera is backfocusing, that doesn't tally with your duck shot - a backfocusing camera would probably have got that eye in focus...

    Now the metal shot is a bit more compelling, but are you sure when you focused without focus and recompose. Remember Capture NX simply shoes the active focus point - if you focus and re-compose all bets are of..

    If you want to test this properly. put the camera on a tripod, defocus your lens to infinity, and take a shot of you target. Then re-focus you lens to closest focus, then take the shot. Then go to MF mode, and manually focus and take the shot. Then take a final shot in AF mode, and compare results.

    A decent AF target for this exercise is a cereal box - never do an angled 45 degree chart. Always make sure your test target is perpendicual to the sensor. Thats the most important thing.
     
  38. seventythree

    seventythree

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    interesting thread. i get lots of slightly oof shots, but fortunately/unfortunately (whichever way you look at it) it's all pilot error.
     
  39. Mr_T

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    The second shot wasn't recomposed at all, the focus point shown in Capture NX was definitely the point of focus. The photograph of the duck can be ignored for the most part because it was so long ago I can't be sure where the point of focus was.

    I will give the cereal box method a go now and see where that takes me.

    *EDIT*

    Here are some full sized jpegs of my findings, they're saved at quality 9 in PhotoShop to keep filesize down. All were taken tripod mounted with shutter delay and a remote release, it was inside too so the cereal box was very stationary. Apologies for the terrible exposure. I had to redo the manual focus shot and the one after than because I goofed on the original MF shot, it was done under the same conditions, just later on in the day.

    70-200 AF-S at f/2.8

    AF from Infinity
    AF from Closest Focus
    Manual Focus
    AF After Manual Focus

    50mm AF-D at f/1.8

    AF from Infinity
    AF from Closest Focus
    Manual Focus
    AF After Manual Focus
     
  40. Naboo32

    Naboo32

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    Hi Andy!

    Sorry, but I think I missed this post the last time that I visited this thread :(.

    Yes, you're right - it's much better to get the real problem fixed, as opposed to just papering over the cracks. What's most important in this case is that I now have confidence in the camera again (nothing worse than knowing that your equipment's a bit quirky and then trying to 'out-think' it to compensate for its errors (n)).

    Your help was invaluable in getting this problem sorted, Andy, as when I wrote in the warranty claim that the camera needed a "body depth and AF check", even Nikon Germany knew what was required. That's yet another good piece of advice to come from the puddleduck stables - I must owe you a beer or two by now :D!

    Cheers!
     

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