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07-14-2018, 09:15 AM - 6 Likes   #1
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The dreaded SDM failure topic - Nikon AF motor failure perspective

There is an interesting thread on a German forum on SDM AF motor failures in Nikon lenses:
Nikon 500mm f4 E VR FL - Autofokus erzeugt extrem hochfrequentes quietschen - Seite 2 - DSLR-Forum

In short:
  • The SDM in the 10,000 EUR brandnew model 500/4 lens failed just like an SDM in old style Pentax DA* lenses.
  • Another guy comments he had the same in his 300mm F4.
  • Then someone says his friends 6,000 EUR 200/2 failed just as this.
  • Then another guy said, he had so change two SDMs, one in his 28-70 and one in the 12,000 EUR 600/4.
  • Average replacement price seems to be 500 EUR (no warranty).
Funny similar are the DIY repair methods:
Nikon Defekt AF-S Nikkor 18-105 Fokussiert nicht mehr – Leonīs Blog
Put the lens on a heater radiator and the lens will work again.

And here is a story on failing Nikon SDM drive over and over:
Wiederholter Defekt am Silent Wave Motor (AF-S 17-35)... - Beitrag 534 von simulacrum
That one lens Nikon SDM failed four times in a row (repairs 2 and 3 already cost 700 EUR).

And it is interesting to see the prices of 500 EUR for replacements.
The Nikon SDM micromotors cost only $13: "SWM"Focus drive Motor Repair parts For Nikon AF S 16 85mm VR ;18 55mm ;18 135mm; 18 200mm VR ,;55 200mm VR lens-in Len Parts from Consumer Electronics on Aliexpress.com | Alibaba Group
Nikon SDM ring motors start from $48 New "SWM"Silent Wave Focus motor assembly Repair part For Nikon AF S 50mm f/1.4G lens-in Len Parts from Consumer Electronics on Aliexpress.com | Alibaba Group and go up to $229 100%New Original Motor SWM 1C999 839 For Nikon 70 200 70 200mm f/2.8G AF S VR II Camera-in Camera LCD Screen from Consumer Electronics on Aliexpress.com | Alibaba Group

I think people just have to live with the fact that entertainment electronics devices are so full of tiny parts that can fail, that it is just normal to encounter these issues here and there. And "expensive" stuff doesn't protect from these failures. It's bad, but reality.

07-14-2018, 10:12 AM - 1 Like   #2
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Interesting timing on you posting this. I have no idea if there is any validity in this, but from a variety of posts regarding the early Pentax SDM failures, it seems the blame points to undersized motors failing due to the grease firming up from lack of use. One of the proposed maintenance solutions is to take a jeweler's screwdriver and manually rotate the screw drive screw on the lens through its full extent back and forth several times, and to do this on a regular basis to keep the grease from firming up the action and stressing the motor. So the last thing I was doing before hopping on the computer right now was "exercising" my DA* 16-50. I also have the 50-135 and 60-250, and so far, no problems with any of them.

Hopefully this news that Nikon has similar issues will help some folks to feel a bit better about Pentax's growing pains with this technology. And I say growing pains as Pentax has definitely figured out a thing or two since the SDM motors were first released, and even though the new lenses still use the terminology, the motors themselves are different beasts.
07-14-2018, 12:54 PM - 1 Like   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Michaelina2 Quote
So, unlike Pentax, there's no quick and easy conversion to screw drive for Nikon lenses... eh?

Hmmmmmm... M
There isn't one for pentax either.....
DA 17-70 with dead SDM, Fix it or Forget it! - PentaxForums.com
Same for Pentax-DA 55-300mm F4.5-6.3 ED PLM WR RE
The more advanced lenses get the more vulnerable.
07-14-2018, 01:33 PM   #4
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It seems, with Pentax it depends on which lens model as to which can or cannot be converted to screw-drive. The DA* 60-250mm and the DA 17-70mm cannot. The others that can are also reported to gain AF speed as well.

07-14-2018, 02:11 PM   #5
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older Nikon SWM-tech lenses are plagued by Af sudden death, specifically the AfsS 17-35 , the Afs 80-200 , afs 28-70. those lenses are renowed to have af failures in short time. This is due to design failures and lack of lubricant. Affected lenses are reported to whisle while focusing. AF problem is reparable but expensive. This problem affects the first version of AFS lenses .

Last edited by bm75; 07-14-2018 at 02:18 PM.
07-14-2018, 02:17 PM - 2 Likes   #6
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The cold hard truth starts to sink in. As reported in lens rentals.com, other camera manufacturers are not as good overall as Pentax. The manufacturers have their issues. The only ones complaining about SDM are those who live in a Pentax fishbowl, where all they know about is Pentax. Absence of knowledge is not the same as knowledge of absence.
07-14-2018, 02:30 PM   #7
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Nikon changed the SWM technology later in time and some older AFS are still available now as new. Just recently Nikon retired the AFS 300 f/4 D with the newest 300 f/4 PFE (completely different optical design) . the AFS 300D is an old SWM despite being AFS (released in the year 2000)
07-14-2018, 05:11 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by mikesbike Quote
It seems, with Pentax it depends on which lens model as to which can or cannot be converted to screw-drive. The DA* 60-250mm and the DA 17-70mm cannot. The others that can are also reported to gain AF speed as well.
The only lenses that can be converted are the KAF2 DA* lenses, which was the original series launched with first-generation SDM around 2008 (16-50, 50-135, 60-250, 200, 300). At the time, more than half of Pentax DSLRs did not support SDM, so this was done to maximize compatibility.

Now that DC/SDM autofocus is just as reliable as screwdrive (if not more reliable), and all bodies support it, there's no reason to continue giving lenses with AF motors the KAF2 mount with the screwdrive fallback.


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07-14-2018, 05:35 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by bavd Quote
There isn't one for pentax either.....
DA 17-70 with dead SDM, Fix it or Forget it! - PentaxForums.com
Same for Pentax-DA 55-300mm F4.5-6.3 ED PLM WR RE
The more advanced lenses get the more vulnerable.
I have both lenses you mention in your post and I am the OP of the 17-70 fix it or forget it post. The 17-70 is one of 5; in lens quiet focus motor lenses that I have. All of the others that I have: DA 16-85, 55-300 PLM, DA*200 and DA*300 work reliably and are not prone to the same issues as older 17-70 zooms. I wish that lens could be converted. My thought is the newer Pentax lenses are far more reliable and less likely to fail due to increased complexity
07-14-2018, 06:15 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by bavd Quote
There isn't one for pentax either.....
DA 17-70 with dead SDM, Fix it or Forget it! - PentaxForums.com
Same for Pentax-DA 55-300mm F4.5-6.3 ED PLM WR RE
The more advanced lenses get the more vulnerable.
I haven't seen reports of the DA 55-300 failing. Have you?

In lens motors are here to stay. With the right motor, they are faster and more precise than screw drive motors. I'm not sure what the last screw driven lens was that Pentax released, but it has been awhile ago (maybe the HD DA limiteds?).
07-14-2018, 06:56 PM - 2 Likes   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
The cold hard truth starts to sink in. As reported in lens rentals.com, other camera manufacturers are not as good overall as Pentax. The manufacturers have their issues.
You can't fool me! I bought this DA 60-250 fourth hand from a shady guy on CraigsBay, so Pentax OWES me a lifetime of free repairs, or I will take my tens of dollars elsewhere!

07-15-2018, 02:19 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Michaelina2 Quote
So, unlike Pentax, there's no quick and easy conversion to screw drive for Nikon lenses... eh?
With Pentax we are talking about the first version DA* SDM lenses only. All of those have screwdrive as backup with just two exceptions (DA*55 which still rarely ever seems to have failed and the DA 17-70 from 2008).
None of the motor fail ridden Nikons have this option.



QuoteOriginally posted by bavd Quote
Same for Pentax-DA 55-300mm F4.5-6.3 ED PLM WR RE
The more advanced lenses get the more vulnerable.
The PLM drive has no exceptional failure rate. Feel free to find evidence for anything else.


QuoteOriginally posted by bm75 Quote
older Nikon SWM-tech lenses are plagued by Af sudden death, specifically the AfsS 17-35 , the Afs 80-200 , afs 28-70. those lenses are renowed to have af failures in short time. This is due to design failures and lack of lubricant. Affected lenses are reported to whisle while focusing. AF problem is reparable but expensive. This problem affects the first version of AFS lenses .
As shown in the first post, it is not only the older Nikon SWM tech. It is Nikons newest (and ridiculously expensive ones) lenses as well, albeit maybe with a little better chance.

No one is safe from motor fail, regardless of brand or price or "pro model".
07-15-2018, 02:33 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rondec Quote
I haven't seen reports of the DA 55-300 failing. Have you?

In lens motors are here to stay. With the right motor, they are faster and more precise than screw drive motors. I'm not sure what the last screw driven lens was that Pentax released, but it has been awhile ago (maybe the HD DA limiteds?).
I did not say that these lenses are prone to failure, i meant they could not be converted to screw drive.
Rgds.
07-15-2018, 02:48 AM - 1 Like   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by bavd Quote
I did not say that these lenses are prone to failure, i meant they could not be converted to screw drive.
Rgds.
The goal would be to have lenses that don't need to be converted to screw drive. Unfortunately, the 16-50 and 50-135 seemed pretty prone to SDM failure. On the other hand, lenses like the DA *55 and DA 18-135 do not seem to have this predilection.

I don't find this thread particularly useful though. The problem is no one has numbers. What is the failure rate for screw driven lenses? What is the failure rate for in lens motors for each of the other lenses out there? How does that compare to other brands? Obviously there will always be some failures, but if the percentage is low, then that is probably acceptable. If ten or twenty percent of lenses are failing by the two year mark, then that is a problem.

I own ten year old copies of the 16-50 and 50-135 and both work fine, but my experience doesn't mean that there aren't plenty of folks out there who have experienced SDM failure. Without hard numbers you just don't know.
07-15-2018, 04:43 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by beholder3 Quote
As shown in the first post, it is not only the older Nikon SWM tech. It is Nikons newest (and ridiculously expensive ones) lenses as well, albeit maybe with a little better chance.

No one is safe from motor fail, regardless of brand or price or "pro model".
Infact all the AF failure affected lenses I said , i.e. 80-200 17-35 28-70, were Nikon PRO model zoom lenses price tagged at about Eur 2000, forced to retirement by other PRO lenses (14-24, 24-70, 70-200). We're saing the same thing. not sure for the 500 mm f/4 VR that's a 2007 lens (disconitued in 2015). By the way I didn't have any problem neither with Pentax 17-70 or my Nikon lenses...
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