Over the last few months, I have noticed a problem with the shutter release on my D90.

Most of the time, the shutter release works ok. But sometimes, both half-press and full-press fail to work. Sometimes half-press will work, but full-press won't. Sometimes, half-press will work, then a full press will make the shutter release 'click' but not actually take a picture. If you then press really hard, it will take a picture.

This is not a problem with focus lock, flash recharging, card buffer filling up or having the camera in the wrong mode. Trust me.

I have noticed that this only happens when pointing the camera forward. If you point it straight up (i.e. taking a picture of the sky) the shutter release works perfectly. I have tried turning on/off, resetting to factory etc.

I wondered if anyone has seen this happen to the D90, or any other camera. Any advice before I:

1) Tear the camera down and check for loose connections


2) Send it off to Nikon at exorbitant time and cost

  • I think the "if you press really hard" part is a key diagnostic. Are you sure that's true, or is it just repeated insistent pressing that's doing it? The shutter is electronically triggered rather than a mechanical link, so if pressing hard has an effect, it implies that the fault is with the shutter button itself. On the other hand, the fact that it works pointing straight up but not forward implies a mechanical issue of some kind with the shutter mechanism itself.
    – mattdm
    Dec 21, 2011 at 14:23
  • Just to make sure we cover all bases: Is there any error code displayed in the top LCD while pressing the shutter release?
    – anon
    Dec 21, 2011 at 16:43
  • More speculation: if the problem is solved by changing the camera's attitude, I'd suspect foreign matter interfering with the switch's operation. It doesn't necessarily have to be in the switch, but if it's changing the angle of the switch button, it can make the contact unreliable. All it would take is the tiniest grain of sand trapped in exactly the wrong spot.
    – user2719
    Dec 21, 2011 at 18:52
  • @mattdm I can half-press the shutter release (to focus) then full-press to take the picture. Nothing will happen. If I keep the button depressed, then apply further pressure. Sometimes this will cause the shutter to release. As far as I can tell, there is nothing wrong with the shutter mechanism as, when it is triggered properly, no matter the orientation, it works as expected. No weird noises or vibrations, no problems with the pictures etc.
    – Aphillippe
    Dec 22, 2011 at 9:39
  • 3
    Have you been able to try using the camera with a remote release cable? That would determine (hopefully) if it's with the shutter button, or the shutter itself.
    – Edd
    Jan 17, 2012 at 13:15

5 Answers 5


Send it out and at least get a quote; you don't even need to send it to Nikon.

This is almost certainly a mechanical issue with the shutter, something well within the skills of most camera service centers. The most expensive part in a dSLR is the sensor- the body especially, and its mechanisms, are very inexpensive, comparatively.


I have experienced it too. All I had to do is to change the Focusing mode from A->M and reverse it back. It started working fine after this. Worth a try!!


I had the same problem. Additionally, when the shutter release was pressed halfway, there was no response on the autofocus screen (red or black indicators of focus points). So after reading this thread, I pointed my camera toward the sky and, viola, it worked every time (about 20 exposures). Then, I turned the camera upside down so that I was using the shutter release with my left hand thumb and the problem became intermittent (another 20 exposures). I then pressed the shutter release button 20 times in normal shooting position, and the first three times worked perfect, next five were intermittent, and last 12 failed.

Eventually, I found a simple enough solution for my problem. I moved the switches for AF settings on both the lens and camera several times (off and on) and the problem is gone. I have shot over 300 photos since I did this and have had zero fails. I am happy. I hope this helps.

Despite this problem, this has been a fantastic camera since I bought it in Nov 2008. I have traveled with it across the US twice and all over Mexico in the last four years. It has given me fantastic images.


I sometimes get shutter lock with a Tamron zoom lens (17-50mm F2.8 VC model) after locking the lens and unlocking it. The only way it is to unscrew and screw the lens back on. I don't seem to have this problem with any other lens only the Tamron. Try it with another lens first.


Send it off to Nikon at exorbitant time and cost

Actually you may be surprised. I've had repairs done completely free of charge on a walk in basis on my D100. It does help if you live near a service centre of course but don't automatically assume that they're going to exploit you. You did register your camera when you bought it of course...

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