[News] Nikon D800 Has Confirmed Focus/Viewfinder Issues

[News] Nikon D800 Has Confirmed Focus/Viewfinder Issues

I didn't believe my buddy when he told me that his brand new Nikon D800 viewfinder was always out of focus. I assumed that he had the diopter out of whack. It wasn't until I used the camera myself that I realized there was a serious problem. The camera was sent back to Nikon for repair and he received the camera back last week with the same issue. After sending it back a second time, Nikon has admitted that "a run" of D800s have an issue with viewfinder alignment.

Steven's camera (serial number 3003228) seemed to have 2 separate issues; focusing, and viewfinder alignment. Sometimes autofocus worked properly, other times it was way off. When the camera did focus properly the scene still looked slightly out of focus through the viewfinder. After doing some tests with live view and then comparing his D800 to another, Steven confirmed that there was something very wrong with his copy.

Steven ordered his camera the day that it became available for preorder and was one of the first to receive it in the US. He got his camera weeks before me and I'm an NPS member. He has now spent $250 shipping the camera back to Nikon twice for repair. Nikon claims that the autofocus issue has been fixed but to repair the viewfinder will require parts that will not be available until next month. They are willing to refund his money for the camera so he can buy another (not including the $250 in shipping he has spent) but he knows it could be months before he receives another camera because he will be in the back of the line.

If you have a D800 give your viewfinder a second look. With Steven's camera you could autofocus, and then lean in toward your subject and the scene would finally drop into focus. Does anyone else have this issue? Luckily my D800 is working fine.

Update: About an hour after this post went live Steven got a call from the head of Nikon Service and Steven will be receiving a new camera directly from Nikon tomorrow. Sadly, they will not be refunding the money he spent to insure and mail the lens back to Nikon twice.

Another interesting note is that one of the commentors below claims to be having this exact same issue with his D4. We will keep you posted as we learn more.

Lee Morris's picture

Lee Morris is a professional photographer based in Charleston SC, and is the co-owner of Fstoppers.com

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im afraid to check

Actually this has happened to a D700 that I had... and then the shutter went out so its off to Nikon for repair now.

+1 canon 

Yeah...like the 5DMIII isn't leaking light like a Holga!

 They fixed it like you fix a Holga too.... with black tape.

But Canon probably refunded the shipping cost. (Nikon shooter from 1973 to today.)

 Forking out shipping expenses might be a stretch (multiply $250 x ??), given the fact that they were heavily hit during the Tsunami, but a credit towards the next purchase would be more than reasonable and show good posture.

Just got mine a couple nights ago and have only used it with my 24-70 2.8 and it SEEMS to be all good. I'm a bit paranoid now though...

Fine toothed comb Doug... fine toothed comb.

Go through that sucker like you are pre-flighting a 747.

I bought a Ford once that had a significant brake problem. Eventually they bought the vehicle back told me to walk into the lot and pick out another. They even paid for work that I had done to it trying to solve the problem. Nikon needs to refund the $250.

Agree... Very poor decision on their part not to take care of the cost to ship as this is a Nikon issue and they should address it. The buyer purchased the new unit in good faith. Nikon learned of the issue from him and others and since they were the "beta" they should be taken care of for the work they did for Nikon.

I just got one in the mail from LensRentals, and it seems to be working just fine. Both autofocus, and the viewfinder are spot on. 

Augh, how dare you Lee!  All you fstoppers guys ever do is rip on Canon and always paint Nikon in a good light....oh wait, yeah we can be fair and balanced too!

As a Nikon shooter I will never visit this site again!


can it be fixed with black tape?

I am so confused. I am pretty sure Nikon has been making cameras for a little while. So why are there so many issues with this new camera? Shouldn't it be just perfect? My D800 is still not here yet and I also pre-orded it soon after they became available to do so. 

 Same as Canon; rush the new product to market...

When Andy from Unknown Photographer decides to send me my Nikon D800 I will deffinantly check it out. Corey is still waiting for his as well! 

It's an odd thing to feel happy about but I can trust my eyes again!  This is happening with one of my D4 bodies! I have 20/20 vision so my eyes can re-adjust to make it look right but I've noticed that it often just looks "out".  Suddenly, all makes sense...

Prepare for a "battle" of sorts, but definitely tell them about it. I think my situation may finally be resolved (awaiting official word) but it's taken me over a month and slowly moving higher and higher up the chain (and sending it in twice) to finally be given proper attention.

I sent 9 samples images to Nikon service, showing severe back
focus issue with outer left focus point. After a week, they email me back
denying the issue!


A straight denial of this serious production issue is unacceptable
in this modern world.

I think I have this problem also. I noticed that some of my pics that that were taken horizontally, the model is laying down on the ground parallel to the film plane, her face on the right side is in focus, her feet on the left side are out of focus. I'll have to check out those pics again when I get home tonight.

My vision is so awful I probably would have never noticed this.

Interesting! So you have 2 D4s? One works and one has this problem?

Yeah, it's bizarre because I've never had it on any other camera so it didn't even cross my mind to assume something is wrong.  It just feels, apologies in advance, "dreamy" when you look through it as it's focused but nothing looks sharp.  Totally impossible to understand, I appreciate but it's the best way I can explain it.

I should point out that it's not affecting the use of the camera in any way as I'm shooting autofocus 99% of the time and that seems to be performing well.  It's just a little off-putting.  As I've said, it's nowhere near enough to mean that you throw the camera down in disgust as I see some people are saying on here but when I read your headline, it suddenly made sense.

I've spoken to Nikon UK this morning about it so we'll see what comes of it.  Hopefully, if there is a company-wide recognition of the issue, they'll have some way of testing my gear to find out whether I am going nuts or not after all!

Oh man ... I think I have this problem ... I shoot with manual focus on my 35mm and the last couple sets I got out of them there were a lot of missed shots because it was out of focus.  I thought my days of manual focus were over, but this is good (and bad to read).

My D800 from an early batch...from Amazon US...is fine.

Wrong!  My D800 has the Left AF issue.  Center focus / recompose until Nikon comes up with a fix I guess.  I won't be an early buyer ever again...lesson learned.

Both canon and nikon are in such a rush to get these models out the door that quality will always suffer.. just goes to show don't be in such a rush to buy the latest model..

i'm with you on this one peter. With almost every electronic product that comes out new, there are always issues with the first editions. This is why i'm waiting until the end of 2012 to get my MKIII.

Cabbage Patch Syndrome! (Some of you might not be old enough to understand that.)

My D800 has some issues.  Is this an official announcement from Nikon?  Mine is only 2 days old and my dealer will swap it for me...when he gets a spare...but I have no idea how the replacement will perform.  I think I'd rather send it to Nikon but I hate to have to cough up $$$ on shipping & insurance.  Nikon - prepaid shipping labels????

Nikon made me pay to ship it to them the first time, which with full insurance was not cheap. The second time they paid for it. They also told me that replacing the camera is not generally their approach and that they would have to wait until the parts came in (month?) before they could fix it.

The quicker thing to do for both Nikon and it's prized and cherished customer would be to take the broken camera, send it back through service and issue it as a Refurbished unit and send the customer a brand new camera to bolster the concept of SUPERB customer service and not tie up everyone's time by having to wait for parts. Am I the only one who imagines that is how customer service should work?

Dear Steven,
From the article by Lee Morris, it was reported that you eventually received a brand new replacement D800 from Nikon, may I ask what is the S/N for this replacement D800?

I haven't received the camera yet so I am not sure. I am supposed to get it tomorrow so I will take a look then.

Thanks for taking a look :)


Thanks for sharing the S/N info, I'll bet Nikon definitely made sure this unit would be free of defects before shipping it... from now on you should have a lot fun using the D800 :) 

What's wrong with yours?

One way you might be able to side step the shipping cost might be to check who might be your local authorized service. If you live near one, bring it into them, and if they can't repair it (which they won't be able to since it's a brand new model) they'll offer to ship it to Nikon for a nominal fee.  It cost me $15 to ship from Chicago.  But do make sure you state the exact trouble you're having, with some image samples included if possible.

*sigh*....both nikon and canon should have waited to release these cameras. Of course they are competing with each other to feed a consumer-gearhead-hungry audience. Therefore this is what we get for wanting these camera so bad instead of concentrating our time to how to take photos with the gear we already have. Canon should of just waited another year or two to fully test and put the MKIII into rigorous testing and forget about competing with nikon.

a year or 2?? over a small light leak?

Maybe he's hoping that another year or two would have resulted in a more revolutionary product rather than what is being perceived as a slight upgrade.

Wow, so it's the fault of consumers who don't know how to use cameras. Are we talking about Nikon and Canon - or Apple?

Chevys, Fords, baby-cribs, car-seats, Canons, Nikons, Boeings, Air Busses, F-22 fighters; man, when products are manufactured that involve extreme technical tolerances or high safety implications, issues like this just happens.  It's just life.  At least Nikon has admitted to and is fixing the problem...

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