Thursday, September 16, 2010

Nikon Battery Grip MB-D80 Problem

I love my Nikon D90. I save 13 years for this. While i still take crappy photos i can't resist to look "pro" doing it. While a friend has spoken about the differences between a real Mc-Coy versus a "Joe With Camera" (herewith refered to as JWC), it is only natural that every JWC aspire to be a real "photographer".

I have my D90 for almost 18months. Shutter count close to 25K. The battery grip was bought about two months after, meaning to say, it is also close to 18months. Both has their warranty expired, though i can still get it serviced at Nikon Malaysia if i wanted to.

Here is my problem, which i was in silent denial.

From Day TWO i used the battery grip (BG), i had a problem. Not so much of a problem per se (Nikon produces good camera and better lenses), but it is a pain in the JWC-finger (can't say butt as i use my finger to snap).

Whenever i hit the bottom of the BG, or knock it a bit hard, or sort of moved it (like trying to pry it off the body - don't ask me why i do that, maybe it was the pain in the finger kinda thing), the camera will register the battery as EMPTY!

NOT GOOD! Not when you are sports photographing and suddenly due to some movement only the camera body could register, it goes off! Then you find yourself opening the BG, or removing the batteries or anything to make it work again.

I have lost some award winning sports shot because of that could had made me Photographer and not just JWC.

Which was also why Jason Contador Hue refused to use my camera if the BG is attached to the body.

"Bring to J-One and change it la, under warranty, why you so like that?", he always said that and i can still hear this echoing whenever the BG failed on me.

It was not until i read some discussion in PhotoMalaysia that it strucked me about something. A forummer had problem with his battery or D90; which despite how many times he charge his batteries, the camera will register it as empty (or no power). He changed it a few times and I have even questioned if the battery was original and not with a Nikon sticker.

You see, my frustration with the BG has made me remove the BG for my trip to HK about 3 weeks ago. Today, i took the BG out, wanting to place it back on the D90 and to tell myself to use the 501.8 lense that has been sitting in the dry box for a very very long time.

I then noticed something peculiar.

The BG's battery contact, the one that goes into the D90 battery hole has three points of contact. I noticed that the outer contacts has marking on them but not the middle one.

Noticed the left and right has more wear/contact than the middle?

I then checked with my battery and noticed that all three contact has wear/contact scratches that shows proper contact with the camera body.

I check the other battery and it too, has the same scratch marking on it. What allowed the battery to stay in contact is because the battery contact goes beyond the edge and still allow the contact in the camera body, which is spring stay in contact. The BG has contact point that does not extend beyond the edge like the battery does - this is evidence as the middle wear mark goes very close to the edge!

It suddenly occurred to me that this might just be the problem!

It was not the bloody BG but the D90 battery contact!

I think when Nikon produced D90, which was an upgrade from D80, or made to replace D80, they went a bit lazy and decided to use the D80 BG. They then most probably went another notch lazy and did not change the battery contact in the camera, which then caused this issue.

But i don't believe it happens in all BG or in all D90. I might just be unlucky to get a lemon D90.

The fix?

Simple. It is what i would call a straight forward solution.

Buy a new camera.

Or you can do like me. Stick your middle finger into the hole, fiddle with the middle contact and aim to bend it downwards. But if you got fat fingers like me i would reccomend you to use a small screwdriver or a Victorinox (i have one that has been with me for 7 years) blade and apply pressure to bend the middle contact downwards, so it would have more chances of staying in contact when the BG presses it down.
Remember, only the middle one only and bend downwards!

It looked risky and like there are chances of anyone doing this spoiling the contact. To a certain extend it is true. Just don't apply any HULK effort to bend it and you will be fine.

I reattach the BG and did the "shake, knock, trying to pry open" test. Waddaya-know....My almost 18 months RM450 problem has finally been solved.

Now, can i go and buy that fullframe camera with awesome F2.8 lense?


  1. Can, can! Go buy - hehehe. Lots of movement and improvements on the crop sensor bodies these days, so much so the full framers are getting updates slower. Not that I can afford upgrading anyway!

  2. Upgrade to D300 probably the best option :P

  3. Jamie - yeap. crop sensor bodies are getting all the hype and atttention. but i believe it is more to cater for the prosumer and goes back to spending power by the consumer. Not everyone can afford a few months wages FF.

    Kam - so i heard...300s is good enough. But i don't take that much photos to justify the upgrade anyway.