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Author Topic: At least we have Canon quality control  (Read 2251 times)

YellowJersey

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At least we have Canon quality control
« on: November 22, 2012, 11:31:43 PM »
I stopped by my favourite hang out, my local camera store, the other day. I perhaps spend a little too much time there since I appear to be on a first name basis with literally every employee there... but I digress.

 While chatting to the people to whom I like to give lots of money in exchange for fancy photographic toys, I asked them how the 5D mk III was doing against the D800. The answer actually surprised me, given the doomsday prophecies you hear around here. Apparently, they've had more returns for the D800, and the D4 and D600 to a lesser extent, than any other camera. I know the left-focusing problem on the D800 was one of the big ones, as was the dust in the D600, but apparently lots of little things have been going wrong, too. It would appear that Nikon's quality control might be in need of a shakeup.

 My purpose here isn't to light a Nikon flag on fire and piss boiling oil into its eyes. I actually have an enormous respect for Nikon and have long maintained that the photographer makes the camera, not the other way around. Hell, I've seen some pretty jaw-droppingly amazing stuff come out of the Pentax K series that makes anything I've ever shot with my 5D mk III look like a pile of crap. My point, rather, is to express a thought I've held for some time now: balance. It seems to me that there's been a balance between Nikon and Canon for a while now. There always seems to be some kind of equalising factor that restores this balance so that, in the end, neither has such a huge advantage that tips the balance too far to one side.

 Anyway, given some of the posts I've read about how Canon is dying and Nikon is the glorious saviour that will lead us all to the promised land, I thought that a bit of a reality check might be in order.

 

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At least we have Canon quality control
« on: November 22, 2012, 11:31:43 PM »

wickidwombat

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Re: At least we have Canon quality control
« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2012, 12:09:33 AM »
i try and avoid the camera store since every time i go in it costs me lots of money and i walk out with new stuff

but seriously you are right when you compare the service and customer service of canon vs others its worth alot IMO by the way Fuji make nikon look like they have awesome service and quality.
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friedmud

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Re: At least we have Canon quality control
« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2012, 01:18:33 PM »
Not saying there haven't been problems with Nikon (my D600 has the dust issue... but I can blow it off)... but it's not always rosy on the Canon side either (I had a 17-55 f/2.8 that was soft on the right and when through 2 16-35 f/2.8's that were WAY soft on the left for instance).

What we have to keep in mind is that these are _precision_ instruments.  Almost nothing else that we use in life has to be as "perfect" as our camera gear has to be to produce a perfect image.  These are complex beasts with MANY interacting parts and engineering tolerances.

I think that one of the reasons there have been so many D800 returns is that 36 megapixels will show _any_ minor flaw.  As both companies (Canon and Nikon) move forward with higher density sensors this is going to continue to become more and more of a problem.  How their quality control departments handle this is going to be interesting...

Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: At least we have Canon quality control
« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2012, 02:12:43 PM »
I pointed out the same thing recently in another thread http://www.canonrumors.com/forum/index.php?topic=10866.90

Both manufacturers have had their issues and they will continue to struggle with quality control, lets face it this stuff gets ever more complex and tolerances get ever smaller, manufacturing process upgrading is, like everything else, a very steep curve of quality over cost and as these threads demonstrate consumers don't like paying more!

What does seem surprising is the number of issues that don't show up during real world pre-release product testing, makes you wonder if they do actually get photographers to test half this stuff sometimes. Maybe that is why there is this interminable wait for the 200-400, Canon know this could be a 1D MkIII AF make or break situation.

 
Although some of the flaws seem obvious by 2020 hindsite, the real issue is the number of users using a camera.  A dozen handmade test cameras passed around to photographers to use for 24 hours and that take maybe 25K images each is not going to find any but the most gross issues.  They cannot take raw images either, so 0 testing there.
Once the first 100,000 cameras are shipped and delivered over a period of 3-4 weeks, suddenly, there are millions of images taken and the more subtle issues are found.  Some are design issues, and some are assembly issues or material issues.
Its unlikely that Canon would put even 1000 hand made cameras out for photographers to test for the 3 weeks or so that it takes to find issues.
QA merely follows a test plan that has been developed by experiences with previous equipment over several years, and are likely not allowed to play around with a camera doing things that were not in the test plan. 
 
In many cases, they merely verify that manufacturing has a good set of instructions for assembling and testing the camera, and that employees have it and know how to use it.  They spot check to see that they are using the assembly instructions.
Its a built-in blindness in the system.
 
Our company let the engineers test and verify subcontracted work, but the engineers could not test or verify internal manufacturing.  That was QA/QC responsibility, and they were very possesive.  As a result many big dollar assembly problems happened that the designer would have spotted immediately because he understood the function.  QA merely verified that the written processes were followed, even if they were wrong, and the designer could not specify many of the common tests because it cost too much!
Even so, the manufacturing folks managed to overcome those issues and make things work properly.  I've seen problems crop up after 10 years that should be founnd immediately, but the assembler fixed them for 10 years, and when a new assembler moved to the job, he did not know to fix the issue and things did not work.

PackLight

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Re: At least we have Canon quality control
« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2012, 02:30:32 PM »
Then again maybe it has nothing to do with the QA/QC staff and how well they do their job.
Possibly the number of returns is dissatisfaction with the Nikon product when it doesn't meet expectations.
After reading all of the Messiah posts on forums of how great the new Nikon cameras are, it builds expectations that aren't real. The new user buys the new camera thinking that somehow that the new super megapixel camera will somehow make their pictures better only to find out they are limited by the AF system and their old Nikor lens that can't keep up to the task of the new sensor.
If I bought one I would return it to if I suddenly realized I were limited to Nikons tool box of lenses.

distant.star

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Re: At least we have Canon quality control
« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2012, 04:45:00 PM »

.
I don't pay much attention to the my-father-can-beat-up-your-father chatter that goes back and forth. What I do often think about is how reliable my Canon equipment is. I use it every day and it's rock solid and does exactly what I've learned it can do. That simple factor means I don't have to care what the other guy's father can do.

Rarely do I go into a camera store, but I visited a couple of weeks ago to give them an opportunity to sell me a 5D3. They said they sell very few 5D3 cameras, and they cost them $2900 so they can't get near the $2750 that an authorized dealer was selling them for on the Web a month or so ago. They also said they sold some D800 cameras when it came out as a lot of people switched brands. That was interesting to me as I tend to think a lot more people talk about switching than actually do it.
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sarangiman

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Re: At least we have Canon quality control
« Reply #6 on: November 23, 2012, 11:35:11 PM »
And speaking of the D800 left AF problem... it evolved into a center AF front-focusing problem (relative to left & right AF points, which at least then agreed w/ one another) for some units sent back for repair.

I wonder if they finally fixed everything. That whole saga was a mess.

My leftmost AF point on my 5D Mark III slightly backfocuses compared to other points, but not drastically so... it's something I can live with.

These are very complex products, with tighter & tighter requirements for tolerance as people put higher demands on these systems. I think proper QC will always be important, but quick & easy testing methodologies for the consumer may be equally or even more beneficial.

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Re: At least we have Canon quality control
« Reply #6 on: November 23, 2012, 11:35:11 PM »

Zv

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Re: At least we have Canon quality control
« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2012, 12:41:12 PM »
Wow, I've never even thought about testing any AF points other than the center one - which usually works just fine. I guess when you pay $3000 for a camera, you expect it to work! I think consumer expectations are at a kind of mad hysterical level.  :-\
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sarangiman

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Re: At least we have Canon quality control
« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2012, 01:06:01 PM »
Zv,

You'll likely be disappointed if you start rigorously testing expensive equipment. You'll start finding flaws that you thought shouldn't exist for such high quality/price products. But I find it's great to know about these limitations so I know how to work around them.

For example, 3 copies of the highly venerated 70-200 f/4L IS I tested all showed erratic softness on one side of the frame relative to the other, even at f/8 sometimes. By f/11 most of the time every shot was acceptable, though not always on at least one copy. Contrast that to the 70-200 f/2.8L II I finally bought b/c I was tired of the poor performance of the f/4L for landscapes. Typically, at 200mm | f/2.8 it's at least as sharp across the entire field as the f4L ever was. At 70mm though, the extreme left side doesn't sharpen up until f/5.6. Which isn't a big deal, and now I store that tidbit of info in the back of my head so when it becomes relevant I'll know how to set my aperture.

If you start testing the AF precision (repeatability) of AF points on any of these high-end dSLRs with primes, you may find yourself pretty surprised. Or not, if you've ever tried shooting a 5D Mark II + 85/1.2 combo anywhere below f/2.8... :)

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Re: At least we have Canon quality control
« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2012, 01:06:01 PM »