Nikon offers firmware update fix for the VR issues found in the Nikkor 300mm f/4E PF ED VR lens

Nikkor 300mm f-4E PF ED VR lens 2
Nikon is now offering a firmware update for the VR issues found in early shipments of the Nikkor 300mm f/4E PF ED VR lens (serial number under 205101). The problem: when shooting at around 1/125 or lower shutter speeds with a D8xx cameras, handheld shots with the VR OFF were much sharper than the shots taken with the VR ON (see the user reviews on Nikon USA for more details).

Nikon quietly stopped shipping the lens shortly after it was released. My understanding is that a new batch that has the issue fixed was already distributed in the US. The lens is still currently out of stock.

The firmware update is not available for download - you will have to send your lens to Nikon for service.

Full text of the Nikon service advisory:

Firmware update details
We have confirmed that when the AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/4E PF ED VR lens is used with the D800, D800E or D810, images captured at shutter speeds of around 1/125 s with the VR function enabled (NORMAL or SPORT) sometimes exhibit noticeable blur. To reduce the occurrence of this, we will offer a service for updating your AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/4E PF ED VR firmware. When cameras other than the D800, D800E or D810 are used, this firmware update is not needed.

Updating lens firmware
Users of the D800, D800E, or D810 who are concerned about this issue may take or send their lens to an Nikon Service Centre, where your lens firmware will be updated free of charge.

Identifying lenses with which the firmware has already been updated
Firmware for lenses with a serial number of 205101 or later have already been updated.

*Depending upon the way the camera is held when shooting, or the shooting conditions, images may be blurred even after this lens firmware is updated. (Source)

Here is some additional feedback sent by readers:

I got my Nikon 300mm F4 VR G, E, & PF lens from B&H this past Wednesday (3-25-15). I had ordered it early morning 1-6-15. My results so far indicate absolutely no VR problems & no focusing problems.

Focusing is pretty fast but not as fast as my 80-200 mm F2.8 AFS lens. Focusing speed remains fast with TC-14E AFI teleconverter and slows down a bit with the TC-20E AFI teleconverter. Focusing in very dim light on a pot of black coffee this morning using the TC-20E AFI teleconverter 600 mm @ F11 and ISO 12,800 @ 1/5 second hand held resulted in a reasonably fast and accurate focus acquisition and sharp photo of the transparent coffee pot filled with black coffee.

Testing for the VR failure hand held at slower shutter speeds hand held indicated my lens and Nikon D810 had no problems at all. Using the TC-14E AFI teleconverter (420 mm F5.6) I got real sharp photos from 1/250 second to 1/15 second. 1/8 second was just barely not super sharp and 1/4 second and lower were obviously blurry. Going with the TC-20E AFI teleconverter (600 mm F8) with the lens set to F11 hand holding it focus was acquired very quickly in dreary rainy morning light on a printed tag in a potted planter about 7 feet away. Results were 1/200 second with VR was very sharp and shutter speeds slower than that had increasing amounts of blurring. All in all, this lens was well worth the wait.

-------------------------------

I tried something that seems to shed some light to the VR issue that some people experience with the Nikon 300mm PF. I tried 3 copied of the 300mm pf lens on many cameras and never had an issue with VR in low speeds as suggested from some reviews and forum members. After a suggestion that mirror slap could be the issue on "ungripped" cameras (and especially the D810) I tried the test below which I was able to replicate. The D7200 works ok at every speed with or without a grip. ON THE OTHER HAND the D810 works ok with the grip (how I was always using it thus I never experienced the issue before) BUT as soon as I removed the grip the VR issue surfaced! It seems like the mirror slaps at certain frequencies that affect the VR system of the 300mm pf on certain cameras (i.e. D810). The grip changes that frequency on the D810 and solves the issue. Examples: D7200 GRIPPED | D7200 NO GRIP | D810 GRIPPED | D810 NO GRIP

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  • Hilton Holloway

    I was in Bic Camera in Nagoya two weeks ago and was told the new 300mm was out of stock ‘for three months’. And that’s in Japan…

    • Nimloth

      About the same message I got in Miyama Camera, Shinjuku, Tokyo, a few weeks ago.

    • Vlasty

      Same at Kitamura in Fukuoka.

  • doge

    When will people learn to stop buying first issue Nikon products?

    • Helio de Mello Filho

      Let them do it. Someone has to test the products first hand…

    • ITN

      Why? Many early users have been enjoying the fast, quiet and effective AF tracking (compared to D version which has jittery AF to put it kindly), light weight and compactness of the PF 300/4 for months now. VR performance at shutter speeds that are too slow to freeze movement does not affect all users since they want to freeze the movement and for that you need much faster shutter speeds than 1/160s. In many typical long lens applications the subject has a tendency to move. For hand held shots of static subjects this is a real issue though, but image quality will be much better if you use a tripod for static subjects than hand-held with VR, irrespective of how well the VR works it never matches the sharpness of a good tripod.

      No damage really is done to the early users unless they’re very sensitive to minor issues (or sent it in before the fix was realized). Of course these kinds of problems should be detected in testing before release to the public, but sometimes they’re not.

      • Politics_Nerd

        You might have more credibility on this if Nikon didn’t charge you to ship their fuckup to them for them to correct. You see this all the time in the video gaming industry. AAA titles often (too often!) ship with obvious flaws because they want it out for the holiday season or for other timing reasons (to take the wind out of the sales of a rival title or whatever). The publisher counts on the fact that they can send updates over the net and use the early buyers as free beta testers. I guess that is better than Nikon because at least EA doesn’t make you pay to ship the game back to them so they can fix it and send it back.

        • ITN

          Shipping is, 2-3% of the purchase price? Shocking injustice. The product cycle of the 300/4 is about 13 years, and lenses bought in the first 2-3 months were affected by this problem. It seems that Nikon halted deliveries almost immediately after the first batch in many countries, though not everywhere. 3 months of a rough start, then 12.7 years of availability as a new lens with this problem fixed, and maybe 20 years of useful life of the lens after that, with availability on the second hand market.

          • Politics_Nerd

            The credibility you (as the mfgr) lose by shipping flawed product isn’t worth it. You’d (as a fanboy/early adopter) think they’d realize this ahead of time. That you (mfgr) refuse to at least cover the cost of shipping is just insult to injury. I don’t care if it’s $1 for shipping it back. It’s called being responsible for your own fuxupz… If its “not a huge issue”, then Nikon should just cover it out of respect for their most loyal customers. That is if they value that loyalty vs. look at them as a resource to exploit.

            • ITN

              I think there is the issue of “what happens if they do [give shipping free]” to consider. Normally users of professional cameras and lenses are recommended to take the equipment for service & check up once a year or once in two years, to see if there is wear and if everything is working correctly and/or something can be adjusted to improve it. If Nikon says that everyone should return the PF 300/4 and sends UPS envelopes to all registered users, the users will just send them all in at once for repair. And it’ll take a long time because nearly all of them arrive on the same day or week. If they don’t give free shipping, some people will still send it in but there will be those who hesitate and just continue using the product until they have some reason to take something to service. If they service their gear regularly, as the manufacturer recommends, shipping cost for this one lens largely disappears since it can be packed in the same box (or if you take it yourself, you can bring several items at once). This is what I do if I have a minor issue that doesnt’ prevent use, I keep using it until I have several items to take care of and then I visit a service centre. Less time wasted on both sides. In my opinion the lack of free shipping avoids a rush at the service centers thus while it is unfortunate that users have to pay for the shipping, it may still be in the best interest of everyone since it helps alleviate major delays in service. If the item were flawed in a way that made it dangerous, then yes, free shipping and a 100% recall is necessary but in this case the lens is perfectly usable other than this minor glitch in one function of the lens, which probably doesn’t really affect most users who shoot action with this type of a lens at fast shutter speeds.

              While I think it is unfortunate that these problems occur, I think there is a good reason why a general recall isn’t issued in a case when an item is not dangerous to continue using and the flaw is of such a nature that it won’t affect every user. If issuing a recall leads to complete flooding of service centers with one single issue, other repairs that are more serious may be delayed significantly as a result. By simply requiring users to bring it in (or ship it on their own account) instead of issuing a free return envelope to everyone, the biggest rush is avoided, and yet those users who see the need to have the lens quickly updated will get it done more quickly.

              In some countries there is a similar system in health care. There is public service that handles most urgent patients, but if you have a problem that is not urgent, you pick a number and get into the queue. Basically you can get free or subsidized health care but you may have to wait a bit to get it if it’s not an acute problem. If you are in a rush you can pay a bit more for private health care (with some of the cost paid by insurance) and get it done immediately, but you end up paying more for priority service. I think this is mainly the reason why there is not a general recall for non-urgent product flaws if the problem does not cause user hazard like some battery recall issues have.

          • phocus.org

            Wrong. Still an issue in October 2015 with new lenses that have been assembled some thousand pieces after the pretended affected range of serial numbers and that have already been equipped with the new firmware.
            I got one of these. Sigh. Seems still to be a lottery thing.
            Not talking about some blurriness (as Nikon does) but about distinct doubled edges in the image and hence entirely pointless performance. I use VR lenses since they have been available. They all have their limits of course but, none of my other VR lenses, even longer ones, exhibit this behavior.

    • Louis-Félix Grondin

      If people don’t then there will never be a second issue…

  • dgr

    My serial number starts with 202 but doesn’t have the issue. It doesn’t affect all serial numbers under 205.

    • Martin Huisman

      Mine is a 201… model, but I’m using it with a D600.
      You’re also using it with an other model than a D800(E) or D810?

      I haven’t noticed issues so far, but is it 100% ruled out that it is affected when using a D600?
      How bad is the issue? I haven’t found examples so far, but I might need to do a bit more searching efforts likely.

      • dgr

        I have a D810. Based on what I saw on various forums it didn’t seem to matter which camera was used and people in Europe were affected more by the issue.

        • Martin Huisman

          Really?
          If you don’t mind and have time, would you like to post a link or two of the forum topics you’ve got this info from?
          Much appreciated 🙂

          • Chris

            Fred Miranda, Ming Thein, Photographylife, Cameralabs and probably DPReview to name a few

            • Martin Huisman

              I was a bit short on time and a bit lazy, so sorry if it offended you this time 😉

          • dgr

            I don’t know if posting other forum links here is allowed but take a look at the main 300 f/4 thread over at Fred Miranda.

            • Martin Huisman

              Thanks I’ll check it out 🙂

  • Spy Black

    Score one for Sigma. At least you can update firmware on your own…

    • Martin Huisman

      Yes I agree.
      Not that I need it now, as I’m using it with a D600, but I agree with you that it’s a big plus when you can do these relatively simple things yourself.

    • Politics_Nerd

      Sigma has been impressive lately… I have their 105 macro which surpasses Nikon’s version (sharpness wise) as you stop down for DoF. I hope they update their 85 with an “Art” edition…

      • doge

        Is that true? I’ve been thinking of buying the Nikon 105 macro. maybe I should look into the Sigma version….

      • Hagbard Celine

        If the Sigma version surpasses Nikon’s it must have the most micro-contrast of any lens on the market. That Nikon 105 is probably the sharpest lens I ever owned. Mine is Japanese though, not sure if that makes any difference.

        I might have to check out the Sigma just for shits and giggles.

        • Politics_Nerd

          It’s worth a look at least… it might surprise you. 😉

          • phocus.org

            Yeah. And there are even contrastier Sigmas than the Sigma 105, namely the Sigmas Apo 150 OS and 180 OS. Let alone the Voigtländer Apo 125/2. Finally, the Zeiss 100/2 eats them all but is only 1:2 (as does/is the Leica-R Apo 100/2.8).

            • Politics_Nerd

              Which means nothing in the present context. Thanks for playing tho.

    • gpelpel

      I agree about the plus of having a user upgradable firmware.
      I however would prefer a solution that would allow upgrade via the camera than a possibly leaky port on the lens itself.

      • Nimloth

        Which leaky port?

      • Politics_Nerd

        The sigma system uses a lens mount interface for the USB connection. Like a rear cap with electronics in it. The “cap” has the connection, not the lens.

      • gpelpel

        OK! My mistake. I thought the port was on the lens.

    • It’s a huge benefit. My Sigma 35mm Art would not focus in live view when I moved from a D800 to D810. Bought the dock on Amazon, two days later updated my firmware and what do you know? Focuses just fine now.

      • Hagbard Celine

        Nikon ALWAYS kills the Live View on Sigma Lenses. Sigma usually has the fix ready quick since they know it’s coming.

    • Chris

      I’m not sure if it’s possible in this case. I’m told the repair centers need specific (new) equipment to fix it.

    • Hagbard Celine

      Which is also a huge plus for the D3XXX/D5XXX who don’t have the in-camera option. Plus you can make separate adjustments across the zoom range and not have to hit the menu system to switch on the fly.

      The Sigma USB is a seriously overlooked feature. It only costs as much as one shipment to the factory. And you can have it done in minutes. No waiting for the mail. Brilliant.

  • saywhatuwill

    Interesting that wasn’t found before production of the lens. Didn’t someone go outside the factory and take some test photographs before final approval?

    • Martin Huisman

      Perhaps they thought “if it works on a D4s then it works” 😉

    • Radek_42

      Why would they do that? 🙂

      • saywhatuwill

        That’s true. It’s cheaper to put out a firmware patch and tarnish your company’s reputation for lens design in public.

        • Eric Calabros

          is it really about “design”?

          • saywhatuwill

            Yes. They had to design the lens around the AF servos.

            • Politics_Nerd

              It’s clearly a software bug.

        • Andrew

          I guess Microsoft, Apple, HP, Intel and every company out there that provides a firmware patch have their image tarnished. Nikon needs to hire you to fix these types of problems.

          • saywhatuwill

            Why do you need to be such a dick? Oh yes, you’re young and think defending a company you don’t work for will give you extra money.

  • Politics_Nerd

    Seems like its getting to the point where it is prudent to wait a good six months before buying any new Nikon product. But dear Nikon, using your most loyal early adopters as unwitting beta testers prolly isn’t good for the ol’ marketing strategy…

    • Eric Calabros

      For high end products, wait 6 months to have all the QA issues being revealed and fixed; for low end products wait 6 months to buy at half the price. one hell of a nice map of the road for a Nikon shooter 🙂

    • Andrew

      It shows you how sophisticated these products have become. Seeing that we are all seeking perfection, there will always be something to fix in the future. This is what happens when these hardware products are controlled by software. Every few months I now get an Intel firmware fix for my laptop.

      In fact, installed Photoshop CS on my laptop today and suddenly noticed strange behavior with my pen input device. I launched SketchBook Pro and noticed the same strange behavior. A few moments later, it seems to have fixed itself. I will know for sure when I reboot my system. Anyway, fixing problems via firmware updates is a good thing.

      • Thom Hogan

        No. It shows you how poor Nikon’s testing is. Seems relatively easy to trigger on the D8xx models, so why wasn’t it caught?

        • Eric Calabros

          Because in Japan, birds never stand still so 1/125 of a second is useless. for shooting old ladies feeding birds in the park, use tripod.. oh wait.. We made it smaller and lighter for easier handheld shooting!

          • Nimloth

            From what I’ve seen, old ladies (and grandpas) feeding birds in Japan tends to attract kites, so 300 mm is overkill anyway. No need to test that. 😉

        • ITN

          Most applications of a long lens involve active subjects (which is why the long lens is chosen) and fast shutter speeds are needed to freeze the subject, if the expectation is 36MP level of detail then *really* fast shutter speeds are needed to have no visible movement blur.

          When shooting portraits, the people using the D810 to test the PF 300/4 for Nikon prior to release of the lens may have been using the camera with the MB-D12 grip which according to several user reports solves the VR glitch (either because of the extra weight or it modifies the mechanical system so that the vibration that the lens VR group sees is altered sufficiently to avoid the problem). Some of the testers were using other camera bodies which may not cause this particular problem with this lens. In any case the bug was caught after the first batch of deliveries, it seems, and the fact that the solution is a firmware install instead of replacing internal parts of the lens, makes it easier to apply and safer for the lens.

          Anyway, a glitch that is caught in months in a lens that has a life cycle of 13 years is pretty good. It took much longer to find solutions (and expensive ones!) to the poor tripod collar of the 300/4D AF-S. This lens also has very jittery AF (while at the same time the f/2.8 version had phenominal AF, so it wasn’t that they couldn’t do it). The 300/4E has excellent AF tracking which doesn’t hesitate or jitter, it just silently keeps the subject in focus. So why invent this lie about the supposedly reduced quality of Nikon products? It seems to me that the quality of Nikon products today is much better than they were 10 years ago. Pick up a D70, shoot with it a bit and analyze it with the same level of criticism that you’d use today. Check the price of that product when it came on the market and compare with what you can get today for that kind of money or less.

          Would it not be more helpful to your readers to focus on how to improve their photography? Or is it that you don’t do positive thinking?

          • Thom Hogan

            I wrote “how poor Nikon’s testing is” not “reduced quality of Nikon products.” I think I’ve been pretty clear that all the recent issues have been QA issues, not design issues.

            When you’re making claims about four and five stop benefits of VR, you think you’d test that pretty carefully. Also, it seems to be pretty common knowledge amongst us serious photographers that shutter slap tends to be seen in the 1/60 to 1/200 shutter speed range on multiple products, you’d think that you’d want to test how the VR fares when the camera vibration is the worst. Moreover, Nikon has removed Active VR, which takes out short high frequency vibrations and replaced it with Sport VR which mostly tries to detect panning, so you’d think you’d want to test anything that might produce such vibrations, which includes the shutter mechanism.

            “Caught” is also an interesting word. Much like the previous QA problems, it does not appear that Nikon themselves caught this issue. Users discovered it. It took samples being sent back to Japan once again before they even looked for a problem.

            I will say that Nikon’s continued stream of these low-level defects getting past QA now makes them more susceptible to scrutiny by customers. It’s also hurting early sales of products now, as more and more people are just waiting to see what problem will be caught. The proper corporate response in such a situation is to ratchet up the QA levels so that the series of problems stops.

            Stop trying to kill the reporter.

            • ITN

              Your claim that Nikon testing is somehow at a significntly lower level in recent years than in the past is fiction, and there is a lot of evidence of similar flaws from past decades of Nikon products.

              List of examples of obvious product flaws in the past panning three decades: 1) manual focus zoom lenses where the zoom starts to move on its own after a bit of use, sliding by itself (zoom creep) due to gravity only. Almost all Nikon zooms from the 1980s have this flaw. It seems to be a problem that is all but extinct in zooms of recent years. 2) F3HP viewfinder illumination button: most units develop a flaw where it stops working. 3) Nikon F70: Early cameras had a systematic flaw where the camera underexposed every picture metered through a non-CPU lens by a full stop. It took a long time before it was fixed and even longer to have the fix available on existing units sold earlier (eventually I did get it fixed for free). 4) F5: the first batch could barely shoot through *one* 36-exposure roll of film using a set of 8 AA alkaline batteries, if it was even moderately cold (i.e. 0 C). My friend got one of the first ones had had to fight a lot to get a replacement that didn’t have this flaw, which was fixed eventually. You’d think that they’d test the camera with the most prominently used battery type: AA alkalines before releasing their professional top of the line model. 5) I can’t even begin to describe what kind of insult to existing users of Nikon lenses the D70 was. Autofocus was in a class of its own in terms of lack of accuracy and the infamous pentamirror viewfinder was invented, giving a fuzzy image where it basically was impossible to validate if anything was in focus, let alone use it for manual focusing. It goes beyond my understanding how this kind of travesty could pass through product development and testing. 6) 300/4 AF-S D version tripod collar. It was essentially impossible to make a sharp picture using a large range of shutter speeds with this lens. It seems to have been finally fixed to some extent by using a newer model of the same lens (of course Nikon never publicly admitted there was anything wrong with it but actually changed the collar at least twice during its 13 years of production) and a D810 with its enhanced dampening of shutter and mirror, and of course the EFCS. The 300/4D also has one of the worst implementations of AF-S in the history of the Nikon lineup, with jittery AF (which AF-S is supposed to solve, being inherently fast and precise) and relatively poor action tracking. Product testing should have caught both problems before release. 7) 24 PC-E first iteration had a shift lock which crept by itself and eventually self-destructed in normal use. 8) poor tripod collars in several other lenses including 300/2.8 VR and VR II, 400/2.8 VR, VR 200/2 Mk I etc. basically making it all but impossible to use them for landscape photography (where they actually excel in optical terms) without use of fast shutter speeds. All of these are major issues to many users.

              I could go on and on. The reality is that these kind of glitches have existed in Nikon products through many decades of the company’s existence and the claim that there is some unusually high frequency of product flaws today is a complete fabrication. I think the overall usefulness and quality of a product from a practical photographer’s point of view should be the foundation of blogs and reviews on said products. In your case, as Nikon products get better and better (from a real world user’s perpective) there is an exponentially increasing amount of complaining about Nikon on your website. It’s almost nothing else that you find reason to write about. I guess in the end you aren’t that interested in photography.

              In my point of view these glitches are all something that proper product development should catch, but the reality is that today users expect cheaper, lighter, faster, more, all at the same time, and when the manufacturers try to answer to the hectic demands for new things, something can get passed quality control and testing. If users accepted the true cost of thorough testing this would not happen, but the products would be significantly more expensive. The consumers seem to accept some minor glitches as long as the product is as cheap as possible and up to date technologically. In my opinion it would be better if the products were more thoroghly tested but user expectations would need to be scaled down, in terms of the rate of introduction of new technology as well as achieving the impossible combination of lighter, faster, better, smaller and cheaper all in one. What strongly object to is the focus on the negative, when in fact what you can do with Nikon DSLRs and lenses today is something that no one could have predicted 10 or 20 years ago. Why then all the complaining? Look at the image quality. Compare to what you had 10 or 20 years ago. That’s the only thing that really matters: the results. The quality control is the same as it has always been; glitches sometimes get past testing and then usually they’re fixed soon after. If you want to avoid becoming a victim of some minor product flaw, wait 6 months before buying a newly introduced product. Many products continue to be available for years (bodies a couple of years, lenses for a decade or more) there is no reason to rush into being an early adopter. You usually get a lower price too, if you wait for 6-12 months after intro. Many people have given this advice for as long as I’ve been a photographer, I remember this very well.

              I am not objecting to better quality control. I’m objecting to the current negativity in forums online and obvious “forgetting” of facts about how things were in the past. Articles discussing current technology should focus on what you can do with it, and if it is a lot, then the tone should be positive.

            • Thom Hogan

              You’re mixing design flaws and parts quality flaws with overall fit-to-purpose and QA testing. Zoom creep and tripod collar bounce are design flaws. The F3HP problem (as was the D70 and D2h problems) was a problem with a parts supplier that didn’t show up until parts were used for some time (i.e. could pass initial tests, but not constant use).

              I’m well aware of Nikon’s previous problems re: the F100 and F5, and even D1x and D2h, and even a few more than you haven’t mentioned. Since I’ve been reporting on these things for over 20 years on the Internet now, I think I have as good a perspective as anyone.

              I agree that proper product development should catch ALL of these things. I’ve pointed it out every time they haven’t.

              The problem I see now is that Nikon hasn’t been catching ANY problem anymore. In their haste to deliver at higher quantities these days, they’re missing something on every product. That’s a little different than before, but when it’s also coupled with Nikon being much more reluctant to admit to and fix a problem and has to be persuaded by various public pressures to address them, the story has turned.

              As for image quality, here’s the problem: when the VR fails on a shot with the 300mm f/4E, it’s unlikely you’ll ever get that shot again. When the D750 puts flare into an image that is unremovable, it’s unlikely that you’ll get that shot again. When the D800 doesn’t focus correctly, again, you’ve missed the shot. Photography is temporal in nature. You say that all that matters is the results. Well, great, don’t buy a new Nikon product, as you won’t be able to predict your results reliably.

              I’ve long advocated that people test their equipment thoroughly before relying upon it, but even then you can get caught by these things that Nikon themselves should have caught in development and production testing.

              It’s not that I’m more negative now than before. It’s that I’m more frustrated than before in that this problem is clearly now institutional and not being addressed. Moreover, I think you’re doing some “editing” and “interpreting” of what I’ve written over the years, including recently. You’re remembering only negative things and forgetting (or ignoring) all the positive things I’ve written.

              Finally, telling someone what they should do is a form of bullying. Okay, I get that you don’t like negative comments about Nikon. But saying that “the tone should [always] be positive” is nonsense and a mild attempt at cyber-bullying. If you don’t like what I write, don’t read it.

  • Alberto

    So, after the D600 (sensor oil&dust issue) the D800/E (left AF issue) the D810 (thermal noise/white dots issue) the D750 (abnormal fare issue) the 300/4 PF (VR issue) I’d say there’s only one certainty: NEVER EVER BUY FRESHLY RELEASED NIKON PRODUCTS. Just give it some months, man! (still this is massively awkward for a company the size of Nikon…)

    • And there was also the EN-EL15 battery recall…

      • Hagbard Celine

        They recalled the D70 EN-EL3 too…

        On the other hand that Df had no QC problems at all. Just sayin’…

        🙂

    • HF

      I would rate the D810, D750 and 300/4 issues very minor ones. Many camera makers have problems, too, and/or issue firmware updates. The D600/D800 thing is in an other ballpark, however, for me.

    • Joshua Boldt

      or you could be one of the millions of users who didn’t experience any of those problems

  • Greentablet

    Nice to see Nikon isn’t restricting their buggy releases to camera bodies and also giving the lenses some love…

    …bring on the forum Nikon stooges who will now talk about how Nikon is giving “excellent customer service” by stooping to fix faulty gear…

    *sigh*

    • Antonio

      If their new products are released without any problem I’m sure it would disappoint the new class of “Nikon bugs hunters” and take out a lot of fun from the internet experience… 🙂
      Maybe it would be the moment to change systems to have the possibility to complain about the bugs of the new one’s manufacturer. 🙂 🙂

      • ITN

        There will always be comething, no matter how trivial that internet commentators will complain about. If there isn’t anything serious to complain about, they’ll make a big deal out of something that doesn’t really affect anyone doing real world photography. E.g. use a microscope to investigate the surface of the product and find some pores that are 1 micrometer in dimension and have no influence on anything. Or they’ll say that a switch was moved 1mm to the wrong position and now they can’t use the product because of this.

        • Hagbard Celine

          Jesus, ain’t that the truth?

          The thing is that it always looks worse to camera nerds because they hang out on forums where one dozen people complain and make it look like a HUGE problem when thousands of people don’t even notice it. Like the D750 flare problem.

      • Greentablet

        Please. Disappoint me. Please.

        • Antonio

          If you’re a real “Nikon bug hunter” I’m afraid it will be rather difficult because Nikon like any other manufacturer will always have some early adopters complains, in a competitive market demanding new products at a increasingly faster pace.

          Even considering the bad attitude of the company concerning the D600 issues, the point is that the internet magnifies the problems’ echoes and for the ones that have fun playing it a new sport seems to go on in the cyberspace.

          I already had problems with equipment from other two manufacturers that I never had with Nikon and as a rule of thumb I never buy before being certain the material is up to the expectations and fills my needs. This prevents me from being the first to exhibit the hottest novelties but can save me some “headaches”.

          • Greentablet

            Stupid Internet people.
            Spend a mere $2K on a camera body and expect it to not spray oil on the sensor.
            Spends a little more and expect AF to work and there not be light leakage.
            Spend only $2K on a prime and expect functioning VR.
            Nitpicking trolls, expecting something for nothing.

            • Antonio

              Yeah,
              I didn’t mean such a thing as “stupid internet people” and I’m glad you recognize that by the end of the day it all comes to expectations… 🙂

            • Aldo

              stop puking on your tablet.

            • ITN

              Nikon’s infrastructure was largely destroyed in 2011 by the earthquake of a historical magnitude, the tsunami that flooded Sendai into the Pacific, and the flooding later that year in Thailand that soaked Nikon’s factory. All in the course of one year. The D800 and D600 were introduced in the next year, it is hardly surprising that there would be quality control problems when the company, their subcontractors, and the country were fighting to survive the natural disasters. These were major issues but understandable under the circumstances. The QC problems in subsequent products several years after such as the D750 flare issue, and the VR problem in the 300/4E are very minor and they seem to have been addressed quickly.

  • Greentablet

    Thanks for report it NR!

  • Brian

    I had this lens 3 days before release and sold it 3 days later. Wasn’t not nearly as sharp as my 300 F/4D lens with and without teleconverters.

    • Martin Huisman

      Hmmm interesting. Sounds to me your situation is rather an exception then.
      Perhaps you’re slightly exaggerating to ‘make your point’, but if it really wasn’t as ‘nearly as sharp’ as your F/4D then you might have had bad luck with your copy?
      The majority of info tells us it’s at least as sharp as and some even claim it’s a tad sharper.

      • Brian

        I wasn’t exaggerating my point. No one was looking forward to the lens more then me. I use it a lot. I wonder how many of those that bought the new lens had the old D version. Here is a link to pics I’ve taken with my D lens. The new lens didn’t come close for me and the way I shoot.

        https://www.flickr.com/photos/bkushner/sets/72157648327285614

    • HF

      According to all the reports and various tests as well as sample pics, I can’t believe that. Did you do fine tuning?

    • Hagbard Celine

      I tried one out, my 300mm f/4 non-D was a little sharper, surprisingly enough. I mean it can’t compete with the focus speed if it has to rack in and out all the way and there’s not VR, and it has an 8 foot min focus (!), but as far as sharpness the 20 year old lens was definitely better.

      I rarely use the old non-D, but they don’t fetch much on the used market so no real reason to get rid of it.

  • JohnM

    Just in case you were wondering where Nikon’s cost cutting was coming from.

    • Thom Hogan

      They also aren’t paying shipping to return the lens to them for updating ;~).

      • I think in Europe the shipping is free: “create a Free Service Returns Request ”

      • El Aura

        Could one claim that this is a warranty ‘repair’?

        • JohnM

          “In returning this product for repair or replacement under this warranty, the original consumer purchaser must prepay all postage, shipping transportation, insurance and delivery costs…”

        • Thom Hogan

          “Suitability to purpose.” As a class, apparently all 300mm f/4E are incapable of providing correct results at 1/125 on D8xx bodies. That’s unsuitability to purpose across all products shipped (up to the stated serial number, which indicates that there’s been a product change), and really should be a recall type of operation.

          • DSLRUser

            Talk about trusting your camera company, are we really certain that this issue is not in lenses after the stated serial number?

            • Thom Hogan

              Can’t be certain of anything. My point was about how the law in the US looks at products needing “normal warranty work” versus products that have a clear defect and should be recalled for a fix. I believe that Nikon’s description puts the 300mm f/4E in the latter category.

      • JohnM

        Realistically, I will likely never switch away from Nikon because I have too much of an investment in lenses and I have neither the energy nor the money to start over. However, the last three or four people that have come to me for camera recommendations? I have pointed them at Canon.

        It should not be difficult to understand why.

        • David Weinehall

          So Canon never has QA issues? Interesting…

          • JohnM

            Of course they do, but they haven’t botched something on nearly ever major product release in the past, what, 3 years? 4 years?

            But it’s not just continual QA issues, it’s also all the little things over the past several years that add up to Nikon being a lot more consumer-hostile than they used to be (and honestly, they never were very consumer-friendly to begin with). The new repair policies, problems with items being in stock, their erratic product roadmap, the MSRP enforcement…these are not compelling arguments for recommending Nikon over Canon to a newcomer.

            • ITN

              It’s more like 10% of new Nikon products have some minor issue, apart from the 2012 releases which had major issues (the D600 and D800(E)).

          • Hagbard Celine

            That’s because Canon just reuses the same parts with a few tweaks on some stuff on the PCB. They got the build down!

            Before anyone gets fired up, I’m just kidding.

        • Thom Hogan

          Every time one of these QA things pop up, I get another round of emails that are essentially “that’s it, I’m giving up on Nikon.”

          I’ve tried to warn about this, but it seems the momentum is building, not declining.

          Message to Nikon executives: the one thing you don’t want to do in a severe sales decline is also lose your brand status as reputable and high end. But that’s what you’re doing.

  • Nimloth

    Come on, Nikon! Where is your respons to Sigma’s lens dock, huh?

    • Eric Calabros

      If they were in respons to competition business, we would have D400 by now

  • Michael_Foley

    All of those images have large amounts of sharpening applied, I’d like to see the raw shots.

  • Michael_Foley

    If I have a pre-order for this lens when can I expect to have a copy? I’ve waited long enough and motosports season is about to begin. I’m considering canceling my pre-order and going for something else, but I can’t find any comparable telephoto with OS that is this light and small.

    • Hagbard Celine

      “motosports season is about to begin”

      About to??? I already shot lots of stuff including MotoGP.

      You won’t find a VR lens of this size anywhere, but the Sigma 120-300 f/2.8 | S although HUGE is pretty f’n amazing. Best long fast zoom I’ve ever used.

  • Infinite Vortex

    “When cameras other than the D800, D800E or D810 are used, this firmware update is not needed.”

    Hmmm, just because an owner doesn’t have a D800/D800E/D810 right now doesn’t mean they won’t buy, rent or borrow one in the future.

    • SteveHood

      And what about future bodies? Will the D750 replacement have the issue? What about future crop bodies? Is Nikon going to continue updating the lens for these bodies?

  • *Anyone* who has an affected lens should send it in to Nikon for a fix, regardless of what camera they use it with. Remember that you may well want to sell it one day, and anyone with a camera body that exhibits the problem will want to know if the fix has been applied.

  • Beso

    Wow, the Nikon hits just keep coming. I am heavily invested in Nikon but I sure wish they would get their QA/QC under control. They have acknowledged the QC problems but apparently haven’t taken the proper steps to correct them just yet. I will definitely be a bit gun shy on new product purchases until they have been fully tested by the marketplace.

    Maybe the new Nikon user mantra should be: I AM WAITING

    • HF

      I have the impression it is now a problem with many manufacturers. I just read about the new Sony 35/1.4 having QC issues. I just wonder why this seems to happen so frequently in recent times (I have a guess, but without hard data it is mere speculation).

      • Hagbard Celine

        ” I just wonder why this seems to happen so frequently in recent times”

        Internet propagation. Back in the day you’d never hear about it unless you worked in a shop.

  • AYWY

    In practical terms, this means that when Nikon finally releases a D400 everyone has been dreaming about, they are better off waiting for the D410. 😛

    List of recent oops – D800 left-focus issue, D600 shutter oil spots, D750 AF sensor flare, now D8xx + 300mm PF vibration. Something is wrong on the manufacturing lines.

    Almost makes me think they are better off dropping the mirror box since it’s nature is the cause of at least 3 out of the 4 problems listed above… but I’ll miss the 10x superior dynamic range of my human eye.

    (I’ve been hearing that the Samsung NX1 is surprisingly competent with EVF latency/refresh and AF. Maybe we’re close to being good enough for even sports photogs to retire the mirror box in a year or two.)

    • Gustavo

      And the SB900 overheating…

  • Vil

    Nikkor 300mm PF “I’m the new Quality Control Saga”

  • Martin Huisman

    It’s not that I don’t want to believe you, it’s just that your experience or opinion differs from the general consensus.
    Well, you disagree, so there isn’t a consensus of course, but I hope you get my point 🙂
    I’m just surprised to hear!

    Very nice portfolio with some great shots!

  • E-Nonymouse A

    So I guess Nikon will not be delivering on their promise of camera firmware upgrades, not that i should be suprised but i had my hopes.
    The D800E I own could use a few tweaks, hope the nikon hacker community offers better options than Nikon does.

    • HF

      What if your guess is wrong? What makes you think that?

  • doge

    Interesting. thanks.

    • Politics_Nerd

      That and saving ~$200+ on the sigma (I saved around $300 at the time I bought mine) makes it a no-brainer imo…

      • doge

        Looks like only a $100 difference now, but still better price and sharpness performance.

        • Abdul

          These lenses have different effective apertures at different magnifications, Nikon’s 105 VR having the least pronounced loss of f-number of all macro lenses, as I know (faster than makro zeiss 100/2 at 1:2 mag), which helps autofocus and comfort. Nikon has f4.8 at 1:1, Sigma, I think, would have about f5.6. Canon 100 2.8L is f5.9…
          Considering different effective apertures, and knowing that Nikon DSLRs show effective f-number on Micro-Nikkor on any magnification, and “fake f2.8” on Sigma, there is no sure way to keep the same pace of apertures/dof on both lenses. So there are mistakes inevitable. Many reviewers are confused with this “f4.8” and effective f-numbers on nikkors, so I’ve seen 1,5-2 times mistakes in calculations.
          Next, 16mp crop/36mp ff are already diffraction-limited from f8, so there are almost zero gains from higher magnification/sharper glass/tc/higher pixel count at these apertures. Difference between most macro lenses at f8-11-16+ would be less than a typical tester mistake. I have Pentax 100 2.8WR (which shows better stopped down aperture sharpness at DXO, too) and there are no difference at 200-300% zoom at 1:1 magnification at f9.5 of Pentax (stopped down 3,5 stops from fake f2.8, which really is about f5.6 +3,5 stops=f18) and Nikon’s f18 (effective aperture).

          • Politics_Nerd

            … you think…

          • true

            @disqus_mmodLDx7YB:disqus
            “Next, 16mp crop/36mp ff are already diffraction-limited from f8, so there are almost zero gains from higher magnification/sharper glass/tc/higher pixel count at these apertures”

            I would say you’re incorrect. Have you looked at the sharpness charts in dxo or dpreview? If you compare a “not so sharp” glass with a “very sharp glass”, usually the “very sharp glass” doesn’t get “very soft” values @f16 or f22 , whilst the softer glass might already be all orange or yellow (low value colors)

          • phocus.org

            Plus, the Nikon 105 VR exhibit more focus breathing than the Sigma or the Zeiss 100/2. So, also effective focal length is to be considered when comparing these guys.

  • roadie

    Actually the 24-85 VR has the same problem. I’ve owned two copies and they exhibit the same problem. Of course, Nikon isn’t going to fix this lens that is in a different league.

  • Ken Katowik

    “When sending your AF-S Nikkor 300mm f/4 E PF ED VR lens to a Nikon authorized service center, the user must pay the cost of shipping to the service center, and Nikon will pay for return shipping.”

    Uh…I think Nikon should provide free shipping both ways and a free shipping box as well. I hope everyone who has to deal with Nikon on this issue makes it clear to them we do not like their way of doing business.

    I think I won’t be buying any more new Nikon products…I’ll be buying used Nikon products. The shipping costs to me will cost Nikon well over 10 times the amount of lost profits to them because they only profit on selling new products.

  • D800

    Hi, I don’t know whether anyone is still reading comments to this post, but just in case I’d like to pose a question…: I sent my 300 f/4E PF lens to Nikon Services Austria and got it back within 3 days, no shipping costs at all – good Service. However the repair effect was not as good as I hoped. before I had problems with my D800/300′ Combo with shutter speeds between 1/60 and 1/250, now there is a slight improvement, a shutter speed of 1/250 works well the rest stayed the same. For me it is still impossible to get sharp images with 1/125 when the VR is switch on. It does not matter if I capture it handhold or mounted on a tripod, with mirror lockup or without . It seems that images are still sharper when VR is switched off (on a tripod definitely ;-). Around 1/50 images get sharp again. Does anybody else have a repaird ‘300 and made some tests? Would be highly interested in the results… Thx!

    • Micloi

      Try using a battery grip.

      • D800

        Thanks! I also read it at various forums that using a battery grip might help, however I bought this lens to travel light and I don’t want to buy and carry a battery grip just to get a usable lens… 😉
        I also did some test shots with my old D7000. Even there shutter speeds around 1/125 are still (after the firmware upgrade of the lens) remarkably softer (when pixel peeping at 1:1) than at 1/250 and 1/60, however the severity of the problems with my D7000 are not comparable to the ones when using a D800. Maybe it also has something to do with the higher resolution of the D800…

        • Micloi

          No issues with the D7200 but people reported some issues with the D7100 similar to the D7000 so it depends a lot on the camera model it looks like. I am happy to use the grip with the D810 for the extra fps and portrait mode and also the extra battery life with D4 batteries so I will be keeping the lens. I have the D7200 for lightweight set with it.

  • Micloi

    Same here, I had the firmware updated but still shots are sharper with the grip on my D810 than without the grip.

  • true

    Why can’t I do this @ home? Sigma lets me do it, so why nikon doesn’t let me upgrade my own lens?

  • phocus.org

    Update:
    Just received a new 300PF with #212xxx (it’s October 2015, i.e., the problem is very well known for many months now. Thanks Nikon). Horrible at around 1/125 on (my) D810. Not talking about some blurriness because of exposure times that are ambitious for a 300mm lens. Talking about massive doubled edges and entirely pointless performance. There seems to be quite a “vertical shift” in the image. I get much better results handheld around 1/125 when VR is switched off.
    Returned it.

    Very sad as the lens is stellar otherwise (at shorter exp times or on tripod), but I frequently need that very range of exp times that doesn’t work here. Would love to have such a light and stellar 300mm lens.

    To prevent misunderstandings: I use non-VR lenses since 30 years and until today as well as VR-lenses since they have been available. On the D800/D810, I had or have, e.g., the 24-85 VR, 105 VR, 70-200 f2.8 VRI+II, 70-200 f4 VR, 80-400G VR. None of which has any issues with VR. They all have their individual limits of course but, nothing comparable to the 300 PF. Sigh.

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