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Panasonic Repair Service Woes

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by Ctein, Apr 13, 2018.

  1. Ctein

    Ctein Mu-43 Regular

    Dear folks,

    Color me an unhappy camper. I own a Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 ASPH lens.

    Two, actually. So, sit right back and you'll hear a tale…

    My (first) lens took a hard knock several months back. No visible damage to the barrel, it's mechanically and electrically just fine, but an element clearly got knocked out of alignment. Image quality dropped from at least a solid B+ to, oh, C- (graded on a curve because, you know, no lens left behind). That is — very probably — a fixable thing by a competent tech with an optical bench. A small chance some internal support actually got broken, but unlikely.

    I reached out to Midwest Camera Repair and CRIScam, both recommended to me by folks at LensRentals. Neither would touch the lens — they said they have trouble getting parts from Panasonic so anything that needs work just get shipped off to the manufacturer.

    Okay, so that's what I did, sent it off to Panasonic Service Center.

    After a considerable delay, and only a cursory inspection, Panasonic declared that my lens was "non-repairable." I pressed the technician on this point, since the lens was entirely mechanically and electrically functional and very likely the only thing that was wrong was that an element had been jarred out of proper alignment. What he told me was that ANYTHING related to the "internal part" of the lens was considered non-repairable, they weren't even going to take a look. They're shipping it back to me unfixed.

    I am kind of appalled. It's not like we're talking about a $200 consumer-grade lens. Panasonic doesn't do repairs on anything "internal" to their lenses? This does not leave me inclined to buy a Panasonic lens in the future.

    They did offer to sell me a replacement lens — for full list price of nearly $1500. I was not much mollified, strange to say.

    Instead I went back to LensRentals and bought the sample of this lens that I'd rented from them previously, which I knew to be an excellent performer. If you read Roger Cicala, you know there's a hell of a lot of variation from sample to sample. LR could provide me with the one I'd previously vetted. And, much les than $1,500 (I love those people).

    So, Three Strikes. Midwest won't look at it, CRIS won't look at it, and blankety-blank Panasonic won't even attempt to repair it.

    I am hoping, faintly, that someone here might have another suggestion about an avenue I can pursue. It is but a faint hope, but if I can't find another option all I have is a paperweight. I have resigned myself to the loss of the money, but it galls me that a quality professional lens like this, which should be fixable, I can't even get anyone to look at. It's such a waste of good glass!

    Any thoughts? Anyone?

    - pax \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. Dragon Dictate in training! ]
    -- Ctein's Online Gallery. Ctein's Online Gallery
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  2. SVQuant

    SVQuant Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Sep 20, 2015
    SF Bay Area, California, USA
    Sorry to hear about your poor experience with Panasonic.

    I believe you are in the Bay Area. You could try Advance camera in San Francisco and see if they are willing to attempt a repair. I have heard good things about them. There is(was?) also a place on Larkin in the Tenderloin where I had taken a friend's Nikon when he dropped it while he was visiting from overseas. Can't remember it's name at the moment. Hope this helps.
  3. Kman Chu

    Kman Chu Mu-43 Rookie

    Dec 23, 2017
    Dang, if that is indeed the policy, then I may tend to stay away from future Panasonic purchases as well. I can't fathom making a significant investment in something that cannot be serviced.
  4. panamike

    panamike Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jul 5, 2016
    Lincolnshire UK
    I was beginning to think the TV repair poilicy was used with camera lenses.

    My first 100-400 went wrong internaly and after inspecting it they offered an exchange (it was under 12 months old) then a while ago i read this thread
    Broken Leica DG 8-18mm - Olympus UK E-System User Group
    Now your story, Panasonic have a lot to lean about photographic customers expectations, they have two choices learn or fail, as consumers we have loads of choices as to what to buy.
  5. panamike

    panamike Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jul 5, 2016
    Lincolnshire UK
    I think this sort of post needs making more often, Panasonic need to know they have it wrong, we are not buying microwave ovens or TVs
    • Agree Agree x 1
  6. Growltiger

    Growltiger Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 26, 2014
    In contrast to your experience I broke the front element on my Olympus 7-14 Pro. That is a big chunk of glass. I sent it in (in the UK) and they sent it to their European repair facility in Portugal. A week later, after paying a reasonable repair bill, I had it back looking, and working, like new.

    I think you should contact Panasonic head office in Japan and ask if you can send it to Japan for repair.

    Perhaps you should also tell Leica about the damage to their brand and their good name.

    By the way I think I have read that Olympus are making a new 12mm f/1.2 later this year. That might suit you.
    • Agree Agree x 1
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  7. archaeopteryx

    archaeopteryx Gambian sidling bush Subscribing Member

    Feb 25, 2017
    Largely agree. To chip in, based on threads like this I bought Panasonic knowing the kit was functionally unrepairable. It's been my experience repairs are going to start around US$ 300 and rise commensurately with the cost of a photographic item, meaning it's desirable to keep purchases around that range. This excludes pretty much everything in Panasonic's higher price and (presumably) higher margin range and certainly tilts towards used purchases, meaning Panasonic misses an opportunity to monetize demand.

    I confess I don't understand Leica as a company. Their brand seems synonymous with poor value and having the 12 f/1.4, 8-18, and 100-400 all seemingly be replace rather than repair is sort of a brilliantly twisted way of delivering on this. It does seem there's a trend towards more modularization in lenses and higher repair costs for newer designs in general but, from an economic standpoint, if I can't afford to repair or replace an item when something inevitably goes wrong in the field it doesn't make sense to purchase it. This is especially true for expensive upmarket items like the Panasonic-Leica range. In addition to Olympus, Zeiss is another competitor which seems to have grasped this.

    I do own the Panasonic-Leica 45 macro, but only because it's steeply discounted used and I was able to pick up one for price near the bottom of its trading range. Since I can get by with diopters and tubes for a while in the event of a failure, that keeps replacement cost acceptable.
  8. Keeth101

    Keeth101 Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 5, 2018
    I, eventually, want to buy a long zoom lens. But.... I have a choice of just one, the Panasonic 100-400.
    Given the wholesale dissatisfaction with Panasonic/Leica service and the apparent variation in IQ between samples of their lenses, I think that Olympus is missing something here ... big time.
    Why, I wonder, haven't Olympus given us an alternative to the Panny 100-400. So many people would prefer Olympus lenses over Pannys offerings for both the quality and the aftersales service.
    Come on Olympus, Make some serious profit and give us that long zoom.
    • Agree Agree x 3
  9. ThereAndBackAgain

    ThereAndBackAgain Fighting GAS

    May 26, 2014
    North Devon, England
    Was looking at the 7-14 f4 until I read this. Thanks for the heads up.
  10. Mike Wingate

    Mike Wingate Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 21, 2017
    Mike Wingate
  11. Hypilein

    Hypilein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 18, 2015
    I feel that many people here are overreacting quite a bit on a single incidence. While some people will have issues with High-Tech items like Cameras and Lenses regardless of brand, this will always be a minority. Yes, it sucks to be you, if it hits you, but by and large it seems like every manufacturer has their own variance of problems (I remember endless threads on dials for Olympus, oil on sensors for Nikon etc).

    I had to get a shutter replaced on a Panasonic camera, and while the consumer service experience could certainly have been smoother, everything went fine.

    If you are a Pro working assignments constantly then of course a PRO service with short turn-around times as well as other back-up solutions are necessary, but for the majority of us, it's a small chance. It sucks when it hits you, but in many cases (especially in yours as you dropped the lens) having insurance may be the better solution to this problem than hoping that another manufacturer handles your specific problem better when it happens. Most likely they are all shit some of the time.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  12. Christop82

    Christop82 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Sep 10, 2016
    What about trying to fix it yourself? I'm sure its probably more complicated than a canon L, but those aren't too difficult to break down. I wouldn't be surprised if a cellphone repair company might help you disassemble the lens to verify the problem. Sadly if something is actually broken it may be impossible to get a replacement part.
  13. panamike

    panamike Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jul 5, 2016
    Lincolnshire UK
  14. cptobvious

    cptobvious Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 8, 2013
    Olympus is the same way. I had two experiences with their Outlet store and decentered lens repairs. One was a 14-42 II that came with a refurbished body. The body was fine, the lens was severely decentered. I didn’t want to return both so I sent the lens in, hoping they would either repair or replace the lens. They would do neither, so I just chalked the lens up as a loss.

    The second was a refurbished 12-40 PRO that developed an unrelated problem (MF clutch ring stopped working). I sent it in for repair and it came back with significant decentering. I sent it in again but they were not able to fix it. I actually had to escalate that one through Olympus corporate to get them to take it back for a refund (and it took over 5 weeks).

    I’m not convinced that any of the manufacturers that farm out their repair work to contractors (Olympus, Panasonic, Sony, Pentax/Ricoh, maybe others) can reliably fix decentered lenses. And the disassembly and calibration process for most lenses requires trained expertise and expensive equipment, so most companies won’t do it. I tend to be paranoid about dropping my equipment for that reason.
    • Agree Agree x 3
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  15. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    This is an international forum and the local subsidiary company of the parent camera company is different from one country, or region, than another. For any number of reasons, after sale support can be vastly different. Anecdotal stories about experiences outside of the US are rather irrelevant. Not very useful unless one is willing to move to a different country for better service.

    One of the reasons for why it can be difficult to get cameras properly repaired in the US is that very few camera companies here do their own camera repairs. They are expensive to equip and run, so they've outsourced repairs to third party companies. It looks like Precision Camera handles repairs for a number of companies now. (McAllen TX is also where Olympus P&S cameras are sent for repair.) The types of repairs these 3rd party companies can perform may very well vary with the contracts they have with the different camera companies. Replacing parts on a camera body is simpler, and requires less very expensive, very high precision, (propriety to the OEM) test equipment than aligning the optics in a lens (assuming they even incorporate adjustment capability in the design). With decreasing camera sales and increased pressure on profits, the repair situation in the US isn't going to get much better.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  16. retiredfromlife

    retiredfromlife Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2016
    Sydney, Australia
    It is this sort of repair problem that seems to give the system bad name in some circles. In the camera club I belong to about half the people are retired and don't have much money. There is a general perception that Canon and Nikon equipment lasts longer an is more reliable so they tend to stick with those brands.

    Since I have never owned any of their digital cameras I have no idea if this is correct or not.
  17. Mike Wingate

    Mike Wingate Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 21, 2017
    Mike Wingate
    I find Panasonic cameras and lenses plus my one Olympus lens, fine. Do realise that this equipment is highly technical, full or micro electronics and tiny mors and sensors, never mind the plastic and glass. Delicate. Accidents happen, I dont insure mine and warranties are running or have run out.
  18. Hypilein

    Hypilein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 18, 2015
    As you say this is an international, not US forum. So for many of us experiences outside the US are far more relevant than US. Personally, I think it is actually quite interesting to see that repairs can be much better or worse depending on your location.
    • Agree Agree x 4
  19. Growltiger

    Growltiger Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 26, 2014
    I agree. Also people in the US are able to send their equipemnt for repair to anywhere they wish. If the service is poor in the US, send it to Europe or Japan.
  20. Steven

    Steven Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2012
    When I send Shure headphones for repair, they would just send me a new pair for half price. That sounds like a better way to go when actual repair is not possible (because of how some modern lenses are made?) or just too expensive in terms of labor. It keeps the customer happy and loyal and the company still makes some money.
    This definitely makes me wary of investing into some of the more pricey lenses. Sorry it happened to you . Thank you for sharing.
    • Agree Agree x 2
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