Old 11-02-2015, 10:22 PM   #1
ExNavyDoc
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Default Equipment problem?

Been having an issue getting sharp images in the past month from my Nikon D300 and 17-55 f/2.8.

I have had no problem getting great images from this lens, in fact I think almost all of my shots on RP are with this lens, but I was out a week ago trying to get a few shots with the leaves changing, and ALL of the images were extremely unsharp.

This weekend my wife and I stopped at the Curve for a brief time on our way to a family event, as my wife had never been there before.

Anyway, almost all of my shots from there are significantly blurry, especially along the left edge of the frame. This was both with a Tokina 10-17 f/2.8, and the Nikon 17-55.

17-55:


Focus point here was the center of the frame, basically over the NS logo on the lead unit.

1/400 f/6.3 ISO 1000 Zoom at 19mm

Now, I do have the autofocus de-coupled from the shutter button for shooting sports, but I don't think that should be an issue.

Any thoughts? I should probably clean the contacts on both the body and the lens just to make sure.

My concern is that the AF module in either the camera or lens is going bad. I probably have close to 75k actuations, if not more since I've had this camera.

Thanks!
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Old 11-02-2015, 10:46 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by ExNavyDoc View Post
Been having getting sharp images in the past month from my Nikon D300 and 17-55 f/2.8.

I have had no problem getting great images from this lens, in fact I think almost all of my shots on RP are with this lens, but I was out a week ago trying to get a few shots with the leaves changing, and ALL of the images were extremely unsharp.

This weekend my wife and I stopped at the Curve for a brief time on our way to a family event, as my wife had never been there before.

Anyway, almost all of my shots from there are significantly blurry, especially along the left edge of the frame. This was both with a Tokina 10-17 f/2.8, and the Nikon 17-55.





17-55:


Focus point here was the center of the frame, basically over the NS logo on the lead unit.

1/400 f/6.3 ISO 1000 Zoom at 19mm

Now, I do have the autofocus de-coupled from the shutter button for shooting sports, but I don't think that should be an issue.

Any thoughts? I should probably clean the contacts on both the body and the lens just to make sure.

My concern is that the AF module in either the camera or lens is going bad. I probably have close to 75k actuations, if not more since I've had this camera.

Thanks!
This is kind of hard photo to judge, I'd start out with straight on shot with auto focus, where you get the beep, something with detail you can judge from side to side. Maybe do a camera reset to get rid of some setting you might have on. Starting close in and moving to infinity. I think sometimes people use a brick wall? The example you chose to use has lots of variables at least for me to judge. I see the left side problem but I think it would be hard to judge based on that????? I would take the extreme DOF differences out of the scene, ie what is the focus point?? Like testing anything, remove as many variables as possible.

Bob

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Old 11-02-2015, 11:28 PM   #3
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Bob,

Good idea. I'll take some shots tomorrow in better light; my garage is partly brick.

Also have a soccer game to shoot tomorrow afternoon. I'll see if I have any similar trouble with my 300 f/2.8.
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Old 11-03-2015, 12:43 AM   #4
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There are a number of possibilities here. One is that a leaf was flicking back and forth and engaging the AF with you being unaware. I think that's most likely. Another is that your lens was dropped at some point, but you would likely know that.

The solution is to get rid of as many variables as you can. Put camera on tripod, tape a page from a magazine etc. flat to a wall, align camera so the sensor plane is exactly parallel to the wall. Using AF, take a few shots wide open (this will show any unsharpness most clearly,) and take a few at f8. If unsharp wide open, it's possible your AF needs to be calibrated. If unsharp at f8, you do have a real problem. Do use a tripod as otherwise you're simply testing your ability to hand hold. Do shoot a 2D target such as paper taped to flat wall to cancel out any chance the focus point was placed on a rounded surface.

Finally, try focusing manually just using live view, magnified. This will isolate if you have an AF problem.

Finally (oops I already said that) there is a chance you didn't stop down enough here to get enough DoF. Shooting a 2D target will rule that out. As is, can't really tell anything at all from the shot above--too many variables.


Kent in SD

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Old 11-03-2015, 01:23 AM   #5
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I would say the flange depth is off meaning lens is not the proper distance from the sensor.
Be that as it may, I would suggest sending it to an independent service center for repair. Send both the camera and the lens.
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Old 11-03-2015, 01:29 AM   #6
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What Kent said.... Shoot a page of sharp text vs. a brick wall. With text you'll know what you SHOULD see when you view the image at 100%. Also, remember to turn off VR when shooting off the tripod.

Good luck. I had an AF problem suddenly develop with my D7000 a couple of years ago, and ended up with a lot of very soft images on an expensive charter. I sent the camera back to Nikon and they charged me about $250 (not including my cost for shipping and insurance) to "service" the camera without really ever telling me what they did. It came back working correctly, but I was not happy that they did not reveal the source of the trouble to me.
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Old 11-03-2015, 06:00 PM   #7
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Well, did some testing this morning with 2 different lenses, and there is definitely an autofocus problem.

Talked to a Nikon rep, and the camera will being going in for service this week.

Any advice on the cost-benefit ratio, given that it is nearly 8 years old? At what point is it not worth fixing?

Don't want to be polishing a turd here.

Thanks.
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Old 11-03-2015, 06:47 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by ExNavyDoc View Post
Well, did some testing this morning with 2 different lenses, and there is definitely an autofocus problem.

Talked to a Nikon rep, and the camera will being going in for service this week.

Any advice on the cost-benefit ratio, given that it is nearly 8 years old? At what point is it not worth fixing?

Don't want to be polishing a turd here.

Thanks.
Hi Mike,

Ultimately, I think you need to retire that camera. It's an 8-year old, 12 MP sensor. Even the consumer cameras will run circles around that now from an IQ standpoint. The question is, whether or not you should repair the camera and then sell it, or just junk it. A refurb D300S (newer body) is selling for about $1,100, but you are unlikely to get that. I would get the quote from Nikon and if the price to repair it is over $300-400, I would not waste the money. You would be lucky to recover much more than your additional investment on a resale afterward. You've gotten your money's worth out of it. You can get a NEW D7100 for $800, and that's a 24 MP camera with the most awesome AF frame coverage of any DX camera. It won't shoot 8 FPS (it shoots 6 FPS), and it does not quite have the build quality or the pro interface, but it's an excellent camera and worlds better than what you are shooting. For $300 more, you can get a D7200, which is the latest and greatest DX camera.

I think you did say that all of your lenses were DX lenses....correct? If that is the case, you're pretty much limited to a DX camera as a replacement. Unfortunately, Nikon never really replaced the D300 with another "pro" DX camera.
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Old 11-03-2015, 09:24 PM   #9
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I wouldn't spend more than $200 on a repair for sure. You can get a good condition used D7100 on ebay for ~$550. Doesn't have as high a frame per second shooting NEF, but you can shoot it pretty clean up to ISO 2000 and the resolution is just great! You won't miss your old D300 at all. (I didn't.)


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Old 11-03-2015, 11:48 PM   #10
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What Kent said.... Shoot a page of sharp text vs. a brick wall. With text you'll know what you SHOULD see when you view the image at 100%. Also, remember to turn off VR when shooting off the tripod.

Good luck. I had an AF problem suddenly develop with my D7000 a couple of years ago, and ended up with a lot of very soft images on an expensive charter. I sent the camera back to Nikon and they charged me about $250 (not including my cost for shipping and insurance) to "service" the camera without really ever telling me what they did. It came back working correctly, but I was not happy that they did not reveal the source of the trouble to me.

Wait, your gear comes back repaired but you are not happy?

Did you ask them what they did? In these days of computerized records, it should be easy to get.

I would understand unhappiness if they did not fix it. If it came back fixed I would be relieved and very pleased. I would by only mildly curious what was wrong. In the end, even if it breaks again, it does not really matter. Only thing that matters is that it works when you need it to.
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Old 11-04-2015, 01:40 AM   #11
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Did you ask them what they did? In these days of computerized records, it should be easy to get.
I did, and they quoted the little piece of paper that was included with the camera that pretty much said "serviced." It was as if it were none of my business. Of course, they realize, as do all companies, that the more they tell the customer, the greater the likelihood that the customer will use the information against them somehow. I see it in my day job all the time.
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Old 11-04-2015, 04:06 AM   #12
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I did, and they quoted the little piece of paper that was included with the camera that pretty much said "serviced." It was as if it were none of my business.
If the "service" was nothing more than a module swap, maybe they had no idea what part failed.
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Old 11-04-2015, 04:11 AM   #13
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I did, and they quoted the little piece of paper that was included with the camera that pretty much said "serviced." It was as if it were none of my business. Of course, they realize, as do all companies, that the more they tell the customer, the greater the likelihood that the customer will use the information against them somehow. I see it in my day job all the time.
Ah, yes the famous Nikon arrogance. Forgot that.

Nikon D600 dirty sensor anyone?
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Old 11-04-2015, 04:12 AM   #14
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If the "service" was nothing more than a module swap, maybe they had no idea what part failed.
Entirely possible. All they had to do was state: "Changed AF module", or something of that sort, and I would have at least known what sort of problem was causing my soft images.
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Old 11-04-2015, 04:38 AM   #15
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Entirely possible. All they had to do was state: "Changed AF module", or something of that sort, and I would have at least known what sort of problem was causing my soft images.
But then you would know how little they did for $250.!
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Old 12-06-2015, 09:41 PM   #16
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Well, got the body back from Nikon. Did a little comparison testing today with the 17-55mm f/2.8. Both before and after are ISO 640 at f/4.0 17mm:

Cropped center frame prior to repair:


After repair:


Cropped left upper corner prior:


After:


Big difference!

According to the invoice, the repairs were:

RPL FRONT BODY
REPLACE RUBBER GRIP
RPL REWIND SIDE RUBBER
ADJ AUTO FOCUS OPERATION
CKD COMMUNICATION
FIRMWARE UPGRADE
CLN CCD
GENERAL CHECK AND CLEAN

Pre-printed card with the camera stated everything was restored to factory spec.

Total cost was $250.69.

I figure the cost was worth it at this point. With fall soccer over, I'm not really in a hurry to get a new camera. If this one craps out again, I may make the move to FX. Fingers crossed for now.
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Old 12-07-2015, 01:14 AM   #17
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$250, that's a lot cheaper than buying a new body to match the D300 quality. Glad they were able to get it squared away for you for a good price.
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Old 12-07-2015, 02:37 AM   #18
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I think the rubber grip was the culprit
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Old 12-07-2015, 03:58 AM   #19
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Big difference!

According to the invoice, the repairs were:

RPL FRONT BODY
REPLACE RUBBER GRIP
RPL REWIND SIDE RUBBER
ADJ AUTO FOCUS OPERATION
CKD COMMUNICATION
FIRMWARE UPGRADE
CLN CCD
GENERAL CHECK AND CLEAN

Pre-printed card with the camera stated everything was restored to factory spec.

Total cost was $250.69.
At least they told you what they actually did. I was charged almost exactly the same price a couple of years ago to fix a similar, but less pronounced issue with my D7000 and I never received anything close to that level of detail.

Glad things worked out for you. I am amazed at how many people are still shooting D300s and D700s. Both cameras developed quite a following. I've never heard an owner of either one have much of anything bad to say about their cameras.
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