Saturday, February 8, 2014

№ 161. Canon Conundrum

I have been a Canon consumer for years. Actually make that twenty-five (25) years. Yes, twenty-five. My experience with its products and after sales service had been mainly, to use their marketing term, delightful. Until recently.


1. First, my grandfather who nudged me to photography had been mostly a Canon user. He and my uncle mentioned the magic of Leica and Nikon, but I remember only his collection of Canon lenses.

2. Second, my first film point and shoot was a Canon, I don't recall the model now, and first single lens reflex (SLR) camera was EOS 500N. I was happy breaking into a new hobby with adult toys.

3. My first digital SLR was EOS 350D which I bought in 2005. Then I upgraded to EOS 7D in 2012 (Tools of My Twins). Needless to say, the quality of the shots, the functions, features and build of the cameras were peerless.


1. In 2010 when I went to Lombok and the Gili Islands, I brought my EOS 350D paired with Canon EF 24-105mm 1:4 L IS USM zoom lens (Serial No. 386771).

Often, I had to shield my lens from the extreme variations in temperature and humidity of the airconditioned rooms and the tropical outdoors. Despite caution, however, my equipment got exposed to the elements, all of which were necessary evils of the hobby--- a bit of rain, some humidity, usual dust, salty air from the sea, et cetera. I experienced fogging inside the lens, too.

2. As soon as got home I had my camera and lens checked. Canon Service Center (Mandaluyong) found my camera in good condition but my lens had to be repaired. The lens repair cost me some pain---about PhP9,000 (US$209, at PhP43 to US$1).

3. I was able to use the lens after that until I upgraded my camera to EOS 7D in 2012.

4. Whenever I use my 24-105 with EOS 7D, I began noticing some noises and difficulty in autofocus. Specifically, the camera viewfinder indicated Error 01, or faulty communication between the camera and the lens.

5. I had it checked again last February 6 at the Canon Service Center (Ortigas). After a week, I was advised by text that I have to shell out about PhP13,813 (US$321) for the repairs! They said they needed to replace the power diaphragm, image stabilizer, barrel assembly focus!

6. I went to talk to the engineer/technician in person to ask about the numerous replacements and the expense involved. He explained that, generally, because of wear and tear, lenses need servicing every three years. But I wasn't satisfied why it was such a major and costly repair so soon after the first in 2010 (barely three years)!


1. I verified with Canon that the 24-105mm I have is genuine, is a luxury, top of the line lens manufactured in Japan. My expectation is, naturally, that it will stand up to most rough and tumble of a photography enthusiast. When it was exposed to normal travel elements in Lombok (take note it did not get soaked in water, or even get dropped or banged at all), why did it give in easily? I would have expected it to be more weather resistant and tougher, being a luxury lens.

2. After the repair in 2010, the lens did not really perform optimally as before. Why? Did the repairs fail to address the original problem of the mechanisms?

3. About three years after the first service, why do the power diaphragm, image stabilizer, barrel assembly focus have to be replaced? Is this really normal wear and tear of top notch Japanese technology? Were the replacement parts inferior or not as sturdy as the originals?

4. Take note that, with a little more than PhP13,000+ cost of the repair, I can source an array of cheaper brands and/or brand new lenses to replace the 24-105. With the alternatives available on the market, purchasing and maintaining these premium lenses seem too prohibitive. Are Canon L lenses not worth their red rings in gold anymore?

5. It's disappointing to part with a brand you grew up and learned your chops with, but is it time to try out other brands and formats (mirrorless, excellent phone cameras, Go Pro, et cetera)?

6. So where do we go from here, Canon? Is this the beginning of new, beautiful friendships? Can I dare flirt with other tech toys? Hmmm.

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