My D4 Left AF Problem Story (It's a long one)

Started Oct 26, 2012 | Discussions thread
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surrephoto
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My D4 Left AF Problem Story (It's a long one)
Oct 26, 2012

Back this May I sold my 5D Mark III, 16-35L II, 35L & 85L off to return to Nikon. Seeing good pricing of dealer sets in nearby Malaysia (I'm from Singapore) I gave a couple of calls to shops in Johor Bahru to see whether anyone would entertain me. No luck for a week or so... then I received the awaited call from the boss of popular shop I frequent in Plaza Angsana JB....

"Bro we have one more set, the last guy who reserve it dun wan anymore"

Took a taxi from Queens Street across the causeway into JB from Singapore with a bunch of friends. They were interested in other good deals across the border... etc D7000. I paid about 6400 USD, a very good price for the D4 in those days, grabbed a 35mm f/1.4G and thought that salvation and return to Nikon had come. You know how it feels when you've been dealing with shadow noise and banding for 3 months. To be honest I had heard of the D800 left AF point issues (rumor at that time), but thought that the D4 would never be affected by it... i simply brushed it off.

My nightmare began when I used the camera with my 14-24. I was shocked that the depth for the left & right side was so different. Even my 85G was affected quite severely on the left side. In June i started pursuing the issue with Nikon Service Centre Singapore. Knowing that my set was a Malaysian set, the 2nd sentence I said to the technician was... "I can pay for the service".

Service Manager Jonathan Ang at NSC advised that I send the camera in for a test. A week later it came out as being "within factory standards". He was a entertaining fellow with much experience. We laughed off various quirks in other brands and Nikon itself as I poked fun at how lousy Nikon service was deemed to be by fellow photographers in Singapore. After 3 years of crappy service from the local NSC, I felt at home with a at least half-responsible manager who knew what he was talking about.

He finally suggested that NSC Singapore would courier my D4 back to the Japan factory (will be explained later) and I agreed. It finally (assumingly) flew to Japan on 6th August 2012. They gave me a loaner. I waited patiently for a month, and my camera returned... with a very blue LCD screen. Forgivable I thought, since I had also complained about the LCD screen color like all of us here. I was horrified that the AF has worked identically as before... my 35G still backfocuses severely on the left points especially at mid-distances... I never felt more disappointed. What's worse was that the price of the D4 has dropped by about 800 USD in that 3 months.

I continued to visit Nikon Singapore and Mr Jonathan to discuss about what further measures could be taken. I was desperate enough to call the famous Mr Stijin of Netherlands Nikon Service Point (the technician quoted in the dutch fix procedure article) to ask him how the fix procedure would go in usual instances. He talked about adjusting the AF sensor and sub-mirror etc... though he emphasized that it might not be perfect... "No 100%"... and perhaps only 80% fixed.

I sent Mr Jonathan an e-mail with further details and the article quoting Stijin as well as the 5-step procedure. We had a couple more meetings together to discuss about the problem... infact Jonathan also helped me service the rubber grip of my D700 for cheap and I was very thankful.

Soon I realized things weren't moving as expected. I decided to get in touch with Nikon Malaysia. I demanded an exchange/refund and submitted information about my camera. I got in touch with Mr Kon of the Petaling Jaya Nikon HQ. When they discovered my camera was older than 3 months & a shutter count exceeding 20,000 actuations, my various request were rejected.

I asked for 2 D800s in exchange, that was rejected.

I asked for a refund. They apparently called the dealer. That was rejected as well.

Finally they told me since Singapore had sent my camera to Japan and it was within "factory standards", there was nothing more they could do for me.

I then asked them to sell a new D4 at a discounted price to me, and that I would get rid of the old "defective" unit myself. I was rejected again. I plead to Nikon Singapore for that as well. I was given cold treatment by a guy named Max who was supposedly incharged of sales. I then discovered he was actually from the NPS team... no accusations but to me that's just putting up a front. I was told to not have "any false hope" & I "should not be looking for Nikon Singapore anymore" and that "there was nothing they could do to help me".

The next few visits (I counted 3) to Nikon Singapore was useless. I was told that Jonathan was busy. Once I was told that he was not in the office, however I knew that he clearly was as I called his direct office number before the surprise visit. Finally the nice lady at the counter told me that I would need to arrange an appointment before-hand for any meetings in the future.

I was thoroughly fed up. After spending 6400 USD on a camera, I wanted to get my share of justice.

After a malay wedding ceremony shoot on 14th October, I flew to Tokyo & reached at 5.30 am in the morning of 15th October. The return ticket was a promotional price with Singapore airlines... about 600 USD. After a nice meal of Gyudon at "Chikara-meshi" near to Map Camera at Shinjuku, I walked to the NSC Shinjuku. The building had a fantastic view of tokyo city scape btw...

One of the counter chaps tried to help me and understood my situation. They did not have any records of my camera being service in any of the service centres in Tokyo. After waiting for 15 minutes (or maybe 20 mins), the same chap managed to retrieve a bunch of my complain e-mails about my D4 from Hong Kong. I was then told perhaps service orders of foreign cameras did not fall into the same serial number registration system. I was told very honestly that nothing much could be done about my camera. I asked him whether visiting Nikon HQ would help... I was politely told no... nontheless, I hoped on the Densha train and was in the Yurakucho Nikon Headquarters in no time.

A very presentable lady at the counter who spoke a bit of english managed to understand my problem (which I conveyed in a mix of rudimentary JLPT 3 japanese & japanese styled english). A man named Yam***** appeared with a face mask (a very common habit in japan) and spoke great english. I explained my plight in detail with a nice complimentary cup of ice coffee. I showed some of my focus chart samples (I used the FoCal chart), Yamazaki seemed to believe the possibility of me having a "bad chart" and suggested that only black lines of 1.5 cm and a test distance 50x (If my memory does not fail me) the focal length of the lens should be used. I was sure that was corporate talk but was heartened when he show me a map and explained how to go to the Ginza Service Centre for a check-up of my D4.

I've visited the Ginza Service Centre for some parts back in May & thought it would be a breeze to walk there. I was wrong. I think I was lost of 30 minutes when google maps failed on my iphone.

At the Ginza service centre, there were no more complimentary drinks (singapore has complimentary drinks), so a 100 JPY vending machine was there for those times you just needed to drink something. A nice middle-aged man name Tak****** helped me send in my camera. The japanese seemed quite particular about the punctuality of service & testing procedures and I rmb him saying to me "The time now is 3.50 pm... we will be done at 4.20 pm". Those times were indeed written on the service order.

I walked around the product display and saw a D600 mounted with a 70-200 VR II & 2x TC... i sincerely thought that that was a strange choice of combo for potential customers to play with.

Time flies and it was 4.20 pm. Tak****** explained that my D4 was "within factory standards"... but... there was indeed a discrepancy between the left & right AF points & quoted me someway in the range of 300 USD for the fix. I told him I was not ready to pay and did not have the time. Somehow disheartened, I took the next day off for lots of Japanese food and 2nd hand film cameras.

On wednesday last week... my last day in Tokyo... I revisited the Yurakucho Nikon Headquarters. This time Mr Yam***** was not around, and Mr **e from the same department was activated to assist me. He was not too good with english. However our conversation was very interesting...

He asked me why Singapore would not fix my camera, so I quoted the factory standards issue.

I wanted to know exactly which mysterious factory my camera visited. He called Ginza up again... suggesting Ohi Factory, the QC department, had checked my camera. He then revealed to me,

"Your camera made in Sendai Factory, do you know Sendai?"

"Oh yes... Sendai... Oh..." I said. A painful moment when I realized that all those cruel jokes on DPreview about the earthquake & future cameras... might really not be jokes after all.

I said that there was no reason for me to pay, and he advised me to visit Nikon Singapore again, and he ensured that someone at Ginza would contact Nikon Singapore about a suitable fix. We ended the conversation in a friendly manner when he exclaimed that I must be a "rich man" to be able to own a D4... and that he had been using a D700 for a few years. Sometimes I really do wonder whether the D4 is for rich photographers with too much money.

I visited Ginza Nikon once more upon his request. That was just another trip to clarify all details.

Soon I was back in tropical island Singapore, no longer could I enjoy the nice temperate-post-summer-weather in the land of the rising sun. Jonathan was on leave till just this wednesday, but I finally managed to meet him.

Initially he was reluctant to attempt anything further and that there was no adjustment software (unlike the D800) for the D4. But when I told him that Ginza Japan suggested that it might require singapore to open the camera, he gave a call to Japan to clarify matters. He said that that was a possibility only and nothing was certain yet.

"Infact Japan told me that we should start charging you"... he said. I felt irritated for the moment and exclaimed that I had suggested to pay on my first visit and there was no way I was paying after all that mis-adventure.

I promptly sent in my D4 into Singapore once again. My fingers are crossed and I'm ready to pack my whole set of Nikon gear (along with the boxes) to visit Yurakucho Nikon HQ again if necessary.

Next time you buy a Nikon Flagship... think twice folks.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III Nikon D4 Nikon D600 Nikon D700 Nikon D7000 Nikon D800
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