The short story... If you have broken Nikon Gear and want it repaired - contact Nikon Repair, Nikon has the best repair service in the world, your stuff comes back fixed, cleaned, and ready to use - period.
The long story.....
Well, it had to happen one day! I dropped my Nikkor 14~24mm 2.8 lenses which caused binding when zooming between 14 and 18 mm. I could tell where the problem was because I could see the crack on the aperture marker housing. Everything else seemed fine, manual focus, and autofocus, only the zoom binding was an issue. I was upset with myself due to my carelessness, and the cost of this particular lens, but after returning home I decided I take a look inside and see for myself issue. Using a well-lighted table and a set of miniature screwdrivers I proceeded to take the lens down from the rear where the damage was. The only challenge here is the very small screws, especially the two that affix the electronic contact to the lens housing, but I managed them without incident. Doing this kind of work before, I had prepared some small cups to hold the different screws and was sure not to hold the lens near the table edge while I took each screw out – fearing I would drop one and loose it.
After about 20 minutes, I had enough of experimenting and needed a pro to do this repair, so I contacted Nikon Repair Service.
This review is based on my experience.
If you are in a hurry, the story concludes with an exceptional experience.
Day One (May 20th) – I visited the Nikon Repair site and Filled out the Service Request Form from Nikon, this is an automated process which walks you through a few steps. The first step is to select the Nikon equipment you need to repair – easy, my item was in the drop-down list. Nikon asks for a serial number but does not require it to proceed, I entered my serial but figure I will have a new one when this finishes since the serial number is located on the busted part I need replacing. The second step is to indicate what the problem is, Nikon has an option to select “Drop / Impact” damage, it then immediately displays $691.09 as the estimate for repair. I then went back and indicated it was zoom binding, but I got the same quote of $ 691.09. I proceed and was asked to provide my contact information in case Nikon needs to call me and next to a payment method which I choose my credit card, Nikon apparently will charge you the amount quoted if the repair does not exceed the estimate – I think (we shall see). Once you finalize your payment, you are then provided with a packaging PDF you print. The PDF has the mailing label, a list that goes inside the shipping container detailing the repair item and problem along with your return mailing address. The last page has the instructions with a note to use a trusted carrier and to ensure the shipment.
Day Two (May 21th) – I placed the lens inside its original case, securely wrapped it, placed it in a box I had from a purchase from the Nikon store for another lens, sealed the package, then affixed the mailing label. I drove to a UPS drop off store and shelled out $40.00 for shipping and insurance. Nikon had me ship the lens to Melville NY for the repairs. UPS provided me a tracking number and my receipt, I drove home.
Day Three (May 22nd) – Start this review, wait, and reflect on what happened. I blame myself since I knew I had too many items on my belt system, as I was trying to snap the buckle, it slipped from my hand and went down to the pavement. The drop was not very far, maybe 3 foot and the lens were inside a Think Tank carrying case, but apparently, the lens struck the ground in such a way it bent the base lens housing. What is really funny, as most of us gripe about too much plastic in this or that, had the lens base been made of plastic, we would not be having this conversation, as I truly feel it would have survived.
Day Five (May 24th) – Received an automated email from Nikon Service Center. They state they were in receipt of my lens and explained what I need to do to approve the repair estimate, which was updated and provided in a PDF attachment. The repairs for replacing the rear aperture housing is now – $642.50. In the estimate, it does not go into detail as to exactly what work will be performed, only the cost to me. The estimate has an entry of C Service Repair Rank C, which according to Nikon indicates major damage; broken out - $600.00 damage repair, $12.50 for shipping and handling, and $30.00 in taxes (don’t know why I am paying taxes in New York, I don’t live there and no other Nikon Center does the repairs). To approve, I can visit the Nikon Service Center website, enter my Order Number, and payment method, or regular mail, fax or call a 1 800 number. I went ahead and approved the repair on-line, far cheaper than replacing the lens.
Day Thirteen (June 2) – Received a letter from Nikon, basically, it was the same information I received via email from day five, the letter is Nikon estimate for the repairs, same estimate. The letter prompted me to re-visit the Nikon site and Lo and behold – Nikon now shows the lens as “in the shop”. GREAT! the lens is being fixed.
Day Eighteen (Jun 7) – The Lens has arrived!!! Surprise! The lens was waiting on my doorstep when I arrived home. To tell the truth, I was not expecting that, since the Nikon site still showed “Bill” status. When Nikon returned the lens it was in a single box, lens inside the case, with caps on(front and rear)inside bubble wrap.
What Work Did Nikon Perform? Nikon, provided a detailed repair note along with final charges ($642.50) - nothing changed on the charges sad face, this includes shipping, taxes, etc. The detailed repair note indicates I now have a new serial number (Base), obvious since that part had a hole in it when I shipped it, a new zoom ring, a new internal zoom cam guide, general cleaning, inspection, and focus tune up - PERFECT.
The lens itself: The lens is neatly wrapped in clear plastic and from outer appearances, it looks brand new and when I opened the lens the glass is clear and clean, with distinct zoom and focus feedback. No signs of any scuff marks like my battle worn lens went in with, in fact, the lens looks pristine! In the pictures below you can see how it was provided. Even the lens front cap and rear cap looked to be buffed out and without mars or marks, only marks I found was on the inside of the front lens cover. I finally placed the lens on my trusty D700 and did a few low light shots, focus and zoom all felt brand new. I have my baby back.
Final Thoughts, Notes, and lessons learned
Overall the experience was trouble free, Nikon provides a way to check the status and I was notified both by email and snail mail. Service boils down to price + Ship to the Repaired item in your hands and satisfaction of the repair. In this situation, this took me 17 days @ 1/3 the original cost of a new lens replacement, was it worth it? Yes. According to Nikon, the lens is back to Factory Specs. Nikon had nothing to do with my carelessness, and I am grateful Nikon offers certified repair centers.
– If you have a Nikon product broken I do recommend Nikon Repair service, in fact, I am sending in another item. Lesson Learned for me, I will take more care about how I secure my lenses in the field, from now on I will check and double check buckles and fasteners. It takes one second of carelessness to cost you hundreds in repairs. Been there done that.
Thanks, Nikon, job well done!!
Over the years, I have never had any accidents with my equipment so I guess I have been lucky in this regard. I can recall recently I was out with several lenses and two DSLRs making stops at various locations and walked down to a flowing creek which was the crest. I was not able to cross the normal rock path as the water was too high. A large old tree had fallen about 100 feet upstream and bridged the two sides. I proceeded to tightrope it across, about midway I finally realized, if I fell in this would spell disaster; at that moment I nearly panicked but caught my composure and make it across. This makes me think, with the cost of this equipment we carry, do we need insurance? This one lens repair cost me over $600.00 because I was careless, what would have happened if I fell in the water carrying nearly $10,00.00.