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02-10-2011, 07:23 AM   #1
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SDM Response from Pentax

I don't want to flay a dead horse, but below is the response I received from Pentax on the SDM failures. I emailed them with the concerns and pointed out that I shoot Pentax professionally.

Dear Mr. Boerger,

Thank you for contacting Pentax.

PENTAX Imaging Company in the US has analyzed our sales and repair data. This
information shows us that the warranty repair rate on all SDM lenses is at, or
in most cases well below our normal return rate. Additionally, this takes into
account all types of warranty repair. If we analyzed only repairs related to
SDM failure, the repair rate would be well below our average, indicating there
is not an issue with this system.

If you are in need of further assistance, please respond to this email or call
our technical support center at 800-877-0155.

Sincerely,
Randall S.
Pentax Imaging Technical Support



Note that the statistics they site are only for warranty repairs, whereas several posters said their lenses failed, multiple times, out of warranty. I have put off upgrading to the K5 and buying additional lenses until this issue has been sorted out. I cannot in good conscience continue to shoot and recommend Pentax if the SDM lenses are indeed flawed and Pentax refuses to acknowledge there is even a problem. Is this a case of we will never know and you takes your chance, or have they quietly solved it behind the scenes and hope it just goes away? The response to the K5 stains showed excellent company responsibility. It makes me wonder if the SDM failures, and I do believe they were real, were a limited bad batch that may have run it's course. Sorry to bring this up again, but I am at a decision point on the Pentax system. Additionally, I thought you might want to see the response.

02-10-2011, 07:39 AM   #2
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Just buy 10 each and see how many are dying in a year or so if anyone love Pentax that much.

I think the situation of sensor stain is a little different because it's right there to be seen and they cannot deny it. SDM failure however, takes time to happen. But when the same lens repaired many times and still failed, or SDM just died by sitting around. Something is not right. Did their engineers fix the problem? Possible. Should any informed customers risk their cash? I don't think so since Pentax has been telling us nothing.
02-10-2011, 10:23 AM - 1 Like   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by tarsus Quote
I don't want to flay a dead horse, but below is the response I received from Pentax on the SDM failures. I emailed them with the concerns and pointed out that I shoot Pentax professionally.

Dear Mr. Boerger,

Thank you for contacting Pentax.

PENTAX Imaging Company in the US has analyzed our sales and repair data. This
information shows us that the warranty repair rate on all SDM lenses is at, or
in most cases well below our normal return rate. Additionally, this takes into
account all types of warranty repair. If we analyzed only repairs related to
SDM failure, the repair rate would be well below our average, indicating there
is not an issue with this system.

If you are in need of further assistance, please respond to this email or call
our technical support center at 800-877-0155.

Sincerely,
Randall S.
Pentax Imaging Technical Support
I think they chose their wording very carefully in their response. Notice they said only "warranty repair rate", and not overall repair rate. The warranties on Pentax lenses are only a year in the United States, and a lot of people who complain about SDM failure have had them longer than that.

It is possible that there is no longer a statistically relevant issue with SDM, but I think this statement from Pentax is hardly conclusive on the matter. They've diluted the failure rate by saying "warranty repair", and taking into consideration all types of repair, which would extend beyond lenses (think of all the people who sent their K-5s back for replacement of stained sensors), as well as perceived/actual upfront problems with lenses ("I sent my copy in because it wasn't sharp/had severe back focus/front focus/whatever).
02-10-2011, 10:46 AM   #4
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I am curious to know whether Pentax thinks following symtoms (besides other obvious ones) to be problems:

1. When an SDM sitting unused for a long period, it takes long time to wake up.
2. An SDM lens is hard to lock focus at certain focal range (e.g. 50mm-70mm on 17-70mm SDM).
3. An SDM zoom can lock up at closest focus end even though you can manually move it away to make it work again.
4. AF on an SDM lens is not as accurate as screw drive lens on the same body.

I have experienced all above. By the time I realized or figured out, the lenses are already out of warranty.

This made me worried about buying another SDM lens. Buying a Pentax lens has never been so worrisome to me (I have been buying Pentax since 2000).


Last edited by hyyz; 02-10-2011 at 02:16 PM.
02-10-2011, 01:37 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by v5planet Quote
I think they chose their wording very carefully in their response. Notice they said only "warranty repair rate", and not overall repair rate. The warranties on Pentax lenses are only a year in the United States, and a lot of people who complain about SDM failure have had them longer than that.

It is possible that there is no longer a statistically relevant issue with SDM, but I think this statement from Pentax is hardly conclusive on the matter. They've diluted the failure rate by saying "warranty repair", and taking into consideration all types of repair, which would extend beyond lenses (think of all the people who sent their K-5s back for replacement of stained sensors), as well as perceived/actual upfront problems with lenses ("I sent my copy in because it wasn't sharp/had severe back focus/front focus/whatever).
Exactly. This statement basically tells us nothing, and makes it seem like Pentax is trying to sweep the problem under the rug. The reason the warranty repair rate is low is becuase they have a shitty warranty period!

And even if the failure rate is low, it doesn't change the fact that SDM is very slow compared with competing products. Basically, ALL other manufacturers, including Sigma with their HSM and Tamron with their USD, have fast, silent AF systems. Fast AF in the camera does nothing if the lens can't keep up. I think the best thing Pentax can do is redesign their DA* lenses with a completely new AF system. This is the only way to regain the trust of us users.
02-10-2011, 02:34 PM   #6
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Seems to me if Pentax were at all confident with the failure rate of their SDM lenses they would offer a warranty longer than 1 year.

The warranty period says everything.
02-10-2011, 03:10 PM   #7
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Quite honestly what did you expect as a response

You do not indicate other than you are considering to purchase pentax gear. You do not state you own any of the products in question or have had issues in the past. As far as they are concerned you are just fishing. You will always just get a typical marketing response in Defence of their position

If you shoot pro what equipment do you have now and what are you walking away from if you change. At least show them the commercial loss. Edit note. As for stats. Since pentax has outsourced the repair in the us, they may not have aftermarket service I.e. post warranty data available
02-10-2011, 03:12 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by piesforyou Quote
Seems to me if Pentax were at all confident with the failure rate of their SDM lenses they would offer a warranty longer than 1 year.

The warranty period says everything.
I don't know about that. If that were true, they would warranty the FA limiteds for 5 years. They certainly have confidence in that design. They don't warranty the lenses for longer because they think they don't have to in order to sell them.

02-10-2011, 03:17 PM   #9
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At the end of the day warranty has a cost. Longer warranties cost more due to increased risk and the need to carry financial provisions longer on the books before they are declared as profit

Also consider for example a 5 year warranty. It can speak two different concepts , either extreme confidence or extreme lack of it. Either way the consumer not the company pays in the end
02-10-2011, 03:29 PM   #10
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I dont see a problem. Since shooting professionally, add the possible cost of SDM repair to your rates. Thats what i do.

At least you got a reply, i am still waiting for Pentax to get back to me when i requested PPS membership in December or at least a receipt that they got my application.

*I wouldnt be surprised if they are working on MKII versions of the DA* lens lineup and just waiting for when the inventory is low before announcing them.
02-10-2011, 03:33 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Reportage Quote
I dont see a problem. Since shooting professionally, add the possible cost of SDM repair to your rates. Thats what i do.
.
A very good point. In fact a pro should factor replacement and upgrade of equipment into his rates as normal business practice.
02-10-2011, 05:20 PM   #12
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Warranty is an expression of confidence the manufacturer has in its goods. Both Tamron and Sigma seem to have far more confidence in their lenses than Pentax. Is it any wonder?
02-10-2011, 11:23 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Reportage Quote
I dont see a problem. Since shooting professionally, add the possible cost of SDM repair to your rates. Thats what i do.
I do see the problem Not everybody here is a pro.
02-11-2011, 05:18 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by sterretje Quote
I do see the problem Not everybody here is a pro.

Pro's by and large tend to pass on Pentax and shoot canikon.
02-11-2011, 06:11 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by sterretje Quote
I do see the problem Not everybody here is a pro.
Get an envelope, write "SDM repair fund" on it and put $20 in it every month
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