As I was mentioning in my Botswana summary report, I have had issues on my past 2 safaris with my Nikon 200-400mm f/4 VR lens. I am pretty sure it only happened when I had a mounted teleconverter, either a 1.4x or 1.7x, but I was having weird autofocus and vibration reduction issues that would require me to power down the camera, remount my teleconverter / lens and start all over. Sometimes the only fix would be to pull out the camera battery. Very frustrating, indeed.
Well, a friend and former safari traveler of mine sent me an email that I thought might help. Here goes:
"Saw your latest entry on your Botswana trip…sounds like it was really special. Love the photos. I’m envious!
I also noted your description of problems with your D3/1.4x/200-400. You probably know this by now, but I figured I’d tell you just in case you’ve missed it: Nikons are prone to getting oxidation on the body and/or lens electrical contacts. When that happens, you get many of the symptoms you describe in your post…slow/no focus, erratic VR, mysterious error messages. Usually, you can’t even see anything on the contacts. The “commando” fix is to take something like a pencil eraser and rub it on the contacts to clean them, being VERY careful not to let any of the rubbings fall into the mirror box. (I’ve also used a microfiber lens cloth.) The tried-and-true solution is to get some DeoxIT (you can get it at your local Radio Shack or order it thru Amazon) and use that to both clean and protect the contacts. The problem with DeoxIT is that it’s one of those chemicals that you can’t take on an airplane (if you mail order it, they’ll only ship it ground). But it really works—I speak from experience. It MAY fix your problem…then again, it might be something totally different J.
Again, my apologies if you knew this already…just trying to be helpful."
No need to apologize! I have ordered some of DeoxIT and it should arrive this week. Thanks for the tip!