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D90 “ERR” mystery solved

I was having intermittent trouble with my new D90 recently. The dreaded blinking “ERR” in the LCD. My symptoms included: wouldn’t focus, shutter would trip but no image recorded, ERR light. The only way to clear it was to remove the battery. The thing is that it would only happen once in a while so, at first, I didn’t think too much about it. It got bad enough though that I decided I had a bad copy and was about to send it back for a replacement when… I noticed that the LCD would flickr when I wiggled the lens.

The solution? I removed the lens, wiped down the contacts and the mounting ring, and reattached it. Problem solved. I feel a little sheepish admitting how lame/lazy I am for not checking that in the first place. Lessons learned? I’m an idiot. Plus, check the lens mount if you’re getting weird intermittent mechanical problems with your DSLR.

John Watson

John is the original founder of Photodoto, but after running it for 4 years he had to focus on different things. If you're interested in what John has been up to recently, you can check is personal blog or browse his photo blog.
  • I wouldn’t say that you’re an idiot just because you couldn’t interpret such an informative error message. I mean, it’s not like it said, “Error, your lens contacts are dirty. Please remove the lens and clean the little brass bits on the bottom.” It said Err90. And there’s nothing in the manual to explain what that means. Canon has almost the identical error, although for I vaguely recall that theirs is Err30…

  • Thanks for the vote of confidence. :-)

  • Conner Downey

    I like how you said “flickr” instead of flicker.

  • Haha! I didn’t even notice. Sign of a true addict, eh? I think I’ll leave it.

  • I used to have this problem with Nikon, but don’t recall it ever happening after switching to Canon :)

  • Anderson

    I also met this problem.

    Need to unmount the lens and mount it again.
    It caused by lens contacting error to carmer.

  • Nick

    Wow, I really hope this works. I just e-mailed Nikon support about the problem.

  • malachy

    I had same err and CHA/e– error rather than take chances on new Nikon D90 i took it back and had it replaced and guess what within a few days it happened again same erros again,i phoned Nikon they said e– was lens not mounted correctly,remove and clean contacts and replace and err/CHA was memmory card problem,so i got a new Extreme lll 8 gig card today,if this happens im gonna be really pizzed lol

  • Ken

    Nikon advised returning the camera, don’t like to be without it or pay $30 to send it but it is warrented. I think they have a problem to many people getting same message, my lens has never been removed since Dec. Every shoot it would give Err I told them I was unsure what to send back as I had a 18x200mm & sanDisk Extreme 111 They said Camera. For the $ why risk going out of warranty.

  • Murray

    I have had this problem intermittently since May with my D90 — bought the camera new last September. I get either “Err” or “F–” … if it’s “Err,” I remove and reinstall the battery, sometimes that does it … Sometimes it then switches to, “F–,” when it does, I un-mount and re-mount my Nikor lens — this has worked each time so far … it’s happened about a dozen times … I was hoping that it’d “crash” before I send it back to Nikon for repair, but I presently have a question into Nikon on what they want me to do with it …

    this many people writing in tells me something is haywire … I have been shooting Nikons more than 30 years and never had a problem like this before …

  • F– means a non-CPU lens is attached. If the lens is a non-CPU lens it will only work in manual (see page 230 of your manual). If it is a CPU lens and you get F– it probably means the lens contacts aren’t connecting properly. Could just be dirt on the contacts. Or it could be a more serious problem with the lens OR the body.

    I haven’t had a single problem in the 8 months since I originally wrote this post.

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