Need help with Nikon D200 and lens

Camden, AR(Zone 8a)

Can someone please help me.... I have a Nikon D200 and two nikon lenses. My go to lens is an 80 -200 f2.8 lens that I use to shoot my kids sporting events, etc. I have a smaller lens - can't remember the number on it because I rarely use it - but it is only a 4.2 lens and I am never happy with it. Well, I noticed during football season that I was having a REALLY difficult time getting clear shots that were not fuzzy. I have been shooting football games for the past several years and it was unusual for me to have so many bad shots. I wrote it off to bad light one night, haze another night, etc but it soon became apparent that my equipment was just not performing as well as it had. I don't have a camera store within a 100 miles of me, and someone suggested that I send it to Nikon to be cleaned. About a month ago I was trying to shoot some portrait type shots of my son, and ALL the pictures are fuzzy.....and he wasn't moving ! Actually, that is when the suggestion was made to have the camera cleaned. I called the nearest camera store - 100 miles away, and they didn't think cleaning would solve my problem and they wanted me to bring it in, which I have not had a chance to do. But, I did change lens this past week for an indoor event to try to determine if it is my big lens that has problems or my camera.

The photos appear to be crisper except that appears to be a spot slightly off center of the shot that is fuzzy? Does this mean there is something possibly on the interior lens or mirror of the camera? Would that be causing the large lens to focus incorrectly or does it sound like I have multiple problems going on?? Any suggestions are greatly appreciated since we are going on a family vacation week after next and track season starts next week - plus softball season has already started. I have one that is a senior and it is imperative that i get some good shots of his senior track season. Help anyone?????


Powder Springs, GA(Zone 7b)

What were your shutter speeds and focal length for these events? Was VR turned off if the lens has that feature?

Celaya, Mexico(Zone 10a)

Is it the 80-200 f/2.8 AF-S or AF-D Lens?
Does it happen in all focusing modes (continuous, single servo, Spot, center weighted,....)?
Does the focusing ring turn smoothly in manual focusing mode?
Look through the viewfinder pointing towards a white wall, it should fill the whole viewfinder, is there any type of dirt visible? (FYI AF sensors are located in the viewfinder "dome").
Try cleaning the electrical contacts on the lens and on the camera body with a little rubbing alcohol and see if that helps

Talihina, OK

You did not state whether these were shot in Auto-focus or manual whether indoors or out everyone I know that uses a Nikon for sporting events has to use the manual sttting on the lens and a high aso ..

Talihina, OK

Ps are you using a tripod??

Camden, AR(Zone 8a)

Ok, let me see if I can answer most of these questions.....

I couldn't begin to tell you all the focal lengths and shutter speeds ...especially considering this has seeming become a more and more common, but the day that I was trying to shoot portraits of my son, I tried every setting imaginable INCLUDING trying the manual focus and I could not get a clear picture. I do not normally shoot with a tripod, but i have shot enough years to know that this is not "shake" this is some type of focusing issue. IT may definitely be mainly in the bit lens, although it appears after thinking about it a little that there may be a tiny piece of trash or dust that might be causing the "spot" with the smaller lens. The big lens just produces pictures that are fuzzy everywhere.......

I do not usually use manual settings to shoot my football games, although there are some occasions when I do - but I have great results (normally) with raising and sometimes raising the shutter speed. I am sure my photos could be even better if I was a more proficient technical shooter, but I am not that great at it and always end up adjusting something wrong when I venture far away from program mode..... I experiment some, but mainly stick with yields my best results since I am trying to record the games for my kids..... I have tried the camera inside and out - both yield fuzzy shots with the large lens. I have only tried the small lens indoors - and it was very crisp except for the one spot slightly off center. Neither lens has VR, they are both too old for that. The big lens is a 80-200mm f/2.8 D AF Macro Zoom ED..... so I assume that means an AF-D. It was purchased in 2002, and has served me well, but I am not really ready to be without it ! ^_^ The smaller lens is a 28-105 mm f/3.5 -4.5 D IF AF ....sorry but I don't really know what all the IF, D, S- etc. mean...... I rarely use the smaller lens. Both of them were purchased in 2002 though. I have been wanting to purchase a faster smaller lens - and had hoped to do so this summer..... now it looks like I might be replacing my big one instead!

Someone, not on DG, wondered if it might be mold or something inside the big lens.........anyone know how i can tell? AND, is there anything that can be done about it if it is there?

Is it safe for me to attempt to clean the inside of the camera? or should i take it to a camera store? return to Nikon?

PS. To clarify - almost all the shots were taken in autofocus.... i did attempt some that day in manual just to see if I could get a clear shot but I could not.

Powder Springs, GA(Zone 7b)

It's safe to clean the camera yourself if you follow directions as stated in your user's manual. I doubt this is the problem though.

Camden, AR(Zone 8a)

What do you think it might be?? Would you suggest sending to Nikon? or trying to take into a store? The nearest Nikon dealership is about 100 miles away...........


Willis, TX(Zone 8b)

Send it to Nikon. Sounds like the focus is off. Cleaning will not help.

Quick test... (If you have a tripod, use it for this. If not, that's okay.)

Put the long lens on your camera. In Av mode, put the aperture on f2.8. Go outside and look for something like a street sign that has small letters. Make sure your shutter speed is at least 1/1000 to avoid camera shake. Bump up the ISO if needed.

Try this at 80mm and 200 mm.

Take a photo with the lens on autofocus. Now put the lens on manual focus, manually focus it on the letters on the sign and take another shot. Is the manually focused one good and the autofocus one bad? If so, send it to Nikon. Call them and they will tell you how to pack it up. It is fast and easy.

If not, then I'm not sure what the problem is.

Camden, AR(Zone 8a)

Thanks so much! I do have a tripod and I will try to check this out this afternoon when I get off work. I am not sure I have an Av that the same as A? Sorry, that i am so technically illiterate but I thought the A was aperature priority. Do you think it is the auto focus on the camera? or do you think it is the lens that needs to go back? I am assuming the camera since I have the small spot with the smaller lens as well.....

I appreciate your help!

Powder Springs, GA(Zone 7b)

Sounds like the camera if both lenses exhibit the same symptoms.

Camden, AR(Zone 8a)

Well with the smaller lens the picture appears to be in focus except for a small spot - a little smaller than a dime. With the larger lens it is fuzzy everywhere! Just slightly out of focus, but the entire picture seems to be focused the same. Maybe I could post some pics....let me see if my camera is in my vehicle. That might help to "see" the problem.


Willis, TX(Zone 8b)

Yep. Sorry, I think A is Aperture Priority in Nikon. Aperture Preferred is Av in Canon. Right, the autofocus setting is on the lenses.

The small spot has me bewildered. I think that could be a different problem, but hard to tell. When you are shooting at very large apertures (small f-stop number such as f2.8) you will have a very narrow depth of field from front to back, so you can have an area all the way across from left to right that will be out of focus, but not a spot. A spot sounds like something on one of the lens' surfaces. I had that problem when I was shooting in the rain and had a couple of large water drops on my lens. But, you would know if that was the problem. Not a greasy (gotta stop eating those corndogs at the ball park) fingerprint is it? ^_^ Check both the front and back lens. Little dust particles won't do it on the lens.

Oh, that reminds me that the other thing that a spot could be is a dust bunny from dust on your sensor. The way to check that is to do this little test ...

Dreaded Dust on the Sensor Test
Put a lens on your camera, put in Manual focus and set focus to infinity.
Set exposure compensation to +1
Set the aperture as closed down as it gets (f22, f32, etc.)

Now, point the camera at something light colored with no texture (like a blue sky with no clouds or a plain white wall/ceiling in your house) and take a shot. Look at the image. Do you see dark spots? If so you have dust. At wider apertures the dust specs will be much less visible. At f11 they may be very faint and at f8 or wider apertures you probably canít see them.

So, if you never shoot at f22, don't worry about it if you see a few spots.

Hope my rambling helps...

Camden, AR(Zone 8a)

When shooting with the smaller lens I was shooting at a higher fstop but I don't remember the exact setting. I did check for a spot on both ends of the lens but couldn't see anything. The dust on the sensor might be a possibility.... I will try what you suggested. Thanks!~

Powder Springs, GA(Zone 7b)

You don't have to stop down to detect dust though. Just shoot the sky (blue sky or white clouds - no dark clouds) and check your pictures. They will look like fuzzy UFOs. A light background is all you really need. Dark backgrounds will mask dust spots in general.

Here are a couple of dust spots with my old camera. There are more in this picture but they blend in with the darker colors.

Thumbnail by hcmcdole
Camden, AR(Zone 8a)

oh mine doesn't look anything like that - just fuzzy all over .....unfocused. Although that might be the problem with the smaller lens. On the big lens, I am wondering if it is the actual connection between the lens and the camera......seems to have a little "play" in the connection that I am fairly positive that it did not have when it was new. Doesn't seem to fit as "snug" as the smaller lens. Could this be my problem? causing the autofocus to not focus completely.......??? I assume that would be a send to Nikon fix as well.................

Anyone have any experience returning an item to Nikon? I am wondering how long it would take to get it back? track season only lasts about a month..............

Powder Springs, GA(Zone 7b)

Seems like you would get an error message in the camera if it was a communications problem. I know one of my lens is causing problems with my camera. It can focus okay but when I press the shutter I get a "click", then darkness, and then an error message "blah-blah" in the viewfinder. At that point I have to turn off the camera to clear the message but the same thing will happen if I use the lens again. I cleaned the contacts on the lens but I can only get a few pictures before it fails again.

Do you have a friend/neighbor/co-worker/family member that has a Nikon DSLR? If so it would be a quick test to see if it is your lens or your camera. I am leaning heavily to the camera being the problem since you say you have similar problems with both lens. A second camera body might come in handy at times (hint).

Willis, TX(Zone 8b)

Yes, the suggestion that dust might be the problem was for the lens with the spots of unfocused areas. Dust can look like an unfocused fuzzy spot. The spot is larger with a smaller aperture like f22 because the dust is not really on the sensor. It is on a filter on top of the sensor. At f22, the light is being bent at a greater angle, so the dark shadow area is larger on the sensor.

Just go to Nikon's website and find their customer service number and give them a call. They will likely give you a good idea of how long it will take. I've sent cameras back to Canon and it takes them less than a week. They always ship back next day.

Hcmcdole, You are right in that it is there no matter the aperture, but it is just easier to see the more you stop down since the light is being bent at a bigger angle. I have seen dust at f22 that I cannot detect under the same conditions at f8. I just did a test to demonstrate and for once, my sensor is clean. I'll have to drag out an old 20D. It will be dusty.

Edit to add that I totally agree on the communications problem. I've had a problem with contacts needing cleaning on my old 20D. The cam just stopped taking photos and had an Error 99 or something equally cryptic in the top lcd. My newer camera has much better error messages though. They are improving.

This message was edited Mar 16, 2011 3:50 PM

Powder Springs, GA(Zone 7b)

Perhaps a picture from gen2026 will help ID the problem (or not).

Celaya, Mexico(Zone 10a)

gen2026 quoted:
....sorry but I don't really know what all the IF, D, S- etc. mean...

AF-S lenses have a focusing motor that is integrated into the lens body.
AF D lenses, like the one you got, require that the focusing motor in your camera body does the focusing via a coupler in your lens mount.

Any updates on your issue?

Camden, AR(Zone 8a)

The camera and lens have been shipped to Nikon...... I have talked to Nikon a couple of times and they think it is possibly a sensor issue, but I sent the large lens in to be cleaned and tightened while I was paying shipping. No idea how long it will take.....I have two kids going to prom a week from Saturday. I REALLY need it back by then, but I doubt it makes it........ :(
I am not a happy camper about not having my camera....but I hope this resolves the issue.

Thanks everyone for the help!


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