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Nikon D800 Autofocus Question

Allan Jamieson , Jun 14, 2012; 07:12 a.m.

Just got my D800 back from the local Nikon agents after its first professional sensor clean. My own earlier attempt to clean the sensor of welded on dust only seemed to add more dust and marks, to the point I thought I might have scratched the low pass filter; thankfully I hadn't and they put the camera through as a warranty claim which was unexpected but good of them to do.
Issue is when I got the camera back quite a few of the settings had been altered from how it was when I handed it in. It took me a while to realise for instance that I wasn't shooting raw files, which is what I normally do. But, the confusing thing is the autofocus now seems to be stuck with only one central focus point. I spent about two hours last night going through the weighty manual and playing with every setting I could find to do with autofocus, learning a lot along the way but still struggling to get more than one focus point to actually work.
Pressing the AF mode button shows it set to AFC and d51 for 51 Autofocus points, pressing in the button shows where these points are, yet when you press on the shutter it is back to just one visible working focus point right in the middle. I can move that point around the viewing area and testing it that way, shows that it is indeed only focusing through that single AF point. I've moved the settings around and viewed the AF point settings for 5 or S, which shows up as one AF point identical to what the d51 setting is giving me/d9 shows three rows of three AF points but still works only as one AF point when you press down on the shutter. All the other settings are working exactly the same way too.
I phoned up the agents this morning, who told me to turn AF on and use the AF mode button; which I had obviously already done. There is probably something simple I am missing here. To date I have used the camera mainly with manual focus, my original tests of the AF showed various AF points visible on the subject when I pressed the shutter down and seemed to work well enough.
The main AF settings are all turned on in the camera menus, i.e. a1 AF-C priority selection is set to release & focus/ a2 AF-S priority selection is set to Focus/ a3 Focus Tracking with lock-on is set to AF 3 Normal/ .a4 AF activation/ a5 AF point illumination/ a6 Focus point wrap-around/ a7 Number of focus points AF51/ a8 Built in AF-assist illuminator On.
Top screen is showing AF-C and r12 in brackets in corner when you press the shutter button down. Pressing in the AF mode button shows AFC in viewfinder with d51 on the right. Camera is set to Aperture Priority, Raw files, auto WB, nothing else significant visible on top screen except for the +/- box with ADL next to it.
Don't know if there is a reset button to take everything back to factory settings but currently can't really work out how to actually get useful AF with this camera, if anybody can suggest some setting that I've missed or that is currently set wrong that would be helpful. I've got a couple of lenses to collect next week from the agents after a clean up and can show their technicians the camera then if I can't get it working properly before then!


L G , Jun 14, 2012; 07:44 a.m.

Hold the AF switch button (thing on the side of the lens mount) and turn the front command wheel until it says Auto. This should give you the mode where it shows which points are in focus. I'm not sure if there are some settings you can make which would have disabled this mode.

Allan Jamieson , Jun 14, 2012; 08:53 a.m.

Well, that might do the trick, it is certainly showing the active AF points now as you point the camera at different subjects. I didn't realise that the other modes would only AF with one AF point outside of the Auto setting though? I didn't alter any settings, it was the camera service centre when they had the camera in!

Richard Sheen , Jun 14, 2012; 09:57 a.m.

The AF-C setting only shows one dot in the middle but in fact all the other AF-dots are in function, you just can't see them unlike the AUTO mode. Have you tried focusing on your finger? try from a perspective that your finger only fills in the center dot then quickly move the dot to a distant object and see if it focuses rapidly to that object, if it does then I guess you have a program error here...

Andrew Garrard , Jun 14, 2012; 05:28 p.m.

I've noticed that people cleaning sensors tend to mess with the settings - specifically, I believe Nikon UK left my D700 in JPEG mode, something I didn't notice (because I never move it from RAW + L unless I'm actually shooting high speed action) until I'd spent an evening taking images of the night sky at a star party on holiday to Australia. I wasn't a happy bunny that I couldn't play with the RAW files afterwards and pull out some galaxy detail. Always check your settings!

Louis Dallara , Aug 06, 2012; 06:00 p.m.

Thanks for a great question and super answers which help me learn the Nikon D800 AF system, which after reading manual I was still confused, but you guys helped me understand how I think it works, time will tell, it's different from my D700 - D300 bodies.

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