Well.....thanks for all the ideas/observations. My brother has tried them all, and then some, to no avail. Looks like Adorama will have another return & swap.
He loves the camera, having upgraded from D70 to D5000 to D600. Has some lovely shots from Israel and various family and Church function shots. He reports that the "kit" 24-85mm VR does well, as does the 70-300mm VR, and the 50mm 1.8D, and that he is amazed that the kit with VR did so very well at Church interiors in Israel. He was expecting to need the 50mm 1.8m, but seldom used it there.