[UPDATED] Nikon announces new firmware for 300mm F4 VR to fix blur at certain shutter speeds
Nikon has announced a firmware update for its new AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/4E PF ED VR, to fix an issue where at certain shutter speeds on D800-series cameras, images can exhibit 'noticeable blur'. According to Nikon, the problem can occur at around 1/125sec with the lens's VR function enabled in either 'Normal' or 'Sport' modes. Users of affected units (those with serial numbers lower than 205101) are encouraged to return their lenses to Nikon where the update will be applied free of charge.
We are very curious about this news, since in our testing (see below) we have found this issue with several of Nikon's VR-equipped lenses, not just the new 300mm F4. And it's not only Nikon - preliminary tests of Canon's new 50MP EOS 5DS cameras also show issues at certain shutter speeds when using lenses with optical image stabilization without any sort of Mirror Up pre-delay. It is unclear whether this particular problem is unique in some way to the 300mm F4 VR, but we're speaking to Nikon and will update this story with more information as and when we receive it.
Have a look below at our tests with the Nikon D810 and a 70-200 F4 VR lens shot at 1/80s, hand-held, with a few different shooting modes:
|VR On | S | (Worst of 10)||VR On | S | (Best of 10)|
|VR On | EFC | (all shots equivalent)||VR Off | S | (Best of 10)|
VR Off | EFC | (Best of 10) | Sharpest
Abbreviations in table: S = Single Shot drive mode | EFC = electronic front curtain in Mirror Up drive mode
There appears to be some sort of interaction between vibration reduction (VR) and the mirror/shutter actuation, as VR On with the electronic front curtain* yields sharper images than VR On in Single Shot mode, where there is no delay between the mirror and shutter actuation and the beginning of the exposure. Furthermore, VR Off in either drive modes (Single Shot, or Mirror Up with electronic front curtain) can yield sharper results than any of the VR On shots, although 80% or so of your shots will be blurred from hand-holding shake. Still, the fact that the best you can get with VR On, in either drive mode, is worse than the best you can get with VR off is interesting. Note that for each permutation, we shot 10 to rule out outliers and pick the best or worst of the series, as indicated above.
What does this mean for real-world shooting? The most important take-away here is that the mirror and shutter-induced shake can blur your images, and electronic front curtain helps reduce these deleterious effects. These effects are not unique to Nikon; we've seen these effects in a Sony a7R as well as Canon's newest 5DS cameras to varying degrees. It behooves camera manufacturers, then, to look into these deleterious interactions, which clearly exist since you can get better results with VR set to 'off', as we've shown above.
The easiest, and arguably best solution, though, is somewhat simpler: make the electronic front curtain more usable. Our sharpest shots above utilized an electronic front curtain, which on the D810 requires you to switch to Mirror Up drive mode. The first button press flips up the mirror and shutter, and the second button press initiates the shutter. Two button presses is an odd way of shooting; furthermore, the second button press might shake the camera, so an exposure delay is additionally useful. But that makes this manner of shooting even more impractical: the first button press lifts up the mirror and shutter, the second button press then initiates an exposure delay, and then the exposure is taken a whole second later (which is the shortest available exposure delay).
With a 200mm lens, by this point - two button presses and more than a second later - your framing has totally changed.
Much smarter in our opinion would be to allow electronic front curtain in all drive modes, and pair it with user-selectable short delays (on the order of 1/2 to 1/10s or so, as vibrations do die out quickly). The first button press would lift up the mirror and shutter, and the exposure would automatically be initiated by the camera after a short, pre-selected delay that is just long enough to have let movement die down from the button press and the mechanical actuations.*
For more details about how to return your lens to Nikon, click here.
Nikon Official Statement:
We have confirmed that when the AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/4E PF ED VR lens is used with the D800, D800E, D810 or D810A, images captured at shutter speeds of around 1/125 s with the VR function enabled (NORMAL or SPORT) sometimes exhibit noticeable blur.
To address the occurrence of this, we are offering a service for updating your AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/4E PF ED VR firmware.
When cameras other than the D800, D800E, D810, or D810A are used, this firmware update is not needed.
Users of the D800, D800E, D810, or D810A who are concerned about this issue may take or send their lens to a Nikon authorized service center, where your lens firmware will be updated free of charge.
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.
Firmware for lenses with a serial number of 205101 or later has already been updated.
*Funny enough, Canon offers this sort of 'pre-delay' in the 5DS, but they don't pair it with an electronic curtain. It's like each manufacturer got half the implementation correct, but didn't go all the way to ensure sharp images.
Jul 14, 2017
Aug 3, 2016
Jul 19, 2017
Jul 17, 2017
|Body Only, Base|
|w/ 18-140mm, Base|
|w/ 24-120mm, Base|
|w/ 24-70mm, Base|
|w/ 55-200mm, Base|
|Nikon D810 FX-Format DSLR Camera Body + Nikon MB-D12 Battery|
|Nikon D810 FX-Format DSLR Camera w/ 24-120mm Lens + Nikon...|
|Nectar Dancing by Lensmate|
from A Big Year - birds
|Foggy morning by LassiM|
|Sad clown by PEB|
|Mtl Gen X 2015 DP by MarioSS|
from - Gen X - (In Full Colours+ Border)
In this article, expert macro photographer Thomas Shahan shares advice for successful closeup photography of bugs, insects and small animals.
DJI's new firmware makes it difficult to fly in restricted airspace, even when you have proper clearance. Is DJI placing themselves between professionals and the FAA?
Go behind the scenes with National Geographic photographer Renan Ozturk and see what it takes to capture a dangerous, harrowing, stunning Nat Geo photo essay.
Erez Marom tells the story behind this ominous photo of the sand 'reaching up' towards the mountains at Skagsanden beach in Norway. He calls this photo 'Torment.'
DPReview staffer Carey Rose has taken the Panasonic Leica DG 15mm F1.7 along for everything from a city-side boat ride to a bachelor party across the mountains. Find out how the little Leica fared.
Canon just unveiled the largest 12-ink printer on the market. The new imagePROGRAF PRO-6000 printer can make prints from 17 all the way up to 60 inches wide.
"Standing in one of the holiest places on earth, I felt uneasy," writes Wired's Jason Parham. "Most of my fellow visitors, I realized with a brief bloom of nausea, were taking selfies."
Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk has been receiving great reviews, but it's a challenge to see it in its full glory. This handy infographic reveals the aspect ratio chaos that is wrought as the industry retreats from film.
Anti-bullying organization Ditch the Label's Annual Bullying Survey 2017 reveals yet again that Instagram, more so than any other social network, has a the worst effect on youth mental health.
It's been a crazy day for innovative patent news. Apparently Sony is thinking of developing a medium format curved sensor camera.
An update to the Silkypix Raw converter fixes some bugs and adds support for several popular new cameras.
This crazy custom-built underwater camera shoots 8x10 large format film. It's supposedly "the first successful underwater 8x10 ever made," and it can be yours for $5,800... plus shipping.
Blackmagic just reveled a new accessory for their Cintel Film Scanner. The Cintel Audio and KeyKode Reader can capture KeyKode data and high-quality audio from film in real-time as it is being scanned.
A new Nikon patent shows a lens designed for a curved full-frame sensor. Could this be the high-end Nikon mirrorless camera people are hoping for?
The ability to shoot images at 1,000 fps first appeared in a Sony smartphone sensor. Now the Japanese manufacturer is using the same feature for industrial applications.
Astronomy expert and photographer Dr. Tyler Nordgren thinks you should "see your first eclipse, photograph your second." But if you do plan on taking photos this August, here are a few tips from someone who's been there.
How confident are you that you can spot a manipulated photo? A recent study at the University of Warwick shows that many people are pretty bad at it.
If you purchased a Leica TL2, do NOT attach Leica's Visoflex electronic viewfinder. Leica is working on a fix, but for now, it's possible the viewfinder will break your camera.
Google just released Motion Stills for Android. Unlike the iOS version, the Android app uses a redesigned video processing pipeline that processes each frame of a video as it is being recorded, creating instant results.
A huge copyright lawsuit between photography firm VHT and Zillow Group is heating up again, as both sides appeal a court ruling that granted VHT $4 million in damages.
European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet spent 6 months on board the International Space Station where he worked with Google capturing spheric panorama images that are now available in Street View.
It's official. PDN has confirmed with parent company Aurelius that 94-year-old lighting company Bowens is indeed going out of business.
The newly launched firmware version 1.06 fixes AF-issues that can occur with some lenses that are not officially compatible with the MC-11 converter.
Voyager is a waterproof smart light stick you can control entirely from your phone. The light has already blown past its $300K funding goal on Indiegogo.
2018 is the last year Photokina will take place during the traditional end-of-September dates. In 2019, Photokina will take place from the 8th to the 11th of May.
The Canon IXUS 50 (known as the SD400 Digital ELPH in North America) was one of a string of high-performing, pocketable PowerShots of the mid-2000s. In this week's throwback Thursday, Barney casts his mind back to 2005.
A close look at the EOS 6D II's Raw files suggest its dynamic range has taken a significant step backwards compared with the company's recent DSLRs. We look at how much difference this might make for your photos.
With a full-production review unit in our hands, we've got over 100 production samples from the new Canon EOS 6D Mark II to share.
Need a break from your day? Kick back and watch the making of a somewhat unconventional mojito filmed on Canon's new EOS 6D Mark II.
The Bonfoton Camera Obscura Room Lens can turn any room into a camera obscura, projecting the view from your window onto the walls of your room.