D300 - mirror stuck every other shot

Started May 22, 2011 | Discussions
Flashlight Veteran Member • Posts: 7,954
D300 - mirror stuck every other shot

My oldest D300 (3.5 years, 108.000 clicks) developed a problem a few days ago. While on a shoot the mirror stuck in the up position, though the image was recorded. Pressing the shutterbutton again released the mirror and made the camera record a shot as well, though not sharp because the AF mirror was gone during focusing prior to the shot.

The problem is getting worse as in the beginning it happened once in ten shots, now it's every other shot or several shots in a row. When I fire the camera without a lens there's no problem, with an old Ai-S lens the problem occurs very rarely but with modern AF-S lenses, that I use all the time, the problem is constant.

I decided the camera is too old for a probably costly repair, so the day after the problem developed I quickly bought what was probably the last D700 in the country because I need two cameras for work. Now working with a D700 and a D300.

Still I wonder if someone has some good sound motherly advise what I could do to revive the camera, other than cleaning the contacts which I already did twice with DeOxit. I also tried different lenses to no avail while all lenses work perfectly on the other two bodies. Further I looked at the mirror damping material which seems in good shape, replaced the battery and tried AC power through the EH-5 adapter.

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Philip

iwannabesedated Senior Member • Posts: 1,596
Re: D300 - mirror stuck every other shot

This same problem occurred with my D300 after > 120K shots. Per your experience, the problem with my D300 just kept getting worse and worse so that finally only 1 in 4 presses of the shutter button resulted in a usable photo.

I sent it to the official Nikon repair center in Los Angeles. They repaired the camera in approximately 2 weeks, charging me $224.00 (US) for the repairs and $12.50 for return shipping.

My repaired D300 worked fine for about a year under heavy use (over 100K additional shutter cycles). Then, the same problem came back - mirror would get stuck in the up position. I sent it back to Nikon, and, even though slightly more than the 1 year warranty period had elapsed, they agreed to repair and ship it for free.

By the time the D300 came back from its second trip to the repair center, I had already purchased and received a D300s (which I love, BTW). For this reason, I haven't really used my twice-repaired D300 very much. I keep it as a backup, but no longer feel that I can rely on it for regular service.

Hope this info is useful in helping you decide what to do with your D300. Regards. -iwbs

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ABA DABA Veteran Member • Posts: 3,088
Re: D300 - mirror stuck every other shot

Friend of mine had a similar problem, took it to a Nikon Certified shop and they said it just needed a little lube and it worked fine.Same # of actuations around 100k. Maybe the shutter dries up around that number. Just a thought.
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ABA DABA

OP Flashlight Veteran Member • Posts: 7,954
Re: D300 - mirror stuck every other shot

Thanks for the info. Tried a number of things but the problem is persistent unless I remove the lens. With old MF lenses the camera is still somewhat usable as the problem then only occurs very seldom. There doesn't seem to be a mechanical cause like lubrication, for if I rotate the Aperture dial the problem sometimes goes away for a few shots. Hmmm. Maybe put some contact spray there?

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Philip

LensEnvy Contributing Member • Posts: 510
Re: D300 - mirror stuck every other shot

Flashlight wrote:

There doesn't seem to be a mechanical cause like lubrication, for if I rotate the Aperture dial the problem sometimes goes away for a few shots. Hmmm. Maybe put some contact spray there?

It's curious that you see different behavior with different lenses / aperture, and that it's every other shot. As a point of interest... when you remove the lens or shoot with a manual lens, the aperture arm in the mirror box will move all the way down.

Likewise if you shoot at a smallest aperture with an AF lens - the smaller the aperture, the further the arm moves for an AF lens. But on an AF lens, if you shoot at the widest aperture, the aperture arm doesn't release at all - does it fail then?

You can exercise the aperture mechanism by pressing the DOF preview button (under your right ring finger on the front face... I know, most folks don't use this button anymore).

It may well be an issue of needing lubrication, but probably in an area of the mirror box gears that you can't get to without some disassembly of the camera.

I would not encourage lubricating the camera yourself - certainly not with a spray. Nikon will offer a free quote if you send to them; however, it's Nikon's policy to fix everything that's not performing to spec, which can be expensive. Other repair centers would be more flexible.

Cheers,
Richard

iwannabesedated Senior Member • Posts: 1,596
Re: D300 - mirror stuck every other shot

LensEnvy wrote:

Nikon will offer a free quote if you send to them; however, it's Nikon's policy to fix everything that's not performing to spec, which can be expensive. Other repair centers would be more flexible.

LensEnvy, that was certainly my experience with Nikon service. My only complaint was regarding the mirror lock-up problem. However, as the repair invoice below indicates, they took the opportunity to check/fix lots of other things. This makes it hard to figure out how much I was charged for having the mirror problem fixed as opposed to other services. In fact, it's not even clear which invoice line item corresponds to the mirror issue. -iwbs

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iwannabesedated Senior Member • Posts: 1,596
Re: D300 - mirror stuck every other shot

LensEnvy wrote:

It's curious that you see different behavior with different lenses / aperture, and that it's every other shot.

When I first had this problem with my D300, it started out as every 20th shot or so, but slowly degenerated over the course of the day until I was lucky to get 1 in 4 shots to work (BTW, the "failed" shots would be recorded on the CF as pitch black frames). So, I'm wondering whether the OP meant literally every other shot, or on average every other shot.

Also, the problem seemed less severe when I first turned on my camera after a prolonged period of non-use. As it "warmed up" the problem grew progressively worse. -iwbs

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Rockwallaby Regular Member • Posts: 480
Re: D300 - mirror stuck every other shot

Do a google search and you will find it is a known D300 fault occuring at around the 100k actuations mark.

My D300 failed in the same way at 90k and cost approx AU$300 to fix.

Not many users will reach 100k in the warranty period so most will have to fund the repair themselves.

Cheers.

LensEnvy Contributing Member • Posts: 510
Re: D300 - mirror stuck every other shot

iwannabesedated wrote:

LensEnvy, that was certainly my experience with Nikon service. My only complaint was regarding the mirror lock-up problem. However, as the repair invoice below indicates, they took the opportunity to check/fix lots of other things. This makes it hard to figure out how much I was charged for having the mirror problem fixed as opposed to other services. In fact, it's not even clear which invoice line item corresponds to the mirror issue. -iwbs

If you care, here's my translation...
B2 is the category / severity of repair
(B2 roughly translates to moderate severity with internal work required)
Replaced rubber on CompactFlash cardholder (door cover?)
Replaced aperture mechanism
Adjusted auto-focus
Tested Image, Flash, LCD, white balance detection

So, mostly just testing and cleaning. The CF door rubber can be unreasonably expensive - on some models the rubber is not available separately (should be like $5) so the whole door must be replaced for like $60 + labor.

I'd say the bulk of your cost was replacement of the aperture mechanism, which involves most of the gears and solenoids in the mirror box, plus a fair bit of labor and calibration time.

Here's what the gearbox looks like on one side (this is from a D2H). The aperture arm is connected to the black gear. I expect they replace it as a complete unit, with all the solenoids and probably some of the connected electronics that are soldered on. This assembly controls movement for both the aperture arm and the mirror.

Cheers,
Richard

LensEnvy Contributing Member • Posts: 510
Re: D300 - mirror stuck every other shot

Rockwallaby wrote:

Do a google search and you will find it is a known D300 fault occuring at around the 100k actuations mark.

My D300 failed in the same way at 90k and cost approx AU$300 to fix.

Not many users will reach 100k in the warranty period so most will have to fund the repair themselves.

Well, if/when I wear out my D300, I commit to doing the repair myself and reporting on its success.

Cheers,
Richard

LensEnvy Contributing Member • Posts: 510
Re: D300 - mirror stuck every other shot

iwannabesedated wrote:

When I first had this problem with my D300, it started out as every 20th shot or so, but slowly degenerated over the course of the day until I was lucky to get 1 in 4 shots to work (BTW, the "failed" shots would be recorded on the CF as pitch black frames).

There seems to be a few common failure modes - I've heard this one more than others. I suspect this failure is caused when either a) the aperture arm fails to stop moving, causing the lens to stop down all the way, or b) the mirror isn't tripped to flip up.

Each of these is triggered by tiny solenoids that trip the gears, and if they don't fire things don't happen. (They're the tiny red things in the photo I attached to my other note - there's at least 3 of them on just this side.) Of all the moving parts on a camera, I'd expect the solenoids in the mirror box to fail the fastest, excepting the shutter which takes a lot more physical abuse.

In some cases, they might just be gummed up and little cleaning and lube will add more life.

Cheers,
Richard

iwannabesedated Senior Member • Posts: 1,596
Re: D300 - mirror stuck every other shot

Thanks, Richard! Your explanations and that D2H pic are super interesting. I think I understand the situation much better now due to your help. Again, my thanks. -iwbs

PS My D300s is still going strong after > 200K shutter actuations, so maybe they beefed up the solenoids and/or other components?

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OP Flashlight Veteran Member • Posts: 7,954
Baffled

Thanks for the helpful replies. The situation is that the mirror stays up after an exposure, but not always. When it's up I can pull it down with my finger but then it flips up again due to a spring. I compared the working of the aperture lever and other internals with my other D300 but can't find a difference. Same force/distance etc.

The strange thing is that it doesn't happen without a lens mounted, it happens 1 in 20 shots with an old MF prime (no chip), with old AF-D lenses it happens 1 in 10 actuations, with my 70-200 VRII it happens 1 in 5 shots and with the 35 f/1.8G the problem is continuous, meaning only once in 3 or 5 shots the mirror comes down after a shot but stays up in most cases.

I put a small piece of paper between the contacts of the camera and the 35mm f/1.8G and made sure there was no contact (aperture settings stayed at f/2.5 from the No-CPU data residing in the camera while turning the aperture wheel). This made no difference.

So, truly baffled but I won't bring the camera to Nikon for fear the price will be higher than €200 or so. The camera has had a maligned mount in the past and had to be corrected with a 0.15mm compensation ring, which took months and 4 or 5 trips to the repair techs before the got it right. It has been dismantled more than I care for already and opted for a D700, which in turn gives extended photographic abilties alongside my other D300.

Finally, after writing the above, I tested the resitance of the aperture levers of the lenses. It seems that the stronger the spring/resistance in the lens the more the problem occurs. The 35mm f/1.8G has a strong spring while the old MP prime has a weak one. But if I put some resistance on the lever in the camera with my finger the functioning is normal and the mirror comes down every time.

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Philip

Catallaxy Veteran Member • Posts: 3,724
Re: Baffled

There is probably something wrong with the mirror box assembly.

I say send it in and have them quote you the price to fix it. If they say it is the shutter, then go ahead and ask for the whole mirror box section to be replaced since that is probably worn as well. Marianne Oelund had a post about replacing her shutter in her D3 that you should search and read - very informative.

If the cost is too high... then it is too high. Have them ship it back and sell it for parts on eBay. With the D800 and D400 both expected sometime before year end, you may want to wait for the new cameras to come out. Of course they are both going to be expensive... but might have other features that you want or need.

Good luck!
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Catallaxy

MK Senior Member • Posts: 2,389
Re: Baffled

Interesting that Nikon rates the shutter life to be 150,000 clicks and there seems to be a common failure, though not all, at 100,000 clicks. They must have gotten a good one for the test!

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TwoMetreBill Senior Member • Posts: 1,451
Re: Baffled

150K is the design life and if we averaged all the D300 shutters until they failed, we'd probably find that the average exceeds that. There is a site where people post how many shots they've gotten on their shutters but I've lost the link. Back when I owned a D200, I checked it out and the range was from around 20K to way over 300K.

Anyone know if this same problem occurs for the D300S?

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Bill

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MOD ltcdata Regular Member • Posts: 207
Re: Baffled
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TwoMetreBill Senior Member • Posts: 1,451
Re: Baffled

While it is very nice that someone funded this site, the Survival Estimation chart is statistical gibberish. The outliers need to be discarded before performing the calculations. Furthermore, the number of data points is statistically insignificant considering that (I think) something over 100 thousand D300 bodies were sold.

Were the numbers valid (after doing the stats correctly), this data would say that Nikon has grossly overestimated the D300 shutter life.

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Bill

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barre
barre Regular Member • Posts: 186
Re: Baffled

Just a question... How do you find out how many clicks your camera has?. To tell you the truth I never paid attention how many times the counter has started over... I know that when the counter reaches 9999, it stars on 0 again.
Thanks!
Edmundo

enkindler
enkindler Regular Member • Posts: 194
Re: Baffled

There is a "shutter count" field in the EXIF of every image. People think it is accurate but it is not.

On my d300s it is currently 8997 but I have about 110k clicks on it if I go back and look at how many times it has rolled over 9999 on the file names.

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