Help Needed With Nikon Gear AF Mystery … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Help Needed With Nikon Gear AF Mystery ...

Help Needed With Nikon Gear AF Mystery …

The Situation

Tripod-mounted Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4G ED VR AF lens with or without the Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III with the Nikon D850. AF-C with shutter button AF.

Please note that the problem only occurs when I am working with the camera oriented vertically.

The Problem

When I select an AF point in any AF area mode, the AF point moves on its own when I half-press the shutter button. Sometimes it moves up and down, sometimes side to side. The system never locks on. I’ve tried this with and without the TC-14E. I have tried it with d-25 and with Group and with S (single) and with d-9. I have previously had the same problem with the TC-E20. I have checked every Menu item I can think of and not only do I have no clue, I have never heard of anything like in with any camera system. My understanding is that once I pick an AF point it should stay exactly where I put it …

This problem has occurred sporadically before this morning when it did it consistently.

If you have a clue, please leave a comment.

thanks with love, artie

This Just In …

I had a thought that perhaps the issue might have to do with the vertical grip. I tried it again in the hotel room and the problem showed up only sporadically. Then I thought to use the shutter button on the camera body rather than the shutter button on the vertical grip. Again the problem occurred sporadically only when working vertically … So it seems likely that the problem is not with the grip. I cannot try without the vertical grip because I do not travel with the smaller batteries.

29 comments to Help Needed With Nikon Gear AF Mystery …

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Thanks to all. See the Problem Solved; Thank You Joe Przybyla! blog post here.
    with love, artie

  • avatar Jim Brennan

    Im sorry thats AF-F not AF-C in live view

  • avatar Jim Brennan


    Are you in live view? If so and you are in AF-C it will hunt on its own until you lock focus onto a subject. Switch to AF-S see if it does same thing.

    Jim B

  • avatar byron prinzmetal

    If it was me I would try to figure out if it is cause by glass, body, settings, etc.
    so, I would try the same thing that causes it on you two cameras testing each with two different lens. You probably done this. I would check out all af or camera modes to see if one can isolate. Then I would call any of the people you know who are really Nikon experts including the Nikon expert at BofH and perhaps Nikon itself. With Nikon you might have to go through several levels of support.

    All cameras are basically computers with lenses attached with specialized software. They as you certainly know they all have quirts and some are not discovered/fixed sometimes up to a year after reporting.

    I take quite a few camera classes. The students and instructors mostly use Canon, Nikon and now Sony. I personally can NOT tell the difference in each students slide show presentation as to what camera they and in many cases the specific lens they used. In my opinion all three can capture wonderful images, sometimes easier with one of the other.

    I am quite sure there is a simple answer to what you are experiencing. How you came up with the answer to me speaks loads as to the support the user base, camera store and manufacturer provide. I am interested in the process you are/went though to get this resolved and how helpful or unhelpful people/organizations were.

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    With thanks and all due respect, nobody is reading and understanding what is happening. I will try turning off the H/V orientation and see if that eliminates the problem of the moving AF points …

    with love, artie

  • avatar Dilbert Dinkens

    Find a way to contact moose Peterson. Between the two of you, you could ego the problem.

  • Is the 600 f4 the only lens it does it with? Have you tried another lens on the tripod in the same configuration and tried the same sequence that causes the Problem? Have you tried the 600 f4 on another camera body? It would be good to know if the problems the body or the lens.

    Also did you select the autofocus memory button on the lens. It supposed to lock focus when you hit that button. Since my older 600 f/4 doesn’t have this function I can’t test it, but perhaps it has been engaged and the focus is locked.

  • That is, set up AF-ON to back button focusing…

  • In an effort to isolate the cause of the problem – in this case, possibly, the shutter release button – would it help to briefly program the AF-ON button on the back of the camera and see if the problem persists?

  • avatar David Policansky

    Artie: Is it possible that you have a defective camera? I think Krishna Prasad Kotti is on the right track. I ask this only because so many people who actually know how Nikon cameras work have made suggestions and none have pinpointed the issue.

  • avatar Jack Goodman

    Artie, I have had a similar problem and not been able to solve it. Glad you a chasing it. I think we need Nikon to weigh in to the problem at this point.


  • avatar Doug


    Looking at your photos over years past, the 1 out of 20 BIF shot that you captured with the Canon gear were exceptional! Wish I could help with the Nikon issue.

  • avatar Larry Brown

    Peg Runyan’s comment sounded like talking about what Canon calls Orientation linked AF point

  • I think we need to isolate the issue of it is Lens or camera problem. Can you check if you are having issue only with d850 not with d5. I did not see any such issue with my d850

  • avatar Guido Bee

    On the D500 there was a difference in where the AF points start out based on horiz or vert alignment. I think it is invoked from either AF menu or how you set up some of the function buttons.
    I’ll look, but not sure that D500 = D850.

    ON D500, in menu custom settings, a7 it is called “store by orientation”. In one option the vertical is not necessarily the same as horizontal. You might look for some menu option with a similar title (?) on your D850.
    Also when you use really long lenses, the number of available focus points changes based, among other things, on max aperture of the prime lens and what extender is being used. Fewer AF points are available as the longer lenses are used. Not sure this helps, but you might look there. Nikon’s tech documentation leaves a bit to be desired. Good luck, I have not yet mastered “Nikon-speak”. I’d be interested in how you sort this out.

  • avatar Debra

    Could it be the setting to remember the Auto Focus Position last used in both the Horizontal and Vertical Orientations

    Menu (Button on back of the camera)
    Custom Settings Menu (Pencil icon on screen)
    Autofocus (a – first in the list on the menu on screen)
    Store points by orientation

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks but nope. I have that set and am familiar with its operation. Same reply to Charlie Bush πŸ™‚

      with love, artie

  • avatar Dave Malone

    I think that you should go back to Canon πŸ™‚

  • avatar HARVEY TABIN

    Why don’t you contact Nikon tech and ask them your question. You may get and get an answer.

  • avatar George Cottay

    It seems that you can be in 3D track mode without it being apparent in the viewfinder.

    Also, some shooters have found their nose or cheek hits the multi selector. This last possibility may explain why orientation matters.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      I am clearly not in 3D AF mode. But that is how it is acting, except for the fact that it never locks on. Just in case I disabled #D as a choice but that did not help.

      My nose is not anywhere near the Multi-selector and even if it were it would not explain what is going on with the AF points moving for no reason …

      with love, artie

  • avatar Graham hedrick

    It is a pitty you dumped all that great canon gear. I gues this shows why people love canon gear. I do and don’t plan on going back to Nikon or to Sony regardless of their hype machine. Best of luck.

    • avatar Wayne

      I’m sure your answer really helped solve the problem Graham……………

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks for your helpful comment George. When I want to be sure that 19 of 20 of my flight shots are not in sharp focus, I will switch back to Canon.

      with love, artie

  • While I don’t think this is the problem it’s worth checking. a7 in the custom settings menu remembers the focus point setting when changing from vertical to horizontal orientation, so if you want a upper right point in vertical and a center point when in horizontal when you rotate the lens the point will change to the last one used in that orientation and back again to the original point when rotating it back. It sounds like you weren’t rotating the lens so it’s probably not it but it’s the only thing I can think of. It may also be a combination of the setting being on and a problem with the orientation sensor in the camera. I don’t have that problem with mine, but I’m using an ancient 600 f4 afs without VR

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Nope. The point just keeps moving up and down or side to side and does not stop until I release the half-pressed shutter button πŸ™‚

      with love, artie

  • avatar iak

    it sounds to me like the camera has trouble sensing whether it is in vertical or horizontal orientation, and is switching between the location of the point when oriented vertically, and where the point was last when it was oriented horizontally. this happens to phones as well – most of the time my phone switches screen perspective when i rotate it, but sometimes it gets stuck in vertical orientation for no reason when i’m holding it horizontally.