Nikon D780 – ‘Secret’ New Calibration Feature

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.

Nikon D780 Wide/Tele AF Fine Tune

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.)

Nikon D780 Wide and Tele AF Fine Tune
The D780 reference manual showing the new “two point adjustment” Wide/Tele zoom capability.

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.

 

11 comments on “Nikon D780 – ‘Secret’ New Calibration Feature

  • The question has to be will the camera then automatically adjust for the different zoom ranges in between the wide and tele end as do the later Canon bodies?

    Reply
    • Hi Jon,

      Great question!

      It’s extremely likely it works the same way as Canon’s “two point adjustment”. As you say, intermediate zoom values determined by interpolation.

      To be absolutely 100% sure we’ll need to test but I’d almost put money it works as per Canon (and others) 🙂

      Best Regards,
      Dave

      Reply
    • Hi Jon,

      Coming up with an exact date is always tricky as we rely on Nikon (and Canon) to first provide interface documentation, this generally happens a month or two from the camera release. We need the documents describing how the interface works as every new camera has interface changes.

      Once we have the docs we can get on with the development, with certain cameras getting hold of them can take a little time but as soon as that happens things usually go pretty quick.

      PS, one thought, it is very possible to calibrate cameras using ‘pre-captured image files’, check out the documentation for File Mode. It’s likely using this method will allow calibration and testing with cameras not on the supported camera list 🙂

      Best Regards,
      Dave

      Reply
  • It’s nearly clear that it must work that way. Because otherwise, the calibration would only be applied at the ends of the zoom range, and not in between. Which makes no sense at all. So there must be some kind of logic to determine the calibration in between. And a linear interpolation is the most simple and logical answer.

    Reply
    • Hi Alexander,

      Yes, it is very (very) likely it works that way, as you say it’s hard to imagine it working some other way but… 🙂

      Best Regards,
      Dave

      Reply
  • It would be nice if Nikon & Canon would give the same “Two Point Adjustment” option that the D780 has, as a “Firmware Update” on all their pro series cameras., ie; the Nikon D850 for example. I’m sure its not that hard to do. Being able to get a 70-200mm with accurate lens calibration on a D810, D500 or D850 can be hard work, even with the latest Reikan Pro software that I have.

    Reply
    • Hi Greg,

      Yep, Nikon is somewhat late to the game on this (at least in relation to Canon who first included the feature in 2012!).

      Whether they might go back and provide it on previous cameras, we live in hope but based on previous experience it’s likely it won’t be ported back to earlier cameras sadly.

      Best Regards,
      Dave

      Reply
  • Ian Douglas says:

    Does not this variability in Nikon lenses versus those from Canon (which you yourself published for comparison) indicate that Nikon lenses suffer poor quality assurance and greater variance in build quality? Certainly they are not cheaper than Canon lenses and here in the United Kingdom they are far more expensive than (for example) the USA?
    I am not suggesting you take a side or criticise Nikon but surely this must be that case?
    Can you/will you publish similar aggregated results for independent/3rd party lenses? This is hugely valuable information to those considering purchase.

    Reply
    • Hi Ian,

      We try to present the data in a neutral way. There might be many reasons for differences between certain cameras and lenses, all we can do is show what we see.

      In terms of presenting data including 3rd party lenses, it’s something we’re working on with a new dedicated website FoCal-IQ which does already show Sigma and Tamron lenses 🙂

      Best Regards,
      Dave

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *