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Customer Review

18 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars HUGE AF problems (now resolved), September 4, 2012
This review is from: Nikon D800 36.3 MP CMOS FX-Format Digital SLR Camera (Body Only) (OLD MODEL) (Electronics)
I have been shooting professionally for 6 years and have owned the Nikon D80, D90, D300, and multiple D700 bodies. I've been shooting with the D700 for years so I was ecstatic when the D800 was released. I ordered my D800 in April 2012 and just received it in August 2012. Right after receiving it I had a wedding and was excited to see how it would perform. Throughout the day I didn't seem to have any problems and was feeling pretty good about how the wedding images were going to turn out. After reviewing the images, I was horrified to find that most the images were out of focus. Not just the low light or action pictures, even most of the pictures with the bride and groom stationary outside in great light.

YES, the camera and lenses were set to AF and not manual. I had the camera set to the low volume beep to indicate it was focused and it was beeping the whole time so I know it was trying to work. Throughout the day I was switching lenses between one of my D700 bodies and my new D800. The D700 had zero problems with focus using the same lenses. Thanks God I had my D700 shooting throughout the day or I'd be totally screwed. The D800 didn't achieve 1 focused picture of the bride walking down the aisle and didn't get a clear image of the kiss, and very few clear images during the ceremony. My D700 saved the day where the D800 failed.

I don't know if it was a defective body or if this is a common problem with the D800 but I'm attempting to return it right now. If this is a widespread problem, hopefully Nikon fixes it quick or I'm jumping ship to Canon. I'm not about to wait another 5 years for a new body.

P.S. All the images do have the green tint problem, my D700 has a perfect balance between magenta and green. The D800 often produces images that give a subject's skin a dull orange tone where my D700 gives a perfect warm glow. I shoot 100% manual exposure and manual white balance so I'm definitely able to compare the 2 cameras apples to apples.

I think a $3,000 camera should be able to focus on a subject, so my 1 star rating is perfectly justified. If you bought a car that couldn't stay on the road and kept driving into ditches that car would be worthless. Same thing with my D800.

UPDATE 7-22-14

So I sent my original D800 back, then I purchased another D800 in 2013 in hopes that the focusing issues had been fixed. They weren't. My new D800 had the same focusing problems as the original. The images were very soft, as if the camera focused 95% of the way, but was still off. They looked focused until you zoom in to 100% and you could clearly see that they weren't sharp. I decided to send it in and see if Nikon could fix the problem and to my surprise it came back working wonderfully. It now focuses more accurately than my D700 bodies. I have NO IDEA why their quality control was so terrible that over a span of 2 years, with 2 different camera bodies. It makes me wonder how many people have the same issue with their D800 bodies but don't even notice the clear lack of sharpness of their images. Maybe they assume it's normal, or that it's "good enough" or something. But I'm happy to say that the issue seems to be resolved with my particular body, though I had to pay a ton of money in shipping and insurance to fix a problem that never should have existed.

At this point, my only issues with the D800 would be the lack of sharpness (due to motion blurring) at lower shutter speeds. It's a known issue with large image sensors, not unique to Nikon. For some reason it's more difficult to achieve sharp images with high megapixel sensors and I'm not geeky enough to understand it, but I rarely go below 125 of a second (handheld) with my D800 because the images will begin to blur, even with light movement of the subject or the operator's hands. I just bump up the ISO a little bit to make sure I have a fast enough shutter speed. Not ideal but it gets the job done so I'm not too worried about it.

My final issue with the D800 is the lack of ability to use manual white balance (degrees Kelvin) in funky lighting situations. If I get in a dark room with incandescent, florescent or other weird lighting I would manually set my white balance and could get pretty good results most of the time. The issue with the D800 seems to be that you can get the yellow/blue spectrum good with degrees kelvin, but the magenta/green spectrum is funky sometimes. It seemed with my D700 that the green/magenta would automatically set itself pretty close so you only had to worry about the yellow/blue (warm/cool) aspect. I could be wrong, but it looks like you have to go into a menu in the back of your camera to manually set the green/magenta which obviously isn't practical if you're shooting a wedding or event. And I don't like auto white balance because it's just not accurate all the time. I've since purchased an ExpoDisc 2.0 so I can get an accurate white balance reading every time, but again this isn't the fastest way to set your white balance. On my D700 I would set my WB as quickly as I would set my shutter speed or aperture...could almost do it in my sleep. There may be a trick to get the same results with the D800 but as of now I'm still dealing with that pesky green/magenta spectrum which just takes too much time.

Overall I'm pretty happy with my D800 now that the focusing issue is fixed...I can deal with the other things I don't like but I can't deal with pictures that aren't sharp. I'm changing my rating from a 1 to a 4 star since my big issues are resolved. In most areas my D800 is definitely better than my D700 so I'm happy. I'm a huge fan of the dual card slots, so I automatically have a backup of every picture I take. It gives a lot of peace of mind.
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Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 10 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 5, 2012 11:21:55 AM PDT
bodhisattvah says:
Claims to be a "professional photographer", but uses focus confirmation beep = not legit (beeping away during a ceremony is strictly verboten)

Takes untested gear to paid gig = not legit (using gear that's not guaranteed to work is strictly verboten)

Doesn't know how to color balance photos outside the camera = not legit (giving a bride unprocessed photos straight out of the camera is strictly verboten)

Whines about "jumping ship to Canon" = not legit (taking a major loss selling all your expensive pro level glass for one defective camera is strictly verboten. He has two D700's, right?)

Doesn't notice focus issues until after the gig = not legit (not checking a single image to assure sharp focus until after the gig is over is strictly verboten)

Also, this clown is copypasta thisa review allova.

No doubt some of these cameras have serious AF problems, but it's hard to know how bad the issue really is when we have people like the above user who aren't smarter than the gear.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 5, 2012 12:28:56 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 12, 2012 3:20:55 PM PDT
P. Bentz says:
Funny, because everything you said is BS.

Yes my camera beeps when I'm in AF-S and it's the quiet beep so only I can hear it. When you shoot in dark locations you need the indicator otherwise
your lens could be hunting and you wouldn't know.

First, yes I am professional and my sole income is photography. It's not a side job.

"Untested gear to a paid gig" Who wouldn't take a brand new camera to a paid gig when it's supposed to be tested, professional grade equipment? Also, that's why I had 2 D700 cameras at the "gig" as well.

I never said I don't know how to fix color balance, but when you take 50,000 images or more per year, who wants to fix all 50,000? That's why I do MANUAL white balance, so I don't have to fix it later. Only an amature would rely on photoshop or lightroom to fix all their problems.

I talked about jumping ship to Canon because I've been contemplating it for years after I saw Nikon lagging behind. I waited for the D800 and since it doesn't deliver it might be the final nail in Nikon's coffin when it comes to me using Nikon.

"Doesn't notice focus issues until after the gig"- The images look perfectly fine on a 3 inch LCD. I don't have time to zoom to 100% while I'm shooting a wedding, I need my gear to work.

I didn't copy or paste anything, in fact, I didn't know the focus issue was a problem until after experiencing it for myself. Ironically you posted a negative review for the D7000 for focus issues. Hypocrite much?

I hope you're not taking paid "gigs" shooting as a "professional" with a D7000. Do you even own an D800?

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 5, 2012 1:31:49 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 5, 2012 6:20:51 PM PDT
bodhisattvah says:
On both the D700 and D800, custom function f2/zoom/medium. On the D700, "medium" is actually 100%. I'm not sure about the D800. Now when you are playing back an image on the LCD, hit the center of any of the d-pads and you'll get 100% zoom instantly. This takes no time at all, except if you've allowed a D700 to go to sleep with a card larger than 16gb.

On both the D700 and D800, set custom function a2 to focus priority. Now the camera will only take a picture once it believes it has achieved focus. No beep necessary.

Never, ever, ever take gear you haven't personally tested to a paid gig, especially one where you have a situation that can't be replicated. No matter how expensive it is. No professional does that. Except an inexperienced one. See, you did it and it bit you in the ass. Now you're experienced. Problem solved. Lesson learned?

50,000 clicks, I don't doubt. 50,000 images shipped? Bullsh!t.

Manual white balance is for studios with controlled lighting. Even indoor weddings are not a controlled lighting situation. There will always be light reflected off of bouquets, floors, grass, shrubs, wood paneling, carpets, stained glass. Clouds happen. Color temp/cast/hue will invariably vary, and digital is just as sensitive as film was. Every negative received color correction, and so does every digital image. No self respecting photographer lets every image go with zero post. Unless you don't know how to do post and are paying someone else to do it instead. Even then, post is still happening.

Both camps (Nikon/Canon) have always had gear that is more than good enough to get the job done. This has been true for at least the 18 years I've been at this, and I suspect it has been true longer than that. Good gear has been available for a long, long time. The only difference is how cheap it has gotten lately...for better or worse!

Micah media dot com. It's outdated.

Wenatchee? You're in a little pond, I don't doubt you could eck out a living as long as you have the gear.

Yeah, I wasn't happy that my D7000 was defective out of the box, and the repair experience is abysmal (and has been every time I've broken something since 2005). That D7000 didn't see a wedding until I was happy with it's performance. Nothing hypocritical there.

I'm in Seattle at least once a month. If you're ever over the mountains and you want help testing/calibrating your AF, I'd be happy to show you how. Seriously. I'm not a jerk. I want to help. I'm giving you advice that any seasoned photographer would give you. These are protocols that will save your behind at a gig. It's ok to learn and improve. It's not ok to claim you're an experienced professional when you're making some obvious mistakes.

Think of it this way: would you have taken a rifle out in the field that you'd never shot? Maybe you did. Maybe that's the type of trust you're used to having in gear. Welcome to the civi world. QA is a joke, even on expensive gear. And with 36MP, we're also at the limits of industrial tolerances. State of the art hasn't caught up yet. Even so, you MUST must must test things before you use them in single chance situations. It's not life or death, but people take weddings seriously. Brides will sue.

Sorry you have some bum gear, but screwing up pics at a wedding wasn't the gear's fault.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 5, 2012 6:20:55 PM PDT
P. Bentz says:
I switched to manual white balance about 2 years ago and wouldn't go back. My editing is so much faster because auto white balance does change at a whim where manual is consistent across the board. Once you get the hang of it, it's not different than quickly adjusting your shutter speed. Nikon cameras are OK at auto white balance in perfect conditions but you get in a dark room or factor in bouncing a speedlight off an off-white ceiling and they're crap at picking a correct WB.

Yes you're right, it was probably dumb of me to jump right into a wedding without testing. I've owned many Nikons and never had a problem out of the box so it caught me off guard. I definitely learned my lesson. I actually picked up the camera at UPS the morning of the wedding and had just enough time to charge the battery and was excited to use it that day. Never again for sure. We had my wife shooting a D700 the whole wedding so nothing was lost, plus I was able to use the images from the D800 that were only slightly out of focus. I dodged a bullet.

Yes I'm in Wenatchee but just moved here from Yakima. Yakima is about 90,000 population and can support full time photographers, plus I own a bridal show and shoot all over the state anyway.

You're right, I don't actually edit 50,000 images per year, but I probably edit 15-20,000 and definitely don't need to fix the green hue on top of all the other editing I do. Although my editing is pretty light in many cases because I try to get everything as perfect as possible in Camera. I used to do A LOT heavier editing when I fist started shooting and didn't know what I was doing. Now editing is light unless I feel like getting crazy with post-processing with an occasional image here and there.

Yes Nikon has made some great cameras but Canon seems to be 1 step ahead. I use my images to make billboards at times and 12mp is a little light. Canon got it right being right in the mid 20mp range. I thought Nikon finally got a 1 up on Canon with the D800 but I'm not so sure unless they can work out the bugs.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 6, 2012 12:08:05 PM PDT
Gary H says:
I can't believe you're talking about the beep. That's a personal preference and in no way indicates if a person is a pro or not. Sometimes I like the beep and sometimes I don't.

I can already see myself shooting with a dx lens and someone like you walks up to me and tells me, "if you're gonna shoot with a dx lens, why do you have such a nice camera? You're obviously not a pro." My way of thinking, if my camera can support different options, I will use all the options I can. And I will turn on the beep and use a dx lens if I want to (not to say I won't use my fx lens, but there are some people that think using a dx lens on an fx camera is such a sin).

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 6, 2012 12:39:40 PM PDT
bodhisattvah says:
Experienced wedding shooters do anything they can to keep quiet at a ceremony. Clackity mirrors are not great to start with. AF confirmation beep is a non-starter. Of course, plenty of people do things that don't make sense and annoy their customers. YMMV.

And no, I plan on using my 17-55 on a D800. 14mp and broad AF coverage sounds peachy keen to me. Also, it's kinda like a sport finder.


In reply to an earlier post on Sep 6, 2012 2:14:49 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 7, 2012 12:55:01 AM PDT
bodhisattvah says:
I can't seem to get it to play, but I remember watching this video a while back:

They pit a D3 or D700 against a film body for a billboard shot. They felt the digital looked better. At 12mp.

I worked for two different studios that used the 1Ds mkii. Lemme tell you, that was a buggy piece of crap! The final image quality was ok, but in the studio I didn't find a lot of difference between that and the D2x I was shooting at the time. Usability was a whole other issue, and mostly because they never got a solid bug free firmware working on that model. There were issues with card corruption and there were some weird things with selecting image quality/ISO where they would or wouldn't stick depending on which way you changed a setting (menu or buttons and dials). Then there's the 1Dmkiii AF, which Canon handled horribly and the only fix was really just the next model (which was actually quite good).

So the way I see it, I've seen bad/buggy gear from both.

Nikon have made some mistakes. But I'd say their track record is pretty good. Who's a step ahead? I personally feel the differences are pretty miniscule. Even 36 vs 22 megapixels is pretty insignificant. It takes a doubling of resolution (read: quadruple the MP) to really make a difference, and even then, it's just noticeable. Compare a 20x30 print from a D70 to the same image shot with a D3x and and you'll be surprised how little difference there is. The rest is ergonomic preferences. I like Nikon better.

Balancing in post is just as easy, provided you shot raw. Shoot a target, eyedropper it in post in one image, then apply that to the rest. Easy. In fact it's much better than messing around with it while the client waits, I'm not sure how you perform whitebalance this "quickly". You'd need to have your assistant hold a target, select manual WB, hold it down until it blink, shoot it, then take another shot to make sure it worked right. Probably need to get close to the target, even if you're zoomed in. Otherwise, you can't trust the camera to pick the white/grey target out of the scene to balance off of. All this time you're in "photographer messing with his camera" mode, not interacting with the client(s). No bueno.

At best, I bet you're doing this in daylight and you'll get approximately the same thing as just choosing the daylight preset. Is this what you're actually doing--using a preset? I do use the presets, but I'd never waste manually white balancing on the spot, which could take several iterations. I do carry a target with me to shoot if I expect challenges later. But the LCD is never as accurate as my calibrated monitor, so why waste time with an inferior tool?

The only time I ever manually WB in camera is when I expect I may need JPEGs from the camera on short notice.

The majority of stuff on your site is toned in post, making your claims about WB dubious at best. I have yet to see any images from the camera that display this green cast.

Posted on Sep 7, 2012 10:28:13 AM PDT
James says:
D800 offers 4 AF-area modes, and since you didn't mention what a mode you chose to shoot those "out of focus" photos, you may need to spend more time on learning it.


In reply to an earlier post on Sep 21, 2012 11:46:46 PM PDT
Rom says:
Counter Reviewer Micah:

- Uses "verboten" 5x in his counter review, obviously a neo nazi.
- Nikon evangelist who can't look at Canon flagships for fear of turning into stone.
- During a wedding shoot he has enough time to gaze in detail at his photos.
- Mistakes camera review sharpness for actual sharpness.

- Has seen enough Italian mobster movies
- Gave the D7000 a 2-star review
- Gave the Canon SD780 a 1-star review

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 22, 2012 12:44:18 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 22, 2012 12:47:13 AM PDT
bodhisattvah says:
Thanks for the humor!

I'll respond to your last three points, since they're the least important:
-seen em? I lived em! Grew up in Boston.
-I like the SD780, but the review is meant to get attention. Not just to get attention, but in hopes that people will think twice about spending $500 for a $100 camera.
-I can count, but I refuse to.

EDIT: I stand humbled--a Joisy guy must know crappy mob movies better than I do, for sure.
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