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I purchased a factory refurbished 400mm f/2.8 AF-S (non-VR) lens a year ago from Nikon USA. Two major malfunctions happened. To me, both seem to be related to a little metal lever inside the lens's mounting mechanism that may have been a little bit off from its correct specifications, dating from the time I first received the lens from Nikon.

  1. First of all, about two months after purchase, the lens stopped auto-focusing on my D7100 and other crop sensor bodies. This was the point at which I compared the 400mm lens to other lenses and noticed that there was a metal lever inside the lens's mounting mechanism that seemed a little bit out of kilter compared to other lenses. However, the lens focused perfectly fine on any full-frame body like a D800/E or D700.

  2. About 91 days after I bought the lens (just after the 90 refurbished warranty period expired, of course), the 400mm lens became permanently affixed to my D800E camera body.

The second event happened by complete surprise, not from any noteworthy event such as a bumpy trip or excessive handling. All of a sudden when I tried to switch lenses, the 400mm lens would not come off. I have been very careful and not tried to force it, because this is about $10,000 worth of lens and camera that I am working with. So I have just had to use the D800E with the 400mm for nearly a year. So essentially I haven't been anywhere close to getting effective use out of my expensive investment in the 400mm, and have also avoided using it even when the D800E would be appropriate, because I don't want to make the stuck lens problem get any worse from further handling and using.

Has anyone had any experience with a 400mm lens become stuck to a camera body? If so, were you able to finally separate them without damaging the lens or the camera in any way?

  • ouch! upvoting because the pain! – ppp May 14 '14 at 2:04
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    Update: I took the lens to the primary local lens shop, and despite having 40 years of experience with a number of stuck lenses, the repairman said that my case was unique and he recommended another lens repair outlet which would be willing to perform sufficient disassembly as needed to separate the camera and lens. – Joseph Myers May 15 '14 at 2:19
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    This turns out to be a common problem using Nikon supertelephoto lenses with Nikon bodies. Nikon does not makes its lens mounting pins strong enough to endure the momentum of a large lens being repeatedly mounted (in my case, "repeatedly mounted" was actually a very minimal number of times). The mounting pin broke, meaning that the lens release button did nothing. An excellent, truly knowledgeable expert Nikon repair technician, Bernie at Pho-Tech in Hesston, KS, was able to separate them in a matter of minutes. Bernie also restored a 300mm lens to new that I had been told had 0 value. – Joseph Myers Jun 13 '14 at 0:06
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    @JosephMyers: Thanks for taking the time and giving us this update! – TFuto Mar 9 '15 at 18:00
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    @TFuto You're welcome. Then I found out the AF-S motor was faulty (as provided by Nikon USA Refurbished, in my order placed at nikonusa.com). It was > 60 days when I finally got the lens disconnected, so I had to pay for the repair (new AF-S motor, etc.). Over $600. The lens came back with AF working perfectly. However, the lens would not open up to f/2.8 any longer. Bernie found out that the aperture lever had been broken, so I returned it again and Nikon USA fixed it for free. Lens is now wonderful. Moral: Nikon USA sells "refurbished" lenses that are not actually refurbished at all. – Joseph Myers Mar 9 '15 at 19:38
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I have had this happen twice on my D800. To release the lens is simple. There is a service port, or cut-out, that is visible in front of the lens release. A thin bladed screw driver inserted into this port, with the lens or body turning at the same time will separate the two. If nothing else, you now only have to send the body into Nikon. I feel the pin in not substantial enough. You notice that where the pin breaks is only half the pin thickness due to a detent on the pin itself.

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    This reads like exactly what I saw when the repairman freed the lens, so I'm going to check this as the answer. Thanks! – Joseph Myers Mar 9 '15 at 19:42
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This honestly sounds like a job for the pros. Take it down to your local camera shop and let them take a look at it. It may be that they can free the lens, or it may be that they have to send it away to Nikon to get it looked at.

Either way - I wouldn't force the situation yourself!

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Take it to a lens pro, not a repair shop, because they will force it as a first try...

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    Do you mean to avoid a general repair shop and go to one specializing in cameras, or do you mean that there are certain camera repair shops specialized in lenses and that only they will do it right? If the latter, how would one find such a place? – mattdm May 14 '14 at 11:26
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    Well, if the lens is jammed, he has more chance to get it unjammed by someone who knows the intricate details of that lens. So I suggested a lens repair shop rather than a generic camera repair shop. I unfortunately do not know how to find lens repair shops generally, it took me awhile to find a good one in Hungary through social networking. That guy has like 50 types of grease for different parts of lenses, no kidding. And has quite an experience with cleaning and repairing lenses. But one has to ask around his country obviously... – TFuto May 14 '14 at 11:34
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This problem isn't specific to D800/D800E bodies, nor is it specific to 200–400 ƒ/4 lenses either.

This happened on my D800E with a used 16–35mm ƒ/4. Quickly searching around, a user at photo.net forums reported a 16–35mm ƒ/4 stuck on a D700.

Nikon's support site has an article titled, "Why is my D-SLR camera consistently over or under exposing?" Ignore the fact that the title refers to over/under exposing. The images in the article show the two main reasons why their lenses can get stuck to their bodies:

  1. Bent aperture control lever

  2. Missing or damaged stopper screw in lens bayonet

The stopper screw is a tiny screw that prevents over-rotation of the lens when attaching it to the body. When making the lens mount, the bayonet channel is milled all the way around the flange, then a stop screw is installed. In my opinion, proper manufacturing would be to not mill out the metal where the stop screw is, thus eliminating the need for the screw and the possibility of the screw falling out.

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