Nikon D7000 back focus fix

Back focus testing
No front or back focus problems here!

Many Nikon D7000 users have recently been complaining about back focus problems. If you’re one of them, not to worry, there is a fix.

It may seem that the “problem” lies on the D7000 cameras, however do a Google search for “back focus problems” and you’ll quickly see that people have been complaining about this since the early 2000’s. In the case of the Nikon D7000, the issue is no different than any other DSLR, the lens is focusing behind the main subject.

The reason some users experience this and others don’t has more to do with lens type and a user’s tolerance level. By tolerance, I mean the ability to see it in the everyday photos they take. If you’re unable to see it during regular use, is it really a problem? Probably not. For others, this may not be the case.

Here is the fix to the back focus issue. Like most modern DSLR’s the Nikon D7000 allows for AF Fine Tuning, giving you the option to adjust the focus point forward or back for all your lenses (up to 12 lenses). Here are the steps.

First, visit Jeffrey Friedl’s blog on using his Autofocus Test Chart. It’s all free and includes a calibration graph to conduct the test. This will tell you if and how much front or back focus adjustment your camera needs for the different lenses you use.

Second, once you conduct the test go to your Setup Menu on your camera and choose the option AF Fine Tune. On your user manual for the D7000 (English edition) it’s on page 246. Its default is set to OFF, change it to ON. Then adjust the focal point toward your camera (-1,-2, etc) to fix the back focus. Or adjust the focal point away from the camera (+1,+2, etc) to fix any front focus.



Finally, press the OK button to save the setting for each lens, and that’s it!

The camera will recall each setting once you attach your lenses. You can also turn this feature on or off without losing the settings.

Hope this helps, especially those with a Nikon D7000 looking for a fix to the back focus issue.

UPDATE: I want to update the readers that there is another option for fixing the back focus on the D7000. Using the LensAlign or SpyderLensCal Lens Calibration Systems can be more accurate. So if the above method does not fix your problem, these two systems may fix your back focus problem. Those however are not free but will cost about $50-$80. Thanks to several readers for these recommendations.

One additional note, don’t confuse soft focus with back focus. That is a seperate issue that requires a different fix.


39 thoughts on “Nikon D7000 back focus fix

  • avatar
    April 2, 2011 at 4:46 pm
    Permalink

    Thanks for the article and link to download the AF test chart. I just got the D7000 and it seems to have some back focus issues. It seems worse with larger apertures, especially on my 50mm f/1.4 set at f/2.0. Hopefully the AF fine tune can fix this issue.

    Reply
    • avatar
      April 2, 2011 at 7:18 pm
      Permalink

      I would suggest doing the AF test chart, then use some real life situations to verify the test. You can do a simple test by shooting at a flat box with text on it, use a tripod, then stand a small AAA battery in front of the box. Focus on the battery text wide open, in your case 1.4. Get as close as your lens allows you to. Battery text should be in focus and not the box.

      Now, don’t confuse backfocus with softfocus. With some lenses, I’ve seen the D7000 produce softfocus when wide open, but this has too do more with cramming so many pixels in a small sensor. Good luck, and if it does not produce images to your liking, return, asap.

      Reply
      • avatar
        December 3, 2011 at 5:59 am
        Permalink

        So if half of your shots are in focus, when you are used to performing better than that, is it time to calibrate?

        Reply
        • avatar
          December 3, 2011 at 9:12 am
          Permalink

          If half of the shots are out of focus and you’re confident it isn’t user error, I would say it’s time to take your D7000 into Nikon.

          Reply
  • avatar
    July 16, 2011 at 1:01 pm
    Permalink

    it is not that simple! you omit to mention that AF fine tune will solve the issue only for lens with fixed focal length. For zoom lens you have to set different value for each focal length, which can be very tricky. I do have D7000 and do have back focus problem and it is not easy to get the focus right.

    Reply
  • avatar
    November 15, 2011 at 8:02 pm
    Permalink

    Tergie is correct. I just ran some test shots with my new D7000 and new nikkor 70-200 VRII and I needed a -1 offset to fix focus issues at the 70mm end and I needed a -17 offset to fix the severe back focus issue at the 200mm end.

    I am worried about sending my D7000 body in to Nikon with just my 70-200 because even if they correct the body for this lens, will the adjustments made throw off my focus with my nikkor 24-120 F4 that is working fairly well with current focus points???

    Man, this sucks…

    Reply
    • avatar
      January 12, 2012 at 8:27 am
      Permalink

      No because the camera identifies each lens separately with it’s own adjust preset. It’s neither the lens or the body, it’s the communication between the two.

      Reply
    • avatar
      May 20, 2012 at 5:57 am
      Permalink

      Absolutely the same problem with me! Before the focus with all my lenses was bad, only the 70-200 was perfec every time, I took it to Nikon service here in Chicago, now all other lenses perform fairly ok but the 70-200 is ok at 70and terrible at 200 if I want a sharp photo I need to use live view and I hate that !

      Reply
  • avatar
    December 5, 2011 at 11:15 am
    Permalink

    I’m really sorry to see misinformation here. The angled AF test chart is exactly the kind of chart we see used inaccurately. The angle is great for measuring the direction and magnitude of focus errors – if you achieve focus. The problem is a small straight line on a test chart is a poor focus target. You want a cleaner AF target than a small line and you want it to be perpendicular to the camera. Alignment is best confirmed with a mirror but there are other options. Take a look at the LensAlign system for a test system that includes both a focus target and an angled measure.

    Reply
    • avatar
      December 8, 2011 at 5:41 pm
      Permalink

      I’m not sure there is “misinformation” here as this seems to be one of several options for the fix. The LensAlign system is a great tool to use, but you fail to mention that it costs over $80. However, if one does want to use the LensAlign system, it’s better to rent it than to buy it. You can rent the tool for a week and it will cost you only $15 at Borrowlenses. Here’s the link to the tool: http://www.borrowlenses.com/product/calibrators/LensAlign_Pro?blpid=4e2bab8a62f46

      Reply
  • avatar
    December 15, 2011 at 3:05 pm
    Permalink

    I’m struggling with this right now. I had a D50 and a D90 with flawless auto-focus. I’ve had my D7000 for over 6 months now and all the joy of using my camera has been taken from my by severe autofocus issues. When I try to use my better glass this gets even worse due to the short DoF when wide open. I’m ready to send the body back to Nikon to be fixed and I’m wishing returning it was an option.

    Reply
    • avatar
      December 15, 2011 at 3:19 pm
      Permalink

      If the issue is a problem with the autofocus then that is different from back-focus. But either way, if anyone is having problems with either, I suggest you send it back to Nikon before your warranty runs out. Personally I have a different theory for some of the issues regarding the D7000 back focus claims. But that’s for another day. Good luck, and I can understand your frustration when a product does not live up to ones expectations.

      Reply
      • avatar
        December 16, 2011 at 9:11 am
        Permalink

        The symptom I see is back focus with wide aperture.. that doesn’t mean that’s the entire issue, but obviously when aperture isn’t wide open there is more tolerance. I’m not a super experienced photographer so its just frustrating to get a much nicer camera and have most of my photos turn out terrible. 🙁

        Reply
  • avatar
    December 19, 2011 at 3:38 pm
    Permalink

    I have used a D-90 and I just loved the results. I thought I was upgrading when i purchased the D7000 but the overall results are just not that great. there certainly is a focus issue here and its about time Nikon owned up to it, they need to come out and have a recall on the D7000. In a comparison test with the D90 and the D7000 I had the exact same settings, same subject, same distance and the clarity of the D90 was far suppior to what the D7000 was able to do. There is a flaw and all D-7000 owners should begin calling Nikon and demanding a recall. Its broken they should fix it. Comeon everyone we need to start hounding them, they cannot get away with this. Look them up on line get the contact number and start calling. Do you know someone with another Nikon DSLR, set up the test and see for yourself. Never mind listening to these online tech people saying there is nothing wrong it must be the user, BULL*%$%*%. Now get to it test it out and then start calling.

    Reply
    • avatar
      December 19, 2011 at 7:43 pm
      Permalink

      One of the reasons I wrote the article was based on the increase number of people I noticed having an issue with blurred or back focus on the D7000. The article does not say there is or isn’t an issue with back focus, only that a user’s tolerance level to some degree of back focus may (and I stress may) be helped if they calibrate the auto focus fine tuning. However, I agree with you that if all your images (or the majority) of your images have worse results than your D90, then there is something wrong with your D7000 and Nikon should admit to it and fix the problem.

      I was recently at the Nikon Service Center in El Segundo California, I asked the service tech there about the back focus on the D7000. He said it was more prone on the D700. I actually don’t believe that, why? Because this post is one of my more trafficked articles on this site, so I know others are having this issue. But back to the service tech, he told me what is an issue are the oil spots on the sensor. These spots can only be seen on low light long exposure images. But he told me it did not have it. But I’m pretty sure it does.

      However, since I don’t take those type of pictures, that didn’t bother me. This is what I mean in the article by tolerance level. I haven’t experienced back focus problems with my camera, but that does not mean that my D7000 doesn’t have that problem. It could be that it’s back focusing, but with the type of photography I do, I’m not noticing it.

      Finally, I agree with you that if anyone is having issues with back focusing on the D7000, they should start calling Nikon asap or if its still within the 30 day warranty, get an exchange or refund.

      Reply
      • avatar
        February 22, 2012 at 7:31 pm
        Permalink

        I took my D7000 to the El Segundo service center a week ago for this reason. I asked if there was a problem with the D7000 and the girl at the counter said no (but) she said she can only say there is a problem when Nikon says there’s one. They adjusted both autofocus on body and 2 lenses but still the pix are not as sharp as the D90 I had.

        Reply
    • avatar
      February 16, 2012 at 5:30 am
      Permalink

      I just realized the other day that i have this same exact issue. At first i thought i had a bad copy of 24-70 f2.8 but after testing all my other lenses I realized that it was the d7000. I started doing some research and found a post that said that the Nikon technician told him to do a factory reset on his d7000 by pressing two buttons marked with a small green dot and he claims it fixxed the backfocus problem. I tried it and it did not work but i did not give up. i kept trying different combination and finaly was able to resolve the issue and here is what i did. I reset the menu system to all default settings. Then i turned off the camera and while off i pressed the two green buttons at the same time. Holding it down as i use another finger to turn the camera on. The camera will blink after two seconds and i shut it back off after whuile still holding down the button…. book its done!!!! Try it before sending your camera to nikon.

      Reply
      • avatar
        February 22, 2012 at 3:46 pm
        Permalink

        I have to say that pressing the two buttons marked with a small green dot fixed my back focus problem! thanks for the help!

        Reply
      • avatar
        February 29, 2012 at 1:15 pm
        Permalink

        this advice that Nikon technician supposedly said reminds me of the IT Crowd’s “have you tried turning it off an on again?” Technicians simply assume we messed up, so first they let us do a reset before they even bother to think about what the issue might be. If the reset works, good for you, probably you made some adjustments to focus settings which led to wrong focus and that disappeared after the reset.

        No intention to ridicule anyone, this is simply what I think. Of course I tried resets and firmwares before I acknowledged that I have a backfocus issue. It is not a software thing, as I browse the forums, the only way how to fix this is mechanical calibration.

        You can work with AF fine tune and large DOF to avoid the backfocus, I do this temporarily until I find the right time to send it for calibration, which is about now. Will post an update once I get it back.

        Reply
  • avatar
    December 21, 2011 at 1:10 am
    Permalink

    I’ve had my d7000 for two weeks now, as soon as I got it I’ve been exclusively using my 50mm with an sb600 flash. Pictures of my daughter didn’t show the same level of detail I was seeing with my d70 and to be honest I was really disappointed ( it was difficult to justify spending this much on a new camera only to find it performing so badly ). A lot of the shots had her eyes quite soft, the dof is very shallow when shooting portraits at 1.8, I never had this problem with the d70. The shots would show the focus just behind her eyes, the hair on her head would be in focus and sharp and her eyes out 🙁 Then I played with the fine tune, turned it up to +20 and down to -20, on -20 the shots I am taking now are a joy, eyes look stunning and I am feeling much happier. I have other lenses I haven’t tried yet, a Tamron macro and a 18-200vr and hope the fine tune works with those too It would appear that this issue exists for me and just claiming user error really pisses me off.

    Reply
  • avatar
    December 26, 2011 at 12:21 pm
    Permalink

    I use my D7000 for sports pics. I heard some people had backfocus, but I must be honest, I haven’t found that my D7000 has this problem. I know others suggest I test mine, but I really don’t see the point my pictures are fine. I’m more concerned about lenses than I am about camera bodies, but that’s just me.

    Reply
    • avatar
      December 26, 2011 at 12:55 pm
      Permalink

      Yup, some folks may not know how to use a camera with so many options. I vote for user error.

      Reply
    • avatar
      December 26, 2011 at 1:24 pm
      Permalink

      Testing a camera for backfocus needs some skill. Although the steps shown here may help some, its best to get a trained tech to do it right. Otherwise you’ll most likely get what you’re looking for even if it doesnt have it.

      Reply
  • avatar
    January 22, 2012 at 6:58 am
    Permalink

    This is great but does one do if 20 clicks in AF tune is not enough?

    Reply
    • avatar
      January 22, 2012 at 10:02 am
      Permalink

      Seems to me that if you need more than 20 clicks, you should have returned the camera within the first 30 days of your purchase for an exchange. And if you waited longer than that you can still print a picture showing the backfocus (20 clicks is very noticeable) and send it back to Nikon within the warranty period. If you waited more than a year, then obviously it was not a problem to start with! Probably only a problem until you heard others complaining about it. Just my two cents.

      Reply
  • avatar
    January 25, 2012 at 1:58 pm
    Permalink

    I know three camera operators who have the Nikon D7000, they all back focus, or just slightly out of focus, I have used all three.

    The normal user will not totally catch the focus issue until, they take their D7000 out of AF-A focus, and switch it to AF-S focus, this will give you the most accurate AF system possible to test with. (make sure you have enough light and a fast shutter speed)This will also give you the ability later to check your exact focus point on your computer when using Nikon NX2 viewer, using focus point icon,

    You must view it in the Nikon NX2 viewer, picture download, and editing program, the disk that comes with your D7000.

    When you review your photos in NX2 program, and select the focus point icon at the top, you will then see exactly where you wanted the focal point to be, zoom in on your focus point, (tool in the upper right corner), and my guess, your D7000 is out of focus.

    Nikon is predicting that you wont do a thing about it, that you will second guess your abilities, that you will lay down, and be to embarrassed to speak up in the case that you are wrong.

    Stand up for your self, you paid to much for that new Nikon D7000 for it not to be working right, even if your outside your warranty, demand costumer satisfaction, and do not let them give you the runaround.

    Contact Nikon:

    Nikon
    841 Apollo Street, Suite 100, El Segundo, CA 90245-4721,
    New Phone 310-414-8107

    It is time that Nikon recalls the D7000

    Reply
  • avatar
    January 29, 2012 at 2:19 pm
    Permalink

    I have had a D7000 for a couple of weeks and have noticed that the soft focus/back focus issue varies with not only the lens, but also within various focal lengths of telephoto lenses.

    I clearly have a back focus/soft focus issue with a 50mm 1.4G prime. This should be an easy fix with the AF fine tune (thanks, BTW!!). Although highly annoyed, I am OK with fixing this myself.

    However, I have found that with an 18-200mm telephoto, the details and contrast are superb at 18mm focal length, while at higher focal lengths, the same issue applies as with the prime. Therefore, I am tentative to AF fine tune as I want to make sure that I do not compromise the high quality at lower focal length to fix the issue at higher focal length.

    Any thoughts (besides calling Nikon)?

    Thanks.

    Reply
    • avatar
      April 25, 2012 at 5:24 pm
      Permalink

      Not sure if you have tried to fix using AF Fine Tune yet.

      The great thing about the D7000 is that you can set AF Fine Tune for multiple lenses. Once you turn AF Fine Tune ON, then the camera recognizes the lens. In the AF Fine Tune menu, go to “List Saved Values” — you have up to 12 lenses to adjust. If you adjust once, then the settings are memorized for each lens.

      The bad thing about the D7000 is that it does have focus issues. I have the same issue and my 18-200mm seems to be perfect sharp at various stops. However, both high end primes are not only soft wide open, you can clearly see that the softness is not related to the aperture — most often than not there is an area outside of the focus point that is tack sharp while the focus point is blurry.

      I sent my first D7000 back to the shop and the second one is just not fun as I have to worry about focus all the time. Thinking about sending this one back too.

      Reply
  • avatar
    February 7, 2012 at 6:41 pm
    Permalink

    May the deity of your choice smile favorably upon you, my friend!! I even took my camera to a reputable full-service shop and they said there was no problem. I’m now at a -20!!!! No problem? At least I’m getting focused subjects now!

    Reply
  • avatar
    May 24, 2012 at 11:56 am
    Permalink

    Nikon’s technical support and attitude is beyond disgusting, especially when you are paying for it when you buy USA products. Everyone having this problem, and Nikon does not instruct you how to fix it, (assuming the fix described below works for you) should demand an exchange or refund. If those stuck up morons at Nikon refuse to take care of the problem, call your credit card company and demand a refund on your purchase. The only way to get a companies attention today is to hit them in the pocket book. The place you bought the camera from should be involved in resolving this for you too. Oh, how I wish, that back in the 80’s when I started collecting Nikon gear that I had made the choice of collecting Canon. I hear they are so much more out to assist and help their customers than Nikon USA.

    Reply
  • avatar
    May 25, 2012 at 9:24 pm
    Permalink

    I had have problems to! first it was back focusing with all my lenses except 70-200 vrii
    I had the body checked and repaired under warranty in a nikon service, now I’m happy with my lenses, but the 70-200 is terrible !
    I tried to fine tune it, but it is only possible for certain lighting conditions and focal lengths, if any of those change, go figure where the focus is?!?
    If I’m using live view-no problem !

    Reply
  • avatar
    June 3, 2012 at 8:28 am
    Permalink

    Just fine-tuned the focus on my D7000 for my 85mm 1.4 and it worked like a charm at -20.

    Reply
  • avatar
    June 20, 2012 at 2:39 pm
    Permalink

    I have an annoying back focus problem with my D7000 with the 50mm f/1.8G lens. I shoot indoor performances with this combo mainly at f/2.8 (without flash) and most of the photos are back focused. I have tried AF fine tuning but the strange thing is that after getting a couple of shots in focused the camera starts to front focus! (switching the camera OFF and back ON in this situation doesn’t help). So, I end up spending a lot of time playing with the AF fine tune during the session to get eventually only a few perfectly focused shots.

    Since I haven’t had similar problems with my zoom lenses (of smaller aperture, of course), I thought that the lens was faulty, so I sent it to Nikon repair centre here in Netherlands (with some sample shots). A couple of days ago I got the lens back with a notice that “we haven’t found any front nor back focus issue. If the problem persists, please send the lens back with the camera body.”

    Before doing it, I will definitely try resetting the D7000 as mentioned below by “pressing two buttons marked with a small green dot”. And I will post an update once I have made some test shots after resetting my D7000.

    Reply
    • avatar
      July 4, 2012 at 9:13 am
      Permalink

      *****UPDATE*****

      Resetting my D7000 did not help, so I sent the body with my 50mm f/1.8G back to Nikon Service with three sample photos.

      Yesterday (after 10 days) I got my D7000 back and a notice came with the camera that the AF had been readjusted. I took quite a bunch of photos in an indoor celebration and now the focus (at f/2.8) is pretty well spot on. (Some shots still come out slightly back focusing, though.) But in general, I am now quite happy with the AF. Thanks Nikon Netherlands!

      The good thing was also that having sent my D7000 to service I had a chance to shoot one happening with D300 which was pretty nice experience: very solid camera with consistent performance.

      Reply
  • avatar
    July 5, 2012 at 4:50 pm
    Permalink

    As a longtime Nikon user, I too have had many focus issues with my new 7k as well. ( less than 3 months old ,mint )
    It first started “hunting” in the autofocus points in the viewfinder while focussing, then it just stopped focussing altogether the day before a big trip to the east coast to shoot Puffins and Whales !! Manual focus for a week with large lens’ was not what I had planned.
    I sent it in to Nikon Canada a week ago, ( sensor and mirror ) fingers crossed it will be fixed and problems resolved. My preference would be a new body not made on a Friday.
    Hope this helps some people who keep thinking it may be something the ” user” is doing wrong. My bet would be 75% plus are technical issues with the body itself.

    Mike

    Reply
  • avatar
    October 25, 2012 at 3:29 am
    Permalink

    Muito obrigado. Resolveu o meu problema. A uso com uma lente 18/135 nikkor e o resultado de foco é impressionante.

    Reply
  • avatar
    February 15, 2013 at 2:30 pm
    Permalink

    OMG thank you 🙂 My newest 7000 was giving me a headache not focusing as cleanly as i wanted it to. Think that AF fine tune just made it so much better!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

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