We all rightly assume that if you spend a considerable amount of money on a piece of photographic kit be it camera body or a lens (or both) it should produce “acceptable” results out of the box right, especially when it is pro kit like the Nikon D850 and 400mm 2.8! We also assume that spending a considerable amount on a “Pro” spec lens will ensure greater consistency and thus better quality than say a less expensive pro consumer lens.
From our experience here at Cameracal we are only too aware that this far from the case.
Last week one of our regular clients Raj contact us with a problem he was experiencing with his recently purchased kit. Raj had recently changed over from a Canon 5D Mk IV and a sleuth of lenses to a Nikon D850 and a recently acquired  AF-S 400mm F2.8. This combo was purchased primary to capture wildlife images on safari in Africa.
Having heard good things about the Nikon D850 Raj was rightly expecting great things and understandably assumed that from the cost of the 400mm F2.8 it should be spot on out the box.However, after using it on a trip he was disappointed to find this was not the case as all images captured with this combo were totally soft and completely unusable.

Is it me? Is it my technique?

We all know changing systems can mean a “learning curve” and a period of adjustment. Add to the fact that using a high pixel monster like the Nikon D850 leaves little room for error.
Although Raj had previously had his Canon kit calibrated with us he rightly assumed that an expensive lens such as the 400mm F2.8 would not need to be calibrated and that is should be “right” out of the box. The images it produced though were so bad that he assumed the lens might be faulty.

Nikon Servicing

So after a conversation with Nikon  and after sending some images for evaluation, he was advised that the camera lens combination was indeed problematic and that it was evident that the camera / lens was back focusing. It was suggested he should  return both his camera and lens to the service department for them to correct. This was duly done and the brand new Nikon D850 and 400mm 2.8 was returned with appropriate documentation. Lens and camera were returned and advised that it had been checked and calibrated. Job done?
With his confidence restored Raj booked another safari confident that the results would now be “spot” on and the equipment perform to its price tag…
HOWEVER, the results were still disappointing again to the point of being unusable. Enough was enough, he had by this time understandably lost total faith and decided to sell his equipment, after all if Nikon couldn’t fix the equipment who could?
BUT before doing so he decided to contact us to see if we could help.

At Cameracal

So what did our investigations find??
The Nikon D850 and 400mm 2.8 lens were indeed problematic, and the calibration results deemed that said combo was indeed back focusing and that a correction of -16 was required. Note that is after Nikon servicing had just calibrated the equipment!
Lens Calibration Nikon D850 +400mm F2.8
Lens Calibration Nikon D850 +400mm F2.8
The corresponding Post Calibration Test Images resulted in tack sharp images, even when text from our calibration target was enlarged to 200%..
Lens Calibration Nikon D850 +400mm F2.8
Lens Calibration Nikon D850 +400mm F2.8

So the moral of the story…

Do not assume that the more expensive “PRO” series like the Nikon D850 + 400mm 2.8 do not need calibration. We have found that in over 3 years of calibrating cameras and lenses the vast majority if not ALL lenses require calibration…
Also do not assume the camera manufactures offer the best service..
For Raj’s own personal account on this please refer to the following link –
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