VR Problem with Nikon 70 -300mm

Started Jun 5, 2008 | Discussions thread
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james_f64
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VR Problem with Nikon 70 -300mm
Jun 5, 2008

I just purchased a new Nikon VR 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED lens for my D300 and D70 and have noticed a minor (but annoying) problem with the functioning of the vibration reduction (VR). If you hold the camera very steady (body braced against a wall or such or while sitting) the VR either doesn't activate or it stops functioning a few seconds after you've got focus lock. Then if you "wobble" the lens slightly the VR will re-activate for a few seconds and then stop again (in these cases I'm holding the shutter down to the pre-focus position while I wait for the VR to settle down and/or for the subject to be "ready"). I've noticed this when the VR is in either the "normal" or "active" mode.

The easiest way to duplicate this problem is to brace your arm/hand against a table activate the pre-focus shutter position and then note whether any of the remaining image vibration is reduced or whether the VR works for a few seconds and then seems to turn off. I've seen cases where it never seems to improve the image stability or it "stops" after a few seconds with the shutter held down. Note, however, that I always hear the "clunk" when the VR activates so it's not completely off, it just doesn't improve the stability on some occasions.

It took me a while to really isolate why the VR was sometimes not working, but it seems certain now that it has to do with how steady you hold the camera (it's also possible that camera orientation plays some role -- I've most easily duplicated this problem in landscape orientation when the camera is relatively level).

Now, before someone says that I have a "bad" sample and they've never seen or heard of such a problem I must report that I went back to the camera shop where I purchased the lens and tried this same test on the sample 70-300mm lens they had (on a different D300 body) and the in-store sample had the same problem. I also had a friend who is a pretty good photographer try a D70 with my 70-300 VR and he noticed the same problem. Note, you have to hold the camera pretty steady, use maximum zoom, and look carefully at the focused and "stabilized" image but the VR seems to fail very frequently under these conditions.

The effect on the captured image is a little hard to quantify. I suspect that you'd have to use a fairly low shutter speed (let's say below 1/100s) and it doesn't seem to be a problem if you are rather shaky with your camera (i.e if there is a moderate amount of vibration the VR always seems to engage).

So, has anyone else noticed this problem?

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