I set out one evening to see if I could ferret out what causes the autofocus error. Thinking that perhaps some kind of lighting or other factor was involved, I shot a variety of images, but in the end the attempt was futile, my conclusion being that the 24/1.4G simply cannot be trusted for autofocus beyond roughly 30 feet (10 meters) or so.
These examples were taken with the Nikon D3x.
Click to view larger versions and crops.
In this example, autofocus landed right in front of the tripod, about 10 feet away. An abysmal performance.
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