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Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII problem seems to be wide spread

QC issue with new Nikon 70-200 2.8 VR II

Based on the amount of feedback I received after my post from yesterday (more close-up pictures available here), it seems that the issue with the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII is more common than I expected (I got lucky with mine). At that point it is not clear if this "peeling" will impact the performance of the lens in anyway and whether those pieces will start falling off inside the lens one day. I am not even sure if it is a damaged thread of "real peeling" of the top layer.

I received a report that a customer went back to the store where he originally purchased the lens and checked all 70-200mm available in stock and they all had the same problem.

Trick77.com reports that Nikon service center representative acknowledged the issue and they will fix it. If you have this issue, get yours in for repair asap.

Nikon's Service Center in Canton, China  documented this issue. The translation: there is presence of tiny particles inside the lens barrel when it's zoomed to 200mm in the second group of lenses. Customer requests inspections:

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  • Ian

    I have the same thing on mine.

    anyone from canada returned theirs for that reason or brought it in for service?

    • Anonymous

      2-3 weeks to repair in Vancouver. I’ll wait till after the Olympics or until it gets worse. BTW, Leo’s rents lenses but only Sigmas.

    • Dallas TX

      I have mine too! i cannot believe it until i check mine last night, this “damaged thread peeling”. It is the same thing as the rest on this posting as well as in the DPReviews forums. Is this the first time for Nikon to actually messed up their lenses? maybe Nikon was in a hurry to released this 70-200 VRII in time for the winter olympics without quality control or whatever it is they’re up to? I hope Nikon will come to their attention to recall this particular lens.

  • LGo

    I have inspected my lens and have not found the problem described with my unit.

  • http://fotobyme.com fotobyme

    man, I need to check that when I get home. I’m getting tired of driving to melville.

    • Jan

      I always ship mine to Melville for service and they are quick at turning it around.

  • Anonymous

    Can anyone confirm if this affects the performance of the lens?

    • Ubiquitous

      Very good question! Here is my answer: It could and it could not :) If it is peeling, where are the small particles going? Theoretically, they could lodge themselves in the AF SWM and eventually affecting its performance. The only way to know for certain is to open a lens to see what is happening. Owners of the 70-200 VRII won’t do that unless they want to void their warranties, imho. Therefore, only Nikon can do that and they might not have a part to replace it with, because they might be all defective. However, I do not know.

      Nikon has been delaying the release of new lenses, Could this be the reason like in the rumored 100mm-500mm? We’ll have to wait and see.

      • funny

        nikon hasn’t delayed anything. what has happened is people trying to predict things get it wrong and they like to blame nikon for “dealying” things when in fact it is more likely they were simply missinformed.

        I’m waiting to see if anybody produces credible evidence that anything is falling between the elements.

  • longtimenikonshooter

    What is beyond me is how so many evidently visible defective parts could be allowed in the production line.This is not a simple Quality Control issue because this is Ethics and Moral issue. I bet the upper management at Nikon gambled on this and willingly made the decision to go ahead with those defective parts. Thus, what we have now is very widespread disastrous outcome.

    • alex

      you post on every forum the same reply
      is it so hard for you to write something different “mshi” ? btw your flickr album looks so beginner-ish…

      • low

        pwned!!!!

    • Dweeb

      My point exactly. As for being an optical problem, Hasselblad/Zeiss often shed parts of the Compur shutter mechanism onto the elements. They always determined it was a serious fault and tore the lense down either on or off warranty.

      From the posted pictures I see this goes well beyond the plating flaking, as parts of the threads themselves seem to be missing and not due to a spanner slot cut into them. The most common plating fault is contamination by oil and improper cleaning of the parts, preventing proper adherence of the final layer. So much for ISO 9000 and ASTM standards.

      I would expect Nikon’s not too happy now the word’s out on such an expensive lense. Sheeze, next thing I expect is to see are the fanboys claiming these are just photoshob jobs.

  • ictus

    “made in china” …

    • jay

      Stop making such dumbass accusations. IT is the manufacture, this case, Nikon, who has the sole ability to determine what their final products will be, regardless where it is made.

    • Cache

      All NIKON PRO level lens are ‘proudly’ made in Japan (except the pouch and box I shoud say). That is the Japanese glory to make such ‘high level’ products. I admit the possibility of the Chinese made parts but you have to give the evidence.

      After all, it was NIKON who making the product and controlling the quality and NIKON should be responsible for any defects. When those American made TOYOTA cars exposed to have quality problems, everyone blamed TOYOTA, not the American factory. That’s a reasonable reaction.

      • Jeff

        Yeah I have one of those Toyota’s made in the US (2006 Tundra). This is my fifth Toyota and the only one made here. It’s such poor build quality I’ll never buy another Toyota made here. While I absolutely feel this supports why the big three have such issues with quality (poor American workmanship), I blame Toyota for not doing as they promise of assuring QA is at the same level as products made in Japan.

        There’s no excuse for this getting past QA at Nikon, but it’s not the first. I’m on my second D3, the first one bad out of the box and had to send in my 24-70mm twice in the first three months!

        They keep up with these QA issues every release of pro equipment and people will start jumping ship.

  • http://www.davidsrosen.net dsr

    Just checked mine…. I have it too. So now i have the same question as a previous commenter…. Since this seems to be widespread, is there any evidence that this affects function/perfomance of the lens, either in the short term or in the long term?

    • alex

      it seems not.
      people on nikonians forum say it’s just a light baffle to avoid reflections inside and it has nothing to do with the lens performance

      • jay

        yeah, but if the falling parts are inside all over the place, sooner or later the lens will be stuck, can’t zoom or focus.

    • longtimenikonshooter

      Nobody knows unless Nikon can come out and some announcement. Nikon hasn’t come out with any PR efforts on this issue yet, given the buyer’s remorse will so widespread.

  • Harry Couvert

    Same here
    And not a few chips either: all around the thread
    Havent even used it that much.

    (Lens is imported from US into Holland)

  • lox

    That’s a shame for Nikon. I wonder how they do justify their pricing. Especially the lenses have always been of superb quality, and I indeed hope they will get back on that track soon. How long will it take to fix that? That’s gibberish to me. They have no idea how to substitute the inner coating of a lens. Again, shame on you, Nikon. (I’m not going to switch, anyway.)

  • http://www.cesarkoot.nl Cesar

    Wow that sucks man! Shelling out so much money for such a lens and then having this!

  • Js

    Just got mine and I seem to have very minor chips (1 or 2) i wonder if the problem only appears after zooming a lot?

  • fxed

    Damm, mine to. Just below the screws what looks like threads that is where the chips are. Looks like what happens when you cross thread. Or it may be silver paint that’s chipping off. The scary thing is the flakes that have fallen into the barrel which appear to be stuck to the sides. I got mine 12/3/2009 and I am certain I looked closely at the insides, for dust, scratches and I do not remmember seeing that damage. I wonder if the zooming in and out could be the cause. Maybe the tolerance is to thight? I don’t really know. I do know that this is unacceptable whether it affects the optical quality or not. If it were the 50 f1.8 I would still be pissed. If this is a problem that will be acknowledged by Nikon screw sending it in for repair. The short FOV, mediocre lens hood and now this. WTF Nikon. I don’t mind paying a premium for a premium lens but I do expect superior workmanship. For those that have this issue what will be your expectations from Nikon. Repair or new lens.

    Please forgive the rant.

    • funny

      the threads are not used by the lens operation. This is easily visible. They are likely used during assembly and hold no purpose whatsoever when zooming in.

      Chances are your lens looked just like it does now but you didn’t know what to look for.

      • fxed

        funny, your a riot. I’m not going to get sucked into how many years I have experience with photography vs you. All I can say is; U SO Funny.

  • http://spaces.live.com/sjackerman Steven J. Ackerman

    Looks like China forgot to add the lead and/or cadmium…

    • nikonmonster

      they did LOL

  • Ben

    I checked mine and those “threads” have very minor defects on them. It’s not nearly as bad as the pictures, but it’s not “perfect” either. I really haven’t used the lens a lot though and if I have it’s mostly been at the 200mm end (so not much zooming). I wonder if it gets worse with more use or if they were shipped that way. Like will the appearance get worse with more use?

    I pre-ordered mine from Adorama back on August 3rd, it arrived the week after Thanksgiving I think. I imagine Nikon will have to make a statement about this, either recalling all of the lenses with the defect or stating that it won’t affect the performance of the lens.

  • shivas

    woah. . .bad PR with Nikon rushing things out like this. . .I thought these were made in Japan?

    The D5k issues. . .and now this. . .how many recalls can a brand handle before ppl question the Q&A?

    • http://www.hayphoto.ca HayPhoto

      ….D5k is canon…

      • WoutK89

        hehe, lol, D5000, ever heard of that one? :-P

  • cliffak

    I checked mine, and it has the same issue. Optically, of course, the lens is amazing. To me, it looks like the light baffles weren’t cast properly, hence the pitting. The coating should stick as hard to this as the rest of the surface (I haven’t really been able to find any flakes of the coating material anywhere) so I really don’t know whether this will be an issue when actually using the lens as intended as opposed to shining powerful flashlights into the front element just to look for defects. As long as my photos are unaffected, there’s no rush to the repair center imho. The warranty is at least 1 year after all.

  • Dweeb

    So far there’s no evidence the part’s made in China or anywhere else. A part like that would be plated or anodized not painted as paint could come off in assembly. Why a “light baffle” is not black is beyond me. That’s one for the Nikon genius; to explain. The plating would likely be zinc, nickel, or cadmium, all with a clear anti-oxidization coating. Until I actually see one I’d say it’s a bad cadmium job, although for environmental reason’s cadmium isn’t that popular anymore.

  • Anonymous

    The problem with sending it in for repair is these repair centers often do more damage than they fix. The last time I sent a lens for repair it was returned with the focus switch installed upside down. That means they’re not at all detail oriented in the repair center, which is a little scary seeing that they’re talking apart your $2k lens.

    • Tim

      True, repairs are the lens worst nightmare!

      If you take it to a repair center, the first thing they ask is: “Does it affect the picture? If not, leave it alone!”

      • Tim

        But still, should not happen in the first place on top lens models!

        • another anonymous

          it’s 1,5 year when i bought my 70-200 VR – the old version of course and i have 2mm front focus on it. i compensated it on D300 body and it works ok both with and without my nikon 1,7x teleconverter. i have no experience with nikon service on my own. what do you say, should i try to visit the service center or not even think about it? ;) PS: i’m not NPS member yet cause of lack of one more pro body. i’m waiting for d700 successor. what would you recomment me to do ppl? i’ll think about you words if you leave some here.. thanks

    • funny

      why should we take your experience (of which you have no proof) as representative of what really happens when nikon fixes a lens?

      plenty of people have their stuff fixed by them all the time and I myself have sent then a heavily damanged DSLR body to have it returned flawlessly and they even tossed in a free SD card. your experience while unfortunate does not seem representative of the overall majority of people who get their equipment back on perfect working order.

      • Anonymous

        What a dumb response. Why should we take your experience as representative (of which we have no proof either)?

      • Tom

        Yes, unfortunately you have no way of knowing what they did INSIDE the lens (you know where the work is actually done). It’s quite possible your “flawless” repair involved a much of internal damage to fragile parts. Was the damage or lack of precision significant enough to cause problems in the future? Who knows, but generally when sloppy work is revealed in a few instances it’s much more prevalent than you think.

  • nonbeliever

    I see the same on my lens – but there are no flakes – it more seems that the ribs got damaged. But as they are still matte black this must have happened before assembling of the lens.
    What caused me much more thought is the fact that in very humid conditions I got condensed water on the inner glasses of the lens. This supposed to be professional lens is not well sealed!!!

  • http://www.hkmoo.com choiMatthew

    i’ve done a bit of translation, hope this helps:
    Problem occuring: the customer said that at 200mm, there is some damage inside the lens near the screw-like-area, and there seems to be small dust particles when light is shone onto it

    Repairing Details: the customer asks for a maintaince/repair report to see whether the coating on the screw-like-area is uneven or not. there is also some small dust particles on the second group of lens. return/returned

    • http://www.hkmoo.com choiMatthew

      please ignore my grammatical mistakes and weird english =P

    • cliffak

      I’ve actually seen dust inside most of my lenses, including this one, and not only on the second element. One “problem” is that those really powerful LED flashlights tend to bring out ANY minor imperfection. Of course, some tiny specks of dust won’t affect image quality at all since the dust will be out of focus. If you’re really looking, the wavelength of some LED flashlights (my Cree based light does this) does seem to interact with the glass/coatings to make the elements seem cloudy. Switch light source, and the “cloudiness” disappears.

      • http://www.hkmoo.com choiMatthew

        i think what the customer really meant was, as the NR admin said, particles of the coating instead of just ‘dust’ particles.

    • funny

      every single lens ever made when a flashlight is turned inside it in a dark room will show dust. Try on on this lens, try it on a $199 one, try it on a 10K telephoto. Dust is always present. it never affects IQ in the quantities present.

  • xcxv

    It should not happen on a such very high price lens.

  • Anonymous

    About 5 chips in mine. 2-3 weeks to repair in Canada so I think I’ll wait.

  • low

    oh noooooooooooeesss….our pictures arent going to be as nice anymore! i hate this lens already!! booooohoooo…going to pick up the old 70-200vr!!

    *blasphemy!*

  • Dweeb

    Anon, I’d wait until Nikon.ca get a service advisory in place. Don’t be their guinea pig like I once was for a recall. Wait until they’ve settled the warranty issues with JP, and have gotten several repairs under their belt. Looks like they may have to disturb the optics going in but that’s a guess. JP may also issue a modified part in the future as well.

  • http://www.d800.com The invisible man.

    The bad news is for NASA, they bought bunch of lenses from Nikon, that will be alot of fun looking at those particules floating inside the lens in space !

    • fxed

      ROFLMAO. And our tax $$$$$$$$$$$.

  • Anonymous

    Its just a cast metal (or plastic) part that stops light reflections.
    Its not a thread.

    Its a non perfect casting you are looking at which is then painted with mat black paint so as not to reflect light.

    Thats its only job! It will not effect image quality, not get worse and is no cause for concern!

    The light coloured specs you see “further in” inside the lens are not flakes of paint, coartings, or anything else they are microscopic bubbles in between bonded lens element glass parts.

    The torch and the magnifying effect of the lens just blows them out of all proportion.

    • Anonymous

      I wonder what you will say if it was a Canon lens?????. Something like “it’s Canon QC again”. This time it concerns Nikon and suddenly it’s okay to have QC issues with an Pro’s bread and butter lens?. I think not!.

      An issue like this is never ever okay, no matter which brand it is!.

      • Joe

        Amen!

    • jay

      “a non perfect casting”, huh? My $2 Hot Wheels car from Wal-mart have better casting than this $2400 lens. Come on, find a better excuse.

  • Ralf

    Better come up with perfect asting if they want me to spend that kind of money on that lens.

    • Ben

      I agree that the quality control should be better, but do we know if it’s actually affecting image quality? Is it going to damage the lenses performance in any way? These are things we don’t know yet. If the answers to both of those questions are no, then I really don’t care about the issue. Where else are going to get a lens that has image quality as good as this one for this zoom range and aperture?

      • fxed

        OK. When you go to sell your lens and the buyer looks inside what do you think will happen. You can say it takes great shots as the buyer walks out your door, or sell it for a buck.

        • Bluecow003

          Good thing I don’t have any plans on selling it.

  • Ian Canon

    Wow, look at all these Nikonians and their Stockholm syndrome. This is unacceptable for any lens making company out there.

    • low

      you must know, this is VERY typical of canon :-)

      • Ian Canon

        Excuse me, what? What is very typical of Canon? :) I’m not sainyg anything about Canon and their products. They make shit too, but at least those facts ain’t covered with a sugarcoat like these Nikon problems.

        14-24 “Oh we dont need filters anyway”
        105 VR “Oh well its perfectly understandable that you must turn the VR off at macro”

        ..and now this and you people still think that making bad products is acceptable.

        • Jay

          unfortunately being a fanboy will do that too you…..

          • Ian Canon

            Unfortunately im a fan of Contax cameras. Canon is only a workhorse as is Nikon. Using an old model from Nikon is acceptable when it takes three to four weeks to repair this second model? Obviously you don’t shoot professionally.

          • huh

            shoot professionaly? join NPS. ask them for a loaned lens. That’s what they are there for.

          • Jay

            lol I was agreeing with you not dissing you. BTW I am a combat camera man.

        • huh

          who is suggar coating anything? the lens has gotten stellar reviews so far and obviously there needs to be some more digging about what the actual impact of this issue is. So far it is only been costmetic and not affecting the images you get. There are quite a few already stating they do not have any threading issue on theirs.

          production runs with flaws affect everybody. that is not suggar coating it. That’s just facing reality. The question really is what will nikon do and that’s what they should be judged upon. Canon has had plenty of mishaps from oily cameras to flawed designed AF sensors, to mirrors coming off, etc. All in high end pricy so called “profesional” equipment. Yet they fixed it and that’s what matters.

          Please stop being a fanboy.

        • huh
          • Jay

            who cares zeiss 18 and 21 blow that thing out the water… oh and you can put filters on it lol.

          • funny

            good luck 1980’s Manual focus w/ that zeiss and tinkering w/ aperture and exposure. And 18, 21mm is so….not wide. the zeiss does win wide open, yet as a landscape lens, most likely it will be stopped down to have a deep DOF, then the story is a bit different.

            http://www.davidclapp.co.uk/blog/articles/34-carl-zeiss-21mm-f28-nikon-14-24-f28.html?start=2

            To sum up, the nikkor is just as sharp beyond 2.8, supports full AF, it is wider (114 degrees), it zooms closer allowing even more flexibility, and it is overall much better suited for any serious landscape.

            as far as filtering, coking x pro filters can be mounted on the 14-24. Giving you the option to control the gradient in in ways in which limited screw on filters cannot.

            Ultimately if the world’s best ultra wide angle 14-24 nikkor does not suit you, it’s your perogative.

          • Jay

            You do realize the pro landscaper you just qouted used the lens on a canon… in MANUAL MODE. That means no AF ROFL. He had to manually focus the lens, probably with a af confirm chip. Most pro landscapers use MF…. you dont know anything do you? Go ahead continue qouting other peoples work. Also he said the 21 zeiss is sharp wide open at 2.8 and that the 14-24 is just as sharp as the zeiss. So basically the zeiss lens is optically wonderful wouldnt you say. HAHAHA 1980s MF are you kidding me ??? Wow your just in another league…. WOW

          • Jay

            btw you can use a cokin filter system on the zeiss as well… you are funny… funny

    • ha!

      like cameras spewing oil from their insides all over the sensor? yup. unacceptable :p specially on 7K cameras like the 1DsIII

      • Jay

        yup that sucks too, as long as they fix then good on them. I am sure nikon will fix this problem as canon has fixed their problems. BTW arguing about which brand is better is like competing in the special olympics no matter the outcome your still retarded.

  • CS

    Is this lens made in Japan, China or Thailand?

    • http://www.d800.com The invisible man.

      It’s made in france, that just crumbs from the croissants :o)

    • jay

      Why people keep asking these kind of stupid questions. It is Nikon, it doesn’t matter where it is made. Get some common sense!

      • CS

        Jay – why is it a stupid question to ask where it is made? Just because it is a nikon doesn’t mean anything if it is made badly.

        • jay

          Because it doesn’t matter where it is made, it is made to the same spec and same process and same QC.

          • CS

            Yeah, whatever. Everyone knows even if the specs are the same, there will be differences in quality control due to culture and cost structures in different countries. Retard to think otherwise.

  • 70-200 owner

    mine doesn’t have any of these that I could see. Unless there is material floating around, that thread does not do anything since nothing actualy touches it.

    Still nikon should fix it just as a matter of taking care of their own and I’m sure they will.

    • john

      Mine was perfectly clean when I bought it. It began when I use the zoom. It took 300 pictures to see those particle. More use zoom, more particle comes.

  • etienne69

    the lens is certainly manufactured in china & nikon is guilty of not having a good quality control on such an expensive piece of glass.

    • funny

      this lens is made in japan. yet nikon, like every single other company in the business of making hardware messes up now and then. Yet them facing up to it and fixing it is what counts.

  • nonbeliever

    to say it again – it is not a thread and no paint particles got lost on this part – it is still matte black. The part just is not perfect in shape but that does not influence its performance. That´s what I see on mine.
    This is a really good lens – very, very sharp!!

  • John Dough

    My 70-200 VR2 lens was showing said flaking so I called Nikon and they sent me a label to send it back to them. Whether or not this affects IQ, this is something I want resolved. I have bought only 4 lenses in the past (all lower cost than this one) and none had any issues of QC (until now). Paying $2400 for a lens is bad enough.

    If you have one showing this issue, call them right away and get the ball rolling before they get backlogged.

  • dB

    I JUST received mine from B&H, and it is exhibiting this problem as well. I imagine I could exchange it, but it sounds like the next lens is very likely to have the same problem. Maybe I should return it and wait a few months…. man I’m not sure what to do now.

    I’m tempted to just live with it, I would never even be aware of the issue if it weren’t for this site…

    • ISELLNIKONCAMERA

      Looks like Nikon got a serious issue with Quality Inspection. Attention Nikon Quality Assurance Engineer. STOP LINE ALERT! Root cause could be material issue, process issue, in process inpesction and quality assurance.

  • john

    This is a major problem of Nikon. Mine has serious problem. Every time I zoom this lens the metal particles coming like a pepper mill. #$%&ing nikon. They forgot how to make the lens.

  • nuser

    definitely a damaged thread, have it on mine too ;(
    can’t see it affecting performance unless parts of that thread are already
    inside the lens ;(

  • http://www.dafyddowen.com Daf

    Sent it to a friend who has this lens – his is also affected.
    So showing up on UK stock too.

  • http://www.invisiblelandscapes.com polvopolvo

    I’ve got the same markings on the ‘threads’ althoiuhg I can’t see any loose stuff anywhere althouhg I haven’t really looked in detail with a torch. I seem to remember a similar issue with the 24-70 2.8 when it came out – weren’t people reporting metal particles inside that as well? Nikon just said it’s fine and one we all went….. Shame if it’s more serious on 70-200 as otherwise it’s a brilliant lens – fast and sharp…..

  • David

    Same with mine – the published images are very similar to what I see. Not sure about what’s happening with others but the issue with mine is obviously not related to peeling or flaking of a finish or coating. The root cause of this observation is likely improper processing (probably the heat treating process) of the component’s raw material. It’s obvious to me that the chunks of metal missing on the edges of the threads likely came off during the machining process to cut the threads. And, for folks with chunks inside their lenses, this same threading operation could have weakened other areas of the threads allowing chunks to fall off during shipping and/or normal use. Regardless of root cause, I’m sending mine to Nikon for whatever fix their offering because a little chunk of metal inside this expensive lens is not a warm and fuzzy thought!

  • longtimenikonshooter

    Let’s get serial numbers rolling here:

    mine: Serial# US200112XX (ordered from amazon.com) and shipped in Nov, 09.

  • longtimenikonshooter

    Here is a translated reply from Nikon Beijing Service Center dated 01/11.

    Source: a Chinese photography forum (http://forum.xitek.com/showthread.php?threadid=693293)

    Nikon Beijing Service Center
    Nikon (China) Imaging Equipment Corp, Ltd.
    Tel: (010) 85151230

    Product: AF-S 70-200 f/2.8 VR II
    Serial Number: 200165xx

    Payment: Free of Charge

    Maintenance Bill Number: 113-0407240

    Date: January 11, 2010

    Failures Observed: lens thread defect at 200mm (the customer believes either thread or its coating peeling off). Inspection requested.

    Maintenance Performed: After inspection, thread of the lens submitted indeed has certain peeling. However, that is normal when the surface of that metal was manufactured. There, the alleged problem will not affect the len’s performance, rigidness, or function.

    here is the original reply:

    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2737/4269425066_0776e74bac_o.jpg

  • Mike

    I just checked mine and I see the same thing that is represented in the photo above. However, on close inspection the issue looks more like pits in the “ridges” than flaking (to me anyway). I see no loose material. So I have no idea if this is a true defect or an aesthetic issue.

    All I know is that I’m enjoying the images from this lens way too much to get worked up about it.

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