Scary Nikon AF problem
August 15, 2008 5:29 PM   Subscribe

Autofocus no longer works on my Nikon D50, nor on my Nikkor 18-200 VR lens.

This morning I noticed that my D50 was refusing to autofocus. I could manually focus just fine. I assumed it was the 18-200 lens, so I swapped it for a cheapo Nikkor 50mm prime, which has a different type of AF mechanism, and it would not autofocus either. Secure in the knowledge that the D50 AF had given up the ghost, I went to the camera store (Precision) here in town and had them take a look at it.

To my total dismay, the repair guy says that he tried my lens on another body, and it doesn't work, AND that he tried another lens on my body, and that doesn't work either. He tried cleaning the contacts for me, but was otherwise completely stumped.

What could possibly cause the AF to croak on both the lens and the body at the same time? Am I totally screwed? Has this happened to anyone before? Had any luck shipping your camera back to Nikon for repairs like this?

I'm really, really bummed out.
posted by popechunk to Technology (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Try taking a picture, out of focus or not, and see if that resolves it.
If not, switch to LiveView, then back to 'S'. Mirror might be up.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 6:34 PM on August 15, 2008

IIRC the D50 has the AF motor in the body, so of course the lens should work on another Nikon with the motor in the body. If he tried it on a D40 or anything newer the lens won't focus (unless it is one with the silentwave motor in the lens which would be shown by the AF-S designation on the lens). If that is the case (Non AF-S lens) then the problem is in the body.
posted by Gungho at 6:45 PM on August 15, 2008

I presume you've checked to make sure that the AF/M switch on the lower right of the lens mount (from the front) is in the AF position. If that's not the problem, then I'd visit another shop in the area (if you have one) with the camera and the prime lens, and see if they can diagnose the problem. I find it fishy that the repair shop said that your lens did not work with another body AND that your body didn't work with another lens, unless (as Gungho suggested) the other body was a D40. There's one too many degrees of freedom in that test to make it fully reliable as a diagnostic.

If the other body was a D40, it's possible that your AF/M switch is broken in the M position. In that case, Nikon should be able to fix it, though I have no idea what that might cost if your warranty has expired.

Good luck!
posted by brianogilvie at 8:04 PM on August 15, 2008

brianogilvie seems to have the right idea. Assuming the repair guy tried your 50mm on a D40 (maybe he didn't know that won't work!), a broken AF/M switch would explain everything.
posted by neckro23 at 8:42 PM on August 15, 2008

I'd put money on the guy in the shop trying it on a D40/40x/60, which don't have the AF motor in body. This exact thing happened to a friend of mine at a Jessops store. They even argued with us about it, for quite some time, trying to convince us that both the lens and the body were broken and trying to sell him a new camera kit. It turned out that him D50 was damaged and the lens was fine, but it took some serious bitching to even get them to try it on a D200.

FWIW, I don't expect people in a shop to be brimming over with internet/nerd techknowledge (though that wouldn't hurt), but for several staff in the biggest photo chain in the UK to not know about a serious, fundamental design decision in one of the most popular contemporary cameras is just madness.

(sorry, rant over)
posted by Magnakai at 4:28 AM on August 16, 2008

I'm sorry to tell you he tried it on a D200. The 18-200 has AF-S, so in theory a mechanical fault of the d50 can't be the root cause.

My camera does not have LiveView.

If you put the camera in M, or grab the focus ring, you can take a picture.

If you move the body switch from AF to M, the AF blade indeed retracts.

I'm not sure if there's a better shop to take it to here in Austin. Precision is the best place in town.

I also tried hitting the green buttons to see if I put it in a weird mode, but no dice. It also doesn't work in AF-C.

Thanks for your responses so far.
posted by popechunk at 6:52 AM on August 16, 2008

Hey, did you ever figure anything out? My D50 suddenly stopped AF too. I took the lens off my old Nikon film camera, and that DOES work. But now I'm wondering if I ever want to get another lens, is it going to work? I'm pretty bummed about it too.
posted by texas_blissful at 3:04 PM on August 19, 2008

I called 24/7 digital support:
800 645 6689

And the guy walked me through doing the two-button reset (green buttons) again, which continued to do nothing. He then had me remove the 18-200, power off the camera, and hold down tiny reset button on bottom of camera (opposite the battery) for two Mississippis ( went into menus to reset the date), camera now AFs with all lenses except the 18-200. I'm shipping the 18-200 back, and I'll letcha know what happens.
posted by popechunk at 6:22 AM on August 25, 2008

« Older Should I Stay or Should I Go?   |   Getting Excel to count the number of repititions... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.