Help, I've got DBS!

By Martin Joergensen | August 18, 2008 6:04 PM | Permalink | Comments ( 3)


Well, I might not have it personally, but my D200 certainly suffers some from some kind of disease, and DBS - Dead Battery Syndrome - is a very likely diagnosis. I have mentioned it before in my podcast: my D200 will sometimes go into spasms and start blinking wildly in the veiwfinder. The focus points will turn on and off and the viewfinder will dim slightly for every convulsion. Of course the camera fails completely when it happens, and usually won't react at all - not even turn off.

I had the problem yesterday during a shoot, but while the camera usually fails completely, it did fire yesterday, but right after the exposure the image in the viewfinder would jerk due to a sudden erratic motion in the VR in my 70-200 f2.8 - and worst of all: the camera wouldn't record any image. It focused, the VR worked, it fired, but then a total failure and no image.

I could turn off the camera, but when I turned it back on, it would a few times shortly report a completely flat battery and die. If I removed both batteries in the grip for a moment and put them back in, the camera would turn on with no hassle. It also seemed that turning off VR on the lens would completely remove the problem.

It only happens with my D200 combined with my 70-200 with our without a teleconverter, and it seems to be yet another version of an error generally called DBS or Dead Battery Syndrome. Many Nikon owners have reported similar problems, and not only with D200's, but also with D80's, D300's and even D3's. The error seems to be most common with longer lenses and zooms with AF-S, and some non-Nikon lenses can also trig the error.

My good friend and fellow Nikonian Henning keeps on nudging me and telling me that I need to let a Nikon repair shop look at the camera. I have DBS, a very dodgy flash hot shoe and some rubber slowly peeling off the grip. But the thought of letting go of the camera for even a few days doesn't really suit me. But I may have to give in and leave it to Nikon service to try to find the error and fix it. But I'm sure to trip to Nikon-land would do the camera good. I'm not really nice to my gear, and it's very likely that the mount has seen just a bit too much water - some of it saltwater.

It seems that most reports and thoughts about this error circles around mechanical and electrical errors in the lens mount. Some users report that cleaning the mount and the contacts will help, some can fix the error by un- and remounting the lens and some by merely turning it slightly in the bayonet. On the D300 there has been reports of a more consistent fix through a firmware update, but no one has seen the problem disappear in other camera models after updating.

My favorite fix is the guy who put a piece of paper in the battery chamber of his D300, preventing the battery from going too far into the chamber and in this way removing the random error. I may choose a solution, which is just a little more advanced.



I had a D200 for 15 months and nearly 20,000 clicks. I had DBS on and off for the first five months and then it went away. Very strange, that.

You sound like you have something more than DBS and if it only happened with one lens, you should send the lens back for a cleaning as well.



Yes, I suspect something more than DBS, and have planned on cleaning the contacts on my bodies and lenses, but never got it done. I have only been struck by the bad fortune a few times, and you know how it is: I'd rather go shoot...

But I may get some cleaner fluid for electrical contacts today and fix my lenses and flash contacts - hopefully.


It's a curious thing but I've experienced something of a comparable problem. About a year ago, I'd sent my F5 in to Nikon for an oil change, lube and filter and once it returned, I mounted my 70-200 AF-S VR. Incredibly and for some unknown reason, it would not matter what I tried...and I tried everything.

Oddly, when I mounted a number of other lenses both AF-S and AF, the body would AF perfectly. Also, incredibly, the 70-200 would AF perfectly on two D2Xs', a D200, an F6 and a second F5. Apparently, that particular lens and that particular body would just not work together.

I then sent the F5 back for a second time and once it got back, everything was fine in Mayberry with the 70-200. Although I've used the 70-200 any number of times since then on the D2Xs' and two D300's, I've not had any problems...yet...but I can't help but feel that there's also a problem of some kind with that lens that's just waiting to happen. I guess I'll just have to wait and see...

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