Photography Bay reader, John, is a Nikon D5000 owner who had a unit affected by the official Nikon D5000 recall. John took the time to put together a thorough account of his experience with the recall process into a comment here on Photography Bay. I think his first hand report of his experience should be reassuring to those of you who own a D5000 or a looking to buy one.
My D5000 was one affected by this “service advisory” (aka recall), and I was e-mailed quite soon after I registered my camera by Nikon letting me know that my camera “might be affected”.
Being a typical product user I followed the “if it isn’t broke don’t fix it” approach, as the camera was working just fine… a few weeks later I got a follow-up, and so this time I went to their site and found that my serial number was one of the ones they were recalling, so I planned to send it, but continued using the camera for a few more days. The day before I was going to send it in, the defect hit me and the camera died.
So…. I sent the camera off, and within 10 days I had it back. Not bad I thought…. but things weren’t quite right. Because of the type of shots I was taking at the time the issue that my camera had on its return wasn’t immediately obvious, but over the next few days of usage it was clear that the camera wasn’t focusing as clearly as it was before. Manual focus was fine, but auto-focus was soft.
After doing some tests to be sure there was an issue (including replicating some pre-retrofit shots and comparing the results) I triple-checked all of the settings on the camera to make sure nothing was adrift. While doing so I took a look at the firmware versions reported by the camera, and saw that instead of reporting L 1.001, it was reporting L ?.255.
I searched around the internet bit regarding this “L firmware” and it seems that the L firmware is what controls how the camera interacts with Nikon lenses. A version of L ?.255 seemed odd, and so I contacted their repair center in California. After some initial puzzled responses from them, we found out that the “Service Advisory” processing center had not correctly followed a series of instructions when working on my camera.
The recall exists because there is a sub-standard component on a circuit board in the camera that relates to the power control circuit, and when it fails it stops the camera from working, and the retrofit is to replace that board in the camera with one that has a better quality component. The circuit board that this component is on also contains the camera firmware, so when the “service advisory” center replaces the board, they are also supposed to flash the board with the latest firmware, and then run a suite of calibration checks.
In my case, they missed the step to flash the board with the right firmware (L ?.255 is an indication of an unflashed part), so the service center in LA, California offered have it shipped to them by overnight carrier so they could correct this, and they would then ship it back to me by overnight carrier. I’d been without my camera for 10 days already and didn’t want to be without it for what would be at least 3 more, so as they are not too far from where I live, I opted to take it to them.
Upon arrival at their center, they quickly processed my camera into their system, and within 45 minutes I had it back, with the right firmware, and fully calibrated. I’d go so far as to say that if anything my shots seem slightly crisper than before all of this, so I’m happy with the end result, and I’m very happy with the way the service center staff treated me.
The moral of all of this is…. The D5000 is a great camera. If you have one and you are unlucky enough to have one of the ones that the “service advisory” applies to, plan to send the camera in, as there’s nothing worse than having it stop dead in the middle of a shoot… but when you get it back be sure to check the firmware versions reported by the camera, and if you see “L ?.255″ be prepared to be without it for a few more days!
The hope is that they have now corrected their “service advisory” process to ensure that this doesn’t happen to another customer…
Any new D5000s shipped after the date of the advisory (July 16) should not be exposed to this early-life issue, but some stockists may have old stock in their warehouses and on their shelves, so if buy a D5000, be sure to register it with Nikon, and check the service advisory page at http://nikonusa.com/Service-And-Support/Service-Advisories/D5000-Service-Advisory.page to see if you have a camera that is exposed to the problem.
Once again, the D5000 is a great camera and I am still pleased with my decision to buy – this issue is unfortunate, but Nikon are doing what they can to reach out to affected customers – the important thing is to be sure you register your camera when you get it…
John (still happy with his D5000)
For those of you who want to connect with John, you can find his photography on his Flickr photostream where he puts his Nikon D5000 through its paces to produce some great images.
Thanks John for taking the time to leave this thoughtful comment.