What to do when your camera focuses way off the mark

Being a bit lazy over the holidays, I relied on my D3200 for the family snaps. Imagine my surprise when over 90% of the shots showed a bad case of back focus. My brother had shown me an image he had taken of his car a few months ago using the D3200 where nothing of the car was in focus. I thought the lens might be bad, but didn't have the time to look further into it. Paid the price for my procrastination.

I brought the body and lenses home to do some testing and confirmed that the camera was focusing about a foot behind the indicated AF point when using the viewfinder and the phase detect AF sensors. Switching to Live View and the contrast detect sensors gave perfect focus every time. A solution, but not a good one as contrast detect AF is very slow.

Phase detect AF: notice the camera equipment inside the cabinet is in focus

Contrast detect AF: The cabinet is in proper focus. Odd note that the AF sensor indicator for contrast detect is larger than that for phase detect AF. 

So now it's off to the interwebs to find out if there's a way to fix this without sending the camera to Nikon (warranty is over). Turns out there are a couple of cams that can be turned to adjust the AF of a D3200 (among other bodies). Made some adjustments (and managed to get a fingerprint on the sensor, ugh), and now the AF is much better. Still not perfect, but good enough.

Lesson learned: do a thorough test before signing off on the camera.


Post a Comment