Review:http://www.martinzimelka.com/homepage/Blog/Blog.html

NAVIGATION:

The Endless Problems:

If you’ve been following my blog, then you may be aware of the problems I’ve had across various D800 bodies.

At the point of writing this, I’ve returned my D800 after a month of hassles, trying out various replacements and other D800 cameras.


Below, I’m going to quickly summarise all the problems I’ve had, since the full story is fairly lengthy.

If you want to read every detail, then please see THIS blog post.

As I’ve mentioned on the previous page, there were two D800 units that showed the left and right AF point back focus issue. My original camera had this problem, and it was enough to warrant a replacement item by Nikon South Africa.


The loan unit I received, while waiting for my first replacement, also had this back focus problem, and it behaved identically to my original unit. The same degree of error. However, this unit showed a new problem; A very subtle blur down the middle of the viewfinder image could be seen. This is confirmed to be a pentaprism issue. Click HERE or on the vineyard image on the right to see what it looks like.


My replacement camera was cured from the uneven AF accuracy, but it needed a global AF fine tune of +6 to correct a slight front focus. This after the fact that Nikon AF calibrated the camera prior to shipping it to me. This replacement also showed the pentaprism blur line, but worse than the loan unit I had before it. The narrow blurry strip made manual focusing difficult, and was increasingly annoying when focusing on fine detailed subject matter. The magnifying eye piece (DK-17m) only made matters worse.


Nikon then issued me with another replacement, as well as the option to take my fixed (claimed) original unit instead. Without having to leave the Nikon Cape Town offices, the second replacement was deemed faulty, since it also showed the pentaprism blur. This time, far worse than my first replacement unit, which was bad enough for the technician to easily recognise. I wasn’t given much of a choice, but to take unit 1. Nikon had told me to make my choice and stick with it...


The AF calibration Nikon had done to my original unit proved to have fixed nothing. In fact, the camera needed a global AF fine tune adjustment of -5. On top of this, the original back focus issue of the left and right points was still present. At least the pentaprism blur was not visible.


The third and last problem I found was while taking a portrait oriented shot of a rose hedge. I composed the shot to place the rose on the left side of the image, but no matter how many times I tried, I consistently achieved a front focus. - the left of the frame represents the top of the viewfinder in the normal horizontal orientation - One thing led to another, and I determined that manual focusing on any objects at the top of the viewfinder would cause consistent front focus. Focusing on subjects at the bottom of the viewfinder would consistently result in back focused images. (Click the rose image on the right to see the issue)


Since I was back to unit 1, I couldn’t test the previous cameras for this error. I also suspected that Nikon were unlikely to swap out the camera again. At this stage I had enough, and I just couldn’t enjoy the camera anymore, so I asked the retailer if they would please consider a refund and take the camera back.


On the day of returning my camera for a refund, 35 days after purchase, I noticed the shop’s shelves had a few D800 units. I asked if I could test some for the issues I found, and I was quickly given two units. Non of those cameras showed obvious uneven AF accuracy across the AF points, only one showed the pentaprism blur, but both had the inaccurate top/bottom manual focus problem. So, with three cameras tested for this top/bottom manual focus inconsistency, all three cameras showed the issue.

In conclusion, it’s obvious to me that Nikon has a lot of problems to iron out. Requesting yet another new D800 will just be a waste of my time, because it’ll inevitably show at least one of the three problems I’ve found.


Nikon South Africa has expressed an interest in my findings, and have promised future correspondence regarding these matters. From past experiences, I have learnt not to expect much from them. If they do report my findings, then great. If they give me feedback whether or not changes have been implemented to fix issues I’ve reported, then that would be even better. I’m expecting nothing, but I’m hoping to be surprised.


For now, the D800 is off the table. At least for a good few months. I sincerely hope Nikon sorts out all of this nonsense, since the imaging qualities of the D800 are amazing. Below I’ve prepared a table summarising the problems I’ve experienced across the various D800’s I’ve used, including their partial serial numbers.

 

UPDATE:

Since publishing this review, I have sampled an additional five D800 units.

Four SN 8800 and one SN 6015. Two had the left AF-point back focus, three had the pentaprism blur, and all had uneven top/bottom manual focus problem.