There’s a new feature on the Nikon D780 we’re really excited about at FoCal HQ!
No, it’s not higher ISOs, improved battery life, USB charging or the other advancements talked about in the many existing reviews.
At FoCal we tend to steer well clear of the Canon vs Nikon (or Nikon vs Canon) equipment debates you might see in comments around the internet. Having said that(!) we’re prepared to wade at least ankle-deep on the question of which allowed the more feature rich focus calibration option, Nikon’s AF Fine Tune or Canon’s AF Microadjustment system.
Up until very recently Nikon cameras allowed a single AF Fine Tune adjustment on a per lens basis. This works great for prime lenses, but when it comes to zooms allowing a single focus adjustment meant a compromise in terms of the best calibration value to enter.
Wide/Tele AF Fine-Tune
Nikon announced the D780 in January 2020, it’s the first Nikon camera that allows “two point adjustment” – AF Fine Tuning at BOTH ends of the the focal range for zoom lenses! (For comparison, Canon introduced this feature in the EOS-1D X released back in 2012.)
Readers might ask themselves, really how much difference will this make in the real world? It’s a great question, the answer is more along the lines of ‘it depends’. We know from user support requests that Nikon zooms, even toward the high end lenses such as the 200-400mm f/4 and 70-200mm f/2.8 can have significant difference in AF Fine Tune values. In-depth analysis on this based on FoCal user data in the blog post Why you should AF Fine Tune Nikkor Lenses.
Our new database of lens performance over at FoCal IQ shows this fairly clearly too – here’s a chart showing the difference in calibration values required between 24mm and 70mm on this lens, and you can see that across all tested camera bodies with this lens there’s typically a difference of between about 1 and 10 AF Fine-Tune points between ends of the zoom range:
You can take a look at a few lenses as examples here (the bit of specific interest here is the Parfocality section near the bottom of each page):
(Just for comparison, here’s a fairly new Canon lens: Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM)
Auto AF Fine-Tune
It’s also worth noting, the D780 supports auto AF Fine Tune as previous Nikon cameras, e.g. D500 and D850. Whilst we haven’t yet got our hands on a D780 camera to confirm it’s likely to have similar pros and cons as we found with the D500.