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01-08-2014, 04:14 PM   #1
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Bad Lens Copy Failure Rate?

Everytime I turn around and read a post on this forum and someone is experiencing a problem with a NEW lens, it's always "You must have a bad lens copy". Am I to expect that every other brand new lens I buy could be a "Bad copy"? What is the failure rate on new lenses? 20%? 40%? 1 out of 2? From the posts I've read about the New Pentax DA Limited Zoom 20-40 you would think that lens has a 50% failure rate. When people return a "Bad copy" lens does B&H or Adorama just throw it back on the shelf for some other poor shmuck to purchase?

What happened to quality control? Or am I missing something here?

01-08-2014, 04:21 PM - 1 Like   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Driline Quote
From the posts I've read about the New Pentax DA Limited Zoom 20-40 you would think that lens has a 50% failure rate.
I don't think so, it seems that lots of people just aren't happy with its performance.

QuoteOriginally posted by Driline Quote
When people return a "Bad copy" lens does B&H or Adorama just throw it back on the shelf for some other poor shmuck to purchase?
Damaged lenses should go back to the manufacturer. If the average return rate were more than a couple of percent I doubt Pentax or any lens manufacturer would still be in business

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01-08-2014, 04:30 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Driline Quote
Everytime I turn around and read a post on this forum and someone is experiencing a problem with a NEW lens, it's always "You must have a bad lens copy". Am I to expect that every other brand new lens I buy could be a "Bad copy"? What is the failure rate on new lenses? 20%? 40%? 1 out of 2? From the posts I've read about the New Pentax DA Limited Zoom 20-40 you would think that lens has a 50% failure rate. When people return a "Bad copy" lens does B&H or Adorama just throw it back on the shelf for some other poor shmuck to purchase?

What happened to quality control? Or am I missing something here?
I agree. It's like we (here on the forum) are just supposed to fine with the idea that the very expensive items we've purchased are "bad copies." As though we don't have the right to expect a product that works as it is supposed to (regardless of price).

Perhaps the other side of the equation is that people are just more vocal about products when they are unhappy than when they are satisfied.
01-08-2014, 04:48 PM   #4
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I know some people returned perfectly good copies just because it wasn't as small as they thought before buying.

01-08-2014, 04:51 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Driline Quote
What happened to quality control? Or am I missing something here?
Quality control is expensive. If you want high end quality control, look at Leica and Zeiss. And expect their prices for lenses that don't even have AF.

The problem is two fold, though. Firstly, people who are okay with a lens' performance, probably won't be writing here about it. But if someone has a problem, they will find a forum and start a thread. So every time you see "problems" they are usually very exaggerated on forums. Here it looks like every second camera is broken and every second lens is a dud. Reality is quite different.

And bad copies do exist. What else can we say? If someone shows proof that their lens performs poorly, when other members have the same lens (different copy, of course) and know it can perform better, what are we to say? The only other possibility is user error. We have certainly seen a fair amount of this as well, but people often get offended if you suggest it. Instead of working on their skill (for each lens you need some time to get familiar with it, to learn how to use it to get good results), they give up and blame the equipment. Finally, its user expectation - sometimes users have completely faulty expectations of what a lens will deliver.

But I agree that bad QC is a terrible thing and we shouldn't have to suffer it. Unfortunately, it is apparently good business. Seems almost everything these days has a high chance of being faulty. Blender, fridge, laptop, you name it! Because at some point, it is cheaper to deal with returns than it is to improve QC/standards.
01-08-2014, 05:02 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Na Horuk Quote
Quality control is expensive. If you want high end quality control, look at Leica and Zeiss. And expect their prices for lenses that don't even have AF.

The problem is two fold, though. Firstly, people who are okay with a lens' performance, probably won't be writing here about it. But if someone has a problem, they will find a forum and start a thread. So every time you see "problems" they are usually very exaggerated on forums. Here it looks like every second camera is broken and every second lens is a dud. Reality is quite different.

And bad copies do exist. What else can we say? If someone shows proof that their lens performs poorly, when other members have the same lens (different copy, of course) and know it can perform better, what are we to say? The only other possibility is user error. We have certainly seen a fair amount of this as well, but people often get offended if you suggest it. Instead of working on their skill (for each lens you need some time to get familiar with it, to learn how to use it to get good results), they give up and blame the equipment. Finally, its user expectation - sometimes users have completely faulty expectations of what a lens will deliver.

But I agree that bad QC is a terrible thing and we shouldn't have to suffer it. Unfortunately, it is apparently good business. Seems almost everything these days has a high chance of being faulty. Blender, fridge, laptop, you name it! Because at some point, it is cheaper to deal with returns than it is to improve QC/standards.
If that's the case, then for the Japanese manufacturers at least, the previous 50 years of adopting Quality Assurance or Quality Management systems (controlling the process tightly, rather than relying on product end-of-line Quality Control inspections) will have been thrown out the door. I find that hard to believe, personally, because it's the system that gave them the edge on other countries when it came to manufactured goods. Now, almost all serious manufacturers use that system, or a variation/extension of it. I suspect that the ongoing demand for lower prices has forced many manufacturers (including the Japanese ones) to outsource much of their production to countries that don't have the same rigid culture that Japan has (including some Western ones) and that may be the source of the problem of Quality inadequacies. I know that I had a difficult time getting a Chinese manufacturer I was working with some years ago to comprehend the necessity for controlling the manufacturing process tightly and, while it wasn't the sort of complex and high-technology manufacture involved with camera and lens production, it gave me a great insight into the problems you can have with general culture of a country when trying to introduce something new.
01-08-2014, 05:15 PM   #7
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There's also a balance between the costs of maintaining high quality and the cheapness of modern manufacturing methods. There comes a point where they meet and with the costs of manufacturing being driven down it becomes cheaper to accept some failures and just replace them for the customer without question. A huge amount of warranty returned items don't go back to the manufacturers, there's just an electronic 'paper trail' because the manufacturer knows about the problems and accepts it as long as remains at a certain level.
01-08-2014, 05:16 PM - 1 Like   #8
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I think sometimes too that people will send a lens back because it front/back focuses. Instead of doing the focus adjustment, they just keep trying for a perfect fit with their body out of the box.

01-08-2014, 05:44 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by johnyates Quote
I think sometimes too that people will send a lens back because it front/back focuses. Instead of doing the focus adjustment, they just keep trying for a perfect fit with their body out of the box.
Zooms are notoriously more difficult to adjust than primes. Usually, if a zoom BF at one end, it FF at the other end...
01-08-2014, 11:03 PM   #10
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I was reading about a wildlife photographer who bought a very expensive 400mm 2.8 Canon (iirc) that was soft. He returned it and got another copy that was fine. This would take a very good chunk out of $10k. I don't quite get the manufacturers rationale, but it seems to happen quite a bit.

I'm working on having a first name relationship with Pentax Canada service. They tuned up my DA*300 which had a focus issue, and fixed a bunch of K-5 issues caused by falls. I fully expect my K-3 to be in for service before the warranty period is over, even if it is for a cleaning and adjusting. They seem to come back better than new.
01-12-2014, 10:24 AM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Driline Quote
......When people return a "Bad copy" lens does B&H or Adorama just throw it back on the shelf for some other poor shmuck to purchase?
Absolutely not!!!
01-12-2014, 10:31 AM   #12
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People talk about bad copies on the forum, because they are looking for help and advice. With a perfectly working lens, you don't need either. Lensrental says Pentax has the best reliability rate, so, avoid the "the grass is greener" mistake.
01-12-2014, 12:30 PM - 1 Like   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Helen Oster Quote
Absolutely not!!!
Thank you . Good to know. I do buy from Adorama....
01-12-2014, 12:46 PM   #14
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Bad Lens Copy Failure Rate?

I bought a DFA 100mm macro from B&H that was defective out of the box. That is, it would't focus when the ring hit a "dead" spot.

Beyond that I haven't experienced any grossly defective lenses. My hunch is that our first 18-135 was bad. I ended up selling it once I determined the 18-55mm was sharper.

Last edited by krebsy75; 01-12-2014 at 12:52 PM.
01-12-2014, 12:47 PM   #15
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I also don't "test" lenses when I get them. Maybe I should... but I don't. I shoot with them and if they meet expectations I move on.
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