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Old Wednesday 29th June 2011, 20:21   #1
Alexis Powell
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Nikon ED50 tripod socket design & excellent Nikon USA customer service

Although the topic hasn't come up recently, there has been much discussion in the past about the tripod mounting foot of the ED50 Fieldscope and problems with its durability, particularly with the metal threading (helicoil) unwinding from the otherwise plastic foot. I've posted to some of these threads, and I now know, based on recent experiences, that some of my assumptions and advice in those posts were incorrect. Rather than rehashing all the details, or bumping them all up, here are links to some of those past discussions:

http://www.birdforum.net/showthread....+ED50+helicoil
http://www.birdforum.net/showthread....+ED50+helicoil
http://www.birdforum.net/showthread....+ED50+helicoil
http://www.birdforum.net/showthread....50+tripod+foot

About a month ago, I found that the quick release plate on my ED50 was loose. Turned out that the metal helicoil was unraveling. I was very surprised because although I'd used my ED50 a lot over the past ~5 years, and I knew the ED50 is fragile in comparison to the other Fieldscopes, I'd been very careful with it and tried to avoid problems by keeping it attached to the same Arca-Swiss style antirotation quick release plate (a universal SLR body plate from Kirk Enterprises) to avoid lots of tightening/untightening of tripod screws in use. Poking at it a bit caused little crumbly bits of the surrounding black plastic in which the helicoil was embedded to fall out, and in fact the flat cover plate on the bottom of the mounting foot came off as well, allowing me to see inside the foot.

Some important observations on the original ED50 tripod foot design (see attached PDF--itself a collectors' item!--for a visual of the #s given below): The helicoil #72-1 is not attached to the rest of the surrounding plastic foot (which _is_ easily replaced since it is attached with four small screws #74, plus a larger screw #85 with O-ring #67 that apparently serves as a port cover after nitrogen injection). Instead, the helicoil is held into an extension of the main scope body assembly by a fairly soft black material (maybe a resin that hardens when the part is fitted?). It is the shaped lip of that black plastic that is visible around the end of the helicoil on an intact scope. It seems that replacing the helicoil is not so easy as removing a few screws. Instead, it would have to be replaced along with all of the rear body housing, or else the black material would have to be reamed out of the original housing and a new helicoil glued/bonded into place.

I mailed my ED50, as well a Sportstar IV pocket roof, to NikonUSA a few weeks ago. I included the USA warranty slips for both. A few days ago, the binos came back properly fixed and very clean (they had gone out of alignment--maybe weren't very well aligned to begin with), repaired under warranty (i.e. no charge). Today, I got another box from Nikon, this time with a new-in-box replacement for my ED50. I'm a little surprised that they didn't repair my old scope (at least to return to me; maybe it will appear as a refurb somewhere some day). Aesthetically, I'm a lover of repair versus replacement, but I've certainly no complaints so long as this new scope is optically as good or better than my original unit :). Nikon customer service for Sport Optics in the USA has always been excellent in my past experience, and based on these experiences, continues to be so. And of course I'm not complaining about the new 13-30x zoom (I didn't ship the body with an eye-piece--I use the 27x) or $10 coupon that came with this body either.

Some observations about my new ED50: The tripod foot has had a least one design change: the metal helicoil has been replaced by a threaded metal insert. The body is now a darker charcoal gray than the gray of my original. The focusing action is a bit smoother, but is still well damped. Since the socket is now a solid piece and not a helicoil, my plan is to use the same QR plate as I have used up to now, but if the helicoil had been repaired (or if I were an owner of an older ED50 with helicoil) I'd do differently. I'd replace the original stainless screw of my QR plate, which fully engages 3 turns of the threading (the traditional standard for "secure" attachment) with a longer one that engages all the threads (i.e. ~5+ turns).

--AP
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Nikon_ED50.pdf (243.0 KB, 216 views)
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Old Wednesday 29th June 2011, 22:33   #2
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Congrats, Alexis! Did they really replace your old ED50, and give you a free 13-30 zoom to boot? I wish Nikon in Europe were half as service-oriented.
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Old Thursday 30th June 2011, 16:55   #3
Alexis Powell
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Congrats, Alexis! Did they really replace your old ED50, and give you a free 13-30 zoom to boot? I wish Nikon in Europe were half as service-oriented.
Yep, that's what they did--it's a whole new kit with strap, case etc, including new warranty cards (25 years in USA; separate from the unlimited no-fault policy of fixing anything for $20). I've never owned the 13-30x zoom before so I may have some fun playing with it, though I have the 13-40x and almost never use it. I'm just glad to have my problem with the ED50 body resolved, and that the new body has a better tripod socket. The customer service of the Nikon's Sport Optics division is a real standout, even compared to other branches of Nikon. They seem to have extensive repair capability, so I'm surprised that they didn't return my original ED50 body repaired; maybe it was just a matter of resolving my case quickly.

--AP
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Old Thursday 30th June 2011, 18:38   #4
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Alexis,

I recently had the same problem as you, and I posted my experiences in one of the threads you referenced in your post. I was so pleased Nikon UK fixed it free of charge in about a week door-to-door I didn't even look to see what they'd done. I had assumed they'd replaced it with the same thing. I've therefore been worried since that the same thing could easily happen again.

However, your email prompted me to take a look at what they've done, and it is clearly a metal threaded insert, and not a helicoil. The surround of the insert is no longer flush with the outside of the coverplate. I can therefore now use the scope with more confidence than I have been. So many thanks for the heads up, and credit to "Mr Nikon", if he's reading this, for using customer and/or service department feedback to improve the product.

Mark
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Old Saturday 2nd July 2011, 06:29   #5
horukuru
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Alex,

Can you show me the picture of the threaded metal for the tripod mount ?
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Old Saturday 2nd July 2011, 16:30   #6
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Alexis, That is great that Nikon took care of you. So does the new 50ED seem as good as the old one? Does the insert look something like this?

http://www.acmeindustrial.com/keylockinsert.htm

Horukuru, This is probably what you have in your ED50.

http://www.noblefix.com/
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Old Saturday 2nd July 2011, 17:31   #7
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I looked at a few stars with the new scope and I'm pleased with what I could see. I think this is a fine unit. I could post a pic of the ED50 foot later if necessary, but the examples referenced by mooreorless (above) capture the difference. If you have the helicoil, you can see (with a close look up into the threaded socket) the surrounding black plastic through every turn of metal threading.

--AP
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Old Saturday 2nd July 2011, 23:18   #8
mooreorless
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Alexis thanks for your reply. I have had a chance to look through two of the 50ED Fieldscopes and both seemed very close. I did not have them side by side. I bought the second 50ED after looking through the one on loan. I liked the 50ED that much. I wish I could have two of these mounted like a binocular, a small Nikon 50mm Lowlander.:)

I have used the heli-coil type inserts to fix things and they work good if you are not taking apart the object a lot. The other style insert is more robust.
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Old Sunday 3rd July 2011, 22:44   #9
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Originally Posted by mooreorless View Post
I wish I could have two of these mounted like a binocular, a small Nikon 50mm Lowlander.:)
The thought has occurred to me, Steve! Years ago there was a guy on BF who showed photos of some mechanism by which he'd bolted two Swaro ATS65HD together. The problem with the ED50 is the focusser is offset to the right, so that the left-hand "Lowlander" tube would be hard to focus. It would make a very cute 20 or 27x bino-scope, though!
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Old Monday 4th July 2011, 01:18   #10
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Sancho, You are right. This might work on angled ED50 spotters. ?
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Old Tuesday 23rd October 2012, 06:58   #11
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I wish I could say I had the same good service. While I was in Peru for a month the helicoil pulled loose, so as soon as I got home I shipped the scope to the Nikon repair facilities in Southern California. A week later I received an email stating that the cost of repair and return shipping would be $55. and that I needed to contact them to give approval for repair. So I called them and authorized a charge to my credit card. A few days later I checked their website for an update and was informed the scope had shipped. Today I received the scope, unrepaired, with a form note stating that the scope was "beyond repair." I don't know what to do next, but I'm very disappointed in Nikon.
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Old Tuesday 23rd October 2012, 07:50   #12
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Old Tuesday 23rd October 2012, 10:03   #13
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This seems strange after what Alexis posted. Nikon went out of their way to make him happy, even sent an eyepiece.Does Nikon read these threads? Different person in charge? Not a good sign.
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Old Tuesday 23rd October 2012, 18:56   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bcskr View Post
I wish I could say I had the same good service. While I was in Peru for a month the helicoil pulled loose, so as soon as I got home I shipped the scope to the Nikon repair facilities in Southern California. A week later I received an email stating that the cost of repair and return shipping would be $55. and that I needed to contact them to give approval for repair. So I called them and authorized a charge to my credit card. A few days later I checked their website for an update and was informed the scope had shipped. Today I received the scope, unrepaired, with a form note stating that the scope was "beyond repair." I don't know what to do next, but I'm very disappointed in Nikon.
I am disappointed to hear this as this is not the norm. At least in my experience that is. I have never heard anyone being charged over the $10 that the service and repair usually requires to act on the No-Fault Policy. Also, this is the first time I am hearing about the helicoil thread issues. I have used the ED50 extensively and never had this issue. Furthermore, I had a prostaffer inadvertently leave his ED50 on top of a small tour bus as he was greeting tour participants off of the bus. The driver drove off and the ED50 fell off at 45 mph. The driver came back to deliver the scope, but outside of a few external scratches, there was no damage to the glass. The scope still produced a great image as usual. It is due to that event and my own usage that I deemed this to be one of our more durable pieces of glass.

If you would like to try again to contact service and repair, perhaps I can help. Please contact me at mfreiberg@nikonrep.com and I am glad to help. I will just need your service order number and such. Thanks for sharing your experiences and I hope to hear from you (bcskr).

All the best,
Mike Freiberg
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Old Wednesday 24th October 2012, 06:57   #15
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Thank you Mike. I will send you the information. Last night, since Nikon had returned my scope as unable to repair, I decided to attempt repairing myself. I removed the bottom plate revealing five screws as has been previously described, and removed the partially loosened helicoil. I then ordered a 3/8 to 1/4 thread adapter insert to replace the helicoil.

I am now awaiting arrival of the insert.

Additional comments of interest: I own 2 of these scopes, a straight and an angled. The straight is mounted on a BushHawk shoulder pod with a 16x eyepiece. I use it hiking, biking and especially in the car, way better than my window clamp mount. Because of the well reported issues with the helicoil I have a permanent support under the objective end of the scope, and on the barrel between the support and the attachment screw is a cable tie wrapping around the shoulder pod and scope. It is bomber, and I have never removed the scope from the shoulder pod.

I have had a Manfrotto quick release plate attached to the angled scope and used it with a lightweight tripod. Wanting to go even lighter I recently purchased a Slik Pro 634 carbon fiber tripod combined with a Gitzo ball head. This meant changing the quick release plate to a Gitzo. Perhaps I over tightened the quick release plate because when I was in Peru the scope started to wobble slightly on the plate. I tightened it some more and the wobbling seemed to increase. I removed the plate and could see what appeared to be a column of plastic surrounding the helicoil was protruding. (Somewhere in one of the previous threads is a picture of this). I was able to push the plastic back in and reattach the plate but it still was loose. I tried glueing it together, but without success.

Up to that point I've been very pleased with my ED50s, have written favorable reviews, and even given one to my sister. I also have a Swaro 65 that gets less use than my two little Nikons. As I've often said, the best scope is the one you have with you. I also have invested in several different eyepieces, and if I can't repair my scope I will probably buy another to take to Costa Rica in December.

I am disappointed in how I was treated by Nikkon. When I was quoted and paid $45 repair fee and $10. shipping fee I gave up on the idea of getting a replacement scope as some people had, but at least thought it would be repaired. The only thing I can think of that might have lead to their refusal to repair is that I bought the scope on EBay two or three years ago and did not submit any kinds of paperwork, but if that's the problem seems like somebody could have had the courtesy to tell me.

Last edited by bcskr : Wednesday 24th October 2012 at 07:02.
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Old Wednesday 24th October 2012, 22:07   #16
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....I am disappointed in how I was treated by Nikkon. When I was quoted and paid $45 repair fee and $10. shipping fee I gave up on the idea of getting a replacement scope as some people had, but at least thought it would be repaired. The only thing I can think of that might have lead to their refusal to repair is that I bought the scope on EBay two or three years ago and did not submit any kinds of paperwork, but if that's the problem seems like somebody could have had the courtesy to tell me.
Very odd. You should still have been covered by the $10+$10 no-fault warranty, which should even include replacement if an item cannot be repaired. In my case, with the scope and other stuff I've sent to Nikon for repair, I've always included copies of the original sales receipts and warranty papers, so I've never tested their generosity myself.

--AP
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Old Thursday 25th October 2012, 13:40   #17
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I have to believe Nikon will come through here. I mean they know the original helical coil design was weak. That's why they changed it.

Mark
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Old Thursday 25th October 2012, 17:00   #18
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bcskr: Eerie--I use the same exact setup you do with the Bushhawk-straight ED 50-16x eyepiece that you do! I use a plastic support for the objective end up front like you do, but I also installed some padding on the butt of the stock for comfort. I sometimes (rarely) use the 13-30x zoom, but find I need to use my arm wrapped around a strap to create a "tripod" position in order to steady the pod at 30x. The 16x is the ideal eyepiece for this setup--wide crisp view, lightweight, and easy to sight in & follow the bird!
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Old Saturday 27th October 2012, 23:58   #19
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Yes Karmantra, it is a great setup. I really like it in a vehicle, it is quick to deploy, one can look any direction, and the scope can be shared with other passengers.
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Old Friday 16th November 2012, 04:26   #20
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I am happy to report that thanks to the intercession of Mike Freiberg, Nikon came through for me. Yesterday I received a brand new in the box replacement scope with EP similar to what Alexis described above. And as Alexis also described, the helicoil has been replaced with a threaded metal insert. I don't know what went wrong the first time I sent my scope in for repair, but the second time, thanks to Mike, I got the great Nikon service that others have written about. Thank you Nikon, and thank you Mike.
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Old Friday 16th November 2012, 20:40   #21
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I am happy to report that thanks to the intercession of Mike Freiberg, Nikon came through for me. Yesterday I received a brand new in the box replacement scope with EP similar to what Alexis described above. And as Alexis also described, the helicoil has been replaced with a threaded metal insert. I don't know what went wrong the first time I sent my scope in for repair, but the second time, thanks to Mike, I got the great Nikon service that others have written about. Thank you Nikon, and thank you Mike.
Oh, that's good news! Bravo!

--AP
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