Troubleshooting Nikon D7000 focus issues and potential solutions

Troubleshooting Nikon D7000 focus issues and potential solutions

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I used to own two Nikon D7000 cameras, and with both, I experienced severe focus issues that would repeatedly result in blurry photos and unusable shots. I had struggled with D7000 focus issues for over a year and wanted to share troubleshooting steps, potential solutions and the ultimate decision to sell both D7000 bodies.

Nikon D7000

I bought the D7000 when I outgrew the D5000, and at the beginning the camera allowed me to take what I considered tack-sharp photos. Of course, as I became more proficient as a photographer, I started noticing that my old photos weren’t as great as I used to think. That’s a normal process as your photography skills improve. But even with the bad pictures, I could identify what was wrong by looking at them. A blurry picture was usually the result of either:

  • Camera Shake
  • Fast moving subject and slow shutter speed
  • Front or back-focus

As I got better, I started investing in more expensive lenses, and I bought a Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 and a Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 lens. Both lenses worked great in the beginning, but at some point, my photos started to come out blurry, and I didn’t understand why.

Shop mentioned products

  • Nikon D7000 (Amazon)
  • Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR AF-S NIKKOR Zoom Lens (Amazon)
  • Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR (Amazon)

Nikon D7000 focus issues

When I first noticed the problem, I thought it was my fault. At the same time, I couldn’t identify the reason of why a given photo was blurry by just looking at it. I had blurry pictures of still subjects where no part of the picture was in focus. That ruled out any back- or front-focus problem. Shutter speed was fast enough too. I was puzzled and started playing with the autofocus fine-tuning settings but to no avail. I noticed that the focus issues were most severe with the expensive f/2.8 lenses, so I figured they had to be at fault.

So I decided to send the two lenses to Nikon for inspection and repair. In the meantime, I ordered a second Nikon D7000 body from Amazon, so I could definitively rule out my D7000 body as the cause. When Nikon sent back both lenses, I tested them with both bodies. To my surprise, both D7000 bodies produced out-of-focus images.

Troubleshooting steps to resolve focus problems

I spent a lot of time trying to find the cause of the focus issues I had with the D7000 and my lenses. The initial troubleshooting steps I took included:

  • Updated camera firmware
  • Reset camera to factory settings
  • Tried different lenses
  • Used tripod and remote shutter release to prevent camera shake
  • Changed autofocus fine tuning settings

Needless to say, none of the above fixed the focus issues and I got desperate. Then I found a local Nikon camera repair shop, which is owned by a Korean guy who seemed to have a wealth of experience with Nikon cameras. So in a last attempt to figure out what was causing my focus issues, I took test pictures and documented my process before dropping both D7000 bodies and all lenses off at the repair shop.

D7000 focus issues test setup

I reset one of the D7000 bodies to factory settings, mounted the camera on a Gitzo tripod with a “Really Right Stuff” ball head and attached the 70-200mm lens. Then I switched to Aperture Priority Mode (f/2.8), plugged in the cable release and shot a frame of flowers standing on a table about 20 feet away from the camera.

No part of the above photo was in focus, and so I took all the equipment to the Camera Service Company, an authorized Nikon repair shop in the area. I showed them my pictures, explained what I did and handed over my equipment. Two days later I got a call from them telling me that repairing the bodies would cost $145 each. I agreed and waited for another week or so. Then I got another call saying that the bodies were ready but the two lenses needed adjustment as well. They quoted $130 for each. I told them that I just got the lenses back from Nikon and if there is anything wrong with them I’d return them to Nikon since they were still both under a 5-year warranty. They put me on hold for a moment and then offered to repair them free of charge.

An almost perfect solution

I was quite happy and drove up there later that afternoon to pick up my equipment. I talked to the owner who has been running the repair shop for 45 years. He explained to me that both bodies and both lenses were misaligned and that it took them two days to adjust every focal length and then pick an average that would give me good focus on any focal length. We took a couple of test shots, and all of them were perfectly in focus.

Back at home, I took a couple of more test shots, and it appeared as if the focus issues had finally been resolved. The picture below was taken at f/2.8 and 1/500sec shutter speed, hand-held, and with manual focusing.  It is certainly not a tack-sharp image given my shaky hand and inexperience with manual focusing, but it’s still a massive improvement over what it used to be.

Troubleshooting Nikon D7000 focus issues

Over the course of the next few weeks and months, some of the focus issues returned. I noticed that when I switched lenses between the two D7000 bodies. When the Camera Service Company fine-tuned and aligned the lenses and bodies, they did that for specific body/lens combinations. As a result, my first D7000 body would work best with my 70-200mm lens and my second D7000 body would work best with my 24-70mm lens. I also noticed that the focus was better at certain focal lengths than others. In my opinion, a photographer shouldn’t have to struggle with the equipment as much as I, and many other users, have. In the end, I lost confidence in the D7000 and sold both bodies as well as the lenses. I have since become an avid iPhone photographer. With the iPhone, I at least know the reason when a photo turns out blurry.

Do you own a D7000? If so, have you struggled with focus issues? Let me know by leaving a comment below!

  • Hans Mops says:

    Hallo Michael, ein sehr interessanter Artikel. Habe ähnliche Erfahrungen. Bitte was ist aus der Nachbesserung geworden? Zeichnet die Kamera nun scharf?
    Berichte doch bitte weiter, wenn möglich mache ein ähnliches Foto –
    Danke für Deine Mühe

  • Andrew [email protected] Pen says:

    Zeichnet die Kamera nun scharf? Berichte doch bitte weiter, wenn möglich mache ein ähnliches Foto – Danke für Deine Mühe

    • Kamera zeichnet nun scharf – zumindest schärfer als zuvor. Mit der 24-70mm f/2.8 kann ich immer noch eine leichte unschärfer im 24-30mm Bereich erkennen aber lt. Nikon Techniker wird eine variable Zoomlinse nie über die gesamte Bandbreite gleich scharf sein.

  • Aljoša says:

    I think that you can do it by yourself for free. Just adjust the ‘AF fine tune’ on D7000.

    There’s a lot of youtube tutorials.

    • I tried the fine tune but unfortunately it didn’t help in my case. The Nikon technician spent 3 days manually tuning both lenses and body and that finally did the trick.

  • Matias says:

    I’ve had my D7000 for less than 2 years, and until yesterday, it had never given me any problems. But when I went out
    to photograph the Calbuco volcano’s eruption, the autofocus started to die on me. At the beginning it did focus, but it
    gradually started failing to attain focus. Now it’s just dead, doesn’t work at all. I’ve tried everything, cleaning the
    connectors, installing the latest firmware, doing a hard reset on the camera… but nothing. Any idea of what may have caused this Hans?
    Thank you very much.

  • Peter says:

    I followed a recommendation from Youtube. I switched to ‘P’ Modus, then Menu: Setup menu – AF Fine Tune – It was off. I put it on ON and manual corrected the ‘saved value’ for attached lens AF-S Nikkor 18-200mm 1:3.5-5.6 G ED to: -20 (Default 0) and hit the OK button (not menu, not info). Much better result when you zoom in. I will try on to change the ‘saved value’ between 0 and -20 to get best results. Liked to share my findings.

  • Radboud says:

    Hello, I have troubles with the focus part of NikonD7000 as well, starting at some point where the focus wasn’t working always, turnfinale into a not working focus at all.
    Seems to me that there is a problem with the focus engine, inside the body.
    Body is about 3 years old

  • Phil C says:

    D7200 is just as bad, I bought mine and two lenses in the last year. It is a pile of rubbish wish I had never bought a Nikon and won’t touch one again.

  • Arghya Adhikary says:

    When I focusing manually, the images come sharp but switching to AF mode results soft images. No clue at all. I used Nikkor 18-140, Nikkor 105 2.8 VR and 35 f1.8.

  • Maryanne Innes says:

    I have had continual focus problems with the Nikon D7000 for the last two years. I bought the camera about 6 months after it came out in the US and was very happy with it for over a year and a half. When it first started producing soft and very out of focus pictures I sent both the camera and 2 lenses into Nikon repair. They came back focusing but within a couple of months the focusing issues returned and now I cannot depend on the D7000 to focus sharply with any of the 5 Nikkor lenses I own. If I didn’t have so much money in Nikkor lenses I would switch to another manufacturer.

  • Sanjeev Chandra says:

    Wow. This conversation is an eye opener for me.
    I’ve had a D 7000 since 2011 and for the last couple of years have been struggling to get sharp pictures.
    I blamed my technique and the lenses for the lack of sharpness
    (I use Nikon’s 24-70 & 70-200 f 2.8 lenses).
    Never considered the body to be a problem.
    I’m gonna check out the YouTube video and fine tune function.
    If that doesn’t work, off goes the camera to the service centre … thanks everyone.

  • Jacqui Adams says:

    As you said Sanjeev, this really is an eye opener, I thought it was something I was doing wrong, or blaming my lenses. A friend mentioned to me that she’d heard about focusing issues with the D7000 so I looked it up and found this thread. It’s a relief to know it’s not me after all (well maybe the odd shot!) I’ve been deliberating a new camera anyhow so this has made my mind up for me.

  • Kelly p says:

    This is a shocking read how many problems people are having with this camera, I was thinking it was me at first but after getting great shots still on my 12 yr old d200 thought I’d Google the problem and it’s sad that such a costly camera is not so great after a while, mine was 6 months old when this started happening but assumed it was me so never used the warranty.

  • Ata says:

    Same problem here, i have been using this camera since 2011 and got sharp photos, i had a trip to russia recently, when i was back home and checked all the photos i disapointed that i found out some of my photos were blurry.

    i also bought Reikan Focal software wich is so useful to adjust the lens but after the adjustment
    the problem came back. i found the problem must be from camera, not lenses.

    i used 16-85 lens and by this article i was sure that the problem is camera.

    thanks for sharing your experience.

  • laura says:

    Guess I’m going to read about fine tuning because I’m about to cry!! I can’t suck that bad hand holding and this camera seems to take forever to focus. When it does, all my wildlife bird in flight shots are slightly off. It’s really frustrating. The only time I get tack sharp is if I’m right there with my 150-600 lens and the subject isn’t moving. It’s horrible.

  • HM says:

    I had same problem, But till i didn’t do any think.

  • Emeline Shummon says:

    Whoa.

  • Geoff Hunt says:

    I have exactly the same problem with my D7000. I have had the lens sent back twice but now I realize that the body is the issue.
    I have the setting to take photo upon focus only and MANY photos are entirely out of focus even with fast shutter speed.

  • Janet Shutt says:

    Oh my goodness I am so happy to have found your post. I’m super frustrated. I missed pi tures of my sons prom and daughters graduation from the focus issue. Ill save myself money and sell it. Can’t thank you enough for posting your issues.

  • Egill Masson says:

    Same problem here. All of a sudden after several years use. Tried fine tuning, had it serviced, finally gave up on it. The body is gathering dust today.

  • Jeffrey says:

    I’m having the same issue, and being as I have so much invested in Nikkor lenses the question is what camera body should one switch over to?

  • Diann says:

    I am SO happy I found this post!! I was a professional photographer for over a decade and, feel I have lost my passion for photography with my (forced) conversion to digital. I have owned several digital Nikon bodies, and none have been able to give me the sharpness I was used to with my film camera. I have especially struggled with my current camera, which is the D7000. I have also been thinking it was just me…maybe my eyesight is bad, or I’m shaking the camera? It’s been driving me crazy, to the point that I don’t shoot anymore and I have been thinking about selling off all of my equipment! Now that I know that this is a common issue with the D7000, I might trade it in for something more reliable and continue pursuing my passion. Thanks so much, Michael!

    • Susan says:

      Although I am not a professional photographer – I deem myself pretty good – or at least I used to – I could have written your post myself. Now I have to research which new one to get. :)

  • GL says:

    Thanks for this post. Same story… owned a D7000 for about 4 years, and same soft-focus issues as previous comments. Thought it was me. About 2 years ago got a Fuji X100T and it was like night and day. More color, razor-sharp focus, and comparing shots from the two is unmistakeable. The D7000 is inferior… if not actually malfunctioning. Pretty close to junking it- I couldn’t unload this on anyone with a clear conscience.

  • Joost van de Griendt says:

    Hm… Owner of an D7100.
    And bought al some lenseses.(35mm 1.8, 50mm 1.8, 70-300, 150-600). Some work, others don’t.
    Somteimes sharp, other focal length blurry.
    Not making photos for a while. A bit sick of it.
    I’m glad to read that it’s not me what causes the problem.

    Maybe going back to Olympus

  • jhomer says:

    Ugh… I have the same lenses and have all but given up on being a photographer wanna-be and have even reverted to my iPhone for important photos because I can’t trust I’ll get a sharp image on the Nikon D7000. Seems my best option is to junk the D7000 and go with another Nikon Body… Any recommendations for low light, indoor, and sport speed photos?

  • William says:

    Same problem here. Ruined a bunch of pictures of my recent vacation in the Wild West. I’m thinking about going back to my old Fuji FinePix S2 Pro. :-(

  • Jacquie Tracy says:

    SAME problems! I haven’t picked up my camera in a LONG time & ready to give up! Every camera shop says it’s user error! I don’t know how to fix the problem! ?

  • Deafwing says:

    Omg been dealing with this for years … After taking classes …shooting with pure instructions and watching others get better shots than me … ??? …omg thank you for this … Selling

  • Sarah says:

    Woah, so happy I found this post, been wondering why with fast shutter speeds I just can’t get pin sharp moving images. Played with a friends canon 600d recently doing the same type of shots and you guessed it, the images were sharp. I had thought maybe my skills were getting rusty and it was really putting me off getting the camera out. Don’t get me started on low light photos with the d7000….i mainly use 18-105 lens. Another photographer did say it could be the lens causing the issue. I’m looking at upgrading to D500 or D610.

  • judy Samad says:

    Same problem with the Nikon D 7000. I spent $250 in antelope canyon photography tour on a tripod my camera would never focus thank god for my samsung in pro mode got some amazing photos. My D 40 works better. Time to sell.

  • Lynnea Parker says:

    Your D7000 story sounds like a nightmare! I was an avid photographer until I upgraded from a D90 to the D7000. I got it as a graduation present. About 6 months in I really started noticing that only 1 in 30 shots would have an acceptable focus. I was always puzzled, because I often was shooting in ideal conditions (e.g., shutter speed was high, and the camera would indicate the focus was locked on the target). Getting home and seeing how none of my photos were acceptable was an ongoing disappointment. I eventually took the body and my favorite lens (120-400mm f4-5.6 sigma) to a repair shop. I was told the lens was the problem and it would have to be shipped out. I ended up selling it for dirt cheap because I was going on a trip and needed something asap. Turns out this was a foolish decision, as results didn’t change. I had given away my 400mm lens (which I had just replaced the auto focus motor in a year earlier) for no reason. This was pretty devastating for me, as I don’t have a lot of money and it was a big purchase decision. At the time, about 3 years ago, there was not much help for me on the internet so I quit photography altogether. I bought a point and shoot and played with that for a few years. I am still stuck with the D7000 and don’t know what to do with it. I guess I can sell it for a couple hundred now and try to start over. I’m really wanting to get back into photography, but i’m having a hard time trusting Nikon, especially any of the D7000 series models.

  • RSV says:

    Struggling with the same problem here for more than 5 years, I also have two D7000 bodies and both have focus problems (one more than the other). Any picture with apperture bellow 4 can be a problem, not even the minus 20 on fine tuning can solve the problem. (Both bodies are front focusing).
    My old D40 never had any problem with the nikon 35mm 1.8, always had pretty sharp pictures with it, also the skin colors were much more natural then with any D7000.

  • Sean says:

    So my D7000 is spot on with my Nikkor 35mm 1.8D, 50mm 1.7G, and 55-200 lenses. This also includes my Tokina 12-24 f/4 lens. Sharp as can be. This was after I manually adjusted the front/back focus.

    With my Nikkor 24-85 and Sigma 28-70 full frames, I cannot for the life of me get these lenses adjusted and I was really looking forward to using the focal lengths as an all around one lens solution on specific trips. I know these lenses are in focus because my Nikon D70 is sharp with both of these (including all the rest). I’ve also tested the 24-85 and 28-70 on my film N80 camera and sharp there as well.

    So now, what do I do? Is it just hopeless for these two? Very frustrating!

  • Dave Pinnington says:

    Like a lot of the stories above I have two Nikon D7000’s and have experienced all the same issues over the last 5-7yrs. Reading on the Nikon forums these models are known to have focus issues that are specific to this model of camera and no solution seems to be available. I have taken around 150,000 photos with each camera to date some of the photos have been perfect then on other occasions all have been unusable. I am a sports photographer and am now looking at changing models possible reverting back to Canon or going with another Nikon but will check every review possible before purchasing.

  • Susan says:

    Just like most people here – I thought the issue was me – and let it erode my confidence as a photographer – and I was so excited when I got this camera and now I don’t take photos anymore. I never used the warranty and it sounds like the repairs don’t work too well anyway. Is it safe to say, the lens that came with it is ok? Or are the lens bad too? Thanks for your post. :)

  • Angela says:

    Same problem with D7200, so many lost shots. Now looking at replacing the camera. For the first time ever, replacement may not be a Nikon

  • Bob says:

    Thank you for a very eye opening post!

    Add me to the list. I loved my D7000, used it hiking all over and won’t deny it got hard use, resulting in a sticking on/off switch and the casing around the battery door held together with hot melt glue. Having suffered my anything for the shot mentality I could hardly blame the camera. Obviously I needed a tough build, so I replaced it with a D500. All my lenses that get the same general abuse are fine. In retrospect, I suspect that my D7000 suffered the same flaw as all the others. It was a great camera when it worked. I hope the same issues don’t appear on the D500!

  • Thomas says:

    I got same af problem with d7000 even with af fine tune -20 with my two lens 35mm 1.8g and 50mm 1.8g. Not sure what to do with the camera.

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