Sunday, March 15, 2015

Error Messages: The Nikon D70

Photo #1
Fan Man: As you must know by now, I’m a big fan of the Nikon D70. Introduced in early 2004, it was one of the first digital single lens reflex (DSLR) cameras to break the $1000.00 barrier. I am always on the lookout for gently used samples, but they are getting rarer, as they are now being sold or traded after being used for longer and longer periods of time. This decreases the chances that I'll find a really nice one, although they are still out there.  I would have to stop and think about how many D70 and D70s bodies I currently own, so keeping track of them can sometimes be a bother. I’ve taken to naming them, usually with some reminder of a unique feature. I named one “Centipede” (Photo #1) because I purchased it for $100.00 in 2012.

The D70 had some issues. A firmware update was issued in May of 2005, in part to correct some initial problems and bring the performance closer to the newer D70s, introduced about a year after the D70. The upgrade must have been popular, since I have encountered only one used D70 that had not been updated. The second notable problem was much more involved. Early production D70 bodies sometimes fell victim to the Blinking Green Light Of Death, sometimes call BGLOD, a problem traced to a batch of defective circuit boards in the read/write system. Nikon was criticized for not recalling them all, but instead issued a service bulletin offering to fix any D70 body that failed because of the defective component, in or out of warrantee. The service bulletin only covered the D70, and Nikon USA would service only those bodies that they themselves imported and warranted.

Nikon USA Imports Vs. Gray Market: A camera that is NOT sold though the official importer is called “Gray Market” and Nikon USA is under no obligation to repair it under warrantee. Check the serial number on the bottom of the body. If the first two digits are “30”, your D70 was imported by Nikon USA and if you get the BGLOD, you may be eligible for a free repair. I sent one of my ailing D70 bodies back and it was indeed repaired free of charge, but apparently some other photographers were not so lucky.  For more information on Nikon DSLR serial numbers, click here. I suspect that if your D70 hasn’t failed by now, it probably won’t. Just as well, since I can only speculate on the availability of parts.

Photo #2
Operational Errors: There are two operation errors that I've encountered in various D70 bodies. First, the CHA error (Photo #2), and the Nikon D70 manual lists the following causes:
  • Error accessing memory card. 
  • Unable to create new folder 
  • Card has not been formatted for use in D70.
I follow best practices and format every CF card in the camera I plan to use it in, so this can be ruled out as the cause. But "Error accessing memory card"? Duh. The listed listed fixes are:
  • Use Nikon-approved card. (Check page 192 of the manual. None of MY cards was on the approved list!)
  • Check that contacts are clean. If card is damaged, contact retailer or Nikon representative. (I've seen CF cards that were damaged by a bent interface pin, so keep your cards and camera clean).
  • Delete files or insert new memory card.
  • Format memory card.
This has happened in the field, and my fix is simple.
  • Turn the camera off.
  • Eject the card.
  • Insert the card firmly.
  • Turn the camera on.
This dodge usually works on the first try. Always by the second.

Photo #3
Err Error Message (Photo #3): This is a little more serious. Straight from the manual, page 199:

  • Camera malfunction: Release shutter. If error persists or appears frequently, consult with Nikon-authorized service representative.
This was NOT helpful! However, on page 200:

"In extremely rare instances, unusual characters may appear in the control panel and the camera may stop functioning. In most cases, this phenomenon is caused by a strong external static charge. Turn the camera off, remove and replace the battery, and turn the camera on again, or, if you are using an AC adapter (available separately), disconnect and reconnect the adapter and turn the camera on again. If the problem persists, press the reset switch (see arrow) and then reset the camera clock to the correct date and time. In the event of continued malfunction, contact your retailer or Nikon representative. Note that disconnecting the power source as described above may result in loss of any data not recorded to the memory card at the time the problem occurred. Data already recorded to the card will not be affected." To see the original article, click here.May Day! May Day! A week ago, the Centipede stopped working and the "ERR" began was displayed on the control panel. Pressing the shutter release had no effect. I instinctively removed the battery and replaced it with a freshly charged one, to no avail. In desperation, I located the reset switch, pressed it, and the camera was resurrected! Overjoyed, I began clicking the shutter, over 500 times in all, trying to make the error return, which it didn't.Until the following week. This time, I photographed the Control Panel, thinking this would be a good topic for a blog, and when I finished, pressed the reset button with sublime confidence. And just like before, all was set to right. The camera, I'm happy to say, is still working.Epilogue: The Centipede may now be back in my good graces, but to make sure I don't take it on an assignment, I removed the neckstrap, a gesture indicating Centipede's demotion to "hanger queen". I still use it to test lighting and flash techniques, but without the neck strap, I won't accidentally take it with me on assignment.  Serial Numbers: Because NikonUSA will only approve warranty repairs on cameras they import, it's important that you know which cameras entered the country "properly". Click here to read an article on how to tell whether your camera was an approved importUpdate July 23, 2015: Some casual research show another possible cause of the problem: Users of older, D type lenses (those with an aperture setting ring) must be set AND LOCKED at the minimum (smallest) setting. While this wasn't my case, I've added this link for more information.Click here.