I recently decided it was time to stop missing excellent shots due to not having a longer lens for my camera and purchased the Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 lens. This lens has been thoroughly praised among photographers for its quality and versatility, although noting its hefty price tag. One of the drawbacks initially to purchasing a Nikon mirrorless camera was that their cameras had a smaller selection of available lenses using the new Z mount technology. Additionally, there was many complaints with the speed of its autofocus system but as a landscape photographer that never bothered me that much. The class leading Z mount lenses paired with the superior color quality from the Nikon raw files is all I needed to jump on board for my work.
Once I received my 70-200mm lens I was ecstatic to get out and start getting new and unique pictures in my travels. The only issue is that my practice shots to test out the functionality started showing some issues. I'd like to leave a disclaimer here that the photos I will show in this blog post update are "Example" images shot for the purpose of testing out the functionality of the new 70-200mm and are not meant to be noteworthy images, or even acceptable images for that matter.
Depth of Field test image: 1/25th sec, f/22, ISO 100, 103mm. This image has serious depth of field issues. Photo unedited.
The image shown above is a shot out my back window at a colorful tree. This shot was one of the ones that I started to mess around with to trouble shoot a source for the issue with the lens I had just received in the mail. To note for those that may zoom in on it to take a look, this photo was shot on a tripod using a remote shutter release in order to eliminate any camera shake. The focus point was around the center of the tree, and the tree is roughly 100 meters away from me. Even without zooming into the photo, you can see blurring of the background trees and houses. In this composition, with the aperture being set all the way to f/22 essentially the entire photo should be "In Focus." Unfortunately, only the center area of the tree is sharp.
Before seeking out Nikon support, as I am also an engineer, I took up the challenge of narrowing down the problem. I had a planned shot that I wanted to try and get in the following morning so knowing that this lens is fairly new and that I hadn't updated my camera's firmware in a while, I went ahead and updated to firmware version 3.12. I then went to bed and waited for morning to give it another chance.
Left shot: 1/50 sec, f/22, ISO 100, 98mm. Right shot: 1/5 sec, f/22, ISO 100, 98mm. Photos unedited.
Above is a good summary of how my morning went, suffice to say it was full of frustrations and I missed the ideal light troubleshooting the 70-200mm lens when I should have just worked with my 24-70mm. The photo on the right looked properly exposed through the view finder, but way over exposed once actually capture. I had to back the shutter speed way off to obtain the photo on the left which has a horrible depth of field issue despite being at f/22. The issues with the view finder and with the resulting exposures is another strong example of issues with the aperture in the new lens. One good thing did come from this morning, I ruled out an issue with my camera or with the firmware. All shots taken on my 24-70mm turned out as expected.
Same morning, shot with 24-70mm f/2.8 lens: 1/30 sec, f/7.1, ISO 100. Preview image, personal preset applied.
The above image is a preview of an upcoming image that I might add into my portfolio after finishing with edits to it. It was shot with my 24-70mm f/2.8 lens after I was done fiddling with the 70-200mm lens. I included this in here to both give an example of what the scene looked like that morning, and to prove that the camera was indeed functioning brilliantly.
Having arrived at this point in the day, I packed up and went home to start a warranty claim with Nikon on the 70-200mm lens. I included the picture with the depth of field issue I showed above of the tree, and explained the troubleshooting process that I have essentially stepped through here with you hoping to have helped speed up the process for the warranty claim. Their website claims I should get a response within 24-48 hours, which seems reasonable to me.
Three business days later, I get a response that sounds as if the individual could not read the meta data in the file to see how it was shot. Or worse, did not understand that add the exposure settings used the provided picture is very unexpected behavior. They then asked for two more unedited photos. This time I took two photos, zoomed in on the same subject but at the two extremes of the aperture spectrum. With all other settings being held constant, the f/22 photo should have turned out incredibly dark, but the exposure was exactly the same.
Left photo: 1/200 sec, f/22, ISO 1600, 200mm. Right photo: 1/200 sec, f/2.8, ISO 1600, 200mm. Unedited.
After submitting these two photos at the request of Nikon's support representative, I received the notice that I should get a response within 24-48 hours again. With the provided information, it should take someone that understands how cameras work, or at least the exposure triangle no more than a couple minutes to come to the same conclusion that I have. The new lens has an issue and needs repaired or replaced.
After another 72 hours of waiting for a response, I decided to just call Nikon support as this was getting a bit ridiculous. The representative on the phone looked at the photos and tried to get off with telling me they needed more time to review them. After walking through the photos with them, they agreed to have the lens sent in for review by their repair team. No agreement that the lens is actually having issues or honoring of the warranty. This cost me another chunk of change to have the lens shipped to their service center.
It has been two full business days since my tracking receipt indicates that Nikon's service center has received and signed for my lens. I have yet to hear back from Nikon on the status of the lens, despite their repair/warranty process indicating that they will notify me once they get it. This might be warranting additional phone calls here in a few days. But suffice to say while I have been very happy with their camera systems as a whole so far, I give their customer support a 1 out 5 rating.
While I do recommend Nikon's mirrorless cameras, I would recommend buying through a major retailer such as Best Buy so that you can just quickly exchange defective products and avoid Nikon's customer support services all together. Once I finally get the lens back and in working order, expect to see a review of what I think of it!
Have a great day and see you next time!