Broken D300 Compact Flash Release Switch
This week I experienced what might be considered a “catastrophic failure” of the CF card release switch on my Nikon D300. It broke right off! I’d had the card out to offload some photos, went back to my camera, put the card in, closed the hatch and noticed a little black bit of plastic hit the floor. I picked it up and looked at the back of my camera to see a hole where the CF release switch was supposed to be.
This was very distressing to me. Especially as I’m going to be going to a photo workshop very soon now.
I called Ivan’s, our local camera shop and asked them about the chances of getting it repaired. “Not very good,” was the gist of the reply. Apparently there’s a backlog and some cameras are taking several months to get fixed if it needs parts that aren’t in Canada. And there is apparently a bit of a parts shortfall these days. Not good at all.
He did give me Nikon Canada‘s number though and suggested I give them a try. “Maybe if they get a call from a customer, they’ll be able to help you out.”
This gave me a bit of hope. I called The Canadian Source of All Things Nikon and was shocked to hear a human answer the phone after the first ring. She transferred me directly to customer service who then sent me directly to the parts department. I explained that I had a broken release switch, and did they have another? “Let me check,” the parts tech said and put me on hold. She came back promptly and said she’d have to call me back. I left her my details and hung up.
She didn’t call back that day so I ordered a USB cable from Amazon. I could still get about 300 14-bit RAW shots onto my 8GB CF card before I filled it up. More if I shot in 12-bit, which I usually do anyway. My hopes of hearing back from Nikon were not great at this point, but I held on.
The next day, Deb asks me if I’d seen any results on the web for my broken button. I said I hadn’t. My search string was weak, but she managed to find this thread on the D200/D300 Users Group on Flickr almost right away. Apparently it’s a pretty common thing. Deb also read through and discovered that by prying the rubber grip back, it exposes a catch release slot over the door. With her fingernails and a toothpick, she was able to pop the door open. Nice, though repeated applications of this hack would almost surely destroy the rubber grip on the back and compromise the dust seals there.
Later, I downloaded a D300 Repair manual. It’s easy. Just search for that and grab a PDF.
Then a little after noon, the phone rang. I recognized the 905 number and greeted the parts technician. “We have your part!” she said, excitedly, then paused. “… but we can only ship it via Purolator”. I laughed and said I didn’t mind paying $15 dollars shipping for what must be a pretty cheap part (it’s 5 bucks). She sounded relieved and I gave her my shipping info. She said it’d be there in a couple of days.
I am so used to having dismal customer support experiences that I was totally unprepared for how awesome Nikon would be to deal with. In fact, I expected nothing to come of this and was considering all kinds of crazy options. Deb kept telling me that I should “just go and buy a D7000″ but I was pretty uninterested in doing that. My 4 year old non-S D300 is such a familiar machine that I didn’t want to give up on it. I don’t care that it doesn’t shoot video or has fewer megapixels. I love the control layout and I can pretty much run the whole thing in my sleep. Or at night. In the dark.
I’ll take some pictures when the switch arrives and document the repair for others in case they need it. I probably should’ve ordered two replacement switches for when this one fails in another 4 years.
And, as I was writing that last sentence, the Purolator guy rang my doorbell with the switch. Honestly, I’m a little amazed at just how awesome this is. Total time to receiving this part is under 48 hours since I placed the call. All done over the phone, no internets clogging up the communications. Just humans. Thanks, Nikon!