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D90 Errors and the 18-105 VR lens

Eric Hough , May 05, 2009; 11:41 p.m.

First, allow me to thank everyone here who contributes to this knowledge database. I have found answers to many of my photography questions here and feel that the community here is very knowledgeable and helpful.

That said, i just purchased my first DSLR, the nikon D90. I love this camera. Unfortunately within 4 hours of use i experienced an error using the kit lens. First the f-stop displays f90 in the viewfinder and then when i snap the picture i get an ERR CHA. Ive done extensive research and it sounds like the error is rather common. Some problems mentioned could include the lens contacts or memory card. My question isn't what to do but rather, should i exchange this camera for another D90 or should i go with a different camera. I have a very hard time investing so much money in a camera with problems. Is this error something that is common to the D90 or am i (and the rest of the post on the internet) isolated cases.

Second, what do you think about using the 18-105 Nikkor lens for landscapes. Does the focal range on this lens warrant the investment in a dedicated landscape lens such as a Tokina 12-24mm f/4 AT-X Pro DX AF. I am in the process of building a whole new setup and need to ration the money i spend. Landscapes are typically one of my favorite types of shots to take as i travel frequently. Will i experience a breathtaking increase in my picture quality between the two lenses?

If i were to return this camera, does anyone have any opinions on weather i should repurchase the kit lens or go with body only and purchase lenses such as the Tokina 12-24 and possibly a Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 XR Di LD or Nikkor nifty fifty. Im a novice here so im looking for as much advice as i can get as far as additional glass goes :)

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Responses


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Stanley Spedowski , May 06, 2009; 12:02 a.m.

I got that message before, not with a D90 though. It's a card problem, not the camera.

Marc Peck , May 06, 2009; 12:55 a.m.

For your concern with the D90 and common problems, it reminds me of working customer service in call centers. When you look on the net you will find many many more postings about problems than good things. You may see a lot of people saying they have a problem, but they are probably a very small percentage of the owners. Remember hardly any one says when things great, no one says any thing if it is just working ok like it should, and every one speaks up when there is a problem.

Stephen Fassman , May 06, 2009; 01:05 a.m.

The 16-85 VR(2) is far superior in every aspect to the 18-105, and off brand alternatives. The 24 to 157 equiv is perfect for landscapes, and will work optimally when your landscape photography expands to the use of GND's. Read the dzone reviews of both- your choice will be clear. The 12-24 range should compliment the 18-85, it is too limiting as your prime landscape lens. GND's are quite a challenge to use in this range.

Martijn van Tol , May 06, 2009; 02:26 a.m.

Just clean the lens contacts, and take the SDcard in and out like ten times, so the contacts will be "clean" again. I`ve had the same problems with my D80 on the day I bought it. I send it to Nikon. They could not find anything wrong. Got it back and it still happend. I then cleaned the lens contacts and the battery contacts and it never happened again.

Eric Arnold , May 06, 2009; 03:42 p.m.

hi there. if you're happy with the d90, stick with that, though if you're mainly shooting landscapes at base ISO, you could "downgrade" to a d200 and save several hundred dollars, enough for another lens or two. i'd personally probably go with the d90 since it's newer, has live view, and better high ISO capabilities.

as far as lens choices, well, you've got...a lot of choices.

the 18-105 got a very good review from thom hogan--he essentially rates it as the best of the nikon 18-xx kit zooms. the 16-85 is "better" in terms of corner performance and it has that extra 2mm which may or may not negate the need for an ultrawide. but it's high-priced for a variable-aperture lens.

i have the three lenses you mention: tokina 12-24, tamron 28-75, nikon 50/1.8. all are pretty good, but not without plusses and minues. i'd get the nifty fifty regardless, at that price it's a no-brainer. if you're seriously into landscapes, an ultrawide is a good idea. i can recommend the 12-24, but there are also a bunch of other good options in its class. and when you pair the 12-24/4 with the 28-75/2.8, you have a fairly versatile kit for landscapes, walkaround, and portraits.

however, the combined price of both is more than the 16-85, so you have to consider whether you would be better served by a slowish aperture lens with VR and good corner performance which covers a fairly wide range vs. two lenses with no VR which gets you out significantly wider and also gives you 2.8. personally, i'd probably go with the two-lens set up, since the 28-75's biggest downside--lack of wideness on DX--is addressed well by the tokina, which is particularly strong at the long end of its range. i don't think you'd really miss the gap between 24-28 too much, but you'd obviously be switching lenses more (though the 28-75 would likely see the most stick time).

having said that, the tamron 17-50 is really a better fit for DX cameras and sees more use than either my 12-24 or 28-75. it's noticeably sharper at 2.8 than the 28-75--it's probably one of the best wide-open performers out there--and effectively negates the 50/1.8 (except in terms of inobtrusiveness) since that lens is fairly soft at 1.8 and really needs to be stopped down to 2.8 for sharpness, where it's only a hair sharper (if that) than the 17-50.

it all comes down to your total budget and how you will be using these lenses--for instance, the 16-85 is great for landscapes, while the 28-75 is better for portraits. if you're shooting on a tripod at f/8, VR and bigger max aperture become irrelevant. if you plan on shooting objects which move, VR is irrelevant. if you want to shoot in available-light handheld, you need 2.8. and if you want sweeping vistas, 16 or 17mm may not be wide enough. so, once again, the choice is yours.

Rene GM , May 07, 2009; 01:36 a.m.

Sorry about that camera error. I hope you can sort it out as a card problem. Just try another card.
The 16-85 is not "far superior" to your kit lens. But it has less distortion, a more solid build, although more vignetting. There is a new Tokina 11-? around, which improves on the old 12-24.
You should be careful about landscape photography with a super wide. Unless you know how to use these lenses to your advantage, you won't get good results. Some people just add more boring things to their images using those 12mm lenses.

TODD A BILLIAR , May 09, 2009; 07:08 p.m.

I was getting the same error on my D90 after unloading some images from the card using an external reader. I had accidentally moved the lock switch on the card to the locked position. Once I unlocked the card - no more error. I would agree with many of the above post and check the card and even try another to see if the error persist. Good luck - The D90 is a great camera you will enjoy shooting with.
BTW - I use the kit lens all the time and get may rave reviews from friends/family on the shots.

Gordon Burgess , May 14, 2009; 05:22 p.m.

Lens flange: I have been using the 18-105 kit lens with the d90. Good results, though a bit soft even with the d90's settings atsharpest etc. Then the plastic lens flange broke, even though I'd only had the lens on/off about 3 times in 4 months. Nikon UK refused to repair the flange under warranty, claiming it was the result of "impact damage" - baloney! The camera + lens was never dropped, and I took great care of it at all times during the 4 months I had it. I did, however, sometimes hold the unit by the lens, and this, according to some websites, is enough to snap the lens flange on this lens.
When I took it back to the shop for repair, the assistant said "This isn't the first one of these we've seen like this." Basically, I think the lens with this cheap bit of plastic flange is not fit for purpose, and I am considering taking this up with Nikon and the vendor. Anyone out there with a similar experience of this lens?

Eric Hough , May 20, 2009; 06:13 p.m.

Thank you all for your great advice. Since posting I got a replacement for my D90 (another D90) and have been very happy. I am now planning a backpackign trip to New Zealand and working on my landscape tecnique.

I also recently purchased the nifty fifty and am in the market for the 12-24. I am also considering the sigma 10-20 and weather to use these lenses with a circ pol which is the subject of my next internal struggle.

Thanks Everyone!


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