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Monday, 12 December 2016


Reading this I wonder if this is as much about Apple as it is about Nikon. As in 'look guys we're a bit more Apple-like than they are' and do more for our customers.

I expect that, with the noticeable number of recalls issued by Nikon recently, Canon are seeking to emphasise a standout difference in their otherwise difficult to separate offerings.

I have, fortunately, a very small sample size, but in my experience Fujifilm service has been exceptional.

The measure of a company, camera or not, is not just how great a product they make, but what happens when something breaks or goes wrong, especially within the warranty period. For photographic equipment, if used by people who make a living from it or not, the fallout from a badly handled new product design flaw can indeed have a negative sales effect.

In the digital age the breakneck pace of developments and technical advances has made it harder to 'work out the kinks' before the product hits the market.

I got lucky. I didn't check out the quality of Olympus service before buying my EM-1 but it turns out it is quite good - at least in my experience. I returned the camera under warranty for a rear adjusting wheel failure and it was fixed, calibrated, cleaned and good-as-new looking and working within one week. I did have to pay $10 to ship it via UPS, but Oly paid the return shipping. So, I'm quite happy with Olympus service.

I would say Nikon brought this on themselves. Recall after recall, poor quality control, cost cutting by reducing support.. Canon is only attempting to capitalize on what has become a very glaring, very public problem.

And service is one thing Sony does not really have, either. Especially not anywhere near Canon's level. Specs are nice, but it's good to know that your $3000+ purchase can be repaired as quickly and easily as possible if something happens.

Canon CPS have been superb in Europe for a very long time, and their UK service for the general public has always been very good.

Call this the "Lens Rental Blog" effect. You've got someone doing good tear downs with analysis and it's fun to read. That kind of information wasn't as "in your face" as it is today. And for those into photography's would imagine they spend time doing research, and drooling, don't forget the drool. Knowing it's good optically is important, but everything is good optically these days. Now you can have a lcamera/ens that's also built like a tank.

Did not Olympus just recently announce a new customer service. Maybe this was one of the motivators for this.

In my opinion Nikon makes the best cameras. While Canon can claim better service, they insist on producing sensors that fail to equal the output of the Sony sensors. So I guess we choose with our priorities. Yes, Nikon has been careless but what affordable brand is perfect. Sony? Please, they had to be dragged kicking and screaming into offering uncompressed raw files. And still don't in their top APS-C $1400 model. Their service has not been well received.

Anybody wonder why Thom Hogan uses Nikon gear?

Kudos to Canon for putting some effort into improving customer service! It’s long overdue in the camera industry (and, sadly, in many others as well.)

There is undoubtedly some marketing going on here too. As the things that separate digital cameras from each other become fewer and less significant, Canon could be using their superior service record to try to differentiate themselves from their competition (and not just Nikon.) It’s a classic, proven sales technique.

Could the 800 pound gorilla of the camera biz finally be feeling a little heat from the momentum of the mirrorless migration?

Funny, in 1998 I sent my CanoScan 2700F to Canon in Germany for warranty service.
After that experience I've never again bought another Canon product ...

"Integral part of their business model" means it'll be a profit center for them, right?

Years ago I worked for a camera repair business. And I was the guy who had to obtain parts for cameras and projectors for repairs.
So, I got to deal firsthand with many of the camera importers.
Some, like Pentax, Yashica, Minolta, Olympus were OK. They had what I wanted when I needed it and got thew parts with little hassle or price.
Some like Nikon were good. I even managed to get schematics and things like that for the more difficult repairs.
Some were just difficult. Hasselblad would sell some parts, other parts were simply not for sale. Such as the tripod mount on the bottom of the camera.
Bell And Howell was the worst, they simply reeked in incompetence. Ricoh was almost as bad. And Rollei? we refused to deal with them. Terrible service. SO bad I personally inspected one camera and refused it from their service bureau. Zero quality control.
Canon was a little different. The parts sales were similar to the others. But they subsidized one of our staff to go on a service course (we were not a Canon dealer at the time) and were most willing to sell, at what seemed cost, test equipment and tools.
Now, Canon had a runaway seller with the AE-1 and I guess they realized that they would not be able to keep up with any service demand so it was in their own interest. But I do think it was exceptional that they would have thought to make sure that they had good after sales support available.
You could see thirty years ago who would be the winners and losers based upon how their aftermarket service was. Honest sales people do not want to deal with returns and even less want to deal with poor repairs. Hence, they don't want to sell cameras that will cause them to lose future sales.

I have to commend Nikon for how they handled my one need for service several years ago. On essentially the last day of the 5-year warranty on my 18-200mm lens, I discovered that the lens would no longer focus anywhere as close as specified. Within a few days of receiving my lens, Melville sent me a new, not refurb, 18-200mm lens, latest version thereof. Result: my next camera and/or lens will probably be a Nikon.

Yes, I understand the issues and also that this is a sample size of one and I may have been lucky for any number of reasons, but I do appreciate the decision that somebody in Melville made.

I have had just one customer service encounter and score it Nikon 480 Dave 0. The 480 has a $ sign in front of it. It was a long ago model that had some issue I started detecting long before the warranty expired. I reported it to my dealer and he took note of it, but it was something that was so intermittent, I was never sure I wasn't causing it myself.

Then, suddenly, just after the warranty was over, the problem became pronounced and the camera was sent to Nikon. The very excellent dealer told them this problem began occurring very early after purchase.

Nikon said sorry but no coverage. It's one of those things that gnaws at you forever. As an honest and careful user, one who had been using Nikons for over 40 years, I expected them to give me the benefit of the doubt. I lost!

I once went to a presentation about customer service which featured Volvo Cars - a company that has a great record of brand loyalty (or did at the time). Apparently Volvo were quite excited when buyers had problems with their cars because it gave them an opportunity to show how good their customer service was

I think it's because the bottom of the market is disappearing to mobile phones. The buyers to cater to are serious enthusiasts and pros who invest serious money and expect to be treated well. So, emphasizing the value of the overall buying and ownership experience makes sense in the new market.

I had the oily shutter/sensor problem with my Nikon D600, finally got them to service it or whatever, came back same issues, repeated sending it in, came back same issues. Went back and forth, I said you should replace it with the new 610 (model they released to avoid the 600's problems), I am not going to sensor swab weekly on my dime. They said no, I sold all my Nikon gear and went elsewhere. Nikon subsequently did replace the problem D600's with 610's, but I was gone. Would never consider a piece of Nikon gear.

I don't know about other customers, but service and support is something that is foremost in my mind when making purchasing decisions. When you invest in expensive purchases, like cars, high-end audio, or camera/photography systems, you are entering into a relationship with the vendor. You're going to be living with the product in fair seas and foul, so while most customers don't think about this at all, timely & robust service and support capability are "critical-to-quality" requirements for me when making purchasing decisions. This is why I buy products from Honda Motor Company for cars and motorcycles, and Conrad-Johnson and Dynaudio for audio. I've had truly superb support from Canon's CPS (they really are the model for this) and excellent support from Fujifilm for warranty work and repairs I've needed. I've heard rumors that Fujifilm will be implemeting an "FPS" for a while now, but I haven't seen it yet, so I need to write them about this. In fact, I think I will do so right now.

When I was little the television repair man and the washing machine repair man were regular visitors to our house. Nowadays things don't usually break and when they do they're usually impractical to fix and trying to get good sales service for most devices is difficult. So I've grown to expect no after-sales service and simply to hope that nothing goes wrong and generally it doesn't. Hence, after sales service isn't part of how I choose products. Might be different if I were a sports photographer with £20k worth of gear that I need working every day.

Leica service varies from hot to cold from year to year; (I've been shooting Leicas over 60 years). Even in the best of times, it is incredibly slow and expensive.
Thank GAWD for DAG!

This is like an airline promoting the fact that their airliners don't crash as often as the other airlines.

While Leica has the worst customer service i've ever experienced, http://prometheus.med.utah.edu/~bwjones/2016/02/the-leica-experiment/ Canon appears to have made service a profit center. I've had several repairs through Canon CPS that have taken multiple tries and for all the cost, I probably should have simply bought a new 50mm f/1.2 lens as its been back 3 times and still is not quite right and they've charged me every single time.

Best customer service I've experienced so far? The hungry company, Fuji. Wow.

My experience with Canon support is decades old but interesting. I needed some accessories for a new Canon 8mm camera (I told you it was a long time ago) which were apparently not available through US dealers so I wrote to Canon in Japan. I didn't really expect much to happen.

A few weeks later, at night, I received a special delivery package. Inside were all the items I wanted, courtesy of Canon Camera Company.

That was enough to keep me loyal to Canon.

Over the years I've dealt with many manufacturers and they have all gone through cycles. When Leica, NPS and later (for me) CPS were here in Vancouver, I could go down and talk with the technicians and service was really quite good. Now all their service centres have left and service is slow (Leica), or just wholly terrible (Canon). In the last five years I was with Canon I didn't get one single thing repaired satisfactorily. With Leica I now send things directly to Wetzlar and then follow up with phone calls to people I know. Quality of service has been good.

I use some Sony items and I have heard many horror stories here. I also use m43 products (sorry, Mike, I've forgotten your preferred nomenclature) and while Olympus seems to be not too bad, Panasonic seems on the same level as Sony.

A story from the past: When Olympus came out with the OM-1 system, it enticed a lot of people to at least give it a try. Unfortunately, here in Canada we had one of the most incompetent distributors/service centres at the time; way, way below the standard of Nikon or Canon, and hardly any professional entrusted their livelihood to them. Even casual users were warned away by knowledgeable sales people. As a result, their market penetration was negligible. Yashicas were more common. At that time, distributor and service centre response and quality were a much greater factor in purchasing. Now, I believe, not so much.

Back in the bronze age when Nikon was sold by E.P.O.I you could just walk into the service center in San Francisco or New York , hand them the camera and sometimes get it back the same day.

Or better yet you could take it to professional camera repair on 47th and Marty would spin around once and hand it back. Of course if it needed new parts of might take a few days.

Now the problem is that there are no independent repair shops with access to parts and tools, and in the USA you are stuck with whatever the trademark owner feels like providing.

For what it's worth I have had great service from sigma, once I had a lens in for service that they couldn't find anything wrong with. They called me on the phone and I talked them through putting the lens in the freezer, mounting it on the camera, pointing down, prefocusing, point up and lens freaks out and crashes the camera. The tech apologized profusely and sent me a new lens.

As for Canon...
I got a worn out shutter replaced in three weeks on my Canon 1ds and the tech mentioned that I was getting expedited service because it was a pro camera, and I was wondering to myself what service on their $2000 cameras was like.

Canon's professional printers are wonderful but the service if you don't have a service contract is a nightmare and the service contract costs a couple thousand a year. And doesn't cover the $900 in printheads and $600 in ink that gets consumed in a service call. And you can't take the new print heads that didn't fix the old machine and put them on the new machine that you bought because you have a couple thousand dollars of consumables already because the printer writes it's serial number to the printheads.

In fairness, Canon camera and the Canon professional printers are two separate companies in the USA.

I'll give a shout out to Olympus UK. Been a happy user since E-M5 came out and have had two warranty repairs in that time.

First was a faulty sensor, showing an intermittent problem at high ISO. Dealer immediately swapped the body for a brand new
one. Second a couple of years later when I dropped a lens. Again repaired free by Olympus and returned within the week.

Great service has kept this customer loyal.

I understand that in some other countries where the actual manufacturers sell their products instead of distributors like in the USA the service is pretty good, sort of like the way Tesla treats customers here in the USA.

Any comments to that from outside the U.S.?

"Ed. note: I'm sure you noticed how closely those two comments mirrored each other, but with conclusions reversed."
Yeah, but only one of those opinions was backed up by an actual repair experience with Leica. With at least 40 years of repair experience with Leica I agree that the quality of the repairs have ranged from very good to very bad. At this point I would first try for a non Leica repair, because one thing all my Leica repairs have in common is that they've been frightfully expensive. Let me add that unlike my Leica equipment, my Canon equipment just doesn't break.

My service experience with Canon didn't even involve high end gear (well, their higher end point and shoots). A G12 and G1X, both times the service was fairly priced or warranty and very quick. And this was in the past year. I am quite happy.

Rating from 0-10 based on the services I have used. Some were for specialized equipment the average photographer would not be using.
Kodak: 8, probably not relevant since the company has changed drastically. Fuji: 5 some of their support was outsourced to poorly trained technicians. Nikon: 8 reasonable turnaround, reasonable prices. Hasselblad: 0 snobbish, arrogant, dismissive, blamed manufacturing defects on the customer. Bronica: 1 same as Hasselblad, only not quite as arrogant. Independent camera repairmen: 7 generally reliable and reasonably priced, may not be relevant with todays cameras.

I have an Olympus E-M1, which I am very pleased with in most respects. However, part of the coating on the body started to peel off in the back. Perusing the Internet turned up many similar complaints. This should not happen. Period. I have cameras from the 1970s that still have the body coating glued in place with no problem. My Dad has on O-M1 with its leatherette in fine condition. I contacted Olympus. My camera was out of warranty. They refused to commit to fix it, asking me to pay to send it to them, with the statement that they might be able to do something to reduce the repair cost. I still have it. The coating is taped down with some gaffers tape. This is a big bad on Olympus. This is supposed to be a pro level camera. I certainly do not abuse my camera like many pros do. This should not even be an issue.

So, am I lining up to pay $2,000 for a Mark II? I like the camera, but there are other cameras in the world. If it were not for my investment in lenses a Mark II would be even less likely.

On the other end of the scale, Mike Walker, who makes view cameras, provides fantastic service. He tuned up my camera under his lifetime warranty even though I purchased it used! I hear good things about Keith Canham, although I have not owned a Canham camera. Small businesses live and die by their reputations. These two have earned their excellent reputations.

[Many years ago, in the '90s, Keith Canham of Canham Cameras told me that his best salesman was none other than his biggest competitor, who had notoriously bad customer service. The competitor kept driving customers into Keith's arms--where Keith made sure they were well taken care of. That former competitor is now long out of business. --Mike]

I have been an NPS member for almost 20 years and find the support and service to be quite good. I shipped a lens in one week ago for expedited repair and got UPS notice today that it will arrive back to me tomorrow. On many occasions, I have requested and received loaner equipment to replace gear I am sending in for repair. Also on many occasions, I have requested specific glass to use for a week on a particular assignment. In almost every case they have been able to accommodate my requests.

Over the last few years, there have been some nice offerings from the competition. I can honestly say that one of the top three reasons that I don't waiver from Nikon is the equity of that relationship and knowing that I can get speedy repair and loaner gear when I need it, which is multiple times per year.

It’s different, now. Solder and screwdrivers still have their place but multi-billion dollar chip factories and their multi-million transistor products mean the storefront down the street that repairs things can’t do much. Cameras are still a peculiar mix of analog and digital elements so there is good reason to expect some service but for huge swaths of consumer products you buy it and it works or doesn’t. It’s the buy-it part that’s confounding for all of us. Before, you bought it and there was an implicit contract that the manufacturer would stand by the product. Now, the manufacturer provides a product of stupendous complexity that works, mostly, and if it doesn’t match your standards . . . well, get the next one ‘cause the price is still wildly below what you would have paid for the equivalent 50 years ago. It’s a stinker but there you are.


I find it surprising that people find it surprising that buyers take into account after sales service in their buying decision. In my case, even though I have a spot for Ricoh and Pentax, I don't buy into their systems, because if something breaks, they have to send the stuff from Portugal to Spain or Holland. On the other hand, I know that Canon and Olympus, for example, have dedicated in country service centres that work well.

I can remember when Ehrenreich Photo Optical Industries, then the Nikon distributor, and later Nikon Professional Services in Rockefeller Center in New York, offered now legendary, near perfect service to professionals using Nikon.

But that was a different time in America.

I understand that in some other countries where the actual manufacturers sell their products instead of distributors like in the USA the service is pretty good, sort of like the way Tesla treats customers here in the USA.

Any comments to that from outside the U.S.?

I used to live in Tokyo two decades ago, and although I was mostly a Leica M user in those years, I did get service for my Nikons, and also Fuji film processing, direct from Fuji owned labs.

Heavenly levels of service. Fast, competent, polite, sometimes free, regardless of warranty. And I could be endlessly demanding about the processing of my Fujifilm Provia and Velvia slides, as well as the printing. All this for consumer service.

Sometimes the companies with the best repair service are the ones whose products break down the most. I haven't had that problem with Canon, but I did have it with a very expensive Swedish white goods manufacturer, whose washing machine I bought on the recommendation of a sales person who praised its "prompt and excellent service".

That machine broke down every single Christmas, when the repair dept was on holiday, for 6 years running.

When I was still living most of the year in Colombia, my Ricoh GRD II developed sensor dust issues. It was annoying at first and got worse and worse over time - a well known issue with the GRDs.

My camera was out of strict warranty (1 year in the EU), but still within extended warranty (2 years), so an online photography friend recommended to me to at least let Ricoh know about the problem so I could get a free repair once I was back in the EU.

What resulted was the best service experience in my life: The customer rep not only agreed to exchange my camera (that I had bought refurbished at Amazon) for a completely new model. She also sent it all the way to South America by courier, covering shipping, customs and all. It arrived right at my door within a couple of days.

That still left me with a problem: Due to tight restricitions because of the drug trade, it wasn’t allowed to send ANYTHING out of the country without a proof of purchase - proof that I didn’t have with me at the time, so there was no way to return my dusty GRD to Ricoh.

What happened? The rep agreed to my suggestion to send her the broken GRD once I was back in Europe - about half a year later. Which, of course, I did.

I have to say I was a very happy guy and have been buying the GR series updates ever since.

A couple weeks ago my Nikon D810 developed the same issue that hit my old D700 -- the rubber covering on the exterior began to come free and get in my way. It was just annoying enough that I had to get it fixed, but I dreaded being without the camera while I shipped it to Nikon for a few days -- or longer. (Or the hassle of asking NPS for a replacement body). And I wouldn't know the cost of the repair until it was in Nikon's hands. Nikon service can be a pain in the ass.

Luckily NYC has a top-notch independent camera repair shop, Phototech, up on East 36th St. I've been taking my bodies to their shop for years (through three locations as they packed up and moved). They're authorized service for most camera brands including Nikon.

The guy behind the counter took the D810 into the back for ten minutes, returned it to me with new rubber, and charged me $15.

I wish every town had a shop like that.

The sensor of my Leica M9 also corroded and was repaired hasle- and charge-free in about four weeks even after the camera warranty had expired. In fact, Leica had to order a new and improved batch of already obsolete CCD sensors -the M Typ240 has a CMOS sensor- to make all repairments needed for M9s.

Even though the corrosion problem never had to happen, Leica showed an unusual commitment to their customers IMHO.

I'm a Brit, so UK calling here. I like a company which stands behind its products in relation to aftersales support and which respects my country enough to do a decent job here. The two go hand in hand. I walked away from Pentax after it became clear they were useless at both, at least here, and moved to Olympus which so far are pretty darn good. Next stop would be Canon, in fact. What I hear of Sony and Fuji here is no great shakes. Nikon have all the parts in place but their recent corporate history is reprehensible and I don't think I could buy one. Anyway, if an outfit makes effort enough to support my country then I will support it with my custom. But not otherwise. My little red line on globalisation.

Who commissioned the survey?

I'm a bit late, so this will probably be lost without trace, but I just remembered how useful iFxit.com has become for me. Tricky things like repairing laptops has become a doddle. (https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/doddle). The site provides clear instructions and helpfully sells all the necessary parts / tools required. I've rescued two Macbooks that way. Maybe that's a business success story and evolutionary consequence of manufacturers desertion of consumers

It would be interesting to see stats that showed which company's pro products actually require more servicing than the other company. That would be as important as support quality, in my opinion. Cameras are rushed to market too quickly. I hate buying a new expensive camera that requires support within the first year to two. Sometimes it's even sooner. I am exchanging a new Fuji X-T2 tomorrow because of an issue with slot 1. Hopefully the replacement won't have the same issue. Frustrating!
Here's a good reader's poll: "Which pro-grade camera did you purchase that needed servicing, and how soon after purchase?" Or, "Which camera did you purchase that was defective and needed replacing or service immediately?" Then you can list the cameras in order of integrity or lameness. It's not very scientific, admittedly, but it might offer some telling indicators. Shake it up, Mike.

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