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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.
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.
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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!