5.14.2020

Inconsequential news of a product failure. Or perhaps just a failure of quality control...

full frame file from an fz1000 ii. 

Same. Central area magnified.

You start out using a camera one way and enjoy it but then you use it another way and uncover a fatal flaw. At least that's how I progress through onboarding a new camera. 

About a week and a half ago I splashed out some cash and bought a brand new, sealed in the box, Panasonic fz1000 ii. I bought it from a USA official dealer with a pretty flawless track record. I set up the camera for the way I usually like to use these bridge cameras and fine-tuned the menu items with my idiosyncratic methodologies in mind. For the last week I've been using it while on walks around Austin and have stayed in a fairly narrow and easy use window by mostly setting the aperture near its widest setting or no smaller than f5.6.

I've been happy with performance of the camera and found it was capable of creating very sharp and nicely colored files. All in all, a good performer and a nice camera to take out when you want to be ready for just about anything. With a 25mm to 400mm zoom on the front it's a camera that can deliver results in just about any situation. It's at its best in strong light and that's how I was using it today. 

I was standing on the pedestrian bridge that joins north and south Austin, shooting an image of the city skyline, when I decided to stop down a bit more to get sharpness across a deeper section of the photograph; I wanted to make sure the paddle board riders close to me and the bridges further away were in sharp focus. For grins I stopped down to f11 and shot a few frames but when I did so I noticed a mustache shaped blur object at the top of the frame. Uh oh. 

I tried the same shot at f8.0 and the blur object remained. Now, this is where I'd take a conventional, interchangeable lens camera home to blow the dust off the sensor. Worst case scenario I might even do a wet cleaning... but this camera does NOT come with an interchangeable lens; it's a sealed system, so I looked through the menu to see if I'd missed a menu function for sensor cleaning. NOPE. It's not an option. 

So, here I am with a week and a half old camera that's never been subject to sand storms, leaf blowers, desert winds, the sea shore or work in an industrial setting and it's got a honking big piece of crude on the sensor. 

I came home and looked at the file writ large on the screen of my 5K monitor and noticed that the mustache artifact was not lonely but was accompanied by smaller dust bunnies. (See bottom left of the magnified frame, and also, just above the left side of the "mustache). 

Say what you will about intuition but there must have been some reason why I saved the original box and all of the packaging when my usual inclination is to dump out all the manuals, warranty cards and boxes into the recycling. In this instance (perhaps the lethargy of the moment) I'd tossed the whole package that constituted the packing and materials into my closet next to the spent cores from our experimental nuclear reactor. Just above the shelf with the souvenirs from Area 51. 

With a warning call to my sales associate at our local bricks and mortar store I jumped into the VSL limousine (no, I do not literally have a limousine!) and headed up with the box, materials and flawed camera in hand. But not before taking a moment to print out an 8.5 by 11 inch print with which to demonstrate the inadequacies of my particular unit. 

Without a murmur of push back my sales person asked me how I'd like to handle the unfortunate situation. Would I like to trade the camera for a different, new and boxed unit? No, I decided, I'd rather just get a refund to my credit card and soldier on with one less camera in my inventory. The whole transaction was amicable and as smooth as teflon. 

This marks my second mishap with a Panasonic Lumix camera this year. I'm not at all enthused. But, considering all the really crappy things happening in the world now this falls below the line of even caring. 

I'll miss the camera's long reach and easy wide angle but I won't miss the unwanted clutter in the final files. A bit more Q.C. might help cement Panasonic's reputation for the better. Just a thought. 

Kudos for the prompt and effective response on the part of my favorite "bricks and mortar" camera store, Precision Camera. Nice to be able to manage things face mask to face mask.

I came home and watched the news. That put the camera imbroglio into perspective...

12 comments:

Gato said...

Not encouraging at all to a long-term Panasonic user. I have used primarily Panasonic since the G1 of 2008. I have had one issue, a 12-60 kit lens which was fixed with no hassles by the folks in McAllen. On the whole, over 10 years, a half dozen cameras and even more lenses I have been very happy.

But I read of your experiences. And a friend has had issues with a camera, GH5 I think. And I begin to wonder.

In terms of features and performance I really like Panasonic. But if I cannot trust the quality or the service ...

Anonymous said...

I hate finding out there is a major problem with a new camera or lens. It doesn’t happen often but it happens. In normal times it’s not a big deal.

But, since the virus has closed down repair centers and made even a quick trip to a shipping center for returns risky without PE I find it hard to want anything new right now. Nothing I want bad enough to enter a crowded space without a decent mask and googles, Too bad, I could use a distraction.

David said...

You need the sarcasm alert next too the limousine comment, but not the nuclear reactor or Area 51 ones.
So what souvenirs did you pick up on your last visit?

s.c said...

I hear the same about the LX100 camera's. The in and out going lensparts sucks like a pump particles inside the camera. They really have to do something about this problem.

Kurt Friis Hansen said...

Ehhh... what’s quality control? With waning sales, creative alternatives - ahem - have a tendency to turn up in accounting ;-)

Last stock holder meeting... QC versus Stock buyback... guess what was decided?

Only kidding, or am I?

Eric Rose said...

When I bought my first Nikon D700 the LCD crapped out in under 30 shots. Poop happens. It was replaced immediately by the store I purchased it from. I have also found that the cheaper Lumix zooms tend to suck crud into them.

Oh well, as the song says "another bites the dust".

Take care and happy hiking!

Eric

Anonymous said...

My first Panasonic Lumix (FZ18) had the same problem. There was a big splotch of...something...on either the lens or sensor that could not be removed or cleaned. It pretty much ruined every shot.

So, yeah, quality control and lab cleanliness are issues.

DavidB

Brat Pix said...

I would like to tell you of a slightly different experience I had with my Sony RX10 M3, a camera that I know you also love. During the warranty period, I noticed a strange pink sign on the sky on some picture. Moving back in time, I saw to my horror that the same sign was on all my pictures starting from a series taken in a circus. I then realized that part of the sensor had been destroyed by the laser lighting used in the show. As the camera was still under warranty, I sent it back to Sony without too much hope of getting a repair for free. I was delighted to receive it back with a new sensor and in perfect working order a few weeks later. A small message was attached, kindly advising me to stay clear of laser beams in the future.

I thought it was with mentioning for two reasons. First, how Sony handled the problem seemed to deserve some credit. Secondly I think very few people are aware that they put their sensors at risk when they take pictures in places lit with lasers (circuses, theaters, etc.). This is a much more serious threat for hybrid cameras than for reflex camera, as the sensor is continuously illuminated.

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

Brat Pix, Some photographers have all the luck. Really liked my RX10 m3. Great camera.

Unknown said...

The joys of having a good local camera store. The good ol' days...

jorge said...

While too bad on your experience with the camera, it´s good that you were able to return it.

I have heard about quality control problems with Panasonic from other sources. While I had not paid a whole lot of attention to it, your update definitely caught my attention. It gives me pause on a yet unordered Panasonic 100-400mm lens, along with a new body in order to take advantage of using both lens and body stabilization simultaneously....

Legstrong Willams said...

I've had a few issues with Panasonic cameras as well. Not so much with Sony. Those experiences were what made me ultimately choose an A7III over the GH5 for video work a little over a year ago. Yeah, yeah, the GH5 has more features video-wise, but the autofocus and trust in Sony products pushed it over the edge. I've been eyeing the S1 but those lingering issues still weigh heavily in the back of my mind whenever I'm on B&H and think about pulling out the credit card and buying one.