A few weeks ago at the Matariki celebrations in Henderson one of my cameras, my Nikon D800, started to misbehave. The autofocus mechanism did the exact opposite of what it was supposed to do and was doing an autoUNfocus. There was nothing I could do with the camera to resolve the problem. I tried cycling the power (removing and reinserting the batteries), doing a factory settings reset, changed lenses, changed focus modes (AF-C, AF-S), single point focus, or use all 51 point. Absolutely nothing worked. It was well and truly stuffed. Then I decided to try LiveView. this worked! I switched back to viewfinder and unbelievably autofocus was back on track again!
The camera misbehaved a couple more times that evening, and each time the LiveView trick brought viewfinder focus back to life again. I got the camera checked and no errors were reported. Happy that all was apparently good I continued using the camera with no issues until the Native Noise event at the Town Hall with Che Fu organised by Evitan. Same problems as before. Two green arrows indicating the camera couldn’t focus!
This time a more thorough investigation was conducted and the camera was in the shop for a few days. Again, no faults identified and the camera passed all tests. I must admit to feeling both dismayed that nothing had been identified as well as pleased that the camera had passed all tests. Time to test it again, this time on the Whangaporoa Peninsular when I went to shoot Take Note.
All was going well, really well and I thought the fault had been fixed … until about an hour into the shoot. Same again. Two green arrows and no focus. I felt sick. Was it me? I certainly wasn’t imagining what was happening and I couldn’t identify any action I was taking to cause the problem and switching to LiveView and back again did fix the problem.
I was losing all confidence in the camera and started using my D300 in preference to the D800 now. The D300 had been faultless since day one and I could trust this workhorse. I’d missed shots with the D800 and was seriously disappointed with it so back it went to the workshop.
It came back on Wednesday and as soon as I attached a lens and started to use it I could sense there was something different. It sounds silly, but it just seemed to have been “tuned” or “tweaked”. I now had the D800 I’d fallen in love with last year. I was delighted … but how would it be with the bands? No worries!! I took it out last night to see Cherie Mathieson singing with the Alan Brown Project. I was determined to put the camera into the same type of conditions that had caused it to fail previously. Was I disappointed? Not at all. The camera was a dream to use and behaved perfectly for the two hours I was shooting. Happy? I’m stoked!!
Here’s a few shots of Cherie from last night. ISO 5000, f2.8, 1/125sec, 85mm f1.4G, Nikon D800
So, how did the fault get fixed? Well, the folks at Nikon (Macalister‘s here in NZ) did a superb job. They replaced the viewfinder autofocus mechanism, recalibrated, tested and ensured the camera passed all tests before giving it back. End result? A seriously stoked Nikon user with one wicked D800 😉