Used 70-300 VR : Defective?

ElberethElbereth Posts: 10Member
edited March 2015 in Nikon DSLR cameras
Hi guys! I'm new to my DSLR (D5300) and it is my first DSLR; a dream of many years! I have been out shooting and learning obsessively since I first got it a few months ago for a big trip I am taking to Africa at the beginning of April. I decided I wanted to do a small upgrade to my kit 55-300mm dx lens that came with my camera. I was already finding the slow auto focus a bit frustrating and that was the biggest selling point for me in what I read about the Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF AF-S VR lens. I thought I would pick up a used copy on ebay and sell my almost brand new 55-300 to make up for most of the cost.

Unfortunately, I think the lens I picked up is defective. It was sold in "as new" condition and the seller claimed it was only used for 4 hours. I suspected the latter was just a bit of a fib to help sell the lens but thought the unit would still be ok.

So the skinny:

When I turn on the camera with the 70-300VR attached I hear 3 thunks inside the lens and the image in the viewfinder jitters a bit with each thunk. This happens every time I turn the camera on regardless of whether VR is toggled to the on or off position, active or normal. I also can't seem to see any perceptible difference between shots made with VR activated versus it off (equal number of blurred/crisp images). I also don't hear anything beyond what I assume is the autofocus. After the initial thunks, the vr doesn't seem to make any sound. However, sometimes I still get 3 mechanical thunks and accompanying jitters in the viewfinder before the image settles. Again this seems to happen randomly whether the VR is toggled on or off.

I read this lens was noisier than other VR lenses and that certainly holds true when compared to my 55-300. But also being a relative N00b to photography, I am not certain if this is normal for this lens or whether in fact I got a defective one. The lens has a few cosmetic dings and wear to the lettering but was hoping that was just normal for a used lens (my second used lens, the first being a rokinon 14mm I got off craigslist which is flawless)

So my question to those that have the lens. Does it sound like something in the lens is defective (vr or otherwise)? Should VR have any particular sound to it when it is operating (ie when I half depress the shutter)? I really don't know how this lens should sound and act and I need to figure out pretty quick so I can file a dispute with the buyer about this lens before my trip. I should mention, the auto focus functions marvelously and I would definitely jump at getting another lens (but probably new this time as I also read this lens seems to have a high incidence of VR failure)

Also hello to you all! I hope to hound these forums as I try to beef up my know-how! Thank you in advance for any advice anyone can offer C:.
Post edited by Elbereth on

Comments

  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,348Moderator
    Hi Elbereth, welcome to NR.

    It is normal to be able to hear the VR mechanism making noise, it is worse on some lenses than others. What we need to know is whether your is working or not. A rough and ready method of testing VR that I use is to turn the camera and VR on, half press the shutter button and slowly move the camera to see if you can perceive the VR trying to 'hold onto' the image. It will hold onto it, then let go and jump to the next thing it can see then try to hold onto that. Some lenses have far more effective VR than others, but you should be able to see it with yours.

    The 70-300 VR is a very good bang for the buck lens from Nikon and is very sharp from 70-240. I never had any problem with mine in all the years I owned it.
    Always learning.
  • heartyfisherheartyfisher Posts: 3,181Member
    edited March 2015
    Do you have the previous owners proof of purchase. You may be able to get it looked at by Nikon Support if its still under warrantee.
    Post edited by heartyfisher on
    Moments of Light - D610 D7K S5pro 70-200f4 18-200 150f2.8 12-24 18-70 35-70f2.8 : C&C very welcome!
    Being a photographer is a lot like being a Christian: Some people look at you funny but do not see the amazing beauty all around them - heartyfisher.

  • Rx4PhotoRx4Photo Posts: 1,200Member
    Hello @Elbereth and welcome. In brief, the 70-300mm was one of the first lenses I purchased and I bought it brand new. Enjoyed it, and I've since sold it. There were absolutely NO thunking noises or image jitters by the lens and I don't think there should be. Even if brand new I'd send it back. My recommendation is don't be taken for a ride here. You've spent good money and bought somebody's problem to tend to. Dispute it and get a refund. Also, cosmetic dings and worn lettering in 4 hours ... BS!! I've had Nikon lenses with VR and a Sigma 150-400mm with IS (excellent lens) and there's always at least a very slight/quiet indication that it's working. Visually the image is "stilled" and aurally sometimes there can be a very slight airy hiss or hum althought not always. Act now and enjoy Africa!!
    D800 | D7000 | Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 | 24-70mm f/2.8 | 70-200mm f/2.8 | 35mm f/1.8G | 85mm f/1.4G | Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art | Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art | Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM | Zeiss 100mm Makro-Planar ZF.2 | Flash controllers: Phottix Odin TTL

  • bald_eaglebald_eagle Posts: 98Member
    +1 @Rx4Photo and @heartyfisher

    @Elbereth:
    Sounds like the lens has a problem.
    I too have a 70-300 VR, which I bought refurbished (off ebay) and can say it makes no "clunking" - there's a very slight sound as the AF and VR turn on and off and as Rx4Photo mentioned, there's an almost inaudible sort of "hissing" sound whilst the VR is active...

    Also, I think it is pretty difficult to wear off the lettering after several years of use/abuse, so absolutely no chance in only 4 hours of use!!!

    If you can't get a refund from the ebay seller, try pay-pal (if you paid with that) and then, failing that, as suggested by @heartyfisher, if you have the original purchase receipt and it still has warranty, send it in to Nikon for repair, but as I say, I'd only do that if I couldn't get a refund.

    Good luck and let us know how you get on.
    Baldy. ;)
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,348Moderator
    @heartyfisher: Nikon warranty is original purchaser only.

    @elbereth: I missed your point about worn lettering. On balance, send it back for the reason that it is not 'as new' and go again. You have perhaps been unlucky this time. I have bought many used items without problem but your seller seems dodgy.
    Always learning.
  • manhattanboymanhattanboy Posts: 1,001Member
    edited March 2015
    @elbereth: I will try to find mine and test it to see if I remember anything like you are describing.
    If I remember correctly the lens occasionally will seem to "knock" when using the VR some times but it should not be every time. Its a great lens but is very tough to use now after shooting with much sharper (and albeit much more expensive) primes so it stays locked away for me.
    Post edited by manhattanboy on
  • NSXTypeRNSXTypeR Posts: 2,161Member
    I don't have a 70-300mm VR but what the other members have said sound reasonable.

    EBay tends to side on the side of the buyer, so it shouldn't be hard for you to get your money back. Let them know and I'm sure they'll sort it out for you.
    Nikon D7000/ Nikon D40/ Nikon FM2/ 18-135 AF-S/ 35mm 1.8 AF-S/ 105mm Macro AF-S/ 50mm 1.2 AI-S
  • ElberethElbereth Posts: 10Member
    Wow, thank you so much for all the quick helpful replies. I went ahead and put in for a return and hoping the seller decides to be nice about it and not make a fuss! I was looking forward to this lens and think I may still pick up either a refurbished or brand new one before my trip.

    @spraynpray thank you for the info on what to look for with vr enabled! I will test this with my other two vr lenses to see if my new eyes can see what you mention!!!

    Thank you again for the quick VERY helpful replies guys! I look forward to seeing you all around C:.

  • PhotobugPhotobug Posts: 5,054Member
    Don't forget to check out the Nikon USA web site for refurbished lens. The last thing I saw they had a 10% off. You get a full warranty with their refurbished lens and DSLR's and point & shoot.
    D750 & D7100 | 24-70 F2.8 G AF-S ED, 70-200 F2.8 AF VR, TC-14E III, TC-1.7EII, 35 F2 AF D, 50mm F1.8G, 105mm G AF-S VR | Backup & Wife's Gear: D5500 & Sony HX50V | 18-140 AF-S ED VR DX, 55-300 AF-S G VR DX |
    |SB-800, Amaran Halo LED Ring light | MB-D16 grip| Gitzo GT3541 + RRS BH-55LR, Gitzo GM2942 + Sirui L-10 | RRS gear | Lowepro, ThinkTank, & Hoodman gear | BosStrap | Vello Freewave Plus wireless Remote, Leica Lens Cleaning Cloth |
  • CaMeRaQuEsTCaMeRaQuEsT Posts: 350Member
    edited March 2015
    My copy, which I also bought used on ebay, does make a clicking sound each time VR goes on after I half-press the shutter button or engage LV, it then hums along while it stabilizes the image, this can be felt as a continuous low frequency vibration on the hands and the humming can be heard if you pay attention to it, all this gets stronger as you go longer on the zoom range. It then makes the clicking sound again when VR goes off, either after lifting my finger from the shutter button or after disengaging LV. The image is stabilized, though, no question that VR is working. This freaked me out at first as I thought it was damaged, but I've been able to take great pictures and even decent videos from it all the time. I have searched about and people do find this lens a little noisy when VR is working, and given that this is a relatively old design with heavy glass for the VR to move around, I guess that is how it works.
    Post edited by CaMeRaQuEsT on
  • ElberethElbereth Posts: 10Member
    @CaMeRaQuEsT I read what you described as being normal behavior for this lens (seems some folks were alarmed by the 'louder than usual' operation in this lens. So I was fully expecting a noisier lens than my 55-300!) The lens, however, does not seem to exhibit any of these sounds/vibrations during normal use. The shudder in the viewfinder with accompanied mechanical clunking is intermittent and infrequent during normal use but happens on every single power up of the camera, whether the VR is engaged or not in both cases. Almost feels as though the vr is trying to engage but can't?

    I did contact Nikon support and asked them whether this sounded abnormal, both techs I spoke to said this is not normal behavior in any Nikon lens.

    I am fighting the ebay seller about the sale. He claims the lens may have been damaged during shipping (though I can't rule that out 100%, he did pack it danged well and it did not rattle about in the Styrofoam packed lens box it came in).

    I did manage to go out and test a new 70-300 VR unit at Best Buy with my body. It acted as expected with all the expected sounds when the vr engaged. In the meantime I went back to shooting with my 55-300 and noticed immediately that I was managing more crisp images than with the 70-300. I also bit the bullet and ordered a brand new 70-300 for my upcoming trip. I could really use that snappier auto-focus in a bumpy jeep!

    Thanks all for your input!
  • tcole1983tcole1983 Posts: 981Member
    Good luck. My fear of buying stuff from ebay is being exhibited...one reason I usually only buy from large merchants on ebay. However ebay does tend to side with the buyers so you should be ok...it might just take a bit to get it solved. Kind of a crummy situation as now the seller is probably lying saying it was damaged during shipping to get away with pawning off their malfunctioning lens. Of course an honest person should have listed it had some weird anomalies...when I sold my 18-200 which I had dropped at one point I tried to list all the damage (which was all cosmetic). The buyer got it and thought it was better than I had described, but when you are selling something online it is better to err on the side of worse than better as it is much more of a pain to deal with someone returning it because it wasn't as described.
    D5200, D5000, S31, 18-55 VR, 17-55 F2.8, 35 F1.8G, 105 F2.8 VR, 300 F4 AF-S (Previously owned 18-200 VRI, Tokina 12-24 F4 II)
  • CaMeRaQuEsTCaMeRaQuEsT Posts: 350Member
    @CaMeRaQuEsT I read what you described as being normal behavior for this lens (seems some folks were alarmed by the 'louder than usual' operation in this lens. So I was fully expecting a noisier lens than my 55-300!) The lens, however, does not seem to exhibit any of these sounds/vibrations during normal use. The shudder in the viewfinder with accompanied mechanical clunking is intermittent and infrequent during normal use but happens on every single power up of the camera, whether the VR is engaged or not in both cases. Almost feels as though the vr is trying to engage but can't?

    I did contact Nikon support and asked them whether this sounded abnormal, both techs I spoke to said this is not normal behavior in any Nikon lens.

    I am fighting the ebay seller about the sale. He claims the lens may have been damaged during shipping (though I can't rule that out 100%, he did pack it danged well and it did not rattle about in the Styrofoam packed lens box it came in).

    I did manage to go out and test a new 70-300 VR unit at Best Buy with my body. It acted as expected with all the expected sounds when the vr engaged. In the meantime I went back to shooting with my 55-300 and noticed immediately that I was managing more crisp images than with the 70-300. I also bit the bullet and ordered a brand new 70-300 for my upcoming trip. I could really use that snappier auto-focus in a bumpy jeep!

    Thanks all for your input!
    Sorry, my bad, I forgot to write that the behavior of your lens is indeed unusual, its VR is definitively malfunctioning. Ebay should have you covered no problem, will be great if you keep us posted about how ebay handles your claim. Good luck!
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,348Moderator
    @Elbereth: Don't waste your time with the seller. eBay is on the side of the buyer in these cases. The lens was sold as new condition hardly used which is a lie. Open a case 'item not as described' and follow the procedure - you will be able to return the item for a full refund. To be honest, in my experience (and I am not rich so most of my stuff is used), eBay is good to buy from because the sellers are usually honest, but when they aren't, eBay protects the buyers. Guaranteed.
    Always learning.
  • PhotobugPhotobug Posts: 5,054Member
    Agree with @spraynpray...that has been my experience as well with sellers on eBay.
    D750 & D7100 | 24-70 F2.8 G AF-S ED, 70-200 F2.8 AF VR, TC-14E III, TC-1.7EII, 35 F2 AF D, 50mm F1.8G, 105mm G AF-S VR | Backup & Wife's Gear: D5500 & Sony HX50V | 18-140 AF-S ED VR DX, 55-300 AF-S G VR DX |
    |SB-800, Amaran Halo LED Ring light | MB-D16 grip| Gitzo GT3541 + RRS BH-55LR, Gitzo GM2942 + Sirui L-10 | RRS gear | Lowepro, ThinkTank, & Hoodman gear | BosStrap | Vello Freewave Plus wireless Remote, Leica Lens Cleaning Cloth |
  • ElberethElbereth Posts: 10Member
    @Spraynpray and @Photobug, I reached out to eBay today and they setup my return right over the phone. I've already posted back the defective lens and as it happens got my replacement 70-300 from Adorama today as well. MARKED improvement. I can hear the click everyone mentioned when the VR turns on/off and image quality is definitely improved!

    I have to say this put me on the fence about buying used lenses (from eBay anyway). But I'll try to keep in mind that I may have just had a run of bad luck this go round!!

  • tcole1983tcole1983 Posts: 981Member
    My only new lens is the 35 f1.8...all others were used or refurbished. However I have always purchased the best rated used lenses and from reputable companies. I purchased my 17-55 used on craigslist but I tried before I bought.

    That said many on here shop and buy from eBay. Even though there are protections in place buying from eBay I just don't find it worth the hassle sometimes. I went through a 30 day dispute not too long ago to get back a significant amount of money. It wasn't worth it for the money I thought I was saving.
    D5200, D5000, S31, 18-55 VR, 17-55 F2.8, 35 F1.8G, 105 F2.8 VR, 300 F4 AF-S (Previously owned 18-200 VRI, Tokina 12-24 F4 II)
  • CaMeRaQuEsTCaMeRaQuEsT Posts: 350Member
    @Spraynpray and @Photobug, I reached out to eBay today and they setup my return right over the phone. I've already posted back the defective lens and as it happens got my replacement 70-300 from Adorama today as well. MARKED improvement. I can hear the click everyone mentioned when the VR turns on/off and image quality is definitely improved!

    I have to say this put me on the fence about buying used lenses (from eBay anyway). But I'll try to keep in mind that I may have just had a run of bad luck this go round!!

    Great to know you had a good outcome with this transaction; as usual ebay sides with the buyer, unless the buyer is clearly out to get the seller! Enjoy your new lens! But don't be discouraged from buying used lenses from ebay. You just need to invest more time into the process, but the rewards are always gratifying, as has been the case for me.
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