Alley in Pisa, Italy

by Lars Kotthoff

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I got this lens second hand from eBay; it was in perfect condition, but recently when I zoom in to between 135 and 200mm it makes a grinding noise and shakes.

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1 Answer 1

  • The failure you describe is typical of reports for some examples of your lens.

  • This lens is reported to have a higher than typical failure rate for some batches of the lens, while other batches are typically as reliable as other lenses. The "bad batch" ones that fail have a failure mode that sounds like what you are experiencing.

Does it still have problems with IS disabled? - some users report the problem only with IS working.

LENS RENTALS publish lens failure data here and report
Nikon 70-300 AF-S VR 22% annual rate - VR failure, autofocus failure
compared to about 5.5% annual failures for their lenses overall.

This Yahoo groups discussion re problems with Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED AF-S VR Zoom sounds similar to yours. The majority of users report problem free operation - even after accidents in which the attached camera was destroyed, but three (+?) users out of under 20 in the discussion report problems that sound like yours.

  • Jan 2012: Low use. 2 years old.
    At the middle of the shoot. The lens suddenly become so noisy at 135mm up. There is something grinding inside the lens at 135mm up when vr is activated. And when you look at the viewfinder, it is jumping up and down nonstop.

  • Early 2012: my 70-300 vr is in for repair for the reason u mention.nikon has had the lens since dec9th waiting for parts .I talked with them today 3-4 weeks until they get the parts and then another week or 2 until in repaired and shipped back.the lens is begin repaired under warranty

  • Early 2012: I had one in which the helicoil went which I had repaired - sounds just like the OP's problem. It later developed a VR total fail and an AF total fail. I scrapped it and bought another - so far so good with the second lens.


Lens service manual here for $4 - PDF - may suit yours.

Manuals sold here

More information would be needed for specific analysis.
Based on what others say, the problem suddenly occurs apparently spontaneously, so you may just be unlucky.
BUT it is possible that the reason it was sold was that it had intermittent problems.
I have had a number of lenses which have developed problems similar to what you describe. They are usually due to a section if "ring gear" having a tooth stripped or worn down BUT specifics depend on the specific lens. In your case the IS mechanism sounds like it may be involved.

I have seen lenses misfocus in certain zoom ranges due to a bad zoom sensor. The sensor "tells" the camera what focal length the lens is set at - often by using a multifingered Gray-Code sensor. If one finger makes poor contact the lens may become confused and hunt forever when in certain ranges affected by that Gray-Code bit. Such a fault is relatively easily fixed BUT still needs lens dismantling.

How long have you had it?
Did the seller say it was in good conditions? This will not help except perhaps if they are a dealer or seller with a reputation to protect.

DIY?: Depending on what the lens cost, and what it costs to repair it may not be commercially repairable. If so, you may be able to obtain or buy the relevant Nikkor service manuals, and if you are mechanically skilled lens dismantly with no instructions is often doable. In many lenses you can perform basic dismantling to the stage where you can access drive mechanisms without disturbing the relationships of he lens elements. Realigning lenses-proper involves forms of the black art not found in most home workshops. I have had some successes and some failures in doing this myself - and the failures were worthwhile as the lens was valueless as-was and not viably commercially repairable - and the failure provides good experience for "the next one" :-). .

Here is a Nikkor tear-down discussion - it is NOT for your lens, but gives an idea of the typical things that are involved.

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