Monday, March 10, 2008

D300 problems start to appear?

Sunday evening after an afternoon of waterfowl photography on the Tama River. As you may notice in the upper photo, the birds were leaving at this time and so was I.

Unfortunately, I experienced an auto-focus failure with the D300. It stopped focusing with my Tamron 200-500mm while I was taking photos of an egret. First I noticed that the AE/L button suddenly started focusing my camera when I pushed it to lock exposure. I had turned off the auto-focus lock feature for this button in the menu. (It is possible that I accidentally hit the AF lock button)

Then the lens would try to focus---I could hear the motor---but nothing happened. I put in a fresh battery. Nothing. I removed and reattached the lens. Nothing. I put a Nikkor 18-70mm on and after failing for a few minutes it began to focus again. I tried with my Tokina 12-24 and it worked. I put the Tamron back on and it was working again.

There have been occasional reports on the internet of this problem. It doesn't seem to be widespread but it exists. I am hoping mine was just a one time fluke, but since I have been having a few other problems with it too, I wonder.


D. A. said...

Please see comments on D300 at

"8. Electronic Glitches and Gremlins. This is a much more significant issue. The primary reason I ditched my D200 was because I experienced a number of electronic glitches and gremlins. Things like the autofocus freezing and locking up. Or, squirrelly "dead battery" indicators coming on right after I put a new battery in. And, rapid and spontaneous cycling between metering modes while I sat bewilderedly watching. Et cetera. All my electronic glitches on my D200 occurred when I was using longer lenses - the 300 f2.8 VR and larger. I heard that the problem was related to the lens mounting ring on the camera having only 4 screws (compared to the 5 found on the D2X and D3) and the associated flex of the lens mounting ring - which translated into improper lens-camera electronic contact and the electronic glitches. Okay. My D300 has 5 screws on the lens mounting ring, but I've been experiencing exactly the same types of electronic glitches on my D300. Like with the D200, the problems often go away when I turn the camera off and on again ("rebooting" it), and like with the D200, the problems on my D300 have been showing up with telephoto lenses only (my 70-200 f2.8 VR and larger). The problem seems worst if I'm walking with my camera (with the camera strap around my neck and my left hand cupping and supporting the lens) - in these cases there's about a 50:50 chance my D300 won't work when I lift it to my eye to focus and shoot. A 50:50 chance?!? Am I kidding? I wish. It's a pretty serious issue. As someone who relies on their cameras to make a living, this is more than a little disconcerting. Holding onto my D2Xs is looking like a better move all the time..."

David said...

Sorry to hear that you have had the problem too and to an even worse extent.

It is a continuing problem on mine, although it has very slightly improved since the last firmware update. By improved I mean that tracking works better under some limited conditions and that when focus does freeze---and it still does often with my longer lenses---I no longer have to pull the lens off and switch it with others 2-3 times to get it working again. I now can go to manual focus, then switch back to AF and it works again. (I often carry mine in the manner that you carry yours when I use my longest lens.) I was lucky and never had the battery problem.

I may take it in for warranty service before the warranty expires just to be safe. I certainly do not consider the auto-focus reliable with long lens in mine.

Interestingly, the first D300 I ever saw was a display model in the Yokohama Yodobashi Camera shop. It had the auto-focus problem with a shorter zoom and would often refuse to focus at all. It turned me off of the D300 at first, but after hearing of no problems with them I wrote it off as the results of the display model being handled by everyone. Later the focus issue started to become more widely discussed on the Internet.

Had I depended on mine for a living, I think I would have dumped it a long time ago. This experience put an end to my early-adopter phase as far as digital cameras go.