I got a factory refurbished Nikon 70-300 mm VR lens a few days ago. At 300 mm the effect of vibration reduction (VR) is clearly visible in the viewfinder. The image becomes stable a second or so after I half-press the shutter button. A few seconds later it becomes unstable again though. (VR doesn't switch off when it becomes unstable, I don't hear the click.)

Is this normal behaviour (i.e. that VR only works for a few seconds)? Is it possible that it's because of my arm getting tired or the wind moving the house slightly, I'm just not noticing it? Most importantly, what is the best objective way to test that VR is working as it should, so I can use the warranty before it expires (if necessary)?

Here are two sample videos, both taken handhold, while supporting my elbows on a railing. The Active-Normal switch was set to Normal.

If you want to prevent the videos from playing in a plugin (e.g. slow internet), right click the link, then choose Save As...

I'd appreciate if someone who has the same lens could comment.


Update 2:

I found a thread about a similar problem here. There isn't really a conclusion there.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Is this for taking photos or video? For video purposes, you'd be better off posting on Audio/Video Production. \$\endgroup\$
    – AJ Henderson
    Aug 5, 2013 at 15:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AJHenderson Photos. The videos are the best way I found to demonstrate the problem. \$\endgroup\$
    – Szabolcs
    Aug 5, 2013 at 15:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ ok, cool. I wasn't sure, that's why I asked rather than just starting a vote to close/migrate. \$\endgroup\$
    – AJ Henderson
    Aug 5, 2013 at 15:48

1 Answer 1


Are you in normal or active mode? It appears to me you are likely in normal. The difference between the two is that in normal, if the camera thinks you are trying to pan, it disengages the stabilization on horizontal movement to prevent the stabilization from fighting the pan and causing movement to lag behind your pan.

In the video with it off, you can see there is constant vertical and horizontal shake. In the video with it on, it turns on, detects what it thinks is an attempt to pan, then the horizontal appears to disengage resulting in lots of left to right shake, but motion up and down still appears to be stabilized.

Try using active mode which should keep both horizontal and vertical stabilization going all the time. If you still have problems, then perhaps one of the gyroscopes in the lens has a fault of some type.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the reply. Yes, as I noted, the video was taken in Normal mode. Since then I tried Active mode as well, with exactly the same result. \$\endgroup\$
    – Szabolcs
    Aug 5, 2013 at 16:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Szabolcs Any chance you can post the videos from the Active mode when you get a chance. I don't know Nikor lenses very well (I'm a long time Canon guy.) but I can take a look and see if I notice anything different in the Active version that might give further explanation. \$\endgroup\$
    – AJ Henderson
    Aug 5, 2013 at 16:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, see the update. The background sound is just my bird wanting some attention ;-) \$\endgroup\$
    – Szabolcs
    Aug 5, 2013 at 16:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Szabolcs - yeah, that's very odd. I'd suggest listening to the lens itself to see if you can tell if all the gyros or just some are stopping. Typically there are 3 or 4 of them within the lens and you should hear them spinning up and operating. If there are weird sounds coming from them, chances are there is a problem with the lens. I'd try contacting Nikon for more specific support. \$\endgroup\$
    – AJ Henderson
    Aug 5, 2013 at 17:07

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