Is cherry-picked "binning" fantasy or sometimes reality?

YuengLinger

EOS R6
CR Pro
Dec 20, 2012
3,452
1,886
USA
Funny this year how Amazon seems to more often have the newer stuff in stock--and I mean "Sold by Amazon." One example would be the Rf 100-500mm, consistently in stock for months now, while other stores have been showing backordered during the same time.

Have we ever had a thread about "binning"? Is it just voodoo superstition to wonder if the top merchants dedicated to photography, and having been loyal Canon authorized-dealers for decades, might get batches of lenses and bodies that perform slightly better in the QC tests coming off the assembly lines?

It is hard for me to completely shake the feeling that what our favorite big New York (and other!) camera shops sell is somehow cherry-picked. (And of course this is so easy to "confirm" with one or two anecdotes--but no solid statistical data. In other words, I get one sub-par item from the Big River, and I believe they are selling second-tier stuff. That ain't scientific at all!)

One comparison I have is computer monitors: There was a time when a strong belief existed online that Dell-direct sold better performing monitors than those sold at online retailers. Many customer-reviews and forum preachers were sure Dell cherry-picked what they sold directly, and backed up such claims with the fact that Dell was giving an extra year of warranty for their direct-sale monitors.

Or, has anybody else had the experience of researching flat-panel TV's and reading many places that certain production codes were associated with significantly better image-quality? One variation of this was a belief that early production runs used better displays, and then once a model had been well received and started selling well, a bit of bait and switch would take place, with a different display being used in the chassis, one that was close but slightly inferior. That kind of talk made me roll my eyes...

With Canon, I believe we know that their topline gear is made and assembled in Japan. I would not even imagine that the parts they use are ever anything lesser in quality to what was originally used in the first production runs. But I can imagine--and I do mean IMAGINE--that some copies of lenses test sharper than others. The best go to store A, B, and C, while the ones that are in-spec but not the best go to, well, behemoths. Again, this is PURE SPECULATION, just Sunday morning rumination to go with my coffee.

(RUMORS site, right?)

I'd imagine there is a range of readers here going from thinking such ideas about Canon/Nikon/Sony gear are just nuts to being pretty sure there is something to it.
 
Last edited:

Joules

doom
CR Pro
Jul 16, 2017
1,594
1,913
Hamburg, Germany
If manufacturers were shipping different levels of quality to different vendors, I would expect at least one party to confirm this at least indirectly through marketing materials. What is the point of putting extra resources into the QC (both the actual process as well as grouping and storing shipments based on the results) and not making any attempt to get a return on this?

There are a lot of people who make extensive use of the Amazon return policy when shopping for items with known quality variance (IPS displays, 3rd party lenses, overclocking oriented CPUs, ...). Basically, buy a batch, test them and send back all but the best one. For high value items, I would not be surprised if these returned units get back into circulation. Still just speculation that I have not spend time to back it up yet, but more plausible to me than the manufacturers being responsible.

Alternatively, you could just look at the difference in absolute sales. If Amazon sells a lot more of a certain product, a larger portion of subpar units will be sold by them. So you will have a larger number of dissatisfied customers in the first place, and due to the purely online nature of the business, will amplify their complaints by making them more visible than for example a call or visit with a store employee.
 
  • Like
Reactions: YuengLinger

Joules

doom
CR Pro
Jul 16, 2017
1,594
1,913
Hamburg, Germany
One variation of this was a belief that early production runs used better displays, and then once a model had been well received and started selling well, a bit of bait and switch would take place, with a different display being used in the chassis, one that was close but slightly inferior. That kind of talk made me roll my eyes...

With Canon, I believe we know that their topline gear is made and assembled in Japan. I would not even imagine that the parts they use are ever anything lesser in quality to what was originally used in the first production runs.
This is a different subject I believe. You can absolutely not assume that you will get identical products when you buy with significant time between them.

Production processes change over time, as do suppliers. That alone will lead to some degree of change over time for many different types of products. Many companies do not rely on a single supplier for many of their components, and so you can get different products even if bought in the same time frame.

There are multiple electronic manufacturers that source memory chips from Samsung as well as other suppliers. The Samsung chips are typically much higher quality, causing there to be products with different performance and reliability sold under the same name.

With Smartphones, you may get wildly different internal specs depending on the country you buy them in. And not all of them will be part of the official marketing materials.

The car I drive was bought used, and the previous owner bought it new when the model was about to end production. His reasoning was that by that time, most of the production and design related flaws were addressed by the manufacturer, making it a significantly different car than what was sold originally and a safer investment than the new replacement model that just entered production. You can look some of these changes up online, but many probably just happen without being disclosed.

I heard a story from a guy once who worked in manufacturing, saying they had at some point discovered a security flaw in their product and silently fixed it, without ever recalling the sold products or making any official warning about the matter because they thought the associated failure was unlikely to occur and the costs would have overwhelmed the company.

I own a couple of Nintendo Switch controllers and the two newer ones I bought have a slightly different color. As if they changed the plastic mix in use.

With enough insider knowledge, I'm sure you could continue this list forever.

The point is, there is no reason to assume manufacturers source completely uniform components since relying on a single supplier is poor practice for components that allow multi sourcing. And it is also not a good assumption that a manufacturing process is perfectly optimized for all the conditions that will occur over the entire production run. And that all flaws are known and eliminated before the first units get sold.
 
  • Like
Reactions: YuengLinger

privatebydesign

EOS-1D X Mark III
CR Pro
Jan 29, 2011
9,992
4,768
Cherry picked items going to specific retailers, not a chance.

Production methods and specific part numbers changed during a production run, definitely, but not for nefarious reasons.
 

Mt Spokane Photography

I post too Much on Here!!
CR Pro
Mar 25, 2011
16,633
1,589
That's beyond my comprehension. I generally won't buy lenses from Amazon because my perception is that items are more likely to be used or damaged in shipping. They just toss them in a big box and let UPS bounce them around.

Even B&H who used to pack things in a fantastically safe manner now does a marginal job of packing. Canon does a better job of designing and packing lenses now, I wonder if that is why dealers are getting more sloppy.

I've bought dozens of lenses from dealers large and small. My perception is that packing for shipping is the biggest differentiator in the perceived image quality from a lens. I recall Roger of lens rentals frequently discussing the issues they have with lenses being damaged in shipping. They test every lens, damage does not always mean a lens stops working, often, it is knocked out of adjustment and is no longer as sharp.
 

YuengLinger

EOS R6
CR Pro
Dec 20, 2012
3,452
1,886
USA
That's beyond my comprehension. I generally won't buy lenses from Amazon because my perception is that items are more likely to be used or damaged in shipping. They just toss them in a big box and let UPS bounce them around.

Even B&H who used to pack things in a fantastically safe manner now does a marginal job of packing. Canon does a better job of designing and packing lenses now, I wonder if that is why dealers are getting more sloppy.

I've bought dozens of lenses from dealers large and small. My perception is that packing for shipping is the biggest differentiator in the perceived image quality from a lens. I recall Roger of lens rentals frequently discussing the issues they have with lenses being damaged in shipping. They test every lens, damage does not always mean a lens stops working, often, it is knocked out of adjustment and is no longer as sharp.
With B&H, I found that choosing the minimum FedEx upgrade makes a huge difference. The package arrives intact, not grimy or dented, and the delivery person is wearing a FedEx uniform that fits properly, and the truck is clearly a company vehicle. If I just go with the default "Super Saver," the package often comes crushed, and the driver appears to be valiantly recovering from substance addiction, driving a truck that could be a refurbished U-Haul truck with a crooked FedEx magnet on the passenger door.

With Amazon, I had hoped they'd upgraded their expensive item delivery, as it seems they only deliver lenses on certain days. My last delivery was in a box that was in great shape, but even though I ordered the lens on a Wednesday, it somehow got packed with shirts and a hole-puncher that I ordered on Friday! Everything came together in one box on Monday--and I didn't choose the option to have all items delivered on "My "Prime Day."

As for why Amazon has so many 100-500mm lenses in stock, I'm guessing it has something to do with the surge in NY City residents photographing birds in Central Park, and the ones who can go into Adorama and B&H in person. Just another bit of speculation. But Amazon can pull from warehouses anywhere in the country. The 100-500mm I returned because it was clearly subpar came to the east coast from Seattle. And then, ahem, the one I just ordered Friday to replace the one I said was my last try is coming tomorrow from Tracy, CA. :sneaky:

It is my understanding that consumer CPU's are binned, and that their clock-speed is determined by testing, not by different production methods for the various speeds.

But, PBD, you say "not a chance," and you are most likely correct, but I don't think it would very difficult logistically. However, Canon would have hell to pay in goodwill and public relations if, say, "the best" L-series lenses were sent to only certain retailers. That in itself makes it seem like a silly idea.

At this point, maybe it does come down to how the items are handled before they ever leave the retailer, because I'm not seeing a whole lot of difference in delivery these days--unless I upgrade with FedEx. Amazon does not have any kind of upgrade option that I know of anymore.
 
Last edited:

privatebydesign

EOS-1D X Mark III
CR Pro
Jan 29, 2011
9,992
4,768
But, PBD, you say "not a chance," and you are most likely correct, but I don't think it would very difficult logistically. However, Canon would have hell to pay in goodwill and public relations if, say, "the best" L-series lenses were sent to only certain retailers. That in itself makes it seem like a silly idea.
In today’s automated stock management environment the only way lenses could be differentiated would be with a different SKU that doesn’t happen so preferential distribution of specific lenses can’t happen. If Amazon and B&H and others had unique SKU’s then possibly.
 
  • Like
Reactions: YuengLinger

AlanF

Stay at home
CR Pro
Aug 16, 2012
8,030
9,556
With B&H, I found that choosing the minimum FedEx upgrade makes a huge difference. The package arrives intact, not grimy or dented, and the delivery person is wearing a FedEx uniform that fits properly, and the truck is clearly a company vehicle. If I just go with the default "Super Saver," the package often comes crushed, and the driver appears to be valiantly recovering from meth addiction, driving a truck that could be a refurbished U-Haul truck with a crooked FedEx magnet on the passenger door.

With Amazon, I had hoped they'd upgraded their expensive item delivery, as it seems they only deliver lenses on certain days. My last delivery was in a box that was in great shape, but even though I ordered the lens on a Wednesday, it somehow got packed with shirts and a hole-puncher that I ordered on Friday! Everything came together in one box on Monday--and I didn't choose the option to have all items delivered on "My "Prime Day."

As for why Amazon has so many 100-500mm lenses in stock, I'm guessing it has something to do with the surge in NY City residents photographing birds in Central Park, and the ones who can go into Adorama and B&H in person. Just another bit of speculation. But Amazon can pull from warehouses anywhere in the country. The 100-500mm I returned because it was clearly subpar came to the east coast from Seattle. And then, ahem, the one I just ordered Friday to replace the one I said was my last try is coming tomorrow from Tracy, CA. :sneaky:

It is my understanding that consumer CPU's are binned, and that their clock-speed is determined by testing, not by different production methods for the various speeds.

But, PBD, you say "not a chance," and you are most likely correct, but I don't think it would very difficult logistically. However, Canon would have hell to pay in goodwill and public relations if, say, "the best" L-series lenses were sent to only certain retailers. That in itself makes it seem like a silly idea.

At this point, maybe it does come down to how the items are handled before they ever leave the retailer, because I'm not seeing a whole lot of difference in delivery these days--unless I upgrade with FedEx. Amazon does not have any kind of upgrade option that I know of anymore.
Please, please do not complain about your third copy of the 100-500mm. You already seem to be psyching yourself up against another disappointment.
 

YuengLinger

EOS R6
CR Pro
Dec 20, 2012
3,452
1,886
USA
Please, please do not complain about your third copy of the 100-500mm. You already seem to be psyching yourself up against another disappointment.
I'm rehabbing myself by listening to Cannoball Adderly every night.
 
  • Like
Reactions: JPAZ

Antono Refa

EOS R
Mar 26, 2014
1,268
421
I'm neither a lawyer nor a resident of the U.S., but...

Seems to me this kind of favouritism would put Canon in risk of being sued by stores that didn't get the cherry picked lenses for damaging their sales & reputation, by presenting them as stores where [insert an expression people are more likely to use then 'whatever left after the cherries were picked'] equipment is sold.

So I would expect Canon would treat all the lenses the same, not even mark some as cherry picked, just to avoid the risk.
 
  • Like
Reactions: YuengLinger

YuengLinger

EOS R6
CR Pro
Dec 20, 2012
3,452
1,886
USA
I'm neither a lawyer nor a resident of the U.S., but...

Seems to me this kind of favouritism would put Canon in risk of being sued by stores that didn't get the cherry picked lenses for damaging their sales & reputation, by presenting them as stores where [insert an expression people are more likely to use then 'whatever left after the cherries were picked'] equipment is sold.

So I would expect Canon would treat all the lenses the same, not even mark some as cherry picked, just to avoid the risk.
See? Exposing nutty theories to the light of day does wonders. You and others are right--it just doesn't make sense that some stores get better from Canon than others, especially in these global market days, and everybody--potentially--has a very big megaphone with social media.
 

Del Paso

M3 Singlestroke
Aug 9, 2018
1,142
1,189
I've been working 30+ years in the auto industry.
Customers: the staff gets the better cars.
Employees: were convinced they got the second-rate vehicles ...
Absolute nonsense, it would have meant (same for lenses and cameras), a thorough evaluation of the product (tremendous added costs), or 2 separate production lines (one for crap, the other one for quality).
Most industrialized products are either random checked, or 100% checked (frequency!!!) according to a "simplified" test-protocol.But there's no chance for an "Amazon categorization" or similar. Trouble with online retailers is, you might get a return, which could be a dissatisfactory one.
But cherries are still picked from trees, only...:sneaky:
 

AlanF

Stay at home
CR Pro
Aug 16, 2012
8,030
9,556
I think the better question is... how likely are you getting someone's return?

I mean if you get a 100-500L now, there is a good chance it's been thru YuengLinger's hands ;) . (hoping he see's the humour in this).
Even worse would be from Lensrentals with a cracked element.
 

YuengLinger

EOS R6
CR Pro
Dec 20, 2012
3,452
1,886
USA
Please, please do not complain about your third copy of the 100-500mm. You already seem to be psyching yourself up against another disappointment.
New one arrived last night. Haven't tried it yet. But something just occurred to me: I never checked the Amazon copy's firmware.

I'll be methodical and realistic with #3, also from Amazon, AlanF! I'll be using the test targets you shared some time back first, then a SpyderLensCal. Looks like indoors with all the rain we keep getting, but on a tripod and with good lights. If in the unlikely event I have a lemon and it has to go back, I'll keep it to myself. So if you don't see I've posted new bird photos within a week or so, and some happy thoughts about the 100-500mm, you can surmise--but not read any negativity.

How's that?
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: AlanF and Del Paso
<-- start Taboola -->