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Author Topic: Camera Equipment Reliability – What Can We Reasonably Expect ?  (Read 4944 times)
Simon J.A. Simpson
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« on: September 09, 2013, 01:05:29 PM »
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I’ve been taking photographs for around 40 years now, and have owned a variety of ‘professional’ cameras and lenses – Pentax, Olympus, Leica, and now – in the brave new world of digital – Canon.

In the 7 years I have owned a Canon 5D and ancillary lenses I have had three major equipment failures – the reflex mirror flew out the front of the camera having become detached from its cradle (adhesive failure), the 100mm macro’s diaphragm actuator failed after only a hundred or so exposures, and now the 24–105mm stabilised zoom has given up (internet ‘diagnosis’ suggests a failure of the ribbon cable connecting the diaphragm actuator – to be confirmed).

My other cameras and lenses never suffered from any major failures during the time I have owned them although, to be fair, I opted for manual varieties in the interests of reliability.  I still have the Leica (twenty three years and going strong), and a Pentax spotmeter (likewise).

At least two of the Canon faults (the ‘early exiting mirror’ and failed zoom lens) are, from searches of the internet, apparently very common faults and are down to manufacturing defects (at least one admitted by Canon).

So this gives rise to wondering whether I am just unlucky or whether others have suffered similar experiences ?  What reliability can we reasonably expect from ‘professional’ equipment – fair wear-and-tear allowed for ?

And I would really like to know whether some manufacturers’ cameras and lenses are more reliable than others – and I have a personal interest in the answer for, when I come to buy my new camera, I am wondering whether should I ditch Canon and buy into Nikon ?  The D800E looks very inviting.
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snoleoprd
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« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2013, 01:24:27 PM »
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While I would say that as devices become more dependent on electronics and needing faster and better electronics, that there will be more failures, increase the complexity, increase the failure rate. Here is an interesting article from Lensrentals...

http://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2013/08/lensrentals-repair-data-2012-2013
Interesting read, since they see more gear than any of us would in a lifetime.

On a personal basis, I have had few failures. I tend to treat my camera gear well and maybe that helps. The lens I have sent in for repair was a 50mm lens that was badly damaged after the camera and lens fell out of my backpack when I picked it up. The camera got a small ding but the lens absorbed the shock. Camera was completely ok and checked by Canon, the lens exploded but was repaired by Canon for a reasonable price and came back focusing better than it ever did with new optics.

Alan
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Alan Smallbone
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« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2013, 01:35:28 PM »
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Flying mirror - that must have been a shock. I have not had problems, but I have few pieces of newer equipment. Roger Cicala of www.lensrentalblog.com  (Lens Rental owner) keeps statistics. BTW, you can achieve new life for old manual focus manual aperture lenses, using a "whatever" to EOS adapter. Then you remember how wonderful you found the automatic aperture feature on the new camera.
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2013, 02:28:18 PM »
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Hi,

My take:

I have had some 10 digital cameras since 2005, 6 DSLRs and 4 bridge cameras. A single warranty repair. I also had something like one or two dozen SLR/DSLR lenses. I have had a Tamron lens with bad alignment problems (warranty return) and a Konica-Minolta 17-35 lens whith uneven sharpness that was supposedly within tolerances. I did a bayonet exchange on a Minolta 80-200/2.8 APO from around 1990. I addition I have had a Pentax 67 with 5 lenses without problems. So I don't see a lot of reliability problems.

I see my equipment as tools, so I am not very careful with them, but I am reasonably careful.

Best regards
Erik


I’ve been taking photographs for around 40 years now, and have owned a variety of ‘professional’ cameras and lenses – Pentax, Olympus, Leica, and now – in the brave new world of digital – Canon.

In the 7 years I have owned a Canon 5D and ancillary lenses I have had three major equipment failures – the reflex mirror flew out the front of the camera having become detached from its cradle (adhesive failure), the 100mm macro’s diaphragm actuator failed after only a hundred or so exposures, and now the 24–105mm stabilised zoom has given up (internet ‘diagnosis’ suggests a failure of the ribbon cable connecting the diaphragm actuator – to be confirmed).

My other cameras and lenses never suffered from any major failures during the time I have owned them although, to be fair, I opted for manual varieties in the interests of reliability.  I still have the Leica (twenty three years and going strong), and a Pentax spotmeter (likewise).

At least two of the Canon faults (the ‘early exiting mirror’ and failed zoom lens) are, from searches of the internet, apparently very common faults and are down to manufacturing defects (at least one admitted by Canon).

So this gives rise to wondering whether I am just unlucky or whether others have suffered similar experiences ?  What reliability can we reasonably expect from ‘professional’ equipment – fair wear-and-tear allowed for ?

And I would really like to know whether some manufacturers’ cameras and lenses are more reliable than others – and I have a personal interest in the answer for, when I come to buy my new camera, I am wondering whether should I ditch Canon and buy into Nikon ?  The D800E looks very inviting.

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Telecaster
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« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2013, 04:12:44 PM »
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In the digital era I've had only two equipment miscues: a misaligned element in a Canon 70-300mm DO zoom (fixed by Canon) and just recently an AF glitch in my 645-format Pentax FA 200mm. The 200 will no longer autofocus properly beyond 15m or so...just racks in to infinity and stays there, with the AF box in the VF blinking. Focuses fine & dandy on closer subjects. Given how little I've always used the lens, and how inexpensive they are on the used market (if I ever decide I need another one), I probably won't bother getting it fixed. Camera bodies...no failures at all and no glitches beyond the need to fine-tune DSLR AF behavior (per lens in most cases).

-Dave-
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Rhossydd
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« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2013, 04:41:46 PM »
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So this gives rise to wondering whether I am just unlucky or whether others have suffered similar experiences ?
I think you've just been unlucky.

Since moving seriously to digital in 2003 I've owned 4 DSLRs and about a dozen lenses, all Canon. In that time despite giving the kit a fair bashing, sometimes literally, I've only had one problem. That was when I purchased my 1DsII as a refurb and the orientation sensor didn't work and was repaired under warranty. The only other issue has been the red plastic ring falling off one of the L lenses, hardly a problem really.
P&S digitals have broadly been as reliable. My first 2mp Nikon Coolpix had a few dead pixels when bought in 2001, again swapped immediately for a new one, but the 4 other compacts that have followed have all worked flawlessly.

Overall I've been very pleased with the reliability of digital kit and don't think it any worse than the film days. I had a few problems with my OM1s (mainly because of some harsh treatment).

Quote
from searches of the internet, apparently very common faults
One thing to bare in mind is that with the internet stories of problems are far more easily spread around and with Google are easily found too, but it's not always a good indicator of the real statistics and risk.
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Tony Jay
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« Reply #6 on: September 09, 2013, 07:42:51 PM »
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Simon I do not think that the issues that you raise are in any way peculiar to Canon.
Every manufacturer will have a percentage of failures (including Nikon).

Anecdotally, I shoot with Canon equipment, and while I do try as best possible to take good care of my equipment, in rather harsh outdoor conditions in Australia, and elsewhere, the bottom line is that my equipment takes a hammering.
Nonetheless I have never had any (camera or lens) equipment failure.
Tripods, bags, and other stuff have broke.

I once dropped my 500mm f4.0 three feet onto my foot. How I did not break a bone I don't know.
The lens was fine - just needed a dusting off.
I shoot in hail, thunderstorms, and rain, so that many people regard me as completely barking, with a 40D, 5DII, 5DIII, none of which are fully weather sealed. The Canon reps go pale when I recount this but the cameras and lenses soldier on with no problems.

I have no doubt that at some point I will buy a dud (and that Canon will honour the guarantee and replace it) but the stuff that I have is worked really hard with no problems.

If you want to change to Nikon, you mentioned the D800, do it for the perceived benefits of good image-making not because of concerns about reliability. Ultimately given the scale of production I don't believe that there are many differences in tolerances and quality assurance between the major manufacturers.

Tony Jay
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stever
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« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2013, 09:40:21 PM »
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all manufacturers have more and less reliable lenses (in general, the more complicated, the less reliable) and historically some manufacturer take greater design risks (Sigma).  the other side of the equation is service response.  my experience with Canon USA is that the repair time and short and process relatively painless both in and out of warranty and that out of warranty repairs are priced reasonably (and given a reasonable level of use, I can't complain about Canon reliability).

lensrentals.com has done us all an enormous service in reporting their experience - and reporting image quality tests on a representative sample of lenses
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Simon J.A. Simpson
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« Reply #8 on: September 15, 2013, 06:35:38 AM »
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Thank you all for your feedback and contributions.  Paul, it really looks like I have just been unlucky.

I am someone who takes care of my equipment but it seems, from the small number of replies here, that this may not contribute to its longevity  Huh

Tony, I take your point about choosing an alternative camera system – although I note from the Lensrental’s data that a number of D800 were returned for repair … ?
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Jim Kasson
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« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2013, 02:11:47 PM »
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...wondering whether I am just unlucky or whether others have suffered similar experiences ?  What reliability can we reasonably expect from ‘professional’ equipment – fair wear-and-tear allowed for ?

Many years ago, I turned around while I was sitting and pushed a Nikon FM off a bench. It fell about a foot to a stone patio, and the light meter never worked after that. A few years later, my wife set a 35 mm Minox down a little too hard on a hard surface, also resulting in failure of the light meter.

A couple of years ago, I was walking down a street in a quiet residential area with my family. There were too many of us to walk abreast on the sidewalk so I was walking in the gutter. I was carrying a Nikon D3s with the then-new 70-200 mm f/2.8 zoom in my right hand. Because the lens was so heavy, I was holding it by the quick-release plate attached to the tripod collar. I saw a parked car up ahead, and tried to step up onto the sidewalk, not noticing that the gutter was falling away to make way for a storm drain.

I put my left foot on the sidewalk, and caught my right foot on the curb as I swung it over. I almost got it under me, but I actually made matters worse as I put my weight on it and it forced me forward. I went down hard in a three point landing: my left hip, my left palm, and the upside down camera-and-lens combination in my right hand.

The damage? Technicolor bruises to my hip and palm, and abrasions to the lens hood and pentaprism cover. The camera worked fine. So did the lens, even the motion compensation.

Jim
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AFairley
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« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2013, 07:03:37 PM »
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I note from the Lensrental’s data that a number of D800 were returned for repair … ?

I would hazard a guess that most of those were the "Left AF focus adjustment" problem rather than in-service failures.
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Simon J.A. Simpson
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« Reply #11 on: October 03, 2013, 04:42:59 PM »
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UPDATE

Turns out the 24–105mm had a faulty power diaphragm unit and, low and behold, it is a failure of the ribbon cable (as suggested by other reporting on the internet).  I have persuaded Canon to return the offending part for closer inspection.  A quick scan of internet search results suggests at least 20 separate reports of this issue.  How many unreported failures ?  There is one thread in a forum, and a blog, campaigning on the issue.

From where I am standing this is two power diaphragm failures and one unexpected mirror ejection in seven years.  Canon ?  Hmmm …  Angry
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Rhossydd
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« Reply #12 on: October 04, 2013, 01:17:54 AM »
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How many unreported failures ?  There is one thread in a forum, and a blog, campaigning on the issue.
It might be better to consider how many of these lenses have been sold. It's been a hugely successful lens for Canon, so just 20 reported failures might actually be an astounding reliability record in that context.
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barryfitzgerald
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« Reply #13 on: October 04, 2013, 08:21:56 AM »
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UPDATE

Turns out the 24–105mm had a faulty power diaphragm unit and, low and behold, it is a failure of the ribbon cable (as suggested by other reporting on the internet).  I have persuaded Canon to return the offending part for closer inspection.  A quick scan of internet search results suggests at least 20 separate reports of this issue.  How many unreported failures ?  There is one thread in a forum, and a blog, campaigning on the issue.

From where I am standing this is two power diaphragm failures and one unexpected mirror ejection in seven years.  Canon ?  Hmmm …  Angry

This is quite a common issues, least with the 24-105mm L, I know quite a few people who have had this problem (and taken great care of all their equipment I would add)
I've heard of it with other lenses, though the one above seems the most troublesome.

There are prices to pay for electronic designs, I'm still using quite a few vintage 1985 era Minolta lenses with mechanical apertures, yet to have a single failure. (you can get lenses with sticky blades though)
There are other areas, screw drive lenses rare to have a problem..in lens motors well I doubt they last as long as you might hope a screw drive lens will rarely cause a problem if your DSLR body motor dies well we upgrade enough for that to be a non common problem. IS/VR mechanisms..surely to add another component which can fail.

Prices to pay for advancements, in lens motors are quiet but are they as reliable longer term? Electronic aperture control also great for video, but they might have drawbacks.
As for camera bodies I've had few issues bar QC problems at the factory by the maker, but everything fails at some point.

One thing that puzzles me is third party lens makers are happy to offer multi year warranties, yet OEM makers won't match them? Why is that..if you have confidence in your product you will stand by it IMO. Even the cheap car makers are offering long warranties now, it's about time camera makers started being a bit more generous.
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Simon J.A. Simpson
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« Reply #14 on: October 04, 2013, 10:25:50 AM »
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It might be better to consider how many of these lenses have been sold. It's been a hugely successful lens for Canon, so just 20 reported failures might actually be an astounding reliability record in that context.

Absolutely true, Paul.  Or you could take the approach that Members of Parliament do and assume that for every letter of complaint they get this represents a hundred/thousand unexpressed opinions … ?  So (just playing) we could say that there are more than 20 failures that I have yet to find on the internet – so double this to 40 (conservative estimate) then multiply by a factor of say a conservative 500 = 20,000 potentially with this fault.  One website reports 80 million Canon EF lenses sold until 2012.  The 24–105 IS was introduced in 2005 so maybe they made a generous quarter million.  So this would represent a failure rate of (roughly) one in ten, to date.

I know, lots of assumptions.  And I'm probably totally wrong.  However, when my 5D's mirror took a surprise excursion, searching the internet did reveal a large number of other owners who had experienced the same problem – and Canon did own up to that one !
(playtime over)
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Simon J.A. Simpson
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« Reply #15 on: October 04, 2013, 10:31:40 AM »
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One thing that puzzles me is third party lens makers are happy to offer multi year warranties, yet OEM makers won't match them? Why is that..if you have confidence in your product you will stand by it IMO. Even the cheap car makers are offering long warranties now, it's about time camera makers started being a bit more generous.

I couldn't agree more (being an aggrieved owner).

As a point of interest, in the UK ‘goods’ sold have – by law – to be of sufficient quality to remain functional for at least 6 years (fair wear and tear not included).  But it is the retailer, and not the manufacturer, who is held legally responsible.

Of course, the 24–105 failed seven years and five months after I bought it.  Bad luck.
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Rhossydd
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« Reply #16 on: October 04, 2013, 02:58:40 PM »
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I know, lots of assumptions. 
Quite and assumptions by an unlucky user.
I could say I know lots of people who have this lens and have had no trouble with it and you're the first person I've read of with it.

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Lee Rentz
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« Reply #17 on: October 04, 2013, 06:30:48 PM »
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I have been a Canon user since 1970, and I find that the cameras are far more reliable now than they once were. Part of it is because digital cameras don't have to be opened frequently, like the film cameras did. Part of it is simply that reliability and long life are simply better than they once were, across many product categories, including vehicles and airplanes and cameras. Part of it is that my professional equipment is better built to withstand wear and tear.

I dropped my Canon 5D MK l and ll several times because I was using a tripod head that did not securely hold the camera. Each time, after a frustrated moment of picking up the dinged and scuffed camera, I found that the camera worked perfectly. Eventually, I replaced the tripod head with one that weighed twice as much but was far more reliable, and I stopped having those issues.

I've had two lenses stop working, but given the number of lenses and cameras I've owned over the past 25 years, the percentage of failures is small, and those occurred after many years of using each lens. As I've gotten older and more experienced, I also find that I'm far less likely to drop a lens in a lake or allow a tripod to tip over in blustery winds.
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Simon J.A. Simpson
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« Reply #18 on: October 05, 2013, 09:14:11 AM »
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Quite and assumptions by an unlucky user.
I could say I know lots of people who have this lens and have had no trouble with it and you're the first person I've read of with it.



Was this comment really necessary ?  Please note my caveat “just playing”.   Grin Grin Grin
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #19 on: October 05, 2013, 09:54:22 AM »
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Hi,

A friend of mine has a 24-105/4LIS that failed after 6-7 years of use. He also had a problem with his 40D, but got it repaired at very reasonable cost. He used to have Hasselblad before, and had some failures with that, too. Some failures may happen with any system.

Best regards
Erik

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